The slow drone of a 16 hour flight becomes a vague memory as soon as one arrives amidst the organized bustle of millions in Shibuya central station, Tokyo. In the stock photography industry we’re always keeping in touch with our associates by email, phone, and meetings at conferences such as PACA , CEPIC, Visual Connections. However nothing beats visiting these companies on their home turf, which I was fortunate enough to do recently. In a splendid mix of work and personal vacations, I made my way to my native homeland New Zealand, passing by Japan, Korea, Thailand and Australia to visit age fotostock’s associate agents, content providers and clients. Interesting, eye-opening, informative, these visits help to fortify relationships and get a real feel for how business is going.


Here’s some of the inside news:

Japanese business is based on commitment, dedication and serious relationships. Clients and agents are dedicated to one another, and once a client has established a working relationship with an agent it is very rare that they would change to work with another company.  This is one of the reasons why the microstock offer is affecting the market so slowly, as well as the fact that our agents in Japan sell mostly RM images for editorial use, and their clients need a quality of service that could never be found at a microstock level.

The weak economic situation in Japan means that business has understandably been quiet in the past years, but agents are hopeful that 2014 will be stable.

Interestingly enough, one of the highest reaching prices in Japan is in licensing for calendar use. It's a unique Japanese thing, where every year companies produce their own calendar to gift to their clients and associates. In a society where gift giving is a high art, these calendars demonstrate commitment, professionalism and status, which is reflected in the great amounts of money invested in their production and the national ‘Best Calendar’ competitions that take place every year. Covering topics such as aerial photography, islands, museums, natural parks from around the world, age fotostock’s high-quality travel images are perfect for these calendars.

Microstock has affected Thailand and Korea greatly and most agents have had to offer a subscription model in order not to lose the clients who can only afford to make smaller purchases. However, high-end clients remain dedicated to our agents, as they depend on the reliable customer service when licensing images for advertising.

Bounding back from New Zealand on the return trip to Barcelona, I touched down in Australia to meet some of our direct clients there, mostly editorial companies producing travel and/or educational material.  I was struck by the similarities each company had in terms of goals for the year – projects are becoming more universal and online products becoming more of a focus than those in print.

Australian editorial companies cater not only to Australia but also New Zealand, Singapore, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Indonesia and many more countries in the Asia / Pacific Rim.  The companies used to produce different product versions with localized image content for each territory but now their projects have a global reach, and the images of people working and studying (eg. a cover for a high school study package) need to reflect our changing, global society, where people of different ethnicities work and socialize together.

In a country where the aim of having one-computer-per-student is soon to be realized, companies are moving rapidly into producing digital multimedia packages, and in many cases their publications are produced more for online use than for paper. For those photographers out there, our clients forecasted the rapidly increasing use of video in these products, and requested more video content, now!

 

As well as content such as History, Geography, Nature & Science, they need:

-    All types of images of people with mixed ethnicities.
-    Preferably Asian looking images more than European ones, since Australia and New Zealand markets cover the Asia /Pacific Rim.
-    Authentic business images with people of mixed races. Dance/choreography/stage performance.
-    Images reflecting cyber safety, bullying.
-    Authentic images of people working in Industry.
-    Locations & events in the Asia/Pacific.
-    Health & P.E, kids playing sports.
-    Adults and children in design & technology environments.


And for further inspiration, our Japanese agents requested images such as:


-    Artistic flower images.
-    Aerial images.
-   Lifestyle images for editorial use, in particular families eating, their housing, domestic routines, from all across the world.

To those of you who I met along my travels, thank you so much for your kindness & hospitality. We’ll continue to work together to keep the business a lucrative and enjoyable sector for the years to come.

See you again soon!

Julieanne Eason,
Content Manager.

Freycenet National Park, Australia.

 


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If someone is asking you "Do you know what the date is?" you are either:

  1. An unfortunate soul who has just bashed his or her head and is being checked out by a concerned bystander or medical professional trying to ascertain whether you’re really “with it” or not.

  2. A stock photo researcher who must provide their client with a quick and accurate response, if you want to make the sale.

At age fotostock, we find that it is becoming more and more important for clients to have access to accurate and thorough metadata information for images.  The ability to respond to these questions quickly and reliably helps ensure that the client will be satisfied and will return in the future.

As you surely know, much of this information is added to images in editing programs such as Photoshop, Bridge, Lightroom, etc.  In addition, each image has EXIF information, which is information that is automatically created and stored when the image is taken.  This includes information such as: camera make and settings, GPS information, and importantly, the date and time of capture. 

The date the photo was taken is the most frequent request that we receive from agents and clients.  In some countries, such as Brazil, publishing clients are required by law to check the date, in order to ensure up-to-date imagery.  Fortunately, nowadays virtually every existing digital camera captures that information and saves it within the EXIF file.  The information is there, all you have to do is… not strip it out! 

We receive and store EXIF information from the majority of our photographers.  However, some photographers make the poor choice (consciously or not) to eliminate that information by stripping the EXIF file.  At best, you will receive an “additional information” request from us one day for a client who needs details.  At worst, you will lose sales when the client opts for the “safer, easier” option of an image with complete EXIF information.

Please take the time to review your submission processes to ensure that you are not losing this valuable information.  If you are unsure whether your material is arriving to age fotostock with EXIF intact, please contact us and we’ll let you know.

 


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Who stole the show from Royalty Free?

In Part 2 we mentioned a “younger, more economical starlet” that arrived to challenge RF.  That starlet was microstock, and by charging less than a dollar per photo, she did indeed steal part of the show from RF. 

To meet the growing market demand for good, low-cost images, age fotostock developed easyFotostock, a Low Budget Royalty Free (LBRF) collection . Let’s see what clients think about LBRF…

Why clients ♥ LBRF…

LBRF images are primarily created for the advertising/design industry, so they generally communicate clear concepts and clean compositions/backgrounds that can be easily used by a designer. 

The price is right.  Starting at 10 Euros for a 500 KB image and peaking at 80 Euros for 50MB, it’s much cheaper than standard RF.

Low priced images allow designers/agencies to create more economical budgets for clients that they might otherwise lose, like non-profits, etc.

It’s a good option for clients who use a high quantity of images.

LBRF images are licensed images, which means that the agency assumes its due responsibility if they have sold a problematic image, so there is no need to give special guarantees on the images.

Clients only pay for what they buy, they don’t have to prepay for credits or a subscription plan.  This gives them freedom to shop where they want.


Why clients don’t ♥ LBRF…

A client can’t purchase exclusivity of an image and doesn’t know whether the same image has been or will be used by a competitor.

There is also a greater chance of a client seeing the same image used repeatedly for different uses.

There is an even cheaper option (although with limitations) which is microstock or subscription plans.

In some cases, images shot with “prosumer” cameras aren’t available for large format uses or have other quality limitations.

Often, LBRF has many generic takes on the same concept, and there is little variety of specialized subjects available.


What photographers should know about LBRF

  1. Photographers that hope to turn a good profit from LBRF images must especially focus on quantity.  The quantity of sales is usually proportional to the quantity of images available.

  2. Sales of 10 Euros (easyFoto) add up a lot faster than sales of 14 cents (microstock).

  3. Photographers that are accustomed to producing RM and RF imagery will have to lower their production costs for LBRF in order to recover the investment since the images sell at lower prices.

  4. Textures and white backgrounds, a designer’s playthings, have found full expression in microstock and LBRF.

  5. Extremely specialized images of nature, science, medicine, etc. will probably not reach their full sales potential in LBRF.

  6. Many amateurs, eager to participate in the latest crowd-sourcing movement, become involved in stock photography before they understand the legal implications involved in licensing images.
  7. Just like in RF, there is a normal expectation from clients that LBRF images are completely released and free of third party rights.  You should never send images of recognizable people to LBRF if you don’t have signed releases and you should also be extremely careful with other subjects that are not free of third party rights, such as artwork.

  8. Just like in RF, in the case of a legal dispute, it is much more difficult for your agency to withdraw LBRF images from the market, and be able to track exactly how they were used.  This puts you a greater risk if a legal problem develops. 

  9. Any legal complications which arise can be multiplied in LBRF where an image might easily be used multiple times.


Here are some examples of the “designer’s playthings” that can be found in our LBRF collection easyFotostock.  And if you are wondering about the difference between LBRF and microstock, don’t worry, that’s coming soon…

 


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If you don’t know the answer to the above question, you aren’t alone.  In today’s potpourri of “users,” amateurs, and professional photographers, many people shoot, submit, and upload photos, and then see an RF, RM, or LBRF appear on the photo. But what are they?  Rights Managed (RM), Royalty Free (RF), and Low Budget Royalty Free (LBRF) are license types. What’s the “best” license?  We will talk about the three license types during the next few weeks.  If you understand the licenses, you can direct your product, the photo, for greater success.

Let´s start with RM

Did you know Rights Managed (RM) photographs are licensed for a specific use in a concrete geographical area and for a set amount of time?  There is a control of the use of the image, and that’s why they are called rights managed.

Why Clients ♥ RM…

Clients choose RM for the great variety of subjects available, including specialized subjects such as medicine, technology, and science.  In RM, these specialized subjects are usually documented thoroughly. 

RM prices are negotiable and adjust for the scope of a project.  “Negotiable” in these days means that a client can ask for a lot… And sometimes get it.

RM allows a client to purchase exclusive rights for the use of an image, important for an advertiser who wants to stand out from the competition.


Why Clients don’t ♥ RM…

Images with a wide distribution, multiple uses, or exclusivity can be expensive.

Clients have to renew the image license to continue using the image after the initial term is up.  This entails a certain administrative effort.

Many RM images have no model or property release so they can’t be safely used for advertising uses.  What a pity!


What photographers should know about RM.

  1. Standout creative or original images can be valued accordingly in RM.  This is for photographers who create images rather than merely describe places.

  2. If you have nonexclusive images in multiple stock agencies, make sure that you can block an image fast when an agency mentions 10 grand for an exclusive possibility…  Also be sure that your agency can get in contact with you.  If you are off shooting in the Congo, an assistant or trusted other should be checking your business email.

  3. Photographs of specialized subjects will probably find more potential buyers and the chance of a well-paid exclusive sale in RM. Clients look for well described images, with complete, accurate captions so you should be knowledgeable about the material that you submit and provide all relevant information. 

  4. If you have unreleased images of people, artwork, protected buildings, or copyrighted/trademarked material, RM is the safest place to distribute those images because your agency will help screen out improper uses, can quickly remove the image from market, and can produce the sales history if needed.  However, please note, some images aren’t even safe in RM!  See more legal info.

  5. If it is at all possible, you should always get a model release signed.  Even you travel photographers!  Here you can find a simple pocket release for street photos and our standard model release.  Use the standard release when possible.


Here are some images which represent the spirit of RM.  Stay tuned to get up close and personal with the Lovely RF in the coming weeks…


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The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in anyway.

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