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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Aside from the camera, one of the most useful tools in stock photography is a small but very important scrawl. This signature on a Model Release form, which states that the subject of the photograph consents to being photographed, is extremely important - it can catapault your content from just the "editorial use only" sector into the full stock market of advertising, promotion, trade or product endorsement.

If you have the relevant releases your images can be used for commercial purposes, if not, what a pity! They may be licensed as editorial use only.

Understandably, at times this signature can be difficult to obtain. Sometimes it's difficult even just asking for it.  You may be shy, you may be busy, you may be in a foreign country where language barriers mean that you can barely ask for a glass of water let alone explain what it is you will happen to your images when you get home.  But we encourage you, & you´ll see it in your sales reports at the end of the month -  it's worth making the effort!

So how should you go about it?

A few weeks ago staff at age fotostock were impressed by a submission by our photographer Jorge Fernández Garcés, which included stunning images of people in Africa with complete model releases. Here follows some words from the wise:

Approaching the model:


"How I approach the signing of a model release depends on each situation and each model. My first concern when asking for a MR is if I will somehow create an unpleasant situation or mistrust, if so, I don’t try. Otherwise, if the subject is open to listening, I attempt to have someone there who speaks their language, to explain what they're really signing.

In distant countries and cultures so different to that of Western culture, I consider it essential to bring along a local guide and translator to help me to contact with people, as it is not always easy to convince someone to let you photograph, and much less for them to sign the MR. The most important thing here is undoubtedly find a guide who understands the needs of the photographer.

In my case I always ask the models to sign a paper rather than a electronic document. That’s firstly because I do not yet have a smartphone or ipad, and second because I think it is quite difficult to get anyone to sign a paper, let alone a electronic device. Although I am aware that in some cases it may arouse the curiosity of the person and facilitate the process."

Model reactions:


"There are people who are afraid to sign a paper and there are people who really do not care at all. I think it has much to do with the cultural environment. Westerners usually distrust anyone who asks them to sign a document. Other cultures that do not have so much contact with the bureaucracy do not give signing a paper very much importance.

In regards to these model released photos that I recently took in Africa,  I was traveling with my partner, along with a guide. In addition to helping with the preparation of the scene (flash illumination, etc..) she was responsible for identifying and organizing the signed MRs. For me this was very important, because sometimes we work with several models at once and things get busy - had I been alone, as I was taking the photos, probably many of the pictures would not be accompanied by MR."

Some advice?

"If you are in a foreign country, it is important to have an assistant who is in charge of organizing the MRs once obtained, especially if you are working in the street with several different subjects. And of course it may seem silly, but always carry spare MRs and a pen, as it is not always easy to find a pen when you need one!"

- Jorge Fernández Garcés

To all our photographers out there, what are your experiences of obtaining Model Releases? Any suggestions you´d like to share?


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Calling all photographers!!! Now that you are about to have your children, your friends' children, your nieces and nephews & even your grandchildren available all summer long, how about getting out there and involving them in taking the images that clients will be looking for in the next few months?

Our expert photo-researchers recommend submitting your seasonal images & videos 3-4 months before the actual season, so that they appear on our website right when the buyers are looking for them.

It may seem far away now, but in the fall, children and youth of all ages will be returning to their nurseries, day-cares, schools, and universities… and we want to be ready with a great selection of photos and videos that capture this moment, providing a fresh supply of relevant images just as the season kicks off.

Submit now for “Back to school”  - photos & videos of children preparing/going back to school and details of school materials of all kind.

Need more ideas on Back To School photography? CLICK HERE


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Inspired by sailors' clothing, Coco Chanel created her first nautical collection in 1917, with stripes and lines plentifully stamped on dresses and shirts. This elegant aesthetic, synonymous with casual chic Parisian style, continues to be popular in both catwalks and trend blogs today.

Spots became fashionable in the 40s and 50s due to the influence of Hollywood stars such as Marilyn Monroe, Rita Hayworth and Elizabeth Taylor, and the possession of a polka dot dress became a definite must as soon as Lucille Ball made it her staple in the hit television show I Love Lucy. Since then, dots have also taken an essential role in our wardrobe as well as in general fashion globally – just take a look at the rise in fame of artworks by Yayoi Kusama, "The Princess of Polka Dots".


Stripes and polka dots combine to create a look full of color, life and fun – an irresistible invitation that always rewards with a smile. Do you dare?


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To quote a photographer in age fotostock's photographers' chatroom:

"To produce great images, money isn’t the main necessity. It´s imagination, conceptualization and being able to use available resources that are the most important things"

Words from the wise - it’s true! We’re finding that photographers don’t need to break open their piggy banks for a photo shoot with top models in the Caribbean in order to make images that sell. They needn’t even leave their neighborhood. With a general shift in image trends, the world of design and publicity is tending towards images that mix creative flair with real life moments, images that give us a unique way of seeing the most ordinary things.

Photographers, look around you - there’s a high chance that your best photos can be taken in exact spot in which you’re standing. Attention to detail, a creative angle, willing friends that will sign a model release (hey, this is one of the only times it’s suitable to say “shoot your children”), people going about their daily lives, in natural locations – with a little imagination all of these make excellent ingredients for images that can quite simply knock your socks off. Remember, gold is not the only thing that glitters…!


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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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