Photographers are an important part of any stock photography agency and while this is an obvious truth it seems when looking from inside the industry that there have always been “two sides”. Photographers on one side and the stock agencies on the other. The question is: Has this been healthy? Apparently not. When we see how stock photography is struggling today and suffering from a wave of “selling cheap” it is clear this is affecting the “two sides” sides of the entire industry. So is a solution for this?

age fotostock has the theory that no matter how tragic the present and the future might seem to be, most players in this industry want to stay in the business, even if they have to change their traditional business model to a technology driven way of working and relating to clients.  Therefore, in these changing times, interrelated communication between the artificially created “two sides” of the industry becomes essential. This is why age fotostock has introduced an "age photographers Social Network," aiming to boost intercommunication between photographers, along with increased participation by age fotostock staff, including Alfonso Gutiérrez, the CEO of the company that maintains there an active presence.

Unlike other forums, blogs and public social networks that require registration, photographers are not allowed to hide behind pseudonyms in the age fotostock Photographers Social Network. age fotostock invites photographers that have been active in the last two years by sending them an e-mail. All of the participant’s real names are used in the Social Network by the members. If anyone wants to suggest improvements or complain about something, they are free to say what they think. age fotostock will respond, but unlike a public blog, in the photographers Social Network, everyone can say things relevant to members of the network and not to the entire world.

The Social Network has been operative for the past two months and has surprised age fotostock; Alfonso Gutierrez says “I have been surprised by the activity that has developed and we have learned about areas that we can improve that were simply oblivious to us. If we can openly chat regularly on the little matters, about our needs (of both photographer and agency), about the ways to compete in a variable business model, and if we can supply more information constantly and when asked, at least we will either be jumping for joy together... or at least, crying as one community.”


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When you look at the imagery of our next featured age fotostock photographer, you might wonder whether Lluis Real inhabits the same world as you and me. His is a world of misty, desolate landscapes, strange and eerie human forms and continual artistic exploration.  Enjoy the 10 x 10 of this long-time age fotostock photographer, and see if you can answer the question, "What is real and what is Real?"

Q: Choose 3 words that describe you.

A: Will, perseverance, patience.

Q: How did you learn to be a photographer?

A: At a photography school.

Q: Any special artistic influences?

A: I nourish myself upon what I like the most.

Q: What’s your favourite lens and why?

A: All of them. Each one according to the idea to do.

Q: What is your favorite time of day to make photos?

A: Not really, photography is light and I look for the right kind for every occasion.

Q: What song or kind of music would go well with your photos?

A: Jazz.

Q: What’s the image that you are still hoping to make?

A: All and none.

Q: Why did you choose age fotostock to represent your photography?

A: I knew several photographers that were in AGE at the time.

Q: What is the best or worst photographic advice that you have ever received?

A: The best: never turn in a photo that you do not like.

Q: If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be?

A: A cook.


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Welcome to the wild, wonderful world of Juan Carlos Muñoz. The images of this long-time age fotostock photographer show passion for, but also extensive knowledge of the animals, plants and natural environments of our planet. It is a potent combination which results in photography that is an authentic treasure; a treasure because it allows us to observe and appreciate species and places that we might never see in person and which will only exist for future generations if we can learn to conserve them.

You can see more of Muñoz´s work here or on his website which the photographer advises is currently under renovation.

Q: What 3 words best describe you?

A: Naturalness, Simplicity, Passion.

Q: Why did you become a wildlife photographer?

A: Ever since I was a child I liked nature so much that in college I majored in Biology, specializing in the environment.

Q: What is the animal or plant that you most like to photograph?

A: My group of “favorites” is very large, yet I am passionate about owls, penguins and meadow pastures.

Q: What is your favorite lens? Why?

A: A staple in my travel kit is the 24-105 mm lens because of its great versatility. In wildlife photography, I can’t do without my 500 mm lens.

Q: Are you more technical or intuitive in your photography?

A: Intuition is an essential element in all my images.

Q: What’s the image that you are still hoping to make?

A: Flowing rivers of lava.

Q: How do you finance your photographic trips around the world?

A: With the publication of my images in newspapers, magazines, and other parts of the editorial and advertising sectors.

Q: Why did you choose age fotostock to represent your photography?

A: I decided to work with age fotostock because I found age to be the most focused and far reaching agency in the Spanish market. Also, my images fit in well with the wide range of photographic subjects which age represents.

Q: What equipment do you recommend?

A: Incredible photographs are not necessarily created with expensive equipment, but in sublime moments. Any of digital SLRs that abound on the market today can allow you to capture remarkable images.

Q: If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be?

A: I’d be a field biologist.


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Our next featured age fotostock photographer, Enrique Algarra, is involved in photography at different levels.  As a professor, he is directly involved in the formation of the young, aspiring photographers of tomorrow.  As a photographer, his images show a curious, playful, unconstrained and at times almost obsessive vision of the world.  Algarra comments that he started taking photos at the age of 7. You can still feel the spirit of that 7 year old in his images that spy on strangely human mannequins, the moving legs of blurred passersby’s, and the odd places that can be found just around the corner…if you’re looking.  You can see more of his images here at age fotostock or in either of these personal blogs, www.enriquealgarra.blogspot.com or www.paquetesdefotos.blogspot.com.

 

Q: What 3 words best describe you?

A: I think Enrique, Algarra, and Photographer.

Q: What artistic influences are in your work?

A: I'm interested in film and photography and they give me ideas, according to my mood. Life is full of things and places to find inspiration.

Q: What is your favorite lens? Why?

A: In the seventies, I was a fan of the 20 mm because I really liked Pete Turner. Now I still enjoy the wide angles, but I’m just as likely to grab a fisheye as the 600 mm, it all depends on the day and my mood.

Q: What’s the Image that you are still hoping to make?

A: I’m not a photojournalist and I’m not trying to become a legend, so I have nothing planned. I’d just like to make at least one photo a day that makes me feel good.

Q: Why did you choose age fotostock to represent your photography?

A: I chose age fotostock for the proximity, and by that I don’t just mean that Valencia is close to Barcelona. I like to put faces on the names of the people who are on the other side of my computer screen working with me.  Age fotostock has always treated me very well, and I appreciate that.

Q: Based on your experience as a photography professor, what future changes await us in photography?

A: The changes have already come, and are here to stay. Professionally, the world has been digital for some time now, but even as files and cameras improve, the most important thing is to improve how we think, our ideas.  Photography schools must rethink their focus and develop different educational content.

Q: Are your current students the same as your students from the past or do you see changes?

A: The students are not at all the same.  They grew up in the digital world, and some things that have been very difficult for older photographers to learn are completely natural for them.

Q: In your opinion, what is the best way to learn photography?

A: At this point, I think you can learn digital technology quickly; it’s a much simpler process than classic photography, which is an advantage. However, everything that isn’t technique is as difficult to learn as before.  It’s a matter of bringing your own vision to the world through your images, digital or not, and developing a mature vision is not easy. You must try to understand the things around you in order to photograph them. Photography schools should not only teach color profiles and how to master the needed software, they must also prepare future photographers to be able to express their ideas to the world with their images.

Q: What is the best photographic advice that you have ever received?

A: My first teacher once told me that photography is like a puppy, if you take care of it, it will never abandon you. I took his advice, I don’t have a dog, but I've been taking pictures since I was seven, and the truth is that photography has been a good companion.  That’s in part thanks to you guys.

Q: If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be?

A: I would like to be anything that would free me from depending on the latest software, firmware or operating system and all those things that sometimes make you feel like a slave. I think if I became a writer I would happily use just a pencil and paper and I would be a little more free. But that must await for a different incarnation ...

Bonus Question:  I've heard your students talk about the so-called "Algarratype." Can you explain what that is?

A: In the past, when a student took a photo that was too “inspired” in my photos, the other students would tell him that he had made an "Algarratype.” But luckily, that doesn’t happen anymore, now I am copying them (ha ha).


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The images of our next featured age fotostock photographer, Ton Koene, might provoke a wide range of emotions in our readers.  What they won’t provoke is indifference.  This series, “Doctors at the frontline,” documents the work of Doctors without Borders at a hospital in Afghanistan.  And, more powerfully, it tells us something about the lives of women and children in that country.  You can read more about this hospital here and you can see more of Koene's images at www.tonkoene.nl.

At a time when microstocks have started selling photos for editorial use, images like these should invite photographers to a moment of serious reflection.  The value of these images is their very serious and realistic vision of the day-to-day reality in an Afghan hospital.  Their value is the careful composition and storytelling, making them images that communicate powerfully, not sensationally.  Their value is the trust the photographer has developed with the hospital and ONG to gain access and the careful planning behind photojournalism in a conflict zone.  Finally, the value of these images is the financial cost of a trip and long stay in Afghanistan and the risk of harm that the photographer has accepted. 

Should a photographer´s blood, sweat, toil & tears be available for a 14 cents download?  If we sell such valuable images for pocket change, won´t the day come when these valuable and unique images cease to exist?

 

Q: Why did you choose to be a photographer?

A: It is fun. You have no boss, no personnel, and can be creative and free as a bird while travelling the world.

Q: How do you get funding for your trips and projects?

A: It depends, sometimes I seek funding for projects, but mostly I invest profits from my previous projects to initiate new projects.

Q: What equipment do you carry when you’re packing light?

A: I always take: two Canon 5D, one 24 mm 1.4, one 24 mm-70 mm 2.8, one fisheye, flash and chargers. I have no telephoto lens.

Q: Where is your favourite place to photograph?

A: Outside, in all weather conditions. I love the tropics to shoot. I also shoot a lot in conflict areas where the emotions in people are stronger.

Q: Where are you still hoping to go?

A: There is no limit. I would like to go to places which are not photographed too often.

Q: Have you ever faced great difficulty in gaining access for a story?  How did you manage it?

A: I always have problems in photographing as the context I shoot is violent and corrupt. It requires good preparation and being transparent in what you want to do. Also, you must talk to the right people and take good advice.

Q: Do you feel that viewers nowadays have become desensitized to images of war, refugees, etc or are they still impacted by these images?

A: Yes, and often these images are indeed cheap. But a good photograph is always powerful, no matter how often it is being done....but you have to be creative and original...

Q: Which is your favourite of your features?

A: Any feature which shows the strength of people in difficult situations. I like the transvestites in Pakistan as the images are good, but it was also difficult to make.

Q: Why did you choose age fotostock to represent your photography?

A: AGE has a wide network of distribution which helps my sales and income.

Q: What is the best or worst photographic advice that you have ever received?

A: The worst advice: Do not start doing it, it’s hard to get an income (which is true, but who cares).
The best advice: If a picture is not good enough, you are not close enough (Robert Capa).

Q: If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be?

A: Rich.


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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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