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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Mint Images presents a collection of over 4,000 RM images that meet with the growing demand for imagery concerning the environment, sustainability and issues of health and wellbeing.

Want to see more? Click here

This collection includes many images from the leading wildlife photographer FRANS LANTING, who has been has been hailed as one of the great photographers of our time. He has covered wildlife in all its forms, and his images of the world’s great natural beauty, ecological hot spots, global coverage of stunning landscapes and dramatic images of great intensity and variety have stunned the world.


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We’re very pleased to announce the extension of our THP network in Asia, thanks to incorporation of new Members Oriental Touch and Daiichi Colour to the THP Photo services community. These new agents/providers, based in Hong Kong and the Philippines, license Rights Managed, Royalty Free and Low-Budget Royalty Free imagery.

 

“Oriental Touch was the first stockphoto library established in S.E.Asia, and we have a 42 year history in this market, answering the need for creative and advertising productions in our region.

Oriental Touch has developed an important supply of images focusing on Asian elements, particularly travel and lifestyle.

Daiichi Colour, the Philippines branch office of Oriental Touch, serves the creative and advertising clients with the best stock photos in all categories, supplied by several supporting providers from Asia, Europe, America and our own.

As part of the THP network, we will focus on sales and production of more new images to submit to our member partners. We appreciate the continuous support from all the photo providers to Oriental Touch and Daiichi Colour via the THP.”

- Virginia Ho. Director, Oriental Touch.


age fotostock & the THP would like to offer a warm welcome to Director Virginia Ho and all of her team at Oriental Touch and Daiichi Colour.


Like to know more about the THP? click here!

 


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Gavriel Jecan, age fotostock photographer, lives quite literally between two different worlds, Seattle in the U.S. and Khon Kaen, Thailand.  Maybe it is this double residency between the "East" and the "West" what enriches his photography and allows him to create such sensitive, at times spiritual images of the places he visits.  At a time when to travel to exotic places and burn up the camera's battery with nonstop shooting has become commonplace, these quiet, glowing images of animals, people and landscapes are a breath of fresh air. 

But don´t get the wrong idea from my focus on his sensitive and spiritual imagery, Jecan also shows himself to be firmly rooted and active in contemporary business culture, promoting himself actively through Facebook, Twitter, a blog and a website.  Click the links to see how Jecan does it.  Look and learn.

Q: Choose 3 words that describe you.

A: Visual, Observant & Spontaneous.

Q: Why did you choose to be a photographer?

A: I was influenced by my father, he was an artist and he bought my first camera when I was 12 year old.  From then on, I felt the need to document and tell the stories of our weekend hikes with my family and friends and later on my climbing adventures and escapes in the wilderness.

Q: Do you have any special artistic influences?

A: I was influenced by many photographers and modern painters.

Painters that I admire who inspired me in my work : Robert Bateman (wildlife composition) Claude Monet , Georges Seurat, Vincent Van Gogh, Sally Anderson, Jackson Pollock, Romare Bearden, Mark Tobey. 

Photographers that I’ve learned from and whose work I admire: Art Wolfe (landscapes and Indigenous culture), Franz Lanting (wildlife), Galen Rowell ( Outdoors, Adventure),  Nevada Wire (Travel Photography), Jay Maisel ( Rural Photography), etc.

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

A: Usually I travel with two camera bodies and with these lenses: 16 to 35 mm, 50 mm, and 70 to 200 mm, plus an extension tube and strobe.

Q: Where is your favorite place to photograph?  And where are you still hoping to go?

A: Every place I am at that moment is my favorite, because every place provides a variety of subjects to photograph.  I would like to see and document West Africa and Greenland, before it melts away due to global warming.

Q: Do you plan your trips beforehand or do you make it up along the way?

A: I plan my trips few months in advance. If something unexpected happen when there, I change my planes.

Q: How do you promote yourself through social networks? (facebook, twitter, blog, etc)? Is it helpful?

A: I do use Facebook to share info about my work and latest trips with my followers and the Blog/website to promote my work. Yes, it is helpful.

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

A: I chose Age fotostock due to their efficiency in running the business, fast editing and their communication with photographers.

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

A: Best advice was when my photographer friend Art Wolfe told me, “Wherever you are, don’t stop looking.”  And worst… too many to mention.

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

A: Probably an adventurer or something that could accommodate my family in it.
 
 


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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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