CEPIC, Center of the Picture Industry Europe, held its annual conference here in Barcelona June Tuesday 10th– Friday 14th .

Given that Barcelona is age fotostock’s home city and that age fotostock CEO Alfonso Gutierrez was elected the president of Cepic at the beginning of the week, it was an exciting and busy week for age fotostock staff. In fact, the hubbub and CEPIC aftermath has only just now started to simmer down.

Overall, the CEPIC congress is simply the best place to stay in touch with all our partners, listen to what is going on in the industry and learn about other countries experiences and ways of doing business.

More specifically, that means 30 minute meetings from 9am until 6.30pm for three days straight, dinners or lunches with business associates who have travelled across the world to attend and despite their jetlag will do all they can to take advantage of being on the Mediterranean, walking in many directions with much purpose and many pamphlets, excel sheets, laptop under the arm, intense cravings for coffees, the odd sit down to be enlightened or angered  in one of the conference sessions and a well deserved shake-it-loose party at the end of the week. In short, it’s a photography industry meeting marathon.

My personal experience as Content Manger for age fotostock was a fortification of our relationships with current providers and agents, closing business deals which include extending distribution contracts to new territories, meeting companies representing new collections, talking with current Providers about their new content available and comparing business experience and strategies with other companies. The age fotostock team also held a small meeting for the agents who use our THP network, where we were proud to demo the new age fotostock website which will be launched soon.

News from the floor is that the market is slightly decreasing in areas of economic struggle and remaining steady in others. Smaller companies tend to be retiring from the business and those who are growing are the ones who are promoting new business strategies which take advantage of the increasingly important and inescapable role that digital technology plays in our daily lives. Clients are accustomed to the microstock product and an image selling for $5,000 is a rare occurrence nowadays. Clients globally now ask for more images at a lesser price and with extended uses and extended dates, although there is a general consensus that clients are constantly returning to agents that can provide service, which doesn’t mean only personal sales care but a trustworthy product in which the releases, caption information and sales history of the item are valid and dependable.

There is also the ever present desire for those at Cepic to learn which new markets and products are developing, but although there are many companies out there taking many different approaches, no one seems to have sprung upon anything that can lift us high and dry out of the lull left in the wake of microstock pricing. Yet.


Many attendants said it was one of their favorite Cepic congresses, and although it could have been just the influence of smooth Spanish sun after a particularly bleak winter across Europe, I believe the feeling of camaraderie in the business comes from the inherent need to pull together to unite industry standards and to spread knowledge and expertise in order to make the industry stronger.


I’ll leave you with a quote from Sol, age fotostock International Accounts Manager:


“If I should define 2013 CEPIC, I would say that it made me think about one of my favourite books: Sun Tzu’s Art of War. Everyone was in the mood of gaining a victory by losing as little as possible. Everyone was keen to negotiate symbiotic synergies. There were no big parades or miracle solutions but instead, tones of persistence, resilience and the decisive goal to catch a business opportunity, wherever it is. This is the time for creative, energetic, and simple solutions – which curiously manifested in a dish included in the catering at the Cepic opening party; a culinary innovation encapsulating the famous Spanish cockle (berberechos) sauce and a lot of tasty inspiration in one shot.”


Are we ready to fight? Certainly, at age fotostock, we are.

 


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A photographer in our chat room recently asked:


<<What is difference in missions of PACA, BAPLA, CEPIC? Are they all similar missions & only their member's locations differ?>>


Basically, yes, their missions are similar, and yes, it is their location that differentiates them. All three work closely with the others, and the P in each acronym stands for Picture:  They are all trade organizations, working to encourage the best possible standards in the stock photography industry, to protect the core principals of the industry, to become the one authorative voice in their territory.

 

PACA, the Picture Archive Council of America is a Digital Media Licensing Association in North America that represents the vital interests of stock archives of every size, from individual photographers to large corporations, who license images for commercial reproduction. Founded in 1951, its membership includes over 100 companies in North America and over 50 international members.


PACA strives to foster and protect the interests of the picture archive community by monitoring new laws and court rulings that affect the stock photo industry and provides vital information on legal issues that are important to the business. They work to develop useful business standards and promote ethical business practices; actively advocate copyright protection; collect and disseminate timely information; and take an active role in the picture community by building relationships with organizations from related industries.


PACA holds an Annual International Conference. This is one of the main industry events of the year, providing opportunities to meet others in the business, discuss important issues, participate in seminars ranging from salesmanship to new technologies, and make connections with potential trade partners and vendors from around the country and the world.


The British Association of Picture Libraries and Agencies, or BAPLA, has been a trade body since 1975 and is the trade association for picture libraries in the United Kingdom


BAPLA Represents picture libraries and agencies of all sizes and types. Its members include the major news, stock and production agencies as well as sole traders and cultural heritage institutions. Bapla deems to:
•    Encourage best practice within the industry.
•    Lobby at UK and international level to ensure the core principles of our industry are protected.
•    Develop and deliver solutions on 21st Century copyright.
•    Channel the knowledge and expertise of the wider picture community.
BAPLA is steered by an elected voluntary Executive Committee of 12 officers, supported by two permanent office staff, a freelance senior lobbying consultant and a number of subcommittees. Their work is funded by membership fees to whom they provide day-to-day business support.

And last but not least, we have CEPIC, Center of the Picture Industry Europe, for which our very well known CEO at age fotostock,  Alfonso Gutierrez, has just been elected President.

CEPIC federates nearly a thousand of picture agencies and photo libraries in 20 countries across Europe, both within and outside the European Union. It has affiliates in North America and Asia. CEPIC's membership includes large and smaller stock photo libraries, major photo news agencies, art galleries and museums, video companies. The aim of CEPIC is to be a united voice for the press, stock & heritage organisations of Europe in all matters pertaining to the photographic industry. This includes consolidating copyright protection for photography and ensuring that it not be weakened by the process of the harmonisation of copyright laws, fighting for comparable trade regulations and ethical standards which will guarantee the protection of rights for all photographers, copyright holders and agencies, and devleoping guidelines for a fair business competition.

With an annual congress since 1995, CEPIC has become a central meeting point for agencies from all around the world centered on Europe. The website has a wealth of information on copyright issues, legal battles, changes in law and how they affect the picture industry, changes in technology, and upcoming events.


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We have recently heard some disquiet comments on how images turn up on Google without any information. While it is debatable whether Google is helpful or a hindrance to the stock photography industry (keep reading) it is certainly our responsibility to make sure that all images shown in photo library websites contain the authors name in the EXIF (IPTC section) data of the image. The only place that Google can extract data from is the EXIF data, and obviously, Google is not going to show an author’s name if the image doesn´t contain it. As the images that are available to download from Google’s search results are often large and plentiful, copyright infringements are becoming more and more rife, and are impossible to track if the photographer's name is nowhere to be found.

Remedy? Protect your images, use your EXIF!!!!

age fotostock will never remove the EXIF submitted to us, but it’s up to you to include it in your image data. Click here to read more about submitting your photos with EXIF.

Facebook however strips the EXIF data of the content you post there.  So if you download an image either from facebook directly or from facebook via a google search result, there´ll be no EXIF data found at all.  Is this a blessing or a minefield? Facebook states:

While you are allowing us to use the information we receive about you, you always own all of your information… which is why we don't share information we receive about you with others unless we have: removed your name or any other personally identifying information from it.

Adios EXIF! Fine if you have privacy concerns, but a complete nightmare if someone has `published your holiday snaps on their website and you want to prove copyright infringement.

Remedy? Watermark it! Click here to see the watermarked images that age fotostock posts on facebook everyday.

On this topic, there has been another interesting blog post regarding Google in the last week, published by Cepic. It’s recommended reading on the full story of our industry's fight against the unlawful use of third parties' content in the latest features of the new Google Image search:

Google indexes and uses images for various GOOGLE services. The vast majority of those images is copyrighted material, used without any authorization by the rightholders. Recent developments relating to image search show more clearly than ever how by unauthorized indexing, ranking and displaying of images in a certain way, GOOGLE is slowly but surely turning into a large picture library for free content – without and sometimes even against the explicit will of the content owners.

- 27 May 2013 CEPIC – Center of the Picture Industry

Be savvy: protect your images, and get informed about the internet platforms that you are working with. A stitch in time always saves nine...


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All of you should read the following post in the CEPIC Blog which debates the recent Dreamstime Microstock offer of over a million images for free use, based on the pedestrian thinking that people that get images for free will eventually pay for them sometime in the future...

CLICK to read the article in the Cepic Blog 

Our photographers' chatroom has been humming with backlash. Here's just a few of the photographers' reactions:

"I'm not allowed to talk about the "old" days but back then the bosses of the agencies cared passionately about the business and often were artists as well, now it's all about money for them and lack of it for us.It won't be too long before photographers have to pay to sell their photos that are being given away free."

"I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that shooting stock in this type of environment is rather pointless and perhaps not worth the effort for the 99%. Luckily I have other more marketable skills."

"I might be the eternal optimist, but I think there is still a decent paying place for high quality niche images. One that a micro shooter could not produce and one any jackass can't take with their iPhone. I try and produce them all the time."

"There is certainly no NEED for FREE content in today's ADVERTISING market. If you want to advertise, PAY the creator of the content you'd like to use! When one person (or business) WANTS to use free content - that doesn't mean another person has to deliver it at his own expenses."

It is clear that digital technology and the Internet has opened the door for new business models that favor the distribution process that balances the lowering of selling prices with the generation of volume. While this may initially sound logical, the ugly side is that photographers in general and the stock photography industry in particular will fall into decline because photographers cannot generate enough revenue to continue producing great images.

Cheap prices have devaluated photography to unimaginable levels in just a few years and have demoralized professional photographers. I believe that the only way to maintain the value of photography is to produce high quality content that attract clients attention because it is unique, innovative, creative and experimental and which maintains a more than decent price. age fotostock maintains the same principles, shooting the best images we can and trying to sell them for the best possible price.

We have entered into a vicious circle that we can only break out of if photographers and stock agencies demolish the fence that separates them and openly discuss certain pricing logic - otherwise the future will be uncertain for both of us.


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For those who work in the stock industry in France, Pixday is one of the highlights of the year. Organized every year by Pixways, the company who created Pixpalace, a distribution portal for agencies in France, it is the only event in Paris where stock photo and video buyers and photography agencies can meet together.

Along with 30 other press, stock and specialized agencies, the age fotostock Paris team attended Pixday on the 11th of April. The day was extremely busy and rewarding, filled with meetings with clients both old and new.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few words from Magali Tribalet, our Head of Sales at age fotostock France;

"Our visitors were mainly from the editorial and publishing market but a nice surprise this year was the growing number of visits from the advertising and communication industry.

We can confirm that microstock is very powerful in the market but buyers are also increasingly committed to agencies that offer alternatives - a different look, legal insurance and more variety.

The overall impression was that in spite of a very tough market, the vibe was positive, and clients were pleased to notice that traditional agencies such as age fotostock are offering new and high quality images."


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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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