re-post from Kaptur with permission from  Paul Melcher

The next big frontier for anyone involved with photography online is content curation.  The value of a company dealing with photography is not in its ability to attract a large amount of content – that is the easy part-  but rather in its ability to create value to the content by carefully and appropriately curating it.

The first phase of photography content valuation was to amass as many assets as possible. Companies success rate was measured in how quickly and reliably they could accumulate  a vast amount of photos from their users, regardless of their quality.  As Flickr quickly realized, that strategy was doomed to fail as not all content is equal. For visitors to keep on logging in, they had to add efficient filters that would hide the less desirable items and make the most popular one bubble up. Their algorithm, called interestingness, relied on user comments, likes, clicks to create an automated ranking of the best images. And it worked, for a while at least.

The issue, after a while, is the necessity to go beyond popularity as the primary trigger for leadership. Popularity triggers more popularity which in turns shuts down discovery. In other words, the more an image is popular, the more it becomes more popular. And as we have seen many times with viral photos, meme or videos, the reason for popularity might  be far from any esthetics reasons. In turn, curation had to evolve.

While it is not that hard for a human to quickly select good images from an incoming feed, it is just not scalable. It works for stock photo agencies like Shutterstock or Getty Images but when your feed gets  million of images a day, like most social media site, it is just not a desirable option.

Automated curation based on aesthetics is still far from being helpful. Back in 2005, researchers at the University of Pennsylvania  created Acquine, a project that learned from people’s votes to replicate human curation. The result was somewhat promising but tended heavily towards the beach at sunset with a boat at the forefront photos.

One of the biggest issue to solve in automated curation is in anticipating the viewing audience. A 20-year-old  american male will not have the same interest as a 60 year Indonesian woman. They will obviously not like the same photos. In short, photo curation needs to deliver on expectations by predicting the audience. If you know your audience, it becomes much easier.

Take G+ for example. They know that the majority of the images they receive are family/friend photos to be shared with family/friends so here is their algorithm :

Removing the blurred images or otherwise poor technical quality.
Selecting images with faces/people. Recognises the people in your circles as people who’re important to you
Picking images that have smiles
Removing duplicates (or near duplicates), & getting the best one based on the above.
Simple enough ? The same goes for specialized companies like Chute or Curalate that search for specific content for specific brands. They can quickly skim through millions of Instagram uploads and retrieve those that are particular to their needs based on a logo and hashtag for example.  Manual editing can then take over to filter out the false positive or useless ones.

Pinterest, Instagram, and down the line Facebook, Twitter, Google and Yahoo understand that it is no longer sufficient to show images. The images seen have to be relevant in some manner to the viewers. Facebook and Twitter have their work cut out for them as the relevancy of the images depends on who is sharing it, which is defined by the users themselves. Pinterest, however, needs to constantly tweak its discovery algorithm since everything is public and relies entirely on relevancy of content. Imagine what would happen to Pinterest if we started to see mostly blurry images or porn. Same for Instagram.

While big improvements have been made a lot still has to be done. The value of any social media site is only as good as its curation algorithm. As the accumulation of data around image usage, and more importantly, image conversion rate – increase, we can expect to see more potent filtering to a point where every site we visit will only show images we love or want to click on. Which, after all, might dramatically alter what we love.

114a59bNamed one of the “100 most important people in photography” by American Photo Magazine, Paul is the founder and Editor in Chief of Kaptur. He has more than 20 years of photo and technology experience at prestigious photo agencies, such as Corbis and Gamma Press, as well as top leadership role in market changing photo tech companies like Stipple or DigitalRailroad. In his free time, he writes his own photo industry blog, “Thoughts of a Bohemian” and tries to keep up with his two sons.

Past Glories of Ancient Civilizations – the Photography of Werner Forman

Guest post by Julian Jackson

Werner Forman was an intrepid photographer, who traveled all over the world to document the greatness of ancient civilizations. During his 75 year career he went into places nobody had been before with a camera, to take stunning visual images. He was the co-author and sole photographer of more than 80 books, covering subjects as varied as the Aztecs, Tang China, the Vikings and the Maori, as well as contributing images to hundreds of other books, magazines, and TV programs.

Werner died in 2010, but his legacy lives on. Werner Forman Archive is a treasury of his photography, some of which is of artifacts which are now lost, or areas of the world which are no longer safe for one man and a Hasselblad to visit. It covers archaeological sites, cultural monuments, landscapes and priceless museum exhibits photographed in more than 55 countries.

Chichen Itza (c)Werner Forman

Chichen Itza (c)Werner Forman

Born in 1921 in Prague, he was fascinated by photography as a teenager and determined to make it his life’s work. At first intrigued by machinery, he took images of cars and aeroplanes, which were stylish enough to gain him status as official photographer to the Czech commercial airline at the age of fourteen! During the Second World War he documented atrocities for the Resistance, which eventually led to the arrest of himself, his brother, father and Jewish mother. His father, a Catholic, was offered the chance to save himself by divorcing his wife. He refused. Remarkably the family all survived the concentration camps.


After the war Forman developed an interest in Chinese art. The subject of his first book was Chinese art in Czech collections for famous publisher Artia. Designed by his brother Bedrich and released in 1954, it was an international best-seller, with editions in English and German as well as Czech. This brought him to the notice of the Chinese authorities, who invited the brothers to visit. In 1956 the pair spent two months in China, documenting museum artefacts and holding seminars for Chinese photographers. During the years that followed Forman produced many books of photographs of ancient artifacts from various countries, including North Korea and North Vietnam.

Mongolia (c) Werner Forman

Mongolia (c) Werner Forman


Artia eventually produced forty Forman volumes including monographs on five important collections in the British Museum, with texts by their curators. These were realised due to the commitment of the publisher Paul Hamlyn, who found a ready market for the Forman books. Another such project was Egyptian Art (1962), featuring the renowned collection of Cairo’s Egyptian Museum.

Nefertiti (c)Werner Forman

Nefertiti (c)Werner Forman

Werner Forman came from Czechoslovakia to live in England in 1968. He brought with him thousands of glass plates, colour and black and white negatives and transparencies, all uncaptioned or unidentified and on meeting Barbara Heller, the wife of his former Czech publisher, Martin Heller, they agreed that she would take on the work and establish the Werner Forman Archive. It was a monumental task to identify and caption the images and they are now scanned and on line at

Others who published Forman’s books included Weidenfeld & Nicolson and from the mid-seventies he edited a new series for Orbis Publishing called Echoes of the Ancient World. Fifteen volumes in all were published and repeatedly reissued in many languages, on subjects as varied as the Aztecs, Tang China, the Vikings and the Maori. In 1992 his photographs enriched The Life in Ancient Egypt by Eugen Strouhal, and in consequence the book was taken up by publishers in eleven countries and published in nine languages.

Over the next couple of decades Forman travelled extensively, often alone, into areas that could be difficult to reach, where he photographed the many different aspects of ancient civilizations, including prehistoric art, ancient Persia, Indian sculpture among others. His travels took him north to document the Vikings, and far east to picture Japan and the Samurai.

After his death, a large number of previously unseen images have come to light and are being catalogued and digitized, and are gradually being added to the collection

Barbara Heller, Director, Werner Forman Archive says, “The archive has an unparalleled collection of global art and antiquities images from the long career of the late Werner Forman, many of which are unique and some unfortunately have disappeared so the images we hold are the only record of them. Moving forward, we are cataloging and digitizing the thousands of rare photos that have not been previously seen and we hope to release the books Werner was working on before his final illness, which will be a swansong for a remarkable career in photography.

All photographs Copyright Werner Forman Archive 

juliancoffeshopcuJulian Jackson is a writer with extensive experience of picture research, whose main interests include photography and the environment.  His website is  He also runs a Picture Research by Distance Learning Course profile.


IMGembed’s Impression Licensing Solution

Robert Henson, IMGembed’s VP of business development, explains how their pay-per-view licensing tool impacts both the supply and demand side of online publishing. Guest post by Jain Lemos.

Permission language and fee negotiations for online image usage tracked by impressions have often been confusing and inconsistent. Last year, IMGembed set out to change that. Now buyers and publishers can search their growing bank of user-generated and premium content, grab an image’s HTML code and IMGembed will track the number of impressions for them. There is no more worrying about who is responsible for counting page views!

Image © Eugene Gao

“Image buyers can seamlessly integrate our images into their online projects,” says Henson, a veteran in the stock business and PACA’s former president and technology chair. “They don’t have to host or track the image and they have a broad and unique inventory to choose from,” he adds. IMGembed’s licensing model is based on cost-per-thousand-impressions rates known as CPM. Prices range from free to pay-per-use and all fees are set by the sellers, not IMGembed.

“Philosophically, the company is very much centered on win-win solutions,” claims Henson, who joined the company after finding them unique among other photo-related startups. The company’s founders (the same team behind The Creative Finder and DesignTaxi) come from the online publishing industry—not the image business—and admit their focus is on building a solution for publishers while allowing image owners full control of inventory access, credit, and pricing.

“Our platform is open to anyone and we’ve seen great participation and growth from all types of photographers,” Henson explains. Millions of images are available for licensing and that number is growing each month. Condé Nast offers some of their image catalog via IMGembed and stock agencies Blend and Danita Delimont have recently signed on. Established libraries like these can satisfy their demand for attribution and compensation for the use of their images, plus they can track their images in real time, something difficult to do—if not impossible—for impression licensing sales before.

The impression counting works through IMGembed’s technology, which delivers a unique image every time someone loads a Web page. That page loading counts as an image view. When setting pricing, sellers can choose from three options: (a) free use with unlimited views, (b) free use up to the first 10,000 views then a CPM rate kicks in, and (c) paid use with a CPM rate charged for all views.

CPM pricing can be as low as $2/1,000 views, with some premium images priced at $10/1,000 views. For example, if a buyer selects an image with the pricing set at free for the first 10,000 impressions, additional impressions in 1,000-impression increments will cost whatever CPM has been established by the seller. Buyers will understand this price immediately when selecting an image. At a $2.00 CPM rate, a photo with 510,000 impressions would earn $1,000 (after the first free 10,000 impressions).

Bloggers are natural customers and this is where they are seeing the image embedding practice being used the most. Henson also indicated they’ve been holding very informative discussions with major online publishers and are promoting embeds as a viable option for all content delivery platforms. Publishers are interested in receiving access to a broad inventory of images at price points they can live with or having an option to use images for free with watermarked attribution. Buyers also like knowing they are using images with permission, eliminating any infringement risks to the site where images are published.

Henson’s experience with PACA and his deep understanding of the scope of infringement cases on and off the books when it comes to online licensing is a driving issue behind his involvement in this endeavor. “There should be a balance of interests between a creator’s rights around the exploitation of their works and a publisher’s rights to access and exploit works,” he offers.

It’s refreshing to see more tools and platforms appearing that promote the ethical use of licensing online images. IMGembed is offering image owners full control of their inventory, attribution and pricing. Buyers and publishers have an impression access model that is affordable, consistent and easy to implement. Touting the fair use of online images is one thing, but making that tenet a reality is furthered by enterprises such as IMGembed jumping in and getting to work.

JainHeadShotJain Lemos has been deeply involved in photography publishing and licensing for more than twenty years. She shares her informed perspective about our visual industry on her blog


Creativity with your Coffee(or vice versa)!

In the Forever Hollywood Cemetery in Los Angeles, renowned musician Moby talks to a rapt audience about issues ranging from supplying free music for independent filmmakers, through to urban possibilities for creative freedom. In Edmonton, Alberta, stage manager and blogger Michelle Kennedy ponders the sexual health of her city. In Cape Town, Maximillian Kaizen, Public Lead for Creative Commons in South Africa, highlights practical copyright and intellectual property tools for content creators to safely share their works. In Dublin, Eire, street artist Solus offers insights into interventionist creative practices in the common public sphere.

These eclectic lectures are the brainchild of an exciting organization known as “CreativeMornings” which, as a project, is pretty much summed up by its name: once a month, you take a city, you introduce a communal theme (one month it’s “sex,” then it’s “freedom” and another month it’s “childhood”) that will spark lectures on that theme in linked cities across the world, you invite an array of speakers to talk on that theme…

… oh, and most importantly, you get to have a nice breakfast whilst doing so. A combination of sustenance for the body and the mind, the Creative Mornings are intended as double nourishment for those creatives wanting an international array of breakfast foods and food for thought. The themes are chosen by committee, and are broad enough to allow great leeway of interpretation, depending on the hosting city.

It’s a mix of global versus glocal that unites disparate creatives across international boundaries and time zones, and opens up some interesting possibilities to examine the means of artistic production from a variety of perspectives. To continue with the food analogy that seems delightfully central to the tone and mood of Creative Mornings; as an attendee you can have your cake and eat it, too: local events offer perspectives based on local practices and observations; the international events are recorded and made available to those who may want to consider parallel (or divergent) perspectives from other countries from the comfort of their computer screen. It’s a great way of mixing the attractive aspect of homogeneity (normally a buzz word meant to invoke horror at the prospect of all points in time and space becoming the same Western capitalist template) with the delight of heterogenous eccentricity.

For instance, this June, the theme of “Minimal” is being interpreted by, amongst others, typographer and graphic designer, Yuri Gordon, founder of Letterhead Studio in Moscow, whilst in Prague, mountain climber Marek Holeček, who scales some of the highest mountains in the world, will talk about doing this with the least amount of equipment possible. The mix is constantly rotating, bring new and wildly eclectic speakers to ‘conquer’ topics from their respective geographical base camps.

The whole affair, in keeping with it’s outreach tenor, seems to be a relatively democratic affair (it’s been called “TED for the rest of us.”), as initiated by Founder Tina Roth Eisenberg (of SwissMiss) who started the project in NYC in September 2008. Creative Mornings are free to attendees, thanks to the support of local sponsors, generous venues, and long term partners.

If you want to be the first in your city to start a Creative Mornings chapter (and be advised: there is only one chapter allowed per city…) the web site has a simple fact sheet for what is needed (one organizer per chapter, a commitment to one meeting a month for twelve months – renewable – and so on).

So if your idea of a good time is seeing/hearing something new and unique from the creative pioneers of urban spaces, then it’s time to either attend an existing CreativeMornings in your city, or start up a new chapter. Either way, take along your business cards; think of the networking opportunities!


You can find out all about CreativeMornings at:


Reposted from with permission from author Paul Melcher

Mary Meeker, Kleiner Perkins investor, just released her 2014 her annual  Internet trends report which briefly trended on Twitter yesterday. Year after year, the report is slowly becoming a yearly milestone for the those in the internet business and those just curious about it. For us, it’s another opportunity to look at fresh numbers. And this year, like every other year, they are remarkable.

Last year, the same chart, excluding Snapchat, showed 500 Million images a day and expected to double YTY. It has more than tripled.  While the rest of the report doesn’t linger on this massive number, we will.

First, it is important to note that almost half of these pictures last 10 seconds or less and disappear forever. And this is where the numbers grows the fastest. While Facebook ( 350 million/day ) and Instagram ( 60 million/day)  remain relatively the same, disposable photographs have seen the most aggressive growth in the last 3 years. The other noticeable trend is Whatsapp growing influence on the photo traffic.  Because it is a messaging app, a bit like Facebook,  it is hard  to know how much duplication it contains.

In fact, this chart and other internet upload numbers do not take into account repetition, like an image taken with Instagram, posted on Facebook and shared with Whatsapp. Neither does it specify the percentage of images shared on Facebook or Whatsapp are originals and taken by the uploader or are images found online and reposted. All we can be sure of is that Snapchat 500 million + pictures a day are all 100% originals and never cross appear on any other website.

Strangely enough Twitter, who is making dramatic efforts to be more photo centric, is not mentioned in this graph. Probably because numbers around photo upload/sharing are hard to get. Various unconfirmed estimates puts it around 50 million a day, which would not only place it below its competitors, Flickr excluded, but also not push the overall bar much higher.

Needless to say, for marketers eager to tap into this visual explosion as well a tech companies wanting a bite of it, those numbers are quite impressive. None of the present companies have yet to directly monetize this content. While Instagram has started to timidly insert ads in feeds and Facebook around them, the images themselves are left untouched. Just imagine, at $0.01 revenue per photo, that would be a $6,57 billion/year business with a potential to double every year.

With more than 2 billion picture-taking devices projected to be sold in 2014, we are not about to see this trend slow down. In fact, it could accelerate as new opportunities to share appear on the market, fueled by the revenue potential offered.  For now, all efforts are oriented in building the ultimate taking/sharing platform and converting the traffic generated into dollars. However, with the rapid advances of object recognition and intelligent images, it will no longer be about medium but the media itself. In other words, photos will become the money generating device, not the platform.

114a59bNamed one of the “100 most important people in photography” by American Photo Magazine, Paul is the founder and Editor in Chief of Kaptur. He has more than 20 years of photo and technology experience at prestigious photo agencies, such as Corbis and Gamma Press, as well as top leadership role in market changing photo tech companies like Stipple or DigitalRailroad. In his free time, he writes his own photo industry blog, “Thoughts of a Bohemian” and tries to keep up with his two sons.



From ’round the web..

In no particular order, links of interest to picture buyers/researchers that we have bookmarked for you:

Interested in expanding knowledge? Courses in Picture Research:

The Copyright Alliance Podcast . Totally free and full of profiles from artists, photographers, musicians and film makers on copyright and issues around IP.

The Metropolitan Museum of Art Releases 400,000 Images Online for Non-Commercial Use, including 17,000 photos. Wonderful for research.

From iStock recognizes the little guy:

Model Releases from the Photographers POV

Researching footage? Try this directory: Deep Focus  complements of the Association of Moving Image Archivists

Finally, we don’t need no stinkin’ Photoshop. Images that transport and have no manipulation and are shot on film.  Just a delightful vision and wonderful set building skills. Oleg Oprisco

(c)Oleg Oprisco

© Oleg Oprisco

Pink Lady Food Photography of the Year 2014

“Photography That’s Good Enough To Eat” by Julian Jackson

Winners have been chosen in the international photography competition Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year Award 2014. The category sponsored by specialist food images agency StockFood is “Food off the Press” for the best recently published food photograph.

Winning photos were chosen in 16 different categories. British photographer Tessa Bunney was named Pink Lady® Food Photographer of the Year 2014 and won the top prize with a cash award of £5,000 ($8,400). Her photo “Noodle Making,” taken in Laos impressed the international jury of 31 top experts. The awards ceremony took place at the prestigious Mall Galleries in London.

© Tessa Bunney

Noodle Making © Tessa Bunney

Jonnie Léger, General Manager of StockFood UK, says, “The awards celebrate all aspects of food and food photography, and are judged by an elite panel of food and photography professionals. They are the perfect platform for photographers’ work to be seen, recognized and celebrated.”

Headline sponsor, Pink Lady, famous worldwide for the apple of the same name, has honoured the best work of modern food photography for the third consecutive year. This year a total of approximately 6,000 professional and amateur photographers from more than 50 countries participated in the competition. This doubles the number of entries in the first contest two years ago.

Clovelly Herring Festival © Guy Harrop

Clovelly Herring Festival © Guy Harrop

Jonnie Léger adds, “The award has highlighted the art of food photography within the industry as well as with amateurs. Today, everyone with a camera or even a mobile phone is a ‘photographer’. On the whole, this is positive and it’s been celebrated with mobile phone categories within the main award. What is interesting is how amateur and professional alike are using all equipment and media available and producing breathtaking work. This award illustrates the artistic merit of all food imagery from film to still, from amateur to widely acclaimed professional. Seeing the shortlist of entries displayed in one place both accentuates the availability of food photography to all eager ‘Foodies’ and at the same time celebrates the highly skilled art of the professional food photographer. In my mind, this can only raise the professional profile of photographers.”

More than 400 photographers from 20 countries entered the StockFood sponsored category Food off the Press. The entries were recently published images that have appeared in books, magazines, newspapers or advertising. Caroline Martin’s photograph “Roast Pigeons” won despite stiff competition. She is represented in the StockFood Collection with more than 250 photographs. Second and third place went to British photographer Guy Harrop for his (“Herring Festival”) and to Becky Lawton from Spain for her unusual (“Delicias Bajo Cero“). Lawton is also represented in the StockFood Collection with more than 450 photos.

Delicias Bajo Cero © Becky Lawton

Delicias Bajo Cero © Becky Lawton

Jonnie Léger continues, “StockFood is very proud to be a sponsor of an award which has a passion for all things food at its core. Our category, StockFood Off the Press celebrates imagery which has been previously published.  This allows us to further support the photographers who work in our industry.The awards are great for everyone involved. Judges are exposed to the best of food photography; Photographers at all levels are celebrated and their work seen by not only the general public, but also the ‘great and the good’ of the photography and food worlds. For StockFood, we are able to support the industry, its core professionals and those who will become the next sensation.”

Roasted Pigeons © Caroline Martin

Roasted Pigeons © Caroline Martin

The winning photographs can be seen here:

StockFood, headquartered in Munich, but now with offices in the USA and UK, is a leading food specialist among image agencies, offering creative professionals in media, marketing, advertising and publishing the largest food image database on the internet at This includes an unmatched range of rights-managed and royalty-free images, videos and features from over 1,000 internationally renowned photographers and film producers.

juliancoffeshopcuJulian Jackson is a writer with extensive experience of picture research, whose main interests include photography and the environment.  His website is He also runs a Picture Research by Distance Learning Course profile.

Women with Disabilities

Guest post by Pat Hunt

Women’s issues continue to be in the news lately.  Former U.S. President, Jimmy Carter, has written a book about women.  Arianna Huffington has written a book for women. Hillary Clinton discusses women’s issues at a college.  General Dynamics appoints a female President and COO.  Getty Images continues to promote Sheryl Sandberg’s initiative with “Lean In.”  Statistics continue to show that women hold a high percentage of jobs in the workforce, but still represent less than five percent of the Fortune 500 CEOs.

(c)Mark Hunt/Disability Images

Teacher with spinal cord injury (c)Mark Hunt/Disability Images

All of these issues highlight amazing developments of the era in which we live.  As a woman of the 60s, I remember being encouraged to attend college to get my “MRS” degree.  I remember the available jobs being that of flight attendant, nurse and teacher.  I remember the time before there was “no-fault” divorce, and the need to separate women’s credit ratings from their husband’s.  I remember the controversy brought on by such names as Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem.

(c)Mark Hunt/Disability Images

Two sisters, one with a learning disability (c)Mark Hunt/Disability Images

In spite of the long history of female empowerment and significant gains in the work place, I am still most impressed by the everyday accomplishments of women with disabilities.  Women and girls of all ages may face barriers to equality, but women with disabilities can be more vulnerable and marginalized.  Women with disabilities can be at greater risk of abuse and exploitation.  They face greater barriers to social life.  They experience more unequal hiring and promotion standards.  Women with disabilities may face less physical access to health services.  They may not have the ability to fully participate in cultural, political or economic initiatives.  Their steps forward into a lifestyle and career may be fraught with more potholes than the average woman.


Woman signing the phrase 'I Love You ' in American sign language while communicating with her son (c)Mark Hunt/Disability Images

Woman signing the phrase ‘I Love You ‘ in American sign language while communicating with her son (c)Mark Hunt/Disability Images

Yet, the women with disabilities that I have met on my life’s journey have been my greatest inspiration.  I have enjoyed their positive spirit and goal setting.  I have learned from their self-confidence and security with body image.  I have been emboldened by their aggressiveness in job seeking and the demand for inclusiveness.  I have been excited by their push to learn and be educated, to have families, and responsibilities, to participate in sports and command a presence.  I continue to be inspired by the people I meet, but especially the women with disabilities.

1302151051CPat and Mark Hunt are the owners of  The site specializes in high quality and high resolution imagery of  real people with real disabilities.  
We emphasize positive and empowered lifestyle.  Pat is also on the Advisory Board of Work Without Limits,  a statewide network of engaged employers and innovative,
collaborative partners that aims to increase employment among individuals with disabilities. 


Guest post by Jain Lemos.

Image pros want to support photographers and avoid copyright infringement, right? Thanks to Permission Machine, there is a new tool to accomplish this and more with just a few clicks.


In this age of automation, it’s inevitable that someone would find a way to streamline the often tedious process of negotiating image licenses. That someone is a smart and savvy creative tech and legal team based in Antwerp, Belgium and their mechanism is called Permission Machine (PM).

PM promises to solve problems for those of us entrenched in the image transaction business. “Our mission is to compensate photographers for their creative work and to give buyers a new way to quickly and legally license online images,” says Internet entrepreneur Tom Cuylaerts, PM’s CEO and co-founder.

Buyers and editors often have to bypass choosing a perfect image in favor of saving time. They’ll revert to searching for similar images using sources where the license terms are set in shopping cart menus, sidestepping the time it takes to introduce themselves to a photographer, explain what they want and negotiate usage terms and fees. They often purchase a broader (and more expensive) license than they really need.

“Social media platforms are seriously visual now. Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn have rejiggered their templates to prominently feature images,” adds Marc Van Steyvoort, PM’s media advisor. “That means editors are snowed under with more visuals than ever and licensing has to be fast and accurate.”

Here is where PM steps in to help. When buyers see a photo on Twitter that works for their project, they can easily ask the author for permission and generate a personalized license document via PM’s website.

Cuylaerts explains the process: “From our home page, click on “Get a license” and simply copy the Twitter or Twitpic image URL into the search field. Continue with verification, select your license and send the request for permission. PM does the rest by contacting the author.” After accepting, buyers pay via PayPal to the author’s account. The image is made available for download with a PDF of the license. All transactions are recorded in the buyer’s dashboard for future reference.

Buyers can also submit an image file they’ve downloaded to their local computer, allowing PM to extract the author’s information. Buyers do need to have the author’s email address for PM to make contact, but if they can’t determine one, PM offers to try to help locate the source.

Attorney and PM partner Ywein Van den Brande, crafted the usage licenses, giving two options: a Sharing License (10 Euros) or an Unlimited Commercial License (50 Euros).

“The Sharing License is perfect for these types of uses,” he says, and offers these examples: “You see a photo on Pinterest and want to tweet it from your company’s Twitter account; a follower tweets a photo featuring your client’s products and you want to post it on a Facebook page; a blog uses an image that works perfectly for your own blog.”

Basically, the Sharing License is crafted for social media cross-platform sharing, Web and blog usage for sites with less than 5000 views per month and for business presentations (such as a PowerPoint show or YouTube video).

Van den Brande wrote PM’s Unlimited Commercial License to apply to all other commercial and editorial uses. He claims it’s perfect when you need a license for ad campaigns or promo materials, and when you need a license for a blog or site with more than 5000 views per month. It also covers magazines and other printed materials, but keep in mind the resolution of the image will only be the same as the original online file you found.

In fact, PM is designed for licensing the low resolution files found across the Web. In situations where an online image license is successful and leads to a print campaign where buyers need larger files, they can contact the photographer again. This means the buyer has an opportunity to test a concept and the photographer has a chance to receive more revenue.

Cuylaerts and his team also wanted a way for photographers—and ultimately all online publishers—to make money from the images they own. “It’s really easy now with PM’s licensing mechanism. When someone buys a license to your photo, the money is transferred to your PayPal account after PM’s deduction of our transaction fee,” he says. “Photographers and other authors can wait until someone sends them a request or they can take the initiative and register with PM,” he adds.

PM provides a simple script that can be added to any website. The code automatically adds a PM Button to the images that viewers can click to buy a legal license. For photographers or practically any company with content to license, PM offers a quick way to become a simple social media stock agency for online images.

Right now, Twitter is the chief platform so PM works perfectly for breaking news images and live events where buyers want to quickly reuse a shared photo. And Twitter is so searchable that practically every topic leads to great shots so buyers can confidently use Twitter as a go-to source, knowing the permission process will be a snap.

Several other features are being built; Instagram is next and PM is rapidly adding more options. Buyers will also enjoy PM’s blog Permission Machine Talks, which provides usage advice and covers current online photo use and abuse case examples. Given the vast possibilities of PM, all picture pros will want to keep up with this encouraging tech development as methods for online rights transacting continue to evolve.

JainHeadShotJain Lemos has been deeply involved in photography publishing and licensing for more than twenty years. She shares her informed perspective about our visual industry on her blog

Ashley Cooper – Documenting Climate Change

In honor of Earth Day, we offer this profile on Global Warming Images by Julian Jackson.

Ashley Cooper is a photographer with a mission, and it is an important one: to document the effects of climate change on every continent on the planet. Since 2004 when he started, he has visited all of the continents except South America.  In the process he has seen the deterioration of the environment for the people in the poorest parts of the world. Ironically these are the people who have contributed least to the problem – those with the smallest carbon footprints.

Members of an expedition cruise to Antarctica in a Zodiak in Fournier Bay in the Gerlache Strait on the Antarctic Peninsular.

Members of an expedition cruise to Antarctica in a Zodiak in Fournier Bay in the Gerlache Strait on the Antarctic Peninsular.

He has a background in geography and geology, but photography was always very important to him. He gravitated to taking photos of his favorite things, wildlife, nature, landscapes, and anything outdoors. He was a semi-pro photographer looking for a major project when 15 years ago he learned about climate change. Back then few people knew about it, or were interested at all. He read as many scientific papers as he could, and realized he wanted to document the effects.

His first trip, in September 2004 was to Alaska. He spent four or five months planning the trip. The objective was to photograph the retreats of glaciers, permafrost melting, and the effects on the trees and forests of the region. He went to a tiny outcrop of land off Alaska, near the Bering Sea, called Shishmaref Island, home to 600 Inuit who have lived there for thousands of years and scarcely changed their lifestyle.  As the permafrost ice melts, the winter storms can then wash away peoples’ houses. The island is so small – only half a mile wide – there is nowhere to retreat to. Scientists expect the island to be completely swallowed by the sea within a few years. “The impact on Alaska is very in-your-face and dramatic. All the roads are potholed as the melting collapses their foundations,” Ashley says, “Bad storms can tear big chunks out of the island.” The Inuit people who live there are very connected to nature and have seen dramatic changes in the weather patterns over recent years. This really brought home to him the effects on people were much more dramatic and destructive than technical scientific articles could convey and he decided to make this the center of his photography, because it can communicate the impact of global warming with greater immediacy than words.

Women welding joints during the construction of solar cookers at the Barefoot College in Tilonia, Rajasthan, India.

Women welding joints during the construction of solar cookers at the Barefoot College in Tilonia, Rajasthan, India.

Two years ago he received WWF International sponsorship which enables him to visit various places to photograph the effects of global warming/climate change. “I have spent the last 11 years traveling the planet documenting the impacts of climate change. My shoots have taken me to many locations, but can be pretty depressing, when you see the damage being wreaked upon the environment by climate change. My shoot to India was so uplifting, to see how communities are having their lives enriched by access to heat and power, all provided by renewable energy. It was humbling to see how a single solar panel the size of an A4 sheet of paper is enough to charge a battery, which will give light to a house overnight. Prior to the introduction of the solar panels, people used kerosene lamps for light.” Over one million people, mainly women and children, die annually from inhaling the fumes. Having solar electricity, in places that have never been near the grid, can make a huge difference to people’s lives: their health is no longer at risk, they can have light for their children to do homework, or earn some money by sewing. It is a huge improvement in the quality of their lives.

A WWF project to supply electricity to a remote island in the Sunderbans, a low lying area of the Ganges Delta in Eastern India, that is very vulnerable to sea level rise.

A WWF project to supply electricity to a remote island in the Sunderbans, a low lying area of the Ganges Delta in Eastern India, that is very vulnerable to sea level rise.

He has also visited Antarctica this year and documented some of the effects there.”Antarctica is the most remote, pristine, unspoilt continent and the coldest on the planet. Its remoteness from human activity can not protect it from the impacts of climate change. Temperatures on the Antarctic Peninsular have risen 2.8 degrees Celsius in the last 50 years, making it one of the fastest warming areas of the planet. This has led to 87% of the peninsula’s glaciers retreating, and a loss of 25,0000 km square of sea ice from floating ice shelves.”

King Penguins emerge from a fishing trip out to see onto the beach in the world's second largest King Penguin colony on Salisbury Plain, South Georgia, Southern Ocean.

King Penguins emerge from a fishing trip out to see onto the beach in the world’s second largest King Penguin colony on Salisbury Plain, South Georgia, Southern Ocean.

A lot the work he does can be depressing. He says, “My perspective is what I have seen in my various travels is very scary stuff. Climate change is the biggest risk humanity has ever faced. We should be doing much more to move from fossil fuels to renewable energy. Ironically the people who are least responsible and have the smallest carbon footprints are the ones suffering the most, like the Inuit and people on Polynesian islands like Tuvalu which are being swamped by rising sea levels.”

Ashley runs Global Warming Images – a photo-library which specializes in visually documenting the effects on the environment of climate change.

juliancoffeshopcuJulian Jackson is a writer with extensive experience of picture research, whose main interests include photography and the environment.  His website is  He also runs a Picture Research by Distance Learning Course profile.