Photos For Life: The World’s First Charity Photo Bank

This novel idea from Poland, where all proceeds from image sales help cancer patients, is a true life changer. Guest post by Jain Lemos.

Bicycle trip. Photographer Pawel Fabjanski. Photo Hero Emilia Oltarzewska

Bicycle trip. Photographer Pawel Fabjanski. Photo Hero Emilia Oltarzewska

All the models are cancer patients and survivors. They are photographed going about life in a normal, positive and dynamic fashion. All licensing income generated from Photos for Life stock sales are helping to further finance therapy for cancer patients. This is the helpful and innovative concept from The Rak’n’Roll Win Your Life Foundation, a new player in oncological discourse. Based in Warsaw, Poland, the charity is brave, irreverent and so much more than a mere financial transactional facility between donors and patients.

Jan Cieslar and Rafal Rys from Isobar Poland worked with Rak’n’Roll to turn the idea of a charity photo bank into reality. They insist the venture is not only about the money being raised for cancer patients. “Thanks to Photos for Life, millions of people with cancer and their families will see a more hopeful image of this terrible illness,” explains Cieslar.

Some reports claim that more than 60 percent of cancer patients recover from their illness. That’s an encouraging statistic. Photos For Life believes their efforts can help to change the way society views people battling with cancer. Their desire is to renovate how cancer patients are portrayed in the media. “Working so close with the models challenged our own superstitions that we weren’t aware of before the project,” says Cieslar. “Many of us still think of cancer as a death sentence. People don’t want to get too close to cancer patients and don’t know how to behave around them,” she asserts. “We, as a media industry, are also responsible for this misconception, because by displaying only the most shocking images we cover only a part of the truth.”

To create the lifestyle shots available online, dozens of photo shoots were organized all over Poland in 2014 with photographers volunteering from the cooperative Shoot Me Production Agency. “We tried to cover the most popular categories in stock photography but we also insisted on showing people in truthful situations—nothing is fake or contrived,” Cieslar confirms. For example, two of the models seen in athletic situations are real life competitors: Szymon Styrczula is an active sportsmen and Agnieszka Goscielewicz is a long distance runner.

Pictures in Photos for Life are available to buyers under the same rules as found with other stock photography databases and can be used in any commercial projects. There are several reasonably-priced license packages for buyers to choose from. The simplest is a non-commercial license for private use or three-month social media use for $7.50. Also available are various packs of bundled rights: Internet, advertising, display, product packaging and books and editorial usage. All proceeds are to support Rak’n’Roll.

After Adweek and Adage published stories about Photos for Life, the site recorded many transactions from the United States, Australia and Canada. They are working on selling the photos to socially responsible corporate clients including Ikea, who used Photos for Life images in their store displays as room decorations. Men’s Health magazine also purchased images. “How fantastic that a magazine which sets the standard in staying fit and sexy is not afraid to promote people struggling with cancer,” exclaims Cieslar.

The ultimate goal is to help cancer patients finance the therapy they need. To further the campaign’s ideals and publicity, publishers are asked to run a special notice to accompany the photos they license from Photos For Life with a statement that reads, “The model in this photo won their fight with cancer.” The models—referred to by the organizers as photo heroes—also donate their time voluntarily and do not receive any remuneration.

The photo bank will be adding new photos continually and the platform is designed to be continued for years. “The idea has captured the hearts of photographers from all over the world who want to do photo shoots for us, so we are sure that we will upload plenty of new material in the coming months,” adds Cieslar. The project remains open for those who want to help and new photo sessions are currently underway.

Photos for Life is a heartfelt endeavor and a sincere collaboration of the photographers from the ShootMe Production Agency, Isobar Poland (they came up with the idea and created the website) and Flash Press Media who is providing the technical operations and payment process management. “This is the world’s only photo stock agency where happiness is real,” says Cieslar.

Jain LemosJain 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

Protecting Your Digital Property

By guest writer Laura Lucas of Big Picture Research

I first heard the phrase “digital legacy” a year-and-a-half ago, where it was touted as one of the ten new industries to watch. A digital legacy suggests we need to plan and give direction about digital assets like passwords, financial accounts and social media accounts so they can be easily found and seamlessly handed over to loved ones or an executor upon our death.

Whether you call it “legacy” or “succession”, this type of planning is not restricted to estates. It’s also important for business owners, especially in planning for emergencies. What if you were incapacitated in some way or travelling and out of reach for a long period of time? What if you were looking to sell or merge your company or take on a partner? How do you share all the intangibles locked in your computer or phone?

Think about how much of our lives now play out online. We communicate through email, social media and video chats. We shop, we bank, we watch and we listen online. There’s no paper trail. We used to put everything in a filing cabinet or a box in the closet. If anything happened, someone was likely to find it eventually. Can we still say that now?

Today, valuable data is collecting in the cloud, on our phones, tablets and computers. We need to think about our digital legacy and plan ahead so that it can be accessed in an emergency.

What’s a digital asset? The list is growing but here are a few examples: banking, eBay or PayPal accounts, loyalty memberships, crypto currency, domain names, websites, blogs, photos, magazine subscriptions, artwork, logos, client files, invoices and social media accounts like Google+ and Facebook.

Financial assets have a value and a cost to them as debts can accrue if nobody knows about them or can’t gain access to them. Websites and blogs are the face of our companies, while social media accounts are an extension of us and our business. Who will carry on managing these properties?

Let’s not forget sentimental assets like photos, videos, books and music. Depending on the download agreement, you may be renting or own them, but if you paid for them they may be valuable in an estate.

To date we’ve been told never to write down passwords or share PIN numbers but until the law catches up with technology, we need to be responsible. So what can you do? Some ideas to protect your information include: create an encrypted spreadsheet of information, draft a paper record, then fold and laminate it shut and place in a safe or safety deposit box. Store your digital inventory in one place with one master key password in another. Protect your identity from theft by directing whether you want social media accounts closed, maintained or to serve as a memorial. But above all, give yourself peace of mind. Create a digital estate plan and tell somebody you trust!

Headshot3_TEMPO Photography - BERN -6273Laura Lucas is a Visual Researcher and Rights Clearance Officer with 20 years of experience in the media market. She’s worked extensively with TVO’s The Agenda with Steve Paikin, with freelance video producers and with archivists and libraries. Having just launched her own company Big Picture Research, she’s driven by the thrill of the hunt to find the perfect image that can help bring a story to life and clearing the underlying permissions for its use. Her archival research work in turn has led her to explore the emerging field of digital estate planning and helping people organize and protect their digital assets. See more and contact Laura here:


Nostalgia IS What It Used To Be

PostMark Press is a treasure trove of stock vintage imagery, that runs into the thousands and thousands of carefully selected images – many categorized and digitized. From “Family” to “Suburbia,” one can take a time warp trip down Nostalgia Street; to a time when men in hats came home at 6pm to a chilled martini, and kids never even knew what a “seat belt” was.

Boston's notorious Scollay Square, c 1910.  Scollay Square was demolished in 1962, as part of Boston's  "Urban Renewal" Program.

Boston’s notorious Scollay Square, c 1910. Scollay Square was demolished in 1962, as part of Boston’s “Urban Renewal” Program.

Kathy Alpert founded PostMark Press in 2001 as a manufacturer and wholesaler of greeting cards. In 2005, PostMark moved into licensing. Winner of the the prestigious 2008 LOUIE stationery awards sponsored by the Greeting Card Association, PostMark Press has gone on to establish a benchmark resource for licensees including Leanin’ Tree (greeting cards/magnets); Sellers Publishing (greeting cards/calendars/books); and a major grocery chain.

Can you remember at what point that your life-long passion for collecting ephemera gone from a hobby to a business?

Kathy Alpert: My “Eureka” moment came in May, 2001. While shopping in Harvard Square, I spotted a greeting card with a vintage image that resonated in a big way. I tracked down the designer, Ken Brown, who – like me – was an avid postcard collector. Ken told me he’d been using old postcards in his design work for years. The images were, he explained, in the public domain.

Once you had realized that, how did you develop your business plan?

Once I came up with the idea of launching a greeting card company, I created prototypes and tested the cards in a variety of retail settings. When I discovered they had flown off the shelves, I developed a business plan, hired an attorney, and in October of 2001, I founded PostMark Press. The company designed, manufactured and wholesaled a line of greeting cards with whimsical imagery and humor, inspired by my old postcards.  Each vintage postcard’s original handwritten message was printed on the back of the corresponding greeting card.  The line quickly grew from 24 to 300 SKUs. At the peak of our business, we had a 24-page color catalog and were in 500 retailers across the country. A few years later, I signed my first licensing deal with the greeting card company Leanin’ Tree and decided to wind down the manufacturing side of the business to focus on design and licensing.

Cover of the Retro Mama wall calendar, published by licensee Sellers Publishing of Portland, Maine.

Cover of the Retro Mama wall calendar, published by licensee Sellers Publishing of Portland, Maine.

How do you source images?

My images are drawn from my personal collection of thousands of postcards, magazine ads, photographs, and other ephemera dating [back] to the late 19th century.  To source images, I go to postcard and ephemera shows, antiquarian book fairs, and flea markets, including the Brimfield Fair.  Of course, great material can be found on line, but I prefer to acquire mine at events, where I can examine each piece to verify [if] it is an original. Plus, it’s fun and exciting to go to ephemera shows; being among my “tribe” gives me a shot of energy and inspiration!

Are there are any use issues or is it all public domain?

PD related issues are complicated. I can say that I steer clear of celebrities, corporate logos, and anything created by a famous artist or photographer or bearing a copyright notice. Perhaps most important is carefully considering the date and circumstances of the publication of the original image.


Are there any circumstances that you might refuse to license for, if you think a client’s caption might gets too raunchy or ironic, or is that all part of the fun?

My licensees are manufacturers of greeting cards and calendars. My ability to offer humorous copy along with an image gives me a unique selling proposition. Since my licensed products are marketed to the mainstream, humor can be sly, self-deprecating or even borderline racy. Drinking and shopping are popular themes. Sometimes the licensees write their own copy, and that’s cool. Since I’m selective about my licensing partners, I haven’t had to worry about crossing the line. That’s not to say I wouldn’t consider a controversial project with merit.

At my first Visual Connections event, I was excited to meet a whole new group of clients – among them, photo researchers, book designers, and authors. These clients are simply looking for images, which actually makes my life easier. I will be unveiling two new image collections at this year’s show.  Lost Boston includes vintage postcard views, colorful and quirky ads, photographs, maps, and rare Boston memorabilia, as well as a cache of material related to the history of the New Haven Railroad. Wild Women features remarkable female entertainers – both known and unknown – from the late 19th to early 20th century, including Sarah Bernhardt, Lillian Russell, and Evelyn Nesbit.

America's first supermodel, Evelyn Nesbit, c 1902.  The original Gibson Girl, Ms. Nesbit was once the mistress of famed architect Stanford White.  After they split, Evelyn married psychotic millionaire playboy Harry Thaw, who shot White dead in a jealous rage on the Rooftop of the old Madison Square Garden in 1906.

America’s first supermodel, Evelyn Nesbit, c 1902. The original Gibson Girl, Ms. Nesbit was once the mistress of famed architect Stanford White. After they split, Evelyn married psychotic millionaire playboy Harry Thaw, who shot White dead in a jealous rage on the Rooftop of the old Madison Square Garden in 1906.

What do you put down to the current massive increase in interest in memorabilia and nostalgia? Why are these images so resonant?

Suburbia was the center of the universe in the 50s, and many young people discovered this watching Mad Men.  Along with television, vintage postcards, photographs, and advertisements provide a rare glimpse into popular culture at mid-century. This imagery is especially appealing to Millennials, who find the trappings of the 50s lifestyle quirky and amusing. Meanwhile, older adults are often comforted by their memories from the “good old days.”

The media, including Antiques Roadshow, American Pickers, and a slew of online websites and blogs have contributed to the recent surge in interest for nostalgia. People of all ages now realize that repurposing and recycling will lead to a healthier planet. Consignment stores and vintage marketplaces have become go-to destinations for those seeking vintage jewelry, clothing, home furnishings, and just about everything imaginable. You can always buy a quality repro, but I think there’s a hunger for authentic items with ties to the past. You can’t buy those in a big box store…

An ad for Cat's Paw rubber heels from a 1916 theatre program.

An ad for Cat’s Paw rubber heels from a 1916 theatre program.


Stock Photography and Sexism in STEM Imagery

By Brooke Hodess

This year’s spate of Super Bowl Sunday advertisements had its fair share of feminist-leaning spots, including the favored “Like a Girl” from feminine products company Always, the Mindy Kaling-featured “Invisible” for Nationwide insurance, and the anti-domestic violence PSA courtesy of the No More campaign and the National Football League.

While some in the feminist community have balked at the co-opting of women’s empowerment by advertisers to sell products, others recognize that targeting women is economically wise as 85 percent of all brand purchases are made by women.

(c)Jody Asano/Shestock

(c)Jody Asano/Shestock

However, in a survey by, 91 percent of women said they don’t think advertisers understand them. The “paint it pink” approach no longer (if ever) speaks to women and girls.

In that same vein, when it comes to imagery in male-dominated fields like STEM (Science, Technology, Electronics and Math), sexism and gender stereotypes prevail. Stock photography company Shestock and communications researcher Lee Chapman are working to change that.

Founded in 2013 by Karen Beard, the Northern California-based Shestock, according to its website, “aims to provide insightful and inspired visions of the real lives of real women.” The company was motivated by equal parts frustration at the existing sexist imagery and the optimism that they could do something about it. One of those things is educate the stock photography community and repair a long-broken dialogue between marketers and their female target audiences.

(c)Leah Fasten/Shestock

(c)Leah Fasten/Shestock

Last summer, Shestock hosted a webinar with Lee Chapman, a then-master’s degree candidate in Digital and Visual Communications at Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario, to discuss her research project “Girls on Film: Gender Representation in STEM Photographs.”

Chapman looked at 800 STEM stock images and her findings focused on two themes: the frequency of females and males in STEM stock photography and the allocation of leadership roles among males and females in STEM stock photography.

In the first theme, 52 percent of the photos had male-only models, 22 percent female-only, 13 percent equal, 6 percent more men than women and 2 percent more women than men.

In the second theme, 58 percent of the data set had a male model as the lead role, 37 percent had a female model as the lead role, and 5 percent were equal. A lead role was defined by having dominant body language (e.g., arms crossed, making the body big, hands on hips), pointing or directing another person to do something, being closest to the camera or making eye contact with the camera, and/or holding higher status position (e.g., a doctor vs. a nurse).

Within the specific STEM fields, males dominated the lead role in science, technology and engineering with 58 percent, 57 percent and 56 percent, respectively. Math was the only area where females dominated the lead role at 46 percent, but with much of the math imagery additionally tagged with “education,” a lot of the lead role models were teachers, a long-standing female-dominated industry.

Overall, Lee’s research shows STEM images promote male leadership. “When these images are consumed repeatedly over time, what sort of constructions does that make in our minds?” Lee asks.

In Cultivation Theory, seeing is believing, and, said Chapman, “repeated consumption of fictional or non-fictional scenes in the media will cultivate the belief that said themes are accurate depictions of reality.” Applying this same theory to Chapman’s research, Beard notes we aid in the underrepresentation of females in STEM a reality simply through gender-biased stock photos.

Said Beard, “Chapman’s research for the first time showed the depth of sexism in a growing area of commercial imagery through objective study.”

In addition, the event last summer celebrated Shestock’s kickoff of building a new collection of STEM imagery.

When asked if these images represent the reality of women in STEM (and other male-dominated industries) or if it’s a kind of laziness or blatant sexism on the part of the photography industry, Beard replied, “I think that sexism in existing STEM stock imagery is primarily the result of cultural sexism creeping into creative and purchasing decisions, to a large degree because males have dominated that decision making as photographers, producers and buyers, but also by females who adopt a male-centric view because they think that is required.”

And the statistics on STEM occupations illustrate why this matters. While women make up half of the workforce, they were only 26 percent of the STEM workforce in 2011 (United States Census Bureau, September 2013) and projections suggest that STEM-related job opportunities will grow nearly 17 percent over the next decade (STEM Advantage, 2014).

(c)Kerry Varnum/Shestock

(c)Kerry Varnum/Shestock

“Developed countries are not producing enough workers for the projected growth in STEM fields,” says Beard, “and at the same time we see a dramatic decline in girls focusing on STEM after they reach adolescence.” She continues, “Their aptitude is generally higher than males in STEM, so the answer lies in part in how they see themselves in these fields—and that is where imagery comes in.”

Beard suggests to create gender-balance in imagery, image makers can have female subjects display confident body language, make eye contact with the camera, and show guidance to whoever else is in the photo.

“I believe that we have been surrounded by images of STEM professions that make those jobs seem inhospitable to women and their values of collaboration, connection and empathy, said Beard. “It is a complicated debate, but Chapman’s research shows that one of the problems is the imagery we use, and that is a problem that we image professionals can fix.”

(c)Femi Corazon/Shestock

(c)Femi Corazon/Shestock

The full Shestock and Lee Chapman webinar can be viewed here:

Brooke Hodess is a freelance writer and editor living in Los Angeles. She can be reached at:



Having Fun Creating Stock Images

Our merry prankster and sometime contributor and ALL TIME Stock Photo Guy understands how to have fun in business!

Sometimes you just have to have some fun making images … the driving force behind this nuclear Armageddon image.

(c)John Lund

(c)John Lund

Fun And A Mushroom Cloud of Flame

Every once-in-a-while you have to just have some fun. That is what I did with this image of a fiery mushroom cloud of flame rising up from behind the silhouette of a city skyline. Of course, I still intend to make money with this image, though I hardly expect it to be a best seller. Because the image is not something that there are many uses for I am pegging it as a Rights Managed image … though as I submitted it to the Getty House collection it may yet end up as an RF image.

A Metropolis Skyline Silhouette

The image began as a skyline shot of New York. I pen tooled (created a clipping path) of the buildings, created a selection and created a new layer. I used the hue and saturation control to create the silhouette by bringing the lightness slider all the way down. I wanted the city to be a more generic metropolis so I added more buildings from a San Francisco skyline shot to create the final city skyline. Next I experimented with different sunset and sunrise images behind the skyline finally settling on a sunrise shot from Mexico.

A Sunrise And A Nuclear Explosion

It was while I was playing with the sunrises behind the city silhouette that the idea came to me for the “nuclear explosion” image. One particular fiery sunrise image looked as if the city was back lit from and explosion or fire. I went to my archives for flame shots … I had some fireballs from my time at Burning Man … and was able to fashion them into the mushroom cloud explosion.

Cropping Flexibility And Copy Space

As usual I made the image to have cropping flexibility and room for headlines and copy.  When making stock images I believe it is better to err on the side of extra room for art directors and designers to use than to make tighter crops that might be a bit more esthetically pleasing.

Creativity, Science Fiction And Getting Seen

I can see this photo being used as a book cover for a science fiction thriller, or perhaps for a sensationalistic editorial on the danger of nukes or terrorist attacks. Certainly the image can serve to illustrate concepts such as “Armageddon, nuclear holocaust, and the end of the world.” With stock images you just never know when an art director or designer will come up with some really creative way to use your work. Of course, the biggest challenge, as always, is getting your work seen by those creatives.

Skilled and seasoned photographer John Lund can be found blogging here when not creating images:

Airstoc – The Professional Drone Marketplace

We’ve all dreamt of flying above the earth, in a languid perspective that reveals the secrets of our landscapes; which perhaps why the “aerial shot” is one of the most elemental parts of film productions; something that either gives us direct narrative perspective, or allows us to lose any perspective to a fugue state of wonderment.

However, getting that stuff has traditionally been very expensive; but those costs have dipped dramatically now that camera-carrying drones have started to become increasingly prevalent as a new and flexible method of obtaining that all-important aerial footage. A drone is a much easier and cost-effective production method, and new company Airstoc offers up cost effective alternatives to filmmakers by offering both off-the-shelf stock footage, but also, for the more adventurous productions, the opportunity get hooked up with camera operators to create their own specific footage.

Angel of the North

Angel of the North

We talked with Glen Moore of Airstoc to get the down low on the high shots:

1) We’ve all heard increasingly about drones in the last couple of years: how did your company get ahead of the curve in identifying this as such a rich area for commerce?

One of the co-founders is a professional drone operator. He decided in 2011 that drones will be the future and set up his own drone filming business then. As you can imagine he struggled a lot in the early stages because no one was using drone technology really. However, in 2013 he saw the operators in the UK and abroad growing exponentially, and realised that someone had to capture this market early doors to bring it all together and help it grow. So as a result we set up Airstoc with the philosophy of working with the very best professional drone operators in the world and help drive the industry forward.

2) As well as being able to buy stock imagery from your site, Airstoc offers a “bespoke” option where clients can commission new footage. How does this work? Does your service refer a local operator and drone/camera; and if so do you also work on permits and permissions?

We work with some of the very best professional operators from around the world and currently in 66 countries, giving us a global reach and enabling us to refer local operators in that region, where possible. Customers from any industry and anywhere in the world, can come onto our site and request bespoke work, obtain various quotes and confirm the job, thus eliminating all the stress, time and cost they would typically spend on this process. It is a very simple process for them which will continually improve and adapt with the industry.

We cover all jobs whether this is for a few photographs, a full promotional video, aerial mapping to a cinematic production, with our operators having the necessary equipment to carry out a multitude of jobs. Our site also allows customers to see the work of our operators by viewing their profile pages or stock footage prior to confirming any job.

At the moment the operators liaise with the customers to organise permits/permissions. This is helped by working with local professional operators who know their countries regulations and process for obtaining permits/permission. Sometimes customers will have this organised and other times the operators, but it is something in the future we want to bring into our offering.

3) What kind of legal and safety restrictions are there in ascertaining whether a drone shoot is either practical or permissible?

At Airstoc we don’t carry out our shooting, we utilise our network of operators for this. However, as we work internationally, we have to be aware of all the rules and regulations so we are well informed and know the limits.

As a UK company, and focussing on this country for now, we are lucky to have formalised rules and regulations in place, with operators who want to be professional and fly commercially having to obtain a licence. The CAA [Civil Aviation Authority] still has a long way to go, but compared to other countries, these regulations have really helped develop this industry in this country.

All operators have to obtain permission prior to flying with some areas of wilderness being very easy to get approval. It becomes much more difficult in and around cities, where permission is still possible to obtain but takes longer with a keen focus on the safety aspect. Then there are areas, such as airports, where high restrictions are in place.

This process and approval method is very different country to country but the key elements are the same and all professional operators place a huge emphasis on safety, and will ultimately make the final decision as to whether it is possible to fly or not.

New York Skyline

New York Skyline

4) How can filmmakers save costs on their own productions by taking the “leap” to using drones?

Drone technology has and will continue to revolutionise the film industry, amongst many others. It suddenly opens up a new dimension and a completely unique perspective that you just cannot get from other methods. The most exciting aspect is this technology has only just scraped the surface and has already transformed films.

One of the most important factors is the cost for filmmakers. Using drone technology is a fraction of the cost of traditional methods and suddenly enables aerial shots to be captured in different locations around the world. This enables both independent and small filmmakers, alongside multinational production companies, to utilise this technology and add a dimension to their production they never have been able too before.

On top of being low cost, the quality is incredible, the equipment can be deployed in minutes and it fills the void between ground cameras and traditional aerial filming methods, by working from ground height up to 400ft; and these are just a few examples as to why they adopt this technology. I always say to any potential customer to give the technology a try once and let them decide; not surprisingly these are now regular repeat customers.

You can see Airstoc’s website at:

London Eye

London Eye

Marrying Stills and Video: Flixel Promises a Long Engagement

Moving still photos, known as cinemagraphs, are gaining popularity with publishers, advertisers and creators looking for new ways to engage their viewers. Guest post by Jain Lemos.

Capturing—and then holding—the attention of online viewers becomes more challenging every minute. For some time now, a site without decent visuals is quickly deemed a dud. That’s why cinemagraphs are finding homes on sites looking for that extra stickiness.

Based in Toronto, Canada, Flixel Photos has been around for a few years and they are leading the charge in the living photo software and application space. Their development team has a long history of building products for Apple platforms and they’ve just won an Apple Design Award and an Apple Best of 2014 for their software.

Philippe LeBlanc, Flixel co-founder and CEO, is passionate about making their tools accessible and easy to use for everyone. “We’ve blended technology and art into a new form,” he says. “Even at the pro level most Flixels can be created extremely fast with our software.” Certainly, animated photographs have come a long way from the silly animated gifs of days gone by.

Cinemagraphs highlight and loop small movements within a scene. For example, models with blowing hair and flowing gowns make for great subjects. Supermodel and business mogul Tyra Banks (her mother is a professional photographer) was an early backer of Flixel. She embraced the technology and featured it on last year’s edition of America’s Next Top Model. Banks says Flixels create that, “Oh my gosh, wow factor.”

Perhaps more alluring is LeBlanc’s claim that cinemagraphs have a five times higher click-through rate than ordinary stills plus viewers typically spend seven times longer looking at a living image. This type of engagement is exactly what online content producers are looking for on a web flooded with visuals. Flixel has developed two basic ways for creating living images.

First is the application for Apple iPhones and iPads called Flixel Cinemagraph Pro ($19.99). As you make living photos, you can share your creations on, add them to your own sites and post to social media accounts. The app uses live-masking so after shooting a short video the photographer can simply finger paint any part of the image to reveal parts of motion. The files are rendered in HD (1080) resolution.

Professionals will want to use Flixel’s advanced suite of editing tools that comes with the software Cinemagraph + for Mac ($49.99) or Cinemagraph Pro for Mac ($99.99) which gives the ability to export files in Ultra HD (4K). The Pro version is the choice for photographers who really want to supercharge these frozen-time effect photos or render large files for billboard-type graphic displays. Some shooters will spend hours in the studio or on location to finesse every detail, only to spend more time in post to perfect their living photo creations. But LeBlanc emphasizes that smart and stimulating cinemagraphs can be produced using the software in ten minutes as well.

Flixel recently introduced FlixelCloud, a new delivery system subscription service designed to help photographers make money from their cinemagraphs, with creators being in full control of licenses and fees. Images are hosted on Flixel’s servers allowing photographers to share and stream cinemagraphs at the highest possible quality. Users can also control the destination link, meaning the images can be linked anywhere giving publishers and advertisers more options for tying the visuals into sales. Cloud plans run from $5 to $150 per month. LeBlanc also reveals that a stock venue for licensing Flixels is under consideration for the future.

Living photo creations are taking photography beyond stills and are promising new ways to make online content impactful… and hopefully more profitable. To see more Flixels, view their online gallery of cinemagraphs that can be shared and embedded into your own websites for free.

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

One Part Therapist, One Part Cheerleader and One Part Market Expert

The career of Lindsey Nicholson. Guest Post by Julian Jackson.

Lindsey Nicholson has been working for over 25 years in the stock photography industry. Calling her a photo editor and marketer would do a disservice to her wide skill set. She has worked in agencies editing and selling images, and produced shoots, but now works for a number of stock photo libraries including Universal Image Group (UIG), marketing their content, as well as mentoring young photographers for the Young Photographers’ Alliance.

Teenage girl covering her mouth

© Doug Menuez

When she left art school in she had never even heard of the stock photography industry, but finding that starving in a garret in New York did not appeal, she drifted into an entry-level job for The Stock Market. “Owners Sally Lloyd and Richard Steadman took me under their wing and in two or three years taught me everything about the industry from the ground up.”

Lindsey soon found that she loved working with photographers, as a kind of guide to the industry, because she could see what was selling and how to direct a particular photography talent in an appropriate direction. It often takes an outside eye like Lindsey’s to see what an artist is capable of creating.

Around the early 1990s many agencies had creative staffs who could edit the submissions, give photographers feedback on what worked and what did not, and offer a more personal relationship than is the case with many agencies now. The arrival of the internet changed all that.  It also made the selling of images speedier and more transparent. “We were moving into new territory, new marketplaces were opening up, and you could also see quickly via sales what worked commercially and what did not. Some images would be RM and others destined for the new RF and subscription-based markets.”

Lindsey became a little frustrated because she was too far downstream, editing images that had already been created, “I wanted to have more influence over what photographers were shooting, rather than always critique existing work that couldn’t be changed” she says.

Following her desires to become more part of the production process she moved from small agency WireImage to Jupiter Images – which was then the third largest photolibrary in the world – as a Collection Director, hiring the photographers, stylists and models and art directing the shoots, building collections from the bottom up. “I knew how to create very marketable images from very early in the process.”

After Jupiter was bought by Getty she went freelance. She now works for a number of agencies, including Universal Images Group, analyzing and marketing their collections, and consulting over the integration of specialized niche collections. She also represents a few photographers who inspire her.  “I like to be part of the creative process – what is the story we are trying to tell?  What does the photographer want to achieve creatively? What market are we aiming for? Having an outside eye is very valuable in this journey.”

A few years ago she had the opportunity to edit Doug Menuez’s back catalog. During his extensive career Menuez has been a photojournalist, a portraitist, a landscape artist, and a commercial photographer. This assignment was meant to be two months work but the scale of his collection meant that it is expanded till it took up 8 months.

Two friends smiling with trophies

© Doug Menuez

Lindsey is still excited by photography, by being presented with something she hasn’t seen before. “What I love about our industry is that it is open to a wide range of talent, from the old timers who have been around a lot to the newbies who are just getting out of art school and who have something to say about the world we live in.”  This translates into her mentoring program work at  Young Photographers Alliance – YPA – to help them develop creatively and also acquire those critically important business skills that they need to ensure commercial success.  “I like finding talented photo professionals who are open to helping the next generation get better at what they do and make a better living at it.”

The new waves of photography generated by mobile media and smartphones intrigues her. She thinks it can help her identify trends, and also create a freshness, “Sometimes a non-professional photographer can bring this naiveté, this outsider perspective to a subject.”

New areas are opening up for delivery of images, like Instagram, Foap and Flickr.  Photographers are going to have to be more adaptable to cope with a world saturated in images. “I’ve been told the stock photography business is dying ever since I got into it 25 years ago,” she laughs, “I see it more as growing and changing, not falling apart. I know these are tough times, but I would also say that there is plenty of room for creativity and enough space to make a living out of the greater options that are now out there.”

What advice would she give people? “You have to have a story to tell, something your perspective makes unique, so that people will look at it.  I also think humor can make more of an impact and funny things often linger longer in the mind than more serious images, so I always try to encourage photographers to look for the humor in situations.”

Finally her lighthearted self-job-description is, “One part therapist, one part cheerleader and one part market expert.”

© UIG/Bernard Friel

© UIG/Bernard Friel

Lindsey’s website is and she can be found on Instagram (@linzart). All images are copyright of the individual photographers or photolibraries.

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 Linked-in profile.

Charlie Hebdo shooting: a barbaric act against media freedom

From the European Federation of Journalists. Reposted with permission from PACA/DMLA.

BN3933logo-CharlieHebdo1111“The ‘massacre’ which took place today at the premises of the French magazine Charlie Hebdo in Paris is a barbaric act of violence against journalists and media freedom,” says the European Federation of Journalists (EFJ).

According to the latest media reports, twelve people were killed in the shooting. Among them, nine are journalists and two are policemen, according to media reports. Media reported that at least two armed, hooded gunmen have taken part in the shooting at the office of Charlie Hebdo at 11.30am today.

The EFJ has expressed its deepest condolences to the families and friends of the victims. The EFJ President, Mogens Blicher Bjerregaard, will travel to Paris later today or tomorrow to honour the victims and get in touch with the journalists’ unions in France for support actions to the families of the victims.

The EFJ has condemned this barbaric act of violence against journalists and media freedom. It has called on the French authorities to make every effort to punish this horrific crime.

“This is not only an attack on journalists but also an attack on the freedom of the media. Journalists today are facing greater dangers and threats,” says Blicher Bjerregaard.

In 2014, 118 journalists and media workers died for doing their jobs. In Europe, 9 journalists were killed and they were taken place mostly in Ukraine.

In view of this horrific attack, the EFJ reiterates its call on national governments, the European Union and intergovernmental organisations (including the Council of Europe and the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe – OSCE) to intensify their efforts in ensuring the protection of journalists in Europe.

Most Popular Girl in Rehab?

By Simon Herbert

Imagine that you are strolling through a gift shop, killing time and looking for useless things to buy to assuage your existential angst (isn’t that why we trawl through gift shops to begin with?) and you happen to pick up and peruse an alcohol flask. It’s one of that adorable line of comic geegaws that you’ve seen, so many times, in airports and shops from New Mexico to Massachusetts; made by Anne Taintor Inc. who, according to the company’s website, has been “making smart people smile since 1985.”

You’ve seen these variations before on everything from mugs to phone cases to fridge magnets: all of those ‘50s and ‘60s “Betty Draper” perfect housewife types from the likes of “Mad Men” TV series, smiling beatifically; but the archival, era-resonant, portraits are subverted by pithy quotes that paint a humorously different picture of motherhood and womanhood: the accompanying made-up ‘quotes’ are punkish ironic haikus about children left in baggage claims, a never-ending quest for booze, and scorn for uptight neighbors.

Maybe one of the reasons for the popularity of the brand — on its 30th anniversary it has 3,000 outlets in 25 countries — is precisely the disjunction between a supposedly idyllic era of bygone times, and the knowledge that family life has always been stressful, and maybe even helped a little with an occasional pre-evening Martini… so let’s all just have a little laugh at life…

… until, back in that gift shop, you are the daughter of a woman called Veronica Vigil… and you suddenly see your mom’s image plastered over the alcohol flask with the legend “I’m going to be the most popular girl in rehab.” And your mom happens to be a church-goer who abstains from alcohol, and lives in a small rural community.

Now what do you do? Now where is your sense of humor?

This is why Veronica Vigil is suing the company, and charges that Anne Taintor Inc. obtained and used her likeness from a high school graduation picture from 1970, without her permission.

According to the complaint. “Plaintiff is an active member of her church and does not consume alcohol or drugs. Given the seriousness of the issues of substance abuse in the community in which plaintiff resides, she has held herself out by reputation for her children and her community, to refrain from abuse or even use of alcohol and illicit drugs and has set an example that the issue is a very serious one that destroys families and lives.”

And this is where things get crazy in the Internet era; as a pre-digital era collides with a post-digital (will there ever be such a thing?) hoovering up of any and all images, for any and all uses.

Some of the arguments for whether Vigil has grounds for a case might well cleave to different ideas of what constitutes identity in 2015: of a sense of humor, of issues of cultural appropriation, and what is permissible in an era of selfies and Photoshop and photobombing.

But in a suit – which charges Taintor with defamation, invasion of privacy and unfair trade practices, and seeks an unspecified amount of compensatory and punitive damages – there can be no doubt that the issue isn’t to do with whether the woman whose face was printed on the flask doesn’t either have a sense of humor, or not… but how her likeness was appropriated in the first place?

At the time of writing, sites such as “” can reproduce an incredible array of high school yearbooks that have been scanned from the ‘50s onwards; and none of these images are being offered for sale, and certainly wouldn’t even begin to conform to an industry-standard of requiring standard model releases. But how do companies find these images, and how do they use them? Do they appropriate them from such sites?

There’s no doubt, as evinced in this test case, that images of people in their youth can be repurposed without their permission; and that unless the subject decides to sue, that this happens without any redress.

The question, no doubt to be specified over numerous court cases in the coming decade, is how people can retain control of their own history.

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