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.

For more on this story:

and here:

What’s in a picture? – a Xmas tale of shooting the past

Re-posted with the kind permission of PACA/DMLA.

A young Turkish Cypriot woman holding a rifle in 1964 Cyprus – a stark photograph of troubled times, a face without a story.

CY000458 Young Turkish Cypriot girl fighterUntil now.

Last week Lebrecht photo library was contacted by the Australian nephew of the young woman.  He was stunned to imagine that his aunt, now in her early sixties and battling cancer, was once young and armed. Lebrecht photographer, Brian Seed, who took the picture was unaware that Aysel, 16 years old and four months pregnant, had just learned that her husband had been kidnapped in a neighbouring Greek village. She grabbed the village mukhtar’s rifle, determined to defend her home, find her husband and avenge his kidnap. This photo captures a pivotal moment in her young life and in the history of Cyprus.

Aysel never saw her husband again.

Her nephew Adem, whose father emigrated to Australia,  travelled to Cyprus for the first time last year to meet  the family he had never met before.  His aunt  had  somehow found Brian’s photo and Adem tenaciously tracked down the source online.  He wrote to Lebrecht: ‘Showing my father the image online, he teared up remembering his childhood on the war torn island. It makes me appreciate how lucky I am to have been born in Australia, and to have been raised with such a privileged upbringing’.

Brian Seed who is now in his eighties told him: ‘I did arrive in one town – possibly that of your aunt – early in the morning. There were two bodies laying in a doorway and houses seemed to be empty’  He sent over another of his photographs of child refugees crowded into the back of an open lorry.  They are now trying to ascertain if one of those little boys was Adem’s father.
CY000453 Cyprus Feb. 1964, Turkish refugeesPhoto credits: Brian Seed/Lebrecht Music & Arts

Two Books That Teach

Another in our series of inspirations and must-haves, this time with guest writer, Ellen Boughn.

Two photography book publishers looked to their archives for material to publish in 2014. I chose to review Thames and Hudson’s Magnum Contacts and National Geographic Covers because they are books that can reinforce the editing skills of photo researchers, publishers, art buyers and photo editors.

The criteria that resulted in selecting these publications were that they be books showcasing iconic images that have passed the test of time and that show  why a photograph is chosen for key placement or is the most important in a series.

The cover of Magnum Contact Sheets-Compact Edition, Edited by Kisten Lubben, Thames & Hudson. 2014

The cover of Magnum Contact Sheets-Compact Edition, Edited by Kisten Lubben, Thames & Hudson. 2014

Jim Cornfield, the book reviewer for Rangefinder Magazine, suggested I take a look at the 2014 edition of Magnum Contact Sheets-Compact Edition. The book shows a large print of the select along with a copy of the contact sheet from where it was selected. Each is accompanied by photographers comments of what occurred in front of and behind the camera during the shoot.

A review of the contacts…my eye itched for my long ago put away loupe…shows why one photo stands out. It’s a good game for a photo editor to play by asking what image would I have picked and why?

Rene Burre’s exclusive interview with Che Guevara captured the many moods of the Cuban revolutionary. In some he appears exhausted or playful. The final portrait of Che with a cigar captures the face of a man with the strength and arrogance of a rebel and eyes that appear to be slightly fearful or with a hint of doubt.


Havana. Ministry of Industry. Ernesto Guevara (CHE) (1961-1965) during an exclusive interview in his office © Rene Burre/Magnum Photos

On a lighter side is Philippe Halsman’s narrative of how he managed to get three cats air-born, while Salvador Dali jumped up and a bucket of water was tossed across the set all in one frame before Photoshop. (This image was regrettably not among those authorized by the Geographic for publication within a review.)


Once color became more popular, the light table edit replaced proof sheet. INDIA. Rajasthan. 1983. Dust storm © Steve McCurry/Magnum Photos.

Thames & Hudson’s press release states, “This landmark photography book, published just as the shift to digital photography threatens to render the contact sheet obsolete, celebrates the sheet as artifact, as personal and historic record as invaluable editing tool and as a fascinating way of accompanying great photographers through the process of creating the most enduring images of our time.

What makes a great magazine cover? A new book, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC THE COVERS: Iconic Photographs, Unforgettable Stories, provides a survey of covers from the late 1950s-2014.

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC THE COVERS: Iconic Photographs, Unforgettable Stories. The National Geographic Society. 2014

NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC THE COVERS: Iconic Photographs, Unforgettable Stories. The National Geographic Society. 2014

The Geographic stayed close to its roots, documenting  world cultures and remote geography over time. As the world began to grow smaller in the 1980’s, cover photos of remote tribes began to be replaced with cover stories such as the November 1984 cover piece on chocolate or William Albert Allard’s article on a season in baseball’s minor leagues.

Two of my all time favorite Geographic covers are of Koko the Gorilla holding a camera (just like a pro) as she took a shot  for the October 1978 issue and that of a lioness and cub taken by Mitsuaki Iwago for May 1986.

A Lioness and her cub bask in the protection of the Serengeti, Africa’s premier wildlife haven. May 1986 | Photo by Mitsuaki Iwago/National Geographic

A Lioness and her cub bask in the protection of the Serengeti, Africa’s premier wildlife haven. May 1986 | Photo by Mitsuaki Iwago/National Geographic

I haven’t read that KoKo’s photo was the first published selfie taken by a non-human primate in the recent dustup over the shot by a black macaque monkey. (We didn’t hear from the copyright office on KoKo’s photo but they now have passed a regulation – as reported in the LA Times – that only human beings can own copyrights.) I taped KoKo’s cover photo on the door of my photo agency office when I was president. I think the humor was lost on most photographers passing through that doorway.

A newly minted National Geographic photographer makes her own self-portrait. October 1978 | Photo by Koko

A newly minted National Geographic photographer makes her own self-portrait. October 1978 | Photo by Koko

Although obvious to skilled photo editors and art buyers, most covers are very close up shots with simple graphics as proven in the six-page pullout showing all the cover photos.

  No copyright required

No copyright

A word about the several super large SUMO books out this year. We live in a time when the classic “coffee table” photography book has been replaced with photography books  AS coffee tables. What I think of when I see the latest of these books named after fat Japanese wrestlers is how does one wrestle the books home without causing a back injury? Vanity Fair entitled their discussion of the Annie Leibovitz SUMO published this last February as being “Bigger Than Your Apartment”. The special edition of Salgado’s 2014 book, GENESIS, weighs 120 pounds. Enough!

All photos used with permission (except for the monkey selfie).

th-1Ellen Boughn acts as an appraiser of the value of copyrights and as an expert witness in matters pertaining to standard licensing fees, copyright, unauthorized use and licensing business models in photography and illustration. Her client list includes many major U.S. and international law firms, publishers and photographers/illustrators. Her archive appraisal practice began in the 1990’s with the assessment of the George Hurrell Estate for tax purposes and she most recently appraised the value of the copyrights associated with the Bert Stern Estate. She is associated with fine art appraiser-certified in photography, Jennifer Stoots, AAA, for cases that involve both the value of copyrights as well as fine art prints. In addition, she has prepared reports on patents that relate to licensing of intellectual property over the internet.

Ellen graduated from Colorado College, earned the certificate in Executive Management from the UCLA Anderson School and attends courses covering current valuation issues, as offered by American Society of Appraisers (ASA) and similar professional organization. Both Stoots and Boughn are USPAP (Universal Standards of Professional Appraisal Practice) certified (Seattle 2008, San Francisco 2014, New York 2012).

Sarah Fix Inspires Us

Sarah Fix, Creative Director of Blend Images and current President of PACA/DMLA, pulls from a wide pool for her creative muse.

My go to sources for inspiration are: Kinfolk Magazine, Monocle magazine, Zite app., and I know this sounds like a shameless plug but the Blend Images blog has fine art contributors that have daily posts about new artists that are fantastic.

Kinfolk_Vol7_CoverI get fixated on specific subjects that take me down various paths for inspiration. I’m a huge Mid-Century modern fan and a member of the Los Angeles Conservancy.

We asked Sarah about her wishlist for the holidays: Wishlist for Xmas — Sebastião Selgado: Genesis photo book. I had the opportunity to see the prints in person at the International Center of Photography, NYC in October. If I can’t get an actual print, the book is the next best thing!

If Santa is feeling generous I’ll take a Donald Wexler home in Palm Springs… I’ve been really good.

Sarahcolor2014Sarah Fix, VP Creative and Member of Blend Images, LLC, is responsible for overall creative direction, marketing and photographer development. She began her career in stock photography in 1993 at Westlight and held prestigious posts at Corbis, Brand X and PictureArts before joining Blend Images. Sarah is currently serving as President of PACA/Digital Media Licensing Association and has lectured extensively about commercial content creation and stock library production in the United States and abroad. 

Inspiration and Aesthetic

I asked colleagues, clients and peers to tell me about their favorite books, magazines and  inspirations for a December theme. We start off the month with this thoughtful post by designer Chad Wall.

I work from, and am most attracted to, a firmly American aesthetic.  I realize that phrase reads as somewhat ambiguous, in an attempt to narrow the meaning: I usually find that I 
gravitate toward the speed shop car culture (think Shelby American), Ivy style on the West Coast, architecture, and the art scene in Los Angeles in the early 1960s through the mid-1970s. This span of, roughly, 15 years encompasses the best of American design:  clean, classic, and purposeful.

One of my favorite websites is A Continuous Lean by Michael Williams.

(c)Michael Williams
(c)Michael Williams

Williams travels around the world looking for original, and interpretations of, goods that epitomize the quality and craftsmanship of the American Century.  One of his most recent posts covered the pop-up fleas he set up in Tokyo that featured American work clothes/Ivy League inspired Japanese and American brands.  He shoots his own images on a Lecia and finished off the article with a beautiful shot of an 
early 70s Jeep Wagoneer parked outside the 
Tokyo flea location.

Another favorite site is The Impossible Cool. They concentrate on archival images of actors, artists, and musicians from the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. The large majority of the images are collections either owned or licensed by Getty or Corbis. They post infrequently, but when they do it’s worth it. They sell silver prints of many of the best photos they unearth on their trips to archives at

I find myself buying a lot of books from Taschen.  I miss their Los Angeles store.  Now that I am living on the Great Plains I spend time perusing their website. They produce lovely books. Beautiful images. Compelling subjects. Here are a few of my 
favorites along with a few other books I’ve added to my collection from other sources:

(c)Chad Wall

© Chad Wall

I also draw inspiration from walking my company’s factory floor where we build recreational towing equipment for the motorsports and RV markets and where I serve as the marketing manager and creative director.  The first photo and third photos are of metal lathes from the 1940s, the second is a metal press from the 1930s.  Machines that are still in service.

Here is an example of my most recent work. The minute I saw the stock photograph that I’ve used here, I thought of Grant Wood’s American Gothic.  The original image shows the man on the left side, I’ve flipped the image here to match the orientation of Grant’s painting.  I think this ad follows much of the aesthetic influences that I mention above, the clothes, the simplicity and utility of the old Airstream trailer, to me, evoke the style of the American Century.

(c)Blue Ox

© Blue Ox

Chad WallChad Wall is the marketing manager and creative director at Blue Ox products in Northeast Nebraska.  Before the 2008 recession tore the world to hell, Chad was at Picture Arts/Jupiterimages in Los Angeles where he was a distribution manager working with picture agencies in Europe, Latin America, and Asia.  He loves his job on the plains but misses Los Angeles.

Enter Lobster: Buttering up the Image Marketplace

Another new user content community aims to change the way we use visual materials found online. And this one has put the ubiquitous hashtag front and center. Guest post by Jain Lemos.

“We want to become the largest market for social media content,” says Olga Egorsheva, co-founder and CEO of Lobster IT Limited. Her London-based tech company is run by a close-knit group of computer science students who met at Moscow State University. The team includes a photographer, a designer and an art buyer, each clearly mindful of the create-buy-use image transaction model.

Like other startups in this space, they feel strongly about trying to prevent social content stealing.  As for the name, Egorsheva claims Lobster is fun and memorable, plus, “…lobsters grab everything in the ocean as we grab content anywhere on the Internet through social media.”


© Andrew Giacalone (@azgiacalone)

Using APIs, Lobster sources user generated content from social platforms, specifically Instagram and Flickr right now. That means maintaining working relationships with Facebook and Yahoo, even if only through the API functionality for starters. As for the popular sharing communities themselves, the prospect of a 75 percent revenue stake is encouraging sellers to sign up.

On the contributor side, sellers create a profile on Lobster and use the hashtag #ilobsterit in the caption or comment fields of images they want to add to Lobster’s marketplace. The hashtag becomes the basis for signaling buyers that their images are for sale. Selling with Lobster is on a non-exclusive basis once the content creator accepts their terms.

Bargain-basement prices are preset for all content, though Lobster envisions increasing licensing fees down the road as well as allowing sellers to set their own prices. Instagram files are $0.99; Flickr files are $1.99; video files are $2.99. Future pricing models will also be rating-based. For example, the more Instagram images you sell, the higher your Lobster rating, which then triggers a higher licensing fee.

With 75 percent of the sale going to the contributor, that’s $0.74 for a 640 x 640 pixel Instagram shot, a file size suitable for Web use. Interestingly, the downloadable file for Flickr images is sized at 7360 x 4912 pixels, dimensions large enough for nearly all print applications.


© Todd Perzel (@compasscomfort)

The broadly-worded usage agreement granted by the seller is for a full, worldwide non-exclusive commercial or editorial royalty-free license. Sellers are encouraged to tag their content with further hashtags:

  • #editorialuse: Content can be used for Editorial use. Any required Model Release and/or Property Release has not been obtained;
  • #modelrelease: All necessary Model Releases have been obtained by the Seller and may be provided to Buyers upon request;
  • #propertyrelease: All necessary Property Releases have been obtained by the Seller and may be provided to Buyers upon request.

For buyers, searching the collection presents the biggest hurdle. Lobster’s search parameters are limited to the image’s description, hashtags and built-in date and geographic metadata. Keywording is all user-determined and that can mean messy results. Lobster is working to educate their contributors on better captioning practices and they also plan to integrate image recognition software that automatically adds color, emotion and other symbolic keywords to files.


© Miriam Häring (@frozen_foxy)

To improve the buyer’s research experience, Egorsheva says there will be both in-house and crowd sourced curation and rating of images. Currently, the homepage sorts photo streams by three categories: trending topics, bestsellers and nearby. Lobster runs photo challenges so sellers have topics to shoot and a chance to win site promotion and other prizes. The images curated for the nearby category result from Lobster capturing the seller’s image coordinates and then matching those with the viewer’s IP address location.

Transactions go through PayPal so buyers and sellers will need to establish an account there. Should buyers want to reach sellers for more information or alternate file sizes, Lobster plans to launch a direct messaging capability. This communication tool within Lobster will allow buyers to directly submit a buy request, even for non-hashtagged photos.

Once an image has been purchased, Lobster stores a copy on their servers so the buyer always has access to the file, even if the seller has deleted the photo from their own social media account. If a seller changes their mind about offering an image for sale via Lobster, they can remove #ilobsterit from the file but there is a delay, even up to 24 hours, before the photo will be removed from Lobster’s marketplace.

Oxford Traffic

© Dmitriev Andrey (@elvendi)

Growth is steady. Lobster reports about 100,000 images and videos to date from about 1500 users. The first paying customers are starting to arrive as their marketing efforts ramp up. They’ll be pursuing other social media sites including Vine, Twitter and Behance and audio sharing sites such as Soundcloud. In the meantime, Lobster will be attempting to crawl through as much territory as possible in an ocean of online content.

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

Picture Palace of Movie History – the Ronald Grant Archive

by Julian Jackson

Modern Times

Modern Times

The Ronald Grant Archive is one of the best privately-held collections of cinema images in the world today.  Founded in 1971 along with its sibling The Cinema Museum in 1984, it covers the  history of cinema.  In its temperature-controlled vaults lie over 1 million images from the beginning of the movies in the 1890s to around 2010.

Martin Humphries, the CEO and co-founder explains, “We are a specialist collection which is broad in what it covers: more than 50,000 British, US, European and World Cinema titles, and we also offer in-depth material – publicity shots, posters, on-set and behind-the-scenes content, as well as images of movie theaters themselves, the picture-palaces of yesteryear.”

They have a huge range of material. During the years I spent researching they were one of the three places I would always go for cinema images, the other two being Kobal (now licensed by The Picture Desk) and the British Film Institute.  If you are interested in classic film stars like Audrey Hepburn or Charlie Chaplin, they are here, as well as stuntmen, animations, special effects, film industry people, and goodness knows what else.  They also have an extensive collection of  UK and US TV programs, variety and musical performers, popular and classical musicians, singers and songwriters, as well as song sheets and theatre related material.

Roman Holiday

Roman Holiday

It is more effective if you are interested in a particular actor or director to search the online collection by film title, rather than the person’s name as sometimes this has not been sufficiently cross-referenced. If you have a list of films that you are interested in, this will speed up the process.  Or you could always give them a call:  the staff pride themselves on their film knowledge and expertise. I don’t often reckon many people can out-film-geek me, but in this case I bow down and murmur “Respect!” Martin Humphries says, “What we offer is a bespoke service, without the frustration of searching the internet.  In our field, we have either got it, or we can point you in the right direction if we haven’t, we don’t just say “No sorry,”  in the unlikely event we can’t satisfy your request from our vast archives. Sometimes we get asked for a particular image from a film that someone has found on the internet, and if it is a frame-grab, then unfortunately it probably isn’t good enough for quality print reproduction and there may not be a still from that particular scene.”

In searching the archives I had a jolt of memory. I recall sneaking in under-age into my local picture house to see a double bill of classic British horror The Wicker Man, followed by Don’t Look Now. I staggered out a bit shell-shocked by the power of cinema.  Over the years I have begun to doubt that I could have seen those two great films together, but the archive has a front-of-house card showing that my memory was correct.

The Wicker Man

The Wicker Man

The Ronald Grant Archive shares its building with The Cinema Museum, a lovely collection of movie-making equipment, décor and design. They are basically two arms of the same organisation. A few years ago they were threatened with eviction from their premises, which would have meant the break-up of both collections, but negotiation and a campaign to stop this by film buffs eventually made the landlord relent.  Now they hope to buy the building so they can have a secure future. Although they are located in South London, not far from the Imperial War Museum, they are easily reachable from Central London, so would be worth a visit (by appointment only) if you are in London. One of the best collections in the world for movie-related projects.



All images copyright of Ronald Grant Archive and may not be reproduced without permission.

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