Blazing a New Trail

By Simon Herbert

Where confusion and opportunities arise, pioneers step in first to make sense from the haze; and Stock Pot Images is a new start-up that steps into that medicinal marijuana haze, the first stock photo agency to specialize exclusively in cannabis-related imagery. At a time when the Feds and the States vie over the application of the letter of the law, sporadic legalization is nevertheless occurring at a breathtaking pace, this seems like a different world from only a few years ago. Remember that old saw from the ’80s (and probably the ’70s, and the ’60s…), when stoners would sit around and nod knowingly, talking about how big tobacco companies had already copyrighted their own marijuana brand names? Well, there’s probably some truth in that, but the future seems more about a diverse mass acceptance of cannabis in our lives across multiple outlets and markets… and Stock Pot Images wants to be there first. With the good stuff…

(c)Josh Fogel/StockPot Images

© Josh Fogel/StockPot Images

Stock Pot Images feature rights-managed and royalty-free photography and illustration. According to them, their “selection reaches far beyond the small number of stereotypical images currently offered by major stock agencies,” and even a cursory tour through their portfolio shows an astonishing array of creative photography. In some cases, it’s the plant itself, and we see macro photography of buds, glistening with resin, strange otherworldly buds writ large, fecund and entrancing. Other images show the process of growing, of the hot houses and UV lights and mass production set ups. Other user-friendly images posit a “Martha Stewart” world in which, one day, we will all be turning up on each other’s doorsteps with delightful leaf-shaped THC cookies.

(c)AJ Rose/StockPot Images

© Alicia J Rose/StockPot Images

Founder Ophelia Chong and partner Alicia J. Rose (who between them have a daunting resume of photographic activity, ranging from marketing, designing, education and management) smile wryly when acknowledging that they are trying to introduce some new iconic tropes that might just take the new women-friendly, medical-friendly, national dynamic way beyond the snide national media footnotes.

What remains paramount to these images is a desire to service an industry, and a culture, that is still finding its feet under new circumstances. Stock Pot Images curates from a select group of up and coming photographers, to create the content that will fit the needs of the burgeoning cannabis industries.

Stock Pot Images targets healthcare, ad and branding agencies, as well as corporate and emerging industries that will need cannabis images to service a new market of users.

When asked, Chong indicates that they plan to be the agency art buyers come to first.

1) Stock Pot Images aims to go beyond “stereotypical” pot-related stock imagery. As a creative, can you indicate the new aesthetic that you’re searching for, from artists and photographers?

In the last 3 months, I’ve looked at more cannabis photographs than I have ever done in my entire life, however from what I have seen, I have already seen what’s available if I never was in this business. It’s the same bud shot, the same glowing leaf, or the same Gen X on a couch with a bong and a cat. There are so many creative cannabis photographers out there, and I’ve been finding them or they have found me, now there is an outlet for them to show their work and make some money from it. My mantra to the contributors is this: Kinfolk + Dwell + Martha Stewart + Nat Geo + Cannabis = Stock Pot Images.

From my roster, the majority are professional photographers and illustrators, the minority is learning the ropes of stock photography and all are creating spectacular work. The look and feel I suggest to Stock Pot’s contributors is first, be true to your own style, secondly, and don’t shoot stereotypes. I am looking for the clean, professional curated images, I want to move cannabis imagery away from the “half-dressed female in a tiny nurse’s outfit” to images of real cannabis users, the same person you pass by everyday, real people.

2) Stock Pot Images’ inventory seems to reflect a refreshing new diversity of images, and the healing aspects of the pot trade; but will the collection expand to balance the ambassadorial/medicinal side of the trade with a little recreational stoner humor, or would that ‘damage’ your brand?     

I am encouraging humor in the images: we have a stuffed big mouth bass with a joint; we have martini glasses with weed ice; we have people making cookies and smiling, not all droll and serious. Although we do have serious, dark moody imagery as well…

One series we will be shooting later in May is a spoof on the royalty free image of the “doctor” with a jar of buds. 

Cannabis users on the whole are a funny, laid-back, proactive, close knit, creative group; they have had to run in-between changing lines of the law. It’s like hopscotch made from chalk lines… you just never know when one line will be erased or changed…

(c)Davids/StockPot Images

© Davids/StockPot Images

You can find Stock Pot Images at:

ACSIL Footage Expo

Want to see some of the most compelling moving imagery ever produced on earth? Then take yourself to Manhattan on April 29th: to a loft location filled with light, where the Association of Commercial Stock Image Licensors (ACSIL) will be hosting a variety of conferences on today’s footage dynamic in creative, commercial, and educational media. Prepare yourself for footage of places – beaches, oceans, deserts – populated by people – hipsters, natives, soldiers, children – in search of fun, justice, liberty, and, just maybe, the “perfect wave.” Because all of the world, in microcosm, will be here…

From WPA, you can source Teddy Roosevelt waving, the KKK marching, Wall Street trading, railroads being laid across America, and the Hindenburg burning. From FramePool, you can see soccer matches, spitting cobras, napalm landing on villages in Vietnam, and sections of spaceships decoupling. HBO Archives offers online searching, digital delivery, and free research/screeners of everything from Vegas crap tables, Selma marches, decades of fashion catwalks, and celebrities being… well… celebrities.

For the last twelve years, ACSIL is the go-to destination to connect with the world’s leading providers of stock and archival footage. ACSIL members represent and license high quality clips and unique deep content. If you work in advertising, film, television and home entertainment, then this is your first stop; also for reinventions of book publishing, museums, educational vendors; and even more so if you work in new markets (yes, they’re talking to you, video gamers and Internet apps…).

A short list of some of their other members includes: ITN Source, Getty Images, Huntley Film Archive and NBC Universal Archives.

ACSIL sponsors multiple stock footage based initiatives including; gathering data on the global stock footage market, forming a Code of Practices committee to lead discussions about new licensing paradigms and monitoring shifts in domestic and international copyright law.

ACSIL also reaches out to meet the needs of the production community. They sponsor events, host panel discussions and present seminars on a wide range of footage industry subjects. Whether it’s sharing best practices for footage research or talks about licensing and rights clearances, ACSIL supports the production community.

The ACSIL Footage Expo 2015 features news archives, contemporary HD cinematographers, natural science & behavioral specialists, historical motion picture archives, pop- and high-culture rights holders, animation and graphic artists, celebrity footage, dash-cam operators, time-lapse specialists, international shooters. In fact, if you have a content itch, the ACSIL is likely to scratch it.

But there’s not only footage here; attendees can research copyright and clearance, media and technology, and job listings.

For more info and to register:

Bridgeman Images – Art for Arts Sake

by Julian Jackson

Bridgeman Images is one of the world’s foremost picture agencies specializing in fine art. Founded in 1972 by Harriet Bridgeman, it remains a family-based company. Harriet is still fully involved as Chairman, and the current CEO is Victoria Bridgeman. She says the overall mission of the library is to “to be the de-facto arts, culture and historical archive.”

CEO Victoria and Chairman Harriet Bridgeman

CEO Victoria and Chairman Harriet Bridgeman

The original impulse to create it stemmed from Harriet’s need to source images for books she was working on. In those days many museums were not very aware of the publishers need for images, and often if you requested a picture of a painting they would tell you to send along a photographer! Harriet quickly established the company as an important supplier of images from museums and galleries large and small, and private art collections. From the beginning it had an international perspective and Bridgeman Images collaborate with cultural centres all over the world to license artworks. Currently they have 1.1 million images online and are continually expanding their collection, via accessions of digitized material and also prints, transparencies and negatives which lovers of old-style collections will appreciate. Some of this material is in boxes in the CEO’s office and three researchers work full-time on finding material for clients from this analogue archive.

Winter Landscape, 1909 by Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) / Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia / Bridgeman Images

Winter Landscape, 1909 by Wassily Kandinsky (1866-1944) / Hermitage, St. Petersburg, Russia / Bridgeman Images

Their first major acquisition was a French photo archive called Giraudon, which broadened the scope of their material considerably fifteen years ago. Ironically they bought it off Gettyimages during the period Getty were acquiring collections all over the place, as Getty were not able to license its specialised material effectively. Exquisite reproduction and careful captioning and meta-data are a must if fine artworks are to be reproduced, especially in specialist publications, and Bridgeman maintain high standards in this area. Bridgeman passes back fifty percent of the reproduction fee to their partner museums and collections in order to provide vital revenue for conservation and future exhibitions.


Recently they have moved into footage, seeing that as complementary to their stills offerings. As they are major players in the educational market, being able to offer moving pictures to these clients as they move to digital delivery of material, rather than just textbooks, was a valuable addition to their existing collection. Victoria says, “We saw a demand for this, led by technology. It was a logical extension of what we did already. Currently it is a small part of our business, but one which is growing rapidly.”


This year they acquired French photo library Rue des Archives, which gives them another interlocking collection of valuable material, which will be very useful to their existing client base. This major French archival photo library is an exceptional resource with photography ranging from the cave paintings of Lascaux to 21st century Parisian life. It also covers photographs of international figures from the world of film, fashion, art, entertainment, and politics. Their content costs money to acquire and market and they see it as vital to continue to reinvest in their partnerships with the art suppliers to continue to provide high quality material to their clients. Victoria continues, “I think there is a big opportunity for Bridgeman to be a one-stop shop for cultural content.”


Director Alfred Hitchcock with actress Tippi Hedren arriving at Nice airport for Cannes Film festival, 1963. Credit ©Rue des Archives/AGIP/Bridgeman Images

Director Alfred Hitchcock with actress Tippi Hedren arriving at Nice airport for Cannes Film festival, 1963. Credit ©Rue des Archives/AGIP/Bridgeman Images

America is one of their biggest markets, and they have offices in New York and Los Angeles, headed up by Edward Whitley, as well as regularly exhibiting at Visual Connections. Besides their offices in London, Paris and Berlin, other important international markets include India and Japan. In their London headquarters they have Japanese speakers to ensure transactions go smoothly.


The wide variety of their clients has helped them weather the economic turbulence of the past few years. At any one time they will be selling to a wide spectrum of the publishing world, TV companies like the BBC, corporate and advertising agencies and new media so they have a broad base which has helped them move with the times. They may continue to consolidate their position in future by acquiring other libraries and collections as well as expanding their footage business.

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.


Visual Research in a Digital World

By guest writer Laura Lucas of Big Picture Research

I’m often asked if visual research is easier today than it was before computers. It’s a tough question to answer because there’s good and bad with all change. Technology has certainly delivered access and opened new doors but that doesn’t always mean it’s easier.

I consider myself fortunate to have learned the “old school” way to research.   I travelled to libraries and archives when possible and spent days sifting through reference material. Then I waited patiently for a VHS or ¾-inch format screener to be brought up from a vault for viewing. My orders were carefully filled out on two different sets of paperwork; one for the archival permission and one for the transfer house. I carried heavy film and tape assets up and down stairs, tripped over the same objects on my office floor and then waited some more for a courier to deliver master material. License agreements were faxed or mailed back and forth with numerous amendments and then signed in triplicate. The hard line telephone was my main communications tools and I worked closely with an editor in the suite. TV production was exciting!

Today’s visual research is heavily online from a desk and no longer limited to television and film. There are a lot of new media venues including websites, books, blogs, marketing material, event publicity, non-profit work, music and even video game projects. So the work can be very unique. You can also save a lot of time as negotiations are handled by email; online ordering replaces the phone and digital signatures are accepted on contracts.

On the positive side – my research is now worldwide with access to more archival collections and new suppliers. This is great! So much material is searchable and viewable online. I can screen hundreds of film and video clips and photos in just a few days. I can organize them all in a workspace; perform mini-edits; easily share my findings with a team and price shop in relatively short order. I might still need to visit an archive, but a ton of legwork can be done beforehand and cut my travel bill down at the other end. Let’s not forget the increased access to other researchers. We’ve never been so easily connected making it easier to share contacts, industry news and tips and tricks. The Visual Researcher’s Society of Canada ( ) is a good example. As a networked group we can better promote excellence in the field of visual research and negotiate improved prices for our clients.

So what’s the downside? Well – originality has taken a hit. I’m starting to see the same images over and over again. Hands-on research skills are going by the wayside as we rely on search engines. Not everything is digitized and I fear some of the best material will remain untapped as quick and cheap becomes the norm. Storage costs are declining so instead of properly curating collections we’re keeping more and more junk with poor metadata. Keeping up with changing file formats is becoming a management issue and we’re losing the personal working relationships as we trade phone interaction for email.

One key observations of the virtual age is that everyone thinks they can be a visual researcher! I appreciate that the average person can find their own images online – but remember the old adage about being too good to be true? Ask yourself if what you’re seeing is credible? Original images can be cropped, altered, edited, incorrectly sourced and very convincing in a digital world. I spend more time tracking down the source of a grainy, thumbnail sized photo to find out it’s not accurate or investigating a video to find out it’s made up of 20 bits of other shorter films. This creates huge frustration in the end and essentially eats up all time savings that might have been possible with computers.

So I continue to keep an open mind on the future of visual research. My own career spans a mere 2.5 decades; a relatively short period of time when you’re talking about history. I would love to hear reflections from those of you who been researching even longer. Please comment if you can.

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:

Podcasts, Podcast, whats the best Podcast?

There is, in all probability, a podcast for everything these days: give an enthusiast, or a professional, a recorder and access to uploading resources, and… voila! But whereas there might be some obscure ones at the farthest ends of human endeavor (there’s – honestly – one about the history of ribbons, another on issues pertaining the British Enclosure Laws of the 17th century…), it’s perhaps no surprise that photography podcasts number in the multitude; on iTunes alone there are 311, currently.

There’s no space in this blog to do justice to them all, but for photo professionals, and even those who aspire to one day become one, there are plenty of passionate photographers who promote technical and aesthetic learning, and intense discussion about the history and sociology of photography. Let’s take a quick click and peek at just a few:

The Candid Frame

Ibarionex Perello is a photographer, writer, educator and host of The Candid Frame, and provides frank, insightful interviews with some of the industry’s top established and emerging photographers. This is one of the most popular photography podcasts, and by this week has run to 269 episodes.

Topics range from technical discussions in which photographers can submit examples to the Candid Frame Flickr Pool (such as how graphic elements can help us to improve a photograph, with a focus on patterns, lines, shapes and using a contrasting element result in an interesting photograph); through to more in-depth creative and philosophical discussion with renowned photographers such as street photographer Nancy Lehrer, Photo Lab Pet Photography and Design founders Bill Parsons and Natalia Martinez, and multimedia journalist Hugo Passarello Luna.

On Taking Pictures

Another resource (currently up to #151) with new interviews every week. Jeffery Saddoris and Bill Wadman take on the art, science, and philosophy of photography and explore how they play out behind the camera in the process of making images. Insider insights for the novice, shop talk for the professional, and opinionated discussion for the interested observer of the field’s trends and legacy.

They regularly mix up topics’ in each long discursive freeform chat, topics range from profiles of historical greats such as Dorothea Lange, how much one should immerse oneself in one’s labors, and overcoming technical limitations.

Full Time Photographer

Josh Rossi is currently located in Los Angeles where he specialize in Commercial and Advertising photography and drive a bus that says “Escape from ordinary photography” on it. Much of his advice consists of sound professional pointers, teased from a hugely eclectic cast of photographers, ranging from non-profit through to high-end commercial practitioners. Definitely a podcast for those working to up their professional game and expand their skills, portfolios and, most importantly, attitudes. Launched 5th December 2013, the podcast has new notched up 229 episodes.

Martin Bailey Photography Podcast

As might be expected coming from famous wildlife and wilderness nature photographer, Martin Bailey, this is a charming mix of high end technical advice, ameliorated by some witty travelogue banter, and some occasional gear reviews too. In short, Bailey’s podcasts are a sort of on-the-job diary; whether he is photographing snow monkeys in Hokkaido, or elephants in Namibia.

History of Photography Podcast

Photographer Jeff Curto is Professor Emeritus of Photography at College of DuPage in Glen Ellyn, Illinois, where he taught from 1984 to 2014. Curto has an exhaustive knowledge of the history of photography, and his podcasts amount to a full semester of his course, in a series of classes. And even better (but only just) than the wealth of information: it’s free!

Photography on Tuts+

As part of a greater collection of arts-related tutorials, linked by subject, the Photography section of Tuts+ is surely the granddaddy of all resources. Hundreds of categories – ranging from “Abstract” to “Zoomify” – are here to satisfy any photographer who wants to dip their fingers into some different developer… Learning guides go into great depth to prepare you for your next project.

Do you have a fav that you can let us know about? Let us know!

Photo Documentary Heaven

Time to explore photo docs – starting with one of the best..and one of our favorites:

In the age of digital streaming, there are so many outlets that can be accessed to provide insights into the minds of photographers, and the applications of photography. A living digital archive exists on the Internet for anybody wanting to expand their knowledge of the iconic photographers and movements of this and the last century.

For instance, just one of the offerings available on “Documentary Heaven” (and there are many, many more: check it out at is the protean portrait of perhaps the most resonant war photographer of the past 60 years, ”McCullin.” (

In the 1950s, Don McCullin started his creative journey as a documentarian by taking picture of the rough street gangs in London; but 20 years later, he found himself in a different world of “rough,” when he – by pluck and sheer invention – masqueraded as a mercenary and took a flight to a Congo village, to watch what the mercenaries were going to do to the local inhabitants. In this documentary, he tells of how he witnessed terrible beatings, boys being shot in the back of the head and dumped in the river, strung up on wires, skinned alive; and all he could do was take pictures. There was no chance that any intervention that he could have the courage to initiate could achieve anything (he would probably have died himself if he had intervened), so he had to ask himself what his “moral sense of purpose and duty” was, as he stood there, with a camera and 20 rolls of film. And it was, simply, to record.

Later, situated in Vietnam, he saw an American soldier dying; his face covered in gore, and decided to turn his camera away. McCullin seems to imply, in his interview, that the soldier’s eyes asked him not to record his own death scene, and so – in this different context – his sense of moral purpose changed, to accommodate the desires of his (non) subject…and McCullin turned his camera away.

Being a recorder of death, of cruelty, of visceral human evil towards one’s fellow person, might seem like it might excite a self-confessed “war junkie” (as McCullin describes himself), but the documentary, 92 minutes long, presents sampled minutes of his own life story, and paints a much more ambiguous picture of a decent man who is drawn to capture the realities of war, and finds himself irrevocably changed as a result.

It’s one of many fascinating documentaries available online. The Hillman Photography Initiative, at the Carnegie Museum of Art (, presents a documentary a world away from the frighteningly mundane terrors of human-on-human violence; and, instead, focuses on the mind-bending applications of how photographic technologies are being used to visualize the subatomic world at CERN (at the European Organization for Nuclear Research; where physicists and engineers are probing the fundamental structure of the universe). How does one actually record that moment when sub-atomic protons and sub-atomic electrons actually collide… but emit no light? Even if one cannot understand (remotely!) the jargon used by the eggheads in charge, at least one can take comfort that they need good old-fashioned nineteenth-century (so uncool!) photographic principles to record the world’s most advanced particle physics research collisions.

Whether your tastes and interests range from the human to cosmic, sites such as

“Expert Photography” ( can link you to all valences in between, be it film grain or pixels.

Want to see nine minutes in the life of the Paparazzi ; Richard Avedon at the height of his fame; or “Duffy: The Man Who Shot The Sixties?” then there’s no excuse not to get your mouse clicking and your mind buzzing!


Dissolve in Laughter – New Footage Company Owns the Parody Paradigm

If you haven’t seen This is a Generic Brand Video, then you are missing out. It is a marvellous stock footage spoof of advertising clichés. It was made by new Canada-based stock footage library Dissolve. Another of their killer parodies is Emoji Among Us, a David-Attenborough style mockumentary, which even has a voice-over that catches the soft-voiced master of wildlife documentaries to a tee. At first I thought the great man was sending himself up, so good was the voice-actor – former BBC newsreader James Gillies – who performed the script. Instead of conventional show-reels, Dissolve have opted to create hilarious spoofs, which convey the quality of their videos via belly-laughs. This is a beguiling combination.


Launched in May 2013, they have expanded rapidly. They now have 560,000 clips on the site, with around 60, 000 added each month. Dissolve have also just begun an exclusive distribution deal with FootageBank, which adds another 80K clips to the site.

Patrick Lor is a co-founder and CEO of Dissolve. He says, “Video is such a powerful tool, and as a stock footage-only company, we needed to leverage this to its maximum potential. That’s why we decided that the standard marketing tools of showing raw footage wasn’t good enough – we need our footage to tell a story. In fact, Dissolve’s mission is to provide better footage, so that our customers can tell better stories. It was important for us to take the same path of our customers – some might call it ‘eating our own dog food’, but we essentially used our creative team to validate our products.”


“Our marketing videos seek to engage our customers – whether through humour or any other emotion.” I think that slightly underplays the viral potential of laughter – you can send these clips to friends and colleagues without having them accuse you of spamming. It also is brand recognition – even if you can’t remember the name of the company This is a Generic Brand Video calls them instantly to mind and differentiates them in the marketplace.

Dissolve’s film making is the “collaborative art of storytelling” – the six person creative team headed by Creative Director Sheldon Popiel and Brand Director Jon Parker gets together to make the videos and stock footage is only one part of the process, “We also pay tribute to all the other elements required to make great videos – story, music, sound, design, editing, and so much more. We’re so fortunate to have such great partners to collaborate with our videos – it’s part of what makes them so memorable.”

Dissolve have about 1000 contributors. They have an active “talent scouting” process, where they look out for visually gifted people, such as commercial cinematographers, still photographers or experimental film-makers and see if they would like to contribute their material. Often these individuals have never considered joining a stock footage company. Sometimes they need a little persuasion to see that Dissolve has a different ethos to the “pile ‘em high sell ‘em cheap” school of stock-libraries. Now that Dissolve has a significant profile, potential contributors also get in touch or even turn up on the doorstep.

Part of Dissolve’s success seems to be down to the specific Canadian culture, which is slightly less aggressive and risk-taking than Silicon Valley, but makes up for this with a more collaborative and inclusive business environment.

Patrick’s three essentials for great work are: understand your customers, understand your technology, and have excellent people skills, because people are harder to manage than machines.

Dissolve’s tag line is “Better footage, better stories,” Patrick Lor strongly believes it takes a collaboration to create something magical from the disparate elements of film making.


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.


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.