Enter iLobster: 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.”

NewYorkSunset

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.

SanFranciscoGGBridge

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.

SeasideRelaxation

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.

OxfordTraffic

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.

Image credits:

New York Sunset by Andrew Giacalone (@azgiacalone)

San Francisco Golden Gate Bridge by Todd Perzel (@compasscomfort)

Seaside Relaxation by Miriam Häring (@frozen_foxy)
 
Oxford Traffic by Dmitriev Andrey (@elvendi)

Seaside Relaxation by Miriam Häring (@frozen_foxy)

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 jainlemos.com.

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.

Stagecoach

Stagecoach

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

http://www.ronaldgrantarchive.com/

http://www.cinemamuseum.org.uk/

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Museum Without Walls…for an Art Without Boundaries

Sometimes, if there ain’t a museum for what you want, you just have to set it up yourself…which is precisely what Bill Becker, a television producer and writer and noted historian of photography (his research has been published in American Heritage, History of Photography: An International Quarterly and other forums) did. Also; if you don’t necessarily have the resources of thousands of square feet of wall space, attendants’ wages, the need for a board to be fed canapés and wine whilst arguing over acquisitions and purchases… then maybe it’s time to set up a virtual museum, open 365 days a year, 24/7.

Unidentified photographer, Girl with Columbia Graphophone, platinum(?) print(app.4.25X5.5

Unidentified photographer, Girl with Columbia Graphophone, platinum(?) print(app.4.25X5.5

Maybe the American Museum of Photography is the most apropos museum of this time: because it fully embraces the digital instantaneous nature of the medium, but tempers it with a deep respect for the necessity of recognizing history, and the inherent need for preservation and dissemination.

This isn’t just another online library. Becker has spent an enormous amount of time – dating back to 1968, as a teenager – searching for images. How does he know what he wants? Becker quotes a Supreme Court Judge talking about pornography (not that Becker’s looking for that. Or maybe he is? He didn’t tell in this interview…) : “I know it when I see it.” A more kiddy-friendly metaphor that he also uses: when he sees a photograph that he wants, it’s like “Sylvester seeing Tweety-Pie. His eyes bug out…”

Three Men with Fish & Lobster Unidentified Photographer.  Tintype,  Carte de Visite format (approx. 2.25 x 4 inches)  Daguerre’s American Legacy, p. 215; included in MIT Museum exhibition: Also available as a postcard from the MIT Museum bookstore.

Three Men with Fish & Lobster
Unidentified Photographer. Tintype, Carte de Visite format (approx. 2.25 x 4 inches)
Daguerre’s American Legacy, p. 215; included in MIT Museum exhibition:
Also available as a postcard from the MIT Museum bookstore.

So Becker searches, and ruminates, and searches some more. But, between IP issues, and a digital pop culture world where every meal is photographed on Instagram, Becker is curating an astounding body of compelling images that occupies an area of interest somewhere between the archival, and the still-immediate effect of a decades-old image on the retina.

Images have been loaned for exhibitions including: the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Institution, Maison Europeenne de la Photographie (Paris), and the Museum Folkwang.

What makes Becker’s virtual museum distinctive is the quality of the images. From over five thousand photographs, Becker’s selection for individually-curated shows (from the overall resource) range, according to him: “From the earliest daguerreotype portraits, through to the work of Ansel Adams. Each photograph has been chosen for its visual impact as well as for the importance of its content.”

Native American with Blonde Baby, albumen print on cabinet card mount(4.25x6.5in.), after 1885   Daguerre’s American Legacy, p. 168; included in MIT Museum exhibition: Also available as a postcard from the MIT Museum bookstore.

Native American with Blonde Baby, albumen print on cabinet card mount(4.25×6.5in.), after 1885
Daguerre’s American Legacy, p. 168; included in MIT Museum exhibition:
Also available as a postcard from the MIT Museum bookstore.

It’s an impressive range of images, and all of them are open to scholarly interpretation, based both on historical perspective, but also how these records of past eras resonate in contemporary times. Curations have been organized on subjects including: how photography has bridged East and West cultural gaps (a daguerreotypist accompanied Commodore Mathew Perry on his first mission to Japan); 19th century “slave” photographs by a variety of unidentified photographers; through to more playful exhibitions such as “Do You Believe?” a collection of spirit photographs, begun back when people were first seeing the results of double-exposures.

From the surreal to the kitsch, via the “important” and the incisive, there’s a democratic impulse of wonder – like a collector suddenly finding a treasure trove at a market stall; or the wonder of finding some cool images when one surfs the website – in the breadth of the collections; a playfulness that both has fun with the wonderful idiosyncrasy of the archive, but also honors the invaluable nature of these snapshots. When asked if his own model is a subversion of the museum model, Becker is adamant that it isn’t; rather “It’s not oppositional to institutions, that do amazing work, and are vital. I see this more as supplemental… and fun.”

R.M.Linn&Brother, Civil War Soldiers Returning Home, Sightseeing at Point Lookout, Tennessee, tintype(3.25X4.25in.) June, 1885

R.M.Linn&Brother, Civil War Soldiers Returning Home, Sightseeing at Point Lookout, Tennessee, tintype(3.25X4.25in.) June, 1885

Becker has, currently, supplied images to the new exhibition: “Daguerre’s American Legacy:  Photographic Portraits (1840 -1900)” at the MIT Museum in Cambridge, Massachusetts which contains more than 170 American portrait photographs, including 100 daguerreotypes.  The exhibit in the Kurtz Gallery for Photography is based on the first-ever public display of photographs in the home of Louis J. M. Daguerre, in the City of Bry-sur-Marne near Paris.

Visit the American Museum of Photography here: http://www.photographymuseum.com

Ghouls on Film

Settle down, pull your blankets tight, as we gather around the campfire, and listen to stories of the weird and wonderful. It’s that time of year again… time to carve the pumpkins with dull knives, put up ecologically-unsound fake spider webs, and let your children wander around threatening strangers, who, in turn, give them unmonitored foods. What could possibly go wrong?

How about if you captured a ghost on film? If you’re a normal human being, you’d probably run a mile; but there are various photographers, and photographic groups, out there, whose chief ambition is to actually do precisely that: to go forth with one intent: to capture the ethereal and otherwordly on silver nitrate… or, these days, digitally.

Let’s face it, it’s probably going to be digital ghost-capturing now— which is a shame, in a romantic way; because there’s something so much more apt about spirit forms being ‘trapped’ on those old school light crystals. Maybe, we could postulate, pixels aren’t a suitable ‘home’ for spirit forms, and they are the round ethereal grain that won’t fit into a square hole?

www.angelghosts.com has a, perhaps, more practical theory about the benefits of digital versus film:

“Most ghost hunters today are using digital cameras because they are easier and less expensive to work with and easier to upload images to a computer for examination and editing. Plus, you can delete all the images that are not paranormal (which will be most of them). Novice ghost hunters prefer the digital camera to the old standard 35mm models because of the sheer amount of orbs that appear in many of the pictures with cheaper, point-and-shoot cameras.”

Yes, that’s right: if you’re going to spend days, or even weeks, in a moldy house in rural Connecticut, or in a swanky penthouse in New York (let’s not be biased… ghosts can live wherever they want… and if this writer came back in the afterlife, he’d definitely go for the latter option…), you’re going to spend a lot of time waiting. And your chances of capturing a ghost might increase, proportionately, if you can click off a lot of images, rather than running to the lab with a roll of “36- did we get anything?” shots from the inky darkness.

But, technique issues aside (let’s not even get started on infrared, or use of flash, or experimentation with different filters; or even start to open that can of ghoulish worms…) there is plenty of evidence, throughout the history of photography, that photographers have, indeed, claimed to have captured ghosts on film.

Self-portrait of William Mumler, showing himself and purportedly the ghost of his cousin.

Robert Bronner with the spirit of his wife.

William H.Mumler was the progenitor of such images, back in the 1860s… except that his credentials as an authentic ghost hunter do leave a little to be desired; seeing as his ‘discovery’ of a second person in one of his photographs turned out to be nothing more than a double exposure. This may have become a common phenomenon over the subsequent 150 years; but back then it must have seemed that, if you believed that photography was intrinsically “real,” then this must surely be proof of the netherworld!

Even Arthur Conan Doyle, the creator of “Sherlock Holmes” – a character known as a debunker of lies and fantasies – got into the act, and interpreted the infamous “Cottingley Fairies” photographs by Elsie Wright and Frances Griffiths [taken in Bradford in 1917] as clear and visible evidence of psychic phenomena.

But, I hear you say: “Those are just fairies?! And, anyway, in 1980, Elsie and Francis admitted that (most) of the pictures were fakes anyway, using cardboard cut-outs.  So let’s get back to those creepy ghosts!”

Well, according to http://ghostphotography101.com: if you’re going to put on your extra thick fingerless gloves, parka, night goggles, set up your EMF meters [electromotive force], and, even after that, be prepared to sit on a cold floor, then you might as well know what ‘kind’ of ghost that you’re looking for, as you peer into that dusty basement.

They fall into various categories: ghosts in ‘hot spots’ that (conversely) will give you chills; those that appear simply through a ‘gut feeling’ (this must be like a “lucky point and shoot” that wildlife photographers occasionally succumb to, after weeks of tracking, say a snow leopard?); sparkles and flares that usually appear 30 feet away from the camera; translucent circular or spherical shapes knows as “orbs”; or – the grail of grails! – “our old dear (dead) friend “ectoplasm.”

Whatever you might capture: whether it exists in this plane or the next; whether it is benign or malevolent; whether it wants to take you to another plane of existence, or merely lock you out of your children’s nursery whilst it drags them away to inky underworld; whether it glows like a fairy, or hums in the darkness like shingles in a rat; there is only one true, immutable, certainty betwixt this world and the next…

… make sure you get a model release.

And if it’s got to be signed in blood… but then, what else is new? Happy Halloween!

An image of Moses A. Dow, Editor of Waverley Magazine, with the spirit of Mabel Warren

An image of Moses A. Dow, Editor of Waverley Magazine, with the spirit of Mabel Warren.

Images reproduced with permission of the American Museum of Photography.

Simon Herbert, a curator and filmmaker, only knows about ghost photographs because his new horror feature film “Savageland” features a border town massacre that was captured on one roll of 36 images. Any suggestion that these “harrowing” pictures (see http://www.aintitcool.com/node/68560 for a review) were photoshopped to suggest the existence of otherworldly beings will be met with letters from his lawyers “Spook, Ghoul and Rube-Wrangler.”

Understanding and Serving Niche Markets

Guest post by Sheridan Stancliff

Some may argue that there is already a flood of imagery available in the stock photography market with collections such as Getty images, Corbis, and Alamy hosting millions of images. There are still, however, some topics that are not being well represented by the “big boys” for various reasons and that is where the niche agency plays such an important role.

Images that are truly specialized may not be viewed as commercially valuable to an agency that covers every general topic out there, but an art buyer who may be looking for something off the beaten path may run into some problems finding a photograph to fit their needs. An art buyer may then turn their sites from a larger house and instead contact a smaller agency that specializes in a particular type of imagery. Not only will this niche agency be more likely to have what the buyer is looking for, but they also have direct connection to photographers that specialize in those subjects.

StockFood has remained true to their specialty of food imagery around the world. I spoke with StockFood USA General Manager Shannon Mahoney about the benefit of a niche collection such as theirs. “A niche agency is a true specialist in their field making them the respected choice for end users requiring additional service.  Representing niche subject matter not only sets an agency apart from the rest but allows for a level of concentration and focus. For end users with a similar focus the field experts are their go-to resource. Key-wording is highly detailed and specific to the collection. Trend scouting is high priority.  Sales teams perform like service teams, offering custom support on a project-by-project basis.”

From a photographer’s perspective, Mahoney notes, “For contributors shooting targeted content, niche representation is important in order to get the content seen by the right people.  The specialist agency works to get very specific subject matter in front of their very specific client base and can do so with a very specific marketing plan.”

When I decided to start Novel Expression, this very specific and targeted content was something I needed as an art buyer for authors. The lack of historical imagery that would work on a Regency romance or edgy shots that would appeal to paranormal writers were greatly missing in the space. Images that fit the bill in larger collections were being used over and over again since they were the only ones readily available.  There are a few other players in the same market, and their specialization makes them appealing to the exploding ebook and print on demand market.

In both instances, an art buyer can work directly with an agency that focuses on their needs and is readily available to help them find or obtain the image they need.  This personal and knowledgeable touch is invaluable. The agency understands the market: StockFood knows that something as simple as French fries are likely to be served with mayonnaise in the Netherlands, banana ketchup in the Philippines, covered in gravy and cheese curds in Canada, malt vinegar in the UK, and ketchup in the USA. If you’re an art buyer in these locations, the difference may be small, but pronounced.

 

(c)Chip Latshaw

(c)Chip Latshaw

Sheridan Stancliff has spent more than 15 years in marketing and marketing communications, working in all aspects of the industry, from public relations photography and event management to advertising, direct mail and sales. She opened SheridanINK, a boutique marketing company specializing in helping fiction authors, in 2011 and Novel Expression in 2014.

Alex Center is Pretty Special

If you think that it takes some moxie for a designer to get this compliment from rapper 50 cent – “You must think you’re pretty special” – then Alex Center wants you to know that his response was to be nervous and “instantly start sweating.” It’s probably a career first for a man who seems to not be intimidated by much in life; after all, it takes some moxie to try and reinvent the vitaminwater brand; after a few years of other competitors clustering around, turning those crystal clear waters murky.

Cue an advertising campaign with a bold graphic stripe running through it: a barrier to be traversed by skateboard, or leapt over by snowboard, or arched over by a high jumper, or… you get the idea, it’s for fit people. With some big goals. Even those of us who only jump when a waiter asks, “One pastrami dog?” couldn’t help but be transfixed by the giant billboards in New York and other cities, a kind of almost three-dimensional trompe l’oeil that almost literally jumped off of hoardings. The ads kind of dare you to become invested, even if it’s only to stop and marvel.

Maybe being a designer, earlier on, for the New York Knicks, honed Center’s sense of athletic competition; but it’s not all adrenaline and “hoo-hah” gusto. Center has a keen eye for the mechanics of storytelling and consumer collaboration which goes way beyond fist-pumping, and Visual Connections is proud and excited to have him as the first subject for their first ever guest speaker slot.

Over the years, he has designed packaging across the globe, created breakthrough marketing campaigns, launched innovative new products. In 2011, Alex was named one of the 200 Best Packaging Designers by Luerzers Archive. In 2012, he started sharing his story with speaking engagements at The Dieline Forum, HOW Design Live and as a guest on Debbie Millman’s famous Design Matters podcast.

Center, who also improvs at the UCB Theatre in what spare time he has, can riff across a range of subjects: “User experience design, brand personality and tapping into culture.” It’s a holistic approach that might just empower the brand target with a little more sense and sensibility (and moxie all of its own) than other brands might admit to. Center is adamant that there “are ways to design for people, not products.”

Center continues to steers brands for The Coca-Cola Company. Named a Person To Watch by GDUSA Magazine – joining the likes of legendary prior recipients such as Milton Glaser, Primo Angeli, George Lois and Saul Bass (Hitchcock’s title sequence designer; who would probably have been proud of Center’s dynamic clarity) – also oversees campaigns for global brands at Coca-Cola that include vitaminwater, smartwater & Powerade.

Alex will share how his experience working on the vitaminwater brand.

There is no need to register for the session, just register for the expo and turn up in good time to grab a beer or glass of wine before the start at 5:30pm (it will be popular, and space is limited).

Entry to the exhibit floor, Footage Q&A Session and Guest Speaker are all free. Tickets for the Keynote Q&A Session cost just $35 in advance (or $50 at the door, subject to availability). Complimentary lunch, snacks and beverages will be provided throughout the day, with beer and wine served after 5pm.

Register now at: http://www.visualconnections.com/Ny2014/

More about Alex: http://thealexcenter.com/

Diving into the DPLA: Getty Research Institute Adds Nearly 100,000 New Items

If you haven’t spent time lately navigating the collections of the Digital Public Library of America, now is a great time to revisit this fabulous content resource.

Guest post by Jain Lemos

DPLA-HomePage

Headquartered within the Boston Public Library, the DPLA’s online experience for researchers couldn’t be better, but hanging out there is time consuming. That’s because you’ll want to spend just another hour or so looking to make sure you haven’t missed a perfect jewel. The digital repository houses dozens of collections and millions of records, including materials from many state libraries, the Smithsonian, the Medical Heritage Library and the Government Printing Office.

This month, the Getty Research Institute announced their contribution of nearly 100,000 new items to DPLA’s ever-growing fountain of history records. The J. Paul Getty Trust is one of DPLA’s content hubs, contributing the GRI’s metadata for digital images, documentary photograph collections, archives and books dating from the 1400s to today.

To become a hub, organizations are required to have an active feed to at least 200,000 metadata records that resolve to digital objects. These include online texts, photographs, manuscripts, artwork and other materials. If an archive doesn’t meet DPLA’s requirements, they can possibly join a state or regional hub. The Getty’s holdings are expansive, with millions of items, so they certainly qualify.

“We’ve included some of the most frequently requested and significant material from our holdings,” says Kathleen Salomon, assistant director of the Getty Research Institute. These include some 5,600 images from the Julius Shulman photography archive, 2,100 images from the Jacobson collection of Orientalist photography and dozens of art dealers’ stockbooks from the Duveen and Knoedler archives.

Salomon adds that more Getty archives will become available through the DPLA as their collections continue to be cataloged and digitized.

Here are a few gems from the new Getty material:

The Julius Shulman Photography Archive

Caption: McKinney House (Santa Fe, N.M.; 1951), for House & Garden magazine. Julius Shulman. © J. Paul Getty Trust.

Caption: McKinney House (Santa Fe, N.M.; 1951), for House & Garden magazine. Julius Shulman. © J. Paul Getty Trust.

Julius Shulman was an architectural photographer from 1936 until 1986, known for the thoughtful manner in which he conveyed architectural design. Getty’s archive of his work documents the modern movement in architecture spanning several decades.

Ken and Jenny Jacobson Orientalist Photography Collection

Caption: Paraphernalia and decorative items including a hookah, vase and fabrics. William Morris Grundy; 1857. Ken and Jenny Jacobson Orientalist Photography Collection. © J. Paul Getty Trust.

Caption: Paraphernalia and decorative items including a hookah, vase and fabrics. William Morris Grundy; 1857. Ken and Jenny Jacobson Orientalist Photography Collection. © J. Paul Getty Trust.

The Jacobsons have assembled one of the most extensive libraries in private hands devoted to the study of 19th century art photographs. Based in Great Bardfield, England, they’ve amassed an incredible collection and devoted a lifetime to studying the photography of India, China, the Middle East, Japan and Sri Lanka among other artist studies.

Duveen Brothers Records

Caption: A Duveen Brothers original London cablegram dated September 29, 1941. © J. Paul Getty Trust.

Caption: A Duveen Brothers original London cablegram dated September 29, 1941. © J. Paul Getty Trust.

Absorbing to read are various documents from the Duveen Brothers firm. Their choppy cables are akin to reading Twitter posts and often convey equal drama. The collection preserves records of their dealings in transferring master paintings, antiques and art from Europe to the United States.

The dispatch above (dated nine weeks before the attack on Pearl Harbor) relays Duveen’s expectations for the price a George Romney portrait of Admiral Horatio Nelson might fetch. Of a higher concern might have been the difficulty travelling in England at the time.

To find your own treasures among the Getty Research Institute’s new items at the DPLA, start here.

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 jainlemos.com.

Part Two: Q & A with Senior Art Producer Chrissy Borgata Liuzzi

by guest writer Brooke Hodess

Our conversation with Innocean’s Senior Art Producer Chrissy Borgatta Liuzzi continues this week with the SoCal-based 15-year agency veteran talking about the highs and lows of the job and proves you can do a photo shoot in minus 6-degree weather.

VC: Where does someone begin if interested in art buying?

CBL: Be aware of the agencies around you, who their clients are and the work the agencies produce. Find out about internships and see if you can get your foot in the door. I’ve always had a passion for photography, and my passion has brought me to where I am today. I feel that when you follow your passion a career evolves.

VC: How much does networking play a role?

CBL: It is always good to stay connected with your peers and the community you are involved in. I try to go to as many events as possible throughout the year, including LEBOOK Connections, Paris Photo LA, and portfolio reviews with APA-LA and Art Center Los Angeles. Creative consultant Debra Weiss holds a wonderful show and tell event a couple of times a year. Also, photographers’ agents occasionally host dinners or cocktail parties with all of their photographers on their roster. Always a great time.

VC: How important is it to have knowledge of photography?

CBL: I think it’s important to have an understanding of the photographer’s process, to have an eye for the craft as well as knowledge of important photographers as reference.  It may not be the lifeline to becoming a solid art producer, but it is important to understand how images are captured.

VC: What do you like best about your job?

CBL: I love kicking off a project and sitting in a room with the entire team of account executives, print managers, product specialists and creatives and working together to get the job going. I love meeting with photographers to discuss their processes. I love going on location and seeing how everything and everyone, from the stylist, talent to car prep to riggers and the crew, come together to make the shot happen. I love knowing I helped make it happen. And, of course, I love the final result. To see your work in print, on a billboard, or online, it’s very rewarding.

VC: What do you like least? 

CBL: Telling a photographer he or she did not get the job. So much time and effort goes into an estimating process, and I’m always honest throughout the process, but when I have to make the calls and give the bad news it’s always difficult.

VC: Talk more about the estimating process.

CBL: Triple bidding is an important part of the estimating process, it helps gauge if your bids are fair, realistic and can assist as a comparison for negotiations. Before the estimate is created we hold a series of creative calls that include the art director, photographer and photographer’s producer. We discuss the approved concepts, listen to the photographer’s approach, location ideas and vision. Estimates are then sent to me and our cost control consultant for review. It is always my goal to negotiate so that the creative team gets to work with the photographer of choice. Sometimes the photographer with a higher bid may be a better bid because it is more thoughtful and precise. I need to be able to evaluate the estimate and speak to why a more expensive bid is a safer bid. I am given budget guidelines at the beginning of a project and it is my job to make sure that photography, retouching, talent, car prep, travel costs, etc. are all covered within the budget given.

VC: For a client or an agency that’s never used an art producer, what’s the argument for having one?

CBL: Art producers are negotiators, which benefits both the agency and client. I am a protector and recognize the risks involved in shoots and usage agreements, and I handle the paperwork, oversee the production, and am fiscally responsible. I feel that is a big job, and putting that in the hands of an art director is a risk. Many of them do it well, but art directors should be able to focus on the creative aspect of the job. Many agencies have print production managers work two roles and do both jobs. Selfishly, I’d like to see those roles separate.

VC: What’s been one of your most memorable shoots?

CBL: Rarely do I come back from a shoot without a story. One that comes to mind was a shoot in January of 2013 for the Hyundai Santa Fe launch. We wanted to shoot in the snow, so we headed to Mammoth Mountain. The night before our shoot day a huge storm rolled in. I recall walking to dinner with snow blowing horizontally at me and wishfully thinking, ‘It’s going to be gorgeous tomorrow, it is, it is, it is!’

VC: And if it isn’t?

CBL: Then I have to ask, how much is this going to cost in overages to wait it out? Should we go for it or wait? The photographer, his producer and I went back and forth on how cold was too cold. The discussion went on, and I finally said let’s go for it. Fast forward through a sleepless night. I walk out of the hotel at 5 a.m. into minus 6 degrees. The sky was a majestic purplish blue. As I am walking to the end of the parking lot I see a Sno-Cat towing our camera car up the mountain. I am freezing and giggling to myself, ‘We ARE going to do this!’ I don’t think anyone will forget that shoot day. The images turned out spectacular and my favorite of the entire shoot.

VC: It sounds like your tenacity paid off.

CBL: Most of the time I have a tendency to say let’s keep going; if the weather gets too bad at least an effort was made to stay on schedule, and sometimes the result is something unexpected and beautiful.

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

Q & A with Senior Art Producer Chrissy Borgatta Liuzzi

So pleased to present this conversation between writer Brooke Hodess and Art Buyer Chrissy Borgatta Liuzzi.

Q & A with Senior Art Producer Chrissy Borgatta Liuzzi, Part One

Chrissy Borgatta Liuzzi

Orange County, California–based Senior Art Producer Chrissy Borgatta Liuzzi began her career as a photo editor for Entrepreneur magazine out of Irvine. There she learned to work with budgets, deadlines and production teams and began building relationships with photographers, agents and stock photography houses.

Her foray into advertising was, you could say, a baptism by fire, working as a junior art buyer with L.A.’s TBWA\Chiat\Day on high-profile accounts including Nissan and Infiniti as well as Apple’s “Think Different” campaign and the launch of the first iMac.

With stints at Y&R (Lincoln, Mercury, Land Rover, Jaguar) and Doner Advertising (Mazda), her expertise in art producing for automotive accounts led her to her current position as a senior art producer at Innocean Worldwide, working on the Hyundai account from their North American Headquarters in Huntington Beach.

Visual Connections recently met up with the 25-year photo-shoot veteran for a Q & A. In part one, we address the role of an art producer, the evolution of stock photography and the impact of digital.

VC: Describe your role as an art producer?

CBL: As an art producer I work from the agency side. Once a creative concept is approved it is my responsibility to bring the creative concept to life. I recommend photographers, illustrators, Instagram influencers, CG vendors—whichever type of artist is needed with the latest technology to create the best result. I work with agents and producers to negotiate the most cost effective way to produce the job without compromising the creative integrity of the project. I also secure and manage license and usage agreements for photography, talent and stock photography images on our client’s behalf.

VC: Throughout your career, how much have you relied on stock photography?

CBL: I use stock photography all the time, I always have. When I started as a photo editor I had huge bookcases of stock photography catalogs. For the magazine we used conceptual images for smaller articles. Back then we’d place orders over the phone, and then a research of images or the image I wanted would be sent to me via Fed Ex in sleeves of 35mm or medium format transparencies. By the end of an issue I would have stacks of packages that would have to be audited and returned.

VC: What stock house do you tend to use? Is there a reason you use one over another? 

CBL: When I worked at Entrepreneur, there were a lot of stock photography companies back then. Many of those companies have since been absorbed by Getty Images or Corbis. These are the main go-tos. I also use Shutter Stock, Veer, Jupiter Images, CSA Images and others.

I use Getty Images quite frequently because, though at times I can find the same image on another site, Getty has a stronger legal contract, and so we tend to pay slightly more for the added backing for royalty-free images. If we know we are going to use an image for a one-time use then we will go direct to the other house and pay less.

I will add, when it comes down to it, the final decision is made by the content. The image has to be right and if it is the right image then I will negotiate the proper usage, and usage is documented so we can manage it internally.

VC: Has the perception of stock photography changed over the years? 

CBL: I have watched the stock photography industry evolve to the sophisticated digital age we are in now.  I think you still come across stock images that have a stereotypical and/or unrealistic staged look—the senior citizen in the hospital bed looking great, feeling fine and everyone is happy—and it can be difficult to find the right image that has that person looking realistic, that is not overly groomed, with perfect makeup, perfectly pressed hospital gown, and so on. I think it is very hard to capture an emotion that is authentic and appropriate for advertising. However, there are a lot of great images and photographers out there and stock photography is always improving.

VC: What about changes in licensing?

CBL: License agreements have also evolved. In the olden days it was all rights managed licenses. You pretty much paid for an image on a one-time use basis, at least for editorial, and that was it. It was way too expensive to pay for unlimited usage. Then royalty-free was introduced. At first it was unlimited use, unlimited time in all media. Now royalty-free usage is getting stricter, and it is extremely important to read the license agreements to ensure you have enough usage secured.

VC: Do you miss those old bookcases of catalogs?

CBL: Not at all! With everything online, the process is faster, research is easier, and with corporate accounts we have access to download un-watermarked images for comping. Being able to access your account information is invaluable; we have access to all of our invoices, download history and licensing updates. The old-school way, with its volume of paper, books and space … today’s process is so much better for the environment and just a simpler way altogether.

VC: Staying in that same vein of the impact of digital and the Internet on stock photography, how has the business of art producing changed?

CBL: I do not know if the job has really changed. I think I am the one who is changing and forever learning.  For example, when I started as a junior art buyer we were transitioning from shooting transparency film into digital formats. I remember looking at the digital images and saying, ‘I am not impressed.’ Well, it didn’t take long before I was impressed, and now I look back and think how laborious it was to shoot film.

Check out Part Two to this Q & A next month, where we chat with Liuzzi about breaking into the art producing business, networking, and one of her personal favorite photo shoots in minus 6 degrees.

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

Catching up with the ASPP

The American Society of Picture Professionals is the definitive trade association for picture editors, art buyers, researchers and all engaged in the business of creating, archiving, marketing, researching and licensing imagery in North America. With Chapters through out the United States offering regular programming to one of the most comprehensive benefits packages for members to the hallmark quarterly magazine, The Picture Professional, the ASPP continues to work to serve our industry. Executive Director Sam Merrell and current President Cecilia de Querol took time to answer a few questions and share plans for the organization.

How long have the 2 of you worked together and in what capacity?

SM: Cecilia and I have been working together with ASPP since December 2006, as NY Chapter Co-Presidents.  In 2010, we joined the National Board as Technology Co-Chairs. Early in 2012  I was appointed National Vice President while Cecilia remained as Tech Co-Chair with Daryl Geraci.  Early in 2014, I was elected National President, served for 16 days and then moved to the Executive Director’s post. In March 2014, Cecilia became National President.

CQ:  Our first project together for ASPP was a 2006 event on Digital Image Workflow held at ICP.  Its success led us to the chapter co-chair positions and our interest in technology helped us fit into the tech-co chair positions on the national board.  It has been a rewarding experience from the start.  It’s great to get together with a group of interested volunteers and make things happen that are of benefit to all.  I’ve made great friendships (including Sam!) and many interesting and valuable business contacts along the way.

What is your vision for your tenure, Cecilia?

I want everyone in the business to know about ASPP and to feel compelled to join. I want them to know that being an ASPP member is an essential, non-optional part of their professional toolkit. I want to raise the visibility of our association let the world know about the value of the professional skills and expertise of our members.

ASPP is special and unique because we represent the entire eco-system of the business.  I want to build on this and make ASPP the hub of the industry-wide conversation.

Sam, where do you see the organization going?

Interesting that you ask. Where do we want ASPP to be in five years? The same? Different? How? What we need to do to get there?  At our upcoming October board meeting during photo week, we’re devoting a significant portion of our annual in-person board meeting to just these questions.

Commercial photography markets have changed dramatically in the past five years and in the same way that many of our members are having to adjust to the changing workplace in the midst of a difficult economy, ASPP itself is having to meet new challenges of rediscovery and finding new ways to unlock value for our community.

That said, I don’t see our local educational events going away. There’s a perception that online channels are replacing our traditional membership association value-proposition (providing educational and networking opportunities).  But while there is some truth to that perception, it’s also true that face-to-face contact at events with  groups of people is powerful stuff too. Useful in a way that’s different from Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. So while Cecilia works at dialing up our advocacy of the value of hiring picture professionals, I’ll be doing everything I can to support our local Chapter boards as they make networking and educational opportunities happen around the country.

Both of you – can you talk about what the ASPP has historically been and how it is staying relevant?

CQ:  ASPP was founded to be the umbrella association for all the picture professions in 1969.  Almost everything has been transformed since then.  Change has been constant. It didn’t just start now.  Picture professionals have been hard at work through these decades. Their titles and job descriptions may have changed, but they are still picture professionals. Though it all, many have turned to ASPP for guidance and many of them have been drivers of the changes and have shared their knowledge and experience. The ASPP community has been evolving and will continue to evolve in ways that we can’t even begin to imagine.

I believe the key to staying relevant is to keep in mind that ASPP is an association. Our power as a community comes from our members and the power of our community flows back to them.

SM: Recently we’ve turned some of our member events inside-out: Instead of a panel of experts dispensing the latest information from a podium, our Peer2Peer and Town Hall events do exactly the oppisite. They put the audience front and center; we ask questions about attendee’s jobs, careers, their workplace and the market for what they do… and then we listen very carefully to what we hear back. We take notes, and are beginning to distill the results with an eye towards posting these results to our Members-Only website later this fall. We will probably publish some of this information as well, it’s very useful. And the events themselves are quite exciting! There’s nothing like a roomful of people coming alive in a discussion of possible solutions to issues that we are all facing.

What drew you both to your current roles?

SM: I’ve morphed throughout my career — photographer, digital photographer, writer, project runner, digital photo evangelist and consultant, stock agent, producer, even a college teacher — all of it centered around visual media.  So ASPP is the perfect organization for me because our members come from so many different job and career categories.  And being ASPP’s executive director is an great job for me–I get to do the things I’m good at, and it’s about photography so I’m passionate about it.  I wasn’t expecting to enjoy publishing our Picture Professional magazine as much as I do. We have a great magazine team and I feel privileged to be involved with everyone (including our great advertisers)!

CQ: I started in this business as a liaison for the Japanese photo agency, Pacific Press Service (PPS) working as both as a photo researcher for their clients’ projects in Japan and as an agent for PPS’s photographs when clients based in the U.S, wanted to use them, so I was aware of how both sides of the business work.  I never stop being impressed by the power of photography.  I love the way that it brings the past and distant places alive to the viewer.  And when I start to think that nothing new can be done, along comes an image that blows me away.

I’ve always worked either in small offices or in my home office, so ASPP is very important for me as a way to get out, meet, and be with other people in the business.

I’m happy to be back in a social and creative position as president of ASPP.

Thanks to both for this insight – for more information about the Association, Membership and how to be involved, please see ASPP.com