A Room With A View: The Ronald Grant Archive and The Cinema Museum

by Julian Jackson

Tucked away in an obscure corner of South London is a researcher’s treasure: The Ronald Grant Archive and The Cinema Museum. For film lovers like myself, going there is like falling into a crazy Aladdin’s cave stuffed full of film memorabilia and equipment.

Still from ‘The Wicker Man’

Ronald Grant started the archive in 1973 and continues to be passionate about anything to do with film. Over the previous years he had amassed a large collection of posters, film stills, movie magazines, and equipment. He had a stall in the famous Portobello Market in Notting Hill, London, where he sold this memorabilia. Someone working on a magazine series called The Story of Pop inquired if he had any pictures of pop stars.

Oh yes, he did. Lots of them in various movies, some brilliant, some duds. So he supplied a selection of stills and many were used. He received a check in the mail. This triggered the idea that there was money to be made from his collection.

Martin Humphries, Ronald’s right-hand man, tells me all about the archive and museum. Perhaps he is playing the role of the trusty side-kick in this Ealing Comedy of a story: it definitely sounds like one of those stories where a group of misfits, driven by their love of cinema, win out against the odds. He says, “When I met Ronald, in 1979, I was astonished – I’d never met anyone who had so much material devoted to one subject.”

He is telling me this in the main exhibition area of The Cinema Museum, surrounded by posters, signed movie star pictures, projectors, picture house signage, lighting equipment and oodles of other memorabilia.

THE CINEMA MUSEUM, Kennington, London. One of the corridors.


For the first few years, the collection moved around between seedy and unsuitable locations. While this was happening, Ronald, through his connections in the trade, was visiting movie theaters that were about to be demolished and rescuing the equipment and visual media. Even sometimes the carpets! It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. The Cinema Museum was created in 1984 and achieved charitable status in 1986. Martin continues, “We are a small, independent, volunteer-run museum. We’ve been going thirty-three years, which is a minor miracle in itself.”

The next step was to find a better venue than the decaying place they had been in, and they moved in 1989 to The Old Fire Station. This was still not suited to public access, but they could run the Picture Library, and also sort, catalogue, store and sometimes loan parts of the collection to other museums.

Eventually, they managed to find the present building which was a former poorhouse, which has a connection to Charlie Chaplin (who was born in the neighborhood): his mother – a former singer who had mental health issues – lived here in the early 1900s. Overcoming his poverty-stricken childhood, Chaplin went to Hollywood in 1914, and in a few years, becomes the most famous man in the world. He didn’t forget his mother and was able to bring her to Los Angeles where she lived her last few years in comfort.

THE CINEMA MUSEUM, Kennington, London
The Master’s House, the administration block of the former Lambeth Workhouse, where lived and worked the Master in charge of the Workhouse and the 1,400 destitute souls who occupied the bare and minimal dormitories elsewhere on the site, divided as they were into men and women of good character and bad character.
The museum occupies the entire building.

The museum and picture library specialize in British Cinema: both the experience of going to the cinema and the trove of content that it created. Art Deco in style, much of the movie house paraphernalia would have been lost if it wasn’t for Ronald’s diligence in preserving it.

They give tours to the public (by appointment), have a huge events program, and the archive holds 7000 books, trade and fan magazines going back to the 1890s, a collection of over a million film stills, and posters. Martin laughs when I ask him how many: “Thousands of them. I have absolutely no idea how many we have.” They also have collections relating to theater and music.

With the digital age, it is possible to scan items from magazines and send them digitally, so this has increased the availability of material. For example, in trade publications, they would often feature upcoming posters for film releases, so these can be accessed now.

Ronald was pretty eclectic in his acquisitions: he didn’t just concentrate on “cinema greats”. “Ronald collected anything to do with film, it didn’t matter if it was Grade Z.” Martin points to a poster for Johnny Weissmuller in Jungle Moon Men, “I haven’t seen that but I reckon it would be pretty Grade Z.”

Promotional poster for ‘Matter of Life and Death’

Obviously, there is material available with American actors, directors, and stars when they were involved in British movies. Lots of U.S. film material from the releases in the UK. They have some European and global content, but the archive is mainly from a British angle.

To visit the museum, you have to make an appointment. It is actually only a few minutes walk from the Elephant and Castle Underground station. The archive is available online, but most of it has not been scanned yet, being so vast. If you need a film subject it is probably best to inquire via email or phone – you will find the staff exceptionally knowledgeable about movies and friendly too.

The one potential Death Star on the horizon is that they are still not secure in their building. It is owned now by Britain’s National Health Service, and for many years the archive has been trying to buy it, to give the collection a permanent home. But negotiations are at an impasse currently. Let’s hope that this magnificent collection will win out in the final reel and continue on to a bright future.


All images copyright The Ronald Grant Archive.




Julian Jackson is a writer whose interests encompass technology, the environment, as well as photography and film. His portfolio is here: https://julianj.journoportfolio.com

Still Talking About Diversity in Stock

For as long as I have worked in the Photography industry, the conversation around imagery of humans has been about authenticity and diversity. Hard to believe that this is still the case with the level of sophistication in the world of visual media, the easy access to technology and most of all, the population at large, but I hear constantly from photo researchers and editors lamenting the lack of quality stock photography reflecting our society. What does it take to have choice in stock photography offerings? Images that show who we really are? All shapes and sizes, all ages, all ethnicities, all of us?

The world of fashion is evolving – consider the new archetype of a super model – Ashley Graham, a proud stunning size 16 star who disallows photoshopping of cellulite or artificial thigh slimming. She has graced the cover of just about every fashion magazine, has a new book out has her own line of lingerie, most recently interviewed with a gorgeous retro cover on New York Magazine : http://nym.ag/2utDNxG

And how about a little anti ageism? Just take a look at the work of Ari Seth Cohen and Advanced Style, who in his own words is devoted to ‘devoted to capturing the sartorial savvy of the senior set.” He says, “I feature people who live full creative lives. They live life to the fullest, age gracefully and continue to grow and challenge themselves.”: http://www.advanced.style  

Talent agencies representing truly who we are have popped up – in 2015, Cecilio Asuncion laid a marker down with a mission to develop, represent and promote transgender talent  launching the much lauded Slay Model Management – http://www.slaymodels.com

We do have some players out there consistently showcasing strong work – Blend for example. https://www.blendimages.com and here on the VC blog, we try to bring to light new offerings as we find them. Speaking of which, we are waiting for August 21st and the launch of a new RF collection TONL .

They have done a good job of generating buzz – here is a recent NPR interview with founders Karen Okonkwo and Joshua Kissi: http://www.npr.org/2017/06/17/533327542/diversifying-stock-photography

Who are your go to sources for authentic and diverse imagery? Drop us a line, we welcome your input and work for the day when stock offerings show us as we are.


Just the Facts

For those of us looking for a reason to visit beautiful Hudson New York late Summer.. Just The Facts is all one needs.

Just the Facts,” LightField’s second festival of photography and multimedia art, presents lens-based works created by six innovative and distinguished visual artists: Annu Palakunnathu Matthew, Brenda Kenneally, Phyllis Dooney, Stacy Kranitz, Zoe Straussand Masterji.

Its theme focuses on the realities of lives largely invisible to mainstream culture, highlighting two coupled, timely issues: Working-class people who have been left behind by technology and globalization, and immigrants who have become the focus of fear and insecurity.

Anna Van Lenten, LightField’s founder, says, “This year, the art we’re exhibiting amounts to a powerful assertion of the underling realities of people who, day to day, face challenges to their dignity from within and without their communities. As well, we’re aiming to look at the ways in which the ‘realism’ in the art contains entry points to broader conversations.”

In addition to the documentary work on exhibit, “Just the Facts” will present screenings, talks and associated events, including a screening of director Manny Kirscheimer’s 2017 film “Canners” and a celebration of the work produced by the Young Photographers Workshop (YPW), a free program for teens from underserved areas in the Hudson region. According to Van Lenten, these and other events aim to “invite viewers to look past common stereotypes, to spark lively discussion and to increase insights into our shared world.”

LightField is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit dedicated to showcasing the work of innovative and distinguished lens-based artists through exhibits, festivals and talks; it also offers educational photography workshops for young people. LightField’s annual festival aims to spark discussion about the aesthetic choices documentary artists make, to highlight the power of lens-based art to spotlight social issues and provide a framework for discussion and debate.

Just the Facts,” LightField’s second festival of photography and multimedia art, runs from Aug. 12 to Sept. 30, 2017, in Hudson Hall, Hudson, N.Y. The exhibition and related events, organized by the nonprofit LightField, are free and open to all. A schedule of screenings and events are posted at Lightfield’s website.

Update on Richard Prince, Appropriation and Copyright Infringement

Remember our piece awhile back on appropriation and Richard Prince? http://www.visualconnections.com/blog/the-apotheosis-of-appropriation-richard-prince/

The court cast would appear to be heating up again. To recap:

From PetaPixel: In 2014, controversial artist Richard Prince had an exhibit of reappropriated Instagram images at the Gagosian Gallery in NYC, selling the prints for up to $100k each. He sought no permission for the Instagram images used, which led to photographer Donald Graham suing for copyright infringement. A judge has now ruled the suit can proceed.

In a gallery exhibition titled “New Portraits,” Prince displayed 38 portraits featuring other people’s photos that he had selected from his Instagram feeds. Some of these pieces sold for up to $100,000, despite being little more than enlarged Instagram screenshots.

The NYTimes reports that after Graham filed a lawsuit in 2015, Mr. Prince, the Gagosian Gallery, and Larry Gagosian asked the court to dismiss the case, arguing that the work was transformative.

However, US District Judge Sidney H. Stein has just ruled that the case would not be dismissed, saying “The primary image in both works is the photograph itself. Prince has not materially altered the composition, presentation, scale, color palette and media originally used by Graham.”

In a since-deleted tweet on July 19, Prince responded to the lawsuit:

Phony fraud photographers keep mooching me. Why? I changed the game. &their wizardry professorial boredom keeps coughing up a vick’sVAPOrub.
Richard Prince (@RichardPrince4)

This time, things may go differently for Mr. Prince. More in NYT: https://www.nytimes.com/2017/07/20/arts/design/richard-prince-instagram-copyright-lawsuit.html?_r=0

The Petapixel Pod Cast has an interesting take over here – well worth your time:

Ep. 198: Richard Is No Prince – and more

See What Developed – Elsa Dorfman’s Photography

We love Errol Morris and Polaroids. Just had to have Michael Masterson review this super new doc. Treat yourself!

By Michael Masterson

When I was a teenager I wanted a Polaroid SX-70 camera so badly I could taste it. When my parents finally caved in and gave me one for Christmas, I was entranced with the magic of instant photography. However my artistic ambitions were immediately limited because the film and flash bars were so expensive for a kid. Each print was precious.

In Errol Morris’s “The B-Side: Elsa Dorfman’s Portrait Photography” we find out that this renowned Polaroid portraitist always had to pay for her own film too. One can imagine how costly 20 x 24” Polaroid film is and it explains the title. She usually only took two photos using the large format camera, letting the client choose one and keeping the other for herself like the B-side of a 45-rpm record. The film walks us through Dorfman’s life as Morris chats with her and she pulls photo after photo from stacks of flat files including many photos she hasn’t seen herself for decades.

From the moment you first see Dorfman onscreen you love her warmth and authenticity. It’s like watching an old friend reminisce. A series of random encounters and events shaped her and a career that would have been unlikely for a “nice Jewish girl from Boston” in the 50s. Dorfman’s life is as much as a woman’s story as an artist’s journey. From an era when women were expected to marry and stay home with their family, she bucks the system repeatedly discarding the expectations of her parents and society.

After college she got a job at the Grove Press in New York mostly making copies laboriously in the pre-Xerox era for authors who came in needing manuscripts duplicated. Among them was Alan Ginsberg who became a lifelong friend and frequent portrait subject. After tiring of New York, she moved back home and took a teaching job. It was not a good fit. A parent even tells her she doesn’t really belong there.

But by chance a program at MIT was using photographers to document teachers and the one assigned to her nonchalantly gave her a Hasselblad telling her she could be a Berenice Abbot. The idea that she could be a photographer stunned her. As she says, the only thing people had ever said she could be was a “jerk.” But in reality, she’d always been an artist without a means to express herself until she found photography. She started by taking portraits of authors like Robert Lowell, Ann Sexton and Jorge Luis Borges at Grolier’s bookstore in Boston, becoming comfortable with the medium and in particular capturing moments of herself and her home life. She gathered these images in “Elsa’s Housebook – A Woman’s Photojournal” in 1974, a landmark book for photography and a female artist.

Dorfman was an outlier, living with the man (lawyer Harvey Silverglate) who became her lifelong companion and later husband, peddling her photographs for two bucks each in Harvard Square armed with a letter from Harvey to show police that she had the right to do so. At one point she discovers that Polaroid has built five 20 x 24” large format Polaroid cameras that they only rented to a small select group of photographers. Determined to join them she “nags” the company endlessly and when one comes back from Japan, Polaroid capitulates and rents it to her on the condition she provide a proper studio for it. The cost of renting the camera, the studio and the film itself result in her becoming a portrait photographer to pay the bills.

Each giant Polaroid tells a story and forms a flashback of over 30 years of hairstyles and fashions as well as poignant memories. On the white frame below each print she writes a caption and dates it. In one self-portrait she’s standing holding a photo of her parents. On the bottom she’s written that it was taken the day after her father died. It’s one she hasn’t seen in years and she sobs quietly. I did too. You see her ageing gracefully through many self-portraits, often taken with her husband and son. Their closeness is palpable.

You also see Ginsberg throughout the many years of their friendship. He loved having his picture taken she tells us, frequently nude. The first time he shows up at her studio naked she’s completely flustered, a nice Jewish girl not used to seeing other men’s privates. But after all, it’s Alan and she forges ahead. One memorable later shot is a photo-within-a-photo. Dorfman also occasionally had access to a 40 x 80” camera and a black and white print that size of Ginsberg in a suit and tie hangs on the wall. He stands before it naked, fixing the camera with a piercing gaze. She then shows us the next shot: she’s joined him and while his expression is the same, she looks like she’s at a sleepover with her best friend.

At one point she confesses that she had to fight for everything with Polaroid. Even after achieving a modicum of fame she had to pay for every piece of film; they never gave her a single package. Even among the select few photographers allowed access to the large-scale cameras, she was always at the bottom. I suspect it’s because she was a portrait photographer for hire, not thought of as an artist or commercial success. She minimizes her own abilities, saying that the camera is just a fork or spoon, not the soup. She laments the demise of Polaroid and condemns its buyers who discarded the machinery and other irreplaceable artifacts.

Dorfman looks at one image and says it’s “great” then immediately becomes self-effacing saying it’s just like calling your child great. Of course he is and so is the picture. Morris asks her if her images capture real life. She shakes her head no, asking how could it be real life. I disagree. Her images are more than just real life; they are outsized moments of wonder and delight.

The site where you can learn more and find a screening:


Michael Masterson has a broad range of experience in marketing, business development, strategic planning, contact negotiations and recruiting in the photography, graphic design and publishing industries. In addition to his long experience at the Workbook and Workbookstock, Masterson owned and was creative director of his own graphic design firm for several years. Masterson has been a speaker or panelist at industry events such as Seybold, PhotoPlus Expo, Visual Connections and the Picture Archive Council of America (PACA) national conference. He is past national president of the American Society of Picture Professionals (ASPP). He currently heads Masterson Consulting, working on projects ranging from business development for creative companies and sourcing talent for them to promoting and marketing industry events as well as providing resume and professional profile services for job-seekers. He can be reached at michaeldmasterson@gmail.com.


Khadija Saye

Obituary: Khadija Saye, fast-rising artist killed tragically young in Grenfell Tower

A tribute to Saye and “to all those who lost their lives at Grenfell Tower on 14 June 2017” has also been set up at Tate Britain, featuring an image from Saye’s series Dwelling. in this space we breathe.

A memorial fund has been established in her name to support emerging artists:


On the Move with the DMLA

Programming has just been announced for the DMLA (Digital Media Licensing Association) Annual Conference. To be held on October 22-24 at the iconic New Yorker Hotel, the conference will be followed by Visual Connections in the same location. Time to book a room and make your reservations.

The programming committee has been working for months to craft a program that will shine a light on all that is progressive in our industry; technology, new product offerings and emerging leaders. Ideas and room for discussion to inform and stimulate all those who work in media licensing.

Pond5 CEO Jason Teichman is keynote speaker. Under Teichman’s leadership, Pond5 has invested heavily in next-generation search and discovery technology, including AI-driven tools to protect the intellectual property rights of its artists. Offering buyers the broadest license rights in the industry without the constraints of the traditional “rights-managed” approach, he has also worked toward opening new global distribution channels.

A few highlights from the sessions:

Chris Franco from Woodridge Growth will be guest speaker on day two. Chris helped run user acquisition at Jet.com and Fanduel, and helps get apps in the top 10 on the App Store. In our “Growth Hacking” session he will share best practices for discovering new customers, keeping existing ones happy, and generally pointing growth to the top right corner.

Breaking the Frame: The Format Revolution: Panel discussion: While 2D images still dominate the marketplace, they are being challenged by new formats (3D, VR, 360, panoramic, cinemagraph, GIFs). Expert panelists will discuss which ones, if any, will take over, how and why?

The Future of Food: Panel discussion: Trends start in the kitchen and bar before being ultimately re-crafted and recast by each player in this chain. Come discover where we are, and where we are going with food in the future.

Post-Usage Licensing / Found Money: Panel discussion: Copyright infringement costs you and your contributors money. Education alone doesn’t work and copyright law isn’t a law if it’s not enforced. Come learn more about the discovery, assessment, recovery and copyright registration process and what’s to be gained (and lost) in the world of post-usage licensing. Hear from industry experts from the USA and Europe along with legal counsel who specializes in the field.

And returning, the popular Legal Panel: Legal gurus discuss the important issues facing our companies and industry right now. This will be followed by round-table discussions over lunch.

In depth scheduling and registration information can be found here:

Joining a trade association has everything to do with being a united voice. DMLA’s greatest strength lies within its membership. Together we can accomplish what individual companies cannot through collaboration and exploiting our strengths. http://digitalmedialicensing.org/index.shtml

Erik Wahlstrom on What Makes a Photographer

Erik Wahlstrom is an up and coming shooter who has a super YouTube channel on all things photography. His musings on What Makes a Photographer are relevant and he also sparks good discussion.


For more on Erik:

Email: erikwahlstromphotography@gmail.com
Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/erikewa…
Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/ErikWahlstrom
Instagram: https://www.patreon.com/ErikWahlstrom

Cracking the Vault

The archives of the FBI have long been of great curiousity to researchers everywhere. Thought we would delve a bit deeper and sent our intrepid reporter Michael Masterson to explore a bit.

With the FBI so much in the news recently, it seemed timely to do a little investigation of our own. In response to public demands through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the bureau launched an electronic reading room called “The Vault” in 2011. The database allows you to search nearly 7,000 agency documents by keyword or topic and delivers whatever results are found in the form of (sometimes poorly) scanned documents and files. The Vault contains memos, letters, Western Union telegrams, newspaper clippings and all manner of miscellany.

The material available dates back decades and includes an incredible range of categories from anti-war and civil rights material to gangster era and unexplained phenomenon files. Some of the most frequently requested topics recently include J. Edgar Hoover (not a surprise), the Pulse Nightclub Shooting, Trump Management Company (again not a surprise) as well as the Trump Taj Mahal and Trump Shuttle and the impersonation of Bhumibol Adulyadej, the recently deceased King of Thailand. Apparently in 2000 someone set up a Yahoo account in the king’s name and began using it on game sites.

Of course, celebrities frequently feature in popular searches so you’ll find documents relating to James Baldwin and Ben Bradlee, Phil Ochs and Debbie Reynolds. She appears in a confidential response to a request from the Nixon White House for “pertinent derogatory” information about her, Fred Astaire, Rod Serling, Shelly Winters, Patricia Neal and Vincent Minnelli among others. Debbie apparently came to their attention because she’d attended the March on Washington in 1963 when Martin Luther King, Jr. gave his “I Have a Dream” speech. And just in case that wasn’t enough, the FBI included the information that an “admitted homosexual” had had sex with her then-husband Eddie Fisher while Debbie engaged in both “normal and homosexual relations.” In Arnold Palmer’s case, Nixon’s counsel, John Ehrlichman, had requested any arrest records or derogatory information about the golf pro and his wife before they were invited to a White House dinner for Burma’s leader. He came off clean and got the invite apparently.

The “Unexplained Phenomenon” section includes a wealth of material about UFOs, discovering alien bodies and Roswell, New Mexico with another section devoted to Extra-Sensory Perception (ESP). In the late 50s the bureau scrutinized a Virginia railroad employee named William Foos regarding his claims of having ESP and teaching the blind to “see.” As proof he did a demonstration with his blindfolded teenage daughter who was able to read, move about, distinguish colors and even play jacks without being able to see. The FBI conjectured that ESP could be used to provide “undetectable access to mail, the diplomatic pouch, visual access to buildings – the possibilities are limitless insofar as law enforcement and counterintelligence are concerned.” But in the end they found no scientific evidence for it and dropped the idea in 1960.

More serious subjects provide insight into the bureau’s obsession with civil rights activists like singer Paul Robeson who was blacklisted in the McCarthy era and was the object of particular ire for Director J. Edgar Hoover. The FBI dubbed him a Communist, forced cancellation of his concerts and eventually had his passport revoked. He merits 31 documents of hundreds of pages each in The Vault. There are 30 more like that for Malcolm X and his wife Betty Shabazz and dozens more for Rodney King, Cesar Chavez, the Freedom Riders, the NAACP, the Nation of Islam and the Ku Klux Klan.

Browsing the “Popular Culture” section yields documents on everything from Elizabeth Taylor, Orson Welles, Walt Disney and Marvin Gaye to the Grateful Dead, the Monkees and the song “Louie Louie” which was investigated for possible obscenity. Charlie Chaplin makes an extensive appearance for both his personal and political shenanigans. The FBI, suspecting him of being a Communist, pried into every aspect of his personal life. After his affair with a minor actress named Joan Barry resulted in a paternity suit which she won, FBI director Hoover used it as an excuse to charge Chaplin with “white slavery” or violation of the Mann Act which prohibited transporting women across state lines for sex. Chaplin was acquitted but still mercilessly pursued by the bureau in minute detail. In 1943 a memo to Hoover discussed Chaplin’s future wife, the 18-year-old Oona O’Neill, as someone who enjoyed listening to the Little Tramp because he “likes to think of himself as exceptionally well read and intellectual, and for a couple of years Paulette Goddard had been content to sit around and listen to him.”

By movie studio (ebay) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

The “Miscellaneous” section is a grab bag of odds and ends including aviation subjects such as the crash of TWA flight 800, Amelia Earhart’s disappearance and the Hindenburg tragedy where the FBI pursued a sabotage theory that an anti-Nazi professional acrobat on board was responsible for crashing the zeppelin. There’s a marvelous set of documents about the movie “I Was a Communist for the FBI” including a request from Warner Bros. for J. Edgar Hoover to film a short intro “pointing out the need for citizens to report information to the FBI.” The director demurred.

Be forewarned: opening The Vault is addictive. Hours will disappear. And just in case you’re interested in pursuing a career in law enforcement, there are sections on “Criminal Profiling” and the “Legal Handbook for FBI Special Agents.” Have fun.



Michael Masterson has a broad range of experience in marketing, business development, strategic planning, contact negotiations and recruiting in the photography, graphic design and publishing industries. In addition to his long experience at the Workbook and Workbookstock, Masterson owned and was creative director of his own graphic design firm for several years. Masterson has been a speaker or panelist at industry events such as Seybold, PhotoPlus Expo, Visual Connections and the Picture Archive Council of America (PACA) national conference. He is past national president of the American Society of Picture Professionals (ASPP). He currently heads Masterson Consulting, working on projects ranging from business development for creative companies and sourcing talent for them to promoting and marketing industry events as well as providing resume and professional profile services for job-seekers. He can be reached at michaeldmasterson@gmail.com.





footageMarketplace – A Report From Across The Pond

by Julian Jackson

footageMarketplace is a zesty expo held in London at the HQ of BAFTA. It’s similar to events held by Visual Connections, in that footage agencies and industry technology suppliers exhibit, while visitors network, meet old friends, and attend seminars. Last week’s event was the eighth, run annually by Robert Prior, who publishes Stock Footage and Stock Index Online, (which I write the news for).

It has evolved over the years. Last year seminars by key industry participants were added. That has become a major attraction. The panel discussion on “What Does it Take to be Successful at Footage Research?” was completely packed, and an added overflow room filled up too. The other two seminars were on Virtual Reality and Artificial Intelligence, which were also strongly attended.

Robert Prior the organiser and James Buchanon at Footage Marketplace 2017 at BAPLA in London

This year several stills agencies exhibited: Ardea, Mary Evans, and TopFoto. That is, alongside suppliers like Science Photo Library, Robert Harding, who expanded their offering into footage a while ago, and companies such as Adobe Stock, who are more recent players on the scene. I take it from this that many agencies are taking on wider media content, including motion material to expand their reach. Art Library Bridgeman Footage has made a big success of its venture into film and video (see our previous article).

While the organizations present mostly come from Britain or neighboring European countries, several had made the journey from the USA, including Global ImageWorks – who have just added stills to their motion collection. Cathy Carapella, Vice President – Music & Media Clearances, said, “It was demand-led, we had acquired plenty of still photos combined with video archives, and when researchers found out about this they wanted access. So we have put 180,000 historic images online and we are adding to them regularly.”

Flora Nedelcu, Managing Partner of TopFoto (who runs the fotofringe expo) said that it was nice just to be exhibiting, without the pressure of organizing, and she was having fun talking to people. She thought that there was a whole group of potential clients she had met that didn’t cross over to fotofringe so it was a valuable event to attend.

There were 33 exhibitors in total, which is probably the full capacity of the David Lean Room. The prestigious and convenient central London location means that the organisers have no plans to move to a bigger venue: by reducing the refreshments area a bit you might accommodate one or two more tables at a squeeze, but that would be at the loss of a prime place to have private business meetings, not to mention gossip. I met Rich Remsburg, an Emmy Award-winning archival researcher based in Massachusetts who was nominated for Jane Mercer Footage Researcher of the Year Award, in the FOCAL International Awards Gala, which was to be held the next evening so Rich had come to London to participate in both events. He’s working on a documentary about Robert F Kennedy, and has just finished “Promised Land” about Elvis Presley, directed by Eugene Jarecki. The award went to Nina Krstic, for “OJ – Made in America”. However Rich found his visit valuable, “It’s always good to learn of new footage collections, and I also looked at new material at footage archives I already work with.” Rich outlined his methods and views on the industry, “I am constantly searching for new sources of material. Sometimes it’s to use immediately, sometimes it’s ten years before it becomes relevant.” He said that we were entering a new era of serious, well-made documentaries which made use of new outlets for distribution, including Netflix and Amazon, as well as theatrical distribution and online. Rich’s workflow includes downloading content, having it transferred to disk, and also, if it is still in film form, liaising with labs to get it digitized.

Important technical advances include: sprocketless film digitization from iMetafilm. Their process means that film can be digitized at a lower cost and higher speed, as well as being able to handle fragile material and metadata embedding effectively. VintageCloud took over the Steenbeck company, makers of one of the most renowned of film viewing and editing machines, and by using artificial intelligence are able to add metadata about the content of each frame automatically during the digitization process. The bottleneck in digitization for both stills and film, is the cataloging – without which it’s pointless as you can’t locate material without it. However it is expensive and very time-consuming to do this manually. AI offers a way out – it won’t completely replace human oversight but could take the donkey-work out of it, and allow researchers access to a lot of content that is languishing (not to mention deteriorating) in vaults currently.

You can view the exhibitors’ profiles here: http://footagemarketplace.com/profiles/

Robert Prior says, “The feedback from the exhibitors was outstanding – they all thought it was very well organized, with a lot of visitors – footageMarketplace has made itself a fixture in the industry calendar and we look forward to next year’s event.”

General View of footageMarketplace 2017 (c)Julian Jackson


Julian Jackson is a writer with extensive experience of picture research, whose main interests include photography and the environment. His portfolio is here: https://julianj.journoportfolio.com/ He also runs a Picture Research by Distance Learning Course www.picture-research-courses.co.uk . Linked-in profile.