Capture and capture DESK Streamline Visual Asset Management


Abbie Enock is the founder and CEO of Capture who make image management and business software for libraries and photo-buyers. She started out in journalism, then moved into photojournalism, and created her own photo agency, Travel Ink. During that journey she needed asset management software, and finding no product she was satisfied with, she learnt programming and wrote her own. “That was six years of 120-hour weeks.” The result was the first version of Capture.

Launched in 2000, Capture became a major name in photo agency software, very customisable and following Abbie’s philosophy of “Collaborating with customers to achieve their goals, not just giving them technology and walking away.” Users of Capture include the British Library, National Maritime Museum, Historic Royal Palaces, publishers like Macmillan and charities such as the RSPCA.

Capture has continued to be improved based on feedback and is used by more than 50 organisations. It comes in various packages including Capture MAXIMISER (suitable for a large scale agency) and its smaller version Capture EXPRESS. Capture EXPRESS is intended as a fast roll-out starter system, but it can be easily upgraded as needs increase. The design philosophy behind it was “Easy DAM”, so that it would not require a complex training programme or staff reskilling to use it.

Obviously there is another side to the equation: the photo-buyer.

capture DESK enables image users to manage multiple projects across multiple sites. In its dashboard researchers can send lightboxes to multiple editors and clients, record pricing and copyright information, and make selections and notes. Many photo-buyers have found it very useful. Abbie describes it as “a lightbox on legs – with rights management and approval processes – spanning as many sites as you wish”.

Sandra Hilsdon is a photo-buyer and copyright clearance specialist in the UK with extensive experience of using the current version of capture DESK both in-house and as a freelance. She says, “It’s a handy tool to have. A lot of educational publishers don’t have proper systems in place for reviewing picture selections, and it makes no sense to send over lots of individual files without captions or notes. Capture DESK lets editors review material more easily. My clients have been impressed with it, and I think it is a good investment.”

At Visual Connections in New York in October a new, expanded version (capture DESK 3) will be launched with a special introductory offer. The latest version includes high-res downloads and video – two most requested new features; previously digital space requirements limited it to low-res images. The design has been completely updated to have a new, sleeker feel with more options for photobuyers.

A major feature of capture DESK is the “Right click menu” which means that users can immediately take an image, complete with its metadata, and put it into a project in capture DESK.

This is a streamlined process, much liked by photobuyers. Drag-and-drop enabling makes moving and sorting images and projects easier to handle. The objective is to make managing multiple projects and clients, from numerous sources, quicker and easier.

Although it has been mainly aimed up to now at the individual photobuyers, a new Enterprise edition is in development, which will be for publishers, so they can manage their projects, and save money by efficiency. Abbie says that interested organisations should contact Capture, as they are looking for user feedback to finalise the application.

IP licensing is an important factor in this. Capture are working with Britain’s Copyright Hub ( to automatically licence images with a “Hub Key” built into the new capture DESK (and other Capture products) so image ownership is linked seamlessly, doing away with time-consuming manual systems.

Besides creating software, Capture manage some collections directly, under Steve Lake, their Head of Managed Services, formerly of 4Corners travel photo library. Three agencies they manage are the Magal Collection, of outstanding archaeological stills and video, Aviation Images , and MintImages who showcase premium lifestyle and travel photography.

Abbie says, “Our philosophy is of integrity and respect for staff, users and clients. We have over 250 years’ collective professional experience in our team now, and this underpins what we do. In this business you have to balance the creative and the technical, what we are trying to do is create applications which manage the workflow as seamlessly as possible, leaving creative people the space to do what they do best.”

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