Fossilized Mammoth Dung?

PACA Tech Advisor Doug Dawirs updates us on PacaSearch:

One of my go-to stops after reviewing a new brief is PacaSearch, especially for off-the-grid image needs (say, examples of Nostradamus’ prophecies through out history?) I am guaranteed to get relevant and comprehensive results and often am introduced to sources I had not been aware of.

PACA was able to manifest the vision of linking member agencies to provide a single access point for buyers in 2010. Bring us up to date on new collections represented and number of images.

In May, the Picture Archive Council of America (PACA) published the names of the then current crop of PacaSearch contributors. That list included 57 companies ranging from the worlds largest providers like Getty Images and Alamy, to comparatively small specialty agencies like Art Image LA, the Science Picture Company, and Venus Stock. Since then, two more agencies (Photo Researchers and Mary Evans Picture Library) have joined PacaSearch bringing the total number of licensable images in the PacaSearch index to just over 173 million. I can’t stress the word “licensable” enough. Hearing that every image accessed via PacaSearch is from a curated collection, cleared, and available for licensing is music to most photo researcher’s ears. Even novice researchers find PacaSearch an easy and fast way to find images.

My new favorite story comes from an encounter I had at the recent Visual Connections Expo in Chicago. A researcher for a major publishing house had been looking for a picture of fossilized mammoth dung for several weeks. We found it on PacaSearch in 10 seconds ( The researcher got her image, discovered a new stock agency (Minden Pictures), and I got a big hug on the show floor.

How do you currently look at traffic to see rate of return?

PacaSearch doesn’t require users to sign in so we can’t be certain what our user demographic is. But, we can tell you that they are loyal. For the last 60 days, 73% of PacaSearch traffic were returning visitors.

Any plans to include other media?

We recently added support for motion and are now working with existing contributors who have motion search up and running on their sites. You can see the results of this pilot program at The four beta agencies were Rubberball, Global ImageWorks, Image Source, and Erickson Stock. We plan on adding significantly to this list as more agencies add motion to their offerings and are interested in adding new motion collections to PacaSearch and PACA.

Where do you want to take PacaSearch?

The current road map is focused on raising awareness of the free service to buyers. PacaSearch’s simple interface is a key draw and we don’t have plans to change that. We may supplement the current site with information about the contributors, a How To Section illustrating PacaSearch’s more advanced search capabilities, and even a resource directory of professional researchers. I wouldn’t be surprised to see an iPad application at some point. 

How can users best tell you about what they may like to see on PacaSearch?

That’s simple, click Leave Feedback in the toolbar and send an email. It will land on my desk 10 seconds later.

Thanks so much, Doug  – any other tips?

If a user is new to PacaSearch, I recommend taking 5 minutes to watch the tutorial video on the home page. It explains a lot in a very short time.

I want to stress that speed is important. The ability for users to rapidly try several different approaches to isolating images of interest is a critical feature of PacaSearch.

Lastly, I really like the recent promotional piece that emphasizes the “Power of Not.” And, how sometimes the best way of finding something is by telling PacaSearch what not to look for. (

About Doug Dawirs

How to be included in PacaSearch

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