Mark Ippolito, CEO and co-founder of Evolve Images, discusses the guiding principals behind our new photo agency, including image curation, simplified licensing, and creating a sustainable stock photo ecosystem. Video and images copyright Evolve Images, LLC. Visit our web site at http://www.evolveimages.com
Do you remember 2400 baud rate modems? How about 14” CRT monitors? Daisy wheel printers? When was the last time you used dial-up? Or saved files to a floppy disk? As I suspect, it’s probably been a while.
In their day these innovations helped propel the “Internet revolution” and “Web 1.0”. In response to these (then) powerful tools, the digital photography landscape began to emerge developing standards of it’s own to accommodate the nascent technology required to support it’s adoption.
More specifically the stock photo industry developed a product strategy that tied delivery of image files to the constraints of the available technology. Hence (starting in 1995), photo buyers were presented with the option to purchase pictures by the pound; i.e. you could license and download a low resolution version of an image (smaller in size and faster to download) that was priced lower than the high-res version of the exact same image.
Okay, that was 1995 when copper wire was the only way to connect to the Internet and a “mobile phone” was a clunky device tethered to a suit case sized “transmitter.”
Today, no longer constrained by the limitations of primitive, first generation technology, designers now face the dilemma of producing artwork for campaigns and projects that can be consumed across multiple platforms (print, web, mobile, broadcast, outdoor, etc.) and multiple-devices (mobile, desktops, laptops, tablets, etc.).
Does buying pictures by the pound really still make sense?
Considering the current reality, every time we license an image we think it makes far more sense to deliver the highest resolution, highest quality image — regardless of how the image will be used. Moreover, we believe providing designers and editors with the highest resolution file available, empowers creativity and unleashes the potential for great images to sing across all platforms, all devices, all the time.
So, if you refuse to upgrade your flip phone, and are still running Windows 95 or are an OS9 die hard connecting through dial up, buying pictures by the pound may make sense.
If you’re like the rest of us, it’s time to evolve.
As a budding photographer hoping to crack into the then nascent stock photo industry, my friend and colleague, industry icon Tom Grill provided me with the most sage advice I ever received– and that every photographer needs to know, but often don’t have the ears to hear: “Edit ‘til it hurts.”
Like many photographers, I would often take on an assignment, edit out the images that were obviously flawed or sub-par as compared to my “keepers” and like a proud father beaming over his newborn, submit them to my editors as if every frame were pristine objects worthy of praise and honor. Thankfully, Tom disabused me of this notion and righted my course.
In his deceptively simple phrase, what I understood was that rather than trying to impress my audience (whether that be clients, editors or friends) with my productivity and ability to shoot “good images,” my goal– dare say, my purpose– as a photographer, if I aspired to have an impact and create a lasting impression with my work, should be to present only my best work.
And, whether intentional or not, his advice also released me from the physical — if not psychic– burden of cataloging, storing and “carrying” a lot of weak images in my portfolio and in my head giving me the freedom to relentlessly pursue, invest in and truly celebrate only my best work.
To this day, with few exceptions, almost every time I view a photographer’s portfolio, stock photo website, Flickr gallery, etc Tom’s pithy words ring in my ears and only wish more photographer’s – and editors– would heed his advice. All too often the truly memorable and powerful images are buried among the merely good or acceptable. This fact is even more glaring and, frankly, diluting the value of all images, when photo buyers search the Web and have to wade through countless, boringly “good images” when all they really want to see are the truly great ones.
So next time you’re editing work– whether for a portfolio, stock submission, or assignment, rather than be diluted by the merely good images, showcase only the best. Let those rare gems truly shine and receive the praise and value they deserve. What the world needs now is less, not more.
Edit ‘til it hurts. It will set you free.
Another blog about photography: who needs it? Well, we feel like starting one and if you are in the business of creating images,hiring photographers, or licensing stock images we think we might have some interesting things to talk about.
Image professionals, at least those who’ve been in the business more than about 5 minutes, need to turn their gaze forward and engage with the world as it is: constantly changing. We need to evolve or die.
It’s not news to anyone anymore that technology has caused and is still driving a massive shift in the way images are created and distributed. It’s scary and fabulous, painful and inspirational. It’s opportunity.
How do we, image professionals, minimize the “yikes” and maximize the “wow”? We think the foundation is in three concepts — concepts that we plan to dedicate the ideas, opinions, and most importantly conversations in this space to: Curation, Collaboration, and Celebration.
Curation: Like baking soda and vinegar, Mentos and Diet Coke, ever-improving digital cameras and ever-easier internet uploads have created a massive and growing explosion in the number of images being created, shared, distributed, indexed and searched. Some stats:
- In July 2010, Google reported that it had indexed more than 10 billion images.
- input the term “photo” on Flickr today and that site returns 4 billion hits.
- Facebook users are adding more than 2.4 Billion images per month.
- Search for “image” on Gettyimages.com and you get nearly 28 million. Alamy just trumpeted hitting 23 million images. Microstock leader iStockphoto “8 million-plus”.
The numbers are crazy and the numbers alone aren’t even the real problem for image producers and buyers. If you’re a buyer, you don’t care about a million or a billion images — you care about the one you need right now! If you’re an image producer, how do you stand out in this crowd, let alone make a decent living? We believe one approach, maybe the one approach, to this problem is curation: bringing back a human eye, a curator’s eye, to find and showcase the truly great images — the right images.
Collaboration: With so many photographs now available, images can start to look like a commodity. Distributors routinely tout the “millions of images” they can surface in their search results. Meanwhile buyers are trained by microstock sites (and, yes even some photographers) that the value of an image should be measured in pennies not dollars, and paid for by the byte not by the quality or the value provided.
We believe that true value — measured in terms of both creative potential and monetary reward– can only emerge from honest and open communication and collaboration between photographers, buyers and agents. The creative people on both sides of the lens, or both sides of the monitor, are meant to be partners, not opponents.
Celebration: Faced with the proliferation of billions of poor, average and “acceptable” images, we want to recognize and celebrate the truly great images– and the photographers who create them. Let’s celebrate the images that make us stop, think, laugh, cry, or just say “oh, wow!” and stay with us long after we close the browser, turn the page or power down.
Think we’re wrong? Think we’re crazy? Let us know. Let’s add one more C to our list: Conversation.
Log on, tune in, and let fly.
Evolve or die.