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Photo Marketing Tip...

Text Copyright Rohn Engh
All rights reserved.

For editorial stock photography, in the end, it's the personal touch that makes the difference.


If you're in a hurry and ordering a bunch of roses, the Internet is a fine place to order them. You don't need to see them, touch them or feel them. You know what a rose is. In contrast, if you're a photo researcher ordering an editorial photo that has to match the mood and description of your editorial content, you need to talk to the photographer and often see more photos.

Is the Internet crowding out conventional retailers? As one representative example, much to the relief of car distributorships in the USA, the answer is no. A potential car-buyer might go to the Internet to compare price, but when it comes to a buying decision, car dealers have observed that the future car owner wants to "touch and feel" his potential new baby. According to current automotive trade magazines, the Internet has become an Information Board, and only rarely a sales tool. The buyer still goes to a local dealership to make the transition and touch and feel this investment in transportation that will represent the equivalent of 20% of his annual income.


If you consider yourself an editorial photographer and supply images to a niche in the publishing market, you might keep this nature of on-line marketing in mind. Yes, in the commercial stock photo field, buyers will go on-line to "image mills" to select generic images, where it's cheaper and faster. In the editorial field, however, it's business as usual: Photobuyers are still going first to the source of the image, the photographer, to find that on-target photo.

Here at PhotoSource International, we have seen no change in the basic approach of editorial photo search activity during the last five years, in spite of the invasion of on-line picture searching. Editorial photobuyers do use the Internet now, in their photo search efforts, but they go directly to photographers on-line, rather than to photo-based sites to review numbers of generic images.

When they need an editorial image, photo researchers follow a two-stage process: first they find a source of the image, a photographer who has c overage of the specific subject area they need. Then they get in touch with the photographer, either by phone, fax, email, or website, before they make their final decision, to assure that they have screened all possible/eligible images. (Our PhotoSourceBank is designed to fit into this two-stage process, to allow the buyer to locate the source of a collection of highly specific images.)


Image software alone is not doing the job, and it might be a long time before it can. Keep in mind that relatively few images are actually on-line on the Internet when you put that number up against the image inventory of stock photo agencies and individual photographers. For example, Corbis can digitize 500 images a day. With 65 million images on file, it will take them 356 years to complete the process, using the most advanced technology that Bill Gates can come up with. Presently, they have completed only 3 1/2% of the task.

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Rohn Engh, Photosource International.

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