Archive for July, 2010

New fotoLibra

July 30th, 2010

Say hello to fotoLibra 4.1!

As well as being faster, it’s got a host of new features:

autoFocus is a rolling newsfeed with all the top stories to interest photographers and picture buyers
• You’ve all been asking for it — the Recent Sales tab shows a random selection of recently sold images so you can see what the market is buying
• Our new Thumbnail Size option allows you to view Thumbnails 400% larger than the default size
• The Latest News tab now sits at the top of the page so you can access it immediately without digging down deep into your Control Centre
• Your Hide Sidebar feature lets you view five thumbnails in a row — more pictures per page
• You now have the data option of flipping between Thumbnail and Records View, which will show you the photographer, pixel dimensions, caption and reference number for every image
• At last (many members will sigh) you can see if one of your images has been selected for a lightbox. As far as we’re aware no other stock agency / picture library offers this feature — but there is no guarantee that this will lead to a sale.

There are many other enhancements such as a speedier registration page — new members can sign up in seconds. Little things like the transition when you submit an image to a Picture Call have been smoothed out. You will notice several other detail changes.

BROWSERS: However you won’t notice any of these enhancements if you are using Internet Explorer 7 or earlier as your browser. You will see doughty old fotoLibra 4.0 chugging away as normal. Speedy new fotoLibra 4.1 works best on Windows, Mac and Linux platforms using Firefox, Safari, Opera, Chrome and IE8. Even Microsoft is recommending you should upgrade from IE7: please read this.

We recommend that Windows users should perform “Windows Update” regularly.

We hope you enjoy the new fotoLibra and find it even easier to use. Please let us know what you think


Model Releases

July 26th, 2010

We’re always asked if we want model releases with the photographs we sell.

The short answer is Yes. It’s much easier to sell a photograph with a model release than without one.

But given that the great majority of fotoLibra’s images sales are for editorial use, it’s not always absolutely essential. It merely restricts the possible markets for the photograph. You don’t generally need a model release for an image used editorially.

Now here is a terrible example, an awful warning. Someone took a picture of a very photogenic Greek shepherd complete with luxuriant beard. It was uploaded to a picture library. No names, because I don’t know them.

A Swedish yogurt manufacturer bought the photograph from the picture library and plastered it over his pots of “Turkish” yogurt. Unfortunately the shepherd’s cousin happened to be living in Stockholm and spotted his kinsman being passed off as a Turk. This is an offensive concept to many Greeks.

What was more offensive is that the subject of the photograph hadn’t given his permission for it to be used in advertising. He hadn’t signed a model release. Almost all shepherds have smart cosmopolitan lawyers these days, and the yogurt company was slapped with a £4.5 million lawsuit.

Our simple, bucolic countryman apparently settled later for £150,000, which is a lot more expensive than buying a properly licensed image from a company such as fotoLibra.

You can read more about this story (and see the offending yogurt pot) on the BBC site (so it must be true) and you can download and print off as many fotoLibra Model release forms as you like from here, and of course property release forms from here. When you use these, keep the signed piece of paper as a record of your contract with the subject and tick the ‘Model Release’ and ‘Property Release’ boxes on your Edit page with a carefree heart.

We will of course double check with you should we be about to sell one of your images to a yogurt pot manufacturer or other commercial organisation.I don’t know where the fault lies here — if the yogurt company had revealed the end use of the image to the picture library and they had authorised the sale without clearances, then the library is to blame. If the yogurt company just bought the picture without revealing what it was going to be used for, then the yogurt company is to blame.

The shepherd and the photographer would seem to be the only two innocent parties here. Unless the photographer misrepresented the image to the picture library, claiming it was model released.

Oh, I don’t know. Just be careful, that’s all.


Pro Blog Index

July 12th, 2010

This is the Index to the fotoLibra Pro Blog postings since January 2010.

If you’re new to fotoLibra, welcome! — and may we suggest you read through the HINTS & TIPS section, and if nothing else read Great Expectations from the 2009 blog. It still holds true.

In fact there are a lot of interesting posts in the 2009 blogs, and you can see an Index to them here.

Comments are welcome, even on old posts, and will be read and often responded to.













Chopped Pork & Ham …

July 6th, 2010

… is better known as SPAM, a sort of tinned meat. It’s a strange foodstuff, something I thought of as a product of the irretrievably grim British food rationing of the 1940s and 50s. But it turns out to be American, and some people eat it because they like it.

When Monty Python satirised the unimaginative British cuisine of the 1960s, they did a sketch in a restaurant where every dish was spam-based. This tickled the funnybones of early computer folk, and they would type “SPAM” over and over again to edge unwanted visitors off their primitive bulletin board sites. Once the verb “spamming” was coined, the force was unstoppable.

The key word of course is “Unwanted”. I do not want endless emails from China offering me Canadian pharmaceutical products (can’t see how that works) nor do I need any more chances to enlarge my manhood.

But if I sign up to an organisation, register with a business, give a company my details, join a club or become a member, I would expect to hear from that organisation. Especially if I’d paid a membership subscription. If I didn’t, I may simply forget about it — but if I’d paid, I’d want to know why I hadn’t heard from them.

Enter fotoLibra. It’s not compulsory to sign up to fotoLibra, just highly recommended. If you do, we will email you. And as a picture buyer or seller, what we send will be of interest to you. If it’s not, there’s a link at the bottom of every email which you can simply click on to be removed from our list. It also has our address so you can write and complain if we fail you.

What I’m saying is that we do not send out spam. People have signed up to fotoLibra, and we email them. Our problem is that a LOT of people have signed up to fotoLibra, and we simply cannot write to everyone individually, so we have to do what computers and email clients are very good at — sending one message to lots of different people.

Surprise, surprise. Lots of our innocent, requested emails get classed as spam. Of course we are to blame for some of it — we should never type the subject IN CAPITALS (apparently that’s popular among real spammers); HTML formatted emails (which ours are) send out alerts; bulk mailings are an obvious no-no. Trigger words such as ****, !!!! and %$%$ will often lead to blocked mail, even if used innocently.

Someone who will remain nameless recently sent out a fotoLibra Picture Call for photographs of guitars. Unfortunately she added an extra word commonly used in the publishing world to describe such books. Bang, bang, bang. Down came the shutters. The vast majority of ISPs blocked the mailing. As a result we only have 12 pictures of guitars to answer the call. Memo to self: get her to resend the call today WITHOUT the funny words.

Nevertheless it’s frustrating for us to mail people with information they genuinely want and then find our mailings are rejected. Some filters seem to be fairer than others, and I was particularly impressed by one company which sent us this message:

Your message was waitlisted.
Please add yourself to my Guest List so your messages will be delivered to my Inbox. Use the link below.
Click here to deliver your message
Boxbe ( prioritizes and screens your email using a Guest List and your extended social network. It’s free, it removes clutter, and it helps you focus on the people who matter to you.

Now that really does seem to screen out the professional spammers. HOWEVER — and this is a big HOWEVER — a quick search on the internet reveals a lot of people slagging off this company for spamming people themselves. I won’t be using it as a result, but it may suit some people.

So. Here’s our problem. Where is our solution?



July 1st, 2010

Man joins fotoLibra as a Seller at 12:45 and uploads four photographs.

Another man in another country on another continent joins fotoLibra as a Buyer at 17:15 and immediately buys one of the new seller’s photographs for £140, paying by credit card.

Why am I suspicious?

Nobody has joined and made such a quick sale as this since last year, when a Brazilian signed up and uploaded five photographs, all of which were bought within two hours for comfortably large sums of money by another Brazilian who had just signed up the same day. He too paid by credit card. 89 days later the bank snatched back the money, all of it.

Have I the right to be suspicious?

Last week my credit card was refused (I was trying to buy several litres of Pimms). We contacted the card issuers and found a payment of £10 had been made a couple of days earlier to Oxfam. Not by me it hadn’t been. This was followed up by an attempt to pay a large Southern Electricity bill with the card, which had been rejected. We don’t have Southern Electricity. So the credit card was compromised — how? — and quickly cancelled. A replacement arrived yesterday.

If this transaction turns out to be fraudulent, we stand to lose £70. It’s not a huge amount of money, though God knows we could all do with it. If they are fraudsters — and how can I tell? — they’d have to do it many times over to make a living out of it.