Archive for the ‘Customers’ Category
Whoa! All the bits of the fotoLibra site seem to be springing back to life, particularly the fotoLibra Payment Requests. Poor Yvonne has been flooded over the past hour with fotoLibra members cheekily asking for money for their picture sales.
This is outrageous. How dare they demand the money that’s owed to them? Why can’t they be happy with the postcard from sunny Rio de Janeiro, as traditionally sent by fleeing accountants?
But no, they want to be paid, and as we have sold their pictures, I suppose we’d better shell out.
I’m the one who suffers, you know. She doesn’t like writing cheques, so she takes it out on me.
She’s much happier making bank transfers, so if you haven’t already fed in your bank details, do it now — sign in, go to Control Centre> Account> Payment Preference (5th button down in the LH column) and fill in the three boxes. Simple. And the money will go straight into your account.
If you’ve sold a picture, that is.
As you can probably guess, this is me marking time until we get the go-ahead from Damien that it’s safe for fotoLibra members to start uploading images again. So I thought I’d do a little housekeeping, such as asking members to set up more bank transfers. It makes life immeasurably easier for us — well, for Yvonne, and by extension for me. I don’t normally have time for it.
I’m expecting the go-ahead any minute, but I’ve been expecting that since last Friday. I suspect it will be sometime tomorrow.
I promise I will let you know!
fotoLibra photographer Peter Bardsley enjoys visiting dive sites in England, unlike me. I refuse to enter the water unless I’m south of the 30th parallel. Recently he uploaded this atmospheric image of Hodge Close Quarry, an abandoned flooded slate mine in the Lake District, to fotoLibra:
Icy cold and 150 feet deep, with a viz of about 30 feet, it’s the sort of bleak,miserable and frankly terrifying dive hole so beloved of the British diver. My diving preference consists of floating among the pretty coloured fishies at about 10 metres then surfacing to chug copious quantities of decompression juice in the sun.
But places like Hodge Close Quarry exert a manic pull on the typical British diver. The Italians have one aim in diving: that is to get as deep as possible as quickly as possible, then erupt back up through the surface like a rocket and spend the rest of their vacation in a hyperbaric chamber, whereas the thoughtful, contemplative Englishman prefers to drift through mazes of freezing unlit underwater tunnels and drown quietly at the back.
There have been many diving deaths at Hodge Close Quarry. The old mine workings, the adits and galleries to be found deep underwater are an irresistible lure to English divers. If only they’d take time to pay attention to their surroundings before they softly slip under the surface for the last time. Might they not notice some sort of a warning? Just turn the photograph on its side:
Isn’t this pretty?
We thought so. So did a small American company, who felt it would make a great Christmas card.
It is our ambition to make fotoLibra the most user friendly, intuitive and simple site from which to buy pictures. But from reading the following correspondence, I don’t think we’re quite there yet.
We received this a couple of weeks ago at 14:28:
We would like to purchase the following image to use on a Christmas card, that we would be printing in United States.
FOT510763 Chimney Sweep
Yvonne (not me) replied immediately, writing
Thanks for your message which has been forwarded to me by Gwyn.
I notice that your colleague Jim Schuco has just registered with us, so the easiest way to purchase image FOT 510763 is via our website. You/Jim would need to sign in to www.fotoLibra com and price the image as follows, e.g.:
Merchandise > Greetings cards; Continue
Print Run: 1000 > Duration: 1 year
As soon as you have gone through the purchasing process, you can download the high res image file immediately.
Then at 19:01, this arrived:
We would like to purchase the following image to use on a Christmas card, that we would be printing in United States.
FOT510763 Chimney Sweep
Yvonne replied as follows:
Thanks for your message. Here a copy of the email I’ve just sent to your colleague Arnie Varah:
and enclosed her previous email.
We are just looking for one picture not 1000.
which prompted Yvonne’s response:
Will you only be printing one Christmas card? Stock agencies sell rights managed images based on the size of the print run and the duration of the license.
Hope this clarifies matters.
Jim came right back. He was baffled. So Yvonne responded:
Hello again Jim,
Here’s the explanation I sent to you earlier yesterday evening:
“Will you only be printing one Christmas card? You’ll find that stock agencies sell rights managed images based on the size of the print run and the duration of the license.
Hope this clarifies matters.”
I’m sorry this didn’t fully explain the situation for you. The image of the chimney sweep is a rights managed image. This means that you need to purchase the specific usage rights you need. So if you want to print a number of Christmas cards from this one image – up to 1000, for example, to send out to your customers – you have to go through the purchasing process I outlined earlier.
Jim and Arnie thought for a while. Then Jim asked
If we decide to print the Christmas cards with your company, would the
1. Material used are card stock
2. The image would be color
3. Can we add a greeting inside
4. Would envelope come with the cards
Let me know
Incidentally we’re talking £50 for the cost of buying the picture here. Not a fortune.
fotoLibra is a stock picture agency. We license the use of images to picture buyers and researchers for reproduction in their publications – books, calendars, magazines, greetings cards and so on. You would buy the image license from us, download the high resolution picture file, and then get the Christmas card printed to your design using our image, as you advised in your first email.
We usually send out about 100 cards, how much would it be for the image.
We’re always happy to negotiate. A price for 1,000 has to be different to a price for 100. But we cannot account for every eventuality in the pricing matrix. And we want to make sales for our members. So Yvonne replied:
Our base price for usage in a print run of up to 1000 cards is $234.00. On this occasion, sInce you are only planning 100, we can offer you a 66% discount. This would bring the price down to $80.
Please let me know if you want to go ahead at this discounted price and I will apply the percentage to your account.
On 3 Dec 2010, at 20:52, Jim Schuco wrote:
I am not sure I understand your previous email and this one. Can you print the cards also or you only provide the image for us? Let me know
By now Yvonne is getting a little terse:
We supply the image; you arrange the printing.
Silence for five days. Has she mortally offended Jim?
Then on 7 Dec 2010, at 18:16, Jim wrote:
We are willing to pay $75 for the image. Let me know.
Yvonne’s final email:
Thanks for your feedback.
OK – you will need to sign into www.fotoLibra.com and type FOT510763 into the quick search box (top right).
Then click the $ Price Image link in the left hand column.
As soon as you have completed the purchasing process you’ll be able to download the high res image file. We will also send you a revised invoice confirming the actual rights bought.
The credit card payment went through and the image was downloaded an hour later. Will we be getting a Christmas card from them?
That was sixteen emails, and a lot of hassle, to make a $75 sale. Our worthy fotoLibra member will get £23.78. So will we, before we pay bank charges and taxes,.
I wonder what Tahiti is like at this time of year?
Guess we’ll never know.
I don’t know much about the magazine Mature Times, but I do know they’ve got EXCELLENT ideas. Because the nice people there have written an article about fotoLibra photographer Linda Wright (she of the wondrous Birds of Prey photographs) in which they say very nice things about the part fotoLibra had to play in Linda’s success.
Aw shucks! (scuffles foot shyly behind other heel).
Hovering Eurasian Kestrel ©Linda Wright / fotoLibra
Another politician gets into trouble on the run-up to the UK General Election, to be held next Thursday, May 6.
The Liberal Democrat candidate for Arfon in Wales (that’s Bangor & Caernarfon to you and me) illustrated her campaign leaflet with photographs sourced — let’s be kind — thoughtlessly.
The slogan “Regenerating Welsh Towns” was accompanied by a photograph of a derelict building in the very English city of Bath, Somerset.
Her concern for jobs was illustrated by a Job Centre in Sidmouth, Devon. Another photograph showed a team of builders in Barnet, North London.
We must praise candidate Sarah Green for her international outlook, but when a campaign is fought on local issues, she really ought to source local pictures. There is an excellent picture library based in her county Gwynedd, I believe. We Welsh are particularly sensitive about such matters!
When Labour launched its campaign with an image of sunrise over a cornfield, I contacted them via their website to ask where they sourced the picture. It looked somehow American to me (yes, sunrise is sunrise, and a cornfield is a cornfield, but if you study a lot of images every day, as I do, national differences such as colour preferences become more marked).
Strangely enough, I haven’t had a reply. I would love to know where the British Labour Party purchased the picture. It would be great if it was a British picture library, a British photographer and a British field.
Every business offers discounts for bulk purchases, and fotoLibra is no exception. Workers can’t be expected to make decisions for themselves, however, so management usually imposes a sliding scale of acceptable discounts — 5% off for a dozen, 10% off for a gross and so on to tares and bushels and other wonderful weights and measures.
All very well, but some people are always compelled to try and knock the cost down further, whether by pleading, demanding, bullying or negotiating. Whether that’s in their nature or they are commanded to behave like that by their bosses, I have no idea.
A price is a price, and I feel it should be respected. I am deeply uncomfortable in souks and other environments where you are expected to haggle. My haggling skills are zero. Yet I have a good friend who proudly boasts he has never paid full price for anything in his life.
I am also deeply suspicious of ads offering me “50% OFF!” 50% off what? A price which was inflated by 100% in the first place?
But at fotoLibra I’m a seller, not a buyer, so because we know the process can be uncomfortable, we try to make it as easy as pie to buy. I have gradually discovered there are five distinct buyer types:
1. The Wham-Bang
2. The Global MegaBuck
3. The Dealer
4. The Mendicant
5. The Great Honour
The Wham-Bang comes to the fotoLibra site, finds what it wants and buys it. Job done. We love them and we want to have babies with them. All Apple customers are Wham-Bangers. You don’t see many discounts on an iPad.
The Global MegaBuck won’t even deign to notice our existence because it already has tied up an exclusive contract with their pals at Global MegaPix to supply all their image requirements for £50,000 a year and they won’t be dealing with anyone else thank you very much. Then they decide they want a particular picture that only we have and are puzzled that we’re reluctant to sell it to them at the same unit cost that they pay Global MegaPix. So eventually they condescend to allow us a price agreement policy whereby their 1,447 picture researchers are permitted to search for images on fotoLibra. They usually turn out to be perfectly decent people, paying a fair price per picture as long as they can use it how they like.
The Dealer is constitutionally unable to pay the quoted price. “Can I have a discount on that?” or “What’s the best price you can give me?” or some similar tweet is its standard calling cry. No reason for this favour is provided. An offer of 10% often mollifies it, but slamming down the phone always works for me.
You can hear the Mendicant wringing its hands on the other end of the phone. “We’ve got a really low budget on this job, I know it’s a lot to ask but it will be terrific publicity for fotoLibra. Just this once? I know it’s difficult for you, it’s difficult for all of us at this time, heh heh, it’ll be so good for you, I’ll make sure there’ll be a big credit to fotoLibra, you’ll get lots of business …”
The Great Honour is the almost indistinguishable opposite of the Mendicant; it’s like looking in a mirror. “This is going to be so huge, you’re so lucky to be one of our favoured suppliers, now of course we can’t really pay you anything but we can give you a credit on 10 million copies in fifty countries, now you couldn’t buy that sort of coverage, go on, could you?”
The trouble is that apart from slamming down the phone I personally have no real mechanism for dealing with these approaches. I think I’ve worked out a strategy when all of a sudden the Dealer I’m talking to metamorphoses into a Global Megabuck before mutating into a Great Honour. Maybe I just don’t react fast enough.
My simple philosophy is that you get what you pay for. The only trick the microstock folk have taught us is that you persuade people you’re selling pictures for a dollar, then instead of doing that you sell them five thousand Credits — which may or may not be worth a dollar each. Yes, if you buy 5,000 crappy one credit images, they may cost you a dollar apiece. But who needs that many low-res, low-quality images?
It’s damn clever, there’s no denying it. There’s an offer to satisfy everyone. But the basic premise is misleading. It’s like the £5 flights on cheap airlines. They do exist, but it’s harder than you can imagine to profit from them.
You — almost always — get what you pay for.
No, this is nothing to do with Steve.
fotoLibra was given a tender document from a large organisation. We read it carefully, and with respect, because the business has a fine reputation.
a) a digital asset management system
b) a secure web hosting service
c) digitisation of 6 million images in varying formats from glass plates to transparencies
d) complete metadata applied to each image
In return for all this they offered “a licence for a limited period of time to exploit the photographs commercially.”
No cash. No other form of payment at all.
And by the way the 2,000 existing users of the archive must continue to be able to access and download the content for free, including all the newly digitised and keyworded assets. They’re not included in the commercial licence.
I believe they may have to rethink this proposal. The cost of digitising and applying metadata to 6 million images would be north of £20 million.
This is a huge job, and a massive investment. Commercial exploitation would be unlikely to recoup a twentieth of this amount. The length of the licence would have to be in centuries in order to claw back the original investment.
Not for us — but thanks for thinking of us!
Here at fotoLibra we love our clients. They buy our member’s images, they pay us, they keep us in business.
Love is an inadequate word to be nestled among the glories of the English language. The Ancient Greeks had at least four words to describe different types of love*, whereas we just have to muddle through with plain old Love.
But our love for our clients is, shall we say, storgéan*. A new client bought a total of two pictures off us and threw a tantrum when he couldn’t have them at the same price per image he was getting from MammonPix, with whom he had a £50,000 p.a. contract.
Another sent us a picture order with the following ominous rider:
Upon payment of this fee, the design copyright and all other rights throughout the world in this material will be vested in us.
Umm … I’m no lawyer, but that reads curiously like a rights grab to us. We have demanded clarification.
The copyright in all fotoLibra images is asserted by our photographers. It’s not our business to sell their inheritance for a mess of pottage.
* OK then, I’m glad you asked:
αγάπη : AGAPÉ : Love as in ‘I love you.’ This is the ‘charity’ of ‘faith, hope and charity’ in I Corinthians XIII.
ερως : EROS : Love as in ‘I fancy you something rotten and I’m going to do terrible things to you.’
στοργή : STORGE : Love as in ‘My bloody teenage son came home pissed again last night.’
φιλία : PHILIA : Love as in ‘You’re my best mate, you are.’ PHILAdelphia, the City of Brotherly Love.
Breaking news: we demanded clarification, and they have charitably removed the clause from the picture order. I wonder if we’ll ever hear from them again? I need faith.
Old business model for start-ups:
1. Think of name
2. Employ expensive graphic designer and picture library to supply corporate theme and visual content
3. Trade happily ever after
New business model for start-ups:
1. Make up name not already registered as a dot com
2. Run competition to choose images and graphics
3. Award winner of competition the honor of seeing his work used by new megacorp
4. Save $000s
Clever it certainly is. But sustainable? Surely designers and photographers will come to their senses? Or is this solely aimed at the sub-graduate sector?
Whatever; if this really catches on there won’t be any jobs for them to graduate to. Designers and photographers need the protection of agencies such as fotoLibra to save them from themselves.
In early December last year we had a frantic request from a new buyer (who worked for a long standing client of ours) who wanted a detailed list of images of India. She had to have them within 24 hours, absolute latest.
We worked overnight. The following afternoon we sent her a lightbox with 90% of the images she asked for — nearly 900 of them. She was effusive in her thanks.
Then silence. A month later she emailed to say she’d just created new lightboxes from the material we’d sent, but they were empty. She hadn’t signed in; she’d simply clicked on the thumbnails she liked and assumed that would create a new lightbox. (We must look in to that). So we created the lightboxes for her and transferred the images. Once again, many thanks were received.
Then silence. It’s now March, and it’s time to send her a little reminder. Just before I did so this morning, she sent in a password reset request. So she’s just about to start over. Three months have passed since that frantic, urgent, desperate overnight deadline. Not one image has yet been purchased.
Members rightly ask why they submit images to Picture Calls then don’t hear anything. There’s the answer.
Clients. We love ‘em.