Archive for June, 2009

Big Jobs

June 26th, 2009

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.

They wanted
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!


Lovely Clients

June 25th, 2009
Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

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.

And hope.


Farewell Kodachrome

June 22nd, 2009
Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

After 74 years, Kodak have pulled the plug on Kodachrome:

There will be photographers working today who have never used it.

They give us those nice bright colors, they give us the greens of summers, makes you think all the world’s a sunny day. I got a Nikon camera, I love to take a photograph, so mama don’t take my Kodachrome away.

But as it now accounts for “a fraction of one per cent of our film sales” and everyone knows no one buys film any more (oh yes they do) they’ve rather emotionally decided to drop it.

Despite Paul Simon’s “greens of summer”, Kodachrome wasn’t particularly good with greens. Red and yellow was its forte, like its logo and packaging. Rich red, vibrant yellow, and the high blue skies of summer. Simon WAS right in that it made you think all the world’s a sunny day.

Being based in Wales, a land so beautiful the sun dare not show his face, I found that Fuji Velvia captured the greys and greens of my homeland more accurately.

So we based the cost of a fotoLibra subscription on the price of a roll of Fuji Velvia. I wonder how much it costs now?

But Kodachrome was a classic film. It was great in the way a ’56 Chevy was great, and sadly just as relevant to today’s world.


fotoLibra in the Telegraph

June 16th, 2009

We’ve always wanted to see fotoLibra featured in the Daily Telegraph, because we know that Telegraph readers would love the fotoLibra site.

But for 3 years it’s proved impossible — they never responded to my imprecations, never answered letters, emails or phone calls. I used to be a good publicist, but it is hard to publicise one’s own baby.

So imagine the hurt and despair I felt when Dan Smith forwarded me a link to a Telegraph story about how anybody could make money from their photographs. Exactly what I’d been banging on about for years. And here was our story — but instead of being about fotoLibra, it was about American giants Flickr and GettyImages. And they were offering a selective deal, nowhere near as good as fotoLibra’s open offer.

But because fotoLibra is British, and small, we’re not sexy copy. Unlike Digital Railroad, we never raised $15 million, and also unlike Digital Railroad we’re still in business, selling our members’ pictures and paying them.

The Telegraph relented, and the übercritical but nonetheless wonderful Bash Khan blogged about fotoLibra today:

Bash is in the Top Ten of London Tweeters, a dubious honour but an honour nevertheless. She is far from fawning in her assessment of fotoLibra. I accept it, because I know I’m the major part of the problem. I write too much, and people prefer to read less. And what I see as cutting edge design is suddenly three years old.

Chin up! We can improve. And we will. Let me know of any sites whose design you admire. And we’ll try to copy them slavishly.

Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

If you agree with this statement, why not join our group on LinkedIn at ?

Photoshop is the tool of choice for most fotoLibra members. At the last count 7,227 fotoLibra members were using Adobe products. If one in ten of you can add your name to this petition we’ll soon have over a thousand.

A substantial constituency. Yet one that is treated with disdain by the Adobe corporation. Pound for dollar, Adobe products have always been around 20 to 40% more expensive in the UK than the US. They claim that support and marketing is more expensive over here.

I don’t believe that. Americans are higher paid and taxed lower than the Brits.

Come on Adobe. Show some respeck, man!