July 24th, 2009

I recommend anyone joining fotoLibra to read the Great Expectations blog posting to find out more about the exciting community they are joining.

Ben Shipley posted a comment which I said I’d answer in a new posting. Now David Carton has reminded me that I haven’t answered it, so here goes. First, Ben’s original comment:

It would be nice if the list view showed lightbox adds as well as views (at present the only way to get this info is to try to delete the photo).

Also, after working with other libraries, I am not sure what “views” means – did the photo show up among 1,000 others, or did someone actually bring up the full-size preview? And is that “someone” a valid customer or does it also include fellow members?

The best thing about fotolibra for my money is the way you all try to keep members informed – you seem like a very cool bunch of souls in general – but one can never get too much clarity, especially when it comes to what is selling out there.

Along same lines, I am curious where you see yourselves in the photo universe – what niches you aim for, where you saw this going when you started, where you see it headed today, where you fit into the whole amateur/professional photography experience, not just commercial stock. We get hints from Jacqui, but clarity definitely breeds patience.

Right. The first request is a simple feature enhancement. We already gather this information; the problem is figuring out to feed it to you in a neat, uncluttered, intelligible way. The data feed you currently get has nine columns; adding a tenth is going to make it uglier. We will work this out. It may involve having to drop down through layers of data.

‘Views’ (I answered this) means Thumbnails that have been clicked on to create Previews. The people who click could be either buyers or sellers; if they’re not logged in we don’t know who they are.

We always enjoy compliments. Thank you for that one.

OK, here’s the big one. In our photo universe, we’re not Getty Images, Corbis or Alamy. We’re much smaller, much more flexible, faster and much more personal. Buyers deal directly with the owners of the company, not a nominated ‘account handler’. Some people love this, others actually prefer anonymity and disengagement. When did you last speak to someone from Amazon, Adobe, Google, Microsoft or Apple? But you probably give them your money.

In Britain there are over 600 picture libraries. 440 of us are serious enough about the business to pay an annual subscription of about £500 to BAPLA. In terms of visitors to our web site, we come eighth. So we’re in the top 2%, and we only started 5 years ago. But we still need to do better.

Our major market is book publishing. It’s a market we know and feel comfortable with. We don’t reach ad agencies and design groups as we should. We sell to calendar and greetings card publishers. We don’t do much in the way of celebrities, news or sport.

We started with the intention of providing access to family albums, shoe boxes, the fading photographs in Granny’s attic. But we were swamped by the digital revolution.

HERE’S THE BOMBSHELL. We still want those pictures, so now we’ve decided to do something about it.

Alongside the existing Member, Pro Member and Platinum Member accounts, we are creating a completely new membership category.

It’s going to be called HERITAGE MEMBER. It is completely FREE, and it gives you UNLIMITED storage.

WOW!! I hear you shout. What’s the catch?

The photographs must have been taken before January 1st 1980. They must adhere to our Submission Guidelines.

And that’s it.

Membership will run in tandem with your existing fotoLibra membership. Full details will come with the formal announcement. We hope to have this in place by the beginning of September.


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5 Responses to “BOMBSHELL”

  1. David Carton says:

    Hi Gwyn.

    If I understand you right one of the columns is the size column, which doesn’t seem all that neccessary once we’ve uploaded the pic, so maybe it could replace that column?

    I’m intrigued by your bombshell.

    A quick query though I thought the advice was not to upload scans of prints as the quality isn’t good enough? Surely most pre 1980 stuff we have will be print or slide.


  2. David Carton says:

    Hi Gwyn,

    Having suggested that the size column could be sacraficed I’ve thought of an even better candidate. As all the photo’s are going to be jpeg from now on, surely there’s little need for a field that says type?


  3. David Carton says:

    Hi Gwyn,

    Having suggested that the size column could be sacrificed I’ve thought of an even better candidate. As all of the photo’s are going to be jpeg from now on, surely there’s little need for a field that says type?


  4. Ben Shipley says:

    The bombshell doesn’t affect us, because before 1980 we couldn’t even spell camera. Still it sounds like a smart idea, and anything that diversifies the style of the library without taking it the supermarket route has to be good for the rest of us.

    As for the supermarkets, we were actually doing fairly well on one of them (if not yet breaking out the bubbly and cigars), but detested the notion of a computer algorithm as the final arbiter of access and artistic merit. All our sales there were for advertising, an area that we have zero interest in, but there was no way to talk to anyone about other avenues. Their goal is to milk the amateur world, so it’s all smash and grab.

    Book publishing and personal interaction work for us. We just wish there was more of an international focus in the business. Life can be tough in the colonies.