The PACA Annual Meeting continued this past weekend. The seminars on Saturday and Sunday were well attended, especially the ones given by image users and members of the printed and online press.
PACA president delivered the keynote address early Saturday morning. He took as his theme changes in the business of stock photography and the resulting effects of those on the industry. He urged everyone to embrace them and to banish fear of change.
Some might feel our model poses a threat but for the most part during the course of many conversations over the weekend, people agreed with me that Dreamstime occupies an increasingly important position in the industry, serving both a segment of the traditional buyers as well as enabling many more to use stock photography for smaller budgets or projects. It was often repeated that Dreamstime is perfectly positioned to take advantage of innovations in technology and the Internet.
After a break from the welcoming address, the group assembled again in the Grand Ballroom to listen to a panel of art buyers/photo editors discuss how they searched for images and what they liked and disliked about the stock industry. The panel consisted of John Nuhn/National Wildlife Federation; Carol Enquist/National Geographic Traveler; Roy Hsu/Ogilvy One NY; Joanna Sanders/SQN Communications Design; and Annette Scarpita/K12 Inc. Pictured below are Cathy Aron, PACA Executive Director and Daryl Lang, PDN.
The panelists agreed that the most important aspect of working with a stock agency is a flexible search. When asked what causes the most frustration while searching for images, the most common response was bad search results due to keyword spamming and poor or incorrect image titles. Dreamstime can feel secure that our search is one of the best in the industry, offering more flexibility than others. We depend on our keymasters and you, the users, to ensure that we raise the standards of keywording and image titles. We have already gone a long way in that direction and will keep hammering at the importance of these issues to deliver the best user experience.
Representing Dreamstime I felt it was important that I supply some better information about our kind of licensing model. Roy Hse mentioned that his company used microstock but worried about model releases. We were pleased to explain to the panel and the 150 attendees that Dreamstime obtains model releases on all images with recognizable people. It's obvious that our broad geographical base gives Dreamstime users a deep range of location images that the editorial members of the panel feel is lacking in many traditional agencies. One of the panel members wasn't aware of Dreamstime and after I spoke, asked me to please repeat the name and URL of the company that I was representing. You can bet that I was first in line after the Q&A to give her my Dreamstime business card!
Roy Hse also explained that he was frustrated with images cropped too tightly. As a designer, he wants to make the crop. He finds images where faces are sliced in half by the crop or body parts cut out to be frustrating. (We call these 'painful crops' as they chop off arms etc!)
Several members of the fourth estate were involved in a seminar called, "Turning the Tables: Where Does the Press Think We're Headed". Above left, Patrick Donehue moderates a lively discussion between panel members, Chris Ferrone/About the Image, Daryl Lang/PDN; Jim Pickerell/Selling Stock; and Ron Rovator/Stock Asylum. Rather than itemize all their predictions, let me simply say that they were all different. Crystal ball gazing is not an exact science. The oldest member of the panel, who started a newsletter about stock twelve years ago, stated that there were 150,000 contributors to the microstock sites, causing gasps from the audience. He had added up the membership in all the sites. I corrected him, explaining that many people are non-exclusive.
The US Copyright Office gave a presentation entitled, "The Copyright Office Has Entered the Electronic Age" only to find that their electronic presentation didn't work. The gist of the presentation was that copyright registration will be electronically enabled by fall of 2007.
I attended several other breakout sessions and had meetings with various technology companies while in the area. I took a lot of teasing about the "New Member" ribbon on my nametag since I have been a member of PACA for decades but, of course, Dreamstime was welcomed as the new member. Now I'm home preparing for the move this week from one coast of the US to the other so that's it from PACA.