23 Apr 2010 iStockalypse Cannes
Day one of the iStockalypse and World Photography Festival is up and running despite the severe logistical complications of the Ash Cloud preventing people and equipment arriving here at Cannes, France.
The Ash Cloud – What’s Happening?
The volcanic ash cloud that’s closed most European airports for the past week is starting to blow away and airports are opening up, and just in time for many. The turn-out of contributors here is impressive. We’re all swapping stories about the creative ways we managed to get here.
iStock staff from European offices have come early to step in for those who couldn’t make it or are still coming. The first item on the program was altered, but there’s enough people and equipment for the iStock even machine to get everything on track for the rest of the program. Management are VERY grateful for the people who made special effort to get here and the staff who’ve gone well above and beyond to keep the event alive.
The Future of Microstock Workshop
The speakers for the first scheduled workshop were among those who haven’t made it yet, so JJRD, iStockphoto VP of Content Development, and Andrew Wedderburn (rogermexico), Content & Community Lead, stepped in. They teamed up to give a description of iStockphoto history, present and some quick insights into the future. JJ opened with the statistic that more than half of all photos sold today in the US, across all licensing models and all outlets, were sold by iStockphoto.
There were lots of other interesting tidbits:
Vetta – The (relatively) high-priced Vetta collection at iStockphoto has been a successful well beyond expectations, or in JJ’s words, “a massive, massive, massive success”. Andrew expanded on the makeup of the iStockphoto buyer base explaining how many “don’t care” about the price. Many of the exclusive contributors I’ve spoken with today and last night have reported their income tripled or quadrupled after the introduction of Vetta Collection. Andrew went on to explain that the recent price rise for exclusive content has also met little resistance. He profiled buyers again, explaining how the price rises fall withing the “range of price sensitivity” for those who do care about price.
Some insights into the current situation and planning of the company were also interesting:
- iStockphoto have recently opened an office here in France – their second in Europe after the Berlin office opened last year – and hired nine programmers in the past month.
- When asked about editorial licenses on iStockphoto, JJRD said the list of ‘things to do’ stretches from Cannes to Milan, but editorial was not among the staffed priorities. “We’ll see”, he concluded.
When the discussion turned to the inspection process at iStock, JJ made a point to explain that, “never in the history of iStockphoto has an inspector rejected an image for not being salable”. While the statement is all-inclusive, he went on to explain that they let the market decide what is commercial and “treat photos as works of art rather than products”.
JJ also spoke very highly of the information sharing between iStockphoto and Getty Images, saying, “The Getty Images ownership has been positive in every way”.
Shooting the Cannes iStockalypse
Three shoots were setup around the Palais des Festivals. The red carpet shoot, pictured below, on the stairs of the Palais attracted quite a crowd beyond the participating iStockers. Three times I was asked who the famous people were and had to explain that they were models. That didn’t stop many people pushing through and getting in close to snap their own shots of these faux celebrities.
There’s another three shoots tomorrow and then again the day after, all around the city of Cannes and with lights and professional models, plus another three morning workshops. I’ll cover them all here, so stay tuned.