Quite an interesting year at Visa with the usual crowd of agencies, photo editors, hopeful photographers and peddlers. Good to see new agencies born, like Noor, or Facetoface France, an expansion of the already very successful agency Facetoface in Germany. As usual and in the perfect spirit of Perpignan, a lot of noise and alcohol was shared over the hopeful success of newborn Noor agency while in the back alleys of the city and the Palais, whispers about their foretold failure could be heard over and over. We wish them luck.
Behind the triumphant press releases and conferences, booth shinning like brand new cars, smiles of success, the action, the real action was at micro level happening at different parties, dinners, lunches and informal get-togethers. VISA really happens behind the scenes, a bit like a theater. For example, Getty, had some very high placed executive talking about its eminent doom. Not the way regular photo agencies are doomed, when spending exceeds revenue. A Wall Street doom where the stock collapses into oblivion. According to insiders, Getty cannot grow anymore, at least as it did in the past past years. It will never reach the 1 Billion revenue dollar mark and, while still growing, it will forever be stuck underneath the double digit growth.
The stock market doesn’t react well to aggressive growth companies that have reached their ceilings and flee in masses. It will be fascinating to see how Johnathan Klein will try to handle this predicted downfall. Obviously, the $49 flat fee for web usage is an example of their reaction.
Lots of photographer’s platform solution in Perpignan. From the well known, like the all in black Drr to newer, european based, ones like Pixoclok, PitcureTank or Fedephoto. All our doing quite well in the footstep of the original creator, Alamy, who shined by its absence. The eternal battle between having or not having a photo agency seems to continue, although the line between these service providers and traditional photo agency is still a little bit blurry.
EPA, who was created in reaction to the Getty/AFP deal is expanding its relationship with Corbis, as to cement the idea that it will do anything opposite of AFP. AP is also expanding very quickly and, although I am not at liberty to say, has extremely effective plans to bite back.
VISA has always been the vanity fair of photojournalism with its stars and celebrities and this year it hasn’t changed as you could see Tyler Hicks and Spencer Platt, two great photographers, making fools of themselves in front a TV reality show cameraman following their every steps. In complete contrast, late one evening, or early morning , as I was leaving La Poste cafe, I accidentally stumbled upon a group of some of the best photojournalist alive, hanging out, far from the noise and fanfare of the festival. Laurent Van der Stock, Noel Quidu, Gary Knight, Laurent Sola, and many others where enjoying each others presence, joking and laughing around a beer, surrounded by a few photo groupies, like a bunch of rock star after a world tour. They let their images be the celebrities.
There will be a lot of upcoming surprise in the editorial world in the next year. They will not be announced neither in fancy press releases or endless parties but rather executed silently . Most agencies, and photographers, do not care about self promotion as much as they care about bringing to the market the right content.
Finally, as I left the Palais des Congres, on the last day, as everyone was packing up, it was quite amusing to see that a traveling puppet show had been installed in front of the main entrance. As if the show continued after all the pros had left, only this time it was for the children and the story had a happy ending.