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Stormy weather

Photo editors are angry. They are angry and frustrated. I have seen and talked to a lot of photo editors these past weeks and I hear the same thing over and over again.

The digital evolution has not made their lives easier. They are tired of these little shop websites that are quirky and impossible to navigate. They are frustrated of not being able to find the images they need because they encounter resistant technology created by amateurs. They are upset by the level of incompetent platforms they encounter.

Everyone is a web expert these days and everyone has a take on what a website should do. There are more search experts out there than there are results for “photo” in Google. The promise of an easy, simple and user friendly experience has turned into a nightmarish crash and freeze experience. At best, the results of a search returns very poor images. If it is not the wrong images that pop up, it is of a poor quality photograph, at best extremely well key worded. And they do not want to see that. Neither do they want to spend hours trying to figure out how to download the image they need.

Promises. Promises of a fast search, of a breezy summer day in digital heaven, of such a convenient way to reach photo editing nirvana, all have been broken. Broken by photo agencies managers that, in a sure way to save money, have given the most important task of their company to a college kid, or their nephew. Or some French/Russian/Asian/British guy that speaks very quickly and sounds very intelligent because you cannot understand his accent. Worse even, some, mostly photographers themselves, have taken up the challenge and said, “I can do that !!”. And they proceed in creating some of the worst looking, less effective tools the industry has ever seen.

This is the same industry that screams when amateur photographers dare to walk on their turf, yet they have no problem, themselves, as amateur programmers, to design their own websites. And it makes image buyers extremely angry and frustrated.

No photographers believes they can fly a jet plane after a few lessons yet they have no problem convincing themselves that they can build a state of the art digital licensing platform. No photo agency manager believes week end photographers should be allowed to license their images yet they have no issue competing with professional web designer and software engineers. There is a far cry between knowing how to license images and how to build a website. And that cry, I hear it everyday, comes from the users : the photo editors.

Drop the code, drop that book on HTML and advanced search. Drop even the idea that your website will be better than your neighbors. Because, even in the remote case you will succeed, you will still need the appropriate content to make it interesting. Isn’t that why you are in this business to start with ? Licensing compelling content ? Hire professionals, real professionals and gracefully admit you cannot do or control everything. It is not because you figured out how to make your brand new Canon Mark III to work that you know anything about digital technology. Spoiler alert: Canon made it easy for you to understand how to make their camera work.
Go back to what your really know: creating and licensing the best images that the world has ever seen. Before your clients loose faith in you.

NO SENSE: I have read a lot about some new web 2.0 visual search aggregating website called xcavator. If so called journalists had done a little research, they would have discovered 2 things: it is nothing more than an open source application called Imgseek available for free here that anyone can install on their database wrapped into a web2.0 candy bar wrapping. Furthermore, if you play around with it, you can see that it only barely does a thumbnail search and sends you back to the original website should you need to download a hi res. And in some case, not even to the image itself but to the search page where you are forced to redo your initial search. Not quite sure how this is useful for anyone.

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