In 2009, we plan to ask our Cutcaster photo buyers and contributors to share their knowledge and experiences in the image and vector licensing industry to help the entire community. We recently asked one of our newer photo contributors to Cutcaster, Monkey Business Images, a few questions about the changing landscape of the photography industry, their work-flow and process when deciding what/how to shoot and any advice they have to help the Cutcaster community sell more images. The folks at Monkey Business Images were kind enough to share their experience with us and we thought we would share what we learned with you.
1. In today’s visual language, how do you make images that are authentic to “your” brand?
We strive to create images that portray an idealistic and aspirational lifestyle, but one that is potentially achievable to the viewer. This is achieved by careful selection of models, who we find from both professional agencies and by using friends and families and ensuring that our styling is just right.
An elderly man barefoot waterskiing with no hands
2. How do you, in this new media landscape, convey an image that “sells” and seems honest as opposed to the professional imagery of 5 years ago?
As well as constantly trying to reinvent the traditional and popular subjects in a contemporary and relevant style, we always consider how images might be used before we shoot them. This ensures that we do not spend time on irrelevant subjects and keeps us thinking about what clients may want today and in the future. The uploading principle of microstock means that subjects can get from camera to client more quickly than in the traditional business.
Small school child at a computer
3. What’s changed in your mindset? Are all the images just personal based?
Essentially our methods of selecting subjects and shooting have remained the same over the years. We take the view that it’s still the same clients buying pictures but they are using a different model to source the images. Regardless of the price clients still require the right image for the job and will not compromise on quality just because an image is at a lower price.
Image of a woman after yoga relaxing
4. What is the biggest challenge facing Monkey Business?
Like all companies in the business we are working through a time of great change in the industry and economic uncertainty worldwide. I think these challenges are the same for everyone at the moment.
5. What do you ask yourself when you are shooting an image?
One simple question. Will it sell?
Paris Brest with mixed berries and cream
6. Subscription vs. a la carte downloading? What is your opinion of the different microstock pricing model’s and how they affect your bottom line?
The great thing is that both these business models offer real choice to clients. There are pros and cons to each one of course but by offering choice and variety to our clients creates many more opportunities for sales.
7. What are some techniques you have learned over the years to help you get your images seen and sold?
We have sold successfully over the years both through our own direct websites and through our distribution partners. Strong relationships with our partners have always been vital as it helps us to understand what subjects they need.
8. How was Monkey Business started and who is involved in the business?
The company is owned by Cathy Yeulet who was the creative force behind Bananastock. Bananastock was one of the most successful RF companies and sold to Jupiter Images. One of the reasons that Cathy chose to sell at that time was that she could see the market changing as microstock and subscriptions were beginning to emerge. After two years of shooting for Jupiter Cathy has chosen to enter the microstock industry and has been joined by Mark Butler in sales and Ian Allenden in production, the same team that made Bananastock so successful.
9. Image theft has been a problem for a long time. How would you suggest photographers go about protecting their work when they have found it misused or blatantly stolen?
This has been a long term problem and it will be interesting to see if selling images at low prices has the effect of encouraging people who would have stolen images to pay. Either way any misuse should be robustly defended by both agencies and photographers.
10. Where do you see the microstock industry 5 years in the future?
Microstock is still developing and the business still has a long way to grow. It is an innovative part of the market and the challenge is to continue that innovation both photographically and through sales models. Most importantly we need to listen to our clients to see what they really need.
11. How did you come up with the name Monkey Business Images?
We just like the name and it was a natural progression from the previous companies name Bananastock.
We like it as well and I hope this helps give some of the contributors at Cutcaster things to think about when planning and shooting what they think will sell. To license Monkey Business’ Images check out there Cutcaster studio here.