I went to PictureHouse NY this year, not as an exhibitor, but as an image buyer. It was a very rewarding experience. The first, and probably foremost experience was the terribly empty and deserted video footage room. With at most 5 distributors, but none of the big players, they must have stared at each other for a whole day.

This confirms a little bit more what I suspected. The still photo buyers are not the video buyers. While everyone ( not me) is screaming about the upcoming brutal replacement of still photography by some type of moving footage, it is not here. And quite frankly, by what will a photo of a lonely tree in a green field be replaced by . A 3 minute long footage of the same tree? One has to be very careful in making hasty declaration in how the video will eventually replace stills. As everyone prepares or a starting to license video, no one has an offering of multimedia, which I found quiet strange and a little bit sad.

Another point of interest was the always gently chaotic aggregation of completely unrelated content next to each other, tables after tables of pens, t shirt, water bottles, staplers, stuff and mostly pens. It seemed to be more of a competition of marketing pen than a photo industry gathering. One could get two years worth of school supplies and I would not be surprised if some actually do. The second item is bags. Lots of heavily branded bags, which made some image buyers look like walking Christmas trees.

A lot of the agencies had screen displays showing a slide show of their images, which was nice, but one could get really eye sick by seeing over and over the same type of images. Funny how most of the participant spend more money on heavily branded and rather cool pens rather than creating an original source of imagery. Its the copycat game which, as we all know, is currently eating away this industry. It used to be, when you looked at a series of images, you could immediately tell what photo agency they came from. Now it  seems that  there is only one photographer that everyone represents.

There were more commercial stock photo agencies and the few editorial ones seemed a little bit at a lost, especially since they did not have any of the cool little give away widgets.

Beside the guys from Brightqube and their very sexy interface, there was not much to get excited about. It also unscientifically seemed there were less images buyers than last year.

Interestingly enough, only one microstock company was there, Shutterstock, and while I approached them to ask them a rather complex licensing question, I was abruptly answered that if I didn’t purchase their subscriptions model, there was no way we could work together. So much for flexibility. I didn’t even get a free “thing”, not that I wanted one. I guess they are not used to working with human beings.

Finally, there was a whole section, rather deserted and for good reasons, of trade associations (ASMP, PACA, PLUS, SAA and so on). They looked more like a tax fulfillment center than anything related to photography . It is a great idea to include them, especially PLUS, but it better if they had an opportunity to have their brochure in the general PictureHouse bag. Those who would have missed their stand would have an opportunity to read about them further. Or have them participate in the stamp game which always attracts a lot of traffic.

Hopefully, next year will see new and more powerful features and improvement, better traffic workflow, more new and various agencies, millions of extremely wealthy image buyers who cannot stop buying images and just a little less pens and more great images.

and what about the full moon ? not much.

Author: pmelcher

1 Comment

  1. wow. i was there as well and you couldn’t have escribed it more perfecctly. as i walked around with a friend we noted the exact same thing about the footage players. thought equity wasnt even there for some strange reason.

    i also found it funny all the handouts that there were. i personally liked the chapstick from shutterstock but that was bc my girlfriend found it useful and i could present it to her as a gift when i got home ;-).

    i can only imagine all the backpacks and t-shirts being taken home with high hopes of using them, thrown aside, forgotten, then donated and ending up in some third world country with shirts of last year’s superbowl losing team who already had shirts printed up that said they won and thus turned out to be no good after they lost. hahaha.

    classic write up and very good observations. you put into words what some were thinking. loved the tax fulfillment center reference. i felt bad bc they looked so lonely.

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