The Future of Stock Photography with Pixmac’s Vita Valka

Bob: Hi Vita. Please introduce yourself for those readers who may not know who you are.

Vita: Well I’m a designer from Prague. To have some fun I’ve changed sides the other day. Now I’m thrilled to be the head of the most innovative microstock agency. I love media and the meta language of it.

Bob: You’re already using a lot of new technologies which other agencies have yet to bring on-board, and you have already been publicly praised for your excellent SEO. Can you explain how your team views technology, and outline what you think gives Pixmac the edge online?

Vita: All of our team members are skilled professionals. They really enjoy & love their jobs. To be honest, photography is more or less product as any other. We’ve just optimized the knowledge for photos. It’s nothing more than a tool. You can use it properly or not. Most of the agencies on the market are more photographers than Internet specialists. Guys, wake up! We want some serious competition here 🙂

Bob: Most stock imagery is independent of spoken language, but is instead applicable based more on culture. Do you find that trading globally you have to face this issue, and with significantly different cultures coming online (Africa, parts of Asia and South America) more over the next few years, how (if at all) will geolocation technologies affect the imagery you provide for customers from different cultures?

Vita: This will be an issue of coming years for sure. We already have precise idea on how this will be implemented into Pixmac site. What’s the real Google paradox? Either you’re on the first page or you don’t exist. Same thing with Facebook’s I Like. It’s the same issue with millions of photos in every agency’s database. The content is not an issue any more; It’s relevancy of the search results. I’m disappointed by the fact that so little number of cameras these days have GPS implemented. Anybody knows somebody in Canon or Nikon?

Bob: There are a lot of people concerned about the effect services like Google image-search is having on the ability to find images. Some hail them as the saviour of image sales, others as the devil incarnate. Do you see Google/Bing/Yahoo image indexing as a risk or an opportunity for your agency (or image licensing in general), and how do you intend to mitigate/capitalise on this?

Vita: Nice idea. Google Image search is not an enemy! It’s the same as Napster was not enemy for Music publishers. They just didn’t understand the cultural change and died. It was simply a plaster for extremely high prices of music that became a virtual file. This issue is solved by microstock in general.

The price now reflects the “I don’t mind to pay for it” level and that’s the same thing that made iTunes the winner even that Torrent sites are still here. We are living in a world where margin in hundreds of percent is simply not possible. And traditional stock photo agencies have to realize that otherwise they’ll die as music CD’s.

Bob: Image-theft (both intentional and through ignorance) is rife at present, with search engines making it so easy find images, but with very little information about what rights people have to use the images they find. How do you see technology to educate image-users about image rights developing, and what technologies do you see most useful in converting stolen images into legitimate sales in future?

Vita: I believe in education by price. Jpeg files are virtual. And as they’re not made from solid metal they can be copied easily. That cannot be eliminated by force. The ignorance issue might be easily solved by all those digital algorithms implemented in the files, so the authors can easily track their files and usage. The other thing is that it needs to be supported by search engines. Actually we’ve already tested a project that defines first step in this direction.

Bob: What do you think will be the new big technologies coming into stock photography over the next few years, is there anything on the horizon you see as a game-changer, or has the stock-revolution ended since migrating online to a crowd-sourced model?

Vita: Some people say it’s going to switch from dollars to zeros. Or it’s going to be sponsorship based. Well I’m sure the majority of money will still be the few dollar sales from pockets of small businesses. But obviously diversification will come.

One of the ideas that’s circulating in my mind is the iPad revolution that’s going to happen soon. Imagine digital magazines with hi-res/zoomable photos and imagine Wired or Sports illustrated as your partner, rather than customer. We’ve launched that kind of project on September 1st this year and it’s showing great first results.

Profile: Pixmac – Microstock Photography Agency

Pixmac is a new type of microstock agency… one rooted in the latest technologies, and with an inbuilt understanding of the way the web (and business on the web) truly works.

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