The slow drone of a 16 hour flight becomes a vague memory as soon as one arrives amidst the organized bustle of millions in Shibuya central station, Tokyo. In the stock photography industry we’re always keeping in touch with our associates by email, phone, and meetings at conferences such as PACA , CEPIC, Visual Connections. However nothing beats visiting these companies on their home turf, which I was fortunate enough to do recently. In a splendid mix of work and personal vacations, I made my way to my native homeland New Zealand, passing by Japan, Korea, Thailand and Australia to visit age fotostock’s associate agents, content providers and clients. Interesting, eye-opening, informative, these visits help to fortify relationships and get a real feel for how business is going.
Here’s some of the inside news:
Japanese business is based on commitment, dedication and serious relationships. Clients and agents are dedicated to one another, and once a client has established a working relationship with an agent it is very rare that they would change to work with another company. This is one of the reasons why the microstock offer is affecting the market so slowly, as well as the fact that our agents in Japan sell mostly RM images for editorial use, and their clients need a quality of service that could never be found at a microstock level.
The weak economic situation in Japan means that business has understandably been quiet in the past years, but agents are hopeful that 2014 will be stable.
Interestingly enough, one of the highest reaching prices in Japan is in licensing for calendar use. It’s a unique Japanese thing, where every year companies produce their own calendar to gift to their clients and associates. In a society where gift giving is a high art, these calendars demonstrate commitment, professionalism and status, which is reflected in the great amounts of money invested in their production and the national ‘Best Calendar’ competitions that take place every year. Covering topics such as aerial photography, islands, museums, natural parks from around the world, age fotostock’s high-quality travel images are perfect for these calendars.
Microstock has affected Thailand and Korea greatly and most agents have had to offer a subscription model in order not to lose the clients who can only afford to make smaller purchases. However, high-end clients remain dedicated to our agents, as they depend on the reliable customer service when licensing images for advertising.
Bounding back from New Zealand on the return trip to Barcelona, I touched down in Australia to meet some of our direct clients there, mostly editorial companies producing travel and/or educational material. I was struck by the similarities each company had in terms of goals for the year – projects are becoming more universal and online products becoming more of a focus than those in print.
Australian editorial companies cater not only to Australia but also New Zealand, Singapore, Papua New Guinea, Samoa and Indonesia and many more countries in the Asia / Pacific Rim. The companies used to produce different product versions with localized image content for each territory but now their projects have a global reach, and the images of people working and studying (eg. a cover for a high school study package) need to reflect our changing, global society, where people of different ethnicities work and socialize together.
In a country where the aim of having one-computer-per-student is soon to be realized, companies are moving rapidly into producing digital multimedia packages, and in many cases their publications are produced more for online use than for paper. For those photographers out there, our clients forecasted the rapidly increasing use of video in these products, and requested more video content, now!
As well as content such as History, Geography, Nature & Science, they need:
– All types of images of people with mixed ethnicities.
– Preferably Asian looking images more than European ones, since Australia and New Zealand markets cover the Asia /Pacific Rim.
– Authentic business images with people of mixed races. Dance/choreography/stage performance.
– Images reflecting cyber safety, bullying.
– Authentic images of people working in Industry.
– Locations & events in the Asia/Pacific.
– Health & P.E, kids playing sports.
– Adults and children in design & technology environments.
And for further inspiration, our Japanese agents requested images such as:
– Artistic flower images.
– Aerial images.
– Lifestyle images for editorial use, in particular families eating, their housing, domestic routines, from all across the world.
To those of you who I met along my travels, thank you so much for your kindness & hospitality. We’ll continue to work together to keep the business a lucrative and enjoyable sector for the years to come.