The buyer gets bought ( * with an after thought)

25 02 2008

According to a press release of this morning, Getty Image board has agreed to be bought by San Fransisco based private equity firm Hellman and Friedman LLC for $2.4 Billion dollars. That is more than the estimated total size of the stock photo industry as per Getty Image itself . They had, as many others, evaluated it at $2 billion a year.

Shareholders will receive a mere $34 per share and better take it. H&F has investments in DoubleClick, currently being acquired by Google for $3.1 Billion.

Was the previously announced failed purchase of $1.6 billion a ploy to make this one look really appealing ?Probably.

What does this mean to the rest of us ? It wildly depends if the management team stays or not. There is a good chance they will and take the company private. They might abandon their editorial division as it has become overly pricey and bloated with its recent acquisition of Mediavast and it rising cost of operation, especially in international news. They also might divert a lot of resources towards other revenue streams than photography.

What will be very interesting to watch is whether all the contracts and deals Getty has made over the years with Leagues and others will survive. Usually, agreements do not survive an acquisition, thus forcing parties to renegotiate under new terms. In the line are agreements with the Olympics, Soccer leagues, NBA, AFP and many more.

But its only Monday, so we have all week to think about it.

* => Ok, week’s over. Here is our after thought : On August 2, 2007 , Getty Images, Inc. Issues Q3 2007 Outlook Below Analysts’ Estimates. Immediately th stock takes a plunge from which it will never recover. Immediately soon after, master wizard Johnathan Klein moves to New York. These “warning” as issued by the management. What if Getty management had sunk the stock on purpose in order to perform a cheaper management buy out and get itself rid of annoying investors? After all, it was obvious by summer 2007 that the stock would never reach its legendary $90 or more.

And the current $34 a share is much cheaper that the $50 plus it was just a little more than 6 month ago.

With this disguised management buy out, the executive team is now free to pursue long term projects without any scrutiny from neither the public nor the competition.

Very “conspiracy theory”, indeed .





The root canal

25 02 2008

Don’t take me wrong. I am a big fan of the Pictures of the Year International. They always have a great jury, a great taste and amazing photographers that, for the most part, I had never heard of before. Well, one cannot read all the newspaper of America everyday.

It is a great vehicle for local photographers to be known worldwide but : Their website is the worst I have ever seen. It looks like it was created by a 14 year as a school project on HTML . It is soooooooo painful to navigate and understand what you are looking at, it worse than a root canal.

For example, I am looking at the Second Place in Science/ Natural History Story . A great story on Whale hunting in Indonesia. A job extremely well done, with a the right combination of the grabbing images and informative one. Hardly any need for caption. Twelve that sums it up perfectly. I look for the photographer’s name. None. no where.

story here

I change browser thinking maybe it my fault. Still nothing. I look at other prize recipient. Nothing. No photographers name . Aaaaargh. Not only it took me two hours to navigate but I didn’t even found what I was looking for.

Can someone please help these guys design a site ? Anyone ?





dark, blurry, slightly incomprehensible and borderline boring

8 02 2008

The World Press awards has revealed its winners for 2008. As expected, the picture of Britney Spears having her head shaved off won for the best image of Arts and entertainment. Or wait..it did not. Once again, The World Press has shown its complete disrespect for the world of news in favor of an overly intellectualized vision of the world. A bit as if the judges, once gathered in a room, behind closed doors, had said: “lets kill photojournalism a little bit more this year”

The photojournalism intelligentsia has voted. A closed group of overly self adoring and painfully egocentric intellectuals whose vision of a news photography is closer to the likes of ICP than the masses. They look for the creative touch, the Holga/lensbaby effect, the “je ne sais quoi” that makes a news photograph a work of art. They over think photography to an excess and seem to look for the Picasso rather than the human touch. They do not believe that an news image can be good, if doesn’t carry the touch of a creative artifact.

This years big winner is a blurry image of a tired soldier. Although not taken in a combat situation, and probably because of low light, it is slightly blurry. I don’t care for such poorly taken image. What is so wrong about reality that it has to be altered and given the highest prize in photojournalism ?

Sadly enough, we see the same intelligentsia controlling most of the major prizes worldwide and spitting out the same type of winners. These judges are all friends with each other and spend the rest of the year over analyzing images as if they where reading a Kafka novel. It has to be dark, blurry, slightly incomprehensible and borderline boring.

No wonder photojournalism is dying. Once again, the sports images of this year seem to be the real winners. Amazing images of incredible situation. The rest is dark, so dark. Not just dark subjects, but simply slightly underexposed or taken with low light. The less you see, the more you can imagine. The image is good for what is not there, so you can fill in the blanks yourself. Even the Nature category is full of blood and sadness because a happy image, according to these judges, cannot be a good image.

Lets no forget that politics, for example, has no place in the World Press. We marvel at the John F Kennedy images in the Oval office yet there is not one image of world leaders in action. Between the French election last year, the changing of guards in England and the US election, you cannot tell me there was no great images.

It is a little bit as if, outside of Africa ( Kenya, mostly), Afghanistan and Iraq, the rest of the world stood still. Or, maybe it was not favorable for a nice moody b&w panoramic Holga image. You can almost hear the judges discuss the lightness of being, quoting “The human condition”, while sipping their warm cappuccinos.” This image is so Nietzscheen, isn’t it?”

Certainly not a good year for the World Press. Even more, because, once again, they refused to acknowledge multimedia, one of the most powerful tool of today’s photojournalism. Or, in a socially driven internet, they do not have a people’s choice, where image consumers could vote.

No, they prefer to remain in photojournalism Medieval ages, taking comfort in congratulating themselves for picking the least interesting images possible as to prove there is more to photojournalism than the reporting of the news. If anything, this, and other awards of it kind, are killing photojournalism. They create the false impression that this is the standard to achieve.

If you have time to waste and have really nothing else to do, here are the winners :

World Press

PS: At least I was right about John Moore’s images who, by the way, truly deserved this prize.





Picapp Plus

4 02 2008

I was given an access to Picapp today, the new service for bloggers, created by the company Picscout. For those who have a short memory, Picapp was first mentioned in this blog here. Interesting enough, I only saw images from Getty Images and none from Corbis ( although CEO, Gary Shenk, had announced it on Reuters TV). I played a little bit with it and it seems rather easy to use.

The search is painfully slow, but it is still in Beta. The content is a little bit dull, but then, I am not your average photo blogger. Finally, I am not sure how or when I get paid, if I do, since there is no payment information entry.

I few questions remain : Someone will have to find advertiser for this to work. I am assuming that Picapp will either take the load or outsource it to an ad agency. If that so, it makes the low revenue split into 4 parts ( Getty, Picapp,Blogger, photographer). Not much, at the end, for the photographer.

But then again, it seems, at first look, that all images presented from Getty are wholly owned, so maybe the photographers will never see any revenue.

A few questions remain:
Is there a market for ad generated revenue for images ? Not that I doubt people will certainly use this service but can it generate enough revenue to agencies and photographers ? Since there is no possible way to control what is being written on the blog with the image, it could very well be that I could be advertising for a product or service that I have criticized repeatedly on my blog ?

Will users be able to upload images to Picapp for licensing, competing with agencies ?

On the other side, will big publisher be able to use this, instead of paying a flat fee per image, thus helping in the collapse of image pricing on the web ?

What about political ads. Do I really went to advertise a neo nazi on my website ? I didn’t see any control.

Overall, the idea is great, in so much as it introduces a new licensing model. Will it work ?

You can see the result below:

picApp_publisherId = 571;picApp_imageId = 690;picApp_imageWidth = 200;picApp_imageHeight = 300;picApp_configUrl = “http://pis.picapp.com/IamProd/FlashSite/GetConfig.aspx”;picApp_Picview=”http://pis.picapp.com/IamProd/FlashSite/en/picviewerv1_1.swf”;picapp_numberOfLine=2;ImageServe();JavaScript is not enabled or supported on your browser