The photographers attending the 23rd year of Visa pour l’Image in Perpignan filled the Salle JC Rolland at the Palais des Congres to listen to a prestigious panel comprising of top international representatives from France, Germany, the UK and USA debating Entre Art et Commerce: comment faire marcher la relation fusionnelle photographers-agences.
Moderated by Scott Mc Kiernan of Zuma Press, the panel include Eugene Mopsik, Executive Diretcor of ASMP who flew in from the USA, Maurice Weiss of Ostkreuz from Germany, Anthony Harris of Cultura Creative from the UK, Philippe Schlienger from the Union des Photographes Professionnels in France, Pierre Ciot from ACT, France , Eric Larrouil from Agence VU and finally Hélène Lagrange, an esteemed French Photo Editor.
ASMP graciously sponsored the simultaneous French-English translation which allowed the audience to gain a true international insight into the discussion that covered topics such as the changing nature of the relationship between Agency & Photographer; the Impact of the World Wide Web on selling and licensing images; forms of Marketing; the role of Social Media in Marketing; Pricing Pressure and the devaluing of the Image. Controversy was courted when discussing the role of the “business man” photographer as opposed to the “artist” photographer as were salient issues like commission splits, royalty rates and how low is low for an image.
According to Eric Larrouil le rôle des agences n’a jamais aussi été important que maintenant. Nous avons une opportunité formidable à saisir aussi bien auprès de nos clients qu’auprès des photographes. Face à la multitude d’images qui se répand à travers le net, l’agence retrouve une place centrale auprès de ses clients : elle édite, documente et vérifie les photographies qu’elle diffuse. Elle redevient un partenaire éditorial incontournable. L’agence doit rester en veille permanente et anticiper les évolutions des nouvelles demandes des marchés. Elle doit accompagner le photographe vers d’autres formes d’écritures photographiques ( présentation multimédia, webdoc…) et prendre avantage des nouveaux modes de financement qui y sont liées*.
Anthony Harris stated that whilst once agencies were run for agencies, the balance of power has shifted such that the good agencies understood that putting the photographer at the heart of the business was the route to success. Good agencies have a wide reach, a broad marketing perspective and can market on a global basis in an increasingly competitive world in a way that a single photographer cannot.
Eugene Mopsik summed up the spirit of co-operation in stating Photographers and Agencies must work together to allow for mutual success, not simply survival. We need to ensure that the supply of high quality images will not be interrupted by economic uncertainty.
Scott McKiernan added Education on all levels for the clients (buyer), photographers (creators) and agents (the shop keepers) is not a one roundtable event – it is a daily one. We collectively have a lot to gain from better relations and understanding and even more to lose.
Whatever the conclusions reached, it is clear that this is a dialogue that should be continued and we will be delivering further debates on this and other pertinent hot topics at CEPIC Congress 2012 in London – mark the dates 16th – 18th May 2012.
* English translation: the role of agencies has never been as important as it is now. We have a tremendous opportunity to bring together our customers with our photographers. Faced with the multitude of images that proliferates across the net, the agency occupies a central place for its customers: agents curate, edit, verify and authenticates the images they represent and as such becomes an indispensable partner. The agency must maintain a continuous watch and anticipate new market demands. It must accompany the photographer on his journey of discovery to other forms of photographic communication (multimedia presentation, webdoc etc) and look to exploit all new means and avenues of revenue.