Speaking at B&H Monday, March 17

140316_BHSince B&H has started carrying my books, I’ve scheduled a talk there Monday from 4-6. I’ll be outlining the strategy behind my new book, Organizing Your Photos. Registration is closed at the moment, but the website says that you can show up for the event 15-30 minutes early to get a spot.

The event should also be available online at the Event Space website sometime after the event. I’ll post more details as I have them.

Krogh_140312_0709

The Engagement Layer

I love the immersive experience of SXSW. Seeing, hearing, conversing, touching and tasting* a culture is essential to getting a real understanding of it. And this place, at least for this week, is the intersection of technology, media, culture and business. Being here helps to understand the context of what I see from a greater distance in regular life.

Krogh_140310_0467What does SXSW sound like? To me, it’s the nonstop cultural mashup of Girl Talk. It all comes together as a compelling stream of youth, energy and flagrant copyright violation.

One of the things I’ve been investigating here is the ongoing battle for control of something I’m calling The Engagement Layer in mobile and internet. I’m using that term to mean the place that the user puts his attention. (Back in the olden days, we called this “Portal”) The gigantic explosion of Apps, media, social services and big data all come together in the battle for the top layer of that 3×4 inch screen (for mobile) or 10×12 inch screen (for computing).

The companies that control the Engagement Layer – for the time they hold that control – have an immediate opportunity to gather massive wealth. And every few months, some new game-changing technology is introduced that shakes up the landscape.

Note that the Engagement Layer does not necessarily refer to the main screen you log in with. There’s plenty of opportunity in building an Engagement Layer for a specific area of interest. Food, photography, music, social interaction and more can be brought together and presented to the user in subject-specific engagement.

Those who own a chunk of the Engagement Layer want to hold on to it and expand. And there are tens of thousands of startups that are tying to get into the game and either knock off the top players, or, more frequently, sew up existing services to make a new top layer. Some examples.

Twitter v. Facebook
Twitter and Facebook continue their war, but it’s become an open firefight being waged through the API. They apparently have changed the Terms of Use to forbid major broadcasters from running their content on the same screen simultaneously. (I can’t seem to find a reference to this anywhere on the internet, but the sources were very credible.) In this case, they are fighting to provide the Engagement Layer bridge between the internet and broadcast TV.


140312_MakerMaker Studios

I got to see Ynon Kreiz, CEO of Maker Studios yesterday speaking about the way are using a data-driven curation model to create an Engagement Layer on top of Youtube. I hope to do a longer post on what I saw in that session. I’ll quote my friend Emmanuel Fraysse, “That guy’s a killer.” Later in the day, Disney announced that they were in talk to buy Maker Studios.

Getty
I think the Getty move should also be seen in the context of the battle to control the Engagement Layer. It has three things that any successful player needs here. First, engagement in mobile is driven by photos, and they have a lot of photos. Engagement is also driven, under the hood, by semantic connectivity. (By this I mean, “get me from this thing I’m interested in to this other thing I’m interested in easily or automatically”.)

And, of course, Getty has a lot of users, which is often what companies are really paying for in an acquisition. (Facebook paid $19 billion to purchase WhatsApp – a half-million dollars worth of code and 400 million users.)

All of the other discussions I saw in the last few days – including those involving Amazon, Mental Floss, Atavist, Twitter, Dropbox, and a couple dozen other companies I’ve never heard of – all of these discussions could be best understood in the context of a battle for control of some piece of the Engagement Layer.

*In case you were wondering. It tastes like bacon fried rice, with a Monster Energy Drink and Vodka.

 

Krogh_080621_1308

Getty did what?

GettyGetty images are now free.

Okay, so I’m trolling. They are not “free.” But editorial and academic uses of unwatermarked images on blogs can now be done for free, as long as the images are embedded in the blog, rather than uploaded to the blog. That looks a lot like free to a lot of people who publish blogs. Including widely-read blogs. Here’s the link.

At right is my chat tonight with a Getty representative. Relevant passage at the bottom of this page.

So what’s going on here?  This is not particularly surprising to me. I’ll outline it here as succinctly as I can. Let me say that this is opinion, including a fair amount of speculation. I wish I had inside information about what they are up to, but I don’t.


On any other day, the photos on my blog are mine. But today, we make an exception, and I’m using photos from the Getty embed service.

Private equity
The first thing to look at, as we consider the new Getty business strategy, is the ownership of the company. They are owned by the Carlyle Group, a private equity firm. While there are plenty of ongoing ventures owned by private equity, it’s pretty common for private equity firms to buy a company, and then sell it for the parts. (As long as the parts are worth more than the purchase price.)

I’m working under the assumption that Carlyle does not want to be operating a stock photo agency in 20 years, or even 10 years.  At minimum, I don’t see them wanting to operate a stock agency that is in partnership with photographers.  2011 revenue was $900 million. If they made 10% profit, that would be $90m, good for you and me, but a pretty tiny return for Carlyle’s 3.3 billion purchase price. And they have a $1.2 billion loan due in 2016. Sometime between now and then, it would be smart for them to sell this thing off and cash out.

I just don’t think that Getty looks like a buy-and-hold for Carlyle. So what would they sell? I don’t think it’s a souped-up old-school Getty. It’s something different.

And keep in mind we’re in a world where Instagram has opened up the spigot for usage of its 20 billion image collection through the API.

Picscout
Picscout is image recognition technology that Getty bought for $20 million. It was developed to help photographers find infringing uses of their photos on the web. It does a very good job of scouring the web and finding multiple instances of the same photo. Getty has built an enforcement department that collects some royalties for these infringements, but this is a lot of work for a small amount of money (again, in their context).

And it only works for pictures that Getty owns outright. If Getty has a non-exclusive right to license a photo, then it can’t go around demanding money from anyone using the photo. The user might have a valid license obtained from the photographer or another stock agent.  This takes all the automation out of the process, and turns it into a high-cost, low-reward endeavor. This business absolutely does not scale in the way Carlyle needs.


Pinterest
Last year, people were scratching their heads over a deal Getty made with Pinterest. Getty is using Picscout technology to indentify images on the social media site and provides permission to use the photos.  But they are not licensing the photos, exactly. Getty agreed to license metadata. On one level, it’s pretty obvious what’s going on. Getty is not obligated to pay photographers for metadata, so that makes sense (if you’re Getty.)

And on another level it works even better. Getty gets to build and deploy some really interesting new technology that provides licensable connectivity between different copies of an image. So you can connect that cute dress photo on Pinterest to the online catalog is was pulled from. It allows Pinterest to say they are working on a rights solution, while not setting  a precedent for actually paying for photos (which could come back to bite).

Getty makes money it does not have to share. The private equity firm that bought Getty gets a great sandbox to build the business, and Pinterest gets some safe-harbor cred when it tries to be bought or go IPO.

The valuable technology here is not photo licensing or license enforcement. The valuable technology is a semantic understanding of the visual web. Getty is building the technology to tie photos to each other, to the places they are published and how they are shared, and to provide an underlying commerce engine.

(From here out, I’m going to call this “the database”. While it has more elements than a simple database, at the core, like Google, it’s a set of related data.) This database has the potential, in my opinion, to be worth far more than the picture licensing business ever will be, at least in our current hyper-inflated tech bubble.

It’s like what Google can provide, but different. Google Maps is extensible underlying technology. It can be used by nearly any application, business or individual in the world to help them understand context and connection in nearly anything, as long as there is a geolocation component. Imagine if you could do that for photos. Technologies like this are extremely valuable, on many different levels.


This is a photo of Betty, the lady who runs the internet.

It’s about connectivity

Ultimately, the strategy for leveraging Picscout technology is all about connectivity. The database provides connections between images, which enables an understanding of the context of images in a semantic way, a behavioral way, as well as a commercial way. As images become a new language and central to most forms of interpersonal and cultural communication, it’s ever more valuable to understand them in these contexts.

The more robust, ubiquitous, and intelligent the database, the more valuable it is.

So an important part of the business plan is the connectivity enabled by Picscout. But you can get connectivity another way. Embedding images is the ultimate connectivity. The existence of the photo is utterly dependent on the connection between the server and the user remaining intact. This means that the website using the photo is beholden to the service offering the photo. If the hosting stops, the photo disappears. All the photos on this page, for instance.

(This is at the very core of API World. More on that another time).

But even more important, connected web objects like these embedded photos are a means to gather tremendous amounts of information. You can know who sees the photo, who clicks on it, how many times it’s served, to what countries, what times of day, where the viewer came from and where they exit to (to name just a few details).

And if you allow for in-object links, the image can even become a platform for commerce. (Read the snippet from Getty website at the bottom of this page). One day, Getty could decide that  photos of VWs will carry a link to an Amazon store that offers vintage VW parts. They can turn it on, and be in millions of places instantly. The technology to do that is already in HTML 5 and does not require plug-ins or updates by users or anything else. (Check out Stipple if you don’t know what I’m talking about).

Roadkill?
So if the really valuable thing that Getty owns is this connectivity and the semantic understanding of our visual media, what about the stock photo licensing business? It’s certainly a really useful tool for building the database – it offers a whole bunch of useful assets: a lot of images to test on, negotiating power with any social media entity, legal cover for social media companies and official agency for many people in the industry, which allows Getty to implement the database without being bombarded by lawsuits from image creators.

Getty has chosen a strategy (give it away for free, become core service) that is tried and true for company flipping, but much less successful as a long term strategy. To me this speaks very clearly.

When it comes time to sell Getty, the stock photo licensing business – the one where the company partners with photographers and other image makers and does traditional RM or RF or even subscription licensing – will probably be second-fiddle to the technology company. In that context, the most important issue is not screwing up the bigger, more valuable deal. Maybe their image collection is central to the business model, or maybe the far larger set of images outside their collection is more monetizable. The disposition of Getty’s stock photo business is a question mark. They may need to keep and nurture it, spin it off to make a few bucks, or kill it if it’s getting in the way of the bigger deal.

In the end, I think the traditional partnership-based stock business is probably roadkill in this equation, at least from Getty’s perspective. Stock photo partnership is going to be flattened by a truck rolling down the highway that is 100 times larger. Inflated tech money is starting to roll into media and content in a big way. I think we a sale or some other recapitalization of the company before the end of 2016. I’ve actually been waiting for this to start in earnest, and here it is.

Or maybe they just decided to give away the photos for free.

 

Embed Terms:

Embedded Viewer

Where enabled, you may embed Getty Images Content on a website, blog or social media platform using the embedded viewer (the “Embedded Viewer”). Not all Getty Images Content will be available for embedded use, and availability may change without notice. Getty Images reserves the right in its sole discretion to remove Getty Images Content from the Embedded Viewer. Upon request, you agree to take prompt action to stop using the Embedded Viewer and/or Getty Images Content. You may only use embedded Getty Images Content for editorial purposes (meaning relating to events that are newsworthy or of public interest). Embedded Getty Images Content may not be used: (a) for any commercial purpose (for example, in advertising, promotions or merchandising) or to suggest endorsement or sponsorship; (b) in violation of any stated restriction; (c) in a defamatory, pornographic or otherwise unlawful manner; or (d) outside of the context of the Embedded Viewer.

Getty Images (or third parties acting on its behalf) may collect data related to use of the Embedded Viewer and embedded Getty Images Content, and reserves the right to place advertisements in the Embedded Viewer or otherwise monetize its use without any compensation to you.

(Editor’s note: Or the photographer)

DAM Edition 3.0 Postcard.indd

The DAM Book 3.0

Krogh_140218_5460We’re thrilled to announce that work has begun on The DAM Book 3.0.

It’s been nearly five years since The DAM Book Second Edition was released, and I’m really pleased how well it’s held up in that time – the principles and thought processes remain relevant. However, five years is a couple of lifetimes in the tech world.

Cloud services, social media and mobile photography have had a tremendous impact on the way we make, publish, store and organize our photos. And video has also become an important tool for many still photographers.

I’ve continued digging in to the material deeply, particularly over the last year. If you read my blog, you’ll have seen some of my thoughts on where the world of digital photo management is heading.

In The DAM Book 3.0, I’ll be writing about how you can understand and integrate the new tools with your workflow. And the book will help still photographers understand how to get control of the video shooting and management process.

I’ll also be adding a chapter about project management. When your creative needs reach beyond the capabilities of your catalog software, you need to take a different approach to the entire process. I’ll outline how to manage and archive projects when a conventional catalog is not the proper tool.

We’re targeting a July 1, 2014 delivery for The DAM Book 3.0, but we’ll release it as soon as it’s ready.

DAM Book Guides
Another big change is one I’ve already announced. I’m pulling all the software-specific workflow out of the book. That’s the one part of the book that is outdated, and it’s also the part that is best accomplished with multimedia publications. So while the “evergreen” content will remain in The DAM Book, workflow will now be found in The DAM Book Guides.

Splitting the content in this way accomplishes several things. I can target it to a specific task or software package, or even a type of reader. For instance, Organizing Your Photos is written for all Lightroom users, while Multi-Catalog Workflow is written for a much smaller percentage of power users. And I can update these books more regularly.

Upgrade Policy
We know we’re making this announcement much earlier than most publishers would. We consider our relationship to the reader to be a partnership, so we want to keep you informed. And we know that teachers in schools and universities need to do advance planning. So we have a few offers we wanted to let you know about.

If you buy The DAM Book 2 (2009 Edition) after today (March 5th, 2014), you’ll get a $15 coupon toward the purchase of The DAM Book 3.0.

If you have bought The DAM Book 2 (or any of our other books) from us at an earlier date, you’ll get an opportunity to buy the new version at a 20% discount through the first 30 days of release. Yes, that means you get The DAM Book 2e nearly free.

If you bought The DAM Book 2 from someone other than us, Tweet, Facebook, Google+ or email us a photo of yourself with your book, and we’ll put you on the 20%-off coupon list. (Make sure to notify us directly in any case.)

OYP Review by Matt Dawson

I’ve not met Matt Dawson in person, but I know him through the Lightroom beta program. He writes and publishes plugins for Lightroom.

140206_TPG_OYP_Review

He’s just written a nice review of Organizing Your Photos describing the value of the book and the whole multimedia approach. More importantly, he outlines how the book provides clarity in the complex task of organization.

And he agrees that this book will be useful to all Lightroom users, from the novice up through the power user. As I was writing this book, these were my highest goals – to be able to provide useful clarity for Lightroom users all along the spectrum.

I think Matt has also done a good job communicating the content of the book and highlighting the particular sections that were most valuable to him.

So, thanks Matt.

Our ship is coming in…

…but for now, the paperback copy of Organizing Your Photos with Lightroom 5 is backordered. (Paperbackordered?)
MOI_COSMOS2
Our transport ship, the Mol Cosmos has cleared the straight of Gibraltar and is headed to New York right now.

We’ve been thrilled at the response we’ve gotten from the release of our new eBook. Electronic sales have been excellent, and so have sales of the Printed Book/DVD combo. So good, in fact, that we’ve run out of the first shipment, and have to put the paper copy on backorder until early March.

We’ve knocked $5 off the price of the paperback book + DVD on our site during the time of the backorder. In the meantime, you can still buy the electronic version, or get delivery on DVD at the regular price. Note that you can use discount codes with this offer, like the VIP code you get for buying anything directly from us.

The ship carrying the books, The Mol Cosmos, is due to arrive in New York from Singapore on the 26th of February. It will take a few days for the books to clear customs and get to us. And of course, in the internet age, it’s possible to follow along at home. Here’s a link to a (kind of) real-time tracking site for the ship.

Bon Voyage.

PhotoShelter Webinar tomorrow on OYP with Lightroom

UPDATE: The Webinar is full.
I’m very happy to be bringing my Lightroom organizational philosophy of Store, Tag and Create to PhotoShelter’s popular webinar series tomorrow, Friday February 21st at 4:00pm. I’ll spend some time laying out the foundations of an organized photo library in Lightroom.

PhotoshelterPresentationPhotoShelter provides smart web services for professional photographers and others working with professional imagery. They’ve been focused on making a great service, creating tools to promote, deliver and sell imagery for a decade. For many photographers I know, PhotoShelter provides a turnkey storefront that just keeps getting better. You can see how I use PhotoShelter Beam for my portfolio here.

PhotoShelter has become one of the premier photo education entities in the world, and it’s not even their core business. They understand that professional development benefits the entire community, and they’ve been committed to creating informative white papers, webinars, live presentations and more. I’m very happy to be a part of that effort.

If you can’t make it Friday, you can check out the webinar on-demand.

This video shows how Beam works, and I think it’s a really well-done demonstration. I actually made my new portfolio site using the video below as the only guide. (I also used Lightroom’s Publish Services to upload and update the photos, and I show you how to do that in Organizing Your Photos.)

DIGITAL ASSET MANAGEMENT FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS