Tuesday, 30 November 2010

Finally - photos from Dungeness

I posted the first one a couple of weeks ago. Finally I've processed more and found myself favouring black and white and am pleased with the outcome.

Sorry no slide show - photos are now here:

Photo Art Prints - Dungeness - Images by Scott Hortop

Wednesday, 24 November 2010

Stock photos for small businesses

If you are a small business and that is looking for images for your website or for brochures then at the Light Touch Library we have set up a straightforward mechanism for you to get at those photos with minimal fuss.

Before getting onto the detail of that, why not take advantage of savings of at least 10% that are made available from time to time to all those who follow Light Touch at Facebook or Scott Hortop on Twitter. There may be a saving that is current now but if not and your need is not urgent then by following us then one should come along in a matter of days.

Back to the photo you wish to purchase. Here's what you need to do:

1. 'Add to Cart'
2. Select the Download tab
3. Choose the "Personal Use" option. Disregard what you otherwise see on this page.
4. You'll now see important text that you should read and understand. It's reproduced below. If you are in any doubt, what's in capital letters is also explained below.
5. Make your selection from the sizes available and click "Add to Cart" if you might want to add other images or "Add and Checkout" if you are done.

When you buy an image through this route with its advantageous pricing you will note the following explanation at checkout:

This image is for your PERSONAL USE only or use as a RIGHTS MANAGED IMAGE on your SMALL BUSINESS WEBSITE or in BROCHURES. You must not use in other ways and THE USE MUST NOT CONFLICT with the interests of INDIVIDUALS OR BRANDS seen in the images.

IMPORTANT! This is not a 'ROYALTY FREE' image. YOU AGREE YOU ARE SOLELY RESPONSIBLE FOR THE WAY YOU USE THE IMAGE. Please read the STOCK PHOTO HELP link. If in doubt, take legal advice.

If you need further explanation of the terms in capital, see below:

You may download this file to use it to make prints to display at home. Read the PERSONAL USE conditions in the Content Licensing Agreement  - also available at checkout.

You may download this file to use in your small business website or in brochures. Read the RIGHTS MANAGED IMAGE conditions in the Content Licensing Agreement  - also available at checkout.

In the content licensing agreement is the following term:

2.2 Use of the Licensed Material is strictly limited to the use, medium, period of time, print run, placement, size of image, territory and any other restrictions specified in the Invoice. Licensee may utilize the Licensed Material in any production process that may be necessary for the intended use specified in the Invoice.

For avoidance of doubt, the website and brochure uses may not be mentioned in the invoice but are specifically allowed when an image is purchased through this option.

A company with turnover not more than £5.6 million & number of employees not more than 50 and not part of a group of related companies that in total exceeds these numbers.

The web presence promoting the goods or services of the small business.

A paper handout promoting the goods or services of the small business.

Just because an image is made available on this site does not make it appropriate for use by any business. Many images on this site are not suitable for commercial use - they are made available for use editorially only by newspapers,magazines or book publishers. If people or brands are featured then they may take exception to your business using their image. This is a complicated area - you should use common sense. See When can you use photos featuring people or businesses commercially?

A way of licensing images that allows you great (but not complete) freedom in how you use an image.

You are not purchasing a ROYALTY FREE image. You are purchasing a right to use an image on you small business website or brochures. If you use the image in other ways then other fees will be payable for that use as shown in our BASE PRICE COMMERCIAL USE calculator - an example is applied to this image.

When can you use a photo featuring people or businesses commercially?

In my previous post I highlighted how a small business might prefer to use this image:

rather than this one.....

But if the former type of image is not available from the any Royalty Free ("RF") image libraries and if that's because the image is not suitable for commercial use (in the eyes of those libraries) then how could your small business possibly use this image?

What you have to remember is that RF suppliers know they are in the main selling to people who do not want to know about image licensing. But whether they want to know it or not, when someone buys an RF image they are signing up to a huge agreement that allows the RF image library, model or photographer to sue them if the image is misused. If you don't believe me read an RF license agreement!

The issue of releases

As a user of a Rights Managed image, you have to pay more attention to what's going on. So what is the starting point for the business that wants to use this image?
  1. Is there a model release? Does the seller of the image vouch for the people in the photo giving written permission for the photo to be used commercially? If so, life is easier. More people can use the image in more ways. But there is no model release.
  2. Is there a property release? Does the seller of the image vouch for the businesses in the photo giving written permission for their names and logos to be used? Again, if this is the case, life is easier. But there is no property release.
Basic stuff. So with no releases let's now think about one uncomplicated way in which the image can be used - editorially. Indeed the expectation of me, the photographer, is that this is how the image is most likely to finish up being used.What does editorially mean? Here's examples:
  • In a newspaper or magazine - to illustrate an article
  • On television news 
  • In a blog on the internet 
Just like for a commercial use, payment has to be made for a license to use the image in these ways. Yes - that includes in a blog.

So how about commercial use? Advertising? On a website?

If I have to generalise, the answer is 'no' - but I don't like generalising because that is what the RF libraries have to do and there are exceptions and if as a business you really want to use the image then there will be ways if you are the right business using the image in the right way.

First of all, it's normally pointless approaching the photographer. How you use the image is about you and the content of the image.

Let's assume that you are a business in the Lanes area of Brighton, not competing in any way with the businesses whose signs feature in the image. There are two approaches you can adopt:
  1. Go ahead and use the image. The hotch potch of commercial signs implies nothing. The way in which you use the image should mean nothing too other than "Come to Brighton Lanes, see our shops, soak up the atmosphere" - because that is the way in which you intend to use it. (I'll deal with the people below).
  2. Pop around to your neighbours and let them know what you are doing, hoping to get more people to your business, to the lanes, to use their businesses too. The nature of people having a bad day means that this can sometimes go wrong but at least you've tried. Now, I'm not a lawyer (I'll repeat that I'M NOT A LAWYER!) but even if they say no then I think you could use the image anyway because if they are stupid enough to take you to court you'd win, but really it's not worth the hassle because you are being stupid if you then brazenly provoke a confrontation!
For this image, I'd favour approach 1. The fact is that the businesses featured would probably never know about the image and if they do see it they'd think nothing of it. If there was one business prominently featured over the others and the image was primarily a photo of that business rather than the street scene then it would be a different kettle of fish. Go and get permission!

So what about the people? It's important that the image - and the way you use it - is in the context of a photo of the Brighton Lanes rather than the people featured. You should not be selling a product that might suggest in any way that the people who are incidentally featured in the image support or are modelling for the product. Having considered the situation sensibly you again have two options:

  1. Go ahead and use the image. You may make the unsafe assumption that the people featured will never know anyway, but importantly if they do see the image then again they probably won't mind in the slightest. Of course you could be unlucky; but in UK law they anyway would be most unlikely to be able to claim damages. It's been tried - they are incidental to the scene and really what damage is being caused? Again, I am not a lawyer and you should consider the specifics of the situation. For example, if you happen to be a major UK retailer using this image in national advertising then the story may be different.
  2. Try and find the people and ask!
In all this use on a website or in a brochure is going to be probably less of an issue that use in an advertisement. In all this I come back to the words "Be sensible!".  Think about how reasonable people and businesses would act. What if it was you? Or your business?

If you want to be totally safe in life then use RF libraries. And don't drive a car or cross the road.


It is possible to use images with character rather than blandness. You do have to think about what you are doing but if you are blessed with common sense that should not be too taxing. And the photos may cost more, but you'll get over that when they start benefiting your business.

Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Spot the difference! (Or, why's that damn stock photo expensive?)

You hear it all the time - you want a sparky image for your website and the web designer says 'Oh, we'll just stick in a few cheap stock photos". Then when you see the photos they're either irrelevant to your business or they are the same bland images you see on everyone else's site. What's going on? Welcome to the restricted world of Royalty Free stock photos.

Restricted? Royalty Free images can be used as I wish (you may say). If you bother to look at the huge license agreement you sign up to when buying a Royalty Free photo then you'll realise you're wrong, but that's another story.

The restricted world that I'm talking about is the people free, banner free, logo free world of Royalty Free. Here's an example of what I mean......

Brighton's Lanes is a tangled web of narrow streets with businesses and shops and shoppers and tourists squeezed into an atmospheric area which pulls in the crowds. Let's suppose that you run a business on those streets and you want a photo for your website that shows a little of what the area's all about because people will then make a special journey to your business rather than go to a more boring area. You want a photo that's as cheap as possible naturally, but at the same you want a good photo because if that photo makes the place look as if it's worth visiting then that photo will help sell lots of your stuff!

You've heard of istockphoto as a source of quality images. And indeed it can be. But when you go along and search on Brighton Lanes Shops you'd be surprised to find only one photo. And that's a rather disappointing image of a dirty looking street sign.

Now, if you pop along to Light Touch's library and searched on Brighton Lanes Shops then you'll see at least five images - and they even feature the lanes and shops! There's nothing special about this image but for you, in your location, you might pick this image as being cool to use:

You 'Add to Cart' and how much????!!! Why were you expecting to pay a dollar? Well, here's the same image that has been subject to a few changes that would allow it to be sold on one of those dollar a photo sites, if they allowed it on. (istockphoto certainly wouldn't because of fundamental quality issues as a result of the alterations).

Can you spot the differences? Other than instant blandness.

That's a game for you to play at home - but answers below!

What's going on? Well fundamentally if photos are royalty free and the general perception is that then means that you can use the images how you wish then the suppliers of those images have to be ultra cautious about which images are made available. And since permission can't be obtained from random shoppers to feature their faces, and businesses to use their names and logos, well that means that this sort of image simply isn't available royalty free.

Which means it's never going to sell in tens or hundreds. In fact it will probably never sell. However it's the sort of image that can be sold in the alternative 'Rights Managed' photo marketplace where the buyer has to specify how the image is to be used and the large business pays a lot more to use the image than a small business.

With images like this, rather fewer than one in ten will ever be sold in any shape or form. And that's why that damn stock photo is expensive. It would not exist if the photographer had not gone out and speculatively shot, processed, prepared, uploaded, keyworded many more images, most of which will never sell, and then spent marketing time and dollars to try and get those images in front of buyers.

But an important point is it CAN be sold as a Rights Managed image. And on that basis it (maybe) CAN be used by your business. Maybe. Whether it can be used by your business is another story which I'll deal with separately (see the link) but let's assume that it is OK to use the image - you've then got a choice:

1. Use a cheap royalty free image and put a lot of words beside it trying to explain what the Brighton Lanes are about, or...
2. Use an image which tells the whole story.

People surfing the web are fickle. If it looks boring, they're off. Use an image that captures their interest and their in. What are those additional sales worth? Suddenly the alternative image can seem very cheap indeed.


  • All the shop names have been blanked out.
  • Logos too
  • The faces have been blurred.
  • Because many RF image suppliers would insist that the people could still be recognised, fancy bags have been obliterated and clothing altered.

Saturday, 20 November 2010

London Christmas Lights 2010

Yesterday I went to the British Journal of Photography's Vision event in London. Before returning to Brighton I took off to the West End to see what this year's Christmas Lights had to offer.

Photos of London Xmas Lights 2010

Thursday, 18 November 2010

On the road to Dungeness

When one has a camper van and it starts getting cold it's easy to forget that it needs a little exercise, so that's what it got on Monday when I took off out of Brighton and headed East finishing up at Dungeness.....

On the way there I passed a large static caravan park at Camber Sands and was struck by the turbines of the wind farm looming in the background. The wonderful pastel tones were violated by that wheelie bin so if you click through to the final version (Art photo print - Camber Sands Holiday Park) then you'll see how much better it looks.

I'm not really a pastel person (well, look at the colour of the camper!) so when the sun finally came out as I hit Dungeness I was immediately struck by the opportunities that were on tap. In retrospect I think I could have made more of them but I was pressing myself to get back to Rye to grab some images in the narrow streets there before the sun went too low.

So here's some primary colours of Fishermen's Huts at Dungeness:

While at Dungeness I was surprised to see only one other person sporting a camera - if there ever was a destination for a photo Meetup group then this was it! But don't tell anyone, because I want it to myself.

Of course I got many more images than these & will be getting around to getting them online in some shape or form. As it happens I never did get to Rye in time to get any decent photos, I kept stopping far too often on Walland Marshes chasing cows....

Thursday, 11 November 2010

Walberswick to Alamy - sales? Am I mad?

This is one of those posts for stock photographers obsessed by statistics and wanting to know what other stock photographers are up to, so everyone else should avoid - other than to look at the photo of course!

Over the half term holidays my wife and I visited friends in Suffolk on on the way back took a small detour to visit the village of Walberswick, just outside Southwold. I took photos on our stroll around and, the skies and light being pretty good, have just processed and keyworded them from the point of view of getting them online as stock or art prints.

The first place to consider is Alamy. But oh dear, no less than 1,148 images are already there! I really should have done some research on this because let's get real, how many photos of Walberswick are going to be sold off Alamy in a year? Any at all?

"Alamy Measures" tells me that there have been 20 searches in the last year that include the word "Walberswick". But it reports zero sales. I'm inclined to believe this but instead let's conjecture that each search resulted in a sale. This is rubbish, but it's a good game.....

With typical returns per image sale at Alamy now being about £30 the ten images that I'm adding to the mix have the statistical likelihood of earning 10/1158 * £30 * 20 or £5.18 in the next year. If I spent an hour processing these images then I'm still not up to the minimum wage. And 20 sales is a fantasy anyway.

But having processed the images I may as well upload them, adding to the gross overpopulation of Walberswick photos on Alamy.

So where else shall I put them? Well, first place is my own library at lighttouch.photoshelter.com. The setup at Photoshelter is such that there is very little prospect of a stock sale there - but these are just the sort of images which should go down well as prints so if you are after photo prints of Walberswick to spruce up your walls then go and take a look!

And another place? I shall put two on iStockphoto.com. I have been experimenting with images there and one thing I have learned is that if the images get through quality control (tougher than Alamy) then for these two images (not ten) my statistics tell me that I will earn more than the £5.18 per year I fantasise about earning through Alamy. They will not be sold at rock bottom prices - at least not the $1 per image which is often touted. Once I've priced them a decent size file will be sold for £10 - £25 - not a lot of money, no, but within the budget of small businesses who would rather steal images than pay the silly prices in the Alamy calculator.

Oh, what? Wait a minute! Should I worry about the Alamy calculator?  http://www.alamy.com/customer/help/low-res.asp - even Alamy are selling images for $5.Yes, silly prices......

Wednesday, 10 November 2010

A favourite view in Lewes....

Breweries are not always the most scenic subjects but this photo of the Harvey's Brewery in Lewes - see it bigger at the link, has that glimpse of the South Downs that makes more than a little difference. Of course I'd rather be inside....

Photos from Vintage at Goodwood festival now online

It's been a while since August but I've finally put my photos from this year's first Vintage at Goodwood festival onto my new online library for stock and print sales at lighttouch.photoshelter.com.

I hope that these photos capture a lot of the atmosphere, from the people and the stages, the first evening at Goodwood racecourse through to the final performance of Joy Division's Unknown Pleasures by Peter Hook. For those who attended who'd like to be reminded of the event, this slide show can be shared, and for those who'd like a more tangible reminder prints can be ordered, lovingly produced by Spectrum here in Brighton.

Stock photos and prints from Vintage at Goodwood Festival