03 July 2010

Photo libraries should be about speed

Steam train in the Swabian Alb, GermanyI was sure I had written about this before - but I can't find the post.

I make a point of registering with photo libraries - specifically, tourist office picture libraries - so that I can find images to go with news stories and blog posts.

For me, photo libraries have to have two crucial things...

1) Photos (!) Good ones hopefully.
2) Speed. They have to be quick & easy to use.

Why?

Because the interval between my finding a story idea I want to use and publishing it is counted in MINUTES, not days or weeks.

So, registration is not really an option for me. I don't have time to fill in a form ...yawn... and then wait 24 hours, or 48hrs, or over a weekend, for my application to be approv....... zzzzzzzzzzzz


Sorry, I nodded off there.

For this reason I try to register with as many photo libraries as possible in advance, so I can go straight in.

If I could remember which American state tourism organisation it was, I would, at this point, publicly castigate and humiliate the one who last year refused me a login on the grounds that I didn't have a specific need at that moment for a photo. Morons!

Don't get me wrong. I'm not blaming tourist offices for having a registration system. They need one. However, one thing they could do, is ensure that during "working hours" at least applications are turned around instantly.

Anyway, I only mention this because I've had three contrasting photo-library moments in 24hrs.

Yesterday I thought I might run an item about Star Clippers. I emailed a question and an enquiry to their PR, Mary Stewart-Miller. Within 10 mins she had replied and offered me her own personal login to access the Star Clippers photo library - Result! Mary understands online publishing.

A bit later I thought I'd run an item about flights to Deauville, so I went to the Atout France (French Nat Tourist Board) photo library, for which I have a login. Or so I thought. They appear to have changed their login system (without telling existing users), so my login not only didn't work, it wouldn't generate a 'forgotten password' email. At this point I'm faced with the familiar choice - spend time trying to sort it out, or drop the story, or spend money using a public photo library (I use iStock usually) - which is what I ended up doing. Fail!

This morning, it all works the way it should. I get a release about the 175th anniversary of German Railways. I go to the German National Tourist Office photo library, login and find a photo of a steam train. Bish bash bosh, job done. Result!

Online publishing relies on instantly available images. The destination marketing company, PR, Tourist Office or travel provider who doesn't understand this risks losing coverage no matter how good the story, because bloggers, travel writers and online editors will just move on to the next story with a photo.






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