Interview with Jack Hollingsworth, a pioneer in his field.
John interviews leading photographers about the future of stock photography and other important issues.
Interview with Jack Hollingsworth
Jack Hollingsworth is one of the most well known names in stock photography. An early and very successful pioneer in RF, Jack not only sells stock through Getty, Corbis and his own site, but was a founder of BLEND images as well as Red Chop Sticks and IndiaPhotos. Jack has been described as “Indiana Jones with a camera” due to his constant world travel. Jack teaches, lectures, blogs and has a column in Shutterbug magazine.
John: You have a reputation as someone who is a pioneer, who doesn’t shirk from change, but embraces it, and certainly someone who is an entrepreneur at heart. I believe you are also a realist. In my book, these qualities make you someone who is well suited to dealing with the current market realities. Are you optimistic or pessimistic about the future of stock?
Jack: I’m optimistic about the future of everything. Stock is going through a difficult time right now but it will be back. There will always be a need for images. It might not come back in the same way we knew it, but it will be back.
John: My strategy is two fold: Make the best, most relevant images I can, then get those images in front of as many potential buyers as possible. A huge part of my plan is the development and optimization of my web site. Can you share your strategy for dealing with the future?
Jack: Online. The web is everything. The web is the center, the hub of the wheel that all the spokes radiate from. You have to learn to use web 2.0, learn the tools, learn to explore and exploit what the web has to offer. I am revamping everything, my blog, my site, everything from the ground up.
John: Do you see the consumer as a viable potential client?
Jack: Yes! I don’t yet know how to reach them, but there are millions, and millions and millions of them well beyond the channel of commercial distribution. The money is in getting the photography in front of the consumer. This is an entirely new kind of market. There are 60,000 to 80,000 commercial buyers of stock in the world. That number doesn’t really change. Now, with a push of a button, we can reach a billion people. Think about that!
John: I do think about that!
Jack: We are at a crossroads, an intersection. Very few can continue to have the cool lifestyle of shooting stock that we have had. Now it is about reaching the consumer. It is about building community and then monetizing it. People don’t get this: Our future success has little to do with our past but rather what we do from today on. It is not about your past, what you shot before. It is about what you do from now on. It is about what you shoot now, and how you shoot it. You can’t rely on your legacy. You can be a Micro celebrity on the net in 12 months. It is about developing a fan base. With a fan base of 1,000, or maybe 5,000, you can make a good living.
John: Micro, RF or RM…or some combination?
Jack: Add footage to that as well. All of them are going to be around. It isn’t either or, it is a little bit of everything. Some people will do all of it, some will do two or three of them. You have to find out what works for you, what you love to do and then do it. My priority is first footage, then Rights Managed and then a split between RF and Micro.
John: How about prints? Are you planning on getting into that arena?
Jack: Yes! Possibly through Imagekind, or something like that. Right now I am going through my collections cherry picking the images that I think would make good print sales. I really believe in merchandising. I have big plans for what people can do with my images. It can be coffee mugs and that sort of thing or it can be a whole lot more. We don’t even know all the ways people are going to be using photos.
John: Jack, you are undergoing a major re-branding with your website. When do you think you will have that ready for us to see?
Jack: Hopefully mid February.
John: Is there anything you can leave us with?
Jack: Check out: www.prophotoresource.com I love that guy…I love what he is doing!