Allen Murabayashi Interview, Part III

Wayne: Sites like Ebay gained their market position largely by being first movers. In terms of distribution, however, most of the major players, including the photo agencies, have already digitized. How do you get Photoshelter on the list of sites that the photo editor feels he/she has to visit on a regular basis? You mention, for instance, getting a better critical mass of photographers on your site, but how do you do that?

Allen Murayabashi: I don’t dispute the notion of eBay having a first mover advantage. However, many other sites like HotJobs, for example, were not the first movers. In the photo space, even though sites like Shutterfly, Kodak Gallery […] have existed for years, the Flickr’s of the world still have the ability to thrive as popular, if not cultish, sites.

For PhotoShelter, raising the level of awareness of the product will be a combination of advertising/marketing, and the signing of strategic deals with individuals and organizations. For example, our participation at last year’s PhotoExpo in conjunction with print advertising in magazines like PDN [Photo District News] helped to raise awareness of the product and introduce the brand. Getting top photographers in a variety of fields helps to legitimize the product to the masses. And creating strategic partnerships with organizations like the Eddie Adams Workshop allows us to cross market.

On the buy side, we need to continue to grow the number and quality of photographers using PhotoShelter, while always refining our search technology. The way to get a photo editor’s attention is by creating a one-stop shop. Photo editors like Getty because they can find a stock image of a gorilla for their feature article, photos from Iraq, and pictures of Shaq all in one place. The SportsShooter Virtual Agency on PhotoShelter is an assemblage of close to 100 sports photographers around the world with their combined archives. This is an example of a destination for sports editors because there is [one], a large number of photos, and [two], a high quality of photo.

Building PhotoShelter is a slow process of education for both photographer and buyer. Most photographers assume they have to give up 50% of the sale to move an image. Most buyers assume they have to deal with the large agencies to get images of high quality on a regular basis. We’re trying to carve out an alternative for both.

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