Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Interview with Christopher Tvärne, creative director of PhotoAsia

In this interview series, I asked few questions to Christopher  Tvärne, creative director of PhotoAsia, a Malaysian stock photography agency.

  • Can you present us a short history of PhotoAsia and how did you came on board?
PhotoAsia was founded in May 1992 by Doreen Lau. At the time, we were the first local image bank to specialize in the marketing of images of Malaysia by Malaysian photographers. We started out with a stable of only ten photographers, which now has grown to over 100 photographers.
I actually got involved with PhotoAsia largely by coincidence when I was in Malaysia last year. It wasn't something I planned for exactly. I was supposed to find out whether it was possible to implement a payment gateway on the existing website. While doing so, I made some suggestions on how to improve the website. Doreen liked what I did and I discovered that the stock photography business is something right up my street and before I knew it I was hired to expand the business by developing the website and finding new photographers.

  • What type of  licenses does PhotoAsia distribute?
PhotoAsia currently market Rights-Managed, Royalty-Free, Low Budget Royalty-Free and Subscriptions on our website.

  • Did microstock agencies impacted your business or are you somewhat protected in your niche market?
Yes and no. While opinions may vary, I believe that the clients that buy from microstock aren't necessarily the same ones that buy from us. Most of our buyers are advertising and design agencies, who serve clients that can afford and willing to pay good money for images they can't get elsewhere. Specializing in Asian and Malaysian content has obviously helped us a lot and contributed to the success of our business.

  • What are the main challenges to grow a specialized stock agency? Is recruiting new talents in Malaysia difficult?
Back when we started out, it was difficult to convince photographers of the benefits of banking their images with a photo library. We had to resort to creating our own images sometimes to meet with the clients' requirements. Now, with online photo communities, social media and other mediums, it's much easier to connect with new potential photographers. Finding the talent isn't really the most difficult part for us any more: molding and shaping them into successful stock photographers is. That's why we prefer to work with a small stable of photographers.

  • Can you share with us few developments you are going to implement in the near future?

The biggest development in the near future will be the redesign and relaunch of our website. We are still at the planning stages, but we want to introduce many features that will help buyers and contributors alike.

  • What kind of pictures are you looking for at the moment and can you give some advices to aspiring contributors based in Malaysia?

The current market trend is targeting the modern Muslim consumers. In view of this, we are currently looking for photographers that can create and contribute Muslim lifestyle and architectural images for our clients.
The best advice I can give to an aspiring contributor is to shoot consistently. If you want to be a good stock photographer, always keep the client in mind when shooting. Is there enough room for copy space? Would this work for a billboard or a print ad? Don't be afraid to use your creativity. Create images before the art directors ask for them. Anticipating the demand and reading the market trend correctly is the key to being a successful stock photographer.

Thanks Christopher for  taking the time to answer my questions and I wish the best of luck for PhotoAsia in the near future.

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