Canadian Geographic Photo Club - Does Canadian Geographic use stock photography?
  

Does Canadian Geographic use stock photography?

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In search of the most compelling images for the magazine, CG taps a vast mix of stock photography resources. CG photo assistant Kathy Frankiewicz's searches through freelance photographers' personal websites or makes a request for images from their personal files. Frankiewicz will digs in large online and offline databases called stock agencies to find that perfect photo.


Some magazine CG sections, such as "Discovery" and "The inside story", only require a few photos, so Frankiewicz contacts certain photographers who she thinks may have the images in their files.


"If we're only looking for one photo, it doesn't really make sense to have someone go out and spend the day shooting to get the one shot," she says.


For example, if Frankiewicz is looking for a photo of the New Brunswick coastline, she will contact photographers who have recently been to New Brunswick or who live in the area. This form of stock photography saves the time, money and effort it would take to send a freelance photographer to photograph the same subjects.


"We prefer to use images from Canadian photographers, but we search a wide variety of places to find the stock photos we need," says Frankiewicz.


While CG searches high and low through many sources for the perfect photo, not just any resource will do.


CG only prints the highest quality images so the magazine has to be selective when choosing its sources. Masterfile and First Light are stock agencies that CG frequents because the photos meet its high visual, technical and compositional standards and their websites offer rights-managed photography, giving the magazine publication rights to the images. Licensing rights-managed stock photography also gives CG the entire usage history of the photograph.


"It is important to us because you want to know where that photo has been before and what it's been used for," says Frankiewicz. "[If] one of our main competitors used that image, then we don't want to publish it at the same time."


However, websites such as iStockphoto and Photospin are low-cost stock photography websites that do not offer rights-managed photos.


Rights-managed stock photography may give important information about how, when and where a photo was used. However, it does not tell much about the story behind the content.


"The most important information to have is about the image content like precise location, species and subject information," says Frankiewicz.


After choosing an image, CG will fact check all content in the photo to make sure it is a true representation. If the photo is of a certain place, CG will make sure the location still looks relatively the same today. If the photo is of a certain species of animal, CG will make sure it is, in fact, the proper species of animal which the magazine wishes to depict.


From finding the image to completing the photo research, "the process takes a lot of searching and you need a lot of resources for it," says Frankiewicz.


So, if finding the right image through stock photography takes many hours and resources, why not hire a freelance photographer to shoot something original?


While CG would prefer to use original photos throughout the magazine, sometimes logistically "it's just not feasible," says Frankiewicz.


However, like the magazine's original photos, a huge amount of time, effort and care goes into researching and selecting stock photography to ensure only the highest quality images make it onto CG's pages.


By Michela Rosano


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