Chances are you’ve seen an image by a Getty photographer – not just full stop, but today. In the last hour, even.
So diverse and pervasive is the esteemed photo agency, that the growing band of Getty contributors casts a wide net all over the globe. Getty photographers cover every major world event, and even the ones that don’t make headlines. And the agency is increasingly relying on a network of landscape and wildlife photographers to fill its needs in other genres.
We recently spoke to Anthony Parkin, Getty Images’ Director of Editorial Content, to find out how the agency finds new Getty contributors.
Digital Camera World: Apart from a strong portfolio, what do you look for in a Getty photographer?
Anthony Parkin: In a photographer I look for integrity, a great eye, consistency and a fresh approach. In their work, I need to see the ability to tell a story in either a single frame or a short series of images, whether it’s a reportage piece or a commercial lifestyle set.
It’s also important to not discount the portfolio, or more commonly a website and blog. This is often the photographer’s first point of contact and you can tell a lot by their presentation, image selection and picture quality.
With so many photographers out there, a well-thought-out site with carefully curated content can be the difference between a call back or a pass.
DCW: What is the vetting process like?
AP: It depends on what the photographer is providing. For assignments, it is often being a versatile photographer in a great location, while with editorial submissions the process is likely to include access, approach and stories that are of national and international interest.
If a photographer combines all or some of these, the chances are we are going to be in touch.
DCW: Can a photographer approach Getty Images, or does Getty Images approach the photographers it wants?
AP: Happily, we receive a large number of approaches on a daily basis from photographers all over the world. That said, for specific commissions, or if we see outstanding content, we often contact new photographers to work with them.
DCW: What is the ideal Getty image?
AP: Engaging, exclusive and unexpected.
DCW: Are there set criteria or standards that must be met in every picture?
AP: As you might expect, we have fixed criteria for all submissions and certain assignments carry additional standards depending on the particular client’s usage. Metadata is a universal requirement and has to be right to ensure the content is accepted and searchable.
Once a Getty contributor is set up, we supply them with all the information necessary, from shoot guidelines to caption style, ensuring they make the most of their submissions.
DCW: Many people think of Getty Images photographers shooting documentary work, but we know a number of landscape and wildlife photographers who shoot for Getty Images. Are these genres a growing part of the business?
AP: Getty Images has an incredibly diverse range of contributors and image partners providing our customers with unparalleled content. Landscape and environmental imagery have always been in demand and we continue to see strong customer interest in Wildlife from our National Geographic collection and also through to our Flickr contributors who bring a new perspective to the table.
DCW: Does Getty Images send its photographers on specific assignments or does it set them free in the world and ask them to send in images from time to time – or a mixture of both?
AP: Through our assignment division, as well as our news, entertainment, sport and creative teams, we are continually sending out photographers to shoot content for us and for specific client commissions.
We also receive material from a trusted network of freelancers, and our Reportage division works with a number of award-winning photojournalists who undertake their own commissions and collaborate with the team to syndicate their stories internationally.
DCW: What’s the oddest assignment one of your photographers has taken?
AP: One of the oddest assignments was sending a photographer on a whirlwind trip across America to photograph alternative theme parks (low key attractions competing with the big names).
It sounds like fun, but due to a fast approaching deadline, the drawback was five different locations shot over 10 days – shoot day, travel day, shoot day and so on, so it was a bit relentless for the photographer.
After nine days he was absolutely exhausted and nearly became lunch, when he and the venue owner got a little too close to the main attractions at Gatorland!
DCW: Photographers often tell us what specs they would like on their next new camera. From your standpoint, what new innovation within the industry would make your job easier?
AP: It is a great time to be working in the industry with HD film capable DSLR’s, 360 Video, 3D, light-field photography and the brave new world of content shot on camera phones.
I’m not necessarily looking for an innovation to make my job easier, but I am looking forward to the technological developments that will empower image makers to produce new and exciting content in ways we haven’t seen before.
Anthony Parkin’s Bio
Anthony Holland Parkin, Director, Editorial Content, develops the merchandising of Getty Images Editorial content through close partnerships with editorial teams globally. Anthony liaises with Editorial Directors of Photography on editing policy, and has recently taken on the management of Getty Images’ lauded annual Year in Focus, as well as concentrating on editorial social media output across all platforms.
Prior to his time at Getty Images, Anthony co-founded photographer’s representation agency, Felix Management, in New York where he was the agent for Robert Erdmann, Julian Broad, Alan Clarke and Trevor Ray Hart amongst others. Anthony returned to the UK seven years ago and joined Getty Images to build two premium editorial collections, before becoming the Art Director of Getty Images’ photo assignments division. He was promoted to the role of Director, Editorial Content in 2012.