The Lounge: Doug Menuez and his new Stock Site

by Heather on February 15, 2010

Doug Menuez is an award winning photojournalist with 30 years of experience working in many arenas, including long term editorial projects and high profile advertising campaigns. Let’s have a look at a recent campaign:

© Doug Menuez

© Doug Menuez

© Doug Menuez

© Doug Menuez

© Doug Menuez

© Doug Menuez

© Doug Menuez

© Doug Menuez

© Doug Menuez

© Doug Menuez

Yesterday, Doug launched a stock site- Menuez Archive Projects (and there’s a party to celebrate later this week- see below) which puts to use the bounty of images he’s amassed in his considerable career. As Doug says on his blog: Menuez Archive Projects is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and chance to leverage all my years of work, and create a solid new platform to build on for the future phases of my career.

Interesting, let’s hear more from Doug on this project:

Menuez Archive Projects, or MAP, is not just about stock per se, although our first priority is rights-managed commercial advertising. As we launch and grow the collection, it will also include editorial and fine-art imagery, but also have legs in education, documentary film, and other components. This was very attractive to potential business partners as we developed a plan to bring a high-touch, boutique collection of work to what has become a growing (and underserved) niche market in high-end advertising. The range of my work also means that as we scan and develop the archive we are constantly adding tremendous value that does not go away, even as markets change.


Tell me about the “guest curator” part of the archive.

It was important for us to engage with the community in addition to the traditional social networking sites. To that end, we are rolling out a Guest Curator section of the site that allows for invited guests to create a selection of images that connect to them for a particular reason, almost like an iTunes Celebrity Playlist. We think it’s a great way to view images with an entirely different set of eyes. Themes that may escape us or our editing team become very apparent when viewed by a writer, painter, or even art buyer unencumbered by the grind of trying to find a specific image on a tight deadline.


How is the archive going to be marketed—who will be the specific target client for these images?

We’re doing personal sales calls, trade advertising, all the social networking stuff, direct mail, email blasts, SEO, special gifts to our top clients and some selected trade shows. And Stockland Martel, my agents for assignment will also market a curated selection of my images. The target is creatives and designers looking for memorable and compelling images not widely seen before to help differentiate their brands from the typical look-alike stock offerings.

I talked earlier about an underserved market [in high end stock] out there, and I hear it every day when I talk to Creative Directors and Art Producers for assignment jobs. There is an entire universe of people out there who are unhappy with the current stock photo world’s race to the bottom and generic look and feel. It’s also a reality that assignment budgets have been trimmed for years and many creatives are forced to license stock and aren’t happy with what they’re finding.

We’ve built an amazing team and are committed to collaborating with clients and going into the archives to find the right image for their next campaign. For us, it’s about exclusive access to unique images from a singular point of view that aren’t available everywhere—this gives them more control of their message.


How did you deal with the idea of reselling images shot on assignment for other clients? This is likely a naive question, but I’m curious about where the lines are drawn on this. Is there a time period after which anything is fair game? Can you use only outtakes?

Not naïve at all, a key question, and requires some background. We are blessed with U.S. copyright laws that protect creators, so all our work is based on licensing what we are hired to shoot for a given period of time. Occasionally, we will do buyouts of specific images when properly compensated and when it makes sense, such as a car project that is automatically dated by the car. But generally, my policy has been to follow and fight for the accepted trade practice where the rights to everything revert to me after the license is up. We can then resell those images.

The practical reality is more complex in that we have relationships with our clients going back years, in some cases decades, and their needs are paramount and considered in every decision. Typically, corporations change their marketing direction every few years. The life span of a marketing director now is around 16-18 months, and when a new marketing director arrives, sometimes they change agencies and the images they commissioned two years ago are no longer appropriate anyway, whether they owned them or licensed them. And sometimes we get clients who re-license images for long periods—five years and more. So this is a fluid, always-changing situation, and we pay careful attention to the status of each project and image. Because my images were shot to be timeless with the focus on basic human storytelling, the majority of my work remains fresh as it becomes available for resale. Of course, we are constantly shooting new material to update the archive also as we go forward.

Tell me about the party on Feb. 18. Also, is it open to the public?

We are launching our new site on February 14th and wanted to celebrate by making love last a little bit longer this year. It’s our valentine to the creative community. To announce the launch, we’re having a party at our new West Chelsea studio on February 18th. The party is open to the public, but please let us know if you’re coming (RSVP to studio@menuez.com)—our RSVP list is growing by the moment. Aside from the food and drink, we are presenting a show of work culled from my archive on the theme of love observed.

Here’s the invite:

mapinvite

I like the idea of having a guest curator and was eager to do a little curation of my own. It was a last minute thing since the stock site just launched last night. Because I wasn’t able to find any images with the keywords “Gold in Canada”, I used the phrase “Family Day” (holiday in Ontario today). Definitely some nice stuff (along with a few dated pieces too- I guess that’s part of the reality of dealing with 30 years worth of images. In theory, the shots that I liked could be reshot in a more contemporary context- would the same stock fees apply in that case? Not sure.) Here are some gems:

© Doug Menuez

© Doug Menuez

© Doug Menuez

© Doug Menuez

© Doug Menuez

© Doug Menuez

© Doug Menuez

© Doug Menuez

© Doug Menuez

© Doug Menuez

If you’re a shooter like Doug it certainly makes sense to try and leverage your archive and even better to hook up shoots for yourself. Doug recently went to Miami just to shoot work for MAP including a great party series- not sure if they’re all model released or how you go about getting young people at a real house party to sign releases but the shots are for sure sell-able.

I think Doug is right that there is a market for really good stock photography that still isn’t being met by the big stock houses. And, in theory, if you’re an AB who likes Doug’s style (or, if you like Doug and have that personal connection), why not check out his archive first? But I also think that the key to the success of MAP will be the new work- no matter how good the angle is, dated lifestyle does not sell. Sounds like this is a solid part of Doug’s business plan- he has every intention to continue self-assigning work and building the the archive.

I’ve always wondered how much success photographers have from their individual stock sites, we’ll have to check back and see how it goes for Doug and MAP.

And, for more on Doug and MAP check out Miki Johnson’s thorough post on Resolve.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Christopher Beauchamp February 16, 2010 at 1:52 pm

Thanks for the shout-out, Heather. Just wanted to answer a question for your readers raised by your posting. Indeed, all the house party images ARE model-released. Come and get ‘em !
Cheers.

Michelle Solomon February 17, 2010 at 3:00 pm

Although I wish Doug luck, I fear that he will have a tough time making significant revenue from his stock site, particularly because his collection seems to cover a lot but doesn’t seem to have a lot of depth in any particular area – at least none that he’s promoting – so it will be difficult for art buyers to find what they want there. For an alternative approach, check out the latest post on http://www.gregceoblog.com about Hans Halberstadt, who also sells his stock directly, but who specializes in hard-to-find military imagery.

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