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Interviews

Niet beschikbaar in
June 2011

iStockphoto's idea of bringing its photographers together to shoot in major cities around the world, known as ‘iStockalypse’, has proven to be a practical and inspirational one. Robert Hull spoke to representatives from iStockphoto and Canon about the importance and benefits of iStockalypse events, particularly the recent one held in London.

 

Click on the video window above to watch a behind the scenes film by Georgia Court of the iStockalypse London event held in early May 2011.

Innovative, irrepressible, irreverent, iStockphoto’s iStockalypse events are for photographers to enjoy, not fear. The creative and editorial photography event landed in London from 2 to 6 May 2011 and served up a feast of seminars, studio/location photo shoots and feedback sessions, as well as Canon technical briefings and support.

Since it started in 2005 – and received its name from one of iStockphoto’s administrators, Pete Rockwell – iStockalypse events have brought together individuals from the international iStockphoto community to share knowledge and expertise. It’s a coming together that mixes education and content creation and is all done in a convivial, nurturing environment.

iStockphoto Project Manager, Content, Elissa Cook, who was the iStockalypse London event co-ordinator, told CPN that putting the London event together: “Took approximately five months from the first discussions to the event, with many people working on the project – some full time.”

 

London joined a prestigious list of iStockalypse host cities, which has included Boston, Barcelona, Cannes, Prague and Istanbul; but the event format stayed true to a successful formula: great settings, superb equipment, unique opportunities and lots of support and advice.

Elissa Cook revealed: “We aim to provide attendees with an incredible experience – an opportunity to learn to work with lighting equipment, models, professional hair and makeup stylists, as well as art directors.”

Morning seminars

During London’s morning sessions the party of around 30 photographers would meet with iStockphoto staff to kick-start the day with a seminar. These included an introduction to editorial photography, what makes a successful editorial photo, creative research, and exploring the world of the Getty Images archive.

Following this, the photographers were divided into teams and set briefs to work on daily studio or street shoots, while the evenings gave a perfect opportunity to review and receive detailed feedback on the merits and pitfalls of the projects.

Andrew Wedderburn, iStockphoto’s Community Manager, who was in London for the five-day event, has seen a natural evolution of iStockalypse. “At the outset, our first events were mostly ways to let people meet in person and to get to know the friends they’d made on the iStock website, but quickly they became photo events. Now they’ve turned into ways for us, as a company, to create a lot of content, and regionally specific content too,” explained Wedderburn.

Each event delivers its own unique atmosphere and as Wedderburn noted, London was a successful experience because: “for the first time ever we were shooting creative stock in the studio. We also had them [the photographers] shooting editorial-style street photography – so we challenged both sides of their brain.”

London on its own was not, it seems, big enough to contain the iStockalypse posse. Not only did all 30 “attendee photographers” board the train for a Brighton day trip but also so did around 40 more visitors who were in attendance for the event’s much lauded social/community aspect. As part of the outing, iStockphoto had rented a hotel (Hotel Pelliroco) and a café (Redroaster Café) to use as photography locations, while there were also opportunities to shoot at the beach. The organisers even hired a “model family” for attendees to photograph.

Advice and feedback

While stimulating debate and practical experience were to the fore, Andrew Wedderburn was also keen to stress the part that advice plays in the iStockalypse story. He revealed: “Feedback is a important to iStockalypse because we have photographers from all skill levels. There are established professionals, who’ve done commercial photography for a long time and know the ins and outs of a studio environment, and we’ve have those who started out in their homes; when they come to an iStockalypse it’s the first time they’ve ever used professional studio lighting, or the first time they’ve directed a model. It’s wonderful because the people who know that stuff help the people who are new to it.”

It is a sentiment endorsed by Frankie Jim (Pro Imaging Professional, Consumer Imaging Group, Canon UK) who was present at the London event and could see how the mixture of experience levels brought out the best in everyone. Jim noted: “I think the concept of bringing together photographers who can see live shoots, see how they are directed, and see what kind of imagery sells is interesting.”

Jim was part of a Canon team that dispensed technical advice and support. The team also provided trials of a dizzying range of Canon cameras and lenses, plus a complimentary printing service for all of the iStockalypse photographers.

 

Having that array of equipment may prove to be a spur to inspiration at a later date, too. As Frankie Jim said: “Most of the guys knew what they were doing, but I think because of the nature of their work they are quite limited in terms of what equipment they have. So us turning up with tilt and shift lenses and extreme wide aperture lenses gave them more creative options to think about.”

Emerging markets

The importance of Canon’s involvement in iStockalypse London was stressed by Elissa Cook who stated: “It was really special to have Canon participate in this event – the guys were incredible. The amount of equipment, the knowledge and the energy they brought helped create an amazing event, they were a crucial part of iStockalypse London's success.”

As for the future, the next iStockalypse has yet to be announced but is in its planning stages. However, Andrew Wedderburn signed off by giving a glimpse of what may be on the horizon: “What we’re interested in now is using the events as ways to get beachheads in new and emerging markets. There’s a whole world of places where the design industry is growing quickly and the need for imagery is strong. There’s nothing better for us than to be able to go to those places and meet photographers and people from the design business, and say: ‘OK, how do pictures look in your advertising?’ and then create them on the ground there.”