Rebecca Swift — Director of Creative Planning, iStock by Getty Images

Rebecca talks to TheNextGag about why now is the golden age for photography, why Getty Images and iStock by Getty Images partner with organizations such as “Lean In” or Pantone and why the need for curation of visual content is growing stronger.

Rebecca Swift is the Director of Creative Planning at iStock by Getty Images in the UK.

Rebecca Swift has been at the forefront of curating images for many years now. Her team released the 2015 Visual Trends Report to help designers better understand how imagery is evolving.

THENEXTGAG: WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN ISTOCK AND GETTY IMAGES ?

REBECCA SWIFT: Getty Images is the world leader in visual communications, with unrivalled content shot by the world’s top photographers. Getty Images proactively researches, sources, directs and curates the highest quality and most relevant exclusive content in the marketplace. It is premium content that elevates visual communications.

iStock by Getty Images is the midstock offering that delivers the quality and value that you can only get from Getty Images, from the original crowd sourced photographer community. The iStock Signature collection, which includes over 9 million images exclusive to the site shares the same curatorial, collaborative relationship with the community.

TNG: I REALLY ENJOYED YOUR TRENDS REPORT FOR 2015. WHAT WERE THE OBJECTIVES BEHIND IT ? AND DO YOU KNOW HOW IT WAS RECEIVED ?

RS: I’m glad you enjoyed it! I was part of team that pioneered the visual trends methodology 20 years ago and have been creating trend reports ever since. We are the only company in the industry to invest in a global creative research team and the trend analysis this research generates is key to informing the creative content you find in iStock’s Signature collection.

We release the information via a webinar that is always well attended and receives the highest ratings. Afterwards, the information is disseminated via social media and articles. Our contributors will use the information to inform their own work and our customers will use the information when discussing their own brand’s visuals or making image choices.

TNG: CAN YOU SHARE SOME INFORMATION ABOUT YOUR LATEST PARTNERSHIP WITH PANTONE ?

RS: The partnership with Pantone is a natural fit — they are the experts in their field and we have the market leading content that brings their colours to life. As our society becomes ever more visual, the use of colour is becoming more and more important. In the upcoming webinar, myself and Pantone’s colour trend expert Laurie Pressman will walk viewers through the power and psychology of colour and then explain how they can use this information to find images that better engage their audience.

TNG: YOU HAVE DEVELOPED A NUMBER OF PARTNERSHIPS IN THE RECENT YEARS. WHAT DO YOU GET FROM THEM ? WHAT TYPE OF BUSINESSES ARE YOU LOOKING TO PARTNER WITH ?

RS: Our partnerships usually grow out of shared goals and complementary expertise. This is what we look for in all our present and future partnerships. Our partnership with the Lean In Organisation for example is the result of the work we have been doing for a number of years on how women are depicted in mass media. This caught the eye of the Lean In organization that is working on changing the conversation about and for women.

TNG: DO YOU BELIEVE THAT VIDEO SEARCH REQUIRES A DIFFERENT TRAINING THAN IMAGE SEARCH ?

RS: The search algorithm for video and stills is the same in terms of keywords and subject matter. However, searching for video will be influenced by the format that the clip will be edited into. Resolution and aspect ratio are offered as filters on the iStock Video search page but it is also possible to search for 4K, Slo mo, gimbal, timelapse, camera movement (pan, dolly, zoom etc).

TNG: I AM SADDENED BY THE RISE OF VERTICAL VIDEOS BECAUSE OF SNAPSHAT. DO YOU FEEL THE SAME ABOUT INSTAGRAM WITH ITS FILTERS AND SQUARE SIZE THAT MIGHT CAUSE A DETERIORATION OF THE ART OF PHOTOGRAPHY ?

RS: I have my own preferences for certain formats and style of photography but professionally I find it fascinating how the discourse around photography is evolving. When I started in this industry, the interaction that people had with photography was sporadic and the language was deeply rooted in professional photography. Nowadays, the language both visually and verbally, is universal.

Most people have adopted the image and video sharing apps and have not questioned the format, instead loving the ease of use or in the case of filters, the more sympathetic view. Interestingly, the experts are now working harder to differentiate through traditional formats, skilled lighting and new viewpoints. The art of photography and the expertise in photography is still visible and fortunately for those of us in the industry, there is a MUCH larger audience now!

TNG: GOOGLE RECENTLY LAUNCHED GOOGLE PHOTOS TO HOST FOR FREE ALL OF OF USERS PICTURES. IT IS A GREAT TOOL BUT IT REMINDS ME THAT NOWADAYS PEOPLE DON’T PAY THE SAME ATTENTION TO THE PICTURES THAT THEY HAVE TAKEN THAN WHEN WE COULD ONLY SHOOT 24 PHOTOS WITH OUR CAMERAS. WHAT DO YOU RECKON ?

RS: The burden of our photography is definitely a contemporary issue. The question of when we will have time to properly document our personal photographs is one we all face. Google have alleviated the problem by offering a “dumping” service and enabling users to search within their own images without the hassle of adding metadata. I can imagine it will be an attractive solution for many.

However, it does also highlight the need for curation and the need for expertise to surface the right images when using imagery to communicate commercially. Quantity is not the answer.

TNG: THE RECENT PRINT CAMPAIGN BY APPLE “SHOT ON IPHONE 6″ WAS A WONDERFUL TRIBUTE TO PHOTOGRAPHY. DO YOU THINK THAT MARKETERS/EDITORS SHOUDL RELY LESS ON EXTREME AIRBRUSHING AND PRESENT MORE HONEST PICTURES ?

RS: The Apple IPhone 6 campaign demonstrates how the quality of smart phone photography is improving at a fast rate. The issue of airbrushing is a tricky one — there is a global trend for more authentic honest imagery. This has come about because of global visual literacy that I talked about earlier. A kid that adds filters to Instagram soon learns that retouching changes the way an image appears. The art of airbrushing is exactly that, it is an art and heavy handedness is immediately identified — whether consciously or subconsciously, we know when something is off.

It is the choice of brand in the end and retouching/airbrushing should be written into the visual strategy.

TNG: ABOUT THE BRAND CAMPAIGN THAT YOU LAUNCHED WITH ALMAPBDDO, DO YOU KNOW IF MORE ADS ARE TO COME OR WAS IT JUST A ONE-SHOT ? WHAT LED TO THE CREATION OF THE CAMPAIGN ?

RS: We have a long-standing relationship with the Brazilian arm of AlmapBBDO. In past years they have created the brilliant From Love to Bingo and 85 Seconds videos — both award-winners at Cannes Lions. This year AlmapBBDO dived into the 170 million images at Getty to curate the campaign unique visual timelines portraying 20 years of change and also went to iStock’s video offering to build the tongue in cheek ads named Space, Mountain and Twister. That’s it for this year but who knows what next year will bring!

Rebecca Swift

iStock by Getty Images

Director of Creative Planning

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