By Sandeep Maheshwari
Since the time imagesbazaar.com started, I had very clear ideas on what the market was about and what I wanted from the company in terms of deliverables. I had plans and I knew what the public wanted. But boy, was I in for a revelation!
When we launched the site, naturally, we had to conduct a lot of photo-shoots. There was this particular shoot that brings a smile to my face even today, whenever I think of it. The theme of the shoot was ‘tribal’ and thus we hired models, make-up artistes, photographer and the rest of the crew. We created the whole atmosphere and look of a tribal setting in a nearby park for the shoot. Post the shoot, when we saw the photographs, the whole team agreed that it was our best photo-shoot up until then.
It was our first year of operation, and optimism ran high, even if it came at the cost of realism. We were so impressed with the shoot that we decided to include some photos from it in our calendar. Soon, the calendar was sent to everyone we knew in the industry, and we waited with bated breath to see how it would be accepted.
The only feedback arrived in my inbox a couple of days later. This gentleman who was with a renowned ad agency (I won’t name him here) had actually torn up the calendar, dumped it in the trash can, taken photos of it and e-mailed them to me. Along with the photos were two questions for us to answer: “What do you think of yourselves?” and “How could you even conduct such a shoot?”
I sat down with my team and looked at the glass half full. We took the feedback on a very positive note since it was indeed constructive criticism. It was our wakeup call. I called the gentleman and thanked him for his feedback. I also told him that it was because of him that we were moving up to the next level. He was naturally not expecting to hear from anyone in imagesbazaar for a long time. Until then, we were producing what we thought was right. It jolted us into understanding and producing what our clients thought was right.
It is no surprise that till date, not a single image from that shoot has sold. It became laughing stock for us, more than anything else. We are glad that we got the gentleman’s feedback when we did. The longer it took to reach us, bigger our blunders would have been.
Of all the shoots that we did in the initial days, hardly any images have sold till date. The reason is very simple. We were not good at it at that time. Stock photography looks very easy from the outside, but it is anything but that. Now, I can say with confidence that we understand stock photography not just in India, but in any part of the world. Now, we produce content that is up to the mark even in the US and UK.
As Jim Horning once said, “Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment.”