Meet the client
A Smart Way to the Big Picture
Panoramic had its business model bolted down to perfection in the nineties. “We would only FedEx actual mounted film, original and duplicate transparencies to our clients who examined them on the light table with an optical enlarging lupe,” recalls Doug. Protecting the business against image theft was a relatively straightforward process: Specially designed slide mounts protected each image. If the protective covering was zipped down it indicated that the image was used to create a comp layout. “Back then it was standard practice in stock photography to charge a ‘research fee’ and also a ‘comp fee’,” says Doug. “If original transparency film was lost we could go after the client for damages of up to $2,500 and sometimes more.”
This all changed with the advent of digital photography, which began to creep into the mainstream of image production in the late nineties. Seemingly overnight, Panoramic lost the ability to track possible comp usage. “We also had difficulty showing our images as large as the standard digital display grid favours the standard format file of 2:3. Very much like the original 35mm film being the standard for stock agencies back in the day.”
A lost advantage in film
The brothers needed to find a solution to protect their images – and business – in a digital age far removed from the one the pair entered in 1987, a time when film was the undisputed king. This task was further complicated by Panoramic’s specialty in wide format images. Conventional web solutions resulted in small or cropped thumbnails and previews that failed to convey the significantly larger characteristics of Panoramic’s product. “Ironically, while our oversized film had won the war of the light table against 35mm, the large format panoramics lost their size advantage on the standard image web display grid,” says Doug. Panoramic’s efforts to protect its stock portfolio in the digital age ruffled some feathers. Visual watermarks made their way on to Panoramic’s website in early 2000 but the technology resulted in the image being obscured, making it hard for designers to see the file and show it to their clients. “While our first image searchable website in 2003 did not have visible or invisible watermarks on the downloadable preview-sized images, eventually we incorporated visible watermarks which irritated some clients,” recalls Doug.