My Week: Christina Vaughan of Image Source

The stock photography entrepreneur on training, thinking European, and working in three dimensions...

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Last Updated: 31 Aug 2010

We’ve just launched a new cross-media product, so that’s taking up a lot of time at the moment. I started Image Source ten years ago as a agency specialising in still photography, but over the last few years the market has been opening up, partly thanks to online budgets. Customers often aren’t satisfied with static images – they want flash, or video, or linear photography. We’ve done a lot of research into how our customers buy images, and we found increasingly that their campaigns needed to work across media – web, TV, and handheld devices as well as print. So it’s a natural evolution of our brand to apply our high production values to the linear world, as well as producing still images. But it’s been a big learning curve for us to think about creating an image in 3D rather than just 2D!

We first launched the idea at a conference in Dresden in June. A large proportion of our sales come through our distribution network, which covers 80 countries worldwide. So we introduced the idea to our distributors, and showed them some of the shoots we’ve been doing this year. Between now and September 1st, the plan is to get them familiar with the product – so they know what it looks like, how to price and sell it, and what technology the customer needs to make it work. It’s really exciting because we can really see the opportunity there – sometimes you have to really explain things to people, but when you show this to them they can immediately see how they’d use it. It’s just a question of how we get it to market.

I’ve also just been elected president of CEPIC, our European trade body. They first approached me about a year ago; the previous president was looking to retire, and I think my name came up because I’ve gone through all the different stages of a business (I started Image Source on my own and grew it to the big international network we have today), so I can identify with both smaller and larger agencies. At the moment, CEPIC isn’t terribly modern in its culture or approach; I feel it needs to reinvent itself and make itself more relevant. I’m currently working on a manifesto and a business plan – trying to make a break for the future, but without making people feel disengaged or alienated. The biggest job will be to get rid of the huge amount of bureaucracy – but I think if we can figure out what binds us together, and make the body very transparent and communicative, it could be a very powerful voice.

And the thing that’s keeping me sane through all this is training for the London Triathlon on August 1st. I have done one before, in my younger, fitter days! But this is the first one I’ve done when I’ve had so much other work on. It’s been interesting trying to fit it into my schedule, but I honestly think that I would have really struggled without it. I get up at 6am and go for a 40 minute run in Hyde Park with my dog, and then a swim at Imperial College, and it just crystallises my thoughts for the day. When I get to the office my days are usually very long, and I’ll be sitting behind a desk or in meetings, so to be active before work really focuses the mind. I’ve had times in the business when I’ve done no exercise at all, and I felt a lot more drained – since I started exercising I have a lot more energy. Although come August 2nd I’ll be lying in!

It’s obviously a challenging time – more so than any I can remember – not just because of the economy but also because of technology. We still see a lot of opportunity, but in the last year we’ve had to think a little smarter, and work a little harder. And I think that’s a good thing: in many ways I’ve enjoyed the last year more than any since I started the business. It’s definitely been more challenging, you’ve got to be on top of your game, and outsmart the trends. But it’s a really stimulating time.


Christina Vaughan is the founder and Chief Executive Officer of Image Source, the world’s leading producer of royalty-free stock imagery. She's also a judge for this year's NatWest everywoman awards - the deadline for entries is July 31, and you can enter at www.everywoman.com.

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