Web Wandering
Staying On Top Of The Technology With Seth Resnick

Photos © Seth Resnick, 1999

For Boston based photographer Seth Resnick and many others in the industry the regional markets have transformed into a global marketplace. What was once a conceptual dream has become a reality. Resnick, a commercial, editorial, corporate, and fine arts photographer for the past 20 years, has an active and productive web site. "As photographers," he says, "we should utilize new technologies that offer us the ability to enhance our acquired skills. The web is growing at a rate that has been unsurpassed by any other form of media in history. Over 197,000 people are signing on every day. Speed and bandwidth are being increased with Digital Subscriber Lines (DSL), cable and T-1 lines. I have a dual DSL that allows me to move a 15MB file in about 21/2 minutes and I pay only $79 a month for it. Two years ago it would have cost $3000 a month. The individual photographer can be a player in a global game now, participating and competing in real time. We can change a portfolio for a specific client in an instant, deliver a stock image to Indonesia in a blink, and collect funds from foreign vendors with the click of a button."

Resnick, a dynamo with an artistic sensibility, describes himself as a 42-year-old fireball of energy who believes in 30 hour days. His site was birthed in the form it is taking now in January of 1994, though he went on the web in '92 and recalls how there were only 300 web sites that weren't a branch of the government. "Just being able to change my name from standard helvetica to bold face was a huge deal," he recalls. "I was on a chat group called Delphi and it was mind-boggling to think I could communicate with someone in real time."

Today Resnick's site is an exceptional feat of planning, technology, and vigor. Constantly updated, he explains that it is like the nightly news. "People are not going to look at it if it doesn't change." He suggests that if you are planning to employ someone to update your site you had better have a huge budget and the best bet is to learn how to do it yourself. "The web is weird," he explains. "You don't see what you get. Visually you and I see the same thing on that web site, but what goes on behind the scenes in code is the key to being found. There are very talented designers who can produce a beautiful site but know nothing about code and there are guys from MIT that can write code but know nothing about design. Even in professional web design firms it is hard to find designers who are technologically and graphically advanced."

Resnick's stock business provides a large part of his income and three or four years ago it was hard to sell his own stock. "If you wanted to market a picture in 17 countries your only mode was through a stock agency," he says. "They had the upper hand and you paid 50-50 catalog fees. The web has changed that and a lot of long-term agencies are disappearing or being eaten up by large conglomerates. It is not because Tony Stone or Corbis has all the money behind them but because the large agencies have very substantial web development in place for distribution now. They are realizing that someone like me can compete neck and neck with them. When someone goes on the web to look for a picture now I have as much of a chance to be found as does Tony Stone. If you go onto the AltaVista search engine and type in `stock photography research,' Seth Resnick comes up first and in the others it appears in the top five listings. This has taken lots of programming and the key is that I can do it because I have learned the technology and can now compete with anyone. It is no longer a matter of who has the most money, but rather of understanding how the web works. Being found is what it's all about and it is becoming scary to the big players as photographers learn how to reach out around the world."

Resnick's site goes far beyond the usual artist's showcase. However, do not expect to just walk in. Visitors are tracked through a registration page so that privacy is ensured and his images don't become public domain. A comprehensive site, the homepage links to his portfolio, stock images, research, picture stories, stock pricing tables, a global database of photographers with their e-mail addresses, and an up-to-date exhibit of his hottest selling images and their history. He shares his own favorite sites with practicing photographers and soon-to-be pros, giving four stars to Gary Gladstone and Jack Reznicki's virtual photographic community as well as to Stock Photo Research that is dedicated to providing photographers with a place to be found online.

"Photographers should understand that the web is only a tool," Resnick advises, "not a key to success. It is a means to make an existing business more efficient, but you must have a flourishing existing business to start with. The web can make it all work a little better but it is not going to take a dying photographic business and make it into a successful one. Your vision as a photographer is no longer enough to make you successful. You must have a business know-how. We are no longer going up against Joe Shmoe designers--we are going up against business conglomerates like Time Warner and McGraw-Hill corporations. But the web gives us the power."

What is Resnick's "down-the-road vision?" "A Polaroid or digital camera with a cell phone built into it so I can go on site, talk with an Art Director, log on to his site and resolve any problems that may have arisen on location. It would be Iridium satellite phones like they used on the Mount Everest expedition--imagine, all satellite--I can be in the middle of the Sahara desert and still tied to the rest of the world."
Resnick's site is at www.sethresnick.com and his editorial group web site, an information source with a huge discussion group, is www.editorialphoto.com.