December 2, 2020

Interview With Rick Becker-Leckrone, CEO of BlendImages Stock Agency

Creative Arts Agency 6

John: Rick, I know you as the CEO, principle founder and chief architect of Blend Photos, a young and extremely profitable stock agency owned and run by photographers. You have a lengthy history in stock as a shooter, an entrepreneur and in management. Can you fill in the particulars on your encounter in stock?

Rick: I graduated from Rochester Institute of Technologies in 1990 with a BFA in Photography and headed west with my then girlfriend, Megan, who was to be a PhD student at UC Irvine in California. I was intrigued by stock photography in the late 80’s when I stumbled upon 1 of Westlight’s early catalogs. Naturally, I contacted Westlight when I landed on the west coast and ended up taking a job inside months of obtaining settled in Irvine. At Westlight, I began on the light-table carrying out study – pulling transparencies from the filing cabinets for client requests. I then moved on to be an Account Executive and ultimately a Photo Editor functioning straight with photographers. I, also, started shooting some stock but it was a bit intimidating as I edited operate by some of the world’s prime editorial and industrial photographers like Craig Aurness and Chuck O’Rear.

Soon after a fairly quick time at Westlight, I was hired as a Director of a smaller classic photo agency in Orange County, CA referred to as PhotoBank. Whilst a considerably smaller sized operation, I enjoyed the chance to operate in a collaborative atmosphere and to have the flexibility to operate each with photographers creatively and in digital systems improvement each on the imaging side and on the small business systems side.

Possessing been a personal computer geek because my father bought me 1 of the initially Apple II in about 1979 although I was in Junior Higher, I have often enjoyed programming and nevertheless “get beneath the hood” just about every now and then. Following Photobank, a close buddy of mine bought a application firm which made applications for Mac customers in Genuine Estate. He asked me to come on board as President and oversee improvement of the goods.

As I had begun to commit a lot of my time shooting stock, and I was extremely interested in early digital image databases – like these beginning to come on board for MLS solutions and Kodak’s new stock on-line service primarily based on PhotoCD, I believed operating a application firm would be a enjoyable adjust of pace. BusinessEdge ran for about three years and we ended up moving to Santa Barbara and becoming an ISP and a net-style firm emphasizing database solutions.

Our initially client was DigitalStock, 1 of the initially Royalty Absolutely free agencies, situated in San Diego. Coincidentally, I had been making stock content material for 1 of the owners of Digital Stock, at the exact same time the other owner made use of BusinessEdge application to run his actual estate firm and had contracted with me to create their initially net-web page. 1 factor lead to an additional and I decided to come on board to operate with the owners in building Digital Stock from each a technical and inventive viewpoint.

We ended up promoting Digital Stock to Corbis, and I joined Corbis as Co-Director for Industrial Content material Worldwide. I definitely enjoyed my time at Corbis and met some fantastic photographers and developed a lot of amazing content material. Due to an integration of RF into the bigger RM tactic at Corbis, I was laid off in 2001. Frequently chance comes from what 1 may possibly perceive as a challenging scenario. Possessing the no cost time to basically shoot stock was a actual blessing.

I signed with a couple of agencies, and did some custom operate for Corbis and was getting a fantastic time getting a complete time stock photographer for the initially time in my life. My wife had moved to Las Vegas as she took a job as Professor in the English division. So, I moved from Los Angeles to Vegas (we had been a commuting couple for numerous years), and shot a lot of stock images for all the usual agencies.

Soon after about three years of shooting, I got wanderlust once more and missed the firm of functioning with other individuals and the entrepreneurial power of the ‘start-up.’ All through my complete profession in stock there was often 1 unresolved continuous – a dearth of higher-good quality, non-stereotypical, multi-ethnic small business and life-style content material.

As a photo editor at Westlight, Digital Stock and Corbis, it was all I could do to get photographers to seriously concentrate on creating these considerably required photos. And as the planet about me seemed to be continuing to turn into additional and additional diverse, it seemed to me the time was now to “to it appropriate” – not just shoot a couple of African-American photos, but to seriously place with each other a collection with breadth and depth and with a actual mission to produce content material that assists every person communicate respectfully with 1 an additional via advertising and marketing and marketing messaging.

So, I knew what I wanted to do, and tossed the notion about with my buddy Jack Hollingsworth, and we got with each other a list of photographers we believed may possibly be intrigued with the notion. I stated, “come to Las Vegas and bring your checkbook, I’ve got a believed.” They all did, they all wrote checks and committed to shoot, and Blend was born. We began with no photos and of course, no income. About four ½ years in we have about 80,000 photos, more than 70 photographers and sales just more than 6M a year. It really is been a fantastic ride so far.

John: Blend Photos is about 4 years old now. From just an notion, to a complete service agency with $six,000,000.00 in sales, an revolutionary and rapidly increasing net web page, an ownership position in a bigger agency, and a roster of some of the greatest names in stock, Blend has been a outstanding achievement. Can you share with us some of the components that have created Blend so profitable?

Rick: 3 items created Blend profitable

1. Our photographers and their photographs. We only brought in prime promoting stock shooters to commence Blend, and we’re seriously choosy with whom we offer you contracts to shoot for Blend. We have a smaller employees and we basically do not have the potential to ‘hand-hold’ shooters who are just obtaining began (but often content to support photographers come across a superior property for their operate.) I think in encounter when it comes to stock. We have 23 owners / investors who founded Blend. There is only 1 of these investors younger than me (I am 40). Why? Expertise counts. I am all for new blood, new tactics, hep, cool, pix. But understanding the ideas that sell and these who have survived, and certainly thrived all through the ups and downs and adjustments in the stock planet are people I want on my group. We had such a robust roster coming out of the gate, that we signed several of our distributors without having displaying them a single photo. They got it. And they wanted to be a portion of it.

two. Our employees. We have a smaller employees only about 9 complete-time staff. But every single, in their personal appropriate, is an entrepreneur. They all have the potential to do jobs outdoors of their primary discipline. In reality, we just hired a new employee to deal with our royalty accounting. But, correct to type, she was 1 of the initially staff at Photodisc and has accomplished almost everything from inventive to sales. Coaching took about three hours. She’s up and operating. We all take the trash out, we all do windows. I only employ persons who have their personal ‘deep bench’ in terms of abilities.

three. Timing. We got fortunate to commence the firm when we did. Every little thing came with each other at the appropriate time.

John: You have twenty-4 founding photographers. There are several who have stated that it would be not possible to get so several photographers to operate with each other effectively. Has that been challenging?

their clientele are bound to do effectively.