Typological Analysis of Contemporary Photo Agencies

Download paper
Maria A. Romakina

Senior Lecturer at the Chair of Photojournalism and Media Technologies, Faculty of Journalism, Lomonosov Moscow State University, Moscow, Russia

e-mail: romakina@mail.ru

Section: Modern Journalism: Subjects and Issues

The author investigates photo agencies, a special type of media organizations whose activities are related to the creation, production and distribution of photographic content. The author conducts a typological analysis of 108 photo agencies, the sample of results (22 of them) being presented in detail in the form of a table in the article. Typical features (organizational and economic status, types of activity, type of information product, audience, area of collection and dissemination of information) are identified on the basis of typological studies of news agencies and of the media system in general. Some of these features are divided into sub-features. The initial hypothesis that the variety of contemporary photo agencies might be divided in clusters, and units within each of them gravitate towards internal homogeneity was confirmed. The leading feature turned out to be the type of information product, the sub-feature – “type of photo content”, which revealed a close interrelation primarily with organizational and economic status, and in most cases with other features. The author proposes to distinguish four main clusters of photo agencies, and those that cannot be attributed to any of them to consider hybrid. The study also found that the majority of photo agencies expand the range of information products mainly through the increment of other types of content (audio, video, multimedia, etc.); also, but less often, through the increment of photo content, which indicates the multimediatization and hybridization of contemporary photo agencies.

Keywords: photo agency, photo bank, photo archive, photojournalism, The TASS Photo Agency, Getty Images, Magnum Photos
DOI: 10.30547/vestnik.journ.6.2020.108135


Amar M. (1996) Aux origines de l’agence Magnum [The Origins of the Magnum Agency]. Vingtiиme Siиcle. Revue d‘histoire 52: 137–139. (In French)

Bityutskaya V. V. (2018) TASS v sisteme informatsionnykh agentstv novoy Rossii [TASS in the System of New Russia’s News Agencies]. Kul’tura i tsivilizatsiya 8 (6a): 5–11. (In Russian)

Blaschke E. (2016) Banking on Images: from the Bettmann Archive to Corbis. Leipzig: Spector Books.

Caujolle C., Bolloc J., et. al (2006) Agence Vu’ gallerie: Photo Poche No 107 [Agency Vu’s Gallery: Photo Poche No 107]. Arles: Actes Sud. (In French)

Chapnik G. (2016) Pravda ne nuzhdaetsya v soyuznikakh [The Truth Does Not Need Allies]. St. Petersburg: Klaudberri Publ. (In Russian)

Chéroux C., Bouveresse C. (eds.) (2017) Magnum Manifesto. London: Thames & Hudson.

Coleman A. D. (2013) Archive and Artefact. The Black Star Photo Agency. Border crossings: a magazine for the arts 32 (1): 64–73.

Danesi M. (2008) Dictionary of Media and Communications. London; New York: M. E. Sharpe.

Desveau D. (2018) Constitution d’une collection, pratique, circuit des tirages photographiques et conventionnement, le point de vue d’une agence photographique historique, Roger-Viollet (1938–2005) [The Making of a Photo Collection: Practices, Prints and Contracts at the Historic Photo Agency Roger-Viollet (1938–2005)]. In Situ 36: 18903. Available at: https://journals.open-edition.org/insitu/18093 (accessed: 28.04.2020). DOI: https://doi.org/10.4000/insitu.18093. (In French)

Fabre M. (2017) La photographie de presse au ban des disposotifs d’exposition numérique. Paris Match et l’AFP sur Instagram [Press Photography Is Banished from Digital Exhibition Devices. Paris Match and AFP on Instagram]. Communication & langage 174: 87–103. (In French)

Frolova T. I. (2010) Informatsionnye agentstva [News Agencies]. In Ya. N. Zassoursky (ed.) Sredstva massovoy informatsii Rossii: ucheb. posobie dlya vuzov [Russian Mass Media: a Study Guide for Universities]. Moscow. (In Russian)

Gale P. (ed.) (2012) Archival Dialogues: Reading the Black Star Collection. Toronto: Ryerson Image Centre.

Good J., Lowe P. (2017) Understanding Photojournalism. London; Oxford; New York: Bloomsbury Academic.

Golubev V. Yu., Mel’nik G. S. (2011) Sravnitel’nyy analiz rynka informatsionnykh uslug v Velikobritanii i Rossii (segment informatsionnykh agentstv) [A Comparative Analysis of the Market for Information Services in Great Britain and Russia (the news agencies segment)]. Vestnik Sankt-Peterburgskogo universiteta. Seriya 9. Yazyk i literatura 1: 230–242. (In Russian)

Gunther T.M., Thezy M. (1988) Alliance Photo: Agence photographique, 1934-1940 [Alliance Photo: Photographic Agency, 1934-1940]. Paris: Bibliothèque historique de la ville de Paris. (In French)

Hall St. (1973) The Determination of News Photographs. In St. Cohen, J. Young (eds). The Manufacture of News: Social Problems, Deviance and the Mass Media. Beverly Hills; London: Constable, Sage. Pp. 226–247.

Heap S. (2020) Getting Started in Stock Photography: 2020 Edition of the guide to success in microstock photography. Kensington: Backyard Productions LLC.

Herschdorfer N. (ed.) (2018) The Thames & Hudson Dictionary of Photography. London: Thames & Hudson.

Horton B. (2010) Associated Press Guide to Photojournalism, 2nd edition. New York: McGraw-Hill Education.

Huteau J., Ullmann B. (1992) AFP: Une Histoire de l’Agence France-presse: 19441990 [A History of the France-Presse Agency: 1944–1990]. Paris: R. Laffont. (In French)

Ilan J. (2018) The International Photojournalism Industry: Cultural Production and the Making and Selling of News Pictures. London: Routledge. DOI: 10.4324/9781315178783

Kobre K. (2016) Photojournalism: the Professionals’ Approach, 7th ed. Boston: Focal Press.

Leblanc A., Dupuy S. (2017) Le fonds Sygma exploité par Corbis [The Sygma Fund Operated by Corbis]. Études photographiques 35: 88–111. (In French)

Leroux G., Moriniere H. (1998) La photothèque en ligne de l’agence France-presse [The France-Presse Agency’s Online Photo Library]. Gazettte des archives 180-181: 113–114. (In French)

Lubben K., et. al (2017) Magnum Contact Sheets. London: Thames & Hudson.

Mogilevskaya E. V. (2008 a) Informatsionnye agentstva v internete: osobennosti i printsipy funktsionirovaniya: dis. ... kand. filol. nauk. [Online News Agencies: Characteristics and Operation Principles: PhD philol. sci. diss.] Tol’yatti. (In Russian)

Mogilevskaya E. V. (2008 b) Tipologicheskie priznaki informatsionnykh agentstv v Internete [Typological Characteristics of Online News Agencies]. Vestnik VGU. Seriya: Filologiya. Zhurnalistika 1: 207–213. (In Russian)

Neubauer H. (1997) Black Star: 60 Years of Photojournalism. Köln: Konemann.

Nicey J. (2013) Citizen Contributions to Professional News Circuits: the Case of the Photo Agency Citizenside. Media International Australia Incorporating Culture and Policy 148: 51–58. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1177/1329878X1314800106

Pedon E. (2007) Les livres photographiques d’agence: regards et discours critiques sur les fonctions du photojournalisme [Photo Books of the Agency: Views and Critical Discourse on the Functions of Photojournalism]. Recherches en Communication 27: 57–69. (In French)

Peres M. R. (2007) The Focal Encyclopedia of Photography: Digital Imaging, Theory and Applications, History and Science. 4th edition. Amsterdam; London: Focal Press.

Picault C. (2007) Usages et pratiques de recherche des utilisateurs d’une banque d’images: l’exemple de l’agence de photographie de presse Gamma [Uses and Research Practices of an Image Bank: the Example of the Gamma Press Photography Agency]. Documentalise-Sciences de l’Information 44 (6): 374–381. (In French)

Pominova E. (2013) Rossiyskiy fotobank «Lori»: struktura, funktsionirovanie i mesto na rynke stokovykh izobrazheniy [The Russian Image Bank Lori: Structure, Operation and Its Place in the Stock Image Market]. MediaAl’manah 5: 30–36. (In Russian)

Pominova E. (2011) Fotostoki i fotobanki – novoe sredstvo obespecheniya vizual’nogo kontenta [Photo Stocks and Image Banks: a New Way to Provide Visual Content]. In V masterskoy fotozhurnalista [In the Photojournalist’s Workshop]. Moscow: Lomonosov Moscow State University Publ. Pp. 118–132. (In Russian)

Romakina M. A. (2012) Postsovetskoe prostranstvo glazami fotografov Magnum i Vu [The Post-Soviet Space Through the Eyes of Magnum i Vu Photographers]. In Materialy Mezhdunarodnoy nauchno-prakticheskoy konferentsii «Zhurnalistika-2011» [Proceedings of the International Research-to-Practice Conference “Journalism-2011”]. Moscow: MSU Faculty of Journalism Publ. Pp. 302–303. (In Russian)

Romakina M. A. (2019) Dokumental’nost’ fotografii i problema avtorskogo stilya (po materialam Magnum Photos) [The Documentary Nature of a Photograph and the Problem of Author Style (based on Magnum Photos materials]. In Fotografiya kak dokument: predely konstruirovaniya obraza. Materialy konferentsii: elektronnyy sbornik [A Photograph as a Document: the Limits of Constructing an Image. Conference Proceedings: An Electronic Collection]. Ekaterinburg: UrFU Publ. (In Russian)

Salyakhova N. V. (2005) Rol’ i mesto agentstva «Frans-Press» v mirovykh informatsionnykh protsessakh: dis. ... kand. filol. nauk. [The Role and Place of the France-Press Agency in the Global Information Processes: PhD philol. sci. diss.] Moscow. (In Russian)

Sapunov V. I. (2006) Zarubezhnye informatsionnye agentstva [Foreign News Agencies]. St. Petersburg: Mikhaylov V. A. Publ. (In Russian)

Shkondin M. V. (2007) Periodicheskaya pechat’: sistemnye osnovy tipologii [The Periodical Press: Systemic Foundations of Typology]. In M. V. Shkondin, L. N. Resnyanskaya (eds.) Tipologiya periodicheskoy pechati [Typology of the Periodical Press]. Moscow: Aspekt Press Publ. (In Russian)

Shkondin M. V. (2010) Sistemnye kharakteristiki SMI [Systemic Characteristics of Mass Media]. In Ya. N. Zassoursky (ed.) Sredstva massovoy informatsii Rossii: ucheb. posobie dlya vuzov [Russian Mass Media: a Study Guide for Universities]. Moscow: Aspekt Press Publ. (In Russian)

Silberstein-Loeb J. (2014) The International Distribution of News: the Associated Press, Press Association, and Reuters, 1848-1947. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1093/ahr/120.5.1864a

Surhone L. M., Tennoe M. T., Hennsonow S. F. (2011) Rapho Agence. Beau Bassin: Betascript Publishing.

Taran A. (2008) Fotografiya v kontekste publikatsii. Nravstvennyy aspekt v rabote fotoagentstva — postavshchika izobrazheniy. Ch. II [A Photograph in the Context of a Publication. The Moral Aspect in the Work of a Photo Agency, an Image Provider. Part 2]. Vestn. Sankt-Peterburgsk. un-ta. Ser. 9: Yazyk i literature 1: 329–331. (In Russian)

Torosian M., Higdon P. (2013) Black Star: The Ryerson University Historical Print Collection of the Black Star Publishing Company: Portfolio Selection and Chronicle of a New York Photo Agency. Toronto: Lumiere Press/the Ryerson Image Center.

Vartanova E. L., Viren G. V., Frolova T. I. (2013) Tipologiya informatsionnykh agentstv [Typology of News Agencies]. Vestn. Mock. un-ta. Ser. 10: Zhurnalistika 3: 6–30. (In Russian)

Voytsekhovich K. A. (2005) Informatsionnoe agentstvo Assoshieyted Press v usloviyakh sovremennogo informatsionnogo rynka: dis. ... kand. filol. nauk. [The Associated Press News Agency in the Context of Modern Information Market: PhD philol. sci. diss.] Moscow. (In Russian)

Voronov V. S. (2016) Agregatory izobrazheniy na finansovom rynke: pritok svezhego kapitala i investitsionnye riski [Image Aggregators in the Financial Market: the Influx of Fresh Capital and Investment Risks]. Nauchnyy zhurnal NIU ITMO. Seriya «Ekonomika i ekologicheskiy menedzhment» 2: 1–11. (In Russian). DOI: 10.17586/2310-1172-2016-9-2-1-11

Warren L.(ed.) (2005) Encyclopedia of Twentieth-Century Photography. Volume I, II, III. New York: Routledge. DOI: https://doi.org/10.4324/9780203943380

Zapol’skaya A. B. (2014) Proizvodstvo novostnoy fotografii: analiticheskie resursy sotsial’nykh nauk [Production of News Photography: Analytical Resources of Social Sciences]. Vestn. Samarsk. gos. un-ta 5 (116): 30–36. (In Russian)

Zasoursky Ya. N. (ed.) Sistema sredstv massovoy informatsii Rossii [The System of Russian Mass Media]. Moscow: Aspekt Press Publ. (In Russian)

Zlobina E. V. (2016) Stokovaya fotografiya v sovremennoy mediakul’ture [Stock Photography in Modern Media Culture]. In N. P. Pavlova (ed.) Cherepovetskie nauchnye chteniya — 2015: Materialy Vserossiyskoy nauchno-prakticheskoy konferentsii: v 4 ch. Ch.1: Literaturovedenie, lingvistika, SMI, istoriya, filosofiya, politologiya [Cherepovets Scientific Readings – 2015: Proceedings of the All-Russian Research-to-Practice Conference: in 4 parts. Part 1: Literary Studies, Linguistics, Mass Media, History, Philosophy, Political Studies]. Cherepovets: ChGU Publ. Pp. 62–64. (In Russian)

Zoe S. (1986) Blak Star Picture Agency: Life’s European Conn ection. Journalism History 13 (1): 19–25. DOI: https://doi.org/10.1080/00947679.1986.12066618