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PAN Interview: Craig Holmes – Partner at food stock photo library The Picture Pantry

Craig Holmes launched The Picture Pantry two years ago, and it’s doing well. We decided to find out the secret to his success.
In a short interview with Photo Archive News Craig tells us why he set the library up, what the best selling image for February was, how he markets the library, which magazines he reads, which platform he uses to listen to music and much more…

Copyright Craig Holmes/Metro Photographic TPPfinal square
Craig Holmes – Partner at The Picture Pantry
Location: Shropshire
Profession: Photographic Partner

PAN: Explain your stock photo library in one sentence.
Craig: Curated collection of beautiful food photography, perfectly styled by photographers appealing to a modern client.

When did you start the library online?
A little over two years ago.

Why did you start the library?
I personally had photographed 8 recipe books and had quite a large collection of food images that were available for stock usage, based on 15 years of photography. So I started selling my own images as stock. Sales started and I realised there was room in the market for a more ‘boutique collection’. From that point, I spoke to a few other food photographers who decided to start selling their images alongside mine – and it really went from there. I have been involved with stock for over 15 years, and really didn’t want to set up another library with millions of images at a mediocre quality – it had to be the finest quality images at a rate that actually makes photographers a living. We didn’t want any pretence to the marketing or pricing – we just wanted beautiful images that clients would want to use. Hence, The Picture Pantry was born.

What sets a specialist food stock photo library like The Picture Pantry apart from the big general libraries and your competitors?
Firstly, we curate our collection to only include photography with a modern, contemporary feel to it – and we stick to that (we only take on around 15% of photographers who apply). We represent some of the most popular food photographers and food bloggers around, many exclusively, which helps maintain that standard. We feel that compared to competitors we may have fewer images, but we make up for that in the quality of the photography. We wanted every page of images to inspire clients as they look through the site.
The ease of the purchase process, and our ‘can do’ attitude, also differentiates us. We are a small team, and if I deal with a client or photographer, I follow that through, immediately.
We ensure photographs are technically excellent – every single image is hand checked for a multitude of technical aspects.
Finally, we are honest and open with the photographers who contribute.
So, essentially, what sets us apart is our quality, at an affordable price.

How long did it take to get the Picture Pantry up and running online?
We are quite experienced at developing web systems, but we would say that developing the site and getting the first set of images ready for sale took around two/three months. Saying that, it is a constantly evolving system.

What DAM system do you use?
We use a variant of the PhotoDeck system.

How do you market the library?
Email, phone and newsletters. Although I am a firm believer in marketing touching every aspect of the business – from initial awareness of our site, to hand holding them through their first purchase. As long as we provide what we promise, then we get lots of repeat customers.

How much would a full page UK editorial magazine usage cost me?
£80 + vat

Do you have image pricing agreements with magazines or per picture?
We work with many magazines, and they all have different needs. So, we talk to them and provide a method of using images that suits their particular needs, whether that is an image pricing agreement, or a price per picture, that is up to them. We are flexible.

How do you market the library to advertising agencies?
We have been fortunate in that many seem to find us. Google has also been very kind to us in placing us near the top of their results pages for a number of food stock search terms, which has helped hugely. As a food photographer, I knew quite a few agencies already, and was able to spread the word. News travels fast in this industry, which again, has been kind to us.

How many contributing photographers do you have?
At the moment, we have 25, but do increase that number each year. Providing the photographers keep producing a viable number beautiful images, we don’t feel a huge need to increase the number of photographers, as this would simply create competition amongst each other. Of course, when we see a beautiful portfolio of images, then we wouldn’t pass up the opportunity of working with that photographer.

What is the most popular food subject stock photo?
Being honest, this varies monthly. One month it can be ingredients, then cakes, then meat….then pizza.

What was the best selling image in February?
Raw fresh meat Ribeye steak entrecote and seasoning on dark wood
Meat was a popular subject in February, like this one ↑ – click it to view image detail and to license it

Do you offer commission photography?
We undertake photography for the library here, but not for third party clients. If we get asked to undertake a commission, and we have a contributing photographer in that part of the world, we do pass the details on though.

How do you keep in touch with what’s happening in the industry?
We always catch up on (ha, good man!), and read Creative Review. Apart from that, I decided long ago that we shouldn’t pay too much attention to competitors, instead, we pay a lot of attention to customers.

When are you not at work? …
I’m always at work!

What do you do when you are not shooting food or selling images of food?
Photography… but of my kids mainly.

Pub or Restaurant?

Cinema or roller skating?

Printed magazines you subscribe to?
Creative Review.

Online magazines you subscribe to?

iTunes or Spotify?
I have had both, but am now using Google Play.

• View The Picture Pantry Industry Link
• View all Picture Pantry articles on PAN
• View all PAN industry interviews

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