For drone photographers, selling drone images can be a frustrating exercise. Revenue models often do not recognize the hard work of the artist: For buyers, cheap websites do not always guarantee clear usage rights or that the image was obtained legally. HOsiHO (HSH) – This is a French language piece which means “High, So High” is an aerial photography site designed by artists for artists, offering the highest quality aerial imagery at a fair price.
DRONELIFE spoke to the artist and HOsiHO founder Sami Sarkis about aerial photography, the image business and his livelihood as a contributor to an image bank.
Sarkis has been an aerial photographer for more than 20 years. “I’ve been creating pictures since the early 1980s,” says Sarkis. “Photography and filmmaking are my DNA! On a personal level, I started taking aerial photos of helicopters and private planes in the 90s, and made a very decent living on my archive photos until the late 2000s. “Sarkis bought his first drone in 2011 and quickly learned to love it:” I was impressed by the fantastic perspectives of such a creative tool: a flying camera that can go almost anywhere, “he says.
By 2014, Sarkis was at one point in his career when he was dealing with the biggest stock agencies, but the work had lost some of its excitement. It was then that Sarkis decided to launch HOsiHO: a collection of aerial photographs. “I found there was no offering for drone imagery – and even less for 4K,” explains Sarkis.
“Instead of founding another generalist agency, I decided to start mine in a promising niche market: ultra-high resolution drone images, represented by an agency that offers fresh images that could not be achieved in the past.” From the beginning, Sarkis knew that his website should support artists and provide customers with a high quality product. “I wanted it to be by and for artists,” says Sarkis. “An ‘author-friendly” agency with a macrostock approach in contrast to the numerous microstock websites that give away pictures at very low prices and pay artists with a small percentage. “
The idea was an instant success. From 2014 to 2016 HOsiHO was almost alone on the market. “Buyer demand was high and the market supply was pretty low,” says Sarkis. “We even had a lot of requests for custom drone shots across France.”
In order to meet the demand, HOsiHO set up its own Drone Pilots Network for France on a B2B platform in 2017, with which a customer could request an offer from one of the presented drone pilots. The HOsiHO Drone Network makes it easy to find and book a reliable and talented drone pilot in France without paying a commission on the assignment.
It also means that the HOsiHO collection was collected while on legal flight – something that supports the entire drone industry. “All of our signed employees fly legally in their countries. All of them are professionals who are authorized to take aerial and drone images of drones, helicopters and airplanes or even paraglider and hot air balloons, ”says Sarkis. “This is how they produce original aerial photographs, and legally, in compliance with local regulations. Few photo agencies can say that for the aerial photos they offer! “
“See how many illegal images of cities like Paris, London or New York you can find on other websites and you will get a good reference for what we are doing here with our pilots,” he emphasizes. “We reject images that are not clearly legal, and we also reject applications from amateurs because we really want to provide our image buyers with a quality experience.”
The Drone Stock Images Market and Survival as an Artist
The market for images is global and HOsiHO works with international buyers and contributors, with websites in French, English and English communications. Market forecast predicts that the global images and footage market size will be $ 4 billion by 2025, with growth of around 5% per year between 2019 and 2025 (see full report here).
“This is something very big and very promising, and I believe that with a premium collection of aerial and drone imagery, our company is ready to get involved, even though the market is very competitive and the race to the bottom is a real problem for us represents, both as an artist and as a middleman, ”says Sarkis.
This “race to the bottom” is a harsh reality for many artists, but Sarkis says it is still possible to make a living as an aerial photographer. “I believe the world is more beautiful when viewed from above, and I also believe that Image Bank employees still have a bright future,” says Sarkis. “But today you have to be a multidisciplinary expert to be successful.” Sarkis published the Image Bank Survival Guide to help artists survive and thrive in the current environment.
“It is no longer enough to have talent and an impressive portfolio to be able to really make a living from your artistic and creative work,” he says. “You have to know how to navigate troubled and changing waters. You have to spend time anticipating, analyzing, understanding and making decisions, if possible with caution: because every mistake is a serious waste of time in a universe where everything happens very quickly. “
While artists need to be careful about choosing the middlemen they work with, the demand for drone material is strong, if somewhat less so for drone photos. “We need more and more pictures. The market is looking forward to drone footage, ”says Sarkis. “And we don’t have enough images that cover all the topics and attractions that are in demand on the buyer’s side.”
“If your readers around the world are picking up antennas, are talented, and are not yet selling their images with microstock outlets, then they are welcome to join us as a contributor: There are real ways to quickly sell footage ad stills through us Prices. Above all, we pay the pilot 50% of the sale. “Artists can apply here.
Prices for pictures in stock
HOsiHO’s customer base is diverse. “That’s why it’s so exciting,” says Sarkis. “Every customer has a very specific use and needs and we are always happy to find the perfect images for their project!”
“For the licensing of image collections via HOsiHO.com, a typical customer can be an audiovisual researcher, a researcher for photo archives, a television company, a feature film producer or an advertising agency. We also have companies that buy drone material or still images to enhance their visual marketing with outstanding and unusual aerial imagery. We also sell images to vloggers and bloggers, as well as video game and textbook publishers. “
Sarkis firmly believes that he is not participating in the “Race to the Bottom” pricing, that he has published a call to all image banks to encourage change in the industry. At HOsiHO, prices are set to support the creative writers and agency, and are based on the end-user’s intended image usage and resolution. “Who would have the idea of selling something valuable that is relatively rare and complex to achieve at a ridiculously low price? Obviously nobody, ”he says.
“For HOsiHO and its customers, it is normal that a clip that is only used once in a news program is sold for € 149.00 in 4K (€ 89.00 in HD1080p) and if the footage is for a national or international advertising campaign is determined. Up to € 1,449.00 will be billed for a 4K video used worldwide. It’s a matter of common sense, ”he says.
The agency is well worth the price though: by helping the artists, they get a consistent and extremely high quality product, and the clients get the service they want.
“We’re an artist-friendly agency, but we care deeply about our buyers and always listen to their suggestions and needs,” says Sarkis. “We want to set fair, simple and realistic prices for buyers and artists. We structured the pricing in such a way that creative people are encouraged to produce more and make a living from their art. In this way, not only can the agency grow, but our customers always find high-quality production that is constantly being expanded and renewed. “
HOsiHO is constantly releasing new tools and features for its customers. Most recently, lower rates were introduced for HD1080p and HD720p resolutions. the ability to extract an 8 MPix still image from any 4K + video; and an advanced search function with more criteria (including duration and sorting).
Living in the Pandemic
Like companies around the world, HOsiHO had to adapt and change during the pandemic: Sarkis approached this life-changing event as an artist. “The pandemic was indeed a good opportunity for us to grow and ask our contributors to shoot in their restricted cities,” explains Sarkis. “We wanted to offer a collection of drone images that dealt with the world health crisis. In April 2020 we started to build up a new air inventory on the subject of Covid-19. “
“Our customers have received it with great enthusiasm and we have sold many images that have been used in advertisements, feature films, television news and documentaries. We still have more countries and cities to cover, but the collection now includes around 5000 drone videos and photos. Due to this historical factor, these unique and historical images were also transferred to the offer by the French National Institute for Audiovisual Media (INA). “HOsiHO is now a partner collection of the renowned French institution.
“In a broader sense, nothing will return to normal a few years ago,” says Sarkis. “We have to work with it and find new ways to do business or just live on earth. We have to be more responsible and be aware that our actions as humans have an incredible impact on our planet, therefore on our health and future. “
CEO DroneLife.com, DroneRacingLife.com and CMO of Jobfordrones.com. Principle at Spalding Barker Strategies. Has enjoyed working with and around the commercial drone industry for the past 10 years. Participation and speaker at industry events such as Commercial UAV, InterGeo, Interdrone and others. Proud father of two. Enjoy karate, Sherlock Holmes, and interesting things. Subscribe to all drone things at DroneLife here. Email is [email protected] Make sure you whitelist us in your email to make sure you receive our newsletter. [email protected]