John: Rick, I understand that you as the CEO, principle creator and chief builder of Blend Images, a young and very powerful inventory bureau owned and operate by photographers. You get a lengthy history in inventory for a shooter, an entrepreneur also in direction. Would you fill in the details in your expertise in inventory?
Rick: I graduated from Rochester Institute of Technology at 1990 with a BFA in Photography and headed west along with my then girlfriend, Megan, who had been a PhD student at UC Irvine in California. I had been fascinated by inventory photography at the late 80’s when I stumbled upon among Westlight’s ancient carvings. Obviously I contacted Westlight once I stumbled upon the west shore and ended up taking a job in months of becoming settled in Irvine. In Westlight, I started about the light-table doing research – yanking transparencies in the filing cabinets for customer requests. I then proceeded on to become an Account Executive and eventually a Photo Editor working right with photographers. I, also, started shooting some inventory but it was a little intimidating as I edited work with a number of the world’s best editorial and industrial photographers such as Craig Aurness and Chuck O’Rear Las Vegas models.
Following a rather brief time in Westlight, I had been hired as a Manager of a tiny classic photograph agency in Orange County, CA known as PhotoBank. While a much smaller performance, I liked the chance to work in a collaborative environment and also to have the flexibility to operate equally with photographers creatively and in electronic technologies development both on the side and about the company systems side.
Having been a computer geek as my dad bought me among the very first Apple II in about 1979 while I was in Junior High, I have always enjoyed programming and “get under the hood” every now and then. After Photobank, a close friend of mine bought a software firm which produced applications for Mac users at Real Estate. He requested me to come on board as President and oversee development of the goods.
As I had started to devote a good deal of my time shooting inventory, and I had been quite interested in ancient electronic image databases – such as those beginning to come back on board to get MLS services and Kodak’s brand new inventory online service predicated on PhotoCD, I thought running a software company is an enjoyable change of pace. BusinessEdge ran for approximately 3 decades and we ended up moving to Santa Barbara and getting an ISP and a web-design firm highlighting database providers.
Our first customer was DigitalStock, among the earliest Royalty Free agencies, situated in San Diego. Coincidentally, I was generating stock content for a few of the proprietors of Digital Stock, in precisely the exact same time another proprietor used BusinessEdge applications to run his property business and had contracted together to construct their very first web-site. 1 thing lead to another and I chose to come on board to work together with the owners in creating Digital Stock from both a creative and technical outlook.
We ended up promoting Digital Stock into Corbis, and that I combined Corbis as Co-Director for Commercial Content Worldwide. I really enjoyed my time in Corbis and met some fantastic photographers and produced lots of excellent content. Because of an integration of RF in the bigger RM plan at Corbis, I had been laid off 2001. Frequently opportunity comes out of what one may perceive as a challenging circumstance. Possessing the free time to really shoot inventory was a true boon.
I signed using a couple bureaus, and also did some custom work for Corbis and has been having a wonderful time being a complete time inventory photographer for the very first time in my entire life. My spouse had moved to Las Vegas because she took a role as Professor at the English section. So, I moved from Los Angeles to Vegas (we had been a commuting bunch for many decades), and taken a great deal of stock photographs for all of the typical agencies.
After about 3 decades of shooting, I got wanderlust again and missed the business of working with other people and the entrepreneurial power of this ‘startup.’ During my whole career in inventory there was one unresolved continuous – a dearth of high quality, non-stereotypical, multi-ethnic company and lifestyle articles.
As an image editor in Westlight, Digital Stock and Corbis, it was all I can do to get photographers to truly focus on creating these much desired images. And since the world around me appeared to be continuing to become increasingly more varied, it appeared to me that the time was to “to it” – not only take a few African American pictures, but to actually compile a collection with depth and breadth and also a true mission to make content which helps everyone communicate with one another through advertising and marketing messaging.
So, I knew what I desired to perform, and pitched the idea around with my buddy Jack Hollingsworth, also we have together a listing of photographers we believed could be interested with the thought. I said, “come to Las Vegas and bring your checkbook, I have a idea.” They did, they wrote tests and dedicated to take, and match was born. We began with no graphics and naturally, no earnings. Approximately 4 1/2 years in we have roughly 80,000 pictures, over 70 photographers and earnings only over 6M per year. It has been a fantastic ride up to now.
John: Combine Images is roughly four years old today. By only an idea, to a complete service agency with $6,000,000. 00 in earnings, an advanced and fast growing website, an ownership position in a larger service, and a roster of some of the greatest titles in inventory, Blend is a remarkable success. Would you share with us a few of those aspects having made Blend so profitable?