I almost missed out on a job with akg-images. The post of picture researcher had already been advertised and the job offered to and accepted by another applicant before I had even heard of akg. Luckily for me, the prospective new employee had to pull out for personal reasons before starting work and the position was re-advertised in the printed version of The Guardian. I am not even sure what, if any, website the jobs section of The Guardian had in 2002. Certainly, when I first started here, the internet was a relatively unknown (and somewhat clunky) presence in the office and I am pretty sure the research team now working in our London office is bored of listening to my stories of “what it was like when I was a researcher”: faxes! motorcycle couriers! filing cabinets filled with prints! loss fees! six-week deadlines on picture lists!
There are also plenty of stories about researchers coming into the office to do their own research at our enormous light table. The researcher would arrive with a stack of papers in his or her hands, with no laptop to help and would plunge headlong into our filing system, pulling out transparencies and prints to be parcelled up to take home. On one memorable occasion a researcher brought along, quite unexpectedly, a lapdog, which dutifully sat under the light table until its mistress had finished fishing through our files.
Now of course, the same researcher would be undertaking the same research from the comfort of her own home, saving herself and her dog the trek to Fulham. With the complete shift to digital we see comparatively little of the researchers who use our images and nowadays even a phone call is rare, so used are we to emailing and ordering online. Which is why it’s so exciting to be attending fotofringe in London for the third year in a row. Fairs like fotofringe, its unofficial predecessor the BAPLA Picture Buyers’ Fair, and its American equivalent Visual Connections, are incredibly important to us for putting faces to names and actually meeting the people with whom we work on a daily basis. We try to attend fairs like these as often as time and finances will allow, and fotofringe’s back to basics approach to the fair with simple tables and a minimal amount of banners and branding makes it a financially rewarding fair at which to exhibit.
I think it’s equally rewarding for the picture professional visiting, too: elaborately built stands like the ones you see at the Frankfurt or London Book Fairs are impressive but also a little intimidating to some people. A number of researchers have said to us that they found the simple, straightforward layout of fotofringe much more conducive to impromptu meetings and discussions about the new collections and photographers recently added to the akg roster… as well as the odd bit of picture business gossip!
So, if you’re in London on 24 April, please do register online to attend this year’s fotofringe. Professional image buyers attend for free so sign up and come and visit us on table H2/1 or contact us to make an appointment for a meeting.