Campaign Portfolio 2008: Introduction

A gem, a spark, an inspiration, a genuine thought-judder.

This book, the first of its kind that we have produced, has been compiled with the aim of inducing some of the above in you. Bringing together thin slivers of the collections of some of the world's leading image sources, garnished hardly at all with words, we hope to sharpen your appetite for pictures that have the power to move.

Pictures with the power to draw unexpected tears, create chortles of mirth, stop people in their tracks, make them think, make them buy something, try something, do something, stay brand loyal, start a revolution, change the world ... pictures to win awards. What if?

We gave our contributors just those two words with which to introduce their selections. Their power is more than matched by the pictures that follow.

Yet behind these potent images lies an industry in flux. Never since the introduction of photography more than 250 years ago has the volume of images been growing so rapidly. Technological advances have made the medium accessible to many. But the task of managing that mushrooming content cannot be entirely automated.

Images are complex reflections of the world around us. Interpreting a brief and delivering the appropriate art cannot merely be a matter of correct keywords and search in today's semantic web.

Managing photographic assets and freeing up ad agency creatives and photographers is the job that archivists, image libraries and agencies have been performing for years. They have become specialists in anything from colour, space and interpolation through to privacy, trademark and copyright issues. Their role is also in preserving historical collections which might otherwise be destroyed.

The UK, which has a long reputation as a nation of eccentric collectors and creators, has more specialist image collectors, more picture libraries, than any other country in the world.

Now, image libraries are moving into marketing sound as well as images (note Getty Images' acquisition of Pump Audio last year to create a "one-stop shop" of sound and vision). New technologies are forcing new business models and all is up for grabs.

The British Association of Picture Libraries and Agencies is keeping close tabs on how the working practices of those who buy images are altering, with the aim of developing business structures that best meet their evolving demands, both in the UK and across the globe.

Digitalisation is, naturally, the motor that's driving such change. But, in this world of e-mail, website and digitalised phone transactions, BAPLA's Picture Buyers' Fair on 7-8 May (www.bapla.org.uk), is likely to provide a useful counterpoint of good old-fashioned networking in person and picking up tips on just how to improve that lava stream of digital workflow.

We hope you enjoy the images that follow. What if they also make your job easier?

- Suzanne Bidlake, associate editor (reports), Campaign.