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Miki Johnson: How did the idea for the Menuez Archive Projects arise?
Doug Menuez: After Stanford Library acquired my archive they began to preserve, research, and scan the 250,000 images from my Silicon Valley documentary project from the ’80s and ’90s. A few years ago they called and said their budget was cut and asked if I had any ideas for funding.
I was sitting on a couple hundred thousand model-released, timeless lifestyle advertising images that we’d often thought about doing something with, but I was always busy with assignment work. This was the catalyst. I was very lucky to meet an experienced and creative entrepreneur, David Mendez, and together we wrote a business plan around selling high-end stock to this growing niche in advertising. Amazingly, we managed to secure funding from investors despite the down economy.
MJ: Who do you imagine being the primary audience and/or buyers for the archive? What kind of imagery is it providing?
DM: Ad agencies seeking never seen before, intimate, emotionally-compelling moments from everyday life for high-end ad campaigns. We have been getting a lot of calls over the past few years as more big brand campaigns go to stock and creatives seek images that are more special and not so widely seen as what’s offered by the giant houses. We are a boutique and are bringing old fashioned research and service in our collaborations with creatives on their campaigns. You can search our archive easily, but you can also send your layouts and we will custom search and present the results to you.
We are including a lot of my personal documentary work that is released, and we just completed our first shoot in Miami, covering a wide range of stories, including a working mom, an afternoon with a Hispanic family, a teen house party, Parcours daredevils, an older boomer couple traveling, and much more.
What’s exciting is that we researched and found real stories of real lives, just as on any other personal project I do. These stories and images are therefore compelling and authentic, but also model released. We also have a variety of editorial material, some historical, some current, and we are selling limited edition prints of my fine art projects.
MJ: How does MAP fit in with your larger business plan?
DM: MAP is a huge breakthrough for me in that it allows me to develop all the work I’ve done over the years, and create revenue from material sitting in boxes. That new material from assignments and stock shoots will help me stay relevant and replenish the archive over time.
I have so many projects and images that it’s hard to finish any one thing. MAP will provide a platform to build on for the next phase of my career. That includes continuing to produce documentary projects, films, and books.
MJ: How do you plan to publicize your collection of images? Will they be indexed for online searches, for example?
DM: Yes, the images will be indexed through our own website, PACASEARCH and search engine optimization. We will also be using as many channels as possible to get the word out and are taking ads in Communcation Arts, doing direct mail, email blasts, Facebook and Twitter. But the most important will be our existing clients.
We have also partnered with my agents Stockland Martel to distribute a key selection of images and they have been very helpful getting the word out. Most of my advertising relationships go back years, and it’s nice to have a new resource to bring them to help them do their jobs. Our super-charming and talented sales and marketing director, Christopher Beauchamp, will be reaching out to creatives and art buyers directly to get feedback as we launch the site.
MJ: How many people are dedicated to managing MAP specifically in your studio?
We have built a fantastic team. Dave Mendez, our president, is in charge of operations and will manage our growth. The legendary picture editor Karen Mullarkey (Newsweek, SI, Rolling Stone) is doing the edit with stock industry veteran editor Lindsey Nicholson — an amazing duo.
We have brought back Josh Dick, a talented digital tech, and as I mentioned, Chris is doing sales and marketing. We have an attorney, Matt Riportella-Crose, who is vetting all our releases and usage rights, and we have an assistant editor, Cristina Faramo. Our multi-skilled studio manager Tobias Hutzler holds down the fort.
MJ: Did you create your own stock site or work with an archiving and sales provider? How did you make that decision?
DM: We decided to leverage the leading European stock agency distribution channel and site provider, PictureMaxx, rather than start from scratch. Our core is built on Apple Aperture, which uploads to PictureMaxx. We looked at all the solutions and they offered the broadest package, including CRM and a European network of agencies already participating in their marketplace. We plan on expanding worldwide so that was a key part of the decision.
Another big decision was where and how to scan. We were lucky and have found a fantastic partner in National Geographic. Although a bit more expensive than our original plan to scan in India, the quality is outstanding and being close by allows film to go back and forth by hand.
It’s important to repeat that I am continuing to shoot assignments, so it’s critical that my assignment web site remains vital and relevant. For that we found a fantastic solution, as you know, in liveBooks with our custom site. That has been very rewarding and exciting and we will also keep building on that.