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Last night at midnight, the beta version of Digital Railroad’s new Research Network feature rolled out online. I got a preview of it yesterday from DRR chief Evan Nisselson, and I must say that as an editor I’m excited by the possibilities in it. Essentially, it’s an online image research engine that allows buyers to send out calls for particular types of images through the Digital Railroad network of photographers. And it’s all done in real time, so if I’m looking for a cover photo for an upcoming issue on restaurants in Paris, and I need that picture by Friday at 3:00 pm Eastern Standard Time, I can put out the request and DRR members can look through their archives for just the right image, then upload it to me. This is great for time-conscious image buyers—think of all those websites out there that need what they need when they need it. It gives photographers specific, targeted ideas, increasing the chances of a sale. Over time, I think it will also show trends in photo requests, so that photographers will know general types of images to put into their portfolios. This is a logical step in the automated-marketing concept that DRR has been pushing effectively for the past few years.
–David Schonauer