Field Report:

The Non-Glamorous Side of Photography

FocalPower CEO, Greg Lato Interview

Greg Lato Portrait

FocalPower CEO, Greg Lato Portrait

FocalPower is developing a Digital Asset Management service to assist photographers with today’s challenges of sharing, protecting, and managing their photos online. Find out what FocalPower CEO, Greg Lato has to say about this.

There are several other competing services out there such as Digital Railroad, Photoshelter Archive, and IPNStock, as well as software solutions such as Lightbox Photo. How does FocalPower plan to differentiate itself from these other companies?

FocalPower has a vision that we are executing against. Since we are still in a pre-launch phase I can’t go into great detail about that vision other than to state that it includes helping photographers save time in managing their photo assets online while providing various ways for the photographer to earn revenue from their photo assets. Unlike the competing services you mentioned, which are focused on pushing their own brand and creating yet another repository where you photos have to be managed, FocalPower’s initial release will be focused on the photographer, their photographic brand, and a simple yet flexible way of managing your photos for online sharing.

Alcatraz Island in Fog, San Francisco

Alcatraz Island in Fog, San Francisco

FocalPower seems to be on the opposite side of the spectrum of photo sharing compared to say, Flickr, which some would say has a flawed system when dealing with copyrighted photos. Give us your take on image protection and file sharing.

There has definitely been a storm brewing for a while on the topic of photographer’s rights. I have seen this coming for a while and I doubt that the latest eruption around Fickr will be the last. You’re right in that unlike Flickr, and other community-based photo sharing sites, FocalPower is targeting a different segment of the photography market.

FocalPower’s take on photo protection is quite simple: let the photographer decide how they want to license their work and then help the photographer enforce that decision. While it’s true that no photograph available online is 100% safe from right abuse, there is more that can be done to help photographers protect their photo assets. FocalPower is working on a means of providing license-based protection for photos stored on the FocalPower system. But again, it will be an option that photographers can choose from based upon how they license their photos.

Unlike most photo sharing services available today, which provide very structured and rigid frameworks for sharing photos, FocalPower’s photo sharing is a widget-based approach that allows a photographer to upload and organize their photos centrally while sharing them across multiple sites or blogs. With the explosion of personal photography networks springing up around blogs, FocalPower’s widget-based approach enables photographers to share their photos on their blog and their website, or multiple blogs and multiple websites targeted to their vertical markets.

One thing that you didn’t mention, that you have written about on the blog, is the aspect of a photographer’s brand. We are also working on a way to extending the photographer’s brand along with their photos as they are shared to multiple sites. Recently there has been an interest explosion of a single photographer creating vertical branded sites or blogs, FocalPower would allow that photographer to centrally manage their photos while selectively sharing photos to each site. So the same controls and branding can be applied to all of the photographer’s photo regardless of where it is viewed.

Boulders and Stairs

Boulders and Stairs

When can we expect to FocalPower to open to the public?

FocalPower is currently in a closed testing period while we finalize the infrastructure and flush out the initial feature set with the help of our early testers. Our initial testers have been great at providing us feedback, ideas, and support. Our goal is to release a public beta of the initial service toward the end of this year. Keep an eye for an expanded and redesigned website and announcements before we launch.

We have been keeping the initial testing group to a focused and manageable size. However, we are at the stage where we could use more testers. So, I have a surprise for your readers…the first 20 readers who contact us via the address on the FocalPower website and request to be an early stage testers will get an account (just reference this blog posting). Keep in mind that we are still in development and we are looking for testers to use the system and let us know the good and the bad; user feedback is crucial.

Landscape Beach Chairs

Landscape Beach Chairs

Tell us about your background in photography and how it led to the establishment of FocalPower.

I got my start in photography over 20 years ago when my brother-in-law gave me my first SLR camera. It was the creative nature of photography that clicked with me right away. Over the years, my photography interests waxed and waned as a creative outlet when time allowed. When I discovered digital photography about eight years ago everything seemed to lock in place and photography became a passion. There was something about the ability to realize the images that I saw in my minds eye through the use of the digital dark room. Having the control over the photos through the computer, something that I have a professional background in, was the key for me.

Whether you’re a professional, enthusiast or hobbyist, a core aspect of photography is sharing your work with others. A few years back I was searching for a more automated way of sharing my photos online. This was just during the beginning of online photo sharing/hosting revolution. Flickr was in its infancy, but the lack of control over my photos was a sticking point for me. Personally, I see my photos as an asset and take all efforts to protect those assets. I also see my photos as being the key to my photography brand, yet most of the services available don’t allow me to reinforce my brand—they are more interested in using my photos to help push their own brand, even when I’m paying for the service.

Now, with the explosion of social networks, blogs and forums there are more and more ways for a photographer to gain exposure of their work and build an audience around their brand. Yet, there are no good solutions for making this process easy for the photographer while protecting their photo assets. With each site having their own way to deal with photographs, and their own Terms of Services around the photographs that get uploaded, a photographer has to take a huge risk and invest a lot of time to leverage these outlets. Creating a time conflict between sharing photos creating more photos.

After discussing these issues with many other photographers, listening their needs, and brainstorming with several talented people, one of my closest photographer friends started pushing me. “You have to go build this,” was what he kept saying. Once I said, “You’re right,” FocalPower was born.

Any photography business announcements or personal projects that you would like to tell us about?

Unfortunately for my personal photography, my available time has been focused on building FocalPower. However, I still carry my camera around with me just about everywhere and even manage to take some photos occasionally! It’s getting around to the processing those photos that has been the challenge.

Recently, I managed to burn some extra midnight oil to launch my new personal photography website and blog: Latoga Photography. I also have some weekend photo trips planned this fall for the Humboldt Redwoods State Park and the Eastern Sierra Nevadas. Then there is a long term Photo Art project I have been chipping away at called “Night Putting” (pun intended), once FocalPower is launched I hope to be able to get back to that and processing my photo backlog.

Thanks for the opportunity to discuss FocalPower with your readers. You’ve done a great job creating some timely content for photographers and about photographers. Keep up the great work!

To find out more information about FocalPower visit the website:


September 8, 2008 - Posted by | Interviews, Technology, Web | , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] in a couple of different photography related blogs that we wanted to share.  Richard Wong’s Field Report: Photographers today posted an interview that he conducted with myself about FocalPower and the Photo Asset […]

    Pingback by Recent FocalPower Mentions | FocalPower...the blog | September 8, 2008 | Reply

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