Despite high winds and whipping rain, a nearly sold out Visual Connections New York 2015 Media Expo took place on Wednesday, October 28, attracting dozens of new exhibitors and a significant increase in the number of big budget art buyers and producers than past expos.

According to Edward Leigh, Co-president of Visual Connections, the organization faced a few challenges this year, including a change in venue and a different format for the evening session. “Plus, of course, persuading buyers to venture out of the office on a wet and windy day,” said Leigh. “We were delighted to attract 24 new exhibitors this year, and a record 60 percent of new buyers attending.”

New Collaboration Brings First-Time Buyers
Less of a challenge and more of a win-win was a new collaboration with Workbook, the leading marketing resource for commercial photographers and illustrators. As Principal Sponsor of the event, Workbook helped attract, for the first time, artist reps to exhibit at the expo. Seven artist reps—including Anderson Hopkins, M Represents Inc, Richard Solomon Artists, Robert Bacall Reps—joined a growing number of exhibitors offering assignment and production services.

In turn, this brought in new buyers from both the creative side as well as the usually well-represented book publishers. And the reviews were glowing.

Amy Wolff, a freelance photo editor for AARP, was told about the event by a photo rep and boss Michael Wichita the photo director of AARP. Said Wolff, “I came looking for more diverse stock images and in less than ten minutes I’m finding that here.”

Isabella Olaguera, a freelance video and photo editor from the Tri-State area said, “People have been very forthcoming and helpful. I’m glad to know there’s so many different kinds of stock footage, from boutique to large corporate, that I didn’t know existed.”
Networking: Real Face Time, not Facebook
Networking is often more about reconnecting than making new connections, as many attendees reiterated, and face time with people they’ve only communicated with online was a welcome change.
Longtime buyers, editors and producers continued to reap the benefits of the close-knit event.
Richard Cardinali, senior art buyer at JWT New York, shared his thoughts about the changing dynamics. “This year you have a mix. You have photography and you have illustration, and it’s an interesting dynamic. When you’re in business, your goal is to make money, so you’re looking to invent new revenue streams and stock houses are slowly trying to get into the world of assignment photography. You’re seeing the groundwork of what will be a long-term merge.

Educational Sessions: Knowledge is Key
The first panel discussion was a two-hour open forum covering the different licensing models, pricing, shrinking budgets, large indemnities, copycat rights and the benefits (and pitfalls) of social media.
Moderated by Cathy Aron, Executive Director and former President of DMLA (Digital Media Licensing Association), the panelists included Ophelia Chong (Stock Pot Images), Bill Cramer (Wonderful Machine), Moya McAllister ( and Nancy Wolff (Cowan DeBaets Abrahams & Sheppard LLP).

The Footage Session: Bridging the Gap
The second session focused on YouTube, pricing, key wording, fair use and Creative Commons license. Moderator Matt White, Executive Director of ASCIL, moderated a panel of footage experts that included Jessica Berman-Bogdan, president and founder of Global ImageWorks; Bobby Dicks, director of sales & licensing, CNN Collection; Analisa Goodin, CEO and founder of Catch & Release; Rich Remsberg, archival and visual researcher; and Alison Smith, who heads up WGBH Stock Sales, which licenses content from WGBH, Boston, the leading producer for PBS.

Following the panel, we talked with Rich Remsberg of Atlas Films. The Emmy® award-winning archival researcher/archival producer from North Adams, Mass., focuses on documentary films, TV programs and museums.

When asked what he gets from coming to the expo, Remsberg replied, “Oh, gosh, a lot. A lot of it’s social; it’s nice to see people once a year I don’t see otherwise, especially because I don’t live in [New York City]. Also, to discover what new collections people have, who’s moved to a different company, and to find out about new image providers that I don’t know about, especially those niche collections that are useful [to me.]”

In Conversation with Some Fierce Minds
The third panel discussion delved into various visual media food-for-thought issues regarding disposability, democratization, appropriation and memory.

Moderator David Newhoff, writer, film and video maker and activist for the cause of creators’ rights in the digital age and creator of the blog “The Illusion of More: Dissecting the Digital Utopia,” led a fiery dialogue with panelists Paddy Johnson, founding editor of Art F City, and Julie Grahame, publisher of, a full-screen photography magazine.
What’s Happening Next?
The collaboration with Workbook will continue as Visual Connections prepares for the Chicago expo spring of 2016. Said Visual Connections Co-president Deborah Free, “We are very excited at the prospect of growing our event to include artist reps, productions houses and hopefully more service providers. It makes sense given we are all about visual media. Workbook brings a lot to the table and are equally excited.”

As Workbook’s Linda Levy summed it up, “I’m thrilled. I can’t wait to do it again in Chicago next spring.”

Prize Drawing
Winners in the prize drawing were:

1st Prize: $2,000 travel gift certificate

Abigail Lull, The Teaching Company

2nd Prize ($500 Apple gift card) x 2

Candice Cheesman, Macmillan Education
Melissa Collins, NFL Films

3rd Prize ($300 Cloud9 Living gift certificate) x 2

Alissa Hendricks, Measured Programs
Louisa Curtis, Chatterbox Enterprises


About Visual Connections
Visual Connections is a marketing services company focused on connecting buyers with suppliers of photography, footage, illustration and other media. The company owners, Deborah Free and Edward Leigh, have over 40 years combined experience in the industry and have run trade fairs, for Picturehouse then Visual Connections, since 2003.

About Workbook
Workbook, in print and online, is the leading marketing resource for commercial photographers and illustrators. For nearly four decades, Workbook has helped top artists connect with the creatives who hire them while providing expertise to the industry at large.