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Recent FIS News
Below you will find a listing of recent FIS News
Presenting FIS partners: Agence Zoom
During the summer months, FIS will present a series of interviews with some of its most important partners. In this interview, Michel Cottin, Managing Director of Agence Zoom, the FIS official photo supplier for Alpine Skiing, shares his thoughts about how an international media agency works. Starting with coverage of snow sports, Agence Zoom moved to Grenoble in the Autumn of 2009, expanded its coverage and has its photographers shooting additional sports such as cycling, rugby, football, mountain biking and ice hockey. With an extensive media base filled with images and the recent addition of a graphic studio, Agence Zoom has a broad portfolio consisting of advertising material, database and website management, publicity, magazines and books. A month before the FIS Alpine Ski World Cup season kicks off, Michel Cottin provided some insight into how a media agency plans its season and what their expectations are.
FIS: A quick background for those who don't know you, how has Agence Zoom grown to be where it is today, and what is the secret behind its success?
MC: The Agency was created by two photographers, Eric Page and Francis Bompard over 20 years ago. They both enjoyed the challenge of shooting winters-sports and went on to establish an agency that focuses on image creativity and quality as well as availability and efficiency. Eric Page retired from the Agency in 2009, which is when I stepped in to take over the day-to-day management of Agence Zoom.
FIS: Time is money they say - how important is it for an agency to have a good location and be close to the event venues?
MC: Location is extremely important. In order to operate successfully within this industry, you need to understand the milieu within which you work, both geographically and socially. Without local contacts, first-hand knowledge of teams, federations, equipment suppliers, sponsors, terrain and conditions, our job would be impossible.
FIS: With a team of 10, how are you handling and managing the season preparations?
MC: We are already in the planning stages where we decide which events to cover and which photographers will attend those events. With the team at full capacity in the winter, anticipation is crucial both in and out of the office; accreditation, travel, visas and accommodation for photographers; photo template and catalogue preparation for the coming events; client requests to plan for; database management and client access; .... the list is endless!
FIS: Agence Zoom has a wide client portfolio, and is involved with small and big events. From an Agency's perspective, what makes a good event unique?
MC: A good event for us is reflected in the quality of photos that are produced. From our point of view, this translates to superb shots of the athletes, of the atmosphere, crowds and venue. Consequently, those considered unique have great conditions (snow and weather), great athletes, great crowds and most importantly for us, great cooperation with the organizing committees to provide photographers with the best conditions in which to work. The latter is paramount and the best events stand out as this type of cooperation leads to fantastic and memorable photos that immortalize the event and make it unique.
FIS: Comparing the FIS disciplines you're working with, how different would you say it is working with an Alpine event where each racer competes for approximately 1.5 minutes compared to Cross-Country races where it can take hours?
MC: There's a huge difference! Unlike the Nordic events, in Alpine, photographers have to quickly assess the course to find a position that will show the athletes in a good position that has a pleasant background and decent light throughout the race. They have to be in position long before the race starts and are often not permitted to move until the race is complete, which can mean hours remaining stationary. Add to that the skill required to anticipate when and where athletes are going to pass, especially in the speed events and the role becomes ten times more challenging. After all, in the Alpine events, you only get one chance to get the photo.
FIS: What makes Agence Zoom stand out amongst other agencies and photographers?
MC: Agence Zoom boasts some of the most experienced photographers on the circuit who have worked with us for many years. Add to this an efficient post-production team and this goes a long way to explaining our success.
There are of course other factors. For example, we have solid understanding of the market and provide photo coverage of athletes and teams all-year round. Plus, we are well respected in the milieu and this is reflected in the work that we provide as the Organizer's Photo Managers at a number of World Cup, World Championship and Olympic events.
In addition, given the longevity of the Agency, we have photo archives stretching back to the early 1980's and photo collections with content from as early as the 1930's, which in itself, is unique.
FIS: Concerning technology: with an increased demand for information to be online within minutes after the competitions, what would you say are the main challenges with this demand, and how does Agence Zoom work to become the preferred agency?
MC: The big news agencies face huge amounts of pressure to supply images ever faster and go to enormous cost and lengths to respond to this demand. As a specialist photographic Agency, we have a variety of clients (both commercial and editorial) and our first priority is to them and their needs. Consequently, while we have procedures in place to provide images post-race as fast as possible, we also place great emphasis on the quality of our work.
FIS: For those who would like to capture the moment of the sport on camera, what is the main things they should focus on?
MC: With action photos, the main things to focus on are the athlete's position, the light and the background. With shots at the finish, the emphasis has to be on the display of emotion, which with a bit of luck, will be jubilation!
FIS: From a personal point of view, what was your highlight last season, and what are your expectations for the coming season?
MC: As a Frenchman, the highlight of last season for me has to be when Jean-Baptiste Grange won the gold medal in the slalom at the Garmisch-Partenkirchen World Championships!
As a photographer, I am hoping for good snow, good conditions and some exciting racing for the coming season.
Contributed by Sofie Torlei Olsen