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The Grey Matters: Who's Who

Matters of real consequence need hard and fast rules: at iStockphoto, 'real consequence' means how images are created, uploaded, organized, bought, and sold, as well as how community members use (and behave while using) the site.

But just as in a real community, iStock has unwritten rules, generally accepted practices, codes of ethics (which tend to be learned by doing) and a whole other set of rather vague community dos and don'ts which members pick up as they hang around the place.

We're here to shed some light on the grey areas, one at a time. The topics covered here aren't gospel, but hopefully you'll get a better understanding of why we do the things we do. This week's topic: Who's Who in iStockland?


The Need To Know Basics


Stop me if this sounds familiar: a new iStocker, having scanned through the FAQs and quickly given up on getting an answer from the forum search, starts an iStock discussion thread.
Newbie: Err, hi. I was looking at the free image of the week and wondered how people get their pictures into that? Is there a waiting list? Do I have to mail someone the negtives? How does it work?
iStocker With Lots of Icons: JJ.
iStocker With Lots of Icons Including Big Gold 'A': Yes, JJRD handles all the weeklies. Shoot him a sitemail.
This Thread Has Been Locked

iStock can be a confusing place. As in life, it's who you know. This article is not a graft list to set you up with the inside help to get through loopholes. Mailing these people baked goods won't move your pictures any more quickly through the queue. (Which isn't to say that altruistic baking-mail is in any way discouraged. See entry on Lobo.) And no, you can't have the CTO's email address. However, in the interest of cutting down on exchanges like the one above, and making everyone feel a little bit more included, we've prepared a quick Who's Who of a few iStockers you Need To Know.


The Usual Channels


All kidding aside: if you have any kind of technical problem with how the iStock website operates, you need to log a support ticket. This is the quickest, easiest, and most efficient way to get resolution of the problem. The ticket system lets our team track and catalogue known issues and stay on top of what's been resolved and what hasn't.
It's probably tempting when something goes wrong to fire off a sitemail to that one Admin you get along with so well. Or bump a forum thread on a Sunday afternoon demanding attention from Calgary. We understand the feelings behind all of that, but we can't stress enough: nothing helps everyone out more than logging a Support ticket.

Guidance Counsellor

The Scout team are your Image Ombudspersons, re-examining Inspection decisions which you, our treasured Contributor, disagree with. Use the Scout System: forum threads about the impaired vision of the Inspectors don't accomplish anything. Be nice to Scout: they go through a lot in a day. You can read the complete guidelines to the system here.


Silver and Gold


iStock Inspectors view and approve the images in our queue. They have a certain set of tools which they use to do this. They cannot change the way the site works, restart the servers in Calgary, or fix that spelling mistake on the Extended License page. They are, however, to a person, incredibly helpful, patient, gifted in their various fields, and ready to answer questions in the Critique forum about how to get rid of that pesky purple fringing. There are more than 90 of them now, from Prussia to Portland. Someday, we'll have a list for you.

There are two different sorts of iStock Administrators. First of all, we have our staff here in Calgary, Alberta. There's more than 60 of us now stuffed into two offices here at the Ramsay Design Centre. Most of them, you'll never hear from: marketing coordinators, video editors, php coders, network administrators — they may occasionally pop into the forums to make an announcement on a specific issue or offer an opinion on last night's episode of 'Heroes', but mostly keep quiet. So say hello if you see an unfamiliar name hanging out in the Off-Topic, and you'll probably make a stressed-out sysadmin's day go a little better.
Mostly, though, you're probably familiar with a smaller set of about two dozen Admins who turn up regularly in the forums, warning you about scheduled site maintenance, letting you know when upload limits have changed, or offering opinions on last night's episode of 'Heroes'. Some of these more public members are in the office in Calgary. Most of them, however, are members from elsewhere, who we've tapped over the years because of their unique skills to help us out in various special areas. We're going to introduce you to most of these characters now:


The Brass

Bruce Livingstone (Calgary & Seattle)
President & CEO / Guitar-Hero Champ

When Bitter was a kid, if you wanted to run your own web-hosting company, you had to build your own computer out of fridge magnets and strapping tape and carry it forty blocks through the snow uphill both ways. Ask him about the time he was the drummer in the Dickies.

Kelly Thompson (Calgary)
Executive VP

Thompson holds a computer science degree from the University of Calgary, which thankfully didn't get in the way of his creative side. His early knack for human-computer interface design put him on a quick and obvious trajectory to the web. Bruce convinced him to come work for iStock in 2004, which turns out to have been a good idea. As EVP, he's responsible for keeping the company running smoothly.

Garth Johnson (Calgary)
VP Business & Community Development

Shortly after we abducted him a few years back to help develop our business relationships, Garth quickly grasped the key fact about iStock: that business and community are linked at all levels. So now he's running both ends. His team is involved all over the iStock world, from site translation and developing 'Lypses, to fancy new business partnerships that make us all more money. He loves meeting people, learning from their experiences, and helping them realize their goals in new ways.


Community Matters

Rob Sylvan (Newmarket, USA)
Ambassador / Community Liason

Everyone's favorite New Hampshire backyard nature photographer is the Mayor of the iStock community. He's the guy with the big oversize scissors who cuts the ribbon every time we open a new supermarket. He brings a ladder over when your cat gets stuck in a tree. And he's always there to put the chairs up on the tables and lock the door when a discussion has run it's course. Rob maintains order on the iStock forums and does his best to ensure that everyone follows all the rules. Ask him anything.

Jeff D.F. (Calgary)
Compliance & Enforcement Officer

Jeff is your point of contact with the iStock legal team. He ensures that iStock users follow and obey the terms of the Content License agreement. If you encounter suspicious usages of iStock images, you need to get in touch with him and his team. Email all the important facts to ce (at) He will get to work sorting out your case.

CC McBurney (Calgary)
'The Resolver'

There are always going to be special problems which require special solutions: that's when we send Lobo. Lobo resolves unique, out-of-the-ordinary messes — he's the iStock Jack Bauer. He likes pie. A lot.

Andrew Wedderburn (Calgary)
Articles Editor / Go-To Calgarian

I'm the communication liason between the iStock office and the outside world, bringing you all 'The Message', and helping out my pal Sylvan out in the forums. I also commission, edit, and occasionally even write the resource material for the site. I'm really bad about checking the email that gets sent to the 'Submit An Article' link — sorry. I handle public apologies when our fancy new features bomb out (having spent months building them up to all of you before hand.) I decided against writing about myself in the third person.

Brent Nelson (Calgary)
Director of IT & Infrastructure

Brent (not to be confused with Brentman, even though they're the same guy (it's complicated)) manages our Systems Administration team. We hesitated about including him here, because basically if you ever think you have an issue for him, you really need to send it to Support. Seriously, by the time he gets to his sitemail, his phone has typically been making this crazy Submarine sound for quite a while. He thanks you in advance.

Joey Nelson (Medicine Hat, Canada)
iStockalypse Coordinator

We knew that Joey was a great photographer. Then, she came up Highway 1 from Medicine Hat to organize a Minilypse here in Calgary, and we realized that she's much, much better at coordinating events than we are. So we gave her a job. So far Kangah has coordinated fantastic iStockalypses in Austin and Marseilles, and helped members plan their own Minilypses all over the world. Stay tuned for the next event soon.



Joseph Jean Rolland Dubé (Shawinigan, Canada)
Content Development Director

JJRD recruits and oversees the operation of our Inspection team. As Content Development Director, he guides the visual direction of the iStock collection, working with his team to develop standards and guide contributors. He also chooses most of our Weeklies: Artist, Image, Design and Free Image of the Week. JJ is passionate about the continuing artistic integrity of iStockphoto, and makes all of our lives a little more beautiful every day.

Shaun Lombard (Cape Town, South Africa)
Interaction Lead

With Inspectors speaking dozens of languages 24 hours a day on every continent, keeping the team coordinated is a full-time job. Specifically, it's Evilclown's job. He keeps all 90+ Inspectors updated and in the know, all the time. Shaun also has the vital daily task of keeping JJ more or less sane.

Simon Moran (Newcastle upon Tyne, UK)
Technical Lead

Simon is our go-to man for all matters of technical quality when it comes to images. He trains new team members, drilling them with the native resolutions of every digital camera model ever put on the market. Seek him out in the Critique Requests forum and ask him what you can do to compensate for the in-camera upsampling your Fuji FinePix S3 Pro insists on doing.

Lise Gagne (Quebec City, Canada)
Photography Director

Somehow, Lise finds the time in a busy day full of ruling the photography world to help our team, lending them her eyes, know-how, and knack for the perfect shot. We can't thank her enough.

Stefan Klein (Ridgeland, USA)
Contributor Applications Lead

We put a lot of time and effort into the Contributor application process. It's the first point of entry for the people who will potentially shape how iStock looks in the future, and we want the experience to be helpful and productive for everyone involved. That's why we put the remarkable Stefan Klein in charge.

Jordan Lane (Calgary)
Search Engine Editor

There are postmodernists out there who will try and tell you that there's no necessary relationship between any given word and any given meaning. These people have never met Jordan Lane. Keywords is the ultimate authority on what means what here at iStock. He decides which new terms and mappings belong in our Controlled Vocabulary, taking your suggestions and tweaking how our search engine defines its parameters for meaning. He manages our whole Metadata Team. Ask him any questions about search terms, keywords, and what feat a rogue should take at third level.

Jennifer Borton (Calgary)
Vector Lead

Our Vector Queen handles all things illustrated. She moderates the Vector Forums, maintains the Weeklies for the Vector portal page, runs the illustration wing of the Inspection team — she's a busy woman. We've run down several FAVQs on the next page, so if you're wondering about illustration pricing or your last rejection for unclosed paths, the answers are there.

Jim Goertz (Calgary)
Director of Video Content Development

Video has been a big part of iStock for more than a year now. VCR has been the man behind it all. He heads up our squad of Video Inspectors, hammers out the policy issues that matter to all of you Videographers and none of the rest of us understand (NTSC or PAL? Can you repeat the question?) With Video becoming a bigger part of the site and even working it's way into our iStockalypse schedules, Jim certainly has his hands full.

Henk Badenhorst (Stellenbosch, South Africa)
Flash Lead

After it came up in the last painfully out-of-date Inspector Interview that Henk was teaching Flash in a Capetown college, he was immediately badged and put to work in our Flash Queue. He'll help you with your code, your action-scripting, and all the other important issues that the rest of us understand even less than Video.

Mark Evans (Melbourne, Australia)
3D Lead

While 3D renders still aren't a separate department within the Content department per se, we are taking steps to give them some more love. Step One: bring in Mevans. He's happy to answer any questions about 3D files and Aussie-rules football.

Matjaž Slanič (Lubljana, Slovenia)
Contributor Development

The man who brought you iStockalypse: Slovenia has been in the trenches here at iStock as long as anyone, and is in charge of helping our Contributors master the skills they need to get ahead and make great images. He also makes a lot of time for handling Exclusive issues, so if you've got any questions pertaining to the little gold crown, be sure to ask him.

Maciej Laska (Wroclaw, Poland)
Film and Scans Lead

We know you're still out there, buying up all the 100 speed Velvia slide film you can get your hands on. Painstakingly blowing the dust off your drum-scanner. Slowly filling your home with shoe-boxes full of negatives and prints. Because you still love film and what it does. Well, so do we, and efenzi is our man for making sure that our scanned content looks the best that it can.

caracterdesign, Anouchka, & Colonel
Eva Serrabassa (Barcelona, Spain) Anna Bryukhanova (Moscow, Russia) Brendon De Suza (North Shore City, New Zealand)
Image and Vector Admins

These three remarkable artists all lend us their eyes, talents, and experience, for all sorts of content-related matters which we won't get into here. They are all passionate about the community and will be more than helpful if you ever have a question.


The Steel Cage

Che McPherson (Tweed Heads South, Australia)
Designer's Spotlight / Steel Cage

Che handles the submissions to our Designer's Spotlight. He's the head of the Battle Elder Council, the fearsome legislative body of the iStock Steel Cage. He makes our Articles section look good. And he does it all from Australia. Seriously, he's on the other side of the International Date Line. In the future.

Steve Burke (Calgary)
Steel Cage Developer

Steve is a member of our in-house development team, and has worked on a lot of projects over the years, but it's the Cage that made him famous. He's the guy who controls the guts of the cage: let him know if you're having any technical problems.

The Battle Elder Council
(Well, most of them, anyway...)
The BEC works tirelessly to separate the golden-teethed wheat from the black-eyed chaff in the Steel Cage. They are Inspectors, Admins, skilled designers, and grizzled veterans. Sometimes their ranks swell with guest judges.