Posts Tagged ‘stock photography’

My favorite upstart stock photography business, the Photoshelter Collection, has decided that their experiment was not successful enough to continue.   This is a shame.  The quality of imagery at Photoshelter is competitive with the industry giants, yet they treated photographers more fairly than the traditional agencies and used a more democratic, more merit-based criteria to recruit their talent.  According to CEO Allen Murabayashi, the problem was one of competion with the entrenched corporate heft of the traditional agencies, especially Getty:

The largest consumers of stock photography are often locked into subscription deals, which makes it very difficult for them to consider alternate sources.

The closing of Photoshelter does not affect me in any material sense, but it’s never fun to see Goliath beating out David.

Update: Terry Smith Dissents

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The rise of microstock photography has many established photographers wringing their hands and gnashing their teeth over how microstock companies are destroying the business.

What is microstock? It is a relatively new internet-based business model that licenses existing images for scandalously low prices. Traditionally, images are licensed through highly selective stock agencies for amounts in the hundreds of dollars or so, but microstock turns everything upside-down, moving images for just pennies each. Microstock companies aren’t choosy about the images they peddle, as they need vast quantities of stock for their business model to work. By allowing anyone to upload photos, they’ve dropped nearly every barrier to entry into the photo licensing business aside from the cost of a camera itself. And those get cheaper every year. A deluge of digital hobbyists is now competing with the pros, and the pros aren’t happy.

As a portion of my income derives from traditional photo licensing, I’ve been curious for some time about how competition from microstock affects my bottom line. This weekend I devoted a few hours at the computer to comparing the holdings of a number of stock agencies, both traditional and micro, to get a handle on whether I ought to be worried about this new phenomenon.

The answer, it turns out, is no.


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