Microstock King Yuri Arcurs Says Mobile is the Next Big Disrupter

Yuri Arcurs

If you’re an active participant in the stock photography industry, you’ve likely heard of the big rumblings as of late. Earlier this month, bestselling microstock photographer Yuri Arcurs announced both a $1.2 million investment in Scoopshot (a crowdsourced photo app) and a new exclusivity agreement with Getty Images/iStockphoto.

If you dismissed the news the first time around, you might want to take a second look — it may be bigger than you thought.

Yuri Arcurs has published an insightful article about why his company’s actions are the microstock industry’s “first major setback in 6 years.” The claim may sound like an arrogant boast, but Arcurs offers facts and figures to back the statement up.

As part of the exclusivity agreement, Arcurs is pulling nearly 100,000 microstock photographs from many of the major players in the industry, including Shutterstock, Fotolia, and Dreamstime. These are some of the most popular images on those services — most of the world’s top-selling microstock photographers are among the 20 photographers employed by Arcur’s company.

Arcurs states that this loss represents about 4-15% of total downloads, depending on the microstock site involved. He asks, “[why should] a subscriber to a microstock subscription plan should pay the same per month, if his favorite images are suddenly removed?”

So what exactly is going on in the stock industry? Arcur believes that the disruptor is now being disrupted. Microstock has been eating away at traditional stock photography in recent years, but now smartphone photography is encroaching on microstock.

Arcurs likens running his microstock business to operating “a Michelin restaurant inside a burger joint and at the same time having to match the prices.” Sick of doing so, he’s moving his images into higher prices and allowing up-and-coming mobile “stock” apps to take care of the low-price market segment that has been served by microstock — hence his recent $1.2 million investment in Scoopshot.


Regarding Scoopshot, Arcurs writes, “I had one of those jaw dropping experiences. They come rarely, trust me. There is nothing that can really match it, because you have never tried anything like it before.” He reports that when he put out a request for photos of how people felt, he received more than 3,300 from photographers worldwide — in less than 10 hours.

It has “the same disruptive quality that microstock had back 5-6 years ago,” he says.

The industry appears to be reacting to this move. Although we reported last month that Shutterstock’s stock price had been booming, it dropped more than 12% in the week after Arcur’s announcement on July 16th.

  • Steve

    I thought the article was full of hype. Yuri is big but he has the most copied collection in the microstock sites. I don’t think its that big a blow to Shutterstock who seem to be growing very fast at the moment. Share prices go up and down all the time, especially with a newly floated company. Lets see where they are in 6 months from now.

  • 433242

    more money for me…. let him go….

  • C

    Not sure this is a big as Yuri would like you to believe. Stock used to be very big – then micro stock showed up, which Yuri helped to make popular. Now he is leaving for greener pastures – he’s just going where there is more money. And what else is he doing? He is trying to cash in on those little phone photos. Stock, micro stock, & phone photos as stock are totally different markets. Interesting business model.

  • Guest

    Getty/iStock is the worst agency in the world. Their collection is very
    limited and outdated because review times and process are very long, very slow – it takes months for a
    picture to make it to the „shelves”. Not to mention that many of the big stock
    contributors stopped submitting to this agency for quite a long time as most of them would get only 15% of the sale income while G/i keeps 85%!!!. Buyers have plenty of options for better prices, larger and fresher collections with other agencies: Pond5, Shutterstock, Canstock, Revostock etc.

  • BoBoBolinski

    Shutterstock? Don’t make me laugh! They pay 35 cents to photographers for each image sold and yet photographers sing their praises? Talk about mugs!
    Most people earn far more at iStock, and of course it doesn’t ‘take months’ for images to go on sale. Mine are usually inspected in a day, in my portfolio the next day.

  • Steve

    Why do so many people lie about Shutterstock? They don’t pay 35 cents for each image. I often get between $28 and $120 for an image license. Istock virtually gave some images to Google for $6 to $12 without asking their contributors. So don’t make me laugh about them.

  • BoBoBolinski

    You ‘often’ get? Yeah, right.

  • Antonio Carrasco

    All the tools on here arguing about Shutterstock vs. iStockphoto are missing the huge detail in this article…

    Yuri is investing in Scoopstock which seems to be even worse for the photo industry than microstock is… Scoopstock seems to rely heavily on the spec work/contest model for the photographer to actually get paid. Spec work is never a good deal for any kind of working photographer

  • Dave

    The author of this article forgot to mention that Scoopshot ONLY offers editorial content. That’s a pretty big omission. He also didn’t to mention that Scoopshot transfers the copyright from the seller to the buyer. If you sell on Scoopshot you can only make the one sale – I believe it is only for 2.50 – instead of selling the same image many times on the other stock sites mentioned. Bad deal. If you want to sell your mobile images and retain the copyright (and be able to sell them multiple times) try Picfair. You retain the copyright and get to set your own price. I think you keep all of that commission too (unlike Scoopshot) because the commission is charged on the publisher’s side.