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. Read more…
Most stock photography websites and agencies work the same way: photographers upload their work, set prices, and let clients browse for what it is they’re looking for. If the client wants a photo of a family on the beach, they’d better hope someone came through. And on the other end, the photographer has to hope that they’re putting work out there that people will actually want to use.
Advertising creatives Cassandra Nguyen and Grazina Snipas’ new website PicoImages does away with that model, replacing it with more of a “stock photography to order” sort of system. Read more…
Bruce Livingstone knows his way around the stock photography industry, and he’s doing his best to shake things up. After founding iStockphoto in 2000, he turned it into a microstock juggernaut, finally selling it to Getty Images in 2006 for a whopping $50 million. Now, as both Getty Images and iStockphoto are mired in a licensing controversy, Livingstone has a new stock photo business that may rock the boat even more.
It’s called Stocksy, and is a co-op for stock photographers who want to step out from under the shadow of giant stock photography companies. Read more…
A new controversy is brewing in the world of stock photography. Just last month, it came to light that Getty had agreed to license 5000 of its stock photos to Google while paying the creators of the images a meager one-time fee of $12. Now, one of Getty’s most successful stock photographers is claiming that his account is being terminated in the aftermath of the first hoopla. Read more…
We don’t know how they do it, but College Humor’s sketch videos often have famous celebrities making fools of themselves in the name of comedy. Above is a parody infomercial they released today featuring actor Patrick Wilson. He states that prior to his acting career, he worked as a stock photography model and was featured in over 133,000 stock images. Read more…
If you’re trying to make some side money by selling photographs as microstock — or are trying to do it full-time — it’d be wise to heed the advice of one of the most successful players in the industry: Yuri Arcurs. He has published an interesting “state of the industry” report with his thoughts on the types of photographs that are currently in demand with stock photo buyers.
As all active microstock photographers must have noticed, we have seen a constant decrease in sales in terms of our return per image over the last few years. It’s becoming increasingly difficult to shoot great images and profit from it in the same way as it was 5 or 6 years ago. Many critics have claimed that the microstock industry is almost entirely devoid of artistic sensitivity, and is instead only concerned with making an easy profit. But surprisingly, this harsh criticism seems to have had a positive effect on the industry as a whole, because although the return per image has decreased a lot, I have also witnessed an interesting tendency: To make sales now, it’s about getting back to the roots of photography. More artistic, less processed images, and a more naturalistic style, which I, personally, fully endorse. It’s great to see some more artistic and natural images making their way up on the “most downloaded” lists as opposed to the more conventional microstock images that are always overly retouched, overly bright and overly clean.
He also writes that many of the concepts and images that were once popular are now stagnating due to the fact that photographers flooded the industry with them, highlighting shifts in four huge categories: lifestyle, business, medical/health, and spa/wellness.
German broadcaster Deutsche Welle produced this interesting segment on photographer Yuri Arcurs and how he turned his microstock photography into a million-dollar photography empire. Here’s a mind-boggling statistic: on average, Arcurs sells one of his images every 8 seconds.
Microstock did a lot of damage by turning traditional stock photography on its head, but now a company called Stipple is trying to give microstock a taste of its own medicine. The company, which offers technology for tagging people and objects in photos, has launched its new Image Marketplace website for publishers who want to use photographs without having to pay for them. Instead of publishers paying the photographers or agencies for licenses, brands step into the equation by paying money to advertise through the photos. The photographer then collects money based on the number of clicks and hovers their photographs receive.
The rise of microstock and the fact that anyone with a camera can sell cheap photos has done a lot to devalue stock photography, but is the same thing happening to the photojournalism industry? Paul Melcher says that the industry is headed in that direction:
Forget the photo agency as an agent of talented photojournalists. The key now is to have a lot of contributors worldwide and hope that one will be at the right place at the right time. With photographers everywhere chances you will get the right image at the right time will increase, like buying a lot of lottery tickets.
In the film age, the cost of film, processing, shipment was too prohibitive. Now, you can receive and store million of images for a buck or two.
[...] Thus, taking a queue from the microstock model, photojournalism is now switching to the volume based model. While profitable for a photo agency, it is devastating for photojournalism and photographers themselves.
The story is the same: as technology makes photography and the distribution of photographs easier to do, the buyers of photographs win and the producers of photographs lose.