Stills is a new, invite-only photo licensing platform that offers a curated selection of authentic, design-centered, on-trend photos instead of what it characterizes as the dry, boring imagery found on other stock sites.
Stills is the latest from FM, the parent company of FilmSupply, Musicbed, Trust, and Label. The first two are likely the brands photographers and videographers are most familiar with and were launched as very different takes on the licensing space. FM says that Stills was created with that same mentality.
The new licensing platform wants to be the leading platform for licensing exclusive, authentic, and premium photos—helping creatives gain a competitive edge in their work. Stills represents a curated roster of in-demand, relevant photographers. Created with designers in mind, Stills helps creatives win better work and separate themselves from the competition.
“Designers are tired of spending their valuable time sifting through lackluster photos. Stills is the answer,” FM CEO Daniel McCarthy says. “Great, authentic photography is central to great design. But typical stock imagery often doesn’t hit the mark when your work needs to represent you as a creative, and compromising your vision is not an option. As a society, we’re inundated with imagery, but there’s still a huge gap in the market. Stills is here to close that gap— now, designers don’t have to settle for inauthentic and generic photos for their projects.”
Stock photography by its very nature encourages bland, vague work. In order to appeal to the widest audience and therefore get the most licenses, photographers can’t be too specific. It remains to be seen just how well Stills will work in the licensing space due to this fact.
The company says that it is partnering with “professional, in-demand commercial photographers” instead of the typical stock photographers that supply the major stock photo sites and, additionally, says it is paying above-average rates. Notably, Stills did not reveal what those rates are.
“With a collective reach of over 19 million, the photographers signed to the Stills roster are some of the most in-demand names in the industry. These photographers have a keen understanding of the medium’s crucial role in storytelling. As a result, the quality of images available is unparalleled; unique, emotionally-driven, and artfully shot; directly challenging what’s available through competitors. Photographers that Stills has partnered with include Nirav Patel, Jake Wangner, Lindsey Swedick, Omar Salah, Samuel Elkins, and Charly Savely.”
Memberships to Stills come with access to what the company calls “The Vault,” a feature that adds an additional layer of exclusivity. Based on “demand and uniqueness,” these exclusive images will have limited licensing availability.
Market freezes will also be available for select images. Members can choose to reserve imagery completely for specific projects, locking out others form licensing the image.
“To help communicate the vision and collaborate with ease and efficiency, the platform also allows users to search for specific colors, moods, composition, photographers, and more,” the company says. “Stills then offers intuitive ‘Boards’ to build and organize projects/pitches.
Stills is starting as invite-only for this initial launch phase, so interested parties can’t just sign up and start licensing images today. The company does have a request invite option on its website, but it’s not clear how long the expected wait time would be to gain access.
Image credits: FM Stills