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Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The New Face Of Stock Photography

Get an inside look at the business of stock and learn what you can do to take advantage of the current trends

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new face
DPP: What are some examples of iconic images that are doing well?

Corbis: The classic photograph of the men on a beam, Rosa Parks on the bus, Martin Luther King at the March on Washington. The image that sells the most is actually a fine-art image—da Vinci’s “Mona Lisa.”

DPP: Do you see a big swing in the advertising market to buying stock rather than sending out photographers on assignment?

Getty Images: There’s an element of that. I think assignment photographers have had to reduce their rates significantly and have been able to do that because the production end for them has become cheaper. The cycle at the moment is that people are spending less on advertising, so therefore less on production. We all hope this isn’t the long-term trend, but part of a 12- to 18-month period. Less money being spent on advertising means clients are being a little more tolerant of reusing old creative.

Corbis: We see a shift toward increased end-user purchasing. Generally, when folks have tight budgets, they cut out using a third party such as an ad agency for their creative work. They’ll do their own work in house, either because they have their own staff or they might just have to for cost control. But it’s a cycle. Eventually, when things get better and they have more money, they rehire the agency.

DPP: What do you both see for the world of stock five years from now?

Getty Images: We’ll be licensing more imagery directly to the corporate market. We’re seeing that a lot of big corporations want to put together libraries of imagery that fit their brands. Some of that content they’ll want shot, and some will be a preselected pool of imagery that either their own creatives or their agencies can use.

Corbis: We recently broke the news of our partnership with Thought Equity Motion. Corbis and the market itself are following the increased demand for the moving image. I think the trend of more people being engaged in stock will continue. We’ll have a broader spectrum of choice and more options and more image users. We’ll continue to rely more heavily on the visual image to communicate in the future, and as a result, there will be more work for photographers—in other words, the primacy of the image in communicating concepts in a promotional capacity. If you look at old advertising, it was mostly text with a little illustration, and now it’s all image with one tag line.

DPP: What are the biggest-selling images these days at Getty Images?

Getty Images: It’s still very much the traditional big sellers—lifestyle imagery, business imagery. Trends within those categories change, but they continue to be the staples of the advertising and marketing industries.

Do many photographers make a good living by just shooting stock?

Getty Images: There are. But I encourage photographers to have an assignment element to what they do. Does that mean you have to do that because you can’t make a living from just shooting stock? No. But I think diversification is a prudent thing for all photographers. We have many photographers such as Chris Stein, Gandee Vasan, Matthias Clamer and Kelvin Murray who are successful not only in stock, but also in other forms of photography.

DPP: Keywording has become a vital tool to track down images, especially now that we have such an incredible volume of imagery to choose from. How do clients get to the image that might be best suited to their usage?


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