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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

Crowd Sourcing And What It Means For Professionals
new facesWe posed the question about crowd sourcing to both Corbis’ Renee Martin and Getty Images’ Nick Evans-Lombe. For many working pros, the notion of crowd sourcing—soliciting material from almost anyone with a camera—has been seen as a threat. At Corbis and Getty, though, crowd sourcing also is seen as creating ever-increasing opportunities for working pros by attracting more customers to stock photography as a whole.

Corbis: The idea of working with the broader audience of photographers when it comes to harvesting content—in the micro world, nonprofessional photographers are submitting photography in the industry. It has raised the bar for professional photographers. It diversifies our sourcing model. Buyers go to these microstock sites because they want affordable images. So we have more image users and more image producers.

In order to address a larger audience, there has been the need to create volume at low cost. But also there’s a content interest there in “the crowd.” You end up seeing a different style of imagery—more authentic, nonposed, DIY imagery. These are huge trends that affect our pricing, our sourcing model and our content. At Corbis, we entered into this market with SnapVillage (www.snapvillage.com).

Getty Images: The number of people coming into the industry on a micro level is a good thing. It not only raises the number of great images in the marketplace, but also increases availability of imagery, and that’s good for the industry as a whole. What it does mean, though, is that the industry will be compelled to continue to evolve the ways in which we help our clients to be successful. That means a continuing need on the part of all of us to improve the quality of our search and to increase the service that we provide to our clients. There’s nothing more useless than a great image that can’t be found. The downside of all these people coming into the industry is that a lot of not-so-good imagery is also being created.

In terms of pricing, this has come down. Microstock has introduced a price point that, I think, 10, 15 years ago would have made all of our hair turn white. But a lot of those price points are going for online usage where huge volumes of images are being consumed. The number of images used is growing exponentially. Now, more people than ever before are licensing imagery to publish it online or in print. People, especially creatives, always want to be moving forward. They always want to be using a better image one day than the image they used the day before. That’s a natural human urge. I think that over time, they’ll be prepared to recognize that they’re using a better image and acknowledging the creativity in that image by paying a little more for it. As budgets shift more to online, people are going to want to differentiate what they do online, and a great way to do so is by using a great image. They’ll continue to devote a significant portion of their budget to imagery that delivers the ability to stand out.

new facesThere are many other notable stock houses, including specialist agencies such as Aero-Imaging, Inc. (www.aeroimaginginc.com) for aerial photography and the New York Public Library (digitalgallery.nypl.org) for historic photography. Magazines with extensive archives have tapped into the lucrative stock market, too, giving their images new life after their publications have left the newsstands, including Time & Life Pictures (timelifepictures.com) and the National Geographic Image Collection (NationalGeographicStock.com).


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