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Many still photographers have watched their revenue decline and are considering transitioning to video. In a recent article
I asked Jesse Hughes, Jim Erickson’s director of sales to outline some of the specific challenges a videographer faces, and ways that a video shoot differs from a still shoot. I’ve also contacted two other photographers – Gail Mooney-Kelly
of New York and David Scott Smith
of Montana – for their thoughts. Both or these photographers were very successful still shooters at one point in their careers, but for a number of years now have focused almost exclusively on producing video.
Erickson Stock has recently launched an RF collection
that is now available on PantherMedia
. For over 30 years Jim Erickson has been one of the US's preeminent commercial photographers and has created timeless imagery for hundreds of blue chip clients, including AT&T, American Express, Wells Fargo, Cisco, Pinnacle Entertainment, General Motors, HBO, Pfizer, Merrill Lynch, United Airlines and Home Depot.
The Mega Agency
launched its newly-signed syndication deal with American Media Inc. (AMI), one of America’s biggest publishers, with world-wide coverage of the first wedding of Prince Harry’s new girlfriend Meghan Markle.
What is an “Authentic” picture? Do they really sell? Photographers are being asked to produce more authentic pictures, but they are being given little or no information about what makes a image authethic, or how well such images are actually selling.
If copyright protection is important to you, it is absolutely critical
that you respond by January 31, 2017
to the survey that the new Librarian of Congress, Dr. Carla Hayden has posted on Survey Monkey
If in the last 30 years you’ve seen an image taken in India there is a good chance it was supplied by Dinodia Photo Library. For years Dinodia images have been represented by many other image distributors around the world and those images have found their way into countless books, newspaper and magazine articles.
David Seevers, Chief Marketing Officer of Footage.net
and owner of Thriving Archives
recently asked me for my thoughts on the future of the footage industry. As owner of Thriving Archives Seevers was also the principle author of all three ACSIL Global Surveys
and has produced other industry specific research reports.
Getty Images has been granted a temporary restraining order against it former VP of Global Entertainment, Roxanne Motamedi. Motamedi held the post at Getty from June 2009 to November 2016 and was based in Los Angeles.
has announced that it has expanded its milestone multi-year deal with The Associated Press
(AP). Beginning this week, Shutterstock will distribute AP’s daily global photo output for license to customers based in the United Kingdom. Shutterstock’s enterprise customers in the United Kingdom will have access to over 30 million photos from AP Images.
As I pointed out in my iStock article on Monday
more and more of the top image creators are cutting back on production and turning to other ways to earn a living. It’s not only microstock photographers who are pulling back, those selling RM and traditional RF are in even greater retreat. See this article
A couple weeks ago, I was interviewed by an NPR writer for a story about stock photography. The first question out of the box was “Why aren’t the stock agencies doing a better job of showing diversity?” I wasn’t sure how to answer that question because I felt that for a long time photographers have been pushed to show more diversity and there must be a lot of such pictures in the stock agency collections.
The major agencies talk about how important their DATA is and how it has changed the industry. They argue that the company with the most and best data will be the winner. But I don’t think they are really looking at much of the data they have collected – or looking at it in the right way.
iStock single image downloads appear to have continued to decline in the last half of 2016. Unfortunately, five of the 430 contributors that we tracked in the past have now disappeared. In the last report these contributors represented 544,000 total career downloads. It is unclear whether they have withdrawn their collections, or repurposed them under another brand that I am no longer able to track.
The results of the VisualSteam’s Annual Survey of Art Buyers has just been released. The 19-page report is packed with useful information that image creators and stock photo sellers need to know. Anyone trying to earn a living producing stock images should read this report. It is well worth the $49.95 fee
The Getty Creative collection has grown by 4% in 4 months and now stands at 17,376,859 images. At that rate the collection size will be about 19,462,082 images by the end of 2017. In August 38% of the collection was RM images. Today 36.8% of the images are RM. At this rate of decline less than one-third of the images will be RM by the end of 2017. A huge percentage of these RM images are supplied by image partner agencies
that only, or predominately, represent RM images
iStock photographers may want to use downtime over the Christmas and New Year holidays to prepare and upload images that are in the photographer’s queue for their eventual upload to iStock. The Unification of the upload system for both the Getty Images and iStock sites is now scheduled to go into effect on February 1, 2017. There are plans to change the keyword vocabulary for both sites over to the Getty vocabulary, which might mean that after that time the keywords the photographer submits may no longer be included in the list of words attached to the image.
How many customers make maximum use of their subscriptions? Most businesses that offer subscriptions offer their customers much more than they can ever use for one fixed price. Some customers like this because they know exactly what their monthly costs will be regardless of how much they use the service.
Shutterstock supplies very little information about their Enterprise customers and how Enterprise sales work. Yet it is an extremely important segment of their business and critical to understanding the company’s potential for future growth. At the end of Q3 2016 Shutterstock had 35,000 Enterprise customers up from 24,000 at the beginning of the year, or about a 46% increase in 9 months. How much of that 46% is real growth?
Visual China Group
the company that acquired Corbis
in January 2016 has seen a more than 50% decline in value as an investment since the purchase and a 20% decline in the last month. VCG is a publicly traded company on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange.
A week after announcing that it had acquired 86.6 percent of Framepool
, Broadside Enterprises, Inc. (also known as Emaji) has announced that Frampool AG has entered into an agreement with ImagineChina
, one of the largest photo and video agencies in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
It is almost that time of year (early January) when I publish one of my semi-annual reports on iStock sales trends. A reader asked me recently to explain how I get access to the information in these reports. I'll explain the process I go through in this report.
I was recently asked by an African American stock photo customer why the stock photo industry doesn’t do a better job of showing diversity. I was surprised by the question and didn’t know how to answer.
After my story last week on “High Level Thoughts On The Stock Industry
” John Fowler asked, “Have you found any encouraging information at all from any RM photographers? There must be some folks doing something that works for them.”
Last July, photographer Carol Highsmith filed a copyright infringement lawsuit
against Getty Images for $1 billion after discovering that Getty and its subsidiaries had been charging customers fees to license her images of Americana.
According to a document filed with Companies House in the U.K. (see here
) it appears that Rex Features Limited (owned by Shutterstock) lent Silverhub Media
the money necessary to purchase Splash
. In return Rex Features has received very extensive control over the activities of Silverhub with regard to certain unspecified assets.
I was asked recently if I am optimistic that Shutterstock will maintain its momentum in 2017? The short answer is YES, I believe Shuttrstock’s 2017 growth will continue on the same track as it has in the last two years. In 2014 revenue growth was 39%
. In 2015 it was 30%
and in 2016 it is expected to be around 18%
. I expect the company will continue to maintain its DOWNWARD
Pond5 has announced the launch of its new Extended Licenses
offering some of the highest levels of coverage, protection, and flexibility in the industry.
An investment portfolio manager recently asked me to spend five minutes giving my “high-level thoughts on the (stock photo) industry outlook, competitive dynamics and emerging trends
.” I couldn’t do it in anywhere near five minutes. Here are my high-level thoughts.
Celebrity photo agency Splash News was sold to Corbis in 2011 and has now been acquired by SilverHub Media
. SilverHub Media recently did an exclusive deal with Shutterstock
for worldwide representation of the images in its collection. Thus, the Splash images should now be available through Shutterstock.
, the stock, archival and news footage search engine, has announce that preview clips from the Sherman Grinberg Film Library are available for viewing through Footage.net.
Emaji, Inc. a publicly traded development stage company based in Irvine, CA has announced the acquisition of 86.6 percent of the outstanding shares of Framepool AG (www.framepool.com
), a leading distributor of stock footage with headquarters in Munich, Germany.
investors see the steadily rising number of images in the Shutterstock collection and the number of new content creators being added each quarter and come to the conclusion that there is no problem on the supply side of the stock photo business. But, having more and more product is not enough. It needs to be the right product that fulfills the customer’s needs. And the right images need to be easy for each unique customer to find.
is proud and excited to have won the tender for the exclusive representation of the British Library content in the UK. Bridgeman Images has worked for the British Library for many years across all our offices. We are delighted to have been appointed for all commercial and editorial licensing with the exception of branded products and scholarly uses which will remain with the British Library.
Let’s see if we can sell a few images for less. Check out the offers from Deposit Photos, 500px, ImageSource and Dreamstime.
A month after the Getty’s initial announcement of its Unification Project
Getty has announced that “Due to the complexity of the work required (in the iStock Royalties and Unification Project) we are pushing back most of the changes by about a month.”
In an effort to make it easier for art directors to find the right image quickly Haystack
has launched a site that lets users search multiple agency sites simultaneously. Andrew Rowat and technology developer Vache Asatryan created Haystack and call their site the kayak.com
for licensing images. They have 19 collections on the site already and say they will be adding a number of additional agency sites in the near future.
Once Getty’s Unification Project
is fully implemented one of the issues Getty and iStock photographers will need to consider is where to upload new images in order to minimize effort and maximize sales and revenue.
After looking at their sales reports, an increasing number of photographers are deciding that it no longer makes sense to produce new images. At the same time, they are aware that many of the images that they produced years ago are being used very widely across the Internet without their permission. Some are saying, “Maybe, rather than producing new images, it is better to spend my time chasing infringements of the images I have already created.”
The buzz word in the world today is “Big Data” and how it is going to improve everything. But in the stock photo business are the major agencies are really examining the data they have collected? If they were I think they would be more worried about their future and doing a lot of things differently. I don’t see that happening.
As I pointed out in a previous article
I recently contacted a number of very successful photographers who, in the 90s, earned most, if not all, of their income from stock photography. After 2000, and despite a lot of continuing hard work and cost cutting, many saw significant earning declines and eventually had to look for something other ways to support themselves and their families.
has signed an exclusive deal to distribute SilverHub Media’s
growing collection of imagery worldwide.
If you think hard work, and continuing to produce better and better images is all that’s needed to make money in the stock photography business, think again. Here’s the story of one very successful photographer who started in the business in the late 1970s and how the last 16 years have impacted his business.
has gone public with a promotion to the 95% of design professionals that use stock photography. For the first time, buyers looking for a comprehensive all-in-one search tool can review and license photography from all industry sources – and get no duplicates.
, the stock footage and photography provider, today announced the launch of three new premium stock footage collections, Dissolve Filmmaker™, Dissolve Auteur™, and Dissolve Elements™. The clips are available now for licensing and use in movie, TV, and commercial projects.
, with over 50 million stock images, and more than 16 million users has added 10,000 new images to its now 20,000 image library of free images available at www.dreamstime.com/free-photos
.?? Dreamstime also uses artificial intelligence-driven data from its companion site Stockfreeimages.com to dynamically adjust recommended image content based on user preferences
, the UK’s leading supplier of independent broadcast news has agreed a multi-year partnership with Getty Images
, to license and distribute its award-winning news archive around the world from mid-2017. The distribution agreement will see over one million clips spanning more than 60 years of iconic news footage reach an even larger audience through Getty Images’ industry-leading global platform and expert international sales team servicing millions of buyers in nearly 200 countries.
The Getty Unification Project
that creates common platforms where both iStock and Getty Images contributors can upload their images and bring them into the Getty marketing system opens the door for a lot of potential new changes. If, or when, any of the following issues will come to fruition is unclear. But, Getty or iStock contributors and anyone considering offering images to either of these companies should consider the implications of these possible changes.
In a recent promotion ImageBrief sent out a link to its “What’s Selling
” collection. This is a hand picked subset of sold images specifically organized for photographers who have asked for insights into the type of images clients are buying.
With Getty’s announcement in late October of the Unification Timeline
that is due to take effect January 3, 2017 most iStock contributors have focused on the fact that the minimum guaranteed royalty for a subscription download would be $0.02.
monitors use of the work of more than 8,000 professional photographers and photo agencies worldwide to assist them in ensuring that their intellectual property rights are protected. Notable clients include Magnum Photos, CPi Syndication, Nunn Syndication Ltd., Playboy Enterprises, and Lickerish Ltd.
has reported Q3 2016 revenue of $123.1 million up 15% from $107.3 million compared to Q3 2015. The growth is due mainly to new customers and increased activity by enterprise clients. The average price per download during the quarter was $2.91, up from $2.76 in Q3 2015 and from $2.81 in Q2 2016. There were 41.2 million paid downloads in the quarter and 102.7 million still images and illustrations in the collection at the end of the quarter up 61% from 63.7 million a year ago.
has launched a new commercial assignments venture, Verbatim
and is dedicating focus, resource and its world-leading photo expertise to capture the opportunity within the commercial sector to bring authentic visual storytelling to the fore.
has announced an exclusive three-year agreement with AM Stock-Cameo to make more than 60,000 HD clips available to Shutterstock users. This robust, diverse library features aerial footage, explosions, driving plates, and shots of hospitals, military bases, schools, and more. This is essential footage for transition and establishing shots.
Chai Jijun, Co-Founder and EVP of Visual China Group (VCG) provided a very detailed and complete picture of the stock photo business in China when he gave the keynote address at the DMLA 2016 Conference
last week. The following is his presentation.
Will crowd-sourcing images (UGC) or highly curated collections from professional creators be the future of stock photography? All the major suppliers of stock imagery are focused on acquiring more User Generated Content, but long range will that be the best way to grow revenue or create the most usable collections for image consumers? At the recent DMLA 2016 Conference
Brianna Wettlaufer, CEO of Stocky United, talked about an alternative to UGC and how to run a viable, sustainable and profitable photographer’s co-op.
Shutterstock, Inc. has signed a deal with the european pressphoto agency b.v. (epa) to distribute its unique collections of visual content globally. Beginning in January 2017, Shutterstock’s editorial customers, which include some of the largest media companies and publishing houses, will be able to license epa’s daily image content from around the world.
Adobe Stock has announced a partnership with Reuters that will enable creatives to access Reuters editorial content, as well as over 60 million royalty-free commercial photos, videos, illustrations, graphics, 3D assets and templates.
Big changes at Getty are on the way. Getty has supplied its contributors with the following information about a Unification project that will create common platforms for both iStock and Getty Images contributors. While many specifics have been provided there are still a number of questions about how this may impact current contributors and industry competitors. I will comment in a later article. In the meantime, I will be very interested in comments or questions anyone in the industry might have.
The 30th annual GDUSA Stock Visual Reader Survey
, is now available. GDUSA says that stock visuals have become a vital creative resource for graphic designers, moving over the 30-year period from marginal to mainstream to essential.
After five years in the position of US Register of Copyrights, Maria Pallante was fired last Friday. Pallante was informed of her change in roles by being locked out of her computer. Maria has been a huge advocate for the rights of Creators and instrumental in the industry’s efforts for modernizing the Copyright Office and the creation of a Small Claim’s Court for Creators. She has been seen as being fair and unbiased by all who know her.
In an effort to make it easier for customers to find the images they need, ImageBrief has pulled together into 72 collections
of 11,352 of the best images its photographers have submitted in response to customer briefs. See the list of collections below.
The stock photography world is changing fast, and constantly throwing up new challenges. robertharding
has decided to take a pioneering approach to creating new and exciting ways of working that will enable a new generation of image buying clients to find and purchase the work of a new generation of photographers in the easiest way possible.
I just returned from the 2016 PhotoPlus Expo
. For the stock photographer there wasn’t much reason to go. If your interested in seeing what’s new in the way of equipment, then the Expo in New York is the once-a-year place to be. The Canon, Nikon, Fujifilm, Epson, Olympus and Tamron exhibits at the trade show were as big as always. Canon’s space may have even be bigger. But, overall the trade show was the smallest ever.
. has expanded the functionality of its design application, Shutterstock Editor. Features including professionally designed templates and the ability to upload personalized visual content such as a logo or business image, save designs for editing later, and publish finished designs to social networks are now available from within the application.
Microstock sites used to surface new images for weeks or months after they were uploaded. Now, photographers are saying that this no longer seems to be happening. It would be nice if photographers had more information and a better understanding about how the search algorithms work. Here's a little about how I think these complex algorithms work.
Justin Black operates Visionary Wild
a company that organizes workshops and photo tours for passionate photographers who have attended workshops and seminars with experienced photographers and are looking for new opportunities to move their work to the next level of quality, depth, purpose and meaning. Justin shared this story that occurred on a recent scouting trip to Svalbard
aboard an expedition cruise ship.
There is a lot of talk about how Big Data will save the industry, but are the major stock image distributors using the data they collect effectively? Given the huge number of images currently in major databases
, it would seem that a very high percentage of them are never viewed by anyone. If the distributors are collecting data properly, they should know which images are reviewed by customers and which aren’t. If there are lots of images that are never reviewed by customers, is there any way to generate revenue from those images.
Overall sales for Pearson fell 7% in the first 9 months of 2016, due to further inventory corrections by retailers in North American Higher Education courseware in July and August. Pearson noted that trends improved in September and, so far, into October.
In the “Goodbye Shutterstock
” thread on MicrostockGroup
marthamarks said, “My older images still sell on Shutterstock, but newer ones die there.” Why would that be? One would expect newer images to sell better, particularly when agencies continue to ask for more and more images. This does not seem to be insolated complaint, but one common to many long time Shutterstock contributors.
As more and more amateurs supply images for marketing – particularly “candid, real life” images – there may be an increased risk of images without proper releases getting used. Some agencies – and maybe even customers -- are also becoming more lax in checking whether valid releases exist. While many agencies require that a release be submitted with all people images, not all do.
According to the Pew Research Center in the last year 39% of Americans read only print books. Another 26% didn’t read any books at all, but read other things. The question is where do the other 35% of book readers get their information. Remember, that not so long ago the 74% who wanted to read a book turned to one that was printed.
In a research project performed by Pfeiffer Consulting for Adobe Stock, Pfeiffer found that users who acquire video clips from Adobe Stock could realized up to a 6x productivity increase for their video workflow compared to using other conventional stock video sources.
Last month Africa Media Online
conducted a survey to gain an understanding of how picture buyers and picture researchers use Google to find images. Seventy-eight percent (78%) of respondents use Google to help them find images for licensing.
has reported on a new survey
being conducted in the UK to try gather information about the future potential of photography as a career.
In the chart below I’ve searched Shutterstock
and Getty Images
for the number of images in popular subject categories. No customer would use these words alone in a search for images. Other words would certainly be needed to narrow the search for something more specific within each category. (Note: that some images have more than one of these keyword and will appear in multiple categories.)
For the last 5 years I have conducted a semi-annual analysis of the number of downloads and images in the collection of 432 of iStock’s leading contributors. There may be some newer contributors that are now among the top iStock earners, but I don’t think very many. It takes time to build a significant collection and begin to get volumes of sales. These 432 probably represent one-third of all iStock single image downloads since the company began.
has announced exclusive representation of the Built Images
stock library. With over 25,000 property-released photographs of contemporary commercial and residential architecture, interior design and home lifestyle, the “Built” collection is one of the most comprehensive and diverse image resources of its kind available for use in advertising and graphic design. This unique collection represents work from more than fifty of the top architectural photographers from the United States and around the world.
How many of the images in stock photography collections are ever used? The stock photo distributors could figure this out, but for the most part I don’t think they pay attention to this figure -- or really care. Their interest is in unit sales, and average price. They don’t care if a few images sell hundreds of times, or every image in their collection sells once – as long as revenue continues to rise.
Stock photographers need a better understanding of image buyers – their frustrations and what could make their lives easier. Jon Anderson is CEO of Foto Sushi
a new stock agency. He is also a Creative Director who has worked on B2B and B2C projects both within an advertising agency and corporate marketing organizations for more than 14 years. In a recent Foto Sushi promotion sent to image buyers, he hit on some very important points that all image creators ought to consider.
Guarding intellectual property rights in China causes many headaches - but also opens fresh opportunities for lateral thinkers like Chu Yong, whose company’s biggest income stream comes from court cases against copyright thieves. He is making more money for his 400 image creators he represents from compensation for infringement, than many of them receive from selling their products to genuine buyers.
Getty Images is asking image creators to add their names to an open letter to U.S. Senators
. The letter asks the Senators to say NO to Google’s anti-competitive Image Scraping practices that harm visual artists and other independent creators.
Getty announced on April 27th that it would file a complaint against Google with the European Commission concerning Google’s anti-competitive business practices. On May 20th, to the chagrin of CEPIC, they announced they would not pursue
a copyright case against Google in U.S. courts
It does little good to blame someone else for how things have changed. We’re not going back to the old ways. The important thing is to figure out how to move forward. As might be expected not all readers agree with my take on where the industry is headed. A month or so ago a reader wrote: “When you write articles you must be impartial. The problem is you are very close to the Picture agencies that are destroying Photographer’s jobs. So its very difficult for you to be impartial.
A month or so ago a reader wrote, “When you write articles you must be impartial. The problem is you are very close to the Picture agencies that are destroying Photographer’s jobs. So its very difficult for you to be impartial.”
Since then I have been doing a lot of thinking about “impartial,” It may be time for me to provide a clear explanation of how I see my role as editor of Selling Stock.
Photographers are discovering that Getty
is being paid fees by Pinterest
for images it doesn’t represent.
has launched an Adobe Photoshop plugin
that allows user to find images in the Getty collection and then edit watermarked images in Photoshop. If any image found and manipulated in this manner is later purchased, the edits will be applied to the licensed content.
An increasingly competitive marketplace has led Yahoo-owned Flickr Marketplace
to bow out of the stock photography market. After Getty Images terminated its agreement with Flickr
in March 2014 that had enabled Getty to add almost 900,000 images from Flickr photographers to the Getty Images collection, Flickr decided it would set up its own Flickr Marketplace to market the images from its photographer community.
After publishing my analysis of PicturEngine
last week (9/14) Justin Brinson, PicturEngine CEO, made extensive comments. I’ve decided to re-publish the entire story with Justin’s comments inserted where he indicated. I hope this gives readers a clearer understanding of this new search engine.
One-hundred thirty-seven photographers from 27 countries responded to our Stock Photo Revenue Trends
survey. Forty-seven percent of the respondents were from North America and 14% from the UK. The rest were spread rather evenly among other countries.
Adobe has launched the public beta of the Adobe Stock Contributor Site
, a new platform that enables creatives to upload and sell their photos, illustrations, videos and vectors to the world’s largest creative community.
Recently, I was asked for my thoughts on stock photo industry revenue growth
between 1992 and 2016 with particular attention to the intermediate 8 year periods leading up to 2000 and 2008. I was also asked to make an estimate of the number of professional photographers in the world for the same years. I’ll deal with revenue growth first and the professional photographers later.
The 2016 Digital Media Licensing Association (DMLA) annual conference
will be held in the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Jersey City on October 27-29. DMLA is known for its exceptional educational programming related to current industry issues.
On 14 September 2016 the European Commission published its copyright package including a draft directive on Copyright in the Digital Single Market for promoting a “fair and efficient European copyright-based economy”. CEPIC represents hundreds of picture agencies and hundreds of thousands of photographers. CEPIC’s
members have been digitizing visual content from the advent of the Internet. They license the resulting digital asset for all kinds of commercial uses, to newspapers, magazines, advertising, broadcasters, off and on-line, etc.
A new stock photo source called Foto Sushi
, LLC has launched a custom library of unique portrait photography suitable for any project. This small collection of what many photographers will classify as very simple images is interesting because it was created by Jon Anderson, a seasoned Art Director and Creative Director, who believes he has identified an unfulfilled need of his colleagues – image buyers.
After years of development PicturEngine
is about ready to begin promoting its search engine to customers. It has more than 500,000,000 keyword searchable images from 64 stock photo agencies and hundreds—soon to be thousands—of individual photographers.
has published a infographic
on The Top Trends Shaping The Future Of Imagery. Photographers looking to produce the kind of imagery customers want to buy may want to make note of these trends outlined by Keren Sachs, Director of Content Development at Shutterstock and Offset.
In the last few months I have argued that the stock photo industry needs smaller, better curated image collections. However, many of the major image collections have consciously decided that a totally opposite strategy is the best course of action. Agencies want to leave the curation process up to their customers.
The Mega Agency
is partnering with the News and Entertainment division of Australia’s premier photo agency, Snapper Media, the two companies announced today, September 12th, 2016. The Snapper News and Entertainment division will operate under Mega’s name and both partners are confident the new venture will become an even more formidable player in the Australasian markets.
Are graphic designers trying to raise their clients to the next level of quality becoming frustrated with generic images and insisting on more images that relate specifically to the brand. Here’s what one website design company in Pittsburgh is doing. Top Hat IMC
, a Pittsburgh website design company
, has launched its very own in-house brand photography service.
The last day to respond to the Stock Photo Revenue Trends
Survey that we launched last month will be September 17, 2016. For more information about the survey see here
. The good news, so far, is that 13% of the respondents earn over $80,000 a year from stock sales alone.
, Inc. has announced that its vast collection of 100 million high-quality photos and illustrations is now accessible within Adobe Photoshop® software through its new custom built plugin. With more than 100,000 new images added every day, the Shutterstock plugin boasts the largest collection of photos and illustrations that can be licensed directly within the Creative Cloud desktop application.
I have a theory that a very high percentage of the uses of editorial or news pictures occur in the first month or two after they are shot. Newpapers, magazines and websites use the images when they are fresh and then move on to the next news happening. Of course, certain events will have historical value and key images from these events may be used over and over in future years – Iwo Jima flag raising, World Trade Center, Hindenburg crash, etc.– but it seems to me that such situations represent a very small percentage of overall use.
Students who have decided to study photography at the post secondary level (college or university) should sign up for the Alamy Student Scheme
and begin to get a realistic idea of the value of their work in the marketplace. Alamy can help the student learn what customer’s want.
, Inc. has acquired of over 700,000 images from two prominent photo collections: The Art Archive and The Kobal Collection. Both collections, previously held by UK-based The Picture Desk, are now available to Shutterstock Premier customers globally.
Yesterday, I talked about why the business of licensing rights to stock photos - as currently structured - is Designed To Fail
unless some major changes are made. Two of the changes needed are: (1)
make finding the right image for a project much easier for the buyer, and (2)
improving supplier efficiency.
The basic operating structure of how most stock photo agencies acquire and market images has not changed in 15 to 25 years. Image creator produce and submit their work to an agency. The agency may reject some of it, but most will go into an online collection that customer can review. When a customer finds something she wants to use she pays a fee and the image creator receives a percentage. The agency’s job is to manage the material, make customers aware that the collection exists, license use of the image for whatever they can get and collect money.
, one of Germany’s leading photo agencies, and Science Photo Library
(SPL), the world’s leading source of science and medicine content, have announced a strategic partnership aimed to deliver SPL’s collection of scientific imagery to the German market.
The Frans Lanting Studio, located in Santa Cruz, California, home base of one of the world’s foremost nature photographers has an opening for a Digital Asset Manager to manage the Studio’s digital assets from ingestion to application. The position requires proficiency in Mac OS, Adobe Lightroom, Photoshop, Keynote, Microsoft Office.
The Mega Agency
is launching with an archive of 30 million images after signing a ground-breaking agreement with Newscom
, the world’s largest multi-agency archive of digital images.
The 2016 DMLA Annual Conference (http://digitalmedialicensing.org/conference.shtml
) will return to the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Jersey City, October 27-29. Registration fees are due to go up on September 1st, but the deadline for the discounted rate has been extended to September 9th for those who use the promo code DMLA16
If you’ve been shooting all summer and haven’t had time to keep up with your reading here are links to a few stories you might want to check out as we move into the fall. To begin, be sure to complete the recent Stock Photo Revenue Trends Survey
. Initial results show that two-thirds of the respondents have seen their annual revenue decline since 2010 with the most significant declines in the 2013 to 2015 period. However, 19% of respondents saw revenue growth of 20% or more between 2013 and 2015.
Recently, I decided to take a look at the number of images in the various Creative collections on Gettyimages.com
. The numbers are very revealing and in some ways surprising. Getty has 16,687,710 million images in its Creative collection, 10,341,296 of them or 62% are RF and the rest are RM. (Obviously, these numbers grow slightly every day.)
Of the millions of stock images which ones are actually being purchased and used by customers? Photographers trying to earn a living need better information about exactly what images are selling so they don’t waste time shooting things no one is interested in buying.
I have been told that there are at least 650 million images available for easy licensing in various databases around the world. This doesn’t include all the images that can be found by searching Google, Bing and the social media web sites where other images can be found, but not easily licensed. Only between 1% and 4% of these are ever licensed. Do photographers need better information so they don't waste so much time shooting all those images no one wants to use?
is conducting a worldwide, blind Stock Photo Revenue Trends
survey and is asking all photographers who earn money through licensing rights to some of their images to respond. Individuals can respond to the short, 8 question survey by going to this link
. A full report of the results will be available to each respondent.
According to Reuters
China’s richest man, Wang Jianlin, is stepping up his push to take over one of the major Hollywood studios.
Seattle based Blend Images
workflow team is seeking an innovative, results-oriented, stock video professional to oversee content editing, quality control, distribution and support of its fast building stock clip library. The ideal candidate will have experience in stock video production, solid technical skills, sound business judgment and work well in a team environment.
Today, Peter James made comments on my Facebook page
to several of the stories listed there. I can understand his frustration. Here are links to the stories he looked at, his comments and my reactions to those comments.
Darrell Perry has been named Executive Director of ASPP
(American Society of Picture Professionals) and has written to members and friends informing them of recent changes and asking for help in recruiting new members.
Do photographer’s care if their name is attached to their images, or just that the images generate some revenue for them? While doing some recent searches, I discovered it can sometimes be very difficult to determine who created an image.
Three senior news executives have joined Kevin Smith’s new media company, The Mega Agency
. Smith is delighted to announce that Paul Tetley, David Leigh and Karlo Pastrovic have joined the Mega team.
, a London-based image licensing startup launched two years ago, has announced that it now has more than three million images in its collection. “Our three millionth image was uploaded by a photographer in China, of a family playing ping pong in a Beijing park,” says Picfair founder Benji Lanyado.
reports that a current visual trend seems to take advantage of “instagram – like” filtering that pulls up the black point of the image and reduces the contrast.
Brooks Institute, possibly the premier photography trade school in the U.S., has announced that after 70 years of training media and visual arts students it will close its doors on October 31. Students, faculty, and staff were informed of the closing at a meeting with school representatives on the morning of August 12, 2016.
A US-based celebrity photo agency is currently looking for a buyer interested in taking over its operations or acquiring its archives. Founded in 2003 by a music photographer, the company has established reputable and strong relationships with publications, artists and publicists. With just one highly motivated owner who wishes to retire, it is profitable, has no debt and is reasonably priced. A buyer could either manage the company as an independent archive or integrate the archive (1.4 Million images, fully captioned in English) to its own collection.
If you’re curious as to why Shutterstock’s stock price keeps rising while from the perspective of many in in our industry Shutterstock’s long term growth prospects don’t appear to be that favorable, David Trainer offers some interesting insights. See here
. Trainer is CEO of New Constructs (www.newconstructs.com
), an independent research firm that leverages proprietary technology to find key insights from the Financial Footnotes of 10Ks and 10Qs. After studying his analysis here are a few of my thoughts.
It is that time of year when students are getting ready to head off to college. Most will go there because it sounds like more fun than going out and getting a job and because they have been told that a “higher education” will give them a better chance at future career advancement and eventually earning more money.
Some European photographers, particularly in France, think many of our industry’s problems could be solved with a Photographer’s Union. Unfortunately, a Union of Professional Photographers would probably only make the situation worse for most union members.
, the world’s largest provider of royalty-free stock videos, music tracks and sound effects, as well as millions of photos, has announced the appointment of Jason Teichman
as the company’s new Chief Executive Officer and Board Director. In this role, Teichman will help the company continue to accelerate its growth by scaling its creative marketplace, leveraging its unique relationship with the artist community, and furthering its investments in emerging media such as drone footage and 360-degree video.
, the world's leading multicultural stock photography agency, has recently announced the launch of a new website with a focus on world-class curated royalty free imagery
and motion clips. The new Blendimages.com
offers an improved user interface, a simplified pricing model, large image previews, and is the only place to search the entire Blend Images collection.
RM photographer working with the major stock production companies may have some very difficult decisions to make in the near future.
With the rise of Offset
, AdobeStock Premium
and iStock Signature
it seems that RM photographers that are not also owners or shareholders of production companies, like Blend Images
, Image Source
and Tetra Images
, may find that they can earn more by moving their collections to RF.
A reader sent me a note recently indicating that after seeing an Offset
promotion he had asked Shutterstock
the following question: “Do you think, clients - professional or not - are expecting this level of imagery from a high end collection?” The images shown in the promotion were taken in Thailand by Brooklyn-based photographer Lucy Schaeffer
. The Offset tagline said “her images mix refined, understated luxury with the country’s beautiful and dramatic scenery. Be Transported.” The following are links here
show the two images that were shown in the promotion.
has reported Q2 2016 revenue of $124.4 million up from $104.4 million compared to Q2 2015. The growth is due mainly to new customers and increased activity by enterprise clients.
This is an update on the story we published last week
concerning Carol Highsmith’s copyright infringement suit
against Getty Images and other defendants.
has been acquired by Bytedance, a digital tech company based in Beijing. The stock agency will continue to operate independently as a photo, video and commercial licensing agency serving editorial media, advertisers, creative agencies and brands, in China, Hong Kong and Taiwan.
The needs of stock photo customers are changing. Successful agencies and distributors are adapting to those needs. Increasingly, customers are turning away from the large collections that purport to have everything. They are moving toward smaller, tightly curated collections that have a narrow focus in terms of the subject matter they represent. Aurora Photos
is one such agency.
Photographers who saw ImageBrief’s a recent blog post
about Pamela Olivera’s shot that was used worldwide in a Delta Airlines campaign have been asking why Delta would take such a risk on an unreleased picture. Other ImageBrief photographers have commented lately that ImageBrief does not determined whether or not they have releases on at least some of their accepted pictures. They seem to simply accept that every image submitted has all necessary releases.
that photographer Carol M. Highsmith
has filed a copyright infringement suit in New York against Getty Images
. Damages could be worth $1 billion.
investors often ask my opinion of stock photo industry’s future and the potential for Shutterstock’s growth. I tell them growth will slow significantly. Demand from customers willing to pay for the images they use will decline. Shutterstock has grabbed about all the customers they can from Getty so there is not much potential for growth there. Adobe will take a much bigger share of the market. Recently an investor asked me, “What would you do if you were Shutterstock?” Here’s what I told him.
has created a infographic
timeline showing the History of Stock Photography. They are actively seeking feedback and interaction on the infographic so that we can gather as much information as possible.
, has implemented a significant improvement to its website security by switching all site pages to "HTTPS" including the dedicated mobile website and the Dreamstime applications for iOS and Android.
Many RM photographers are opposed to Royalty Free because they believe that for a single low fee they would be giving away all future rights to use their images. That’s not quite true. Check out this story to see the real differences and understand how much you might really be giving away if you license your images as RF.
In response to changes in the industry and client requirements Africa Media Online
has introduced a new simplified pricing model. The South Africa based picture library has moved away from the complexities of narrowly defined RM usages and is now offering clients a simple procedure for establishing what an image costs.
Shutterstock has launched a new keyword suggestion tool for iPhone that leverages a combination of metadata (man) and pixel data (machine) to suggest more relevant and accurate keywords for images that are uploaded in the Shutterstock contributor app
After reading last week’s article on “Rights Simplified Pricing
” a reader asked if I could expand on why an alternative to Rights Managed pricing is needed. He said that seldom has he found that customers are unwilling to pay fotoQuote
RM rates that are based on how images are used. The following is my response.
Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Congressman Tom Marino (R-PA) have introduced a bipartisan small claims bill, H.R.5757, the Copyright Alternative in Small-Claims Enforcement (CASE) Act of 2016. When Congress reconvenes after its upcoming six-week recess Congresswoman Judy Chu (D-CA) plans to introduce a separate version of small claims legislation establishing a small claims tribunal in the Copyright Office.
To deal with increased customer demand for simpler, easier to understand pricing, and the general decline in the use of Rights Managed images industry wide, plainpicture
in Germany has introduced a new pricing model they call (RS) plainpicture Rights Simplified
. has announced an API integration with Google. The image licensing deal provides Google’s digital and mobile display advertising products, including Adsense, Adwords, and Admob, with access to Shutterstock’s collection of more than 90 million images for license.
Singapore based, MotionElements
has introduced VisualSearch
v2; two improved revolutionary tools that simplifies all creators’ search for that perfect footage or music to use in their projects.
One of the principal reasons for licensing images as Rights Managed rather then Royalty Free is to insure that the customer pays additional fees whenever they reuse an image. With RF, once purchased, the customer can use the image as many times as they want. But how often do such multiple uses occur?
Recently, I asked about 100 medium sized stock agents around the world a series of questions to try to get an understanding of the revenue generated from images supplied to them by other stock agencies as opposed to revenue from images the agent had collected directly from image creators.
A few iStock contributors tell me that since the introduction of subscription sales in March 2015 downloads
as reported on the contributor’s portfolio page no longer tell the whole story.
Paul Banwell, Senior Director, Contributor Relations for Getty Images has just sent contributors the following letter regarding Getty’s directions for the future. This information should be of interest to every stock image producer and distributor regardless of their relationships with Getty Images.
Some iStock contributors continue to add significant numbers of images to their collections, despite the decline in the number of downloads
and we presume revenue, since average prices per-image downloaded have also declined.
Downloads from iStock continued to decline in the first half of 2016. Since 2011, I have been tracking the number of downloads and images in the collection of 430 of iStock’s leading contributors. At the end of June 2016 these contributors had between 56,465,000 and 58,967,000 total downloads during their iStock careers. iStock has over 100,000 contributors, but despite the small number in this group we believe the images licensed by this 430 represent almost one-third of all the images iStock has licensed since the company began operations.
A couple weeks ago I wrote an articles asking “What Is ‘Commercial’ Stock Photography.”
I questioned how big the demand is for “candid,” “natural” and “real life” grab shots of what happens in front of the photographer rather than staged shots that look real but are carefully posed with great production values. A reader suggested I contact Jerry Taven who founded Nonstock about a fifteen years ago.
One of the biggest problems with stock photography licensing today is that there is often no clear logic behind why a higher price should be charged for one image and not another. In this article we explore how the industry's marketing strategy might be improved to generate more revenue for creators and distributors, as well as making the image search process more user friendly for customers.
Photographers choose to sell their work as RM for three reasons: (1) They believe that everything they produce should only be licensed for prices higher than those charged for RF, (2) They dream that one, or a few, of their images will eventually be licensed for an extremely broad, major use. Customer who make such uses are willing to pay multi-thousand-dollar prices for exclusive rights to such images, and (3) Such high value sales can only happen if images are always licensed based on use. There are several fallacies to these arguments.
has taken action against a serious copyright infringer who was discovered to have improperly accessed, downloaded and distributed Getty Images content through social media.
Skilled digital artists don’t need more photos. Everything needed to recreate many of the world’s most famous masterpieces already exists
. Adobe challenged four digital artists to recreate four lost, stolen or destroyed artistic masterpieces using only Adobe Stock. If you’re a photographer, and not a Photoshop expert, you need to take a few minutes to watch the four time-lapse videos that show how these digital artists worked. See Make a Masterpiece
has unveiled an innovative new portal for photography contributors to upload work to their site.
has been chosen as a distribution partner for photo content from international news agency Reuters. The deal will give all of Alamy’s customers in the UK, US, Canada and Ireland access to millions of images that span over 20 years of incredible news photography.
Adobe has released a host of new features and performance enhancements for its Creative Cloud users. Of greatest interest to stock photographers is the addition of an all-new Premium Collection
of over 100,000 high quality stock images. Images will be available for single download purchase and priced between $100 and $500. In addition, there are other key enhancements to Adobe Stock that provide a deeper integration with Creative Cloud apps.
I recently asked Chris Ryan of CAIA Image
to explain how their company came into existence as a stock photo production company, and how it operates. He sent me the following and said, "we are always looking for new contributing artists whose work we think is truly outstanding."
, has announced that it is now offering images from top wire service Reuters through its news feed. ZUMA proudly becomes a distributor of Reuters images in the United States and Latin America as of today.
Have we lost sight of what commercial stock photography is? Have we become so obsessed with “real life” and “natural” the we think that anything that is arranged or posed is bad? Does an image have to shock to be good stock?
has made some changes in its terms and conditions. One of the major changes is that they are introducing Social Media Pricing. Photographer may op-out of social media pricing for their RF images, but if they don’t act within 30 days they will automatically be opted in.
GmbH is now part of Hubert Burda Media´s network. StockFood is one of Germany’s most respected photo agencies. As market leader, it carries works by more than 1,000 food photographers from around the world. StockFood will retain its current workforce and its independence as a company. Hubert Burda Media is one of Germany´s largest media companies and market leader in food media.
Does licensing images as RM make sense anymore? If you’re licensing your images as RM the following are a few things to think about from both the customer and the image creator points of view. If you really want to license your work you must consider why fewer and fewer customers are buying RM images.
National Geographic Creative
is looking for a new Senior Photo Editor. Based in Washington, DC this person will review submissions from National Geographic Creative talent, assess which assets would be of commercial value and make determinations as to how they can best be directed for monetization.
Visual China Group has provided a list
of the third party image collections it represents. The combined totals of RM and RF images in these collections is over 10.5 million images. It has been believed that VCG represents all the images in the Getty Images collection, but that appears not to be the case.
On April 22, 2016 Google and Microsoft announced officially
that they had buried the hatchet. Reflecting a changing relationship, the two sides drop complaints to regulators around the globe. Why should stock photographers care?
At the recent CEPIC conference one attendee asked, “Why do customers continue to buy RF images? Don’t they already have enough? If they get unlimited rights to everything they own, why don’t they just use the images they have already purchased and never need to buy another image again?”
Getty Images has launched the Getty Images Virtual Reality Group
, a new business dedicated to the creation and global distribution of virtual reality (VR) content.
, the largest provider of royalty-free digital video assets, announces the Pond5Million Sweepstakes
celebrating the company’s milestone of 5 million videos uploaded to the platform and its growing community of more than 40,000 artists.
According to Getty Images
CEO, Dawn Airey, “Over 97 per cent of visitors come to our websites to look at – not purchase – amazing imagery.”
ACSIL has announced the panelists who will be speaking at its ACSIL FOOTAGE EXPO 2016 in New York next week. The event is being held at the historic Prince George Ballroom at 15 East 27th Street, New York City on June 9, 2016. This one-day event is a chance to meet with footage distributors from both Europe and the U.S. and to hear discussions about the latest trends in the stock frootage industry.
(GD) in Belgium has developed a strategy for chasing online infringements that photographers may want to check out. There is no cost to the photographer unless there is a settlement. In the event of a settlement Graphics Detective pays the photographer 50% of whatever it collects.
. has made its visual search features, first introduced for desktop use in March
available for mobile use. Reverse Image Search for mobile invites users to capture the world around them on their mobile phones, and then upload them via the Shutterstock app
to search Shutterstock’s collection of over 80 million images for similar content and style.
has reported another year of impressive growth with gross sales of $7,928,745
million in 2015. That is up 126% from $3.5 million in 2014. The great news for image creators is that Stocksy paid out $4,323,735 in royalties
. That’s 55% of gross revenue collected. In addition, because the company is a Co-Op, they were able to pay out an additional $200,000 in dividends to members who sold images during the year.
Since October 2013 Getty Images
has been collecting money from Pinterest for images in its collection that have been pinned on Pinterest. The transactions appear on photographer sales reports as $0.03 gross sale and a photographer royalty of $0.01
. Indications are that this is a one-time payment no matter how long the image stays on Pinterest.
Shutterstock has notificed its Offset contributors that it has decided to make Offset content available to its Enterprise clients (over 24,000 of them) at a price point between $50 and $100. The current Offset price for a 72dpi web use image is $250.
Most photographers use two different figures to track revenue trends – revenue Per-Image-Licensed
and revenue Per-Image-In-Collection
. It’s easy for a photographer to figure his own per-image-licensed figure, but it is very difficult to determine how that might stack up with all photographers because the specifics of the number of images are usually not available even when you know (or have some idea of) the gross revenue collected during the period.
In a Photo District New interview entitled “Too Big To Sue”
Getty Images General Counsel Yoko Miyashita and VP and General Counsel Lisa Willmer explain why Getty Images is not suing Google Inc. in the US for copyright infringement. This is a must read for everyone engaged in the image licensing business.
Dissolve has announced it will add over 50,000 premium rights-managed (RM) commercial photographs to its site at dissolve.com
. The photos will be live on the site on June 1.
In order to safeguard its users, 500px Marketplace
has modified its submission requirements by asking for extra details to confirm the identity of its contributors. As of May 16, 2016 contributors must confirm their contact information and provide a copy of their government ID before any new images they submit to Marketplace can be sold.
If you’ve got quality digital image files that have been sitting around for a while and earning little or no money, there may be a way to get some cash for them. GraphicStock
, owned by VideoBlocks
, is paying a small one-time fee for non-exclusive rights to image collections. For this one-time fee they receive the right to license the images to customers non-exclusively, in perpetuity. No additional royalty will be paid to the creator for such sales.
Microsoft has teamed up with Shutterstock
to add integration within PowerPoint in order to offer access to the vast collection of images for use in presentations.
In a previous story
we talked about five aspects of the image licensing business where serious modification to standard practices are needed, if the industry is move ahead and grow revenue. In that story I dealt with three of the five: (1) Pricing Floor For Certain Imagery, (2) Simplified Pricing and (3) Better Actionable Data For Contributors That Relates To What’s Selling. In this story we’ll examine the issues of (4) Curation and, (5) a Central Database For Small Collections.
If there is going to be a business of producing and licensing rights to stock photos five or ten years from now, the industry needs a serious re-design. There are at least five areas that need serious modification if the industry is to include anything other than User Generated Content (UGC), or if there is to be revenue growth.
The “Best In Show Festival 2016” of Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs will open at 12:00 noon Saturday, May 14, at the Palm Beach Photographic Centre in West Palm Beach, FL.
The annual FOCAL International
Awards Ceremony will be held on May 26, 2016 and the day before on May 25th the footageMarketplace
will be held at 195 Piccadilly (home of BAFTA) in London. At this event footage and music content buyers can meet with 35 of the world’s premier footage/production music libraries.
has announced that Tim Davis
has joined the growing Aurora sales team as an Account Executive. Tim had spent the last 15 years with Corbis, most recently as a Sales Associate and Account Executive.
is happy to announce that the royalty free images of the renowned Parisian Agency PhotoAlto
are now available via PantherMedia. This addition gives extra flair to PantherMedia’s Premium Collection. PhotoAlto's images distinguish themselves with a special touch of fashion and style that can only originate from Paris. Creatives all around the world hold PhotoAlto in high regard due to its strong technical quality paired with a specific, individual take on subjects and themes of any type. While the main focus of the collection is on people photography, there is also a strong emphasis on food, travel and other subjects.
has enhanced the already prolific stock media catalog of 43 million images and is now accepting submissions to build a library of royalty-free audio clips. In the first 24 hours after opening the site for submissions Dreamstime received more than 10,000 sound clips. The new audio section will eventually contain thousands of high quality professionally produced sound effects and music files, not currently found anywhere else in the industry. The royalty-free audio clips are grouped into four categories which include instrumental, style, theme, and sound effects, with many sub-categories available for further refining, ensuring users can quickly find the exact sounds or music their projects require.
Everyone says there is increasing demand for photos. And there certainly is for photos that can be had for $1.00 or FREE. But is there increasing demand from those customers who used to buy photos for use in advertising and major marketing campaigns? The following are some statistics. Unfortunately, this story may raise more questions than provide answers, but the questions are worth considering.
The major sources of stock and archival footage will exhibit at the ACSIL FOOTAGE EXPO 2016
which is being held at the historic Prince George Ballroom at 15 East 27th Street, New York City on June 9, 2016.
has reported Q1 2016 revenue of $116.7 million up $19.1 million compared to Q1 2015. The growth is due mainly to new customers and increased activity by enterprise clients. Royalties paid to contributors during the quarter were about 29% of total revenue, or approximately $33.8 million. Currently, there are over 100,000 contributors meaning that the average contributor earned $338 during the quarter.
Paul Melcher disagrees with much of my pessimism about the future of the stock photo industry. I have the greatest respect for Paul and his opinions. He is founding director of Melcher Systems
and has been working in the stock photo space for more than 20 years. He has a thorough understanding of our industry. He has done much more in depth research of the tech side of the industry than I have, and has much better contacts and networking in that space. For these reasons, it is important for my readers to carefully consider what he has to say.
Corbis contributors have received the following information relating to the release from their contracts from Corbis & Unity Glory/VCG, the Chinese company that purchased Corbis.
Being represented exclusively by a single agency, or distributor, used to be important if you wanted a chance to license your images for high dollars for advertising or product identity uses. These customers wanted assurance that no one else would be using the same image while their campaign was in progress and they were willing to pay a lot of money for such rights.
More and more photographers have started to produce stock footage as a way to grow their business. Clearly, there is increasing demand for video clips as well as a greater need for video than still images. One of the questions I’m frequently asked is “What are the best companies to represent my work?”
Getty has supplied Corbis contributors with the information below. For many the most important information is that after May 2nd Corbis contributors who have not signed a separate agreement with Getty Images will be released from their contributor contracts and all survival periods will be waived.
has filed a competition law complaint with the European Commission against Google Inc. The complaint follows Getty Images’ submission in June 2015, when it joined as an interested third party in support of the European Commission’s existing investigation into Google’s anti-competitive business practices.
The take over of the stock photography business by amateurs and part-timers is not new, but the long range implications are worth considering.
In 2014 500px introduced (500pxprime.com
), a licensing arm of its global online photography community that was launched in 2009 for the purpose of sharing and discovering images. Initially, prices were $50 for web use and $250 for print uses. The royalty share started out at 70%, but now it has been cut to 30%. Photographers are not happy with the pay cut.
Shutterstock has signed a 3-year exclusive worldwide distribution agreement with Starpix
, a boutique celebrity, red carpet and event photo company that provides photo coverage on the East coast for leading film studio clients and publishers.
has announced a partnership with PR Newswire
that will provide its customers with access to the Shutterstock 83 million+ image library of licensable photos.
Some Corbis photographers whose images have been integrated into the Getty Images collection tell me that their images are appearing high in the search-return-order for searches of their particular subject matter.
This story provides links to several stories that relate to the Visual China Group (VCG) acquisition of Corbis and the role Getty Images has been assigned in the transfer of Corbis assets to the Getty Images collection. Getty’s collection was marketed in China by VCG before the sale. The new enlarged collection with the addition of some Corbis images will continue to be marketed in China by VCG.
The Shutterstock Contributor App that contributors may obtain from the Apple App store has been upgraded to allow contributors to directly attach, upload and manage model and property releases to their images from their phones.
How low can prices go? Is the volume of images used more important than earning money when an image is used? Must we accept whatever the customer is willing to pay, or is it possible, at some point to say NO? If there is such a point where is it? Most photographer will agree there is some point where the people representing our images should say NO, but there is big disagreement on where that point should be.
I was recently asked for my views on where the stock photo industry is headed over the next few years, the value of the industry at present, and how I think the major players will adapt to the growing availability of user-generated content. Here’s my answer.
In recent seminars and webinars Getty provided contributors with information about buyer activity and tried to help them understand what customers need. One of the most important bits of information was that Getty is currently licensing rights to 10 RF images for every 1 RM. For years the average licensing fee for an RM image has been about 2.5 times that of an RF image. While the royalty share of an RM sale tends to be higher than an RF sale (about 35% to 20%) at a 10 to 1 ratio creators are likely to earn significantly more licensing their images as RF than as RM.
, has launched Megapixl.com
, a new website that utilizes machine learning to offer more refined stock image choices based on past user behaviors. This artificial intelligence (AI) utilizes past behavioral data garnered from millions of designers in order to determine which content is the most relevant and suitable for the individual user.
Veer has closed its doors and photographers have been released from any contractual obligations they had with Veer. Images belong to Veer photographers have not been automatically migrated to iStock, but photographers can request a transfer and sign a new iStock contract if they wish. Effective May 2, 2016, the Corbis Images and Corbis Motion businesses and websites will no longer be accessible.
Many think search will be solved with better Metadata. While metadata is important, there are limits to how far it can take the customer toward finding the right piece of content. This story provides links to a number of previous stories that deal with this issue.
Time is becoming an increasing important factor for art directors and image buyers. Bosses and customers are demanding more output and giving the art director less time to produce results. The time it takes to find the right (well maybe, just usable) image is an increasingly important factor to be considered.
A photographer recently called to my attention a keywording anomaly that those who want their images found might want to consider. The photographer said that when he prepares for a trip to another country he searches some of the popular photo sites for the country and the keyword “released.”
Charles Taylor is still trying to put together a company that will consolidate many smaller independent picture agencies into a single publicly traded company that will be traded on the AIM stock exchange in the UK. Back in 2014 Taylor’s organization was called GDI Media Limited
. The new version is called Avalon. More about it can be found here
Last fall, BVPA, the German association of picture agencies, asked me a series of questions about the U.S. market for stock photography and where I think it is headed. The following is what I told them along with links to a few relevant stories.
The Mega Agency
, a new global media business, focused on delivering editorial images, is pleased to announce that David Ellis has been recruited as UK Sales Director.
Agencies need to think hard about supplying contributors with more detailed information about exactly what is being requested and what is really selling. It used to be enough to provide general information about the broad categories of subject matter in demand. At that point they would leave it up to the individual creator to guess at what buyers -- with whom they have no contact whatsoever -- might want. That is no longer enough. Shooting based on gut feelings no longer works.
After reading my previous story
investors in stock photo companies as well as image buyers may ask, “Why should we care if professional photographers stop producing stock images?”
A Korean subscriber recently asked the following questions. “I notice you say that many photographers are unable to earn enough money and end up leaving the market. Is there any specific number that you can prove? How many photographers/contributors were there in the past and now?
A videographer wrote recently complaining that two of his video clips had been sold by Getty Images to Viacom for a broadcast show on Comedy Central. This show also appears on the web. These two sales were made through a Premium Access deal and netted the videographer a whopping $8.46 for the two sales.
There is a huge amount of focus on Visual Search and its potential for the stock photo industry. In my opinion Visual Search Will Not Solve The Problems Stock Photo Customers Face. Visual search can be very useful in finding an image that the customer has a copy of in hand. It can find all the uses on the Internet of a particular image, but that’s not what most customers want.
Recently, a photographer ask the following questions: Is stock photography a growing industry. I have read some analysis that say it is growing significantly, but others argue that free stock photography and microstock photography are leading photographers to leave the market. What is your opinion on that argument? Should a photographer upload the same pictures to as many other agencies as possible?
Over the past year, one of Shutterstock’s
engineering teams has spearheaded and modified computer vision technology to introduce more innovative search and discovery features and to improve the customer’s overall site experience.
Stock footage and photography company Dissolve
will be introducing its popular Liftoff program to filmmakers at NAB 2016, April 16-21 in Las Vegas.
It is getting harder and harder for photographers to protect their copyright. With PicScout, TinEye, Google Image Search and other reverse image search solutions it is easy enough to locate uses of specific images online. But, it can be very laborious to search one-by-one for particular images in a large collection, and it can be costly to have someone like PicScout do it for you.
Adobe Stock has announced that it now has over 50 million high-res photos, vectors, illustrations, HD videos including some 4K videos to its collection.
The annual CEPIC Congress
, the world’s largest event where licensors of still still and footage get to together to discuss issues facing their industry, will be held from 25 to 27 May 2016 in Zagreb, Croatia at the Sheraton Zagreb Hotel.
I want to call your attention to a couple of comments to my recent story “Curated Collections: The Future
.” It is important to recognize that there are some great images on most of the stock photo sites with tens of millions of images. But as we shove everything that meets certain technical standards onto these sites, it becomes harder and harder to sort through all the mediocre shots and find the few great ones.
As revenues have declined in recent years due to declining sales for the use of images in print, and increasing use of images on the web at much lower prices, many French editorial agencies have found it necessary to reorganize. Jean Michel Psaila, CEO and owner of Abaca Press
says, “The market has changed. We used to get €200 for print use. Now we get €5 for online use.”
has announced a three-year deal with The Associated Press (AP) to distribute AP's daily global photo and packaged video output for license to customers based in the United States. This milestone will also give U.S. Shutterstock editorial customers access to over 30 million photos and nearly 2 million video clips from, respectively, AP Images and AP Archive.
has made changes to its Extended License policy allowing users to produce unlimited copies of purchased media. Previously, customers purchased extended licenses for print or web usage of an image and were restricted by limits on the number of copies they could reproduce, for example for t-shirts, on-demand printed items, or e-cards.
If you’re a Getty contributor and your sales and revenue have been declining, it may be time to do some searches on Gettyimages.com as a customer would search. Input some of the generic keywords that a customer might use to find your images. See where your images fall in the search return order.
If you’re in the editorial photography business keep your eye on The Mega Agency
. This company is a new editorial stock agency founded by the people who started Splash. Splash later became a key part of the Corbis editorial offering.
It seems to me that all VCG bought when they acquired Corbis was: (1) The right to put out a press release saying, “We are the largest stock photo source in China,” (2) The removal of Corbis content from ImagineChina, which many believe was previously the largest stock photo agency in China, and (3) We bought a company from Bill Gates. Rumor has it that Bill Gates was paid $225 million for Corbis.
While there has been a great deal of discussion recently about the possibility of Congress creating a small claims process for visual arts, several visual artist groups, representing hundreds of thousands of creators, have joined forces to propose key components of potentially forthcoming small claims legislation. Collectively, the groups represent photographers, photojournalists, videographers, illustrators, graphic designers, artists, and other visual artists as well as their licensing representatives.
Getty Images has contacted Veer contributors to explain what will happen to their imagery as a result of the sale of Corbis to VCG
. Their imagery will not be integrated into the Getty Images collection. Veer contributors may apply to iStock for possible upload of their content there. The memo says:
has improved its systems for searching and finding the right video clip or image. In addition, it has introduced a Membership offering that provides significant saving for customers who pay monthly or annual subscription fees.
A photographer recently asked if I could explain why Shutterstock
is making such an aggressive effort to grow its collection. Currently, the company over 77 million images in its collection and is adding over 800,000 new images a week. As far as I can tell Shutterstock believes their customers want more and more choice not only in subject matter, but in newer, more updated images.
has reported Q4 2015 revenue of $115.9 million and a total of $425.1 million in revenue for all of 2015. The full year revenue was up about 30% from $328 million in 2014. Approximately, $8.6 million of the annual revenue was generated by Rex Features and PremiumBeat that were acquired during Q1 2015, and the impact of foreign currency exchanges. Excluding these contributions to revenue the company’s revenue growth was approximately 27% in 2015 down from 39% in the previous year.
The Good News
-- Getty has started offering some Corbis contributors who also have an existing contract with Getty the chance to have their Corbis images migrated to Getty. The Bad News
– One contributor was earning a 40% royalty on his Non-Exclusive RM contract with Corbis. Now Getty has offered him an agreement that gives him a 25% royalty.
Tomas Speight has joined Panther Media
GmbH as Chief Executive Officer. He will initiate a drive to grow the business into a global presence. Panther Media has a range of initiates relating to clients, international partnerships, as well as new content lines that will be launched in the near future. Further innovations beneficial to both photographers and clients are in the pipeline.
Many photographers who used to earn hundreds, and even thousands, of dollars for the use of one of their images think Shutterstock, and Microstock in general, are killing the stock photo business. Some Shutterstock contributors are even beginning to ask the same question. A reader recently asked for my analysis of why Shutterstock’s continued addition to its collection of over 700,000 new images a week won’t “drown it’s customers and risk losing its best contributors.”
Getty Images has sent Corbis contributors the following information about the migration of Corbis material to Getty representation. While some questions have been answered there are still a number of issues that are not clear.
The three public companies in the stock photo industry – Getty Image, Shutterstock
-- face major challenges that will probably be impossible for them to overcome. Adobe is the possible exception because it can approach the stock image side of its business as a loss-leader that supports the other 98% of its business.