Adobe Artist Development Fund

Posted on 10/26/2020 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Adobe has announced that they are putting together a $500,000 Artist Development Fund to commission artists from “underrepresented communities” to create diverse assets for AdobeStock’s portfolio. It is still unclear as to exactly the type of images they will be asking photographers to shoot. Also unknown is whether the contracts will only go to photographers from “underrepresented communities” to do the shooting, or whether they may go to any photographer who is willing to shoot “underrepresented community” subjects.

It appears that the idea for this fund developed as a result of Adobe’s Digital Creativity Insights research early in 2020. One of the findings was that stock users searches for “diversity” and “BLM” assets peaked beginning in January through June and Adobe didn’t have sufficient content of certain subjects to meet the demand.

While Adobe is still trying to decide exactly what subjects they want shot, it seems likely that it will be mostly “African Americans” in the best seller situation (e.g. family on a coach in an up-scale living room, backyard parties, upscale street scenes) which up to now have mostly been shot with Caucasian subject. The new images needed will either require mixing ethnicities or a full swap of Caucasians with African Americans. That kind of subject matter seems to have become instant best sellers in the past 6 months.

It is also unclear how much Adobe might invest in individual shoots. One option might be to spend most of the fund on developing shot lists and then recommend to selected photographers that they go out and shoot that subject matter at their own expense on the normal royalty basis. Another option would be to pay a reasonable day rate for the photographer’s time, plus all expenses incurred to produce a set of pictures of the subject outlined.

If they choose the second option, I am very skeptical that Adobe will ever earn enough at current license fees to ever offset their $500,000 cost of production.

For the photographer one of the first issues will be finding attractive models with pleasing smiles and making sure their clothing is upscale. Certainly, there are many attractive black people that fall into this category, but most of them will not be willing to take time out of their busy schedules to work with a photographer – for Free. Most who fit the criteria will want to be paid for their time.

The next problem is finding the right middle-class locations for the shoots. Customers want to see these people interacting in up-scale locations because the products they are selling are used by people who live in, or aspire to live in, such locations. Certainly, there are an increasing number of blacks who live in such environments. But finding models who live in the right locations, willing to work for free and sign unrestricted model releases could be difficult.

Of course, if they are only looking for BLM news coverage that may not be a problem because releases will not be required, but we believe most of Adobe’s sales are for commercial uses and they have not been strong in selling shots of news events to the news media.

Keep in mind that image users are not just trying to sell their products to blacks, but middle-class whites, browns, Asians, and all ethnicities as well. As we look at photos used in U.S. advertising today, we see more blacks appearing in upscale situations where previously only white models were used.  In most cases the products or services bring offered are the everyone so while it is important to show that whatever is being advertised is for black it also must be presented in a way that makes it appealing to all consumers, and not viewed as being for just one group. Therefore, the picture needs to look like it was shot in a middle-class environment, not the ghetto.

This means that the shoot location may need to be rented, or built in a studio. It may not be possible to get the “right look” by just going to the model’s or photographer’s apartment, or shooting the picture on the street.

Adobe may think that while the pictures of white families in these situations are selling well images of minorities should sell just as well, or better. But many of photo of whites were shot several years ago when prices were much higher. Most of those photographers are no longer shooting more of the same situations because they can’t justify the expense. They have learned that they will never make their investment back.

It is interesting that Getty tried the same type of thing eight to ten years ago when usage fees were much higher. Getty contracted with certain photographers to go out and shoot new images of high demand subject matter. Getty paid the photographer’s expenses plus a good day rate and then owned the production and retained 100% of the revenue from sales. In less than a year Getty killed the project because they quickly discovered they were losing money on their investment. They went back to encouraging photographers to shoot on speculation and take all the economic risk.

Finally, Adobe may be able to justify losing money on such a photo project given the other benefits it might accrue to the company. Having more of this type of imagery might might further cement their relationships with existing customers while also bringing in more customers for the other software technology products they sell. After all the licensing of images is only about a $250 million of the company’s annual business and a small sideline to the main business of selling software services which generates total annual revenue of over $11 billion.

Copyright © 2020 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz


Be the first to comment below.

Post Comment

Please log in or create an account to post comments.

Stay Connected

Sign up to receive email notification when new stories are posted.

Follow Us

Free Stuff

Stock Photo Pricing: The Future
In the last two years I have written a lot about stock photo pricing and its downward slide. If you have time over the holidays you may want to review some of these stories as you plan your strategy ...
Read More
Future Of Stock Photography
If you’re a photographer that counts on the licensing of stock images to provide a portion of your annual income the following are a few stories you should read. In the past decade stock photography ...
Read More
Blockchain Stories
The opening session at this year’s CEPIC Congress in Berlin on May 30, 2018 is entitled “Can Blockchain be applied to the Photo Industry?” For those who would like to know more about the existing blo...
Read More
2017 Stories Worth Reviewing
The following are links to some 2017 and early 2018 stories that might be worth reviewing as we move into the new year.
Read More
Stories Related To Stock Photo Pricing
The following are links to stories that deal with stock photo pricing trends. Probably the biggest problem the industry has faced in recent years has been the steady decline in prices for the use of ...
Read More
Stock Photo Prices: The Future
This story is FREE. Feel free to pass it along to anyone interested in licensing their work as stock photography. On October 23rd at the DMLA 2017 Conference in New York there will be a panel discuss...
Read More
Important Stock Photo Industry Issues
Here are links to recent stories that deal with three major issues for the stock photo industry – Revenue Growth Potential, Setting Bottom Line On Pricing and Future Production Sources.
Read More
Recent Stories – Summer 2016
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 complet...
Read More
Corbis Acquisition by VCG/Getty Images
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 Gett...
Read More
Finding The Right Image
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...
Read More

More from Free Stuff