Picfair Passes 3 Million Image Mark

Posted on 8/15/2016 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Picfair, 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.

While its collection is still much smaller than those of the industry giants , it offers contributors and customers a number of advantages the giants don’t supply.

Contributors like the collection because they can set their own prices at whatever they want for their images and retain a significant amount of control compared to other microstock sites. Most images are priced around £5 to £10. There are no subscription sales.

Contributors also receive 100% of the price they list. (The customer pays Picfair a fee that is  20% above the contributors list price. The extra 20% is retained by Picfair.) This enables contributors to set their prices at half, or less, of what other microstock agencies might charge and still earn the same amount for each image licensed as they might earn if another agency licensed the image and paid the contributor a small royalty.

One of the things that appeals to customers is that Picfair seems to be editing its collection. In recent years some of the best customers have found that in order to find useful images it requires too much time to search through the massive, poorly edited collections offered by many of the major distributors – Shutterstock, iStock, AdobeStock, Thinkstock, Dreamstime, etc.
Increasing numbers of customers have become frustrated, and many are looking for smaller, better edited collections.

While Picfair offers a significant percentage of images produced by talented amateurs, hobbyists and Instagrammers about half of its current collection has been produced by stock photo production companies. These production companies have carefully studied the market and produce the kind of images major image buyers need and regularly use.

Another customer benefit is that the usage license is basically an RM license with a very, very broad scope - unlimited distribution, print runs, geographies, and no time expiration. Unlike other RF licenses the customer pays for each use. While this might seem to be a limiting factor compared to the more standard RF license (they all differ in minor ways), it is my belief that on the whole customers seldom use the same image in multiple projects. When they do, they don’t mind paying a little extra. It is tracking the actual total use of a given project that presents the problem.

Lanyado say, “Our model is revolutionary, even though it shouldn’t be. The old school agencies like Getty Images started the trend of taking the majority of royalties away from the photographers in the 90s. The next wave, Shutterstock included, just followed suit - the average middleman take is now 74%!”

Lanyado is a former Guardian and New York Times journalist who learned how to code on a General Assembly course and built the site himself. While rivals EyeEm and 500px have each raised $24m to date, Lanyado says Picfair has built itself into a stronger position with $900k.  All their investment so far has been Angel investment, including private investments from Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian and Google Ventures partner Tom Hulme.

The company is a super-lean, 9-person Shoreditch startup that allows anyone to sell an image to anyone, from award-winning photographers to talented Instagrammers.

“We benchmark ourselves against Shutterstock’s most common search terms - and our library coverage is already much stronger than EyeEm and 500px by comparison. We’ve been a selling platform from day one, while they’ve both been pivoting from a social proposition, which isn’t easy,” says Lanyado

Up to now, “We’ve been almost solely focussed on building our library and honing our algorithms, but thousands of buyers have signed onto the site already, most of whom are being referred by our photographers. It’s amazing how far we’ve spread, and it’s purely through word of mouth - we haven’t spent a penny on marketing,” he continued. Picfair images have already been used by Rough Guides, Esquire Magazine, Medium’s in-house editorial team, Jack Daniels, TopShop, Etihad Airlines, and hundreds of other global brands.

“Most of our photographers had never sold an image before joining Picfair,” Lanyado concludes, “and from today we’re turning our focus to selling their images at scale. Our photographers are the most powerful ace in our pack, and they’ve already helped us spread across the globe. We only make money if they make more - nobody else can say that. It’s powerful.”

Copyright © 2016 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

Jim Pickerell is founder of www.selling-stock.com, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to: http://www.jimpickerell.com/Curriculum-Vitae.aspx.  


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