1RED CARPET UPHEAVAL
June 5, 2007
By: Jim Pickerell
Red carpet and celebrity photography may be about to get much less lucurative. Getty and Corbis have been leaders in this field with Getty recently purchasing WireImage to expand its celebrity coverage and Corbis Outline having a strong position in this market for many years. And, of course, there are quite a few freelancers who have managed to jump through all the necessary hoops to obtain the necessary access to photograph their favorite entertainment personality.
Photographers in this business have had two major complaints in recent years. (1) There are too many photographers covering these events meaning that everyone tends to get in everyone elses way, and reducing the odds that any particular picture will be used. (2) The budgets of the buyers are very low.
The big guys have been able to improve the odds that their pictures will be use by developing very efficient distribution systems that tend to shut out a lot of the freelancers who may have decent pictures, but can't get them to the broad market in a timely manner.
Now Shutterstock, offering images on a RF subscription basis, may be about to radically change the dynamics in this segment of the market.
Shutterstock has announced a new program called Shutterstock on the Red Carpet that is designed to help their network of over 60,000 contributing photographers obtain coveted press passes, for film premieres, award shows, concerts, political rallies, etc. While taking steps to secure preferred access for its photographers, Shutterstock also intends to expand its library of celebrity images and with this move position itself to be a leading resource for the entertainment/celebrity sector of the industry. Shutterstock already has a library of almost 2 million general interest images and an efficient system for individual photographers to upload images after an event.
Shutterstock's subscription prices are also likely to be attractive to buyers on a budget. A one-month subscription to the Shutterstock service is $199 giving the subscriber virtually unlimited rights to as many images as they can find on the site. Three months is $599; six months, $1059 and one year $1999. Assuming they have the images these prices will be much more attractive than what Getty and Corbis have to offer and at the very least buyers are likely to check out Shutterstock first before going to Getty, Corbis or somewhere else.
Another interesting thing about this move is the photographers they seem likely to attract. It is likely that the primary goal of most of the photographers who choose to participate will not be to make a living from taking pictures. Rather, it will be to get close to their favorite celebrity, to get into events free, and to just maybe get one of their images used in their favorite magazine, occasionally. There are probably tens of thousands of people with professional photo equipment with these qualifications and now they have an organization that will help them get access.
Here's how Shutterstock on the Red Carpet will work. Photographers will work directly with a Shutterstock customer service representative to expedite the press pass application process-these representatives are available via email at email@example.com. Each event requires different information to issue a press pass, so Shutterstock asks that photographers be as specific as possible about their needs. There is a form online at http://submit.shutterstock.com/redcarpet.pdf ; photographers must fill out one per event and a Shutterstock Support staffer will respond within 24 hours. In return for enlisting Shutterstock's press pass acquisition services and increasing their potential earnings by taking photos in a much-downloaded category, photographers must agree to sell resulting images exclusively at Shutterstock. (Note: these photos must meet the same standards of quality to be added to the site as would any other submission).
Up to now, Subscription, Micropayment and RF have tended to be focused on generic images aimed at the advertising side of the business. It is believed this is the first time an RF offering has been aimed exclusively at the editorial market.