Scoopshot’s New Direction

Posted on 9/9/2015 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Scoopshot’s new focus on providing image buyers with professionally produced on-demand photography, produced to precise specifications, is a dramatic reversal from the company’s existing strategy of supplying User Generated Content (UGC).

In 2010 Scoopshot created a site that made it possible for anyone with a cell phone to easily upload photos of news worthy situations they stumbled upon (lots of auto accident and weather pics were submitted), or respond to requests (called tasks) from publications. More than 70 media companies around the world, and a large number of corporate customers, now source some of the images they use from more than 640,000 Scoopshooters that receive notifications of tasks.

One advantage of UGC photos is that photographers tend to take pictures of things that interest them or just happen in front of them. In at least one case a photo shot by a Scoopshooter was delivered and published 10 minutes after capture. But the vast majority of uses are of feature photos without the time pressure of breaking news.

Many of the feature photos result from tasks submitted by publisher that are than broadcast via an app to all Scoopshooters. Each photographer then decides if the request is for something he can photograph before the deadline. If so, he shoots and submits. If the photo is eventually chosen by the publication the UGC photographer receives a small fee. If his photo is not chosen he receives nothing for his efforts.

Popular, easy to shoot, tasks often receive thousands of submissions that editors must go through to find a single image to use. Some tasks are so specific that few if any images are submitted. Or they may be of something specific that no Scoopshooter has access to. The editor has no idea who is responding to a task request, or how many images he is likely to receive until the deadline has passed. In addition, the editor doesn’t know if a slightly higher fee offered, and guaranteed, might have been enough to motivate a Scoopshooter who was in a position to take such a picture to actually go out and do it.

Nevertheless, Scoopshot has been successful, raised over $10 million in venture capital from a variety of sources, and supplied a significant number of images to customers.

But with the launch of the new assignment service it appears that many buyers need more control and are willing to pay more for that extra level of service. Here are a few things buyers might not have been getting in the first generation of the task service offered
    1 – In some cases they didn’t get any useful response to their task, and they had no idea why.
    2 – In some cases they got way too many responses and it was a burden to go through the huge numbers of images to find something useful.
    3 – On occasion Images don’t arrive in a timely manner.

    4 – The buyer never knows whether or not anyone is working on his task.
    5 –By that time the buyer knows whether or not he will get usable images in response to a task request it is often to late to hire someone to do the job.
    6 – The buyers has no easy way to directly communicate with, or give guidance to, the image producer.
    7 – In many cases the image buyer needs more information about the image creator and his/her trustworthiness than just the time and exact place of creation. Dealing with an identified pro provides a level of confidence.
    8 – Many companies were not able to easily integrate the Scoopshot model into their normal processes for reviewing and choosing images.
For buyers with tight deadlines, and some budget for purchasing images, it is often better to deal with a pro with a track record and experience in producing quality images of certain subject matter, and to be able to discuss the project with the photographer prior and during the process of creating the image, even if they have to pay significantly more for the images they finally use.

While initially Scoopshot was focused primarily on supplying images to the news media CEO Petri Rahja now says, “News editors tend to rely on the wire services as their process currently only support that model.” He also points out that, “The Pro system is likely to be used more often on the brand side but certainly it provides value for feature editors as well.”

The promotion on the marketing side of the site shows three Brand Examples of how Scoopshot pictures have been used. This might indicate that the growth in the business might be more in the direction of advertising uses.

Scoopshot is not abandoning the UGC option. They will still offer it to companies that want to reach out to the broad community of photographers, but they expect to modify their approach in the future. Clearly, the company’s current emphasis is on helping image buyers identify experienced photographers with some track record and enabling the photographer to have some assurance that they will receive a certain level of compensation before they set out to take pictures.

Copyright © 2015 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, 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:  


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