Shutterstock Launches Offset: Opportunity For RM Photogs

Posted on 4/3/2013 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (2)

Shutterstock has announced plans to launch Offset, a new RF offering of premium, high-end stock photos and illustrations. Currently the curated collection is in private beta. A public launch will follow later this year.

Images have been sourced from some of the top photographers and illustrators around the world according to Scott Braut, VP of Content, at Shutterstock. They are looking for “authentic” and “aspirational” images with high quality standards, high production values, contemporary art direction and style. Such images must have a storytelling and narrative quality to them and an intensity that focuses your interest. The lighting and situations must look perfectly real and naturalistic. National Geographic is an example of one of their early contributors.

The content will target areas such as “commercial lifestyle, nature, food, wildlife, travel,” and will include photography from the likes of Maura McEvoy. Click here to watch an Offset preview video.

According to Braut “Photographers and illustrators are giving us many of their best images. Many of those images come from assignment photographers who have never sold stock, or collections that were previously sold as rights-managed. Some images are being given to us exclusively, though we’re not requiring exclusivity.”

“Offset content is of a unique caliber and we want pricing to be respectful (and reflective) of the quality of the work, while at the same time making the images accessible to buyers who are looking for quality images that tell a story,” Braut continued. Usage fees are $250 for a 3MB file and $500 for a 50MB file, a huge step above Shutterstock’s subscription and pay-as-you-go pricing.  “Royalties will be somewhere in the vicinity of 30%,” Braut added.

For the time being, this new brand has a specific point-of-view and participation is by invitation only. To request an invitation go to For answers to Frequently Asked Questions see here.

Braut added, “The idea is to do more than simply showcase amazing images - it's to curate a collection of high-quality images that work together to be really engaging and immersive. That's one reason that we're not just relying on existing, traditional stock to build the collection. Curation is much more than editing and we're giving image buyers the ability to tell beautiful stories.”


This brand may offer a solution for photographers that have traditionally licensed their images as Rights Managed. Many have stopped producing, or making file images available for licensing, because they don’t want to allow their images to be licensed for extremely low prices – often a few dollars.

Assuming that Offset will not find ways to dramatically discount prices for certain customers, it will be interesting to see what kind of volume this site can generate at the prices quoted. Given the volume of very good imagery available on so many other sites – including Shutterstock - at much lower prices there is a real question as to whether the Offset collection can be so outstanding that customers will be willing to pay the higher prices. Getty, Corbis, Alamy, iStockphoto and others seem to have discovered that many of their customers will no longer pay such prices. To continue to sell much volume they have been forced to significantly discount their list prices for most of their biggest customers.

One big advantage that Offset will have is that Shutterstock has built a powerful database of 750,000 customers. Since 2003 they have learned a lot about the buying habits of their customers. They should be able to identify premium users anywhere in the world and focus their marketing toward them.

Offset offers a simple, royalty-free license, covering unlimited print and online usage. Shutterstock has also said that if a customer wants exclusive rights to an image they will contact the creator and determine if the proposed fee is acceptable.

If sales volumes don’t materialize for Offset, it’s not a major problem for Shutterstock. The Shutterstock site will probably continue to be the go-to site for customers that don’t want to pay Offset prices. But, Offset contributors who have been hoping for a way to hold the line on fees charged to use their images may discover that their images don’t sell often enough to justify continued production, particularly if the images are produced on speculation and not on assignment where the costs are covered upfront.

Only time will tell, but this may be the best opportunity open to photographers that don’t want to license their images for low prices.

Copyright © 2013 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:  


  • Larry Minden Posted Apr 3, 2013
    Offset is RF not RM

  • Jaak Nilson Posted Apr 4, 2013

    I think that customers needs for high quality concept images on midstock basis.
    It could be about $ 250-300 for 50mb files. No more. Then a micro buyers will probably starting to use an images with higher prices too.
    But if price is too high ($ 500 per 50 mb file) then customers do not buy them. Very easy and logical.

    Offset is going to launch a traditional RF agency with traditional prices. A good thing is non-exclusivity. Nobody does care about it. It is a some kind of relict today. And if a customer really needs an exclusivity then it will be an object of negotiation. Agencies could ask an exclusivity only then if they could guarantee a good sales. But about sales somebody can not predict. So a non-exclusivity is very welcome and of course especially for RF license model.

    Jaak Nilson

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