Aurora PremiumRF

Posted on 2/16/2015 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Aurora Photos has launched a highly curated Premium RF collection that places some of the company’s best images into a simple and easy to understand pricing model. The $250 for a small: 3mb/72 dpi image file and $500 for a 50mb/300 dpi file is a direct copy of the pricing used by Shutterstock for its collection.

According to Jose Azel, CEO of Aurora, when he first heard of the Offset collection he liked the idea, thought it would be well received by photo buyers, and placed some of Aurora’s images into the collection. (See previous story for other traditional distributors with images in the Offset collection.) Azel says Offset has done well for Aurora.

One of the big problems for stock photo buyers today is that there are way too many images to review. Most would like some assistance in narrowing their search to only those images most appropriate for their purposes. Keywords alone usually don’t do the job. Everyone recognizes that more curation by experienced editors is needed, but that costs money and the big question is whether enough customer will pay for the additional service.

The problem becomes even more complex given the number of high quality images that are being added to collections these days. As premium collections grow it may be necessary to constantly re-edit them in order to bring the best images to the top.

Aurora’s search functions somewhat differently from Offset. Offset is a standalone collection. There is no way to easily toggle to Shutterstock’s broader collect. On any given Aurora search if the customer doesn’t find what she is looking for in the Premium collection she can easily toggle to Aurora’s RF or RM collections. The pricing choices in these other collections are more complex, but at least the search may produce an image that is right for the customer’s needs.

The chart below gives some indication of the comparative number of images in the Aurora and Offset collections for certain broad keywords. The second column shows the number of images in the Aurora premium collection compared with the third column which shows all the images in the Aurora collection. Column four shows all the images in the Offset collection, but it is important to recognize that this collection was launched in April 2013 and has been growing for two years. Offset also has some images that are available for editorial use only and these can be found in column five.

  Aurora   Shutterstock Shutterstock
  Premium All Aurora All Offset Editorial
        Offset only
Lifestyle 919 13,689 13,724 271
Landscapes 2,120 20,301 17,764 281
Wildlife 440 5,428 8,261 12
Travel 1,421 33,263 20,940 1,745
Adventure 1,590 27,505 6,823 141
Food 234 6,441 24,034 233
Family 190 5,250 6,317 122
Business 42 2,662 4,132 115

There are at least two other advantage to the Aurora strategy. First, as more and more images are added to the Premium offering it will be easy to move some non-sellers to the regular RF pricing in hopes that some customers who find the Premium prices too high will want to use the images when they are at a more competitive price point.

The second advantage has to do with RM photographers who have been reluctant to make any of their images available as RF. Most of these photographers realize that in today’s market it is very rare occurrence when they get more than $250 for a web use or $500 for a print use. Thus, at these prices it may be worth making some of their images available as Royalty Free.

All the images in Aurora’s premium collection are exclusive to Aurora. They will not be available on other RF sites at lower prices. In the Offset case a lot of the images supplied by other collections are most likely available at lower prices somewhere else, provided the customer can find them.

Azel says, “I want to speak to the question of quality and value. The word premium is thrown around too often in our industry. While one can claim that what makes a good image is very subjective, we believe there is a limit to this flexible definition. Curation from a brand that understands great images along with a value that is reflected in price are the true measures of quality. It makes no sense to license excellent images for a few dollars. At some point, image creator need to set a minimum of what they are willing to accept. For now we believe this model is a good place to put fine frames.”

The big question with this strategy is whether enough customers are willing to pay premium prices just because an agency or an individual creator has defined the image as premium.

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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