Citizen Image Launches Assignment Service

Posted on 8/28/2007 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Citizen Image, the New York-based citizen photojournalism agency, has launched an assignment service. In beta since the beginning of 2007, the online assignment board provides buyers with "specific images of breaking news events from camera-equipped bystanders, as well as specific stock images for commercial purposes."

The principle is simple: Buyers post assignments, describing the desired subject matter and budget. Members of the Citizen Image community respond by posting images and receive 50% of the gross proceeds when a buyer makes a purchase.

There were 15 assignments posted for the month of August. Many were editorial and breaking-news requests that sought images of Fidel Castro and the recent plane crash in Alaska. In addition, many requests were for images buyers typically source from a traditional stock agency. These ranged from diet, health and nutrition images to adventure travel and children photos.

Beyond listing a closing date for submissions, individual assignment pages do not make it clear if the buyer makes a purchase through Citizen Image. However, the company says it has successfully matched photographers with assignment board requests for ad agencies and print publications, including GSD&M and The Week magazine.

Though none of the five assignments reviewed today listed a dollar figure, Citizen Image's baseline pricing is closer to traditional stock than micro-payment. In fact, the company charges more than several others, including Getty Images' upcoming budget-priced offering, Valueline, which will top out at $49. At Citizen Image, licensing a 5x7 inch print-quality, rights-managed image of the band Dirty Pretty Things in concert costs $100. A royalty-free photo of a sunflower is available for $20 to $150, depending on file size.

In addition to the assignment board, Citizen Image announced two new distribution agreements with Mochilla and Fotolog, bringing more user-generated imagery into a market that has historically been the professional's domain. The Fotolog deal alone adds nearly 10 million potential contributors to the company's offering.

The trend of professional stock photographers losing sales to amateur shooters continues. Citizen Image is not alone in moving into the breaking news and celebrity-market segments. In June, micro-payment Web site Shutterstock launched a program helping its 60,000 contributors obtain press passes. Today, images of Madonna, George Clooney and other celebrities are available under Shutterstock's subscription model, which allows up to 25 daily downloads for $199 per month.

While industry insiders have yet to agree on the actual numbers, microstock's cannibalizing effect on traditional royalty-free sales is clear. Breaking news, celebrity and editorial image markets may next feel the effect of crowd sourcing.

Copyright © 2007 Julia Dudnik Stern. 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


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