Fine Art Photographers Take Aim At Commercial Market

Posted on 1/19/2012 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Fotolia has added 3128 fine art images from the deviantArt (dA) collection to its offering.  (Click here to see the images.) The images are available exclusively at

According to Josh Wattles, advisor in chief for dA, “The main purpose of deviantART is to help artists find other artists with similar interests, and people who appreciate the arts find artists, for the purposes of community and to receive criticism, support and guidance relative to what they are doing in their chosen field.” It is an environment for people to nurture each other, not a commercial site.
DeviantART was established in 2001 and is the largest collection fine art images on the Internet with almost 200 million works from members. Approximately 1.7 million photographers from over 50 countries have contributed about 62 million images to the site. Only 40% of the traffic is U.S. based and the overall collection is growing at a rate of about 50 million new pieces of art per year.

To determine the commercial viability of some of the best images on the site, Fotolia and deviantART partnered to create the deviantART Collection on Fotolia. They selected a group of professional image editors headed by Ellen Herbert to curate a representative sample of the millions of photographs available on dA. Approximately 400 dA photographers agreed to participate in this experiment.
deviantArt’s 19 million members make 52 million unique visits to the site each month. Fewer people visit the world’s top 100 museums in an entire year than visit deviantART in a week-and-a-half. Given its huge traffic the primary revenue stream is generated from advertising. “As the traffic grows we get more revenue and as the revenue grows we are able to do more things for our members,” Wattles said.

Free is the predominant membership model. There is no cost to upload images. Wattles said, “Anyone can become a member for free and anybody can post their images no matter what skill level.” Premium members are charged a small fee for the right to browse the site without ads and access to a suite of tools that make it easier to cruise around. There is a counterpart function for free members to every premium member benefit. Free is just not quite as good.
“We are thrilled to introduce the dA Collection, striking images representative of the caliber of artwork created by the deviantART community,” said Angelo Sotira, co-founder and chief executive officer of deviantART. “Our partnership with Fotolia is a fantastic opportunity to shine the light on our artists, exposing them to a worldwide market opportunity and also provide a fresh perspective to Fotolia customers.”
“Fotolia is proud to be the stock photo agency that deviantART chose to leverage their amazing collection. We’re excited to support the creative work of their community and to offer the collection to our designers,’ said Oleg Tscheltzoff, CEO of Fotolia LLC.

How deviantArt Works

Photographers with a Fine Art portfolio may want to join dA. Most commercial photographers are used to navigating a site using keywords. While it is possible to use keywords on dA the more common methods of search are by category and artist. There are 2,500 categories and sub-categories based on artistic style.
Under each image is a category which can be clicked to find only images in that category. Normally to begin a search many people choose a style and then order the images by either “Popular” or “Newest.” The popular images are the ones that have been favourited the most times. When you find an image you like by scrolling through the thumbnails it can be opened to a full preview. The artist name is under the image. Click on that and it will take you to the artist’s profile page.
Favourite any image and it puts that image in your favourite gallery and also indicates to the artist that one person liked their image. The artist also gets an email and may respond directly to the person who has favorited their images. It is also possible to comment on any image and such comments are appreciated by the artists.
Many people browse by finding an image they like, going to that artist’s gallery and then clicking on his favorites to see the work of other artists he liked. In this way everyone who uses the site is helps everyone else find images that appeal to them.


It will be interesting to see how well this collection does. The general quality is excellent, but for the most part the subject matter is not the most popular in the commercial marketplace. In addition the keywording is often sparse and the only way to find images on commercial sites is by using keywords. These image seem to get no particular preference in the search and thus are likely to be buried in Fotolia’s almost 16 million images.
The dA collection does get one benefit in that all downloads will be counted as if they are from one photographer with 3128 images. As a result all sales will rise much more quickly to a higher ranking and receive a higher payout per credit.

Commercial photographers who have seen their business decline, and have recently begun to focus on Fine Art photography as a possible supplement to their commercial business, should also make note of the competition that is out there. 

Copyright © 2012 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:  


Be the first to comment below.

Post Comment

Please log in or create an account to post comments.

Stay Connected

Sign up to receive email notification when new stories are posted.

Follow Us

Free Stuff

Stock Photo Pricing: The Future
In the last two years I have written a lot about stock photo pricing and its downward slide. If you have time over the holidays you may want to review some of these stories as you plan your strategy ...
Read More
Future Of Stock Photography
If you’re a photographer that counts on the licensing of stock images to provide a portion of your annual income the following are a few stories you should read. In the past decade stock photography ...
Read More
Blockchain Stories
The opening session at this year’s CEPIC Congress in Berlin on May 30, 2018 is entitled “Can Blockchain be applied to the Photo Industry?” For those who would like to know more about the existing blo...
Read More
2017 Stories Worth Reviewing
The following are links to some 2017 and early 2018 stories that might be worth reviewing as we move into the new year.
Read More
Stories Related To Stock Photo Pricing
The following are links to stories that deal with stock photo pricing trends. Probably the biggest problem the industry has faced in recent years has been the steady decline in prices for the use of ...
Read More
Stock Photo Prices: The Future
This story is FREE. Feel free to pass it along to anyone interested in licensing their work as stock photography. On October 23rd at the DMLA 2017 Conference in New York there will be a panel discuss...
Read More
Important Stock Photo Industry Issues
Here are links to recent stories that deal with three major issues for the stock photo industry – Revenue Growth Potential, Setting Bottom Line On Pricing and Future Production Sources.
Read More
Recent Stories – Summer 2016
If you’ve been shooting all summer and haven’t had time to keep up with your reading here are links to a few stories you might want to check out as we move into the fall. To begin, be sure to complet...
Read More
Corbis Acquisition by VCG/Getty Images
This story provides links to several stories that relate to the Visual China Group (VCG) acquisition of Corbis and the role Getty Images has been assigned in the transfer of Corbis assets to the Gett...
Read More
Finding The Right Image
Many think search will be solved with better Metadata. While metadata is important, there are limits to how far it can take the customer toward finding the right piece of content. This story provides...
Read More

More from Free Stuff