Fotolia Moves Upmarket with Image Source

Posted on 12/21/2007 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)

New York-based micro-payment Web site Fotolia announced the launch of The Infinite Collection, expanding the agency’s reach into the premium pricing space. Included in the new offering are images by Image Source, offered here at a discount of 75% to 83% off the English stock producer’s usual pricing.


With images priced in the $20 to $100 range, the new offering does not go as high as some traditional royalty-free collections. However, The Infinite Collection is in line with a number of brands in an industry segment currently defined as midstock. Priced the same as the recently launched Getty Images’ Valueline, the collection will also compete with lower-cost brands of other leading players. For example, Corbis has a range of royalty-free images available at $60 and $110 in 2 megabyte and 14 megabyte sizes, respectively. A host of smaller companies and brands also vie for the middle market.


The Infinite Collection launched with about 15,000 images, available through Fotolia’s existing Web site. Search results will now include this higher-priced imagery, and users will also be able to restrict searches to the new offering alone.


“Buyers will now have the ability to buy the same images they used to buy for more than $300 for prices starting at $20,” said Fotolia co-founder and president Oleg Tscheltzoff. He means “the same” quite literally, as images in The Infinite Collection have been sourced from traditional agencies. To be considered for inclusion, a photographer must be represented by what Fotolia considers a well-known agency. In addition, the images cannot have been licensed for less than the collection’s pricing.


Fotolia did not name the specific brands represented in The Infinite Collection. However, an investigation by CompassMedia CEO Paul Melcher, confirmed by Selling Stock, found images by the London-based premium brand Image Source sold by Fotolia at $20 to $100, depending on resolution.


Melcher’s Thoughts of a Bohemian shows the same images available on, as well as Image Source’s own Web site, for $199 to $399. “Image Source, the No. 1 independent royalty-free company that bravely resisted the Getty Web-ready price cut to $49… will have a lot of explaining to do when they come back from their vacation,” he comments.



iStockphoto senior vice president Kelly Thompson considers the launch of The Infinite Collection risky. “It will be a tough sell with [Fotolia’s] contributors,” he says. “They are likely to see this as competition.”


Thompson may have a point. For years, iStock has been moving the content of its exclusive contributors to its parent’s Photodisc brand, allowing microstock shooters to sell their production for more money. In contrast, Fotolia is going outside its community to source images for its new higher-priced offering. “If someone is so upset that they want to come over to us, we’d love to have them,” says Thomson, who has been taking an increasingly higher profile role within iStock with Bruce Livingstone’s new responsibilities at Getty Images.


Many will focus on The Infinite Collection as another example of the downward trend in traditional royalty-free pricing, particularly with brands like Image Source onboard. Others may see it as the industry diversifying into a variety of price points. Lucky Oliver founder Bryan Zmijewski, the man who coined the term “midstock,” is fond of pointing out that price is a function of how much a buyer is willing to pay. Though different groups of buyers are still paying different prices, even companies that only recently said they saw no reason to offer discounts are doing so today. Clearly, microstock, contrary to many predictions, is affecting the traditional photo business.

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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