Future Of Crowdsourcing

Posted on 5/18/2015 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

When I started my photography career I was looking for an enjoyable way to earn a living. Earning a living was my top priority. I tried to constantly to improve my skills in order to better produce the kind of images customers would want to buy. I spent a lot of time trying to figure out what customers wanted or needed. My focus was on producing imagery for which there was a demand.   

I spent very little time producing images just for my personal pleasure. There is nothing wrong with professional photographers spending some time in such endeavors. It just wasn’t my focus. There was no money in it. My wife will tell you that she took most of the family pictures.

I also looked for the customers who could justify paying a reasonable amount for the images they needed. Many of the people who wanted pictures couldn’t afford to pay enough to cover my costs of production, so I went looking for other customers.



About 15 years ago the needs of many graphic designers and illustrators began to change. They could no longer justify paying professional prices for the images they needed for many of their projects. Many began producing some images themselves. In addition, the Internet made it possible for them to easily share their production with colleagues around the world. Microstock was born.

Microstock, and developments in technology, also made it possible for lots of people who just took pictures for fun and personal satisfaction to get their images in front of professional buyers. For many or these photographers, this became a way to earn a little extra money and receive the satisfaction of knowing that someone, somewhere in the world, liked their image well enough to use it. Most of all, they didn’t have to be full-time producers to participate in this market.



In the last few years crowdsourcing has emerged. It has become easier to produce technically good pictures. It is also easier to share them with others. For most of these image producers money is not an issue. They are more interested in  improving their skills and affirmation from others – “likes.” Crowdsourcing sites make it possible for anyone to share their images with the world and receive the affirmation that is of prime importance to them.

CEPIC Congress


At the CEPIC Congress in Warsaw on Friday June 5th at 10:00am I will be moderating a panel discussion on Crowdsourcing and how it is likely to impact the stock photography business in the near future.



Many stock photography professionals want to argue that the imagery produced by amateurs is of low quality and in no way a match for the kind of imagery that can be found on professional stock photography sites.

These photographers should remember that this is exactly what they were saying about microstock in 2006 and 2007. But the microstock photographers learned quickly. Today it is impossible to say that the overall quality of imagery on the best microstock sites is not equal to that of the traditional stock photography sites.

Sure some of the microstock imagery of marginal quality, but that is also true of some of the imagery on leading traditional sites. Any honest observer has got to admit that there are probably as many outstanding images on a wide variety of subjects on microstock sites as there are outstanding images of similar subject matter on traditional sites. The fact that a photograph was taken by a part-time amateur rather than a professional does not mean that it is necessarily of any lesser quality.


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 www.selling-stock.com, 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: http://www.jimpickerell.com/Curriculum-Vitae.aspx.  

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