More On Lightrocket

Posted on 12/27/2013 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

After reading my story on Lightrocket and the comments, Yvan Cohen, co-founder of Lightrocket provided some feedback and clarification.

There are some interesting points to make....
  • We are clearly not trying to make money from licensing photos - people seem to have some confusion on this point. Our business model is similar to that of SmugMug, PhotoShelter and Zenfolio. We aim to make money from subscriptions. Creating connections between buyers and sellers is an add-on that leverages our experience and background as an agency.

  • Our subscription fees are based on being able to deliver value to our members. We are doing this in a similar way to Photoshelter and SmugMug etc., but are offering very competitive rates (actually similar to those of SmugMug which is a very successful business). The value points include storage, media management tools, personal websites, distribution tools, secure delivery, contact management etc.

  • I'm not sure why we are being compared to Digital Railroad in particular. I think the most likely reason that Digital Railroad failed where Photoshelter succeeded relates to management and finance. I think that Digital Railroad probably over extended themselves where finances were concerned. Their business model didn't seem fundamentally unsound to me. It's also worth noting that where our competitors are based in the US where operating costs are very high we are based in a much lower operating cost environment and have been in business already for over a decade. This is not a flash in the pan for us. We also have other revenue sources from our digital asset management platform

  • Also worth noting is that though we don't currently have a large user base, we have launched this business with an existing archive, an existing client base, considerable experience in the industry and a supportive group of investors. When Photoshelter, Smugmug or any of the other successful businesses we are being compared to launched they presumably had zero archives, zero members etc. Everybody has to start somewhere and I would suggest that as a starting point, ours is actually not that bad :-). Photoshelter has been in the subscription business for a decade we launched a few months ago.

  • Individuals writing 'I don't think enough photographers' are going to sign up is not really based on any kind of empirical information. We are seeing growth in traffic to the site and in sign ups, and we believe we have a model that goes beyond that of our competitors in terms of value. Our members are making sales as a result of our pitches and our Getty program, for those who make the grade, is a genuinely attractive add-on that differentiates us from the competition. If the price is right, and the value/quality is there in our service, why wouldn't photographers want to sign up?
Anyway, I don't know if these responses can be of help but it's certainly interesting to read the comments your post attracted...although sometimes it's disappointing to see how negative people can be. 

Copyright © 2013 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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