PhotoShelter Uncovers Traditional Buyer Discontent

Posted on 6/16/2008 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Despite the overwhelming amount of imagery available for licensing, traditional buyers are far from satisfied. So says PhotoShelter, which surveyed over 700 of its customers to reveal that nearly three-quarters of respondents have a difficult time finding the types of images they seek.

PhotoShelter asked buyers whether they agreed with the following statement: "When it comes to the images I search for most often, I think I've seen all of the content available within the major stock houses." Over half (55%) of respondents agreed, and another 19% agreed strongly. Only 1% strongly disagreed.

The majority of respondents work in creative positions key to the stock-licensing industry, including approximately 200 art directors, 150 creative directors, over 100 designers, 80 photo editors and 60 art buyers. The highest percentage of responding PhotoShelter clients work at ad agencies and magazines, the two sectors that have remained top producers for traditional stock houses.

PhotoShelter customers license business, lifestyle and healthcare imagery most often. However, the survey suggests that buyers are growing increasingly unhappy with seeing the same images, particularly in the sub-categories of multicultural lifestyles, senior citizens and technology. These ranked as the three worst image types, based on availability, quality and general usefulness. Food, nature and travel images ranked the highest.

Over-posed, unnatural situations and unrealistic-looking models were also at the top of the list of buyer complaints. Traditional buyers are seeking a happy medium between this over-produced quality and a snapshot: They want candid images of real people, shot professionally. This is particularly prevalent in the popular healthcare category, where buyers want to depict average people. Natural-looking, believable lifestyle images top the list of the five image subjects buyers say they search for but can never find. Educational, non-posed action, women and religious imagery round out this list.

Complete survey results are available at the new PhotoShelter "School of Stock," launched to help bridge what the company interprets as a market gap. School of Stock is an educational feature that aims to provide guidance for shooting stock that sells. The online resource launched with a host of content, including buyer interviews, tutorials on shooting different subject matter and guidance on technique.

Though successful pro photographers provide some of this content, PhotoShelter stresses that the primary "teachers" are the power-customers: art buyers, photo editors and creatives employed by leading magazines, ad agencies, publishers and corporations. Currently represented are staffers from McGraw Hill, Discovery, American Express, MTV and Grey Worldwide.

In addition, PhotoShelter has announced plans for "Shoot! the Day," an educational event and competition designed to bring together photographers from around the world in New York on July 20. The company plans a full day of symposiums at Shoot Digital Studios, where 20 photographers will be selected by a jury to accompany experts on location. They will work in groups to shoot several popular subjects and settings identified as lacking by the buyer survey. The event will also have a virtual component. PhotoShelter will select and award the best imagery from both live and virtual participants with prizes and a gallery show.

Shoot! the Day is co-sponsored by Nikon, Adorama Camera and Shoot Digital. Registration for the live gathering is now open and is free of charge, with the available 500 spots allocated on a first-come, first-served basis. The day will end with an evening party.

Copyright © 2008 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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