Picture Researcher Needed

Posted on 8/6/2018 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Recently, I received a call from the developer of a real estate website who is looking for a picture researcher to help him find images to illustrate the stories he will publish on his website.

He is looking for “free” pictures, but has determined that it takes too much time, and is too much hassle, to do the research on the free sites himself. He is willing to pay someone to do that research, but not pay for the photographs.

He said he may have as many as 150 stories to start and more on a regular basis. He would need at least one picture for each story, but some stories would require multiple pictures.

His idea is to supply the researcher with “concept words” for each story. The researcher would then need to find pictures that fit the concept, but not necessarily read the entire story. One example is that on his demo site he did a story on “life change.” The image he found to illustrate that concept was “fall leaves on the ground,” illustrating change. Obviously, there would be some flexibility in how each concept might be illustrated.

I suggested that some of the stock agencies that charge a fee for each picture used are willing to do research, but he seems to feel that the images must be free. He had evidently contacted Getty Images and had the idea that there would be a cost of $50 per image for each image he needed. That would be out of the question.
    (It is interesting that Getty licenses over 50% of its image uses for $10 or less, but maybe this customer’s volume is not enough to qualify for a Premium Access deal. I’m not sure that Getty would be willing to do any picture research anyway.)
In an effort to pin him down on what he would be willing to pay for research. I asked if he would be willing to pay $25 per story, or if he was expecting to work out some hourly rate (not sure exactly how that might work)? He hedged so he is probably thinking less.

After our initial conversation it occurred to me that another problem he may face with “Free Photos” is model releases. I sent him an email saying, one thing to keep in mind is that if your looking for pictures with identifiable people you are taking a big risk getting images from the Free sites where it is rare that signed releases exist.”
“That shot really looks like it was a carefully planned shot by a professional. If so, that photographer, or the people in the photo, might come after you legally for using their photo to make money.  Sometimes you can get away with using photos of unidentifiable people, or people parts, without a release, like the two people in the car but there is no guarantee. The cost of one legal hassle in time and money can wipe out all you saved by not paying a legitimate stock agency (which has the proper releases) $10 or so for the images you use.”

He responded: “Of course. Forget the current website. Its coming down. It was a demo.  

The new site will have everything clean and licensed and credited.”

I’m not sure how he expects a researcher to determine whether the images found on a free site is properly released, or not.

If any of my readers are interested in doing this type of pictures research, please contact me and I’ll supply contact information.

Lessons To Consider

It seems to me that there are a number of lessons for photographers and stock agencies to learn from this type of a request. A few are:

1 – There are a significant, and increasing, number of small and medium size commercial organizations that are trying to market their products and services, mostly on the web. Many believe that the images they need should be free. They may be willing to pay for other services to make their web site functional, but they are not willing to pay much of anything for the images themselves.

2 – These users are discovering that finding the right image can be a very difficult and time consuming process. They hope someone else will take the burden off their shoulders and solve the problem. But they also hope the researcher will provide the service for free, or certainly not charge much for such a service.

3 – These users have no comprehension of the risks they are taking when they grab an image they find on the Internet.

4 – As free sites load up with near similar images for customers to wade through, they are making it harder and harder for users to find an image that fits their needs. Microstock inspectors are told not to edit or reject anything. Pass it all through no matter how many similars there are. This encourages everyone taking pictures to upload everything.?Unfortunately, the same is true of the professional sites trying to license image uses.

5 – All the major sites – both professional and those offering free images -- are encouraging everyone who takes pictures to upload every image they produce. The lack of editing makes the search process more difficult for customers, not easier.

6 – Because prices are so low, no one can afford to offer professionally edited collections anymore. In addition, most professional stock agencies can’t afford to do custom research for customers, either.  Professional research used to be one of things stock agencies offered.
    If we’re going to dump tons of unedited images on customers, then we need to somehow make it easier for them to sort through the offering.
7 – To exacerbate the problem, keywording is poor. When customers try to use multiple keywords to narrow a search the returns usually include every image that has any of the words in the search term, not just the images with all of the words in the search request. This usually results in getting way more images than anyone has time to review. The vast majority of images returned are totally inappropriate to the customer’s needs.

8 – Most of the small to medium size users don’t need exclusive images. They don’t need an image that has never been used by anyone else. They simply need a good image that is easy to find.
    A – If customer searches could be narrowed to only show images someone else has used before, that would be a great benefit. It would be particularly helpful if the images used most frequently were returned first.

    B – In my analysis of Shutterstock’s Q2 2018 financial results I determined that customers only downloaded 21% of the images in the collection. That percentage has been declining steadily quarter by quarter. But, we also know that the vast majority of images downloaded are the same images others have used. Thus, probably no more than 5% to 10% of the images in the collection have ever been downloaded. All other agencies have the same problem to some degree.

    C – If professional users need something different, unique and exclusive make it possible for them to look through everything. But we will find that fewer and fewer professional users will have the time to engage in this exercise.

Copyright © 2018 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.  


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