Pro Stock Shooters Diversify Into Microstock

Posted on 8/1/2007 by Julia Dudnik Stern | Printable Version | Comments (0)

"We watch the current market developments with a degree of apprehension. Ours may be the last generation of pros who worked and marketed our images the way we did for the last 30 years," says longtime photographer Yva Momatiuk.

Represented by Corbis, Getty Images, Minden Pictures and the National Geographic Image Collection, Momatiuk's images have appeared in books and magazines around the globe. "The writing is on the wall. Too many pictures out there are bringing down prices, and the competition from the crowd-sourcing folks will be more formidable every year," she predicts.

The trends of image oversaturation and micro-segment growth continue, and many professional stock photographers are anticipating or already experiencing a decline in revenues. As a result, many pros are looking to supplement their income by expanding into video, trying to secure more assignment work, seeking additional distributors and even joining the growing ranks of microstock providers themselves.

Fotolia founder Oleg Tscheltzoff and other industry insiders believe microstock is a $100 million-per-year business, and most of it is coming from non-traditional buyers. iStock senior vice president Kelly Thompson and LuckyOliver founder Bryan Zmijewski point to high numbers of professional contributors. Other leading micro-payment Web sites make similar claims.

While freelance pros have joined established microstock communities, small and midsized stock agencies have launched their own low-cost collections. Most recently, these included two U.K.-based agencies: Cadmium and moodboard. The older Cadmium launched a separate micro-payment Web site; the newly established moodboard incorporated micro-priced imagery into its overall brand.

Others have chosen a middle ground. Ron Chapple, a stock-image market veteran, launched iofoto, a separate brand to represent the micro-priced work of Ron Chapple Studios. iofoto has its own Web site, represents the work of various photographers and uses six established microstock agencies as distributors for its images.

The micro segment is top-of-mind even among professionals who do not currently participate in it. According to a recent Wired article, Corbis and Getty Images photographer Chase Jarvis thinks microstock shouldn't be feared. He views it as another revenue source.

But given the numbers of pros entering the business, amateur microstock contributors should prepare for tougher competition. The majority of leading micro-payment Web sites has already tightened its editing procedures. Many images initially making it into the database are now being rejected as better-quality imagery becomes available. The leaders have begun to clean their inventories, deleting images that do not have a sales record. While microstock is not going away, many supplemental incomes may.

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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