What Does Image Curation Mean?

Posted on 6/29/2017 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (1)

I just received a press release from Envato Elements that offers “inspiring and ready-to-use photos, templates, fonts and assets” for $29 a month. They say Envato Elements “now includes 200,000 hand picked photos” from its PhotoDune collection of 9 million photos. (Actually, there are currently 244,085 photos in the Elements collection.)

I went to Envato Elements, did a search for “woman office” and got 3,326 images. This is a pared down selection of the almost 40,718 images found on PhotoDune using the same keywords. The first page of the Envato Elements search was made up almost entirely of slightly varying angles of a woman's hands on a computer keyboard. Most were of the same woman. Not what I would call a “curated” collection.

After this, I decided to search for “successful African-American woman.” There are 967 images on PhotoDune and 442 on Envato Elements. All the pictures on the first page of the supposedly “tightly edited collection” by Elements were of one woman, in the same clothes, in the same office environment.

I went on to the other pages and there were a total of 392 images (out of 442) of the same woman, in the same clothes, in the same office environment. In the first paragraph of the press release Envato Elements claims it is “one of the world’s leading subscription services for digital creative assets, and one of Australia’s largest stock photo providers.”

Is this what “hand picked” photos look like? Is this curation? Does anyone even understand what “editing” means anymore?


Then I got to thinking, I wonder if these same pictures taken by the photographer Dotshock are also on Shutterstock? Surely, if they are, a big professional organization like Shutterstock would have done a better job of editing.

So I went to Shutterstock. Sure enough the same images were there. But, Shutterstock has 518 images of this same woman, by herself, in the same clothes, in this same office situation. Maybe Envato did some “hand picking” after all.

Shutterstock also has several hundred other shots of this same woman in slightly different clothes, in office group situations. The environment for most of these shots is a little different, but all were probably taken on the same day in the same general office location.

Among the 1,371 of Dotstock’s images on Shutterstock with the keywords “successful African American woman” are also some shots of this same woman outside in exercise and physical fitness activities.

However, one of the most interesting things about these 1,371 images is that about 250 of the images are of groups of 5 to 7 people standing in the hallway of a high rise building with big windows backlighting the group. Remember we found these images by searching for “successful African American woman.” There is no African American, male or female, in these groups.

It looks like Dotstock made arrangements to shoot in this office building. All 1,371 images produced on that shoot were given the exact same keywords. Dotstock has a total of 98,417 images on Shutterstock.

Copyright © 2017 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.  


  • Peter Dazeley Posted Jun 30, 2017
    just mad.

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