Monday, June 20, 2011
The Conundrum Of Microstock
One of the fundamental problems in the stock photo industry, as it stands now, is the conundrum of microstock. I do not want to license my images at microstock prices, but I am missing out on the vast audience that turns to microstock for their photography needs. I have heard that half of all stock images licensed are licensed through iStockphoto! That is a rather large segment of the market to be missing out on.
The Agency Collection
So here I am, a long time stock shooter with contracts from numerous agencies, including Blend Images, Corbis, Getty Images and SuperStock. But even with the distribution through all of those agencies, I am missing a huge segment of the stock photography market…until now. Getty has recently put into place a new collection, The Agency Collection (TAC for short), a collection of images that are online on both Getty Images and iStockphoto.com. These aren’t microstock images. They are RF images priced at Photodisc levels, but are available through iStockphoto.com.
Blend Images Opens The Door
These images are provided to Getty by third party agencies. To participate in this collection you need a contract with one of those agencies. Blend Images has opened the door for me to The Agency Collection. Think about it…now I can have images that are available through both Getty and iStockphoto…and all without having to license the images at microstock prices! Is that cool or what?
A Step In The Right Direction For Stock Photography
Don’t get me wrong…I don’t see this as a panacea for all the problems faced by stock shooters, but it is a step in the right direction. In the coming years the first problem facing stock photographers is getting their work seen, getting their photos in front of the people who need them. If your images aren’t seen they aren’t going to be licensed. If your images are seen, if they fill a need, and if they stand out from the images around them, then I think you have a future in stock photography.
The Right Image, The Right Model and The Right Price
For me TAC is a step in the right direction because it gets my stock images in front of a larger audience. Of course a big part of my own work includes Rights Managed work, and those RM images are still not viewable on the microstock sites. I think eventually all images, in all models, and at all prices, will be available on most stock agency sites. The challenge for us stock shooters will not only be to produce enough images that fill needs and stand out, but also to make wise choices as to whether a given image belongs in an RM collection, an RF collection or in microstock. That is a decision I struggle with almost every time I create an image and one that I don’t think is going to get any easier in the coming years. But for now, I am happy to have one more choice to deal with.