Saturday, June 16, 2012

The Age of Instagram And Stock Photography

This "suspicious cat" (he knows me too well) is the type of picture I end up with when shooting with my iPhone! Oh well....

Cell Phones And Stock Photography 
The hot ticket these days seems to be image captured via phones through apps such as Instagram, Hipstamatic, and God knows how many more piling on by the second. There are stories of advertisers hiring Instagram shooters to shoot campaigns. Stock agencies are starting to have iPhone photo collections. Heck, there is even a new app that IS a stock agency for selling iPhone pictures! Hey, remember when cell phones were in the picture…not taking them!

A Conundrum
Part of me is pretty excited about the rise of cell phone photography. I have always thought it would be the ultimate to have a pocket-sized camera that I could shoot stock with…a camera I could have with me all of the time. The conundrum comes about, for me, in that I don’t actually like taking pictures with my iPhone.

Cell Phone Cameras And Commercial Opportunities
My old eyes have a lot of trouble seeing what I am doing when trying to shoot with my iPhone; pressing the button at the right moment to make the capture is an elusive talent for me, and the opportunities to capture truly worthwhile imagery, in a commercial sense, seem far fewer than I would have imagined. While that may or may not be true for others, in my case my sense of what is “commercial” is severely restricted by my industry experience. For me a successful commercial image is one that commands numerous repeat licenses over a lengthy period of time. I just don’t seem to be seeing those opportunities as I walk around with my iPhone.

A Passion For Shooting (Not)
You can probably tell from what I am writing that I don’t have passion for shooting with a camera phone. Keep in mind that just about every successful photographer stresses the importance of passion in photographic achievement. Further, though the “Instagram Look” is the hot thing right now, that too will pass.

Embracing New Styles
Photography embraces new styles and looks, absorbs them, expands its repertoire and moves on.  I remember in the 90’s when the leading agency of the time, Tony Stone Images (now Getty Images), would stress the importance of new looks such as cross-processing, shallow depth of field, and a host of other looks.  The “Instagram Look” will doubtless hang around, and some may even do quite well with it. But I believe that, for me, it is only a distraction from what I do well and what I do with passion and what will keep me earning a good living producing stock photos.

A Camera With Me All The time
There is no doubt that having a camera with me all the time, one that is capable of producing images that the agencies handle, can be of benefit.  I am, reluctantly I admit, committed to learning to use my iphone camera. But that is more a belief in embracing change than in expectation that the iPhono will replace my dslr or even supplement it in any significant way. Of course, how many of us scoffed at the idea that pixels would replace film?

Shoot More Pictures!
I do hope that a ton of photographers embrace cell phone photography, particularly professionals engaged in creating stock images. The more of my competition that is spending their time shooting on cell phones the more my own work will stand out. So quite reading this, grab your cell phone, and go out and shoot some pictures!


Luis Santos said...

ahahah nice advice!!

Jaak Nilson said...

There is a lot of questions at this moment.
Today three companies has stock camera phone collections.

A Foap ( unfortunatley they has Iphone platform only, Android will coming too) Their marketing campaign a 10 USD per photos, hm. microstock:)
Their standard price is a 40.- USD per image seems to be a pretty reasonable.

An Evolve images has very high selling prices and they are very selective. Their collection Evosnap is very beautiful and strong
I am not marketing specialist, but afraid that a customers do not need cell phone photos with very high price. But who knows, maybe I missed something.
And finally an Aurora Photos. They asking for exclusivity. Actually they were first on market with Myphone Collection

A Foap needs a photos from camera phone without Instagram and without other art manipulations.
I do not know what market exactly needs, but camera phone photos without good post production are very often pretty poor. Then we could add a filter and some manipulations, frames. Adding them to photos as an extra value.

There is on more question. All apps like Instagram reduce an original file size. Instagram allows for Android 1936*1936 and for Iphone 2024*2024 pixels size. Maybe there are a some nuance I could not find which allws a bigger file size too. My Sony Android allws me a resolution 12 mp, it is a 3000*4000 pixels. It is not good to reduce it and Instagram can handle a square fromat only.

It is better to do a post work for files in your Ipad or in desktop computer. use a Snapseed software for editing. It is 20.- USD only and very good. Lot of pros uisng it for camera phone files.
So, an manipulated and strongly processed images or a pure photos without art? Who knows?

Sorry about my English.
I add a link to my camera photos. Hope that John allows it:)))

Jaak Nilson

John Lund said...


Thanks for those links! I think you best summed it up with your last question..."Who knows?"!!!



Ashley BEolens said...

As if the market wasn't saturated enough!!

I have to say I am not a fan of phones for photography, they don't have the power, processors or lens quality to take the same brilliant photos that a decent SLR will take, but it seems more and more quality is coming second to everything else, who needs a great photo that captures the scene and moment well, a fuzzy blur will work as a memory (except it quite clearly won't in years to come, but I guess that is part of the live in the moment philosophy the world is currently living through).

Sorry ranting...

Great article by the way, obviously provoked my emotions :)