Saturday, December 22, 2012

Getty, Image Search and Participation

A businessman holds out a globe of imagery and data in an photograph depicting database management, Internet search, and future communications technology. 
 For stock photographers image search is critical, and participation in communicating with our agencies is a vital part of every stock shooter's business.

Image Migration And Falling Stock Photo Income
For a while now Getty has been migrating a massive number of iStockphoto images onto their site. It isn’t unusual to do a search and get page after page of nothing but E+ images. I find this rather disconcerting, and it possibly explains the fact that virtually every Getty stock shooter I know has seen dramatic drops in their income during the last two months.

Forums, Complaints, And Strong Emotions
Over in the site the forums have been abuzz with complaints from the micro guys and gals that are unhappy with…well…pretty much everything. It’s interesting that while we traditional shooters are unhappy with the low prices of the micro images being uploaded to the Getty site, not to mention the number of them, the microstock shooters are unhappy with high priced images being migrated to their site. They are not afraid to express their STRONG emotions about everything from site functions to royalty rates. Heck, administrators have even been pleading with the members to pull it back a bit:

What Keeps Me Up At Night
I believe it is inevitable that all the major stock photo sites will have a complete range of stock products available from subscription to Rights Managed. I am hopeful that I can create imagery that is good enough that it can successfully compete with all the other images out there. What really keeps me up at night is the idea that my images won’t get seen. And right now, on the Getty site, it sure seems headed in that direction. I hope it is some kind of ingestion glitch, but glitch or not, I can’t believe it isn’t having a deleterious effect on my sales at least at this time.

The Squeaky Wheel Gets The Grease
Getting back to all those E+ images going up on the Getty site. That huge influx of imagery onto the Getty site is probably happening at least in part because the iStockphoto shooters are not shy about expressing their opinions.  On the other side, we Traditional shooters are a tame bunch. The squeaking wheel gets the grease…and us silent types are getting left out of the search. Time to speak up. By the way, I have been with Getty since the beginning, and have never known them to penalize any one for expressing their opinions no matter how adversarial in nature.

A Fare Shake In Image Search
Frankly, we traditional shooters do have value. Our imagery doesn’t look the same as the mass-produced imagery that is the current hallmark of the really successful micro shooters.  The stock industry needs those of us who contribute images that don’t look like micro, but they need to be reminded of that. If Getty owes us anything it is a fare shake in image search…something we aren’t getting at the moment.

Participation Is Critical
I have been as guilty as anyone in staying too quiet, but participation is becoming rather critical. Whether you are with Getty, Corbis, Masterfile or any other stock agency it is important to stay informed and involved. Don’t worry about whether your voice can make a difference; just make your voice heard. In fact, making your voice heard is doing the agencies, and all of us in the stock industry, a favor.  The more honest input the powers that be have access to, the better decisions they can make.