It was bound to happen sooner or later. Flickr’s massive collection of photos has already received plenty of attention from photo buyers, but there has never been any official system in place for the completion of transactions.
It looks like that’s about to change. On this short FAQ page, Flickr has announced that it will partner with Getty to “build a platform that will enable the creation of a first class collection of royalty free, rights ready and rights managed photographs that will debut later this year.”
Details are scant at this point, but it’s safe to assume that the images of regular flickr users will soon be seen side by side with the work of established Getty photographers and the line between amateur photographers and pro stock shooters is all but obliterated.
It will be interesting to see how the two businesses will integrate with each other, but it may be something as simple as: Getty editor sees flickr image he/she likes. Getty editor contacts photographer and asks if they want to sell the image and under what rights system. Photographer opts in and on that image’s flickr page, there is now a “License This Image” button. Presumably, photo buyers will be able to limit flickr searches to images that are on sale. And a new kind of stock agency is born.
I can only hope that the photographers end up being treated well and get a fair payment for their work.
If you have a NY Times password, this article details some of their plans for the future including the following plans from Gary Shenk, president and incoming chief executive at Corbis:
In that vein, Mr. Shenk said Corbis would make its service as easy to use as the iTunes store of Apple and hinted that Corbis would also be following the crowdsourcing model.
“More interesting and innovative things are happening on the pages of Flickr these days than on Corbis and Getty,” said Mr. Shenk, referring to the photo-sharing site owned by Yahoo. “If we can use this type of opportunity to find the next great group of Corbis photographers, that also makes it a great opportunity for us.”
Here’s another example of the line blurring between professional and amateur. My only hope is that the photographers that end up being a part of these arrangements get a fair deal (and that they are licensing their photos for more than a dollar a pop.
The Wall Street Journal has this article on companies who have used non-exclusive images and, as a result, wound up with a bit of egg on their face. It points to a few examples of situations in which different companies have used the same stock image for their promotions and, as a result, have diluted their brand identity. It’s an embarrassing prospect for marketing departments and a good reminder on why it’s sometimes a good idea to spend a little bit more on your photos.
More than once a day, I wonder if I am working my way into the right business. As though the travel photography market wasn’t already terribly competitive, the rise of crowdsourcing has made the business that much less profitable for professionals.
This Wired article on crowdsourcing explores the issue of micro stock photography’s role in the diminishing profits of professional stock shooters. This is a central issue right now in the world of stock photography and I have often witnessed heated debates on message boards when the the two sides have met.
Good discussion on the issue can be found at the site of author of the above article (Jeff Howe): crowdsourcing.com. In particular, a good discussion can be found in the comments of the site’s mission statement.
As a professional photographer, I have a bias against the micro-stock sites, but it’s not merely because of the smaller profits for the pro shooters. Just as outsourcing tends to have an exploitative side to it with third-world citizens being paid a pittance for their work, the crowdsourcers, in this case the amateur photographer, gets a similar pittance. Hobbyists are content with $1 sale and the knowledge that their image has been used by someone else. What many of them either don’t know or don’t care about is that their images could fetch much higher prices for similar uses.
The amateurs, however, do not rely on the income generated by their photos. Their day jobs pay the bills. Extra dollars from micro-stock sales are a happy bonus. Too bad there seems to be so many cases where these bonuses are snatched from the hands of the professional photographers whose livelihood depends on traditional sales.
I just found this guide to the Top Ten Stock Photography Cliches and had a chuckle. A couple of my favourites are ‘The Handshake of Synergy’ and ‘The Flirty Customer Service Gal.’
It’s a mixed blessing that I’ve never shot a photo that would fit under any of these umbrellas. On the one hand, I can be proud of myself for eschewing these all-too-common images. On the other hand, people buy these photos. Frequently. Maybe I should go find a multicultural group of business execs to pose on some starting blocks…
While I’m away, if you are interested in licensing any of my images, I recommend checking out my images at Alamy.com. A large number of my images can be found there, so if you have an urgent need for an image, please see what’s available there.
In addition to my images being available through Alamy Images, a selection of my photos are now also represented by myLoupe.com. To see my work at myLoupe, check here. As with Alamy, if I am unable to fill an urgent photo request while travelling, myLoupe can provide access to some of my photos.
When I am travelling, I will sometimes be unable to fill some photo requests – being represented by Alamy will provide 24/7 access to some of my images. So, if the status section of my site (top right) indicates that I am in the middle of some foreign jungle and you need one of my images immediately, check with Alamy to see if they can supply you with my photo.