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Author Topic: The future of stock photography.....  (Read 4854 times)

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« on: February 02, 2007, 20:26 »
As a newbie to stock photography (but not to photography or to business growth models) and having spent a lot of time over the last month researching the market and reading/listening to views such as those expressed in these forums, this is my view of the future:

Each new agency wants to get as many images on file as quickly as possible.  Yes, they would like the best quality, but in the early years may have to sacrifice quality for quantity.  That makes it easy for 'new' photographers to 'sign up'.

But as their libraries grow, I believe the market will change from 'quantity' to 'quality'; the successful stock agencies will be able to become more and more selective, and the best of them will start to reject many more photos.

Gaining membership as a contributing photographer will become more difficult at these successful agencies, and the 'new' or lower quality photographer will find himself/herself being restricted to the 'lesser' agencies'.

Because of this, higher quality photographers will gravitate towards the successful agencies, and be gradually paid more for doing so, through exclusivity deals etc etc.  A price gap will emerge between the 'best' and the 'not so best'.

I believe IS is already nearing this development stage, which is why many are finding acceptance of images more 'difficult' than elsewhere.  SS may also be nearing this stage.

As with all business models, eventually the market will become dominated by just a few players, with most of the 'new' start-ups and lesser quality agencies falling by the wayside.  At the moment everything is new and exciting, and new agencies are popping up everywhere.

My own view is that in the longer term it will be important eventually to align oneself with one of the big agencies, probably on an exclusive arrangement.

« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2007, 04:08 »
Interesting thoughts. 

What you say is correct for the Bricks and mortor world.  However, this is the internet and might be different.  I am not saying it will be but the internet provides a very low cost shop front that even if sales aren't great, the big agencies cant push you out of business.

Another issue I have, not with your rational but your outcome is that you say we will need to go exclusive with an agency.  The problem is which one.  What if you pick one which is then forced out of business.  Getting your photos onto the front shelf of another agency will take a long time, in the meantime you will also be put out of business.

My opinion is the the internet is big enough for more than a few agencies.  With my current split of income (see the results thread), it would not make sense for me to go exclusive, even if myh % did double.  Some others seem more reliant on SS but I think this is a short term thing while their photos are new there and they slowly get there photos recongnised on other agencies.

This will be interest to see play out over the next 5-10 years.  Luckily this is not my main source of income though it would be great if I could retire off it  8)

« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2007, 04:20 »

... My own view is that in the longer term it will be important eventually to align oneself with one of the big agencies, probably on an exclusive arrangement.

I'd strongly disagree about aligning yourself as an exclusive. Very strongly!

Agencies that are doing this are trying to corner the market, which is not in the interests of photographers.

Let me take an example to extremes ...

iStock (who else?) offers exclusivity with additional bonuses for exclusives, but they must not sell their photos anywhere else.

So all the photographers, attracted by the 'generous' offer, sign up as exclusives to IS.

Other agencies go out of business because they can't get any decent photos to sell.

IS gains a monopoly on the market, turns around to the photographers and sets whatever conditions it likes. The photographers have no choice but to accept (or get out) there's nowhere else to sell their product.


Maybe not.  Just look what McDonalds and other big fast food chains have done to the beef industry in the US. Small farmers are going bust all over. And potato farmers, too. Did you know that, out of every pound you spend on chips (french fries) in a fast food restaurant, only about 1p goes to the farmer?

McPhoto anyone?

« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2007, 04:27 »
McPhoto anyone?
Hijacking a thread but was is there no MSPhoto.  Bill gates owns Microsoft and Corbis,  Corbis doesn't have a microstock agency.  Are they collecting marketing data from this new deal with IS?

Bateleur - extreme views but I think what iStock has been doing has shown why we should try to resist the sitation that hatman12 forsees.

« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2007, 13:22 »
It's far too early to see any major trends in this market. Still, relative newcomers are doing very well (DT and FT to take two), and still, we have only scratch the surface of a huge market. Just look at when the bulk of the sales are coming: during North American business hours. Europe is still way behind, and Asia is more or less untouched.

There will probably also be an increasing number of local players, catering for regional needs. Although the multinational agencies try to cover everything, they don't know the local markets as well as those who live and work there.

There will be changes for sure, both to microstock and to traditional stock. At the moment, I'm very comfortable with being everywhere. Going exclusive? I don't think that will ever happen, not to me.


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