A Brave New World of Stock Photography

Dan Heller’s Photography Business Blog: Two-Phased Approach to photo-sharing/licensing model I love the stuff that Dan Heller writes. If you don’t already subscribe to his blog you should.

Dan’s a professional photographer with a pretty strong technology business background as well. I blogged about him last week when he wrote an article on the future of photo licensing.

It’s great to see someone else who shares such enthusiasm for using a social sharing photo platform as a vehicle to distribute stock photography. This is the future and it’s coming. We’re going to try to build this at Zooomr (we’re getting closer every day). I’m sure a lot of other people are trying to build it too.

Who wins in the end though? The photographer. Why? Well if you build the platform right you can operate it on much thinner margins than either the traditional or the micro stock businesses. This means more money can go into the pocket of the creators of the imagery.

I’ve talked to an incredible number of people over the past few years about using a social sharing platform to sell stock. I’ve talked to executives at the largest stock photography firms, I’ve talked to marketers, magazines, advertisers, and tons and tons of photographers. (Somehow I always like the conversations I have about this with photographers the best).

It’s funny how so many people want to tell you why it won’t work. How photos are not bought, they are sold. How without a huge marketing budget people will never come to the site. How marketers can only use gigantic huge billboard size resolutions or nothing. Justifications for taking 50% or more from the photographer.

I think if you build an efficient marketing platform both buyers and sellers will come. It worked for eBay. It worked for Google.

And if you treat your photographers like gold and pay them as much as you possibly can and still stay in business, *they* will become your advocates and evangelists. Marketers want a nice clean place to find great photos. But I think when they know that the vast bulk of the money from a sale will go into the pocket of the actual photographer they will feel even better when they find a great image on the right platform.


Check out Dan’s post. And his other one that I blogged last week. This is the future folks. And it’s an awfully exciting one for the millions of photographers out there today who haven’t found their way into the traditional stock houses, who don’t shoot with Hasselblads, but innately know that their work is worth more than the microstock houses are paying.

7 Replies to “A Brave New World of Stock Photography”

  1. I was reading Dan’s post before my daily visit to your site Thomas; there are some good points being made by both you and Dan. Not least that there are some fine photographers out there with a product that’s not being catered for or marketed – yet!

  2. Good post Thomas… I think you should file that in the “Anticipation for Mark III” category though. 🙂

    I tend to think that if given enough exposure (no pun intended), good photos will find their way into a buyer’s sight. However, marketing of pictures is all that matters.

  3. Hey Thomas!!

    You blog rocks!! Just wanted to share something with ya… one blogger to another…
    There is this amazing site that I came across where u can make money by sharing information…check it out here’s the link http://www.myndnet.com/login.jsp?referral=alpa83&channel;=EO

    The coolest part is…every time ur information gets sold u get paid for it!!
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  4. “And if you treat your photographers like gold and pay them as much as you possibly can and still stay in business, *they* will become your advocates and evangelists.”

    This is frighteningly true. I’ve already become a Creative Commons evangelist to the editorial department at my work (a billion dollar digital entertainment company) with regards to finding photographs for a popular blog we also maintain.

    I already know our marketing dept. is dissatisfied with the wire service we get stock sports photos from and an alternative in the same price range would make them very happy. I’d like to see this take off 🙂

    It’d definitely be a reason for me to start adding photos on Zooomr as well as Flickr.

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