Thursday, February 15, 2007

Stock photo agencies, meet your new content providers

Dan Heller has some interesting things to say about the future of the stock photo business. He writes that the Internet has provided a venue that places increased importance and value on user generated content, and this environment will spur forward-looking stock photo agencies to move into the consumer arena to take advantage of it.
In 2000, I wrote an article called, "The Five Truisms of the Photography Business", and Truism #1 is "There are more people who have photography as a hobby than as a profession." While an obvious statement on its own, it has enormous weight when you consider how the Internet has brought down the barriers that have kept consumers out of the photo business in the first place. Now that they're here, they have fundamentally altered the photo industry, whether intentional or not, and whether other photographers like it or not.
Heller points out the blurring of the line between stock photo sites such as Corbis and Getty and social photo sharing sites like Flickr and Zooomr. His timing is uncanny, as evidenced by the latest mini-brouhaha surrounding pro-consumer blog The Consumerist's use of Flickr photos in its posts without attribution or permission. The Consumerist's situation is not unique, as websites, companies (1, 2) and even Flickr's own users have confused Flickr's vast database of images as a grab bag for free stock photography. He also points to situations where photo sharing sites have jump started photography careers, such as Microsoft's acquisition of photos from Flickr user Hamad Darwish to be used in their new Vista operating system.

Heller submits that this movement represents the natural progression for the industry, provided they can overcome three barriers: "fear of change, narrow business sense, and tunnel vision in products and services." I would tend to agree. What do you think? Give the article a read and decide for yourself.

Link (via Thomas Hawk)

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