I haven’t shot an image for stock photography in nearly 5 years. And I don’t plan on doing it any time soon. That sentiment governs how I’ve felt about that part of the industry for some time now.
That’s not to say there’s not some money to be made – after all, I still collect checks from old work and outtakes that would be rotting on my server – however I decided long ago not to further participate in the commodification-of-the-image race down to $1, or even Free (type that word in the search bar next to ya for more on that topic…). It’s a personal choice, a creative decision and a business decision–I’m not criticizing it as a still-viable-opportunity in the marketplace.
BUT, having said all that, here’s a little chuck of redemption: Renowned nature photographer, Art Wolfe, sent me a note yesterday…[click the ‘continue reading’ link below…]
…about a model they’ve pulled together over at Photoshelter where photographers are able to create their own virtual agency by pooling their collections. Imagine: Art Wolfe + Tom Mangelsen + David Doubilet. From Art’s piece in the most recent Outdoor Photographer Magazine:
“…PhotoShelter allows photographers to band together in a virtual agency, where the collections from two or more photographers become searchable under a virtual agency name. The images are still controlled by each individual photographer, and each sets his or her own licensing terms. The agency isn’t managed. It’s essentially a search pool, a way to make it easy for buyers to find what they need. If a client desires an image, the sale goes to that photographer…”
I like this idea. It further democratizes the space for photographers and gives them another opportunity to connect against the bigger players. Kudos to Photoshelter once again.
For the first time in years, I can actually see a handful of hot action photographers getting together, a handful of top celeb shooters getting together, or a handful of badass architectural shooters getting together–whomever–and creating their own little corner of the universe that actually takes a little bite out of the bigger marketplace. While this concept is not revolutionary, or even new, it’s remarkable that the technological infrastructure is no longer a barrier. It’s been reduced so low you could trip over it.
While it’s still not for me, this seems like some sort of redemption in the bigger scheme of plummeting options for those photographers seeking to license and develop their business around getting stock images direct to buyers.
Check out more of the discussion at Outdoor Photographer magazine.
Get my every move: Follow Chase Jarvis on Twitter
Get exclusive content: Become a Fan on Facebook
"however I decided long ago not to further participate in the commodification-of-the-image race down to $1….". Here in Holland I see a lot of commercial photographers working on assignments I would call real commodity work and I see editorial photographers shooting pictorials for a few hundred dollars. I chose for stock to have my freedom, to be able to do my own thing and to be able to shoot the images I love to shoot. And yes, there are also all sort of business models and I think especially Rights-Managed is not a commoditized business model. If you have not a Chase Jarvis brand I doubt the creative freedom of the assignment photographer. Sorry Chase, it reads a bit like the stock shooters are commodity shooters, destroying the photography business and working only for the money without any passion.
I guess I feel a bit personally offended
and that right there is why you are one of the best commercial photogs in the world.