The above travel photograph of the historic Fort San Domingo in Taiwan has little to do with the blog post that follows, although it does remind us that everything changes over time. Photography is no exception.
There’s quite a bit of talk at the moment about how the stock photography industry is dying. Last week the British Journal of Photography published the article Stockpiling Trouble – How The Stock Industry Ate Itself?. The write, Betsy Reid offers a number of reasons why traditional stock photographer is pretty much dead as a way for photographers to make a decent income. From the rise on online distribution, the creation of the royalty free and microstock licensing options, the increased ability for amateurs to offer high quality work for next to nothing to falling revenues and photographer commissions, the industry has been in a steady decline from a professional photographers perspective. That’s nothing new. In 2008, Photoshelter posted a blog titled How Getty Is Killing The Stock Photo Industry. They stated then that what Getty was offering photographers was a bad deal, and with the new Getty contracts that were released earlier this year, it seemed to just get worse, with a lowering of photographer percentages and other changes. Photographers are now receiving significantly less than 50% for image licenses through Getty, and in some cases via the likes of the Flickr collection and their royalty free model, as low as 20%.
The writing has been on the wall for a number of years though. I started selling stock initially through a colleague and via Alamy back in 2005 and it was suggested then that things were dying. In some ways, I’m surprised that it has lasted this long. So when Getty sent me a new offer a couple of months ago, I considered it for only a short time before ultimately deciding to say no to Getty. I can never hope on my own to achieve anything like the market reach that Getty can. Equally, there’s no way at all I can ever compete with Getty on price alone. I don’t have the kind of financial resources that they do. While my main photography income comes from assignments and other editorial work that is often a result of me reaching out to photo editors and buyers in various places, I still create a lot more photographs that can be licensed than I have immediate opportunities to sell. Thus, I want somewhere to place work that gives it a bit more visibility but doesn’t get tied up in exclusive contracts or lost among thousands of other photographers and millions of images. I have a few hundred Taiwan photographs placed with Lonely Planet Images but placing photos there ties me into an exclusive arrangement. I still have older stock at Alamy but stopped updating there in 2008.
I first heard of Evostock from Tim Matsui‘s comment on a post at the A Photo Editor blog. I’ve known Tim for awhile on Facebook and the social media world, so it caught my attention. Heading over to the Evostock site where there’s a list of contributing photographers, I saw names such as Jim Goldstein, Gavin Gough, and Guillem Lopez all of whom I know and interact with (virtually) via social media.
Evostock makes use of the virtual agency abilities of Photoshelter. In doing so, they are able to bring together a collection of highly creative professional photographs from a wide range of photographers. It works in accordance with the vision of founder Tim McGuire who seeks to create
a condition where creators of imagery collect and keep the majority of the revenue generated from their creative works. That is the ultimate goal of Evostock.
One of the keys to the success of this model is ruthless self-editing. Unless and until individual photographers can show proven strength in editing their own work to a high degree of proficiency, all image submissions must first be vetted by a team of 4 volunteer editors. This is done through the shared lightbox feature that is a part of Photoshelter. I mentioned using shared lightboxes in a post last week on portfolio updates and crowdsourcing and it was from the submission process to Evostock that I got the idea.
Evostock is open to all professional photographers creating work of a high enough caliber. As it makes use of the tools at Photoshelter, it’s essential that you have a Photoshelter account before you can apply. If you don’t have one, click on the button below to be taken to the sign up page where’ll save a few dollars in setting things up.
Once you’re ready, head to Evostock.org, the administration page for Evostock to read through all the various steps, image requirements, FAQ’s and information you need to know. Don’t forget to read the vision plan outlining the aims and goals of Evostock. You can keep up with the latest news at Evostock via Facebook and Twiitter. I hope to see you there.