11 May, 2011 | Posted by: st

Are they gone…?

The Stodgy Photo Agencies

Automation in the stock photo industry is making it simpler and easier to process and deliver photos that have gone through the digitalization process.

Stock photography, once a labor-intensive commercial enterprise, is becoming an automated industry.

The stodgy stock photo agencies of the early 1990's, who had no time to welcome newcomers to
the field, are seeing those same newcomers turn to
multiple-use microstock (Royalty Free) markets that deploy state-of-the-art technology.

As long as automatic controls on cameras make it easy for anyone with an eye for commercially acceptable stock photography to make pictures, newcomers will be attracted to microstock.

But automation has its drawbacks, as we all saw in the event and portrait photography field, where in many cases, wannabe photographers entered that field with enthusiasm only to discover that the easy automated production line process reduces their photography to not much more than factory-like work.


Commercial stock photography, like the music industry, has become so inbred, so automated, that anything beyond the acceptable norm is dismissed, or at best, looked upon with annoyance. The bean counters in the ambitious corporate stock photo world discourage any risk-taking (and that includes creative stock photography). They smile on their way to the bank, as they prove, quarter after quarter, that the commercial stock photo industry should be market-driven, not photographer-driven.

That leaves photographers in a position of having to create within the guidelines of bean counters. Photographers who have a need "to take the photos they want to take" are not welcome. The bean counters direct the process with pronouncements such as “we exist to continually look for ways to improve the bottom line.”


Editorial stock photography on the other hand, is driven by another need: the public's need to know, as well as the photographer's own need to know and express him/herself.

The editorial stock photo market is vast. It extends from your immediate community to across the nation, and around the globe. Your markets demand authenticity, documentation and accuracy. They also appreciate good story-telling. They love insights into how others are living their lives -- locally, nationally and internationally.

The success of TV's 60-MINUTES, FACEBOOK, TWITTER, and the afternoon and late-night talk shows, attest to the unquenchable curiosity of the public to learn about the world around them. Generic pictures from a commercial stock agency won't suffice. Content-specific photos (editorial photos) are what’s needed.

As automated digital delivery of stock photography becomes more commonplace, the need for editorial stock photography, contemporary and historical images, is growing exponentially.

If you have prepared well and honed your photography to target a specialized area, you'll be an important resource to existing, as well as future, media: cable, TV, Blogs, websites and satellite media, in their task of delivering information to the public.

Because automation results in swift delivery of images, and because digital archiving holds the promise of placing millions of pictures in a single location for lightning-speed access, editorial stock photography is going to be in big demand in the near future.

The stodgy photo agencies, on the other hand, will rarely play a role in this coming scenario. Generic, commercial stock photos aren't invited to the party.

Rohn Engh is the best-selling author of “Sell & ReSell Your Photos”
and “sellphotos.com.” He has produced an eBook, “How To Make the Marketable Photo,” and an eCourse, “How To Market Your Photos.” For more information and to receive a free eReport: “8 Steps to Becoming Published Photographer,” visit http://www.sellphotos.com
800 624-0266.



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