“For the times, they are a-changin’…” ~ Bob Dylan
It used to be that the professional designer/artist/photographer had someone working for him in the form of an agent. This agent was commissioned to sell the artist’s work to various places, including magazines. The traditional artist-agent relationship morphed into a more modern type of agency, namely stock photography.
Stock photography has seen itself change from a high-priced boutique offering to a meglo-mart mentality. Prices were driven lower. Product uniqueness was diluted. Quality invariably suffered. The person in need of a specific image could find it faster and cheaper but the general quality of the product purchased declined.
Now, today, downwind of the stock yard, there is the multitude of image sharing sites. I have been participating in one of these sites for about two years now and have actually sold a couple of prints to random people who perused my site. Small prints, to be sure, but they were prints that I would not have sold otherwise. Fast forward to last week when I received a call from a regional magazine asking about buying a picture for their upcoming edition. Apparently magazines are trolling the social networking sites looking for pictures now too. Can you blame them?
Needless to say, I sold them the image.
Considering the commissions that agencies charge, the draconian restrictions imposed by stock agencies and the relative ease to publish your own pictures on a social picture-sharing-site, the choice is an easy one. I made more on that single sale that I might have on a dozen or more stock sales in the current micro-stock market mentality.
Stock photography on the net and micro-stock photography which followed changed the landscape dramatically for image creators. Even though their rise was meteoric and their impact resounding, have they already outlived their usefulness?
Rikk Flohr © 2009