While it seems all of todayâ€™s news screams â€œrecession,â€ the amount of stock imagery available for designers to purchase is experiencing a time of huge inflation. With no shortage of stock images up for sale, many designers assume the image they want has already been shot which marks a fundamentally different way of thinking than before. Often, is correct assumption.
To survive in this challenging environment, stock companies must realize many buyers are working with smaller budgets than in recent years past and yet they must cull through an ever-growing number of images.
Where did we come from?
The supply of stock images continues to grow rapidly due to an increasing number of photographers using the automatic exposure and focusing functions of todayâ€™s DSLR cameras. Since digital photography inherently has no cost for film and processing, even hobbyist and so-called pro-sumer photographers can turn out perfectly exposed images in short order.
In light of this trend, online stock agencies mushroomed across the Web in the past few years, allowing virtually anyone to post their images for purchase. Many photographers rushed to upload as many images as they could, and accepted prices as low as $1 for purchase. With these dynamics at work, during what officials have confirmed is an economic recession, many stock companies floundered â€“ start-ups and more established companies alike. Large corporations stayed afloat selling low-priced images since they have such a large inventory, but other companies questioned whether buyers would continue to be willing â€“ or able â€“ to pay for access to smaller and more focused collections.
Nearly three years ago now, after going through my own experiences selling stock photos, I realized there had to be a better way for buyers to find images and to more efficiently complete their transactions. I understood designers and other image buyers didnâ€™t want to click through to get to, say, page 27, or to check dozens of different Web sites to find just the right photo to fit their project and budget. Some even paid higher than average prices to avoid wasting time with lengthy searches. And, I personally appreciated that stock photographers didnâ€™t want their work buried on that page 27 of lengthy list of search results.
Where are we now?
Up until the past year or so, there has been very little innovation in the stock photo market.
Designers have told me and my colleagues they want to be inspired when they are reviewing stock photography. They donâ€™t want to get bogged down in slowly browsing through hundreds of pages of search results; they want to view as many images as fast as possible on a clean workspace to speed up their stock search. And, saved time quickly translates to saved money for designers working in this tight economy.
One way we at BrightQube address this need is to deliver all sought images to buyers on a single page of results with our Dynamic Mosaic. Designers can view all of their findings more quickly, and sellers can rest assured knowing their images are getting seen by potential customers. Moreover, this time saved can be better spent to other areas the creative process.
Where are we going?
We foresee many stock houses in the near future will adjust pricing to create more of a â€œbroad mid-pointâ€ price range to accommodate the work of more established and emerging stock photographers alike. The industry will also see more innovative online marketplaces that aim to help designers save time and, ultimately, money.
The companies that survive will help image buyers cut through the clutter to easily find and purchase the shots they need. They will be the companies that focus on making the buying experience as efficient as possible. They will be the organizations that give customers the ability to get to the right image they are looking for, despite any pricing trends in the market.
Smart designers should look to a straightforward and inspirational venue to review and compare thousands of stock images all at once, both easily and intuitively.
This is a guest post by Lee Corkran, Founder and CEO, BrightQube
Lee Corkran has been on both the business and creative sides of the photography industry â€“ as a military photojournalist who documented the Ramstein Air Show Disaster and Operation Desert Storm and as an executive with organizations such as Kodak and Digital Railroad. He founded BrightQube in early 2007 and currently serves as its CEO