Sunday, July 07, 2013

Direct from the artist

Don't get left in the steam age. The digital revolution is here and it affects the future of image buying.
The digital revolution offers agencies, art buyers and designers unprecedented direct access to photographers. However the old fashioned business model of using stock libraries persists.

Stock libraries have tried to adapt to the digital revolution and market themselves around technological tweaks such as facilitating different types of searches using keywords, emotions, colours...

This type of tinkering can be compared to putting rubber wheels on a horse cart. Yes, it makes for a smoother ride but the reality is that there's a revolution happening. To continue the metaphor, the automobile has arrived consigning horse carts to history. That automobile is social media, refined website SEO and sophisticated image search engines. It has never been easier to find an image and identify the artist.

Of course we're not quite there yet. But artists need to start acting now because the digital revolution is moving at warp-speed.

Why buy direct from the artist?

  • Great work and talented photographers are getting easier to find. Take a look at sites like 500px, Flickr, Facebook and  Google + (keyword, titles, locations, lots of ways to search).
  • Most images today are bought for display on screens, so quality control is easy.
  • Surely it is preferable to reward the talented individuals who produce remarkable work. They should get 100% not 10, 20-30% royalties!

Why photographers should sell direct wherever possible

  • In the past it was perfectly reasonable for large corporations and stock libraries to take a percentage of the sale of an image. They were performing vital business tasks on behalf of the photographer such as providing storage, admin, marketing and ecommerce functionality.
  • Today online storage is cheap (free on Flickr), ecommerce websites are easy to setup and cost virtually nothing and marketing is shifting to building a dialogue through social media channels and understanding your audience and attracting them with great visual content, which suits photographers extremely well!
  • Why make big corporations richer and give away 50, 70 or 80% of the revenue for your hard work and creativity? 

What next?

I believe that in less than 10 years all but a few niche stock libraries will still be around. Their business model is broken, obsolete. Photographers that create remarkable images and have built relationships with image buyers will thrive.

If you're a photographer or a buyer and you agree with the above then please help spread the word. The time to take action is now. Buyers, please give it a try when you next have a project and photographers start building your profile and looking into alternative ways to sell your work direct.

I sit on both sides as I both produce images and buy them. If you would like to chat about the future please get in touch.

Thanks for you time,