In recent months there has been much talk in the stock photography community about falling prices of RM images. It’s always been possible to license RM images cheaper than Full Priced RF images for many applications, but it appears that in some cases RM images are being made available for short term media use for sub $10-25, certainly at much cheaper prices than macro stock (in many cases cheaper than microstock where expensive extended licenses are required!) Yes, RM cheaper than Micro you read that right, of course you do have those RM strings to deal with.)
Late last year we mentioned news of Fotolia giving away a completely free subscription for 25 images / 1 month. Newer sites like deposit photos are almost constantly offering not just discounts but self funded ‘free’ images to incentivise new buyers to their sites. For the cash strapped buyer there are bargains and freebies to be hard from all corners; for the time poor professional buyer doors are constantly opening with great value and easy to use microstock subscriptions and on demand images at ever increasing quality.
iStock have signalled new layoffs in the past month (Jan 2012), with Getty stating that it’s due to the further merging of istockphoto and their main business. While most of the major microstock sites continue to target the ‘mid-low end’ of the buyer’s market istock continues to alienate their buyers with increased prices and sometimes flaky site functionality. Since Getty purchased istock I’ve had my suspensions that istockphoto.com will be yet another in a long line of photo brands that redirect buyers to getty.com; we seem to take a small step closer to that with each press release. The once young upstart of the stock photo world is fast becoming a lumbering dinosaur compared to fresh faced startups that are doing more than just look attractive - they are actually proving to be successful competition.
Well, people have touted that ‘this year will be the year of Creative Commons content’ for about the past 5 years. I don’t think that this year will be the “year of creative commons” (quite) but when wired magazine signalled that all their photography would be licensed as CC in late 2011 there was as much “of course, why not” as there was eyebrow raising “what the f…”. At a stock photography conference I attended late last year Free and Creative Commons was tabled by a surprising number of the speakers (and in a positive light). I’m not saying that everything is going to be free, but for certain uses, online (and even better in print where attributions are the norm) there will be good quality CC work becoming more available – just sadly not more easy to find, that will have to wait for another year I think.
If your imagery demands are specialist (and somewhat high end) in nature you are likely to see an increase of photographers reaching out and licensing images directly to you. Plenty of this will be due to disillusionment with agencies on the behalf of those photographers. That means one of two things to buyers, awkward new websites to search instead of images in one specialist agency (and matching billing problems), but also much more direct and personal contact with content providers, closer to having that in-house photographer/freelancer back working for you (well just a little bit anyway).
With so much content now available search and ease of access has become the main differentiator at the major stock agencies; price at microstock levels is almost trivial compared to research time.
Free Resource Book listing the best of Free and Paid Stock Photo Libraries