Update: March 2014 - Getty have announced the end of their flickr partnership

A recent post on flickr makes for interesting reading. It's long been anticipated that flickr would include some way for users to sell their images, and until now there has been lots of debate about how this might be implemented. Because flickr is photo sharing for the general public, it's less likely that photo editors / image users are going to want to wade through screen after screen of pictures of kids and pussy cats. Flickr is also not really the place that photographers think about selling photos; while flickr has many quality images, it is still by it's nature, 'amateur'.

Further to some of my previous posts, people do promote their work on flickr and some buyers do look at flickr for prospective purchases, but explicit promotion of anything commercial on flickr is prohibited by the flickr terms or use. People do make sales for images after they have been seen on flickr, so how can this be converted into a business model?



Getty select photos from flickr

From what I understand from the current information about the Getty / flickr post, the Getty collection will be completely separate from flickr, and gettys' image editors will approach flickr users to ask if they are interested in including their images in the collection.

It's an interesting marketing move from Getty, photographers make submissions to Getty, and they only accept the highest quality of images, form very experienced photographers. This seems like a complete turn around, instead of photographers queuing to get into Getty, Getty appear to be chasing the photographers!


There are currently no details about commission rates, and the 'getty-flickr' site has yet to be launched so I can't make further comment on what this will mean in relation to microstock pricing (if anything). As I understand it flickr users who agree to the scheme will be under the same contract as other getty photographers (not microstock priced). The only statements I can make at the moment are:

1) Getty will select the best, creative and most saleable images from flickr and make them easily available to image users in one place; and obviously charge a premium for this 'service'.

2) If Getty can select images and approach flickr photographers, there is nothing to stop anyone else creating a niche photography site and approaching photographers on flickr to see if they would like to be included (doing it under the radar of flickr of course!)


After talking to professional graphic designers, one thing that they dislike about microstock and indeed sites like Alamy, is that despite the fantastic improvements that have been made in search technologies they still prefer to buy images from a collection (many of which still include printed design books). Because a search on stock photo sites reveals a 'flood' of 'great-but-average' looking images, designers choose a collection they like the style of and choose images from that. Even if the prices are significantly higher for specially selected 'collections' many designers are willing to pay for the convenience of having someone else selecting stylish images which fit a certain mood.

With sites like dreamstime offering an API to allow sales of images, a new marketing model is on the horizon, niche microstock sites selling select images sourced from the major players. No need to recruit photographers and review photographs, just create a brand, style, select some photos and go.

> Yahoo (flickr) Press Release



John Griffin's picture

interesting undertaking

John Griffin (not verified) on Wed, 2008-09-10 23:18
i think this is for exclusivity reasons and keeping other players away from potential photographers on the flickr site. getty gets first and only crack at them. i am also surprised to see a deal announced 6 months in advance of it taking place/starting. seems very odd. what do you think the reason for announcing a deal so early is, when only bad things can take place?
Steve Gibson's picture

the spin?

Steve Gibson on Thu, 2008-09-11 01:12

Well there is a fairly strong aroma of marketing around it that’s for sure.


Flicker: having built themselves a site which cleverly selects interesting photos from what must be 10,000s of daily junk photos, now have an added 'incentive' for pro and semi-pros to upload their work, just like the lottery “it might be you” that gets selected. I don’t enter the lottery, I’m more likely to die in a car crash. Compared to flickr somewhere like photobucket might be just as good, but most of their photo collection is worthy of just that, the bucket, keeping the quality up keeps flickr the premier photo sharing site.

Getty: have the 'illusion' (until something actually happens) that their full priced collections contain fresh trendy images (and don't get me wrong there are plenty of getty photographers producing such images) which look 'flickr style' and 'casual'. If virgin mobile found flickr useful in that notorious ad campaign then it would be great if such images were available from a trusted source which guaranteed all the legal details were taken care of, for a sky high price of course.

Possible Negatives:

A high end brand like Getty wanting to associate themselves with a free photo sharing site??? Hmmm.

Exclusivity: agencies love it, some photographers like it but most don’t, some midstock sites carefully allow their users to upload tho anywhere they like provided that the photos are not for sale somewhere for less than a fixed amount, that makes sense; but tying yourself as a photographer to a specific site if you don’t have a very clearly defined style dosen’t make sense. Photographers always had to market themselves, very few were lucky enough to be able to dump a pile of transparencies on an agency and let them deal with it.

Everyone likes translucency, the open source movement, creative commons yada yada yada, if there is even a sniff that flickr tie or coerce photographers into selling through getty as their only option then the game will be over; photographers will go to ‘yet another photosharing site with better features and terms’ and use it to display their work instead. If flickr goes even a little commercial and there will be keyword spammers, 1000’s of people saying ‘hey great photo look at mine’ to any old dross that gets uploaded, you thought flickr was bad now…

Flickr could end up like commercial tv and after 10 minutes of looking at it we will all want to go and hang ourselves; they could spin competitions off this, give birth to flickr/getty celebrity photographers. “I’m a photographer get me out of here”. Like photoshelter, there is lots of high profile around this and not all that much $…. yet (or ever?)

Steve Gibson, Microstockinsider.com Editor

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