A slew of mobile phone microstock stories recently, startups and funding, but a lot of it smelt strongly of press release garbage; some amounting to little more than a new category added or an upload competition. There is clearly interest in mobile phone stock - for now I think it's an interesting niche, and my only concern is that I've underestimated it by all but ignoring it; something I plan to continue doing for the foreseeable future.

What I can say for sure about mobile phone stock:

  • You can take the same photo, just as discretely or in a place where you can't take a DSLR using even the cheapest of point and shoot camera - the quality will be far superior and shooting will be easier and faster.
  • There is little doubt that there are times when you only have your mobile phone with you, but given the choice then that would be all the time because nobody really enjoys carting professional cameras around. Professional photographers make photo opportunities by going prepared.
  • Lower resolution and lower quality limits sales, and low quality is not a synonym for stylish & trendy - you might get the feeling that's the case looking at arty photo sites online, but a quick reality check by looking in the real world reveals a different story.
  • You can always argue that phone photography is a way of getting out of a creative rut, rekindling your love of photography, broadening your horizons; so is taking a holiday.

What I can't say with any certainty but have fairly strong suspicions about phone stock:

  • It's a good way for an agency to widen the range of editorial sections without contaminating the main section with low quality images.
  • Getty got their first with their flickr collection and other agencies before that (regardless of the source the style of image is the same)
  • You will kick yourself in a few years time looking back at photos wishing you had taken the DSLR with you and added that vignette and motion blur afterwards.
  • Yuri was right. (wrt "instapundit")
  • These images are just like the ones that were always available from those agencies that went out of business... you know the ones that printed those lovely catalogue books in monochrome on unbleached paper with embossed bits and fold outs here and there.


Agency Milestones

Dreamstime 15 millionth image

Deposit photos hit 10 million images press release via mystockphoto

YAY micro announced reaching 3 million images


Other Interesting News

Photokore announced plans to target image subscription offers at their markets in Japan and Korea, Offering a different service tailored for each location. Contributors have been given the option to opt-out.

Fotolia launched a new interface for corporate account managers to monitor and consolidate their buying requirements.

123rf opened the doors to audio and launched an ipad browser app for buyers.

Alamy announced that Alamy Blue would drop its commissions from 60% to 50% as they continue to restructure their business. A short video from James West Alamy's CEO explains the changes.

Bigstock (re-?)announced their partner program (microstock resellers API) giving fair rates to photgraphers and offering an opt-out, a few comments on MSG.


On the Web

MicrostockPosts offers some advice for noobs.

Interesting and somewhat rambling thread on microstock group from last month Jon Oringer just sent me an e mail.

A couple of links about dreamstime, looking at converting image misuse rather than sending takedown notices, and another.

istockphoto GDUSA photo survey - (You can ignore the infographic and read the PDF linked at the bottom). Does the omission of any details this year on which agencies designers use confirm istock has lost their market share well and truly? Regardless of that it's still useful and interesting information, and I hope istock continue to sponsor these annual surveys. Regarding what I wrote about phone photos at the start of this post, here is a wise quote from the survey to finish with:

"Provide well-lit, candid style shots in large files sizes. Provide a series of stock shots with same talent/environment (three or more) that can be used in a print or web piece that will provide image continuity.”


Photo Credit: PNetzer / photocase.com

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