photoshelter logo

Midstock (or perhaps 'user contributed' macrostock) agency photoshelter have announced that they will close their PSC (photoshelter collection) on 10 October this year.

Photoshelter had some very Impressive marketing, they appeared out of nowhere about 12 months back, spinning lots of buzz out of their 'shoot the day' and "we won't accept images also for sale on microstock sites". Quite an impressive achievement to build a professional looking stock collection out of a site that was just a way to archive your photos a year back. Many photographers took the bait and uploaded their work for the promise of 70% commission on sales for $50 plus (prices varied by usage).

Did I waste time on photoshelter? No, only in that I wrote plenty of comments on forums where photographers were waxing lyrical about how poor microstock payouts are and how good their photoshelter payouts 'will be' when those sales start to roll in. Alas for a lot of photographers those impressive commission percentages would have been even more impressive if they had made any sales of their photos. I'm still quite happily earning a few dollars a day from images here and there, guaranteed. I'm not too sure what the other photographers are doing now.

I'd like to to take this time to highlight my thoughts on submitting images to midstock agencies (the natural 'next step' for a microstock photographer) don't spread yourself too thin. If you have learned the art of microstock and are earning money taking microstock images then stick to it. I do. The dangled carrot of a much higher commission rate is appealing but your work will have to be of significantly better standard than your microstock contributions. I've set myself up to take microstock style images which are essentially quick to produce (relatively!) cheerful images that people will pay a few dollars for instead of shooting a similar image themselves or spending too long searching. midstock is quite different, buyers expect something that they would have to commission a photographer to take, and that's why they are willing to pay more for a midstock image.

photoshelter screen grab

 (not exactly sure about the choice of image for the front page here....)

Is there a midstock market?

There is space in the microstock market for 'premium microstock' and exclusive images, there is also space in the market for premium photography that guarantees some exclusivity for a much higher price (rights managed). There might even be space in the market place for the guaranteed quality of full price royalty free (time will tell and I'm not too sure about that). It looks like the closure of photoshelter speaks volumes for the amount of market there is for midstock prices.

Photoshelter had a very slick looking operation, if they couldn't do it then who can? as I've mentioned before I think there is no doubt that microstock is a proven and profitable business model and the closure of PSC is no reason that any photographer should think otherwise. The microstock industry will continue to earn money and as more designers come to trust microstock agencies sales will increase.

After closing their stock collection photoshelter will go back to what their domain name suggests, a place to pay for storage of your photos and sell them to clients (photo shopping cart service).



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