Monday, November 9, 2009

Getty Images opens the flickr front door

I don't envy the picture editors at Getty. The news that they are opening up the Getty Flickr collection for anyone to submit a test batch of ten images to is like opening the flickrgates holding back a deluge of literally millions of images. Already the call for artists pool is overflowing with images, many of which you have to wonder why the contributors imagine Getty might be interested in. The people wrapping their eyeballs around the inevitatble influx of images are going to have a lot on after this announcement.

However, this news goes beyond provoking sympathy for Getty Images' soon to be overworked picture editors. It is pretty revolutionary. Getty used to be akin to the wholly grail of stock agencies. Being a Getty shooter was something to aspire towards; an achievement that meant you were producing work of quality and distinction. A commensurately impressive remuneration usually followed. Now anyone with a Flickr account can throw their hat into the ring.

A lot of long standing Getty photographers understandably lament the passing of the old days when they enjoyed their elite status but you have to hand it to Getty for not restng on their laurels. They've evolved with the changing market place by gobbling up istockphoto and partnering with Flickr to tap into the biggest collection of creative imagery online. As soon as Getty got in the commercialisation of Flickr was ineviatble. This latest move will effectively create a new stock collection cherry picked from the endless supply uploaded to Flickr.

Getty and Flickr have effectively democratised stock photography. Getting into Getty has gone from being the preserve of a relatively few invited high end professionals to an open door 'show us what you've got' policy. There has been the pay to get in Photographers Choice for some time, but that was $50 an image and required high end cameras. The Flickr collection requires a minimum of 3MP! Your phone could quite possibly be adequate to get you images into Getty. Seriously, most microstock sites have tougher technical entry requirements.

This is because Getty are responding to market demand for images that have a feeling of real life and this demand is often coming from market sectors that don't need huge files. Its more about the image being right emotionally, not technically. The defunct photoshelter collection was thinking along these lines; they were on to something but didn't last long enough to make it happen. Getty saw this, and crucially realised Flickr was the quick way to build this new collection.

So, should we all be Getty Photographers now? Check out this thread on the call for artists group and you'll see not everyone wants to jump into bed with Getty. Personally I hate the 20% royalty to photographers, but then you come around to the old chestnut 20% of a big pie is often better than 50% of a small pie. Getty's pie is undeniably large; their credits are easily found and they dominate many markets through sheer size. I'm undecided at the moment but will probably upload some more images to Flickr with a view to putting in my ten to apply. There is no obligation to accept any offer Getty make, and if I decided to knock an acceptance back I could at least brag I turned Getty down. Thing is, I'm not sure "Getty Shooter" will carry the status it currently does for much longer.

What do you think?


Luis said...

Hi! When I read this "new" I remembered Fotolia strategy bringing exclusives photographers from iStock per example..! Stock agencies are very competitive, as of course Getty in on the top..!

cheers :)

f.57 said...

Yes there is a lot of competition Luis; I think we are in for a period of consolidation of the next few years which is raising the stakes! Interesting times.