What does the future hold for stock photographers?

Submitted by fsiphotography on 6 March, 2014 - 20:26

Recently I read a few forum threads talking about how strict stock photo sites can be with their submissions. Only accepting a small percentages of those submitted to them.

Part of the reason though is people coming up with the same old thing. There is probably a million and one photographs online of pretty beaches. And you can replicate this for so many other topics. The microstock agencies simply don't need them.

But it has made me think about what the future may hold? Obviously editorial photos are much more sustainable because of the nature of them. But for regular stock, it may be different. In a few years will we reach a point whereby a photo exists pretty much of anything and everything. Will the microstock sites pretty much sack off accepting new submissions when they already have databases containing vast quantities of files?

Perhaps we will reach a stage where we work on a system whereby no normal new submissions are accepted because everything already exists. And then separately the agencies have a 'required' list of current types of photographs they need and then you can only submit those. They could also run a customer section of 'wanted' threads so they know customers want a new unique image.

Perhaps this system would work better. Rather then lots of photographers constantly submitting more and more of the same stuff that is already out there. This would save the photographers time, and the microstock sites a lot of time as they would need less reviewers and it would be less intense on their servers saving them money on their costs.

Who knows what the future holds for this industry. But one thing to be sure of, over time it will probably change.

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I feel the opposite on editorial vs "general microstock". It's the editorial that seems to get undervalued, but also more at risk from citizen journalists. editorial sells on most microstock sites for the same price as a microstock image but often it has with a really limited scope of use or a limited life span.

There is no doubt that there is a lot of competition and market forces 'should' dictate that the price / profitability will be forced down to the lowest it can sustainably go. (that might include a price below sustainability and the failure of businesses along the way). BUT, there is a creative... je ne sais quoi element that is mixed in here that bucks simple network economics and fuels lots of companies that survive things like curation of their collections rather than the actual content - similar content can always be found somewhere else but just how easiliy?

I still don't think that microstock sites are saturated. There is _always_ a gap, there is always a quest for fresh new images, and there is always a new design trend, there will always be money for those smart and agile enough to see these trends and stay ahead for the competition. 5 years ago everything was isolated on white, now it all seems to be shot on rustic wooden surfaces in a 'hap hazard' way - even harder to do, making it look like "it just fell like that" is actually really hard to pull off without looking like a photo someone just snapped my accident


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