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I’ve never liked Getty. I’ve gotten through about 80% of the submission process on multiple occasions but could never convince myself to pull the trigger. Sure there are a select and very elite few that make their livings to this day on stock photography. But those photographers have been at this stock game a LOT longer than most of us. Every time I started to submit my work to Getty, I always stopped just short of hitting send. I couldn’t get past the thought of the 20% commission that I would receive for my work. This goes right along with the frustration of getting emails from companies, magazines and the like wanting to use my images for free in exchange for “credit and a link to my website.” But that’s a whole other article…
We as photographers spend an ungodly amount of money and time on our craft. We spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on camera bodies, lenses, CF cards, SD cards, camera backpacks, camera shoulder bags, straps, extra batteries, laptops, desktops, software, websites, hosting, training, workshops….the list goes on and on and on. We put in all this time and effort and then a company like Getty wants to pay us some slave labor wage of 20%. It’s nothing short of ridiculous. It’s insulting to photographers.
Thomas Hawk is a very well known photographer in the photo community. He’s one of the most followed photographers on Flickr, Google+ and Facebook. He’s also a very established stock photographer and has had his images licensed/represented by Getty for years now. Well, on Monday Thomas announced (very publicly) that he is quitting Getty and moving to Stocksy. You can read Thomas’ post at his website or over at PitaPixel.
In his article, Thomas goes over in detail much of what I talked about above. About how absurd it is that Getty is undercutting photographers so drastically. He then goes on to describe the culture behind Getty; how they excommunicate photographers who speak up and express their distaste for what it has become. One photographer who made much of his entire living from Getty recently got ‘fired’ and banned for voicing his opinion. Thomas points out that “At Stocksy; editors and management do Google+ hangouts with photographers. While at Getty all they seem to do is fight.”
Stocksy could very well be the future of stock photography. Instead of a lousy and insulting 20% for all the hard work that goes in to making stock photographs, Stocksy is going to pay 50%. Right down the middle. You provide the work, they put it in front of buyers. This is fair. Would I like more than 50%? Um, yes. Who wouldn’t? But would I be happy with 50%? Yes.
Stocksy is also different in the way it’s run. The founder is none other than Bruce Livingstone, the founder of iStockPhoto who sold the company to Getty for $50 million (you can read more about that from this article on CNET). According to that article, Stocksy won’t be selling out to large companies like Getty. It doesn’t have a master plan of growing and selling. Livingstone says that Stocksy will be “more like a nonprofit. At the end of the year, we take all the profits and distribute them. We’re not lining our pockets with cash.” It will essentially be a stock agency run by photographers, for photographers.
Another way that Stocksy is different is the quality control aspect of it. Let’s face it, Getty pretty much opened the flood gates on Flickr and just about anyone with a camera and some decent images could begin touting that they’re “Represented By Getty.” Stocksy is, at least for now, taking a much different approach. Only letting in very high quality portfolios that meet the level of excellence that Stocksy wants to be known for. I think that’s awesome.
Like I said, Stocksy could very well be the future of stock photography. But it’s up to us, the photographers, to make sure that happens. Tell your friends, tell your parents, tell your web designer, your graphic designer, write a blog post, tell everyone. And for the record, I am not part of Stocksy. I submitted my portfolio to them yesterday and am crossing my fingers to make it through. I just think this is a great idea and would love nothing more than to see quality photographers flock from Getty and start getting what they deserve. I think this has been a long time coming.
Let me know what you think in the comments below or on Twitter. Follow me @jamesdbrandon.