I'm excited to announce that I have been invited to join SuperStock Images to be an image contributor. SuperStock is a stock photo agency that prides itself on providing the best images and motion footage from around the world to license for editorial and advertising use.
I always have been hesitant to join a stock image agency. Over the past twenty years, the image market has been in a race to the bottom. First, it was a battle between then Microsoft owned Corbis and Getty Images. Throughout the years, the market consolidated. Then, cheap royalty-free image libraries moved from a niche to become the dominant method of selling and distributing stock photos on the internet. This change reduced potential earnings from such images dramatically while the cost of producing high-quality stock photography remained roughly the same.
Last week, in another hostile move towards image creators, Getty Images announced that it is phasing out rights-managed distribution almost entirely in favor of royalty-free licensing. Unsurprisingly, Getty's customers want more for less.
While this very welcome news to image buyers, it is another step to devalue our work as photographers and to reduce our ability to generate meaningful income from stock photography.
Not surprisingly, this announcement generated a great deal of discussion amongst professional photographers. On one such threat on ASMP Oregon's Facebook Group, SuperStock came up as an agency that is run by photographers, and that is still striving to provide licensing models that work for both image buyers and creators.
After doing some more due diligence, I decided to apply with SuperStock to become a contributor. I didn't expect to get a response right away, but I did get a positive reply very quickly. I signed the contributor agreement on Friday. Now it's time to begin with the hard work to identify images in my catalog and research and produce new material that is suitable for stock photography.
SuperStock offers rights-managed and royalty-free options. SuperStock also provides a reasonable percentage that allows creators to have a fair share of the profits.
In theory, this arrangement should give creators an incentive to invest more in their image productions and to produce high-quality images and in turn, to be rewarded with higher earnings.