11 Nov 2015 The Microstock Empire of Dmitry Shironosov
Dmitry Shironosov, “Dima” to his friends, is a consistently successful entrepreneur in microstock. But due to his modesty, his fame is not in proportion with his achievements.
He’s expanded from stock production, through agencies, and on to technology innovation, all driven by his ambition for new markets. Sit back as I take you through his list of ventures (just the ones in stock—he has also developed business in other industries), and learn more about his latest projects and goals.
An entrepreneur with a background in computer science, Shironosov discovered the potential of microstock in the industry’s early days. He co-founded the Pressmaster stock photography production studio in 2006.
Based in Chelyabinsk, Russia, Pressmaster company has grown to employ 50 permanent employees and over a hundred part-time or casual staff, including studio chief, art director, photographers, assistants, and more. They produce stock photos, and in 2013 they introduced a stock footage team as well.
Pressmaster aims to cover all genres in stock, but they focus on lifestyle. With an international perspective and without compromising quality, they deliver over 700 new images and videos per month, of which Shironosov holds all copyrights.
The brand is currently very broadly distributed through the microstock market and is among the top sellers in the industry. They market themselves as the number one stock imagery producer in Russia.
In 2009 Shironosov took a step further into the business by founding his own microstock agency, Pressfoto.
Pressfoto is quite popular among Russian microstockers, well known in Eastern Europe in general, and widely considered one of the top microstock agencies in the region. Building a greater international presence is one of their top objectives, but they’re otherwise fully focused on growth.
They currently have a library of 7 million photos, and one million vectors and videos. On September 4th, they introduced a new search function in their website: reverse image search using artificial intelligence, which was a testing stage for their latest product.
At the time of the agency’s launch, the Pressfoto Group was created to serve as an umbrella company for all their microstock businesses. As these ventures expanded, the group—with Shironosov as the managing partner—added new offices to expand into new markets.
Pressfoto Group was the organiser of this annual, two-day microstock conference held in Moscow. Its debut in 2009 was very well arranged, and the event has grown in popularity within the industry, adding more international speakers—all top industry professionals—each year, who provided great insights, sharing their profound knowledge and practical advice to participants. Although the last STOCKinRUSSIA event was in 2011, the conference was a great success with microstockers, agencies and related companies alike.
Microstock Expo, the industry event Amos Struck and I organized in Berlin in 2011 and 2013, was heavily inspired by STOCKinRUSSIA, and Shironosov and his team were incredibly helpful in making our event as successful as it was.
Shironosov’s current focus is on the Asian market. The key to his business development has always been to discover and exploit new market niches. Having other businesses outside microstock in the Asian region, more precisely in Vietnam, gave him a greater insight in this particular market’s image needs and opportunities.
With this mindset, he co-founded stock production company DragonImages in 2012 in Ho Chi Minh City. DragonImages integrates a stock photo production studio, with a permanent staff of around 20 people, and some roles performed remotely from Russia HQ. They specialize in Asian themes and culture (although some international model shots are included), with a strong focus again on lifestyle images.
Interestingly as part of their strategy to expand business in this region, they’ve issued a sort of call for contributors in the form of an open offer for stock photographers to join and shoot for them at their Vietnam location, sharing resources and exchanging ideas.
They also operate as a sales office for Pressfoto in Asia, and the agency itself has turned to more Asian content.
Although it’s been two years, you can get a greater insight on the core of their strategy from this presentation by DragonImages’ executive manager Kate Kholyavskaya at 2013 Microstock Expo. And you can also find them on Facebook.
The Next Step: EveryPixel
At the end of 2013 Pressfoto Group had released a multiple agency image search database called Microstock.photos and image copyright protection software named MediaSTAMP. But they soon decided to develop an advanced product to serve both image buyers and suppliers using the latest technology.
The new product was tested in Pressfoto agency’s interface in September and was launched recently: EveryPixel. It’s a platform for intelligent visual searching powered by neural networking technology. This service aims to connect buyers and content creators by easing access to licensable photos from multiple databases, delivering matches based on analysis of an image provided by the customer, and also providing similar results focusing on conceptual—not visual—similarity. They plan to add an image copyright protection service soon, and they have interesting development plans for the future if the new platform proves to be successful.
A Broad Approach
As you can see, Dmitry Shironosov is leading a very broad business platform. His businesses are diversified but always within the microstock industry. As stock producers themselves, Dima says that all of Pressfoto Group’s—and his—latest efforts in business and tech development are oriented to inspire and ease contributors’ work.
From a successful stock photo factory to a specialized brand and a revolutionary product using the latest technology developments, he’s certainly an ambitious and accomplished microstock celebrity.