12 Sep 2008 How to Change the Stock Photo Market
PhotoShelter announced yesterday that they’ll be closing the PhotoShelter Collection portion of their business, effective October 10. The closure will occur almost exactly one year after their official launch of the Collection and is attributed to “the size of our image selection” and “entrenched subscription relationships”.
In the blog post that accompanied the announcement, CEO Allen Murabayashi has blamed Getty Images, microstock and buyers for the failure. Some people agree, others do not.
The PhotoShelter Collection Story
The PhotoShelter Collection was all about the photographer and they gained a large and fiercely loyal photographer following as a result. They boldly claimed they would change the industry, spend $1million on promotion, and remained ‘defiant on microstock’. They put a lot of investment into building the business through initiatives such as publishing a detailed Buyer Survey, their Shoot!TheDay blog, the Shoot!TheDay global event and competition for photographers, and their School of Stock initiative.
But in the end, the PhotoShelter Collection wasn’t profitable and PhotoShelter chose to close it down rather than seek funding to fix the mistakes that prevented it from reaching profitability.
The Market Reacts
Reactions are mixed. The loyal are thanking PhotoShelter for not compromising. Others are upset about their lost investment. Here’s a sample:
Julia Dudnik Stern – To many, Murabayashi became the long-awaited knight in shining armor
Terry Smith – blaming the industry instead of their own incompetence
Vincent Laforet – It’s a blow for every photographer who ever wanted to fight ‘The Man
Daryl Lang – three contributors contacted had never seen a single sale
Grant Harder – I love what PhotoShelter stood for
Eric Holsinger – 1 year seems like a pretty short time to crash and burn
Dan Bannister – I spent a few minutes before bed each night praying it would work in spite of my predictions to the contrary
Microstockers are saying that ignorance isn’t the same as defiance:
“A crowd-source model for stock will likely never work“, Allen Murabayashi, PhotoShelter CEO, September 11, 2008.
How to Change the Stock Photo Market
PhotoShelter certainly burned a lot of photographers who won’t risk contributing to new agencies again. Subsequently, the barriers to entry for new stock photo agencies just got a lot higher. Change the market, indeed. Getty must be grateful.