03 Aug 2015 PicsaStock Review

Picsastock is a stock photo marketplace for smartphone shots. Conceived as a platform to monetize Instagram photos, it now accepts images from other sources like 500px and Flickr.

It combines a website and a free mobile app, intending to build an online community and bring users and clients closer together. New networking features for models and photographers are recent moves in that direction.


Based in Berlin, Picsastock was founded by IT professional and web developer Andre Lutter in 2013. In September of that year, after collecting $350K in seed fundraising, he and his 10-member team launched the website, followed by an app release in early 2014. They subsequently gathered a second round of funding for $700K from angel investors to continue developing new features for the platform.

Previously, Andre had co-founded yourPainting, a custom photo painting service, in 2010. The site taught him a lot about image licensing, but it also uncovered a market niche: a high demand for authentic-looking imagery.

He realized that the combined phenomena of mobile camera technology and social media photo sharing suggested a profitable business: a platform where smartphone shots could be sold as stock. Most of the yourPainting team are behind the development of Picsastock as well.

Concept and Features

The company was initially named “Instastock” and allowed users to pull images directly from Instagram into the marketplace. However, the founders changed the name quickly. Perhaps they got a friendly letter from Instagram’s legal team kindly inviting them to do so…

Renamed Picsastock, the application still pulls photos from Instagram and now also supports images from 500px and Flickr. Ease of use is a key feature. Users can upload files directly from their devices and use a quick in-app edit and tag process.

At first, uploaded images were immediately available for sale, but the service later added a review process to avoid flooding their catalog with low-quality images. The company’s core market is the online stock community; they aim to reach professional photographers and established microstockers rather than just amateur smartphone shooters. As a young company, they are working hard to attract valuable contributors to build their catalog.

Royalties are $1 for standard licenses and $25 for extended licenses, rather than a fixed percentage.

On the buyer side, Picsastock has developed an option to search by image colors, along with the standard keyword search. But their main selling point is low pricing. Standard licenses are 1 credit each (they have extended licenses too), and they offer scaling packages to increase value for bigger buyers. The per-credit price ranges from $3.80 per credit for a basic 5-credit plan to $1.59 per credit for a Premium 100-credit package.

How Is It Going?

In October 2013, Picsastock won the Adyen Tech Innovation award for the most innovative technological business model at TechCrunch Disrupt Europe in Berlin.

Being a relatively new company, they’ve not disclosed numbers for sales or profits yet. As for popularity, at the end of 2014 they had slightly over 25,000 contributors.

Where Is It Going?

They say they are trying to build an online photography licensing community, including industry professionals and promoting career development for users. With this road map in mind, they redesigned and relaunched their website 2 months ago.

The new interface includes a blog with tutorials, Q&As, and other feedback-related posts. The site also offers features for professionals, such as contributor profiles with personalized portfolios and a freelance booking service.

They are still working on a section for modeling portfolios as well, which would allow models to be contacted by photographers through the site, enabling both parties to expand their portfolios.

Overall, the company appears to be working in a lot of different verticals (booking gigs, hosting modeling portfolios, etc.) before getting enough traction in their core competency.  The quantity of images in search results and the counts on their social profiles don’t reflect a company that’s generating a lot of community support behind their product, and their engagement numbers don’t compare well to their better-funded competitors, most notably EyeEm and Twenty20. It remains to be seen whether Picsastock will be able to build a strong enough user base for their ambition to pay off, or if they are trying to do too much too soon.

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