03 May 2012 Yuri Arcurs launches PeopleImages.com the Ultimate Direct Sales Website

Screenshot of Yuri Arcurs's new website People ImagesIf you’ve been wondering what happened to the new website Yuri Arcurs has been mentioning over the past few years, it’s time to stop wondering.   It has finally arrived.

And if you take a good look you’ll see it’s been worth the time it took to build.   It’s anything but a standard photographer’s direct sales website.   Which is no surprise for anyone who knows anything about Yuri.

In addition to direct sales, the site adds after-sales services and a host of new innovations.

And of course it includes Yuri’s entire portfolio, with 6,000 exclusive images, adding up to a whopping 70,000 images!

Let’s take a closer look.

New Innovations

Time Exclusive licenses – cleverly undermining a key benefit of the Rights Managed licensing model, this new license allows customers to purchase exclusive use of new images that haven’t yet been licensed. Customers purchase exclusive use for as many months as they like. After the exclusive license period expires, the image gets distributed throughout the market as normal.

Late Licenses – for customers who are already using images beyond the rights they’ve purchased, or without having purchased any rights, this special license allows them to retrospectively purchase the necessary rights.

Filter by Model and Shoot – attacking a core weakness of most microstock agencies, images on PeopleImages.com are grouped by shoot and model. These functions empower customers to easily find similar images in great quantities and with greater control than at a microstock agency.

Custom Retouching – leveraging Yuri’s established post-production team, PeopleImages.com customers can request custom retouching with their license purchases. Prices are cheap as the new versions become available to other customers, though there’s an option for an exclusive retouch too.   The retouching menu provides some addictive little before/after examples.

Social Media Integration – customers can earn free credits by linking their social media profiles in a variation of the PhotoXpress model. This not only helps Yuri get to know his customers better but also helps make it easier for the customers to help promote the site. Given how much some microstock agencies invest in customer profiling, the extra customer information is likely very valuable. And it’s a smart way to implement social media based promotion.

Selling Copyright (almost) – for customers seeking exclusive rights to an image that has already been distributed (and likely licensed), Yuri has developed a ‘99% Buyout License’. Not unlike Dreamstime‘s ‘Sell the Rights’ option, clients get all the rights of the Standard and Extended Licenses and the image will be removed from all agencies to the best of Yuri’s ability.

Contributions by Copyright Buyout – before you get excited about contributing yourself, contributions are invite only; restricted to staff photographers and some freelancers trained by Yuri.   At least for now, contributions are by copyright buyout so PeopleImages.com isn’t deemed an agency. This is important so Yuri doesn’t contradict microstock agency policies which prohibit contributors who own or work for competitor agencies.

User-Driven Similarity Search – called aiBot, the similarity search works by associating images that other customers have viewed when seeking similars, rather than just matching metadata. Implementation is also straight forward from the user perspective – simply add various images to a lightbox and aiBot will find similars.

Some Agencies Could Learn From This

It’s clear that PeopleImages.com has been designed by someone intimately familiar with how to sell stock photography online.   At launch it’s already superior to many of the fully fledged microstock agencies that have arrived in recent years, and well ahead of most photographers’ website services.

The site is super clear.   From the succinct yet comprehensive explanation of how the site works on the home page, through navigation which doesn’t make you think, all the way to advanced search that’s ever-present and dead easy to use.   One of the biggest hurdles for new customer adoption is having them get to know the website, but Yuri has all but removed that hurdle by making the site as intuitive and self-explanatory as possible.

The design is modern and slick – a visual experience that appeals to design-sensitive people like photo buyers.

The interface is well considered.   Lightboxes, called ‘folders’ on the site, are bundled in with the shopping cart – one of those “why didn’t we think of that” kinds of ideas. Images can be added to the cart or lightboxes with drag n’ drop.   Help messages automatically appear when you mouse-over buttons and options, then fade out when you move on. It’s clear a lot of thought has gone into making the site gracefully simple without compromising on functionality.

The search includes all the usual tools photo buyers have come to expect from microstock agencies. They’re well implemented with the search options permanently in the sidebar and applied filters appearing above the thumbnails.

It’s All About Strategy

For those of us not likely to be customers of PeopleImages.com, the most interesting part is the strategy.

And keep in mind that what works for Yuri is not likely to work for too many other stock photographers.   Yuri has the scale and the resources to make things work – things that wouldn’t work for other stock photographers.

First of all, PeopleImages.com is as close to being an agency without actually being one. As we’ve already seen, not being an agency is crucial to his existing relationships with agencies.   But it has all the benefits of an agency such as credits and dedicated support.

Pricing strategy is also interesting.   Yuri has set his prices above average microstock levels.   By combining value-added services and extra licensing options, he’s targeting the high end buyer – the same market iStockphoto is clearly targeting with great success.   These are lucrative buyers; willing to pay higher prices, buy value-added services, and who don’t need a lot of hand-holding.

The distribution strategy is quite clever.   He’s inserted a more lucrative destination at the start of his distribution process. Not only is his new content available on PeopleImages.com first (where prices are higher and royalties are 100%), but it’s also available with the Time Exclusive license and 99% Buyout Licenses.   Yuri can now generate revenue even before his content hits the channels.

As a business producing a large volume of content, Yuri already has a substantial post-production team in place. This makes offering custom retouching services efficient, not to mention the benefit of having access to RAW files and layered post-process files.   Yuri can offer this service with relatively little marginal cost, making it a lucrative revenue stream and attractive value-add as the retouched versions accumulate.

Finally, by redisintermediating, Yuri is regaining the most valuable part of the stock photography business:   the customer relationships.   He’s already been hard at work doing this, with 2,000 active photo buyers already in his records (50 have been beta-testing the site, buying 10 – 30 per day).   Now he has a substantially more lucrative destination to direct his promotional resources and leverage the fame he’s built as the “worlds top selling stock photographer”.

  • Bob Davies
    Posted at 02:12h, 03 May Reply

    Awesome site, perfect design and lots of cool features! Very well done to Yuri 🙂


  • Sarah Hipwell
    Posted at 06:05h, 03 May Reply

    Hi Lee, I think this is where Yuri will ‘up the ante’ on Microstock. If his astute investment works out well, which looks like it will. The bonus will be a buyout by one of the bigger boys, as an ext strategy? S:-)

    • Robert Smith
      Posted at 08:35h, 03 May Reply

      That’s not a review, it’s an advert. Why would any big player buy an agency that represents just one person?

  • Yuri Arcurs
    Posted at 07:30h, 03 May Reply

    Thank for a very good article. Wow. you do your research well!
    The site is going really well already. Lot’s of trafic for sure.
    Remember that this is peopleimages.com v1.0 🙂

    • Darren Williamson
      Posted at 08:57h, 03 May Reply

      Yuri – of course he knows what it’s about, or is that the joke – you paid him to work on it I assume, consultant maybe?

      • Yuri Arcurs
        Posted at 10:16h, 03 May Reply

        I have never paid Lee for anything. Please respect his professionalism.

      • Lee Torrens
        Posted at 10:38h, 03 May Reply

        No, I didn’t do any paid work on peopleimages.com. We just spoke about the strategy of the site in preparation for this article.

  • Jean-Marie
    Posted at 11:30h, 03 May Reply

    Perfect example how to do things well when it comes to a stock images site! Inspiration for well established agencies (also tradition RF).

    Bravo Yuri

    PS/; kind of jealous ;P

  • Eric B
    Posted at 12:49h, 03 May Reply

    Good for you, Yuri. You’ll keep some good profits. Hopefully the rest of us will benefit as well from whatever changes you might influence in microstock. By the way, Lee, what exactly is “redisintermediating”? That is quite a word!

    • Lee Torrens
      Posted at 20:10h, 03 May Reply

      It was a popular buzzword during the tech bubble days, guaranteed to boost valuations in funding pitches. In this context ‘re’ refers to reverting to the disintermediated state that existed before stock agencies. But really, I’ve just been wanting an excuse to use the word since the bubble days.

  • Rahul tiwari
    Posted at 13:21h, 03 May Reply

    impressive.. New face of Yuri stock collection’s is awesome..Searching features I love it…

  • Martin Malchev
    Posted at 15:47h, 04 May Reply

    Now this is the good news I’ve been waiting for in a long time. This is “The Return of the Jedi” for microstock artists. The empire already stroke when Istock changed the rules of the game, leading all other agencies in the wrong direction. I was hoping someone who understand the mickrostock business will remind them what it is all about. Yuri, “may the force be with you” man! 🙂 Good luck with the site!

    • Sean Locke
      Posted at 13:41h, 11 May Reply

      This is not “what it’s all about”, at least what micro is about. As Lee said, this targets higher budget buyers, not the typical, original micro buyer.

      • Martin Malchev
        Posted at 15:31h, 12 May Reply

        Sean, “the typical, original micro buyer” gets used to buying quality photos and illustrations for cents nowadays. Not dollars, but cents… And not because of you and me, but because agencies taught him to do this. And, like that is not enough, many big agencies lowered the commissions rate.
        Maybe those agencies have their good reasons, but contributors must react when they are hurt. Some reacted by leaving an agency, others just went non-exclusive. Yuri is taking a step further by making himself a site to sell his photos. I know that it is not an agency and I don’t expect me or you to benefit directly from it. But I think that more initiatives like this can have an impact over the industry.

    • Cory
      Posted at 21:51h, 12 May Reply

      Unless Yuri is Boba Fett, the badass mercenary that gained his reputation through his talents, I don’t see the Star Wars comparison.

      I congratulate him on his site and wish him the best, but I don’t see this as a industry game changer. If you want change in microstock, you’ll have to make it yourself (for yourself).

  • marcus y
    Posted at 06:42h, 09 May Reply

    It’s a very nice site and very well done. In my particular case we don’t buy from one contributor only, we like to have a wider choice of contributors, but I’m sure I will occasionally buy from Yuri’s collection on Fotolia or somewhere else. I wish him the best of luck, I think it’s a good idea for those that will find the site suitable to their needs. Sites like IS and FT don’t distribute income very fairly and don’t price photographs properly.

  • Mark Milstein
    Posted at 02:28h, 10 May Reply

    This is certainly a major shift in the tectonic plates of our industry. I wonder who or what will follow….?

  • Mark Timberlake
    Posted at 10:46h, 01 June Reply

    The next step is to franchise this website and sell it to other stock photographers.

    Then to link the search for all of those sites together.

    A collection of private stock photographer websites, working in collaboration, is the only way to break down istock hold etc.

    That is my view anyway.

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