According to an interesting article by Miguel Helft in the NY Times, Getty images, the world’s largest stock photo company, has entered into agreement with Yahoo permitting them to search Flickr’s database for especially high-quality images.
When Getty finds something it likes, it will contact the photographer and ask them if he or she would like to license them the image.
There are a couple of interesting points here. While professional photographers bring a level of craft (and equipment) that even most enthusiastic amateurs don’t match, Getty recognizes that the crowd brings advantages of its own.
For one, Flick attracts photographers from communities including small towns and out-of-the-way locales that professional photographers may never have even heard of, let alone shot.
Additionally, Getty claims, because most Flickr photos were “not shot for commercial purposes” they will bring a sense of “authenticity” that advertisers looking for. Think of all the ads you’ve seen recently that appear to have been taken on the fly or by an amateur, or that are artfully arranged to look as “casual” and “unposed” as possible. Getty is smart to recognize that thousands of photos like that already exist.
Since it doesn’t appear that there will be any way to submit an image to this program (the NYT writes that Getty will “comb Flickr in search of interesting images,”) it seems to me that no matter how great your images are, it’s a million-to-one shot that Flickr will find them.
Still, if you want to increase your chances, you might want to be as creative as possible with your keywords. What words might Flickr be searching for to find the hard-to-get, “authentic” images they’re looking for?
Imagine you are the young editorial assistant at Getty charged with finding salable images in Flickr. What would you search for? “Out of the way?” “Surprise?” “Unexpected?” “Breathtaking?” “Martian?” “Dancing baby?”
Which brings me to this blog’s first contest. Write a comment below with some keywords you think might attract some attention from Flickr. Keep it to under 200 words if you can. Feel free to explain your thinking. If you don’t have ideas of your own, or think someone else’s entry is great, feel free to express that, too. (However, don’t make negative comments about other entries, please. I will delete them and frown at you.) You’ll be helping your fellow photographers have a chance at the Getty brass ring, and you may win these cool prizes:
Two new, unopened copies of terrific DVD collections from The National Association of Photoshop Professionals.
1) The Best of Adobe Photoshop User: The 9th Year is over 3 hours of NAPP goodness, including:
• Tons of Scott Kelby’s “Down and Dirty Tricks"
• TV, print and web effects and
• Classic techniques from contributors Matt Kloskowski, Corey Barker and Dave Cross.
2) The Best of Adobe Photoshop TV Season One brings:
• Two more hours of awesome Photoshop video tips
• Cutting edge tutorials
• Impressive photo effects, color correction revelations, and scintialling shortcuts to make your Photoshop experience more productive and artistic than ever.
And, if you’re interested, I’ll also include a signed and dedicated copy of my novel, First You Fall, to the winner (assuming you’re over 18, that is).
Deadline: I’ll pick what I think is the best, most creative and most helpful answer on August 1, 2008.
Meanwhile, if you’re shooting in the hopes that Getty will acquire you, keep in mind the same rules that apply at iStockphoto (which Getty owns, BTW):
- You must have model releases for all recognizable people in the shot
- Avoid including any trademark symbols (even the Nike “swoosh ” on a pair of sneakers can be a deal-killer) and
- The photos must be of a high resolution and not overly compressed. The screeners at iStockphoto are merciless when it comes to “artifacts,” and we at The Digital Photography Show have had listeners who have sworn that even their highest-quality shots were rejected for having excessive artifacts.
While I doubt that Getty will be acquiring a ton of images from Flickr, this is more bad news for the full-time professional photographer who used to make a living off stock photos. He or she has already taken a beating from iStockphoto and the like. Getty was up-till-now one of the last providers that said “our images deserve their high prices because they come from the most highly-trained pros in the world.” Now, even on Getty, the full-time shooter is competing with the talented amateur. Ouch.
How much is at stake? According to the Times:
Getty charges on average between $500 and $600 for “rights managed” images, which are used by a customer exclusively for a period of time. Photographers get between 30 percent and 40 percent of that. The company charges on average of $250 for non-exclusive use of images and gives photographers a 20 percent cut of that...
The one thing I don’t understand is why Getty would need an “agreement” with Yahoo to do this? Couldn’t they have just trolled Flickr and hit up photographers on their own? Flickr is an open system, photographers who want to can establish an email link on their accounts, and this is, as far as I know, still a Democracy. So, was the “agreement” with Yahoo really needed, and is Yahoo actually getting paid for this? Or was the “agreement” merely a press-release worthy publicity stunt to get out the word and to, possibly, attract more talented and diverse photographers to use Flickr? What do you think?