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Google Images, Getty and the Stock Photography Business

Dan Heller doesn’t seem to think that any company can dominate the stock photo market. Getty Images is making a play now by entering the low end in force (they have the middle and middle-high end under control).

Getty’s objective is less about controlling the images as it is about controlling the places that sell them. And while they may achieve a short-term monopoly on certain distribution outlets, which may result in higher prices for some small specialty markets, that short honeymoon period for Getty will end once photo-sharing sites become new outlets for photographers where the open market can decide their rates. A photographer that may be working exclusively with an agency now will eventually find those greener pastures. Entities that currently have “exclusive” arrangements with agencies may also find those relationships aren’t as valuable.

He has a point. A lot of people find my images on Google. Some people have licensed them. It just takes a single person or company to come up with a good photo catalogue and sales system and search itself can control sales.

In terms of the master catalogue, Google images will do. One of my clients is already on the first page of Google images for his work. Unfortunately, Google images works on an altogether different timeline than the main index. Images don’t show up at all sometimes for as long as six months.

In the meantime, a photographer who wished to control his or her own distribution needs a search engine friendly and optimised site.

There are cheap and cheerful solutions but those solutions are not perfect on either the search side nor on the display side. Flickr and the Google’s Picassa aren’t up to the job.

John and I will keep working on our technology. If you are a working photographer and need a website which will get fully indexed and rank highly for your field, drop me a line at alec – at – foliovision dot com. We have the solution.

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