There are hundreds of stock agencies out there, so if you want to break into the market, you have be certain of at least two things; first, that you're providing a service that buyers are demanding and second, that your business model is one that photographers will be happy to supply. On the Ground Media thinks it has identified a niche and from early 2014, it hopes to be providing images specifically relating to corporate social responsibility and sustainability through its new stock agency CSR Pictures. Thinking that a stock agency devoted to corporate social responsibility images might be somewhere on the small side of niche, I asked the people behind it how they felt they might attract a client base. It's not as if the sorts of images that people compiling CSR communications are thin on the ground; type 'poverty', ''money laundering', or 'fraud' into Getty, Alamy, or Corbis and you're presented with thousands of photos. If you're looking for rain forests, polluted oceans, or chimneys belching fumes, you've an even larger selection. Furthermore, when iStockphoto has just changed its name to iStock by Getty as a reflection of people identifying with the brand names, there's a case for bigger is better.
CSR Pictures isn't concerned by either of these issues. To start: 'Our research suggests that many of the people who need to bring CSR themes to life—CSR managers, corporate communicators, even HR staff—don’t necessarily have the time or inclination to sift through endless images. They’re not traditional image buyers. They want a much more focused search experience. And they want us to work with them to understand their needs and channel to them a steady stream of top-notch images.'
As for the sorts of images CSR Pictures wants to supply, it recognises that there are plenty of generic photos, but very few that are specifically CSR-oriented, for example impact investing, compliance with anti-bribery legislation, mining industry transparency or beneficial ownership of shell companies. It's CSR Pictures' aim to 'work with some of the best image-makers around the world to come up with new and compelling ways to illustrate such areas.' In its opinion, there really is a gap in the market.
Market duly identified, it needs some photos. It is, therefore, inviting photographers the world over—including those from Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America, many of whom lack outlets for their work and steady income streams—to submit their applications to contribute. If you're wondering what sorts of images it's looking for, there's an extensive list on its website. You can submit your application on the site, too.
Should everything go well, CSR Pictures aims to establish a global network of photographers and designers for bespoke photo shoots and projects that its clients can commission.
There isn't a pricing structure in evidence on the site yet, but I've been told that the cheapest royalty-free image for web use will be in the region of £20 to £30 and the website states that each sale is split 50/50 between photographer and agency. They don't demand exclusivity, either. If you've the right images and the agency will be as much in demand as it thinks it will, it could make you a few pennies.
Interested? Think it has legs? All of the details and the opportunity to sign up to contribute are on its preview website.