stock imagery

Buying and selling mobile imagery - where to go

There have been at least two pieces of news this week featuring companies that sell stock images created on mobile devices: first, EyeEm announced that it has redesigned its Android app and has partnered with Uber to offer new users a free ride to let them go places to take photos; second, Fotolia has also released a new Android app—Fotolia Instant—to complement its iOS version, which allows photographers to upload and sell their mobile images via the stock site. This got me thinking: how many stock agencies are mobile photo-friendly? Or where can you buy images made on mobile devices if that's what you want or need? I did a little digging and a little thinking and put together this list. I've tried to limit it to agencies or sites that are mobile-specific, have dedicated mobile collections, or easy means of uploading mobile images. There are sites such as Picfair that readily accept mobile images, but that's just part of its library.

Mobile-oriented sites



EyeEm is a mobile photography sharing app and community that launched Market, a platform for its members to sell their photos, earlier this year. Invitations are still being issued to join Market, but it's simple enough to request one.

EyeEm Market EyeEm apps: Android; iOS

Foap icon


Images can only be uploaded to Foap via its app. As well as adding images to the Foap library, image-makers can participate in missions set by brands and agencies searching for more specific content. Foap's terms of use are quite broad, which is worthy of consideration before deciding to sell images there.

Foap website Foap apps: Android, iOS

Scoopshot icon


Scoopshot expands on Foap's model, with buyers setting tasks for photographers in order to acquire the images they want. If someone sees a news image that they think is vaulable, it can be sent to the news task. Scoopshot doesn't go in for manipulated or filtered images; they prefer fresh and newsworthy content that meets task criteria.

Scoopshot website Scoopshot apps: Android, iOS

Twenty20 icon


We took a look at Twenty20 last year and while we thought its simple pricing structure for selling mobile image files was great, the sales mechanism required some refinement. It's still in the beta stage, but it is there!

Twenty20 website Twenty20 app (iOS only)

Mobile-friendly agencies

Stockimo icon


The more traditional Alamy stock agency has embraced mobile photography and its photographers can use the Stockimo app to upload their mobile images for sale amongst the Alamy library. Buyers can look for mobile images in the dedicated Stockimo collection.

Alamy website Alamy Stockimo collection Alamy Stockimo app (iOS-only)

Clashot icon


Depositphotos is a microstock agency that sells images under royalty free licences. It has a dedicated mobile photography app and collection: Clashot.

Depositphotos Clashot Clashot apps: Android, iOS

Fotolia Instant icon


Fotolia is home to over 20 million images and it's prepared to add mobile photos into that mix. You can find all its mobile images in its Fotolia Instant collection.

Fotolia website Fotolia Instant collection Fotolia Instant apps: Android, iOS

Getty Moment icon

Getty, including iStock by Getty

When people think of stock agencies, they think of Getty. If they don't think specifically of Getty, they might well think of a Getty subsidiary. Getty photographers are being invited to join Moment, along with the old Flickr collection, while new photographers should be able to join in due course. Whether or not you want to get involved with the Getty licensing machine is another matter.

Getty Images Getty Moment app (iOS-only)

Any other suggestions? Leave them in the comments section!

EyeEm and Getty Images team up to licence mobile photos

You might be thinking that EyeEm, a mobile photo-sharing app, and Getty Images, the international stock agency, have been in the news enough this week. On Sunday EyeEm announced that it is establishing EyeEm Market, a means for its members to sell their mobile photos and today Getty Images unveiled its new embed feature that will make 35 million images free for use in non-commercial contexts. Now, though, they've teamed up to announce that Getty Images will be making EyeEm images available for licensing across its platforms, including iStock by Getty Images and a bespoke Getty collection. For EyeEm, this places their users' images on a huge stage with millions of potential buyers for royalty-free and rights-managed licences. As Florian Meissner, EyeEm's CEO said: '... now because of our partnership with Getty Images and their extensive distribution network, members of our community will have a great opportunity to earn revenue from their creative work.'

From Getty's perspective, Craig Peters, SVP Content, Getty Images says: 'We are seeing increased demand for fresh, original content that reflects the world as consumers see it, so we are pleased to be partnering with EyeEm to open up this collection to our customers and to provide this talented community of photographers with a new revenue stream.'

Whatever anyone might wish to say about the death of professional photography, Getty perceives that there's a need for mobile images and EyeEm is able to fill it. We can't make it go away by ignoring it, so we might as well embrace it.

It's exciting times for Getty, EyeEm, and mobile photographers.

Competition rights grabs don't just exploit photographers, they destroy the industry

When we feature competitions here on Photocritic, we do our best to ensure that they're entrant-friendly: we don't like to promote contests where you run the risk of losing control over your images and we prefer not to support paid-for contests, either. If we're the slightest bit suspicious, the competition PR takes a one-way trip to the delete bin. And if we do feature a competition, we always urge you to check the terms and conditions to ensure that we haven't missed something and that you're happy with the rules.

Last night, I received a communique from an agency representing an internationally renowned publishing house requesting that Photocritic promote a competition aimed at up-and-coming photographers. The prize could be a huge break for an as-yet unrecognised but talented fashion photographer, with a commission, mentoring from some significant individuals, a gallery exhibition, and a chunk of cash.

A closer inspection of the rules, however, has ensured that this competition will not be featured positively here on Photocritic. Indeed, rather than being consigned to the dustbin of broken dreams, I'm going to highlight it for what I believe it is: a rights-grabbing exploitation of ambitious young photographers that has the potential to do them, and the photography industry as a whole, more harm than good.

The issue lies in clause 7a of the contest's rules, covering Ownership and Licence:

All entry materials become the property of the Sponsor and will not be acknowledged or returned. The copyright in any Submission shall remain the property of the entrant, but entry into this Promotion constitutes entrant's irrevocable and perpetual permission and consent, without further compensation, with or without attribution, to use, reproduce, print, publish, transmit, distribute, sell, perform, adapt, enhance, or display such Submission, and the entrant's name and/or likeness, for any purpose, including but not limited to editorial, advertising, trade, commercial, and publicity purposes by the Sponsor and/or others authorized by the Sponsor, in any and all media now in existence or hereinafter created, throughout the world, for the duration or the copyright in the Submission. Sponsor and/or others authorized by the Sponsor shall have the right to edit, adapt, and modify the Submission.

The translation? The competition organisers can use all the images submitted to the competition any way that they want to, across any media known or currently unknown to man, without informing, compensating, or even acknowledging the photographers for the duration of the copyright.

Not only is this an exploitation of the photographers who might submit their images to the competition, but it is damaging to the photography industry as a whole. For every rights-stripped photograph entered into the competition, that's a potential commission taken out of the market. The competition organisers have created for themselves an image archive that they are at liberty to use in perpetuity without compensation. Why would they need to commission material or purchase stock when they have this at their disposal?

Flick through any magazine and you'll see hundreds of images used to bring colour and interest to articles. We use them here on Photocritic. The images aren't intrinsic to the pieces and the content won't suffer from their omission, but the articles look better for them. Team Photocritic tends to trawl through its archives in search of suitable images, but magazine publishers might turn to a stock agency or an in-house photographer for their needs.

For one of the largest and most powerful international magazine publishing houses, it doesn't matter that the images they've harvested from a particular competition are fashion shoots and won't necessarily be front cover material or suitable for splashes. They can be used to illustrate all manner of feature articles across a huge range of publications that need nothing more than a generically beautiful image: 'Ten tips for a tan-ready tummy in twenty days' or '52 things to do before you die'. These free photos can be used time and time again in a huge number of magazines, and in so doing they deprive in-house and stock photographers of work. Cover shots and fashion spreads are the prizes in fashion photography; they're not the bread-and-butter work that keeps rooves over the heads of photographers and food on their tables.

By looking for their big break when they enter a competition that's aimed at up-and-coming photographers, the entrants are quite likely doing themselves out of work in the long run. Please: always read the terms and conditions before entering a competition and don't relinquish your rights cheaply.

Is stock imagery getting too specific?

As a stock photographer, you have to make your money any way you can. I suppose there are only so many saleable photos of 'businessman on mobile phone', but when you look at stock sites, you'll often find photos that are just a little bit ludicrously specific. The funny-guys over at CollegeHumour spotted that as well, and created this rather fabulous video about it:



So, the question - dear readers - is stock photography getting way too specific, or is this the only way that stock photographers can still carve themselves out a niche?

Getty Images sold to the Carlyle Group for $3.3 billion

Print media might be in decline, but that hasn't meant a decline for the stock house, not necessarily. If they were bright enough to diversify and offer digital media such as music and video footage in addition to images, they'd build for themselves a relatively sound business model as digital media has taken off. Today's $3.3 billion acquisition of Getty Images by the Carlyle Group goes some way to supporting that.

Getty Images was bought by Hellman Friedman for $2.4 billion in 2008; earlier this year the private equity firm began to consider its options for the world's largest supplier of stock imagery and footage. When it came down to a choice between sale and flotation, sale won. The markets have been too volatile this year to risk and floatation and other investors were given a chance to get grubby paws on Getty.

It would probably be overstating it to describe the ensuing sale process as a bidding war. The Carlyle Group and CVC Capital Partners both made moves towards acquisition, but Carlyle's winning bid of $3.3 billion was less than Hellman Friedman had expected. The initial expectation had been for $4 billion and this was subsequently lowered to $3.6 billion. Still, publicly, Hellman Friedman is insisting its content with the price.

Carlyle does have the controlling stake in Getty, but Getty's founders, Mark Getty and Jonathan Klein, together with the Getty family, have rolled substantially all of their ownership interests into the purchase.

What then does this mean for the thousands of photographers with millions of images licensed through Getty? No mention was made of the building blocks of the business in the press release. Eliot Merril, Carlyle's Managing Director, did state that: 'We look forward to partnering with Mark Getty, Jonathan Klein and the talented Getty Images management team. We will harness Carlyle's financial resources and global network to help take Getty Images to the next stage of product innovation and global growth.' Carlyle's a private equity firm, its primary interest is towards its investors, it says so in big letters on its website. I doubt that it has very much interest in photography, photographers, or photographers' rights beyond the profit that it is able to lever from them.

Carlyle only has to maintain Getty's current balancing act of paying out miserable percentages to its contributing photographers on licences, but simultaneously retaining its reputation as the world's leading stock house to stay successful. Buyers go there because they get the range that they want; sellers stick with it because of potential sales, no matter if they only get a 20% cut on a royalty-free licence. As a photographer, if you don't have the guts or the means or the alternative to walk away from Getty, it leaves you in a very difficult position.

Getty Images might be selling media on behalf of its creators, but its allegiance isn't to them. It's to its investors. The sale of a stock house from one group of investors to another has done nothing other than to weaken the position of the photographer and strengthen that of the investor. It has demonstrated that stock houses can be regarded as a successful investment where the producers are of little concern to the investors, provided that they make a return on their outlay. Even if nothing changes for the photographer to her or his detriment, the move does not signify an improvement in their circumstances. No, it's all about the investor.

Photography: a great business if you're not a photographer.