Business Week has a major article on the current situation in stock photography, focused on Getty. It’s worth a read.
There are a few errors–referring to photos that are “non-copyrighted” (pg. 3) is the most blatant. For the record, ALL [new, US] photos are copyrighted there Bucko–but they may be (ick) royalty-free. And they don’t talk about Getty’s new pricing for web usage–$49 for any image (yes, any, for wide-ranging web-based use).
More importantly, this article brings to the mainstream the ideas of stock, payments, usage, and how photographers are getting screwed by companies like Getty. People will understand our industry better, and that builds compassion for our struggles.
The article also mentions how Getty has lost any concept of personal service for its clients, and there, I think, is its most easily exploitable flaw. Rather than rail at Getty for it’s $49 new pricing–saying something like “drop this program or will stop providing images”–just stop working with companies like this that exploit your talents.
You don’t need them.
In today’s techno-groovy world, self-marketing and selling of stock can be much more doable either completely in-house or via Digital Railroad (as mentioned in the article). If you offer great images AND you give fantastic, personal service to your clients, you don’t need stock houses like Getty or Corbis to create a good stock-based income stream. Clients will appreciate you taking into account the details of their projects when you price, working with them to make a fair deal for you both, and they will come back for more (and share your info with their colleagues).
I think the time is right for photographers to take back control of their images. Dump companies like Getty who, as the article states, is essentially the Wal*Mart of photography–abusing its suppliers and using fear to get photographers to provide the images it needs to make its money. Set up your own stock companies. Market the hell out of your work and your service.
And keep more of YOUR money, rather than letting uncaring corporations get 60+% of your sales.