Flickr is announcing a collaboration with Getty Images. The idea is so obvious and simple and it’s great news for both parties and their respective users. Flickr has an insane amount of images and Getty gets to pick and choose. Picturebuyers get a larger selection and the flickrphotographers get some cash. Everyone wins. Unless your business is rightsmanaged or even royalty free stockphotography. Then you might think, “Oh no, not yet another blow at my business. Will it never end”. That – at least – was what I thought when I got the news.
I don’t shoot for stock and I’ve only just started uploading my large backcatalog of photography to Digital Railroad, so I’m not threatened by the new competition as many others would be, but still I had to take a closer look at what this could mean to my business.
I compared the image request I get from Digital Railroad about once a day and tried to find some of the images on flickr
One image request reads:
Detailed Image Description: for a jewelry client
close up of a diamond stud earing on a woman ages 20 to 40 years old.
No brides or fancy make-up or hair. Want this to look like an everyday shot not special event
do not want to see the woman’s face but can crop in if image fits. Really prefers close-up
can be a couple hugging tight crop.
Feel of Campaign is very artistic- photojournalistic
Will be running as Black & White
Maybe I searched the wrong words so I tried “female diamond earring” which turned up even fewer photos and none usable. I thought the one with a diamond earring would be easy, so I picked a new image request. This time with a lot more luck.
Detailed Image Description: Looking for images of pomegranates in the Greek islands (Naxos and Crete are preferred, but any are ok).
Search: “Pomegranetes Greece” and bingo. 115 hits and many usable.
OK. So the score so far is Flickr/Getty 1 point and the rest of us 1 point. Lets test some more. Hmm, here is a good one:
Detailed Image Description: I’m looking for an engaging image of a mother and child or children, something that reads quickly and is not too heavy. I’m not necessarily looking for anything too saccharin, either. This is a photo book, not many words, and is marketed to be a Mother’s Day gift book.
IMPORTANT: anyone recognizable has to be model released but silhouettes and the like are okay without a release.
A search for “mother child” gives 72,849 results, so lets see if we can refine it. “mother child love” brings us down to 10,305 results results. I don’t see any superduper shots but some are usable if stressed (I only went about 10 pages deep).
Ok. Let’s try another one. Something easier to search.
Detailed Image Description: Who has recent images of the Appalachian Crafts along the Kentucky Artisan Heritage Trail and at the Kentucky Artisan Center in Berea? Could also use Boone Tavern, Snug Hollow Farm B&B.
I know this is not the most scientific approach but my guess is that if Flickr and Getty are to have any success they better hire truckloads of photoeditors – and some good ones at that – to wade through the trillions of private photo-of-friends-friend-with-other-friends-friend imagery. And maybe more importantly it reminds us to always do our best. You never know what the next move is.