Once upon a time the products of stock photography existed in darkrooms, cluttered file draws and cutting room floors. Fast forward to the digital age and here we are, flicking through hundreds of thousands of snaps to choose the exact shots we need. How have we got here? The answer is close to home and most likely staring at you right at this point.
The internet’s evolution has enabled many businesses and industries to evolve also – not least photography and, specifically, companies that offer catalogues of images for a subscription fee. Of course, this was the offering of businesses of 10 – 20 years ago. The concept remains, but the internet has enabled stock photography to skyrocket over the last 10 years; becoming a formidable threat to commissioned photography.
How has the internet managed to accomplish this? Here’s how…
The fact that digital cameras and photography equipment has become both more affordable and accessible over the last 10 years has given stock providers a few more options to choose from when outsourcing images. Due to the internet, the process that takes a photograph from location to archive has been streamlined to a matter of days. Amateur photographers were once hesitant to submit their snaps to known stock providers as this would require printing at no small cost. Nowadays potentially worthy photographs can be fed through a virtual edit suite and emailed across to the provider via drop box. If it’s not up to scratch, no hard feelings all round.
The use of keywords
Intelligent use of keywords is driving image searches, too. Much like they would with a box file, the provider will label the image and enable it for keyword searches. This has allowed clients to perform their image searches with a specific term, meaning they always get what they want. Before the internet, searching was an offering of the provider, who would rely on an army of agency researches to source the right snap. In short, keyword searching is a much more efficient way of acquiring the right photograph.
Providing a separate, more suitable application
There can be no denying that rates for stock subscriptions have shrunk since the dawn of the internet, but it’s been a number of years since stock photography could truly class itself as a premium service. The problem was that only a select group of people could find use with a physical print. On the other hand, applying a stock photograph to a website or a blog can be done within a matter of clicks and by the writer or editor in question. Therefore, the internet has turned stock into a cost-effective solution for businesses and consumers of all scales. That alone is arguably the World Wide Web’s biggest contribution.
Expanding its use
Not only this, but you have to consider the internet’s role as an advertising platform. Digital photography appearing on websites is a huge development for the industry given that technology like mobile communication is constantly changing the way we gain information. While print media continues its downward spiral, the digital stock photography market has never been more fruitful and its partnership with the internet means it will exist in its current format for some time yet.