The imagery needs of most web sites are modest; haven’t stock photography providers figured this out?
Due to download times and the frequent need for dynamic content areas, the web approach to photography is often different than print. Buying one single photo for a large print run is commonplace; buying one single photo for an entire web site is limiting.
- The web designer needs:
- high-quality, but comparatively low-res images
- re-usable imagery
- a large selection of easily usable photos to fill dynamic areas, some of which may draw from pools of dozens of variations
- nominal fees for volume, royalty-free photography
- The average stock provider offers:
- Royalty-free singles at pre-determined resolutions
- Rights-managed singles that have a price calculated based on size, impressions, and usage
- photo CDs for $300-$600 or more
I’m all for paying for the use of someone else’s creative work, but it strikes me that there’s a fundamental difference between the average web designer’s needs, vs. the offerings of the likes of Veer, Getty, Corbis, and the rest. Ideally I’d be buying themed photo CDs and building up my own library, but doing so involves paying for print-resolution photography.
It could very well be that there’s no business case for providing stock for the web; I’d expect lower prices for the lower resolution, but of course the content of the photo is what we’re really paying for. Perhaps there’s a break-even point that targetting prices for web use would fall under; perhaps not.
Increasingly I’ve been turning to the “dirty little secrets”, the open photography providers like iStockPhoto and stock.xchange. Both allow sharing of digital photos, and re-use in commercial projects. The quality is hit and miss, but the prices are low (iStock) or free (stock.xchange). The resolution is usually a few megapixels, which is rarely, if ever, not enough.
I’ve started my own personal collection of stock from these sites that’s starting to rival what I’ve had to work with in the past, with the added bonus of being made up only of shots that I like, rather than shots that happened to be included on the CD. I’m having a hard time finding a downside to this approach.
Am I alone? What’s everyone else doing for stock?