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Microstock photography

When it exploded onto the scene in 2001, istock the original site for microstock upset most photographers. Today we would call it a disrupter and admire the tenacity of the business model, and just like Uber or Airbnb today, it took on a very well established, cliquey, stuck-in-its-ways industry and revolutionised the business using the burgeoning power of the internet.

Istock blew away the dusty books filled with lovingly cared for transparencies, erased the megabytes of CDs carefully cataloguing prestigious archives. After photographers had spent years building their portfolios, suddenly any upstart could upload their snaps and sell, sell, sell. And as the Internet boomed the thirst for content grew exponentially.

Purists will argue that microstock produces a bunch of low quality images that stand out like a sore thumb on many a powerpoint presentation. But what it has done is democratised the way stock photography is sold.

Content is the key here, and as I am also a marketer, I know how valuable it is to have plenty of it. Social media, blogs, websites, powerpointzzzz… you name it; this age of digital communications needs more and more of what we can supply. Digital cameras and applications like lightroom, have sped up the process of producing high quality prints, that we are close to achieving some kind of economy of scale.

My collection isn’t huge but I choose to sell microstock via Shutterstock. They have a really easy-to-use platform for uploading, keywording and selling photos. I find it good for the odd image I want to put up for sale. I’ll never be a millionaire, but it does mean I can, on occasion, buy that new bit of kit I’ve had my eye on….

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