If you have been reading this blog, you already know that we strongly believe that the next big disruption to the pro licensing scene is already in your hands. Not so much because everyone has a camera and can potentially shoot ( nothing new here) but rather for its ability to put image buyers and sellers in direct contact around a specific need.
The big change here is that instead of being an offer-first marketplace – where stock agencies create a large pool of images in the hopes of matching a demand-, cell phones open wide open the doors to a demand-first marketplace – Clients with a specific need reach out to a large pool of photographers-. The offer-first marketplace is cumbersome, expensive and needs a large infrastructure ( people and machines). The demand-first is nimble, agile, quick and needs very little support.
Already, startups liked ImageBrief, Scoopshot, Foap, EyeEm, Eyewi.re have entered this market with impressive investments and substantial success. While it is too soon to predict how big the disruption will be, it is undeniable that it is here to stay. Up to now, none of the traditional players in the stock photo industry, besides a few lesser microstock companies, had entered the market. Not anymore.
Getty Images is currently beta testing an iphone app that allows them, in this early stage, to post request that get immediately broadcasted to their contract photographers. Andreas Gebhard, Getty’s Director of Content Development , was kind enough to show us how it works.
Getty’s app is called Moment and is available to anyone on the Iphone app store. Once downloaded, a registered user is greeted with an overview of all the type of images needed:
Upon tapping on a request, one can get more information about the request and also see the most recent images uploaded.
From here, photographers have the option to either take a picture directly from within the app, select one already existing in his library or upload one from a separate source ( computer, hard drive, dropbox.). Currently, about 50% of images submitted were not taken with a cell phone. The next screen prompts them for a caption and keywords. They can then proceed and submit it to the Getty desk.
Once received by Getty, the image is primarily screened for its accuracy to the requested topic, after it has been checked for technical and aesthetic excellence. Depending on the image and the initial request, the image is then posted on the Getty website either as an RF file or in their special editorial Moment collection. You can see the most recent accepted images here.
Back to the app. If an image is rejected, the photographer gets a note from the editors with a brief explanation why. About 30 % of images submitted get rejected. A photographer can review at any time how many of his images have been accepted or not. He can also “star” ( similar to a Facebook “like”) images from other photographers. For now, the amount of “likes” has no impact on the decision by the Getty editors to accept an image.
Launched in December 2013, the Getty app currently has around 6,000 users. While anyone can download the app, only photographers with a current active contract with Getty can upload images, including those from Istock and Flickr. While Getty is sending more invitations daily, the app is still experimental for now. Depending on the data gathered over an undisclosed amount of time, they will decide how to pursue its development.
According to Andreas Gebhard, the current version of the app is purposely kept as simple as possible. However, depending on the reactions, they plan to add features. For now, the desk has the ability to target a geographically based group of photographers if they need, let’s say, snowstorm in New York. Only those residing in New York will get a push notification.
The possible near future: While nothing is confirmed, Getty is considering opening the app to clients so that they could directly post requests on the app, along with specifics and a deadline. The Getty desk would then edit the submissions and make them available for the client to decide which one to use. Very similar to what ImageBrief is doing. Furthermore, with more classification, the app could send notification to very targeted photographers, beyond simple geography. A request could be pushed to sport photographers only, or underwater specialist, making the result even more acute.
Getty is to our knowledge the only traditional photo agency currently playing with possibility of the demand-first market and that should send a very strong message to anyone in the same field. With its exist pool of pro photographers worldwide, they could quickly become leaders in this new marketplace, especially if no one else is competing with them. Lest we forget, they also have easy access to a formidable client list , bypassing the need for expansive marketing other start-ups will face.
Author: Paul Melcher
Paul Melcher is the founder of Kaptur and Managing Director of Melcher System, a consultancy for visual technology firms. He is an entrepreneur, advisor, and consultant with a rich background in visual tech, content licensing, business strategy, and technology with more than 20 years experience in developing world-renowned photo-based companies with already two successful exits.