In an industry that practically defines itself by its conservative progress, it is nice to see bursts of innovation. As we have written many times, it is almost exclusively outsiders who introduce new concepts as they are unshackled from legacy culture.
Our first refreshing innovator is a company called Placeit. Taking the concept of commercial stock photography to its true purpose, promoting a product or service, it offers the possibility to license images where you can easily insert your product shot and download a fully finished photograph. In other words, instead of finding a picture, downloading it, opening Photoshop, adding your product shot inside the picture, Placeit offers an incredibly simple way to do it all at once on their site and download the finished image to post it wherever you like. Just plain brilliant.
But the team behind the company have made some other brilliant move.
First, it allows you do try it for free, permitting you to create and use a small image at no charge. Only larger formats, those most useful for a serious buyer, incur a charge and those are perfectly in line with current microstock pricing, with options for per download pricing, subscriptions or credit packages.
Second, it didn’t try to be everything to everybody. Right now, it offers a little bit more than 660 images, all centered around phone apps. That is, only companies that would like to promote their phone apps can use it. If they had tried to offer millions of images covering all possible usage from all possible industries, they would have only succeeded in creating a terrible experience for everyone, as evidently, a lot would have gone wrong. By limiting itself to a very narrow vertical, they can guarantee a perfect experience and then move on, industry by industry, after carefully analyzing the needs.
Third, the technology and user experience are flawless. It is so easy and simple to use, anyone, even the most technology challenged, can use it.
Fourth, they have a video offering that allows you to insert videos of your app within the general footage.
Of note, each and every image/video downloaded from Placeit, while generic at the start, becomes unique and exclusive for the client. Not one image will ever look the same as the other, ever. A marketers’ dream come true and what the commercial stock photo industry should have been offering a long time ago. It wouldn’t surprise us if they get acquired by a company like Shutterstock or Adobe, or that their technology, if not patented, gets copied by same.
The second company we marvel at is Come Alive Images. We have been big proponents here of Cinemagraphs. Besides their obvious aesthetic, they offer the perfect combination between stills and videos, perfect for grabbing someone’s attention without the vulgarity and annoyance of blinking flash-based ads. What marketing company or brand could ignore the tremendous appeal a Cinemagraph can offer to their audiences ?
Jerry Tavin, of nonstock fame, a famous disruptor of the commercial stock space, and his partner, Joe Panker, from the advertising world, have put together a carefully curated group of Cinemagraph and Gif creators, both for assignment and stock work. At a time when everyone cries over the loss of boundaries between pros and amateurs, Come Alive Images makes a clear distinction since none of these artists are dilettantes. Since they are not easy to create, especially ones of high quality, they are quite a turn-off to part-time amateurs. Obviously that could change when the market picks up and rumors of fortunes to be made invade the sleepy bulletin boards.
In the mean time, Come Alive Images is the only place where one can discover and hire these talented artists, with their previously created work available at Glasshouse for stock licensing. Considering the huge popularity of Gifs on the internet, it is surprising that no other company has even thought of adding a division. That might certainly change, as Come Alive Images success come blaring at their footsteps.
There is a risk here of potential audience lassitude. If used too much, too often, Cinemagraphs and Gifs might kill themselves by over usage. However, we are not close to such scenario and they have many, many years of youthful success to enjoy.
While both companies might not have seemingly anything in common, they both offer refreshing, intelligent and well executed progress to an otherwise very stale and repetitive industry. While innovation has been far and few, we are now starting to see the results of cautious bold thinking that might get commercial stock photography finally in tune with its century.