Is creativity limitless? Can we go on and on creating new pictures that have never been seen or are we going to reach a point where we will start going into circles and re-shooting the same things over and over again? Is there a point where nothing will be new ?

Creativity is the lifeblood of commercial stock, whether micro, RF or RM. Without it, rates would plunge and photography would finally become a commodity, if not completely free. We have always taken for granted  that creativity was unlimited and that we would always be able to create new and original content. But what if its not. What if it is like oil, a limited resource and exactly like oil, we are starting to see the beginning of its end.

It is not by accident that many times, on this blog, photography has been compared to oil. Like it, Photography is a raw material that is only introduce to the mass market as a finished product ready to be consumed: A framed print, in a magazine, on a website, on a billboard. Never as is. Like oil, it is extracted. Not from the grown, but from the reality surrounding us. And like oil, the volume of its production can affect its pricing negatively. Even Mark Getty famously said, referring to photography :  ” Intellectual property is the oil of the XXI st century” . Thus it came with little surprise when stumbled on this chart :

oil music chart

Created and published by Overthink IT, it  matches the Rolling Stone Magazine 500 best songs list and when they where released with the world production of crude oil . Interesting, isn’t it? For multiple reasons.

Lets pass on whether Rolling Stones Best song list is actually the best songs. We all have our opinions on that. Rather, lets focus on when they were released and how they seem to perfectly match the extraction of crude oil. We could debate ad nauseum why the two graphs match so perfectly, from the increase production of Vinyl records to pollution affecting our R&R perception.

What is interesting here, is the appearance of a decline of creativity production indicating a possible drying out, exactly like oil. Like Oil, it is immediately consumed and has a rather short lifespan. Like Oil, creativity needs to reach farther, deeper, and in more expensive grounds to sustain. Like oil, this could be a tragedy.

What is causing this decline ? In stock photography, the  sheer volume of cheaper cameras associated with the extreme facility for copying is certainly a huge factor. Furthermore, the limited amount of topic covered by commercial stock is also a factor: Business, medicine, lifestyle,’s always the same concept that need imagery and hardly if none new ones appear. Finally, it just could be associated with it’s inherent inability to creating a self sustaining value

Is commercial stock photogrpahy headed the same way is non renewable energies ? quite very possibly.

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One Thought on “Of Hills, Peaks and Valleys

  1. When I visit the stock illustration communities like, I can see that these are communities that have not collapsed into a downward spiral of darkness and depression.
    They have not capitulated on price (Although the money was never as big). The same with the AIGA. There is no race to the bottom. Its about “Whats next”.
    There is point of comparison here.
    You tell me. Why do these people see a better future?
    Maybe its because they create unique and original content with a high barrier of entry to amateurs.
    They do not view themselves as a commodity product.

    I still think that one problem in the stock photography blog-dialogue-community is that a lot of guys back in the 90’s were making really good money shooting stuff thats only a bit better than a Walmart photo booth, and now we are flooded with all that and they are all depressed.
    And I keep reading “All the low hanging fruit has been picked”. Its time to move on.

    Also, I was very interested by your recent article on e-books.

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