The photo agency industry continues to complain and whine about its condition, endlessly consummated by demons it has created.
For one, it has created this endless pool of incredibly mediocre photographer that has for far too long managed to make a living taking pictures. Its not amateur photography that is getting better, it is just pro photographer that are getting worse and lazier. The over reliance on a defunct principle that they were the only one to own the channels of photography sales made photo agencies indifferent to the quality of their product. After all, it was them or nothing. Even Getty, who once believed it could corner the “distribution of image” market and set it own rules got a nasty wake up call when Istock through the first kick and Flickr the second punch.
Today, the photo agencies have a lot of excess weight. Photographers they keep because of old friendship or by pure habit, endlessly submitting the same images in the hopes that the Golden age will soon return. While they wait, in absolute stubbornness, the majority have decided that playing with pricing will offer them a new opportunity.
Amidst unverified rumors that their competition is doing the same, prices are being slashed to levels that have never been seen and that defies even the law of gravity. Since print publications are not doing so well either, everyone is more than happy to comply, bringing the whole market to a spiraling absurd end. To top it all, Angelina’s twins selling for an allegely $14 million just adds more photographers in the pool, hoping that they will too, one day , hit the jackpot.
Take Florida based photo agency prphotos.com ( created by some wireimage ex pats), for example. Someone there with a brain the size of sand has decided to offer red carpet images for web usage on a subscription basis. That wouldn’t be so bad if the prices were not so ridiculously low. Some of its offering is as low as “Under A Penny Per Image”. At that stage, what is the point ? With what seems 5 people on staff, how do they intend to pay their bills?
Do they still believe the internet is the dumping ground of photography ? But more important, what does it say about how they value their photography ?
We haven’t seen the worst of it yet. There will be more of these whacked-cracked photo agencies popping up everywhere, one “smarter” than the other, offering waccadoodle prices in a desperate hope to become the new Google of photography.
Getty, now privately private will soon release a lot of weight ( read photographers) that will in turn compete not on quality but on sub pricing flooding of an already over saturated market with less than attractive images. It will not just hit editorial, but commercial stock as well, until only a few agencies survive. Already photographers have a hard time. If they associate themselves with foot-shooting agencies and their magic potion pricing, they will have to take other jobs to make ends meet.
There is no salvation in stupid pricing. It is just stupid.