Where are all the local-stock-photo services?

Written by Michael on April 26th, 2011

greententEvery local-news company needs stock photos from their coverage area. Every local-news company takes stock photos in their coverage area.

Somehow, nobody has figured how to give all of us an incentive to let each other use the stock photos we’re already taking.

A couple months back I failed to fully communicate this concept to a friend at The Oregonian. Here’s another attempt:

  • Any news organization, large or small, can add photos to the pool.
  • Anyone can buy photos from the pool a la carte, or pay for a long-term membership.
  • Photographers get a cut for each download.
  • Regular contributors get discounted memberships.
  • Marketing types could buy and use the photos, too – though they couldn’t contribute, because only documentary-style work could be uploaded.

That’s it! My Oregonian friend noted that, like many papers, they already offer a little-used page where you can buy old Oregonian photos. This is different! Here’s why:

  • It’s a two-way service. Newspapers’ photos-for-sale stores, like print newspapers’, are one-way services: we make, you buy. The problem is that even a large daily newspaper doesn’t produce enough photos to reliably have one to offer for any occasion. Opening such a site to every photographer in town would increase volume. Like at Craigslist or Amazon, audience follows volume, and volume lets you lower prices, and lower prices bring more audience.
  • It’d be catalogued and tagged like any modern stock-photo site.

This second bit, of course, is the big expense of stock-photo services and the big flaw in my plan. My hunch: the tagging and sorting would have to be done by software or by a low-wage worker abroad.

But here’s what I’m sure of: Somebody somewhere could use the photos currently sitting uselessly on my hard drive.

At end of the day, that’s a waste – the kind of waste that the Internet, sooner or later, will solve.


2 Comments so far ↓

  1. This is what flickr is for. It lets you search for CC-licensed photos, by locale, by tag, and it lets you license photos (non-CC photos) through Getty Images. They’ve already created the killer app. Just fill it up.

  2. Michael says:

    Damn, I hate it when commenters are right.

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