Microstock Shooting Professional Photography in the Foot?

18 10 2007

Amateur photographers are stepping into the territory of the professionals and that’s mostly a good thing. Prosumer cameras and the digital darkroom make it possible for the multitudes, if not the masses, to improve the quality and certainly the quantity of images they take. Many are taking advantage of microstock websites to monetize the expensive equipment and these sites are only too happy to pocket a large percentage of each sale.

Agencies are delighted to have a wider selection and certainly the ridiculously low prices. Ah the economy of scale. Sure some of the photographers are actually pretty good and more than worthy of being a stock photographer. One would expect that they will eventually migrate that way. Or perhaps the microstock agencies are hoping to grow large enough to take on the big guns out there. With so much of the established stock agencies power aligned to the vastness of  their libraries then this seems unlikely.

However, the issue is quality and I suppose the Long Tail.

There is little question that the depth of quality is not available on microstock sites. However, if you agree with the Long Tail theory, then one would believe that there is a place for the lesser quality images finding buyers – I’m sure there’s a lot of truth in that.

Still what does this say for the quality of visual communication we’re exposed to on a daily basis. Is this like the “junk foodinization” of photography. We’ll take what we’re served because it’s acceptable and cheap? Will kids of today think that great photography only requires a vast number of pixels in the same way as kids today think home cooking is putting something in a microwave?

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