Breaking the Stock-Photo Stranglehold

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imagebrief2One day it might be a custom publication for a hospital network, the next a brochure for a car insurance company. Whatever your design work, chances are that you’d be hard pressed to get your job done if not for stock photos. Yet those images don’t always meet your needs. Instead of settling for that generic image of the old “doctor” with the slightly creepy smile, ImageBrief intends to give you more control over the photos you have at your disposal.

Launched in Sydney in January 2012, ImageBrief moved headquarters to New York recently with an eye to tackling the biggest photography market there is. Here’s how it works.

imagebrief1

Instead of doing a key word search on a traditional stock photo site, you type up a quick description of what you need (e.g., older male doctor sans creepy smile), including how much you’re willing to pay, and then wait for ImageBrief’s network of 5,000 photographers to bid on the job. The company skims a 30% commission off the top; it hopes to capture about $1.7 billion of the $5 billion stock-photo market, according to a Crain’s New York Business piece.

True, some won’t be able to help but bristle at yet another deep-discounting of creativity. Yet to spurn a potential improvement in image appropriateness for the sake of championing an argument that’s already been decided isn’t very helpful, either. For most designers, ImageBrief will probably rise or fall based on the speed with which images can be supplied, and their own ability to find it within their budgets to pay a little more for a more effective photo.

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