Stock images are just one of those little absurdities that designers take in their stride. They’re meant to represent real-life people and actions, yet seem to occupy a bizarre world where they never quite fit into their surroundings.
And then along comes DIS Images, a stock-image company “dedicated to manipulating the codes and trends in stock photography [by inviting] artists to create alternative scenarios and new stereotypes, thus broadening the spectrum of lifestyle portrayal.”
Part anarchic art experiment, part moneymaking enterprise, (and possibly part prank – who knows these days), DIS Images embraces the odd manner of traditional stock images and purposefully pushes the “weird” dial up another couple of notches.
What you end up with are images of mer-men and mermaids doing not so terribly interesting things, naked-to-the-waist fellows on ironing boards (note: some images are not safe for work…in the U.S., but perfectly fine in Europe…go figure), and cute young women singing into microphones in front of major appliances while brandishing a wad of bills.
In short, it looks like a few art students trying to say something terribly profound while scrounging for enough money to pay the rent. In this case, images range in price from $20-$1,000, with prices pegged to artistic use, editorial use, or commercial use, seemingly set by the artists involved. (It’s hard not to draw a correlation between the highest price and the level of naïveté involved. A cool $1,000 to use your 12”-x-18” image commercially? Seriously?)
Though DIS Images is hardly likely to put Getty or Shutterstock out of business, it is another crack in the near monopoly a handful of companies have enjoyed in this arena for decades. Last month we saw the made-to-order image company ImageBrief, and doubtless we’ll see a few more companies pop up before the year’s over. As the Web continues to make the world smaller and forces photographers to seek new revenue streams to survive, designers might actually come out the winners. For once.