Image Libraries Versus Going Solo – CEPIC

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Image Source / Chihiro Ishino

In our continuing round-up of topical photo-industry debates at CEPIC, the charismatic Allen Murabayashi, CEO and Co-Founder of PhotoShelter, outlined the arguments for photographers going it alone or signing up to an image library

In an information-rich presentation, Allen Murabayashi laid out the arguments for either photographers selling their own work, or for putting work on an imagery library. With a mix of solid data and cheeky asides one could crudely boil it down to one simple idea –  while the photographer going it alone will obviously have a royalty split in his / her favour, do you want to be a photographer? Or a website administrator/ marketing person / social media / sales person / photographer.

Photographers with a strong niche have major advantages when going it alone and Murabayashi cited the example of Hans Halberstadt who has carved out a niche with his military stock photography, militaryphoto.com.  Without a niche it’s not impossible but more difficult to get a decent search engine ranking (the first three results get 70 per cent of clicks on Google) without spending time and resource.

Marketing, administrating your website, social marketing, 24/7 support is all an investment of time and money. You weigh up the risk and make a decision

But one of the other points that was made by Murabayashi, and echoed by others during the day, was that Photographers are not necessarily the best judge of the kinds of photography that will sell, so image libraries that have strong art direction and editing provide a commercially focused service for photographers. And libraries which offer an insight into trends can advise on the imagery that is likely to play into client needs.

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