Some compare Microstock to pollution and see it destroying the industry, others see it as a natural innovation that is inevitable. It’s striking to see how opinions differ on this subject. One of the reasons I publish this magazine is to bring together outsiders’ opinions with insider views (and sometimes preconceptions) and here’s a debate that just heated up.
The popular Techdirt blog (Alexa ranking 14.000) has posted an article on microstock. In it Mike Masnick responds to a post by John Harrington on Photobusinessnews. In the original post Harrington compares Microstock to pollution:
“Microstock didn’t come into the market to serve high school children who need school report images, or even the mom-and-pop corner store. They came in like a drunk bull in a china shop with careless regard for the devastation on the existing market.
“The profits in microstock are like end products where the pollution dumped into fragile eco-systems as a part of the process is simply disregarded. Today, countries like China who don’t give a hoot about their environment or worker satisfaction are polluting the skies and streams with the post-manufacturing waste, and living wages are not paid to workers there either.”
“As a result, US manufacturing can’t compete, and irreversible damage has been done. In the same vein of thinking, microstock photographers have little to no regard for the damage they are doing to the photographic environment, causing immensely talented photographers to close up shop”
The post has received a number of comments that are worth reading. Most of the posts are in agreement and classify microstock as damaging to the industy. Masnick disagrees:
It’s actually been really depressing to see so many photographers react so poorly to new technologies, and this case is no exception. In the ranting post, he compares microstock sites to pollution in China and drug dealing. All the rant really screams out is “I’m so set in my ways that I can’t compete or adapt my business model.”
Technology changes markets, and the more you look, the more you realize that it almost always enlarges the overall market for those who take advantage of it. Yes, there’s more competition in the photographer market, and the model for stock photography has changed. But the nice thing about the microstock market is that it has opened new markets.
In the end, it really comes down to how you deal with it. Do you whine and stomp your feet and compare the new world to pollution? Or do you figure out how to adapt? Economic progress doesn’t care in the slightest how much you liked how things used to be.
The Techdirt article has an even longer list of comments, mostly in favour of Masnick’s position. I’m interested to see what readers of Fast Media Magazine think so feel free to comment here and in the forum. Unsuprisingly you’ll find me in the corner of Techdirt on this one. Change happens and follows very basic economic theory. The trick is to adapt to the changing circumstances and look ahead at new opportunities. In fact, that is exactly why we write about a wide range of subjects that bring new insights and ideas.
Picture: iStockphoto | Plan B | Topshot UK