Is Fotomoto a threat to traditional stock agencies?
Picscout/Image exchange is not the only solution that intends to make image licensing easier. Fotomoto is another company that aims to change the playingfield with a fresh solution to the proces of image licensing. Like many innovations the company was started by people outside the stock photography industry. Fotomoto is the brain child of techno wiz, CEO and founder Ahmad Kiarostami. It was launched in April 2009. The company allows photographers to sell their images and products on their own website without directing them elsewhere. It’s primary focus is selling photography for prints and cards but in principle the system allows for any type of licensing, including usage.
The basic idea behind the technology is to use a couple of lines of code that generate a ‘click to buy’ link on images and indexes individual images automatically. Unlike ‘traditional’ mediums, such as stock photo sites, Fotomoto allows more asset control to the image owner.
Whereas stock photo sites charge varying rates of commission to photographers, Fotomoto charges a flat rate of 15% of the sale of any image, which proves relatively cheaper. The only other additional cost incurred by the seller is the cost of physical prints. Content owners can customise the ‘click to buy’ link using css (cascading style sheets) to meet the style of the webpage or blog (for example modifying the colour or size of the tab). This way the company not only allows amateur and professional photographers more control over their images but also saves them money they would otherwise pay on subscriptions charges or commission rates. The company currently has an office in San Francisco, USA.
Another feature that Fotomoto offers is support for adding a shopping cart to customer’s orders. The company handles the transfer of funds when an order is placed, and it currently offers pay pal payment options as well as credit card payments. As the company ships its products internationally, pricing is offered in US Dollar, Canadian Dollar, Euro, British Pound, Australian Dollar, or Japanese Yen, with more currencies to follow as the company expands.
Apart from handling the payment upon placement of an order, Fotomoto also deals with supplying the buyers with orders by shipping physical quality prints or sending ecards, making the whole process hassle free.
“Photographers, organizations with a lot of photos, aggregators of photo content, photography blogs and magazines, museums, galleries, non-profit organizations, journalistic blogs, and any person or entity who has spent time and energy building a website and presenting photos can use Fotomoto to monetize their photos.”
As the company expands and to help generate more revenue for their users (and in turn themselves), Fotomoto is offering a range of products to buyers, using images provided by their service users. These range from calendars, mugs, tshirts and postcards. However, they do stress that photographers have full control over which products they wish to offer using their images.
Most websites can use Fotomoto as long as photos are not embedded in Flash. Fotomoto does not currently support Flash-embedded photos. Any HTML website or photoblogging software that you may be using (WordPress, MovableType, PixelPost, custom made, etc) should work with Fotomoto.
Fotomoto currently boasts 500,000+ images in its database and the number is set to grow with the business. CEO Ahmad Kiarostami stated on Fotomoto.com, “The reaction has been overwhelming. Photographers have been looking for a solution that would not make them sell their art at online photo supermarkets. Fotomoto allows them to maintain their online artistic brand, and sell directly to their audience. The volume of requests to use Fotomoto is staggering, coming literally from all over the world.”
With the company showing good growth, it has proved an attractive venture drawing investment on the back of its success from the likes of Amidzad Partners and Draper Fisher Jurvetson, according to techcrunch.com. Further interest has also arisen in the shape of Mehdi Maghsoodnia , former COO / VP of CafePress and currently CEO at BookRenter , who has helped the invest reach an impressive $623k and signed up as a board member.
With nearly 100,000 unique visitors in December 2009, Fotomoto have been taking advantage of the increasing traffic to promote artists and photographers by adding a ‘daily featured artist’ section since November. In addition to this, they added a ‘collections’ feature on their homepage in January 2010 and this is currently showcasing 100 handpicked valentine-themed images. Moving forward, they will add more collections in the future, enabling photographers to tag their images into different collections.
This is one to look out for in the future.