iStockphoto, the agency collection and a fantasy

iStockphoto, Potential Users, and Frustration

In the most recent Graphic Design USA annual survey 70% of those readers surveyed (predominantly designers I presume) that use more than one stock photo agency, preferred iStockphoto. Further, I have heard that half of all stock images licensed through agencies last year were licensed through iStock.  Put those numbers together and you begin to realize something very important.  If you do not have images on the iStock site there are no doubt a huge number of potential users of your work who will never see it. That has been frustrating for me as I just have been unable to come to terms with offering my own work at micro prices. It is kind of ironic though…iStock became a gateway for new entries into the world of stock photography, and yet in a way has become its own kind of barrier to those not willing to participate in micro. Hmmmm.

The Agency Collection and RF Stock Photo Pricing

Whether or not your images can successfully compete with those on iStock’s site, if they aren’t seen they won’t be licensed.  That is why I am encouraged to see that iStock will now have images included on their site that are provided by outside agencies (The Agency Collection). These images will apparently be priced at the lower end of the RF price scale…but will definitely be priced above micro levels. They won’t be competing on price but on whether they do the intended visual job or not. It will be very interesting to see what happens. I am keeping my fingers crossed that a fair portion of the iStock clientele will opt for images that are in this new collection. If that does happen, then there will actually be some case for saying the microstock has, at least somewhat, opened up a wider audience for traditional stock photos…though as a long-time RM photographer it is still hard for me to think of RF as “traditional”! 

My Fantasy World

In my fantasy world this new “Agency Collection” will be a big hit, microstock shooters will see the value of higher pricing, microstock buyers will get used to, at least in some cases, spending more for some photos (mine I hope), microstock clients might check out more RM offerings, and my income will go up. Hey, I said it was a fantasy!

About the author

John Lund  has been shooting professionally for over 30 years.  John was an early adopter of Photoshop, first using version 1.0 in 1990.  He began using digital capture in 1994.  John has been active in the stock photography world as a founding member of BLEND IMAGES, and long time contributor to Getty Images, Corbis, and, more recently SuperStock.

John has lectured on digital imaging and stock photography, has been a columnist for PICTURE and DIGITAL IMAGING magazines, and written ADOBE MASTER CLASS, PHOTOSHOP COMPOSITING WITH JOHN LUND.  John has been a frequent speaker at Photo Plus and other venues and has taught workshops at Palm Beach Workshops and Santa Fe Workshops.  His work can be seen at

Marco | Editor

Editor at large and founder of a bunch of stockphoto businesses