Posted by Andrew VanderPloeg
A long time ago, in a March far, far away, I wrote a post called Unstocking Your Photography. It was a post that highlighted the importance and value of custom, commissioned photography. While I definitely stand by what I said in that post, it would be short-sighted to say that stock photography doesn't have it's place - it definitely does.
So when Getty Images, one of the largest stock photo suppliers in the world, announces that they are making 35 million of their images freely available, well, that's news that we definitely want to highlight for our readers.
If you're interested in a bit of interesting reading about the announcement, I'd recommend the article entitled, Since It Can't Sue Us All, Getty Images Embraces Embedded Photos, from Business Week.
But while I still have you here (or maybe you just came back), I'll explain the two reasons why I wanted to highlight this on the blog today.
First, as I said above, I wanted you to know about it. It's massive news and it could end up being really, really helpful to many of you. So, consider yourself informed and resourced - now go benefit from it!
Second, I wanted to comment on Getty's decision to do this because it feels like a little bit of a gamble.
As the title of the article I referenced above indicates, Getty identified that they were no longer in control. The world had changed around them and their system was archaic. When a brand runs into this reality (and many have, are, and will run into it), there are always two options:
Option 1 involves putting your head in the sand and continuing to do what you've always done because that's either all you know, it's hard to change, it's what you believe is right, or some other justifying statement or belief.
Option 2 is to embrace the fact that things have changed and change with them. This is almost always a frightening prospect because it usually brings with it a significant degree of risk.
Those two options are clearly acknowledged by Craig Peters, senior vice president at Getty, in the linked article above when he said, “People sharing content without a license is an issue—or it’s an opportunity.” What's interesting is that both options are gambles.
But here's the kicker. The option that feels the safest - the one where you bury your head in the sand, avoiding all the risk of changing with the times - is actually the bigger gamble.
Getty realized that and decided to take control of the gamble as opposed to letting it increasingly control them. It will be interesting to see where this all goes, but if I were a betting man, and had to invest in Getty Images yesterday vs. Getty Images today, I'd be putting my money on the latter.