While living in Los Angeles in 2012, Bruce Livingstone (the founder of iStockphoto), began planning his next project – Stocksy United. Using the model of a supplier-owned co-operative, the new stock photography agency is paying out one of the highest royalty rates in the industry as well as annual dividends to it’s shareholders (the photographers). Launched at the end of March this year, the co-operative has attracted some of the biggest names in the industry such as Sean Locke, Hugh Sitton, Kevin Russ, Trey Ratcliff and over 300 other photographers.
Microstock was once the designer’s dirty little secret, but now it’s become a designer’s dirty little word. Oversaturated, cliched, and mocked, the royalty-free stock photography market was due for a shake-up. Photographers, sick of being exploited for equity firm profits began looking for alternative avenues to license their content.
“We wanted to create a marketplace for photographers that was not only democratic, but fair and sustainable,” Livingstone says. “We believe that through this equitable, participatory structure and a straightforward, transparent compensation system – combined with the knowledge of the marketplace we bring to the table- Stocksy will quickly amass the ﬁnest pool of photographic content on the Web.”
Purposely operating with a small group of high-end photographers has enabled Stocksy United
to be very selective and promote a tightly curated collection
of authentic photography not found (or buried) amongst the larger mainstream microstock collections. Primarily due to the compensation and equity offered to photographers, Stocksy’s simple and approachable prices offer content free of mediocre cliches, and instead make available premium imagery, whose calibre is often sold at much higher prices.
The conception of Stocksy brings Livingstone full circle to the dawning days of microstock – but this time, substantive royalties and member ownership are built into its design. “Photographers have never had this level of participation and control in the stock world,” he says. “We believe Stocksy represents an opportunity to change the industry permanently- and for the better.”
[quote]Photographers have never had this level of participation and control in the stock world. We believe Stocksy represents an opportunity to change the industry permanently – and for the better. Bruce Livingstone[/quote]