Microstock business perspectives


After this season of merging/acquisition/reorganization done by Corbis (Veer, VeerMarketplace) and GettyImages (iStockphoto, Stock.xchng, Jupiterimages, Photos.com) and already described on this blog in previous posts, I wonder what can be the future for the “Others”, smaller ones and up and comings.

My personal opinion is that it will be hard to survive in this market, maybe it will be some chances for niche stock sites or for those will introduce useful new features or with an aggressive marketing strategy. But I'm not a microstock photo agency owner, so I've asked people involved in this market about their microstock business vision and perspectives. I would like to thank all that ones that kindly replied to my requests, in alphabetical order of the respective agencies name:

Anders Peter Amsnæs, Founder – Arctic Stock Images
John Griffin, CEO & Founder – Cutcaster
Vitezslav Valka, CEO & usability specialist – Pixmac
Lawrence Gould, CEO & co-founder – Vivozoom

microstock photo concept
© Saniphoto | Dreamstime.com

artic stock logo Anders Peter Amsnæs, Founder –

Arctic Stock Images:

I believe that the traditional agencies will have to lower their prices to compete in the long run and at some point we might not distinguish so much between them and the early microstock sites like iStockphoto. Getty is clearly moving in that direction. For traditional stock photographers that means that they will have to come around and embrace microstock if they want to continue in stock… of course though – there will always be (extra) room for extra-talented or super-creative photographers, to run their businesses the way they want

cutcaster logo John Griffin, CEO & Founder – Cutcaster:

I'm not sure if I think prices are going higher but I think the market (real sellers and buyers) should be the one dictating the prices and not the agency telling the market. I hope with enough information that photographers can make good choices and still make good money. That is what Cutcaster is hoping to help solve for photographers and at the same time provide buyers with an easy to use website, the highest quality images and offer the flexibility to work with any type of budget and licensing needs. I hope the trend isn't selling more rights for less money but that is where I think one part of the market is headed. In another area, there is still a great customer or a yet to be uncovered one.

pixmac logo

Vitezslav Valka, CEO & usability specialist – Pixmac:

As I watch the situation in microstock carefully, after peaceful summer of big changes that is obviously something that changes things, comes the time of revising what everyone did or does. At least in Pixmac, we're watching forums, revising our site and improving every possible mistake we can have on it and in the same time expanding to new countries. We're also finding ways to help to our photographers feel comfortable. So for Pixmac, after a year, summer 2009 could be called “The Peaceful Evolution“.
Veer seems to be a new-born child with all the pain that comes with it. But it needs time to see if they did a good job. The biggest change for me is SXC.hu under Getty Images. Right after they officially announced the joint, iStock banners pops up on the site. So we'll see if big players will feel the community spirit or just money.

vivozoom logoLawrence Gould, CEO & co-founder – Vivozoom

Vivozoom’s vision is to offer the best of microstock to the professional image buying market.
We believe that by recruiting our contributors, applying high editing standards and rigorous quality control over contracts and releases, we can present a reliable, high quality collection of images to rival the traditional Royalty Free collections.
Our images are all guaranteed legally safe to use (http://www.vivozoom.com/warranty.html) – which stands them apart from the rest of microstock, and makes us the first viable microstock image supplier to those businesses who need this security.

Pointing © pressmaster - Fotolia.com
© pressmaster – Fotolia.com

About Author

I write about the stock photo and microstock industry since 2006 on my several online-magazines. My goal for MyStockPhoto is to teach photographers and stock photographers how to sell more photos and earn money with their photography hobby.


  1. Great question Roberto!

    I agree with most of the points made by the interviewees. What I'm seeing is technology costs coming down very rapidly, which makes it much easier for microstock agencies to survive on lower revenue. We're certainly seeing more microstock agencies launch than we have in the past and they seem to be staying up even if they're not growing very fast. In the previous few years the agencies that didn't grow quickly went offline. Even some that did grow quickly went offline!

    Price convergence isn't surprising anyone, but the big traditional agencies are handling it in different ways. Getty Images is providing more restrictive and sized base licenses at drastically lower prices. Corbis didn't make any overly public price cuts that I noticed, but they did cut contributor commissions. I understand this move in light of the oversupply of stock images in the current market, but it does seem odd coming from an agency chasing the market leader (less so from an agency chasing profitability).

    Again Roberto, nice interview series. Thanks for that.


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