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The rise of the ‘completely free’ stock photo …and it’s not all about the photo

I’m open to input and thought on this post – fill in the comments box below or call/email me

Most calls I get from photo library owners these days start with the question “Whats next Will?”  …well here’s one thing which Is starting to be next Now ..and you should start understanding it.

Free arrived a couple of years ago, photographers started uploading and allowing their images (a well ‘edit out’ selection I hope for their sakes) to free stock photo sites. Then the images were no good for an decent company looking to illustrate the company website …now the images are getting very Usable. Two free stock photo resources I am following right now are Unsplash  – a curated image collection from images submitted by photographers weekly – and Burst from Shopify – who seem to have a more specific business image library.
The FAQ’s on Burst tell you everything you need to know about how Free these images really are. The images Will , I am sure, do for 90% of businesses looking for a photo for their company website, …or to start an online photo gifts store. I had to read these FAQ’s a couple of times just to make sure there were No restrictions …there are None. Changing my brain from 25 years of photo licensing to understanding Free is taking a while. My first reaction, as always, was to explore this growing trend with an open mind and it does not take long to understand why it is growing quickly and how it works.   There is no traditional photo licensing business to be had here, it’s just new – a ‘new way’  …and to the alarm of the photo libraries and agencies who do not offer News, Sport, Historic (even this area is under threat from the flood of museums releasing their  image collections for ‘all-use’) or Celebrity and Beauty images it should be a worrying trend.

There Is a business plan in Free but it has nothing to do with the photos, that’s your clue – if you don’t see it then you are not spending enough time exploring whats next ….call me if you would like to discuss what is next, I am always digesting the future of the photo licensing business and running PAN I get to speak with the real thinkers in our industry – look forward to hearing from you.

Will Carleton.

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