Very relevant to our recent discussions on abundance and technological unemployment!
Paul Fernhout alerted us to the NYT article: “For Photographers, the Image of a Shrinking Path”
“Mr. Eich and Ms. Pruitt illustrate the huge shake-up in photography during the last decade. Amateurs, happy to accept small checks for snapshots of children and sunsets, have increasing opportunities to make money on photos but are underpricing professional photographers and leaving them with limited career options. Professionals are also being hurt because magazines and newspapers are cutting pages or shutting altogether.
“There are very few professional photographers who, right now, are not hurting,” said Holly Stuart Hughes, editor of the magazine Photo District News. … That meant a flood of pretty decent photographs, and that changed the stock-photography industry. In the last few years, stock agencies have created or acquired so-called microstock divisions. They charge $1 to $100, in most cases, for publishers or others to rerun a photo, often supplied by an amateur. And Getty made a deal with Flickr in 2008, permitting Getty’s photo editors to comb through customers’ images and strike license agreements with the amateur photographers. “The quality of licensed imagery is virtually indistinguishable now from the quality of images they might commission,” Mr. Klein said. Yet “the price point that the client, or customer, is charged is a fraction of the price point which they would pay for a professional image.” …
In 2005, Getty Images licensed 1.4 million preshot commercial photos. Last year, it licensed 22 million — and “all of the growth was through our user-generated business,” Mr. Klein said. That is because amateurs are largely happy to be paid anything for their photos. “People that don’t have to make a living from photography and do it as a hobby don’t feel the need to charge a reasonable rate,” Mr. Eich said. “