Used to be that stock photos cost a couple hundred bucks or more. Used to be that photographers could make good money in stock photography. But now millions of people have (more or less) high-quality digital cameras and broadband internet, sites are finding ways to leverage the public’s massive image database.
In The Rise of Crowdsourcing, Wired follows a stock photographer watching his business being undermined (if not decimated) by the rise of sites like iStockphoto, where the public can contribute images to sell — at prices ranging from $1 to $10, rather than the more traditional $400.
Of course all of the images at iStockphoto are by “amateurs” rather than pros. But browsing the collection, it’s clear that there are thousands of images there that most web/print designers would consider to be “good enough.”
Aside from the fact that most amateurs will never earn enough from a site like this to pay the rent (or even buy a bag of groceries), I’m curious about what kind of revenue the site itself can make with margins that low. As brilliant as the idea is, seems like usage would have to be extremely high to make it sustainable.