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Which Image Subscription is best?

Discussion in 'Clipart, Vehicle Templates and Digital Files' started by Ruth Shapland, Aug 16, 2011.

  1. Ruth Shapland

    Ruth Shapland New Member

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    Aug 16, 2011
    I’ve been trying to decide which RF image subscription would best suit my design business. There’s plenty of choice out there among the plethora of established and fledgling sites (the latter having a nasty habit of vanishing as quickly as they appear). So first I narrowed it down to six - Shutterstock, Thinkstock, Reflexstock, Fotolia, Istockphoto and Ingimage. My idea was to judge them according to three criteria: quality, volume of images and value.

    For quality my vote went to Getty’s Thinkstock. I also liked Ingimage. Both of these collections are clearly well edited and their content is fresh and varied. At least, I haven’t spotted their photographs cropping up all over the place, on other micro sites or elsewhere.

    One other thing about Thinkstock and Ingimage. Both of these collections belong to established picture agencies. So I do have some faith in their model and property releasing. Most of the other sites seem to draw their images, or ‘crowd source’, from hobbyists and amateurs so I worry about their provenance. I need to be absolutely certain my client won’t find himself being sued for breach of copyright!

    Shutterstock scored best in terms of sheer numbers. Currently they boast a staggering 15 million or so images. My only worry is that much of their content seemed so familiar. It turns out that their thumbnail search results are displayed according to popularity. In other words, the most downloaded pictures attract top billing. In one sense this is useful since fellow designers effectively rank the collection for you. On the other hand, it’s self-fulfilling, as the same few images always feature first in the search results and consequently ubiquitously pop up in designs everywhere. I want my designs to be different.

    So which is the cheapest? There is a huge discrepancy: a comparable 12 month subscription varied between £529 and £17,010. Surprisingly, the clear winner in this category is Ingimage, with their subscription coming in at just £529. Which given their, not entirely unjustified, claim to be a premium service is all the more impressive. The most expensive was £17,010 with Istockphoto for a broadly equivalent number of weekly high res downloads.

    Which did I go for? Well, it’s between Shutterstock and Ingimage; but in the end I think it’s the combination of quality and great value offered by Ingimage that wins it for me. What do you think?
     
  2. Ken

    Ken Major Contributor

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    Well Ruth for your first post I guess we can say thanks for sharing your research.
    It seems almost like an infomercial.
    I'm pretty sure I was victim to an identity theft while using the Fotolia site several years ago. So I dont go there.
    It is not often that I need stock photos, when I do I usually find what I need at Dreamstime.
    Cheers!
    Ken
     
    Last edited: Aug 16, 2011
  3. d fleming

    d fleming Very Active Member

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    +1 dreamstime or my own digital camera image library. I never go anywhere without a camera, you never know when you will snap something useful.
     
  4. Fred Weiss

    Fred Weiss Merchant Member

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    I can offer you some limited insights from the perspective of being a clip art publisher, occasional buyer and a content contributor to Shutterstock, Dreamstime and Fotolia.

    Ingram Publishing: I don't know much about their current offerings but had a fair amount of contact with them years ago regarding licensing our work. That was generally a waste of time with them wanting much more than we felt was reasonable or prudent. Looking at their stock site, it seems to me to be, by comparison, vastly underpopulated with images. Their subscription prices are below market, 19¢ an image, but based on downloading a very high number of images. They claim that you can download approx 1,079 images a week but, I would guess, they are counting on the fact that no one does.

    ShutterStock: We have a very good experience with them after one year of being a content contributor. The royalties we earn there in a month are equal to what we earn at Fotolia and Dreamstime combined in five to six months. In my dealings and observations with them, as compared to others, I find them to be extremely smart, efficient and customer/contributor friendly. If you look at the ShutterStock interface, you can sort your search results by: Newness, Popularity, Relevance or just leave them Random.

    Fotolia: Our experience there has been 1/10th as good as ShutterStock. We just received our second notification of a redesign and will be seeing our second downgrade of our royalty per sale amount. By comparison, ShutterStock has raised our royalty three times in the last year. Take this as a sign of poor management.

    Dreamstime: These folks are very big on thinking outside the box. They are structured around image popularity and every thumbnail displays the number of downloads prominently. Their system is that the more an image is downloaded, the higher should be the selling price. So an image that has been downloaded 100 times might cost you 40 credits and a similar image with no downloads might cost you 10 credits. Contributors of popular content thrive there and lesser contributors don't. Customers, however, are screwed if they are drawn to the more popular images.

    What you should realize about all of them is that they've all had a history of letting too much junk and copyright infringing artwork into their portfolios. And, they've all take steps to reverse that ... to the point of over reaction. I would estimate that they currently reject 75% to 90% of all submissions in a highly subjective manner and often contradicting themselves. They all require model and property releases if an image has a recognizable face or building.
     
  5. Ruth Shapland

    Ruth Shapland New Member

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    Aug 16, 2011
    Thank you very much for your insights.

    Dreamstime I have to admit I overlooked dreamstime largely because I don't like the amount of weight they put on popularity. I think it discourages originality for both contributors and designers.

    Ingimage I'm a week into my ingimage subscription now and am so far very satisfied. They are indeed unpopulated in a few areas, but I have not yet been stuck for the right image.

    I work on a lot of 'health and beauty' industry designs and ingimage have a decent collection in this area. I also like they every download comes in the native photo size, I can't stand it when sites have the cheek to upsize the photos and then charge you triple the price!
     
  6. Fred Weiss

    Fred Weiss Merchant Member

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    All the sites I've checked have some pretty high minimums for submitted image sizes and require that no enlarging has been done by the contributor. I can allow for supersizing of an image as an option since they will be using appropriate software geared to do a better job than an image editor will do on its own and which a buyer may not have available.
     
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