Lifetime Stock is here to Disrupt the Royalty Free Stock Image Market


When you start out with a camera in hand, and the world at your feet, you have every right to be optimistic. 

During my time, it was an exciting journey. People were paying for good photography and learning to shoot was a skill. It wasn't something you could get our of a craiglist advert as photography during the analogue age was difficult. 

Magazines wanted writers who could shoot some basic photos because those two talents came as a bonus. Photographers were hire as full time staff in Magazines and those who could afford it, even had their own in house dark rooms to process photos. 

In the real world, people didn't take up photography for fun. Almost everyone who took up a camera could earn money shooting for people and people paid money for it because film and development cost were part of the equation. There was no freebies, because the consumables like film and printing itself cost money.

In my last post, Depositphotos was mentioned as a microstock agency that was raising prices while cutting royalty payments to photographers. Then I also had the post on the microstock business itself and how to make it in the business. It was to highlight the reality of the image business, in the digital age. 

What I use to do no longer applies. Magazines and newspapers often source for photos found on the Internet and credit the photographer in kind. Websites prefer not to pay for photos even if they are backed by multinational media corporations. So where are the markets for photographers? 

It is still in advertising or commercial space. 

What the Hell is Composite Photos?

People who set up websites and magazines will need to put up banners and print adverts. and there is no mistaking the need to have photos as a form of illustration. 

In the deposit photos post, I mentioned Composite Photos, but many didn't know what I meant. Well here is the example. Lifetime Stock is a microstock agency where they sell photo elements to create the ultimate composite photo. 

What Lifetime Stock does differently is that they buy blank background and isolated models posing against a blank space for compositing later by any digital artist. 

If you want to shoot such stock images, you have to learn to shoot against a blank background and at the same time ensure your light source is neutral so that no one can really tell which direction the sun is coming from. 

Beyond this, you can also shoot still objects, maybe fruits, cups of coffee, everyday items with neutral lighting. These objects will be etched out and the isolated object dropped into a corresponding background. 

This agency is on the look out for photographers who have some experience shooting such photos and if you qualify, you can easily fill in the gaps. However you have to note that they sell photos based on a subscription model, meaning customers can download up to 33 files a day based on the annual package they buy. 

The standard package is optimised for web use, while the Pro package is more suited for print use. 

The online photo editor is sort of like a Photoshop cloud app. You can do masking and compositing based on your chosen photos and create a brand new one just like you want it to look. 

You have to look at this sort of sites as an opportunity, which however demeaning to the photographer it may be, is a way to earn some money. 

Reality Unmasked

The reality of my teenage dream is officially a nightmare. To dream of having to shoot pictures while earning a decent income is nothing more than a fantasy. You can still go professional of course, but not in the way you could imagine. 

In the analogue days, film stock images were costly to store and people who wanted to use your photos had to pay good money for it. Corel was one of the first to pioneer the success of royalty free stock photos from Canada, where you could buy a CD full of images which gave you the rights to use it as you will. 

But before that. stock images could only be ordered from a catalog and the slide would be delivered to you via a parcel. There were no on-demand photo service which you could buy a photo when you needed. However whoever took part it the stock image business during those days could earn decent income if you had over 1000 images at a photo bank. 

And that's how they like to call their business, a photo bank. Because only a bank holds pictures with real value. 

Microstock? It's as vaporous as a bear or bull market run. That's how you tell the difference.