Don't Steal those Marketing Images! And Other Photo Insights.

With the vast majority of brands creating content on the Web, there's never been more of a demand for images to supplement that content.


On social media, for instance, posts with images generate sustainably higher engagement than those that do not. With everyone on the Web in need of compelling photos, Website Magazine caught up with Dreamstime CEO and Founder Serban Enache as part of our Web tech interview series to discover more about the stock photography industry and get some valuable insights into dos and don'ts for image use for businesses. With such interesting info for Web professionals, we've included the transcript below:


What should we know about your industry?


Despite having the largest community of designers in the world, we still meet people who take their images from search engines, not knowing visual content is copyrighted. They risk their businesses since they can be sued by the photographer, model in the picture or the agency representing the image. There are lots of lawsuits and the fees range from several thousands into many millions of dollars, for a single image.


We can say that more and more people license images but don't know enough about copyright. Since images are created by photographers they can't be used just because they were "found" on the Internet, as most people claim.


It also worth saying that prices charged by stock photo agencies can reach to less than a dollar per image. It's hundreds of times less expensive than 10 years ago, cheaper as ever before.


Collections are fresh, curated, with great looking content and all images are keyworded manually. The search engine of a stock agency is far superior than any regular search engine such as Google Images or Bing Images, especially when you are looking for specific content.


How will your services/products change in the next 1, 5, or 10 years?


The market is so dynamic that 2026 is light years away. Think where we were 10 years ago: no mobile phones, a digital camera would cost a leg and many airlines were still allowing smoking on board.


Content was available but way more expensive than it is today. We've seen the visual content being commoditized and democratized. There is a good side, we have more visual content generated in the last 12 months than in the whole photographic history of the world. It's good that everyone can become a photographer, but it's bad when quality is replaced by quantity.


Since more content is being generated than ever before, the customer needs to scroll through oceans of images. After safety, this is again when stock libraries come to help. Now everyone can have a blog or posts on social media about their business. This trend will evolve as more businesses join the online platforms each day.


Social media, mobile apps, new gadgets are changing the way we interact between ourselves. In such a dynamic society, a picture is now worth more than a thousand words. Except academic areas, you can't capture your audience without an accompanying photo or video. Not because people don't have time to read (stats show a record sales for books and online blogs are spiking), but because visual messages are everywhere and the right photo needs to capture the audience's attention, before they read your message.


Fast forwarding 10 years from now, things will not change significantly even if neural interface communication will be in place. For businesses one would still need to capture the viewer's attention before providing the message.


Where is there the most demand for your service?


We continue to see most interest coming from businesses, but since job types are different than 10 years ago, we also see interest from individuals. While advertising agencies or Web designers remain the core of our community, the highest growth comes from new models (social media, apps), new distribution platforms (we provide a plugin for WordPress that allows designers to get their visual content without leaving that site) or even new economies. There is a significant number of countries with fast growing economies and all these countries require images for their advertisements. An interesting thing is that history doesn't always repeat itself in this economic environment. New economies will jump right where the "old" ones are, going extremely fast to reach the point where they can take over. Technology is cheaper and proper research allows these economies to shortcut history.


Who are your competitors?


Getty Images, Adobe and Shutterstock. There is a lot of consolidation in place and the number of top players shrinks.


What are current trends impacting your business?


The most positive trend is the growth potential of the industry. We now serve our designers content generated by photographers contributing with a DSLR or a simple mobile phone. Designers have the flexibility to use our platform on the beach, in the subway, while photographers can also be anywhere.


"Stuck in traffic" has less negative connotations today than 10 years ago. It's not just about geography, but about skills as well. Top pros will generate a constant influx of stunning imagery from remote places, but a teenager can also create the next best seller by simply using his/her phone. The photographer no longer needs to travel days to reach a remote place, simply because he might be living there. He might not need to setup a chemistry lab, he might be the chemist him/herself.


The most negative trend is that people still use content without paying. And it's worse when it comes from savvy people working in the industry. It's bad when someone takes for granted a photo where the photographer spent years of his life to create and travelled for days. But it's even worse when entrepreneurs will connect their platforms to a search engine to get images. We hear too often about people using watermarked images for presentations at conferences or trade shows, or even governments doing it for their Facebook accounts. The interesting outcome is that a more educated audience of viewers is now penalizing them. Losing credibility is even worse than a lawsuit.


Closing thoughts


Photography as a profession is in jeopardy. Unlike the moment when it replaced painting, photography itself is not in danger of being replaced. It will not vanish, it will transform and content will continue to be fresh and beautiful. So, despite gloomy spectra over the photographer as a job title, there is a tremendous potential out there. Business models have changed and people need to adapt. Photographers have more creative opportunities and more freedom than ever before. It's a constant learning curve and we're now at the verge of something new. Despite the turmoil, there are exciting times ahead.