Will Google Become Your Next Stock Photo Agency?


As we all know, the Big Three stock agencies are in a period of turmoil, with the emergence of microstock, photo-sharing, crowdsourcing and other changes seriously cutting into their profit margins — as well as the earnings of professional stock photographers.

In this environment, I guess it’s only natural to expect the disruptive innovations to become more and more dramatic. Which, I suppose, is why a number of people have told me recently that they think Google will ultimately gobble up the entire stock business.

Frankly, I doubt it.

True, Google Images reaches the largest number of prospective buyers in the world. Google indexes copyrighted images and allows users to search the Web for image content. Google Images currently indexes more than 1.1 billion images.

Keywords are based on the following:

  • The image’s file name;
  • The text link pointing to the image;
  • The text next to the image (anchor text).When searching for an image, a thumbnail of each image is displayed. When a user clicks on a thumbnail, the larger image is displayed. The primary Web site URL of the photographer is located on the larger image.

    Because of its ease of use, the everyday user often gravitates to Google Images to grab images for everything from high school projects to cookbooks — usually without regard to copyright. Ad agencies, design firms and PR agencies also “borrow” Google Images for preliminary mockups of advertisements and brochures.

    However, experienced photo buyers know not to use Google Images. The search engine typically directs them to lesser quality images and presents perplexing copyright issues.

    Image theft, of course, is one of the biggest threats to the income of the professional photographer — and nowhere are images easier to steal than through Google. While software programs such as Google Grab and Google Internet Ripper are available for the purpose of snagging all of the free pictures a user wants, what’s to hack? Most people just right-click and download images to their hard drive.

    In sum, Google Images is not likely to emerge as a competitor to stock agencies anytime soon, because

  • Submitted images are not always indexed;
  • Google Images is slow to refresh or update new content;
  • There are password and security issues for the seller;
  • Search is broad, vague and not always accurate;
  • It’s unclear which photos are restricted and which ones are OK to use; and
  • Theft is rampant with Google Images.Of course, Google is huge enough that if it chooses to adapt its billion-image library for commercial applications, anything is possible. But it has many barriers to overcome before that could be a realistic scenario.

    [tags]photography, photo blog, Google Images, john chapnick[/tags]


  • 5 Responses to “Will Google Become Your Next Stock Photo Agency?”

    1. ahhhh.....................boring

    2. dude if you want to get a life start now and go take your first good picture you dumb ass pussy ass bitch

    3. u need to shut up he is very good your just mad that you prabaly couln't comprehend it ! you bujie a** ni**a

    4. hehehehe... and try to sell it. :)

    5. Remember HAL from Kubrick'S 2001 A Space Odyssey?
      What will Google do to those they fear?

      Google will do nothing FOR us. There can be some crumbs falling from their table down to us but you actually can be happy when they don't harm you.

      Are you aware (and some of the writer here are very well aware of this issues and have written about the 'your online identity') of what it could do to you?

      Just ignoring you and your business because you blockhead insist on taking pictures instead of writing (blogging) is already killing your business. Now they sell adwords etc (is that seen as bakshesh or just bribery)

      Cheers folks

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