Will Red-Carpet Photographers Soon Just Be Fans with Cameras?

Bad news for red-carpet and celebrity photographers: your business may soon be much less lucrative.

In a move that could shake up the editorial photography market, Shutterstock has announced a new program called Shutterstock on the Red Carpet that is designed to help its network of over 60,000 contributing photographers obtain coveted press passes for film premieres, award shows, concerts, political rallies, and the like.

While taking steps to secure preferred access for its photographers, Shutterstock also intends to expand its library of celebrity images and, with this move, position itself to be a leading resource for the entertainment/celebrity sector of the industry. Shutterstock already has a library of almost two million general interest images and an efficient system for individual photographers to upload images after an event.

Shutterstock’s subscription prices will be attractive to buyers on a budget. A one-month subscription to the Shutterstock service is $199, giving the subscriber virtually unlimited rights to as many images as they can find on the site. Three months is $599; six months, $1059; and one year, $1999. Assuming they have the images, these prices will be much more attractive than what market-leaders Getty and Corbis have to offer. At the very least, buyers are likely to check out Shutterstock first before going to Getty, Corbis or somewhere else.

The element of Shutterstock’s program that hurts celebrity photographers most is that it opens up the red carpet to fans with cameras.

It is likely that the primary goal of most of the photographers who choose to participate will not be to make a living from taking pictures. Rather, it will be to get close to their favorite celebrity, to get into events free, and to just maybe get one of their images used in their favorite magazine. There are probably tens of thousands of people with professional photo equipment who would consider red-carpet access alone fair compensation for their work — and now they have an organization that can get them that access.

Here’s how Shutterstock on the Red Carpet will work: Photographers will work directly with a Shutterstock customer service representative to expedite the press-pass application process; these representatives are available via e-mail at [email protected]. Each event requires different information to issue a press pass, so Shutterstock asks that photographers be as specific as possible about their needs. The interested photographer fills out an online form, and a Shutterstock staffer responds within 24 hours.

In return for enlisting Shutterstock’s press-pass acquisition services and increasing their potential earnings by taking photos in a much-downloaded category, photographers must agree to sell resulting images exclusively at Shutterstock.

Up till now, subscription, micropayment and RF have tended to be focused on generic images aimed at the advertising side of the business. It is believed this is the first time an RF offering has been aimed exclusively at the editorial market.

[tags]celebrity photography, photojournalism, editorial photography, Jim Pickerell[/tags]

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