Pixish Lets Photographers Help Buyers


One of the biggest frustrations for photographers is knowing you have a hard drive full of valuable images which no one ever gets to see. Sure, you could upload some of them to a Flickr stream and you could submit the commercial photos to a microstock site, but neither of those options guarantees either views or sales.

Wouldn’t it be great then if a publisher were simply to ask if anyone has a picture of a duck in a pond or a car driving down a road? Or if they were to canvas suggestions for the cover of a self-published book, a design for a t-shirt or even images for a gallery show?

That, more or less, is what Derek Powazek aims to do with Pixish, a new site that attempts to harness the power of the artistic community both to generate images and to sort out the best.

“The big idea is to connect communities,” Derek told us by email. “There’s a large, distributed community of talented artists online. Photographers, illustrators, etc. And then there’s this other community of publishers, creative directors, and people who need images. The best products happen when these two communities find each other, but that’s hard to do. We want to make it easier.”

Submit, Vote, Win Prizes
Publishers are able to advertise assignments on Pixish, and photographers and other visual artists can submit their work.

So far so simple. It’s at this stage though that things start to get a little more interesting. Other members of the community can then vote on which submissions the buyer should pay most attention to. The buyer, of course, is free to make his or her own choice but the reaction of the community should make the selection easier.

“One thing I’ve learned about publishers is that they know there’s all this talent on the web, but they have no idea how to go about inviting it,” Derek, a photographer, publisher and social media consultant, explains. “They’re afraid they’ll get crap, or get too much to deal with. The community vote is a great way to solve both those problems…

If an assignment is a runaway success with thousands of submissions, the community vote is a great way to help the best submissions float up.”

If that sounds little like the way JPG Magazine operates then that’s because Derek was one of the magazine’s founders. He left after a somewhat bitter split with the magazine’s CEO (which you can read about here on Derek’s blog) but he retained an appreciation for the power of online communities to submit, vote and enjoy the chance to be published. Part of the idea behind Pixish, Derek says, is to let the virtual community do its thing without the site having to worry about printing in the way that JPG Magazine does.

Help Derek Find a Tattoo…
Pixish only launched on February 9, 2008 so it might be a little early to say what sort of jobs it’s likely to attract. At the moment, several websites are looking for art, musician Jonathon Coulton is asking for t-shirt designs, South by Southwest Interactive wants up to 300 images to be displayed at SXSW’s first gallery show (the judges include Derek and his wife Heather Champ, Flickr’s Community Directory), and Derek himself is looking for a tattoo design.

As for the rewards, Jonathon Coulton is offering an iPod Nano, and other prizes include $50 for a picture of a girl with a orange cat… and plenty of pats on the back. While Derek does have plans to better enable monetary rewards for meeting assignments, at the moment, the emphasis is on the opportunity to help another member of the community and to get your work seen.

“A lot of professional artists balk at contests like Pixish and that’s totally fine. If you’ve already got a career and you’re making a living from your art, mazel tov! Pixish may not be for you,” Derek concedes.

“But the truth is, there are a whole lot more people struggling to start out in their careers. We want to lend them a hand and help them to get noticed. Plus, future features will enable publishers to directly commission specific artists.”

For now then, the biggest benefit that Pixish offers photographers might be the chance to get images off the hard drive, and into use — and to get known in the process.

But it’s also an opportunity to join a community, to browse through submissions, vote and to get a feel for what it’s like to be a publisher. And besides, who knows where that participation may lead? Contributors to JPG Magazine have, after all, seen their images in print and on gallery walls.

“The day I see a Pixish member published in a magazine somewhere, I’ll consider the project a success,” says Derek.

[tags] pixish [/tags]

6 comments for this post.

  1. Katie Said:

    Not to be a party bummer, but doesn't this sound a lot like working on SPEC? The advertiser, instead of hiring a photographer to do the job, will post a request on pixish, and get a lot of replies. Then they can safely choose a photograph they want and pay very little for it. Wouldn't that hurt the same photographers who are trying to go into business, not mentioning the ones already in business? The whole 'community' concept seems like a cover up for another spec website. As for comparison to JPG magazine: JPG asks for photos for the sake of printing their own magazine, not for some random companies wanting the photos. Yes they do make money off the photographers that submit photos to them, and only a few that get published are actually paid, but at least it’s not straight out 'work on assignment' thing.

  2. Dan Bannister Said:

    "For now then, the biggest benefit that Pixish offers photographers might be the chance to get images off the hard drive, and into use — and to get known in the process."

    I don't get it. Why the driving urge to give away images in exchange for embarrassing and worthless tat just to "get them off the hard drive and into use"? This is the equivalent of getting free labour from high school kids by offering them "experience" instead of pay for their hard work.

    The recipients of these images are profiting from you and your work and this system just says to me, "you're a stupid sucker and your work is worthless but, I'll give you a used CD for it cause ya need the help" If you support this, you cheapen the profession, devalue your work and encourage others to take advantage of people.

    How come nobody ever tries this with a cab driver, plumber or a lawyer? Because they know their worth and take pride in their work, you should too.

  3. John F. Said:


    John Harrington posted something about this worth reading over here:

    I for one am against this type of crowd sourcing contest nonsense out of sheer principle. However, I can't help but think that any decent pro out there is NOT going to devalue themselves by submitting work in exchange for a "pat on the back" when that can be easily had for free on Flickr or through charity work. I for one, would not.

  4. Derek Said:

    Hi there! I'm Derek from Pixish. I just wanted to say that the concern over spec work is understood on our end and we're going to be making some changes to the site to make it more clear that it's not what the site is about. Remember, we're still in beta. We released it early to gather feedback, so thanks for that!

    Here's more thinking on the subject: http://pixish.com/news/3

  5. Todd G Said:

    Sorry, Derek, but I agree with the other posters. It sounded interesting so I went and registered, but when I looked at the requests I doubt I'll go back. I looked through a half-dozen or so, and didn't see any real compensation:

    "Appear in a slideshow!"
    "Get a T-shirt"
    "Appear on my web site"
    "Be satisfied that you're supporting Obama"

    and my favorites,

    "The winner will get a hearty pat on the back" and
    "The prize is priceless: My love and admiration."

    As my daughter says, "OoooooooKaaaaaaay..."

    Sorry, but I'd would have gotten some real buyers before wasting a promo splash.

    Good luck, tho!

    (I just went back and see there are a couple of paying jobs now, but I'd suggest some minimum value criteria for gigs. Again, good luck with it.)

  6. George Said:

    Agree with all the rest.. I'd hate to be a professional photographer that doesn't rely on weddings to make their living... seems like every day a new Stock Agency opens up on the web offering photos for .20 or so... and now this.. let's just give it all away!

    Sorry.. but as digital cameras get better and better and cheaper and cheaper... the market for a pro photographer will get smaller and smaller.. except for weddings..

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