The Rise Of Professional User-Generated Photographs

When the BBC’s website was criticized for its poor use of stock photography, the corporation responded by appealing to the public. It asked people to send in their own pictures of everything from cats to cars.

It didn’t help. The Beeb’s news site still takes flak for its shoddy images. But the criticism the corporation took for its odd choice of shots was nothing compared to the attacks it received for trying to get a new stock library for free.

Not surprisingly, professional photographers were appalled. Many wrote in to say that if the BBC was going to stop paying photographers, they may as well hang up their cameras and take up painting instead.

We certainly don’t condone the BBC’s action, and we’re pleased to see that other news companies with big audiences haven’t followed suit. (At least not yet). Some newspaper art directors in fact are known for browsing stock sites and contacting photographers to negotiate prices for the images they want.

But photographers who want to turn their pictures into profits have to see which way the wind is blowing. With so many people snapping pictures — and prepared to let big corporations use them in return for nothing more than bragging rights — you can either write rude emails to their editors, or you can join them.

Send in an image to a site like the Beeb’s and you won’t get a penny. But you will get credit. And that credit can be worth big bucks.

Tell potential buyers that your images have been used by corporations as picky as the BBC and you’ve got a competitive edge. It’s the sort of marketing move that money can’t buy. You don’t want all your best images used this way. But use the trend for free user-generated images, and you can get a little closer to paid professional photography — and win bigger bucks for the photos you sell.

[tags]BBC, User-Generated Content, Stock Photography[/tags]

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