Those of us that sell our images through stock agencies, will know that the stock industry falls broadly into two camps, microstock and macrostock. Microstock works on the pile-them-high-sell-them-cheap principle whereas macrostock tends towards higher quality, more exclusivity and higher prices. The big problem with both models for us photographers is that you need to play the numbers game, that is, submitting large amounts of diverse images in order to increase your chances of a return. Of course this means a whole lot of preparation work on images that may, or indeed may not sell: a time consuming and often boring process. In recent years however, a third way has been emerging, most notably in the form of ImageBrief.
What is ImageBrief?
Well, the idea is quite simple. Rather than submitting copious numbers of images in the vain hope that some will sell, the buyers come to ImageBrief and as the suggests, post a brief on what images they are looking for. Photographers can then submit suitable images to the brief.
Signing up is a simple task. You can sign up, either as a buyer or a photographer via your email or by using your Facebook account. Once you have entered your basic details, you will be asked to provide a link to an online portfolio in order to vet your work. Make sure you link to your very best images and not a random selection of snapshots, you will need to be able to demonstrate creative and technical ability to be accepted. Only once you have been accepted to ImageBrief will you be able to view and submit to the full briefs.
Submitting Your Details
Once accepted, you need to fill out your profile a little more, with personal details and most importantly notifications. Notifications allows you to define what sectors of the photographic industry you wish to receive briefs from. Examples include, automotive, landscape and travel. You decide what your specializations are, and then how often to receive the briefs, this can be either immediately or a summary. Personally I choose immediately as some briefs have a very short lead time and you could miss out on submitting if you don’t receive a notification until the end of the day. Under profile, you can add a selection of your most suitable images to create an online portfolio.
My portfolio page on Imagebrief by Jason Row Photography, on Flickr
Receiving Briefs: New Opportunities
So with your account set up, you will start to receive briefs from ImageBrief. This takes the form of an email, which once clicked will open the brief up on the ImageBrief website. Typically, a brief will have basic details of the industry sector in which it will be used, followed by a written description of what the client is looking for. There will be a budget range for the image and a deadline. Image buyers also have the option to upload reference images to guide the photographers towards their requirements. If you feel that you have suitable images, you simply hit the Upload button and submit up to ten shots with brief caption and location details These will be vetted by ImageBrief then forwarded to the client.
The client has the option of creating a shortlist of potentially usable images from the shots submitted, if your shot makes the shortlist, then you are in with a higher chance of being awarded the brief. At the top of the brief you will see the timeline, this tells you it’s current status, from accepting images, through creative review to the brief being awarded. As well as receiving notifications, you can choose to view all briefs on the ImageBrief website. Clicking on an individual brief will open it’s details. In some cases, an image that you submitted from a previous brief may be suitable for a new one. If so, the editors at ImageBrief will email you asking if they can submit that image to the new brief.
Typical set of briefs by Jason Row Photography, on Flickr
Licencing and Financial Aspect of ImageBrief
Well, all images are rights managed, meaning you should not submit images that you have sold elsewhere on a royalty free license, you need to think carefully about what you submit. You, as the photographer retain all rights to the image. The commission to the photographer is a very respectable 70% and the sale prices can range from a low hundreds all the way up to five figures.
A shot sold via Imagebrief by Jason Row Photography, on Flickr
Does it work?
Well I have submitted to a number of briefs, been shortlisted for several and sold one image, for a price that would be significantly higher than, for example, Alamy under the same license. So, in my opinion, yes it does work, what works best though is that you are only submitting images that stand a chance of sale, this means less work is required in order to see a potential return, and that can only be a good thing.