The mobile phone imagery market can seem saturated, with companies such as Foap, Fotolia, Scoopshot and Clashot all competing to let smartphone users sell their images and make a quick buck. But things are only getting started as some of the world’s largest image sellers are closely monitoring the market and getting ready to offer services of their own.
Getty Images is one of them. The number one stock image library has quietly released Moment, an iPhone app designed for the company’s existing contributors. “We’ve always tried to find new ways to talk with our contributors and mobile just felt like a great addition to that,” says Erin Sullivan, vice president of content development at Getty Images. “Mobile has become such a great part of everybody’s lives – it’s a great way to communicate, but also to find content that we need for our customers.”
The app, which was created by design firm Substantial [LINK: http://substantial.com/], is easy to use: Getty Images submits regular requests for images and photographers can upload the corresponding images directly from their phones. “We’ve issued specific requests around the winter storms in the US, and we’ve done a few for the Super Bowl,” says Sullivan. “We had a request called ‘finding tranquillity’ and it was one of our most popular, maybe because it was more conceptual.”
The app has been in the testing stages since December 2013, Sullivan explains. “One of the first things we did was to get the app in the hands of our contributors; we did a survey of what they liked or didn’t like about the app. They were all interested in the community aspect of the app, so we made sure our photographers could ‘like’ images. We’ve also made it straightforward – you can add a caption and some keywords, but we don’t support model releases, for example. When photographers submit their work through our usual platform, we usually ask for a lot of metadata and certain file requirements. With Moment, we don’t support that and want to keep it that way.”
While the app is still in the testing phase, Getty Images already has more than 1300 photographers contributing their images. “We’re not trying to waste anyone’s time,” says Sullivan. “We’re trying to help people create images we can license within the limitations of the mobile environment. We’re trying to do a variety of requests just to see what people respond to, and then we’ll see what our customers respond to.”
And this is just the first step. Getty Images doesn’t rule out opening the app to its customers – allowing them to submit their own requests for images – or even to the wider public. “Down the road, anything is possible, and we’ll see what makes sense,” says Sullivan. “We would need to be able to manage that scale [since all the submitted photos are vetted by Getty Images' photo editors]. But it would be very interesting to go down that route.”
Getty Images’ move into the smartphone photography market is sure to ruffle some feathers, considering its established customer base, global sales network and, more importantly, talent pool. “We have a strong base of knowledgeable photographers, whereas the startups in this market need to build up a contributor base – they are all starting from scratch.”