(Continued after the Jump)Sources in the industry have suggested that the CEO of ImageBrief, Simon Moss, cares about photographers and sustaining their craft, and that he is opposed to micro stock, and that he wants fair paying deals for photographers. Here's an example of a problem with this:
A photograph is needed that does not exist. According to one of the quoted users we contacted, "if I do a search in Corbis for "businesswoman presenting" I get over 2000 search results." He then said "If I need an image of a 'businesswomen presenting in a white suit" I get zero search results. The benefit of ImageBrief to me is that I can ask for exactly what I want". Ok, so we're not talking about a stock image marketplace of already existing images, we're talking about the appeal of ImageBrief being custom stock shot on spec by more than one photographer with maybe only one getting paid. Setting aside the earlier points by OnRequest and BuyRequest that this model does not work, consider this:In a comment in response to criticisms that were made about this model, CEO Simon Moss wrote "One of the absolute key things I must stress is that we have definitely NOT built an �on-spec� commissioning platform." Moss wrote this in a comment on the APhotoEditor blog article "ImageBrief � Crowdsourcing Image Requests" back in June of 2011 shortly after their launch. Moss also seems to misunderstand what "spec" work is, when in a later comment he writes "Crowdsourcing photography is very different to graphic design though. Graphic design is almost always spec work� ie a business needs a custom logo developed and designers must create very specific work for the buyer." Graphic design is almost always NOT "spec" work, because "spec" is short for "speculative" or on "speculation", and NOT "specific". One can only hope that since 2011 his understanding of this has been corrected. Yet, perhaps Moss and the rest of the ImageBrief folks need to review their official marketing materials. Deborah Kolb, in the Los Angeles area, is promoted by ImageBrief as "one of the most successful photographer on ImageBrief", in a video here that was posted in January 2015, where she states in the video "sometimes I'll look at a brief and I'll say to myself 'Wow, I might as well just shoot that instead of going through my computer and finding something that might match'" then they feature her shooting on spec for a brief. Later in the video she states she's been on ImageBrief for about a year, and has "won 14 briefs." The question is - how many has she shot? She states that the total gross for all the shoots shes "won" is close to $20,000 in sales, and states she would receive $14,000 in gross income, for ads that include clients like a billboard for a Las Vegas hotel and a Costco cover. She also states, as the "most successful photographer on ImageBrief", that there's something different "about shooting for ImageBrief." So, it's unclear how Moss can state they are not promoting spec photography and then put out videos where they are holding up those that do as the most successful on ImageBrief. On the ImageBrief blog here, they are now promoting more royalty-free buyer briefs because they are "responding to client demands and listening to the market." They characterize RF as "RF is a perpetual license, with unlimited usage, worldwide." Back in 2011 American Photographic Artists (then Advertising Photographers of America) issued an APA Alert warning photographers of ImageBrief as "a service that we recommend you avoid." APA stated "We feel that this type of business scenario where photographers shoot on "spec" in hopes of having their work used will only further erode the hiring/licensing model that APA supports." Some things never change. APA was right then, and the warning rings true still.A license for an image like this could garner, let's say, $400 for a simple use. That's probably a fair licensing fee in a number of arenas. Oh, and if that's the fee via Getty, the photographer will take home about $100 (making it decidedly less reasonable). Now, let's say the businesswoman presenting in a white suit is the shoot. Someone has to produce the shoot, putting in time, getting the wardrobe, model, and doing the post production on the image. Let's say four photographers then decide to produce the job on spec, in response to the "buyer brief." ImageBrief's client then cherry picks the work of one photographer. The selected photographer gets 70% of $400, or $280 and receives exactly $0 towards reimbursing production expenses, and the other three photographers get no fee and no reimbursed expenses. Consider the law of averages - if 4 photographers repetitively produce and bid on 20 shoots, they will only get selected 5 times. In this example, that would mean there's 75% of available overhead, again, using the law of averages. I don't think there's anyone in the industry that will tell you there's even 50% overhead in the business. The numbers get worse once you realize that the prospective buyer can also choose to not use any of the images that were produced, or if more than one photographer "bids" on the project.According to an ImageBrief FAQ, when asked "Do image buyers ever commission photographers for shoots", responded "not yet - but it's coming." I would ask - When? It's been four years. Supposedly, according to this Huffington Post article where Moss was interviewed, he states "we recently began enabling buyers to hire photographers directly through ImageBrief. When a photographer books a job through ImageBrief, they keep 100% of the fee. " But ask yourself, why would they commission a shoot when they can get multiple shoots commissioned for free with no obligation to actually buy/license a photo!
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