Breaking: Getty Shuts Down The Entire Wholly-Owned Shoot Program

- - Photography News

This just in: The entire wholly-owned shoot program at Getty Images has been shut down and the producer and digital tech person at Getty have been laid off.

My source (here).

I’m told: “Wholly owned is when Getty Images would commission photographers for shoots in their creative division. It may also include photographers who were on salary at Getty Images who created content for them.”

There Are 26 Comments On This Article.

  1. I thought they killed this department a couple years ago… the budgets back in the day were good in wholly owned then they were trying to do it super cheap now they don’t do it. It didn’t long for that star to fizzle out. Bummer for those peeps that lost their jobs.

  2. Confirmed from sources inside the company:

    All of Getty’s Seattle creative team + creative research laid off, effective Dec. 31.

    At least 2 people in NYC office creative team also.

    Haven’t heard about London yet.

    It does make sense that if they don’t have a cheap-o production arm, which was the Seattle wholly-owned team, there’s no reason to have a creative team in Seattle. If they’re going to have a creative presence in the U.S., it makes sense that NY would be the last bastion, since what little remains of a professional photog community in the U.S. is centered there.

    But I’d wager that, in two years, the only office in North America still processing images in any particular way will be Calgary (iStock). Just shows how far they, and the industry has come in its race to the bottom. We’re nearly there.

    The conclusion will be that Getty will exist only as a shell (just distribution – no editing or creation). And even that may last long, as image searchability on Google, with standard industry-keywording for art buyers, is now exploding onto the scene. Could be good for photographers with e-commerce enabled web sites. Or it could just mean that art buyers & photo editors will only be allowed to license imagery for fees of $0.00, citing the benefits of “exposure” to the photographers. Eh, what benefits, if no one anywhere is paying anything for any existing imagery?

    • @Kire,

      “Or it could just mean that art buyers & photo editors will only be allowed to license imagery for fees of $0.00, citing the benefits of “exposure” to the photographers.”

      Yes, that would add new meaning to the term “he died of exposure.”

    • @Kire,
      Getty runs their business by the numbers, to a fault.

      Most likely is that it just didn’t make sense to have an in-house production team with salaries and benefits, when you can just outsource it to the myriad of producers who will do it for cheaper.

      There will still be assignments, they have too much information at their disposal to not commission shoots for the things that clients search for.

  3. My sense with Getty is that it’s a business model that only helped a handful of people, people who are mostly non-photographers. And that’s there no cause for photographers to grieve over the demise of this particular Getty business model.
    We photographer might benefit from using — for ourselves — the same trends and technologies that caused Getty to bail out of creating wholly-owned content.

    • @Andre Friedmann,

      Andre, the trends affecting Getty are image creators producing and supplying stock for below their ROI. It’s hard to compete by willingly losing money, and energy.

  4. The reason to even remark on Getty shutting down wholly owned has nothing to do with that program actually affecting photographers, directly. It has to do with Getty’s own perception of what is worth spending money on. If a company like Getty, which has tons of money even in this economy, doesn’t think it’s profitable enough to spend the $100 per image (or less) they were on wholly-owned shoots, then that tells you something about the possibility of anyone getting any kind of return on their investment for shooting stock. Add the fact that Getty’s contracted photographers only earn 25-30 percent of what Getty itself earns from imagery licensing, and the lesson to (professional) photographers is clear: don’t invest in stock shoots, there’s no money to be made there.

    • leopardfingers

      s@Kire, you’re absolutely right. I am a or I should say I was a Getty contributor, but with sales being as abysmal as they have become, stock photography and video are a losing proposition. I did my last stock shoot a couple months ago, and won’t be shooting any more stock in the foreseeable future . I haven’t sent in all the footage I shot, and don’t know at this point if it’s even worth bothering to waste any more time finishing the edit the stuff to send it. Not to mention that fact Getty is virtually giving the stuff away; i.e., Premium Access, etc…….

  5. I wonder if there is a connection between this and the new Getty Flickr collection. Are we seeing two moves that are part of the same change in strategy, eliminating wholly-owned while building a network of content from Flickr accounts? I am not sure, but I think the Flickr program is being run out of Getty London.

  6. @Anon

    Flickr yes, London, and
    think popular coffee shop chain

    @Kire
    used to be lots of money in stock, Obviously you didn’t get in on it. Do you think Getty likes selling images for 5 bux? Sign o the times is all it is. Why would a ‘client’ not go for an image that’s pennies on the dollar at a micro stock co. Everyday there are fewer places to sell images and that is it. Thank the person sitting next to you reading a lame ass blog. Thanks to micro stock the more expensive agencies will suffer when companies don’t advertise. and they aren’t advertising because people aren’t spending and guess what- people aren’t spending. 100 for an image is nonsense too, depends on the collection.

    • woops, trunicated…

      They just cut expenses. Imagine paying the salaries for a dozen plus full time art directors and photographers. They’ll find a way to continue those wholly owned shoots- why not?-freelancers only got a day rate in lieu of percentage.

  7. @snackwell:
    Actually, I got in on it to the tune of a steady, highly creative job that paid the bills for 15 years, and I feel pretty fortunate to have been on that wave, while it lasted. The market has changed, the economy has changed, the technology has changed, and everyone has to adapt. My only point about Getty is that they make choices, like anyone or any company, and all the choices they’ve made in the last 7 years have simply indicated they prefer to keep profits up by cutting their overhead, and these choices have also accelerated the pricing race-to-the-bottom. Before 2002, Getty didn’t even make a profit, and they had about 50 percent market share. Now they have 90 percent market share and they are always profitable, yet they have a shrinking creative staff (but not a shrinking admin staff – now why do you think that would be?). Do they “like” getting 5 bucks for selling an image? Getty’s strategy is all about volume – but all that says is what their business has become about: quantity over quality. If they wanted to just stonewall all their customers into paying more, they could do it if they were willing to lose money for a little while, like they did when they were buying up every mom & pop stock agency in the universe. It’s true that this massive image-consumer culture doesn’t care much about quality, so that’s fine for that part of the market. But there’s still a big market for quality photography priced at a premium – it just happens to be a smaller market than Getty is currently interested in, and by cutting Creative they are just walking away from that market completely. It could be that the endgame is that professional photographers, emphasizing quality over quantity, will be able to replace their Getty stock sales on their own web-sites, because of image-web-search technology improving so much. They would only have to earn 1/3 as much as Getty is on their pictures and they’d be making more than they are from Getty. Don’t assume that just because Getty has decided to do something that it’s a smart decision. These are not people who know anything about their business other than how to buy and sell the company itself – they are bankers, not media professionals. Remember “Rights-Ready”? That was their genius idea, and it was uniquely responsible for revenues from The Image Bank collection dropping by 2/3, almost literally overnight, never to recover.

    • @Kire,

      Mom & Pop stock agencies?
      You mean like Image Bank, Tony Stone, FPG, VCG, Allstock, Photonica…?

  8. @Kire

    i never said this is a good decision by Getty, or that they are the shizzle, creatively speaking it is a retarded move but they are owned by venture capital firm- no creativity there. Oddly enough the Stone and Stone + collections are still outperforming predictions.
    Where did their profits go before? shareholders, aquisitions and completely revamping their workflow. Ever wonder why flickr images and wholly owned content come up first in search queries?
    They used to flaunt creative types like Clamer, Toledano and Kennedy. Now it’s ‘look 5 dollar pics’ advertised EVERYWHERE.
    Profits can now go to help PDN, Young & Rubicam, and NASDAQ to name a few. What will be more telling is the future of the content ‘editors’ in Dublin.

    Once the buyout happened it was obvious where they would go. That has left a lot of shooters wondering where they will go. Photonica? oh right.
    I’ve never been the one to bite the hand that feeds but it seems like Michael Vick has been in charge of the food bag.