What is the future of stock photography? - Dreamstime

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Hi guys!So, I've noticed lately so many websites with free photography appearing everywhere. I'm so curious about the future of stock photography seeing that it's so much easier now to access free photos.

For someone who has a big name or history in this field, I don't know how much their work is being affected or changed at all. But for smaller photographers who don't invest so much time in this, is this still relevant to do? I'm talking strictly about costs/investment/money made and not the passion and love for photography.

If people can download free photos today, then what chance do people who sell their photos have? I mean, so many of these free websites have nice photos, really professional and artsy. They're really good.

Also, I've noticed a greater appeal for illustrations/vectors/graphic design lately, especially in media. So many editors use these instead of photos when promoting articles online.

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Of course, I might be off track here and living in a small bubble, but it's my impression lately. I'm not a constant uploader for lack of time, but I wanted to hear your opinion about these things. Do you feel any changes lately in your work? Is stock photography still used widely and for what exactly? I'm curious.

Thank you all!

Photo credits: Cristina Mehedinteanu.

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January 20, 2020


Here is our opinion as a Dreamstime customer: none of the numerous free  pictures databases offers as much variety and as many topics as commercial databases. If we need to search an image using keywords, we usually need to browse several free databases in order to find relevant items and a convenient picture resolution. It is even more obvious if you need to use long tail requests (three keywords or more). So commercial databases like Dreamstime allow us to save a lot of time: a one-stop place for finding the pictures we want, available with several resolutions and file formats. Professional pictures and graphics have a price, and we are happy to pay for that.

January 17, 2020


the pic makes me hungy

January 16, 2020


Это очень хорошая статья. I worked with free sites. Сегодня бесплатные сайты не дают всей палитры images

January 14, 2020


I am not sure about the future of stock photography as a whole, but I can comment on its future for me personally. I uploaded a dozen or 20 photos about 10 years ago, and so far, I have earned $86, not even enough for a single payout. I uploaded about 200 photos a month ago, and checking a couple of days ago, none of them had even been viewed, let alone purchased. When a site like this gets so many photos, the photos of a small individual like me get lost in the crowd. I am not at all sure it is worth my time to upload any more. I have one more thing to try. I will get professional keywords for a handful of photos, but keep in mind that if I were to get this done for all, it would more than eat up what I have currently earned, and there would be no guarantee of any sales. I was once approached and asked if I would grant permission for my photos to be used for free. I might, to the right person, but that would mean I would need to agree with what they are doing. The nature of the site that asked would preclude me from doing so, since they would be uploading political content on an ongoing basis, and the political slant is probably not very close to mine.

January 13, 2020


You are asking some good questions.  As a new contributor, I have wondered about some of the same issues.  It seems there is room for both.  I could see that perhaps a new blogger that is just starting out with a limited budget would be thankful for "free" images to use in their content.  Hopefully stock photography still provides an edge by giving more options and diversity over free images.  Only time will tell.

January 13, 2020


Thank you for sharing your views and opinions! Much appreciated. 

January 12, 2020


Nice blog, very interesting. I have seen how my income has decrease very much.

January 12, 2020


Important in a dynamic society is the ability to adapt to change at an ever increasing rate.With the advent of convergent technologies where, for example, some mobile phone cameras record higher quality images than some traditional cameras, it was inevitable that the stock image "market" would be impacted negatively by this. Having said this, a gap remains for innovation by those who are able to embrace the convergence. 

January 10, 2020


So true, and also since most of the photos are used for adds to be viewed on phones, the resolution and the quality does not have to be too high. So many pictures...I am on DT for 15 years, and while it's true that in the past there was a bit more activity, I missed the days in the early 2000 when some people made real money.  These days it is just a hobby.

January 10, 2020


Well, nothing is truly "free". I haven't looked at those sites, but there is probably some catch. I think that media outlets will still continue to buy subscriptions to stock outlets. That way they don't have to worry about pirated work and copyright infringement. If they buy from Dreamstime, they are pretty safe. So I plan to keep uploading. But great, thought-provoking article Cristina! Thanks for writing! William

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