veer
 

gdusa

CURRENT ISSUE
CONTESTS
FREE SUBSCRIPTION
LINKS
FREE STUFF

veer

GDUSA SPECIAL STOCK SURVEY PREVIEW

Sponsored By iStockphoto

PUBLISHER'S NOTE: MOMENTUM GROWS, TENSIONS REMAIN

More creative professionals are using more stock imagery for more reasons in more projects with more frequency than ever before. That is the fundamental finding of GDUSA's 24th Annual Survey. But, of course, this has both positive and negative ramifications. A brief preview of the survey results follow, and the full report will appear in the September GDUSA magazine out next week.

— Gordon Kaye

DO YOU USE STOCK PHOTOS IN YOUR WORK?
Yes 95%
 
Designers use stock images to push out work faster with minimal sacrifice in quality...
 
WHAT IS YOUR ROLE IN THE DECISION?
Sole/Primary 94%
Very Little Say 6%
 
Since DSLR it's been a stock photo jungle out there. But that's good because we get more choice.
 
IN THE PAST YEAR, HAVE YOU USED?
Royalty Free 94%
Rights Managed 41%
 
Price! Price! Price! With microstock and subscription sites, you get the same quality for a fraction...
 
IN THE PAST YEAR, HAVE YOU USED?
Micropayment Site 67%
Subscription Site 60%
 
Designers want originality. If everyone could afford it, that's what they would use...
 
FOR WHICH MEDIA DO YOU USE STOCK?
Print 83%
Internet 71%
 
We deal with a diverse population. It is hard to find photos that reflect a cross-section...

THANK YOU TO ISTOCKPHOTO
iStockphoto is the sponsor of our 24th annual stock visual survey. Celebrating ten years, iStockphoto offers easy, affordable inspiration with more than seven million vetted, royalty free photos, illustrations, video, audio and Flash files. The company pioneered the micropayment photography business model, and has become one of the most successful and profitable user-generated content sites in the world. You can see their new website design at...
Contact: http://www.istockphoto.com

CLOSE CONVERGENCE
The story of stock imagery as a creative resource is the progression from marginal to mainstream to indispensable. The central value proposition of stock imagery — choice, accessibility, convenience, and affordability — has resonated with designers for two decades. Richer content, robust websites, wider price points, tighter budgets and shorter deadlines have accelerated the trend in recent years. For good or ill, there has rarely been such a close convergency of a product and its times.

What does this mean for designers in 2010? According to our annual survey, it means record-breaking usage: nearly everyone uses stock visuals in their work; most use it dozens of times in a year; relatively new highvolume/ low-cost options such as micropayment and subscription sites are prospering; and designers revel in the abundant supply and all its ramifications.

RECORDS SET
Questionnaires were sent by email or direct mail to 10,000 graphic design firms, advertising agencies, inhouse designers, publishers and other creative businesses. Once the 1,000-plus responses were tabulated, it was clear that stock usage had reached a new plateau.

First, 95% of creatives reported using stock photography in their work. This is the highest ever recorded in a GDUSA annual reader survey. Substantial numberes also use illustration as well as footage, Flash and animation.

Second, a record 54% of respondents use stock imagery more than 20 times during the course of a year. That is nearly triple a decade ago. Perhaps even more stunning, one-in-five designers this year reported use stock more than 100 times. Ten years ago it was one-in-thirty.

Third, designers are turning increasingly to some high volume/low cost options. This includes setting new highs for the use of subscription sites, and continuing to use micropayment sites with great frequency. More on this in the full magazine report.

Much of the satisfaction arises from perceived improvements in digital search and delivery. Creatives increasingly take the existence of appealing and robust websites for granted. And, while everyone has a horror story, there is a feel-good consensus that stock providers are offering more, better, smarter.

TENSIONS REMAIN
So it's all good? Not so fast; there is trouble in paradise. As the survey also reflects, some creatives fear a loss of creative edge as they grow more dependent on stock elements. Others are concerned with questions of exclusivity, originality and distinctiveness. Yet others feel overwhelmed by the sheer volume. Most pointedly, many say they are missing the ethnic and lifestyle diversity with which to reflect our increasingly multicultural society.

Indeed, many creatives are pushing back against the tide, evincing a stubborn respect for the character and quality of rights managed stock and its close cousin, the specialized or niche stock collection. The flip side of this phenomenon is the recognition of a dark side to mass consumption of stock imagery: the same image can appear in a competitor's communications; oft-used images can get stale; and easy access to prepared images may blunt the creative edge.

Diversity, or lack thereof, is another area where creatives are pushing back and expressing dissatisfaction with the marketplace. This is so, even while "multicultural' images have jumped into the top echalon of most frequently used types of images.

There is a backstory here. Blandness and staginess were historic obstacles to the adoption of stock imagery in the late 20th century. Early photos largely presented carefully scrubbed individuals, usually youthful and usuallly white, posed or placed in predictable middle-class or office scenes.

In many ways, the situation has changed for the better; agencies have done a praiseworthy job of encouraging more reality and edginess in their collections over the past few years. Still, today's survey results suggest that they may not be keeping up fast enough with the sweeping changes that capture multi-ethnic, multicultural America today.

SIGN UP FOR FREE MEMBERSHIP

The entire story will appear in GDUSA'S September magazine. Meanwhile, we again thank iStockphoto for sponsoring our 24th annual stock visual survey and continuing to innovate with developments such as a newly redesigned website and a free iPhone app.

To visit the new website... http://www.istockphoto.com
For the free iPhone app... http://www.istockphoto.com/iphone