Meanderings of Z.

Location: United States

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

Benefits of Disruptive Technology

The phrase disruptive technology was coined a while ago by someone who’s name escapes me. Disruptive technology is a technology that is not necessarily new, but has manifested itself in such a way that it can profoundly change how something currently works, the cost of a current good or service, or even access to goods and services.

An article in CIO Magazine mentioned one such incarnation of this phenomenon with regards to photography and the internet. The internet is by no means “new”, but it is still changing how we purchase goods, interact with friends and relatives, our access to information and in fact has become as natural as “looking out the window”.

Specifically the article mentioned a web-based service called iStockPhoto that provides high quality photos, flash, and graphic designs to the masses. Normally corporations marketing departments, PR companies, greeting card companies, or anyone looking for specific photos, design work, or even multimedia would have to hire a professional. A specific example in the article was the hiring of a professional photographer to take stock photos that could be used in a marketing campaign of a large company. This can run hundreds of dollars an hour, plus the cost of the photos purchased.

iStockPhoto provides a digital marketplace where everyone from professional photographers and graphic designers, to the hobbyist can upload their photos for royalty free purchase for as low as $1. Although this certainly has an impact on professional photographers and the prices they can charge, it opens up the doors for smaller companies to create higher quality marketing materials at a fraction of the cost. Some of the photos are of high enough quality that they could be used as artwork (some of the black and white photographs are amazing).

The last time I logged into this site they had approximately 2 terabytes of photos and other multimedia files available for purchase. The site requires that every file that is uploaded be approved for quality, marketability, copyright infringement, and proper legal documentation (such as model release forms when people are visible). This helps protect all three parties that are involved (iStockPhoto, the artist, and the purchaser). This is obviously a time consuming requirement, but the general quality of the available items reflects its value.

The variety of photographs that are available run the gambit. Everything from portraits, to landscapes, to the quirky can be found. You can even find pictures of hot dogs with varying toppings. Clearly someone is going after Oscar Meyer.

Of course I had to sign up and give this a try. Since the acceptance of my application (this is also reviewed by the site including samples of your work) I have had about 5 photos approved for posting on the site (I have about 6 more awaiting approval). So who knows, someone searching for photos of Megan’s Bay or St. Thomas may put one of my photographs on a postcard.

Update: 23 June 2006

I sold my first photo! Whooo hoooo! Of course, it is only a dollar, but now I need to be on the lookout for a large pile of steam crabs that looks familiar.