Thursday, September 11, 2008

Breaking News: Photoshelter Collection Closing

The email I received this morning from Photoshelter was a total shock: The PhotoShelter Collection will be closing on Oct. 10! The letter contributors received this morning is reprinted here for your convenience:

"Dear Friends,
We're contacting you today with some unfortunate news - we will be closing The PhotoShelter Collection, effective October 10, 2008. Going forward, our team will refocus heavily on enhancing our original product, The PhotoShelter Personal Archive, which several thousand photographers use for bulletproof storage and online image sales directly to their own clients. Our financial position remains solid and we look forward to working with the photography community for years to come.

More details about timing and the implications for contributors can be found in a personal statement on our corporate blog, and this FAQ document.

Just one year ago, we started the Collection with a mission to "change the image marketplace for good." Since then, we've amassed a remarkable global community. We've built a unique position in the industry fueled by integrity and a true passion for photography. We've held our commitment to fair treatment of photographers with a 70/30 split of every transaction, opened up your access to information through our School of Stock and symposium events, and gave every photographer - regardless of one's network, location, or level of expertise - a fair shot at selling your work to the industry's top buyers.

However, our approach was insufficient to change buyer behavior on a grand scale and generate revenues quickly enough to satisfy our goals for this product line. While image buyers worldwide appreciated our new approach, the size of our image selection and the incumbent player's entrenched subscription relationships were a persistent challenge. As a result, we saw few strategic options for the Collection that would allow us to stay true to our commitment to a better deal for photographers and our desire to change the industry.

Despite today's decision, we remain committed to using technology to advance both the art and business of photography. Our team's energy and innovative resources will ensure that the Personal Archive remains the best online solution to help independent photographers write their own success stories. If you are not yet a Personal Archive subscriber, we hope you will continue your relationship with the PhotoShelter community through that product.

We want to express our deepest gratitude to our global community of contributors. We've enjoyed a full year of seeing your exceptional images cross our desks, developed warm relationships with many of you through PhotoShelter events, and shared in your excitement when you've achieved sales through our marketplace.

We're looking forward to chatting more with you in person and demonstrating some new Personal Archive enhancements at October's PhotoPlus International Conference.

With gratitude,

Allen Murabayashi

Numerous other photographers I know who contribute to Photoshelter are bemoaning its loss as the only agency that really advocated for photographer's interests. I had yet to get any images accepted into its collection but was totally excited about the opportunity to have some of my work included. Now, Photoshelter contributers are left reeling, wondering if they can gain a foothold in other agencies such as Istock.

Is Getty Images to blame for Photoshelter's collection demise, or is this more indicative of a troubled industry? This announcement came at the same day that Corbis announced it was laying off about 16 percent of its staff.

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