I woke up this morning to learn that PhotoShelter is shutting down the PhotoShelter Collection stock website in a month. I've been a member of PSC for about a year now and although I haven't actually had any sales, I'll still miss them. Why will I miss the stock agency that never sold any of my images? Let me count the ways:
- I like the company: I was already a member of the PhotoShelter Personal Archive, which is a pay-for photo hosting/sales site. They're good people!
- Allen M. is also one of the founders of SportsShooter.com which is a truly great resource for people interested in sports shooting. They put a lot of work into building a good community that helps photographers worldwide, whether they're customers of PhotoShelter or not. It's sad to see bad things happen to good people.
- Some sort of kindred feeling: The PhotoShelter Collection was started right as I decided to treat my photography as a business. The first time I ever took time off from my day job to do something photographic was when PSC held their "open house" of sorts in San Francisco. I was took some vacation time, dressed up, drove up to The City, and listened to some great people talk about the state of the stock photo business. I listened to Michael Zagaris and a bunch of other people talk and at the cocktail mixer afterwards I talked to Brad Mangin a bit. Brad was there "to support the team" and he told me a lot really good things about the world of photography.
- Love of equality: The coolest thing about PSC was that anyone could join. It was the opening for part-time shooters like me to get our foot in the door of the stock world and get images up for sale. They seemed to have some real street cred in the "Bitter New York Photo Scene" and they took it as their mission to include as many people as they could in the rarified air of stock agencies.
- Professionalism: Joining PSC made me think about my photography differently. Getting accepted there and paying attention to the editors, the School of Stock discussions, the blogs, etc. helped me learn a lot more about the "business" side of photography and see the difference between photography that's "pretty" vs. photography that's "salable". It made me think about an efficient workflow for capturing, editing, captioning, archiving, and submitting images. These things are crucial skills!
- Sticking up for the value of the little guy: One of the main things the PhotoShelter people stress is that commercial use of photography should not be undervalued, regardless of who shot the photo. We can't all be Annie L. but there can be some middle ground between the Big Guys and microstock. Their $50 minimum price in the face of $1 microstock was their way of sticking their neck out for the little guy.
I have to admit - there's a lot about their view of stock that I never understood. I don't like or even understand all the images they select. I was often baffled by Editor's Choice images, and I'll probably never understand the New York photography/art/fashion/image/attitude scene, and I they never moved any of the 36 images I had live.
But I'm still unhappy they're closing down.