I recently received and email from 500px that stated “Your photos were selected by Getty Images”. I really didn’t know what this meant, so I looked into it. But first, a little background.
At one time, I posted many of my images to 500px.com. I was hoping that this would be a good forum to post images and have interaction with others about these images. There are discussion groups on 500px and a lot of image traffic. There is also the option to license your images for purchase, so I usually selected that as well. I checked out the discussion boards and found that there was very little activity from users. I also got several likes for photos, but seldom any comments or discussion. I eventually decided that Flickr is a better home for me.
500px was then purchased by a Chinese company called Visual China Group and it seemed that this company would then have the rights to distribute anything that I put on the website. When this happened, I basically stopped posting any images to 500px, but I didn’t bother to delete many of the images that I had already posted there and mostly forgot about the place as I didn’t find it all that useful.
Shortly after VCG purchased 500px, they closed the marketplace and now distribute the images through VCG and Getty Images. I remember reading this news and not really having much interest in this. That was about 8 months ago.
So, now I get a message telling me that my images have been selected by Getty Images, so I went to go check that out. I found that two of the images that I have on the site (out of a total of 21) now say Distributed by Getty. I don’t even think that these are my best images, but they’re OK.
The first one is a long exposure at Inks Lake state park that I had fun shooting during the summer. I like the way it turned out except it is a bit hazy. I have been thinking about this photo recently and maybe trying again from this location.
When I go to the Getty Images link I see this:
So, Getty can potentially make $499 for licensing my photo. From what I can find out, I would get 20% of that. I am not sure. Getty Images tries very hard not to provide any information on their website. I don’t know.
The other image selected is this one taken at Lost Maples State Natural Area after a night of camping and shooting the Milky Way. It’s OK. The low clouds never managed to catch much color from the rising sun. I have never thought much more about this particular photo.
One thing that I noticed is that Getty Images didn’t pick up on any of the keywords for the image from 500px. It just says that it is a “green valley”. So, this image is not very discoverable. Maybe someone will see it when searching for canned vegetables.
I have read several rants online in comments sections of stories about Getty Images. Mainly about the really low payout allowing Getty to sell your work and keep a giant share of the revenue. I have never been in photography to make money, so I am not very stressed about this.
I don’t like the idea of some other company somehow getting exclusive rights to my photos, so I stopped uploading to 500px and I don’t have plans to go back.
Do you have a different experience with 500px or Getty Images?