Austockphoto is a new stock photography agency which aims to exclusively deliver authentic Australian images sourced from local contributors.
Austockphoto is owned and operated by Kassandra Hunt and Claire Bonnor, who have been business partners for over a decade at a Sydney creative agency.
As buyers of stock photography, they found the majority of content came from outside the country and failed to encapsulate Australian society and culture.
The stock photo market has become a global oligopoly, controlled by large international libraries like Getty Images, Shutterstock, and Adobe Stock.
The market shift came at the expense of stock photographers, who now earn a pittance compared to what they once could. Stock agencies raced to the bottom with prices, while leaving photographers with as little as a 15 percent cut of sales from their photos.
This is the reality of the stock photo market, and it doesn’t look like it will change any time soon. – But a new stock library dedicated to Australian stock photography, curated by local photographers who receive a 50 percent cut of sales can’t be a bad thing!
ProCounter spoke with Kassandra Hunt about Austockphoto:
When did Austockphoto launch and how has it travelled so far?
Austockphoto launched in September 2016, so we are one year young!
Our story actually begins 12 years ago when my business partner, Claire, and I founded Boheem, a creative agency based in Surry Hills, Sydney. Over the years we found ourselves continuously frustrated by the lack of local, familiar-feeling royalty free imagery available to Australian creatives. So last year we decided to do something about it.
We are currently a small fish in the enormous stock photography pond, however interest has been steadily growing over the past 12 months. We have over three times the number of images we had when we launched and almost double the number of photographers – it’s really exciting.
How does Austockphoto differ from other stock agencies?
We believe we have two key points of difference. One, we ensure that our photographers are paid fairly. Two, we really are about the everyday: our images are all of a high standard but we don’t want to be seen as trying to be glamorous or overly trendy. Put simply, it’s Australian people and places captured by Australians, for Australians. That’s it.
We believe our library to be the first of its kind in Australia, and we really hope it will encourage creative agencies to ‘buy local’ and support Aussie artists. This home-grown sentiment is something which has been missing from the stock photography scene. We’ve heard customers comment it’s a game-changer for our industry, and we’re enjoying connecting the dots between photographers and creatives.
What sort of photography and photographers is Austockphoto looking for?
Over the years we have seen a growing demand for authenticity (in design), and it’s impossible to be authentic when you’re using off-shore imagery; Australian consumers just don’t buy it. We encourage our photographers to bring their own perspective on Australian culture, so there’s something for everyone.
Unlike the international stock photo libraries, Austockphoto knows that our culture isn’t all about kangaroos and the Opera House. While these are national icons, they’re not what we truly associate with everyday life. The Australia we know and love has so much more depth and beauty than the exported tourism persona.
We are particularly looking for lifestyle and documentary photographers, from a diverse range of backgrounds and locations. We encourage our photographers to capture the magnificent and the insignificant; what we love most are images that seem to tell a local Australian story.
How do you view the current state of the stock agency market?
We don’t really have great insight about the inner workings of the stock photography market. We were just frustrated a local stock library didn’t exist, so we decided to make it happen. We certainly hold that quality is more important than quantity: we’d prefer to have a comparably small, tightly curated library full of great images than a large one full of rubbish!
Large stock agencies are often criticised for taking large cuts of licensing fees, lacking transparency with contributors, and cheapening photography. Are these negative elements to this industry something Austockphoto is aware of?
We are very aware of the commission rates paid by some the larger stock agencies. Our photographers in comparison are paid between 50 – 75 percent commission for every exclusive image sale. Our photographers feel valued and also benefit from being a part of a community that prides itself on artistic quality and integrity.