With the recent changes to their collection system, iStockphoto also implemented changes to their image acceptance policies.
For one, the technical requirements seems to have been lowered to allow for more leeway with regards to once uncompromising rejected issues: As a matter of fact, iStock inspection standards have been developed a decade ago when digital cameras mostly provided images with 2 Megapixels and many contributors were not using high-end gear to produce images. Today, even prosumer cameras are producing 16 megapixels or more, the upper class of DSLRs is beyond 20 and even 30 megapixels. For example, a full page image printed at 300dpi would require about 3600×2400 pixel which is about 8.6 megapixels. My guess would be that more than 90 per cent of actual uses are far smaller from the corporate brochure to web use. Potential technical issues in the full resolution will usually disappear in smaller versions.
The new policies will allow creation of images in more challenging situations like in low lights and also allow far more post processing for artistic reasons. It will most likely also allow a lot more mediocre content into the collection but the search algorithms are likely to filter those out very quickly because clients will make their choice which images are usable and which aren’t.
But there is also a change in other aspects that allow for even more content that has not been seen on iStockphoto in the past – the acceptance criteria have been changed to allow for more image variations, including what I would call “finalized images” instead of the “raw diamonds” iStock used to offer in the past. It now also allows text within the images which can be used to present images that can be used by non-designers right away. I found a sample series of images which is well done and looks very usable to me:
As you can easily see, the base image is the same in all variations, only the copy was changed and added in different modern fonts.
This is a huge change and – in my opinion – a big step forward to an end user market. iStockphoto once called itself the “designers little dirty secret” because it offered high class images to designers to use them in their client works. The world and technology changed over the years and new online tools and software are available to allow the actual clients to skip the need to have a designer for many products. A website can easily be built without knowing anything about HTML or CSS these days, and many print companies offer online templates for corporate stationary or brochures with “what you see is what you get” tools. These clients are hardly able to change images to their needs beyond cropping them. Other agencies already have similar offers.
As can be seen above, some contributors have adopted the new options given by the changed acceptance policies very quickly. I think the market for this type of images is huge and they will be very popular. However, they also require knowledge beyond photography as the choice of copy and matching type makes this type of image successful or not. Having experience as a designer will certainly help some people.