Video Made Entirely from Stock Photography Shows Why to Avoid Stock Photography

Posted in Photography by Nathan Lee Bush on May 24, 2012

Getty has released a pretty astounding video showing the sheer volume of stock images out there (specifically in its database), with over 5,000 photos pieced together to animate a simple story.

While you have to admire (or pity) the person responsible for taking on this time-consuming task, I drew a slightly depressing lesson from the video.

“generic photo #38,297,841”

Of course, there’s plenty of erm…unique images in stock photography. But by and large Getty’s catalogue is so vast and the content so formulaic that one can actually piece frames together that are practically carbon copies of one another. At what point do we have enough generic photos of every conceivable scenario: couples gazing longingly at each other and dancing on beaches, baby’s smiling against white seamless’, fireworks, old men on boats (that’s a category?), hands unhooking bras and the like? Clearly not yet. If I was thinking about getting into stock photography, I’d take one look at this video and sashay away.

At the end of the video there’s a title card saying: “Getty: 38,297,842 Images.” Maybe they should have considered adding below, in parentheses: “(We’re good. Thanks though.)”

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  1. […] Getty’s stop motion animation video sourcing from their enormous catalogue tells us about the state of stock photography; I reflect on why seeing how large format cameras are made changed my perspective on the medium; […]

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