Let’s get the important news out of the way first.  On Friday, February 8th, I was given notice by Getty Images that they were terminating our “relationship” and my account at iStockphoto would be closed in 30 days.  Well, that was a great way to end the week, eh?

What ?!?

Yes, honestly I was surprised and caught off guard as well.  As one of the top 5 contributors at iStockphoto, having been there since August of 2004, with over 12,000 images and close to a million licenses sold, I thought I was a pretty valuable member of the community.  I have spent a lot of my time answering questions for buyers here on my blog. I create scripts for use with the Greasemonkey plugin to help contributors and buyers overcome shortcomings on the site.  With my knowledge of forum postings over the last 8 years, I am constantly researching issues that affect the community of stock contributors.  I am one who cheers when it is deserved, and criticizes when there are issues, with the goal of fixing problems or changing workflows to ensure a more stable or fair business.

What Happened ?

As best I can tell, this started about a month ago, with the Getty Images/Google Drive licensing scheme.  This sale of nearly unlimited rights ( in some mysterious and “proprietary” licensing deal ) by Getty to Google of some of our more valuable works returned the sum of $12 to the contributor, and had numerous other problems.  The issue was pointed out to me by another contributor, and when I investigated it and questioned it on the iStockphoto forums, all kinds of chaos broke out.  I was part of the group that criticized the deal, although in the last few weeks, I’ve remained fairly quiet here in my blog, and on site, as it was reiterated several times, that talks with Google are ongoing.

Other contributors in the stock community discussed, at an off-site discussion forum, the need to form a protest against over-reaching deals like this one with Google, and set a date of February 2nd to deactivate files in protest.  Deactivating a file at iStockphoto is fairly painful, so I modified one of my existing Greasemonkey scripts to support the community, adding a time saving deactivation button to accommodate any need to deactivate a file.  What people use it for is up to them.  There is no rule against deactivating files.  February 2nd came and went.

A week or so ago, I became aware of a new entrant to the stock agency world, still in Beta testing (not available to the public).  As I have done at other times, at other sites, I took the opportunity to join the membership when it arose, to investigate the site, the workflow, the pay schedule, etc.  For while I have been successful as an exclusive iStockphoto contributor, I am not blind to the opportunities that can be provided by others.  Since I joined, I uploaded files to test and experiment with the system.  Keep in mind, at this stage in the game, the other site is not licensing content and does not violate any exclusivity agreement.

And then ???

This past Tuesday, I received a rude and very threatening email from a Getty Images Manager.  It questioned what my objectives at iStockphoto were – to “distract key resources away from improving the business” and “undermine customer faith” or did I want to to “create a constructive dialogue” on improving things.  If my intentions were the former, then I should “terminate our relationship”.  If the latter, we should have a call to have “a more efficient and constructive discourse”.

I did not immediately respond because I was quite surprised to receive an email like this.  I could not read anything that I have done or said as “distracting resources” or “undermining customer faith”.  Thursday, I received another threatening email that, because I had not responded, if I did not respond by Monday, that I was “not interested in a more constructive discourse and we will take steps to terminate our relationship”.  At that time, I was also banned from the iStockphoto forums and site mail system.  So don’t try to mail me there anymore.

After some more thought I responded with my impression on the tone in the initial mail, and outlined my goals and objectives, which were basically to “create salable content, work towards creating the best environment to sell that content, and to help my fellow community of contributors stay informed on industry issues”.  It was then requested we set up a call as they “simply want(ed) to talk about our relationship”.

When I called in, I was notified by the original Manager that they were going to terminate our “relationship” and my account would be closed in 30 days.

Did they say why?

Well, it took a while for me to get reasons, as mostly I was told that discussion would not be “productive”.  However, I was told they did not like how I handled the Google Drive situation, on and off-site.

Also, they did not appreciate the deactivation addition to my Greasemonkey script.  The most odd part of this was that I was accused of leading the February 2nd deactivation day.  Odd (and a complete lie), because I didn’t start it, never said I was going to participate it, and never actively encouraged anyone to participate in it, although I did encourage everyone to study the available  facts and make a decision on what they felt was appropriate action.  In fact, I sent several emails the week prior to iStockphoto/Getty managers to initiate a phone conversation, thinking I could provide suggestions on how to defuse the situation.

They also knew (somehow!) that I had joined this new stock site, even though it was closed to all but a relatively small group, and declared that this was against the “spirit of the exclusivity agreement”.  I’m not sure what the issue was there, as I am not an indentured servant, and if I want to investigate things, that should not be threatening to them.  It seems they either see this new venture as a danger to them, or are just vindictive towards anyone involved with it, for some reason.  Looking at this now, I think they mistakenly assumed, or were told, that I was a bigger part of the picture there than I actually was.

Also, when I said that this seemed like something personal, I was told it was just “business”.  Since it affects my family, obviously I find it a bit more personal than they do; iStockphoto and Getty provide nearly all of my income.

So, it appeared they were never interested in a discourse at all.  It was just a way to cut me off.   At least I got a phone call.

Now What?

First of all, if you’ve read any of my iStockphoto related blog posts or tips here, I hope you enjoyed them, because I will be removing them all this week.  I’m not interested, at this point, in providing back links to that site.

Over the next several weeks, I will be migrating parts of my stock portfolio to several other stock content sites, which I will detail in the near future.

Now that this “termination” has occurred, I’m most excited about being freed up to participate in this new venture that I mentioned above, which, ironically, Getty has forced me into.  One thing I had been considering was discussing with iStockphoto the option of setting up and working for separate companies.  One to allow continued exclusive contributions or at least hold the status quo on existing files, the other to contribute elsewhere.  However, I see that they may have used this discussion as a way to initiate the “divergent objectives” situation.  Doesn’t matter to me any more, but others might be thinking about that now.

If you’ve been a buyer of my work, and it has proved productive for you, I would encourage you to keep checking this blog, because I think you’ll be very happy with your new options in the future.  I’ve also got some great new stock series that will only be available at the new site.

Conclusion

Although I’m very disappointed in the behavior of Getty management, and was caught off guard with this, I am looking forward very positively.  Frankly, it has been frustrating the last several years, with the introduction of the RC system, the constant site issues due to old code, the buyouts by investment firms and on and on.  I actually feel a bit free right now.

I will miss getting together with my iStockphoto pals at “officially sanctioned” exclusive gatherings.  However, I have a feeling we may be continuing that at the new site in some form, eventually, and some of those pals will likely end up there.  I also don’t hold anything against the old school iStockphoto crew – I don’t think they had anything to do with this.

However, I would like readers to take a word of warning from my experience dealing with them, and to tread cautiously in the times ahead.   I know sales are down across the board, and contributor satisfaction is low, so hopefully you are working on “Plan B”.

Stay tuned!

 

201 Responses to A Change in Things

  1. Tracy Tucker says:

    The captain of the Titanic has decided maybe it would help if he makes the hole in the bow even larger. Congratulations, Sean! Exciting times ahead. I know the contributors are thankful for your contributions, even if iStank is not.

  2. Guenter Guni says:

    Dear Sean, thanks for all you have done for us (other contributors). All the above sounds so strange, it is nearly unebelievable. I wish you all the best and I am sure that all the news adventures are turning out well to you!

  3. Micah Youello says:

    Holy crap Sean, I didn’t see that coming. The place won’t be the same without you. Things have been getting sour, but this really leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

  4. Mike Cherim says:

    I’m absolutely shocked, Sean. Good luck in your future; I’m glad to read you’re looking ahead optimistically. I’m sure you’ll do very well.

  5. Charlie says:

    Dude, so sorry to hear this.

    Best of luck in your future endeavors.

  6. Jo Ann says:

    I don’t need to tread cautiously as my relationship with iStock is at a virtual end anyway. This is beyond outrageous and a real kick in the teeth for someone who has been one of the best ambassadors iStock has ever had.

    They’ve completely lost the plot. iStock created an alternative to Getty once; someone – or several someones – can create an alternative to iStock.

    You have boatloads of talent and are not afraid of hard work. There’s only one loser in this situation and it isn’t you.

  7. Pruente R says:

    As much of a shock as it may have been and in spite of the short term loss to your income stream, you will thrive much more elsewhere. iStock doesn’t deserve your talent.

  8. Best of luck to you in your new ventures, Sean. It’s really sad to see how the company handled this, especially when dealing with someone like you who always fought to improve things at istock. I think we all knew that seeing any positive change in istock was a steep uphill battle, but it always seemed like you believed things could be made better. Clearly the company isn’t interested in that sort of a conversation and they’d rather try to silence criticism than to respond to it.

    In the end, it’s their loss. The last thing they need right now is someone like you setting up shop elsewhere.

  9. Brian Powell says:

    Sean, that sounds bittersweet… but I know you’ll end up for the better in the long run.

    Back in 2004 (?) or whenever I landed on the site, you were a big inspiration as I was getting started in digital and trying stock. I haven’t been back much since then, but now I’m full time in portraits and weddings.

    I’ll be in STL next weekend — can I buy you lunch and chat? Would love to connect and pick your brain a bit. I was thinking about carving out some time this year for more stock shoots, and now I read this :

    Wish you the best!

    “BP2U”

  10. David ahn says:

    It is a very disturbing news. As a fellow exclusive contributor to istockphoto, I am disappointed by their decision. I hope it’s just another nightmare to pass but life still goes on. I wish all the best for you Dave

  11. Another future ex-exclusive iStock contrib says:

    That’s shocking news. ThEy seem to have lost their minds. Panic mode?
    Wishing you all the best for your future endeavors!

  12. Linda Steward says:

    I’m so sorry, Sean. It’s sad to see you go but I know you’ll make a success of whatever you do. Thank you so much for all you have done to help iStock members over the years – your Greasemonkey scripts in particular have been marvellous.

  13. Cory Thoman says:

    Wow! That’s insane. I’m sorry, and I hope you turn things around quick.

  14. They have also given me my 30 days notice, though I didn’t get a phone call. :) Just a form letter from Contributor Relations. I am very glad that I quit when I did and am no longer reliant on them as a source of income. I would urge any other iStock contributor to make sure you have a solid backup plan in place, and any exclusive contributor to start working on an exit strategy.

  15. Mirko Pernjakovic says:

    Well, it’s hard and it feels good in a way! You’re a smart and capable man! Don’t Istock – Be Happy :)

  16. Danny Smythe says:

    Shocker! I hope you will be involved with the upcoming Stocksy site.
    All the best.

  17. I’m very sorry to hear this, Sean. This behavior is not business, it’s very bad business and extremely unprofessional. Best of luck for your future.

  18. Anon says:

    Fucking disgraceful. I’m with Getty, but I truly dislike them.

  19. a previous colleague says:

    Nasty, vindictive, petty-minded, and increasingly typical – iStock, that is, not you.
    Good Luck

  20. KB says:

    These last few months at iStock feel like a nightmare, but this is an absolute shock. iStock in so many ways will be an even worse place than it had become. This is truly the end. But I strongly suspect that in a year to two from now Sean will look back and think that this was one of the best things that had ever happened to him. I surely hope so, as he deserves to have the last laugh.

  21. Brian says:

    Sean,
    I am in shock over this! You’ve been one of the most prominent faces of iStock over the years. An inspiration to many and an advocate and voice of reason. So many contributors at iStock are frustrated and disillusioned over what has become of the once great pioneer of crowdsourcing. Many clearly hoped constructive criticism and suggestions could help turn things around.

    Now, it appears Getty has moved on from simply censoring their forums to axing their key contributors. It’s hard to fathom how much you must have contributed to their bottom line, and that they’re throwing that away in hopes of intimidating other’s. It won’t work. And apparently they will keep their head in the sand until their ship is completely sunk.

    None of this makes any sense either, in the light that Getty frequently does business with non-exclusive individuals and outside agencies. They even sell “exclusive” content on iStock that is sourced and sold at other stock houses. They’ve stretched the definition beyond any credible limit with images circulated by so many distribution partners; but watered down “exclusive” can still be used as a lever against contributors.

    How can any iStock exclusive contributor not feel vulnerable after this?

    The foundations of this industry are shaking; scary, though welcome considering the current direction things were headed. It feels like new opportunities are more certain than ever to arise. And it places the focus squarely on the fact that both content creators and designers and users need less corporate BS and more fair dealing.

    I am saddened by the news but wishing you great success on your new opportunities! Yours is an amazing story, much left to be written, and know that many people are in your corner.

  22. Ina says:

    Unprofessional. Getty is trashing Istock in superfast mode.
    Sorry for you Sean, but as you see it yourself – great time to start a new opportunity. One of them is causing long forgotten good mood among the contributors, creativeness and inspiration. A factor which “petty-minded beancounters” will never be able to value.

  23. Noel says:

    Good luck and happy landings, Sean. iStockphoto and its community’s loss.

  24. Ron says:

    Wow Sean, I am flabbergasted. Thats really spiteful of IS. I really hope you can find new ventures and outlets to get you back on track. Good luck with everything. Ronald.

  25. Etien says:

    I have a feeling that in the future you will look back on this and see it as a positive.

  26. Toby says:

    Just about sums them up really. Bunch of grade ‘A’ idiots seem to be now pulling the strings at iStock.

  27. Jon Schulte says:

    Thanks for the open and honest post, the info, and all that you’ve done for the contributors in the past. Wishing the most success for your future.

  28. ShadySue says:

    Talk about corporate idiocy.
    Slay ‘em, Sean!

  29. Tova says:

    So insane and very disturbing. They keep digging a bigger hole for themselves. Wishing you luck whatever you choose to do. I know that with the the dive of sales these past few months, I am looking into alternatives.

  30. madtwinsis says:

    Sean, OMG, I can’t believe this, no that’s wrong, I fully believe it but it hurts so much to see what “our old” beloved iStock has become…
    I wish it would have any effect by closing my account but my leave will probably go unnoticed as I became totally dormant at the forums and site the moment Getty took over… Anyway, I’ll be leaving iStock as soon as I got my last payment, I already was planning on that but recent events just made it more clear that I don’t want to be a part of it anymore.
    I hope (and believe) you will thrive, and that this will be the best thing to have happened!
    But still completely shocking!

  31. Beau (Box5) says:

    Sean, Sorry it came to this, but it looks like you are using this as a jumping off point to a brighter future. Your knowledge, talent, work ethic are what made you successful at iStock/Getty and that will make you successful wherever you go next. Sorry for the cliche, but it truly is iStock’s loss.

  32. Sad iStocker says:

    Now I understand why Lobo was rude to Sean in the forums recently, he was warning him.

    This is the beginning of the end for iStock, the bridges are burning. Yup, plan B for all of us.

    Good luck, Sean, though you don’t really need it, you have what it takes to thrive no matter what.

  33. Anne Rodkin says:

    Sean, I’m not with iStock, but until recently was a contributor to Getty Images/flickr. After reading about the Getty/Google issue, and with no answers forthcoming from Getty, I canceled my contract, and I’m not sorry I did.

    You are a beacon of light in the darkness, and I wish you nothing but huge successes, no matter where you go and what you do. I shall look forward to hearing a lot more about what you are doing, and I have every confidence you will do well, and probably better than before!!

    Getty needs to be very ashamed of themselves!!

  34. Unbelievable. I only see good things coming out of this for you. Short-term pain = unlimited potential, growth and freedom! It’s probably good timing as well as things get progressively worse at Istock/Getty, you don’t have to kill yourself with the should I/shouldn’t I debate. Too bad you couldn’t have stayed non-exclusive if you so chose though. Man, Getty is really chopping off little pieces of it’s essential parts these days.

  35. jane norton says:

    I am shocked!! You are someone I look up to as a photographer and businessman. You have always seemed to be “the voice of reason” when things get crazy and I have always respected that. Wishing you the best in the future!

  36. mlwinphoto says:

    Sean, best of luck to you in your new (and exciting) venture(s). I know you will do well.

    You may very well be leading the way out the iStock door for alot of people, time will tell. If nothing else Getty has just managed to make the relationship it has with it’s contributors even more derisive that it already is. Times are a’changin’ and this just sped up those changes.

  37. Julie says:

    Unbelievable! Of all that they have pulled recently, this takes the cake! I would be incredibly sad for you except that I know you are talented and will come out of this even better off! You have been set free!

  38. Ciaran says:

    Hi Sean, thank you very much for all your help at iStock in the past. I know you will only go upward from here. Exciting times ahead Im sure.

  39. Ohhh! They can dish it out but they can’t take it. I have no idea what your original contract was like, but I can see why you did what you did. They did not consult you before arranging that huge deal, nor did they consult other photographers. So you made a unilateral move. Seems logical. Best of luck w/other ventures.

  40. slobomitic says:

    Just found out. Totally shocked. I am sure you will rebuild stock presence one way or another. You will be missed on iStock forums. Best of luck!

  41. Jen says:

    Wow, Sean. This is absolutely insane and I wish you all the best.

  42. suemack says:

    I’m shocked and saddened. Sean, you have been one of the backbones of the company since I started both with your incredible portfolio and all the help in the community. I can’t believe they’d do something so …. stupid is the only word I can think of here! Sending hugs and support and best wishes for this new chapter in your journey.

  43. anon says:

    I hope the name of the new agency isn’t a secret. I for one am would like to know.

  44. Denis Pepin says:

    Like Jo Ann said, iStock is the biggest loser, not just because they will be missing your images but because by kicking you out without a valid reason they are making bad publicity for themselves. Your images and spirit will survive as no one can take that away from you.

  45. Sean – thank you for everything you have done within the community. Your success is entirely yours. It will continue to be. Looking forward to watching you moving forward.

  46. Peter says:

    iStock ruined both stock and photography in general. Used to be you could make a decent living at either now, it’s impossible. I’ve been a commercial and stock photographer for 20 years but, closed up shop for the most part at the end of 2012. iStock was certainly a great ride for a few people for a few years but, the Getty/iStock business model is and has been for some time that, they dont want superstars, they want millions of small contributors who only want credit lines and recognition for their “hobby” and not to make a living off of them. This way, they spread the risk and their cost of content is almost zero. Profits have been huge since Getty went private and the Carlyle Group is making almost a billion dollars off small, incremental contributors. By canning a few select large players, they’re reducing their risk and scaring the rest of the herd into shutting up and playing along.

    I always laugh when I see people talking about leaving or deleting files. It never happens, photographers keep on being suckers, slaves to the pennies and nickels and credit lines but, they can’t admit that and the big stock agencies know it. When Getty introduced PC, where contributors pay to submit images, I thought for sure that was then end, photographers paying them to take the images! But no, the stream just keeps coming.

    On the commercial side, people now think every picture should cost a dollar or two and I see buyers on the iStock forums complaining about prices but, they’re 1/100th of what they were 10 years ago. You cannot cast, scout, shoot, edit and deliver enough great images and spend all your waking hours uploading and keywording images and actually build a sustainable business in the long run for the returns these companies are paying. But, if a million people upload 20 new images a year, suddenly, he who controls the distribution is sitting on a very healthy and profitable asset.

    I dont know what the answer is, ultimately, a few large agencies are going to have to fold for lack of fresh images before things change. In the short term, every file you contribute to Getty/IS is another nail in the coffin of the photography industry and another step closer to indentured servitude for the contributor. Stop feeding the corporate machine!

  47. Carla says:

    Wow Sean, I am shocked. I always loved seeing a post/reply from you in the iStock forums as your knowledge is unbelievably and you always said it like it was, no beating around the bush.
    I wish you all the best!

  48. HB says:

    Wow. Talk about bad business decisions! You’ve pulled in millions for that company, and then this? One thing is for certain, you’re at the height of your game currently, and the work you’re doing now is the best I’ve ever seen. Their loss, and I’m sure the other agencies are salivating at the idea of picking up your portfolio. Keep on kicking ass the way you do, and inspiring the rest of us in the process.

  49. George Clerk says:

    Thanks for the straightforward and honest information, Sean.

    I’ve always found your judgement regarding iStock and stock photography in general to be even-handed and professional.

    Over the past few years we’ve seen a string of errors of judgement from those managing iStock, interrupted by occasional moments where they have got things right.

    With this action outlined by Sean above, iStock appear to be taking an extremely rash gamble. As poor judgements go, insisting that one of your strongest suppliers must sell his work anywhere but through iStockphoto / Getty, will no doubt soon be clearly seen as lacking proper consideration.

    Whoever took this decision maybe felt that they could ‘fix’ the attitudes of contributors in the forums and elsewhere with the removal of such an important and respected member of the site.

    One thing that’s been achieved for sure is that in 30 days, the overall quality and breadth of content on iStock will have been reduced, and an excellent portfolio and wealth of industry experience will be available to iStock/Getty’s competitors.

  50. Luis Santos says:

    how smart of iStock to end business with their most valuable member…. sad iStock, best of luck Sean!

  51. numb says:

    Sean, Good luck..You’ve been always an inspiration for all of us, nothing will be the same at istock…

  52. John Neff says:

    All the best and I have no doubt Sean will do well. He probably has job offers right now to consider. Poor decision crazy year.

  53. When corporate profits conflict with human values, the greed mandate can turn people behind big desks into monsters. I wish it weren’t so, but, sounds like freedom and a new venture is your reward. Yeah, I’ll deprecate iStank and look for a replacement stock source.

  54. one of the top 10 contributors at iStockphoto says:

    Totally shocked! Corporate that treats their vary best people like this???
    It’s time they should start counting down their last days.
    Wishing you all the best

  55. tom prout says:

    Sean, I wish you all the best. As a newb stock hack, I learned so much about the craft from you – both from your direct comments as well as your comments and suggestions to others. Wherever you go you will succeed.

  56. Dan Padavona says:

    I’m very sorry this happened to you Sean. You are the last person who deserved this type of treatment. It may be a rough few months, but once your portfolios are online elsewhere and beginning to catch wind, I feel very strongly that your earnings will rise beyond those provided by iStock. Best wishes to you and your family.

  57. Brent says:

    Like everyone, I’m shocked to see this. I would be more shocked it I hadn’t seen Rob’s notice a couple of days ago. I was fortunate to have joined iStock fairly early on in the game when it was a true community of everyone working together…sad to see the direction Getty has taken the company.

    I want to personally thank you for all your insight on the iStock forums. When I was starting out, you were a huge help on a number of issues – gear, image quality, etc.

    Your exit from iStock will be a huge loss for the IS community but I’m sure a lot of people will follow you wherever you end up.

    Good luck and thanks!

    Brent
    (meltonmedia)

  58. JC Ruiz says:

    I think you handled the situation fairly well considering how it seems Getty had no intention of continuing a relationship with you. Glad you found the positive in it all. Best of luck.

  59. Sean says:

    Hey all, thanks for all the positive affirmation. I really appreciate it.

    I thought I might be alone in this, but then seeing Rob’s announcement soon after helped connect the dots a bit. Rob totally holds a place in iStock/microstock history, and I’m glad he included me in his book :)

  60. tilde531 says:

    When one door closes…. a window OPENS.
    Timing sucks for you… situation sucks, too… BUT I have a feeling that your inimitable success has absolutely nothing to do with Getty and you will SOAR from here on out.

    Best Regards!

  61. tom nulens says:

    Sean, I can’t understand their motivation for doing this. After what you’ve done for the community, the site, for the people and for me. I feel sorry, most of all for istock, what a loss. This feels like stupidity beyond imagination, I just can’t understand it. You’ll be fine in the end, I’m sure. Thumbs up for a new future, you deserve it.

  62. dcdp says:

    Getty is just trying to show they are bigger than any individual contributor, which is true, but they are also showing their complete and ongoing lack of understanding of how iStock works. I suspect some of your competitors will see this as a great opportunity on iStock – one less “major” to compete with. Unfortunately, iStock as a whole will suffer because of your tireless efforts in making it a better place. Your constant vigilance against exploitation of contributors and the effort you put into building scripts etc to make everyone else’s life better in the face of the ineptness and incompetence of the iStock tech team will surely be missed.

    I wish you all the best in wherever you end up. Sometimes we just need a push to get us going, or in this case the thing holding us back falls to pieces all by itself.

  63. Guri Bugge says:

    I’m sorry for the financial hit you will get for a few months, and I’m sorry for what this competition will do to my already meager sales on the independent scene. But when you get your pics in place on the other sites, it will not take long before you make more than you did at Istock. And Istock will be the ones that lose.

  64. Renee Keith says:

    Holy Sh@#$, I can’t believe it… WOW!!! I guess if anyone thinks their important/valued at iStock, they can guess again (sad). This feels like a leap forward in the downward spiral. Can’t believe it has come to this. Feels super crappy.

    On the other hand, the new venture sounds A M A Z I N G – Does plan B stand for Bruce? LOL… He is a genius and I am sure he still holds love and loyalty from some of the most talented stock photographers in the world :) Wouldn’t be surprised if he takes over the (stock) world.

  65. Martin says:

    Good grief!

    Thanks for all you did for us other contributors at istock. And the very best of luck with what’s to come.

  66. Good luck in your new ventures Sean, although im positive you”ll blaze your own trail.

  67. Hey Sean – What an idiotic thing for them to have done! Well done for standing up to them over the Google thing. This is a pivotal day in the history of iStock and not in a good way. It is good that you will not have to make agonising decisions about your future – now you can enjoy having fun with the new kid on the block. Leaving iStock did wonders for my mental health and now with the new project on the horizon I can start to get excited about stock again. Thanks for all you have done for the community. All the best, Bridget (StockCube).

  68. This is all a bit scary. Don’t you own a large market share of the images licensed at istockphoto? How could it make sense for them to decide to kick you? I don’t have time to deal with my portfolio right now, its just festering away waiting for me to improve it, but when it comes time for me to work on it again, there will certainly be some decisions to be made.

    I’m sorry this has happened to you. I don’t know if you’re a Simpson’s Fan, but I like this quote from Lisa and Homer – “did you know that the Japanese use the same word for crisis as they do for opportunity?” “That’s right, Lisa. Crisatunity!!”

    I’m sure you’ll make the most of it. Good luck!

  69. Lisa Young says:

    Sean, so sorry this has happened. With your talent and work ethic I know you will land on your feet. I can’t help but think that you are being used as both a scapegoat and a very public warning to all contributors that they better shut up and tow the line. Absolutely chilling to see this happen to you after all you have done to build the site. ITLR it will certainly be their loss.

  70. Matt Dixon says:

    Thanks for all the countless hours you’ve put into shedding light on the Getty deal, without your posts the whole thing could have easily slipped under the radar and we would have never had a true handle on the situation, truly appreciate all you’ve done.

    Good luck, time to turn up the heat as an independent.

  71. Don Bayley says:

    Good grief, Sean, I’m so sorry to hear this news but glad to see you’re taking it on the chin. Blessing in disguise, no doubt. I’m in shock and trying to work out whether to feel enraged or intimidated, or both. What a bizarre thing they have done. Please know that, like everyone else, I have always had nothing but the greatest respect for your measured opinions — sometime laconic it’s true, but always intelligent and never intemperate. They know not what they do.

  72. Sarah says:

    I am shocked and saddened by this truly unexpected development. You have always been the voice of sanity and logic in the forums. Thanks for sharing your insight and expertise with us over the years. Best of luck in future endeavors!

  73. I just don’t have any words. You were an inspiration to me as one of the most successful istock contributors. I just cannot begin to understand this drastic action, it’s so uncalled for. Best wishes to you…

  74. Ditto to all the above. Personally I can’t imagine what it’s going to be like (even though I’ve pulled almost all my images at istock) without checking to see “what Sean Locke says” about any issue. For me you’ve always been such a shining light of truth, good sense, and forthrightness! Thanks for all your hard work on all contributors’ behalf.

  75. Toni Scott says:

    iStock’s so shortsighted – stupid . . . can’t imagine how they’ll explain to the carlyle group the sudden widening hole in their bottom line $$$.

    likely a huge exit of others packing up their portfolio because no one wants to be associated with stupid people esp when they’re management.

    every good wish – you will soar elsewhere
    . . . . as they devour one another. lol

  76. Sean – can’t wait to find out more about new opportunities you’re finding! I think you could probably start your own agency at this point! I’d sure join :)

    I was laid off from that Boeing job where I met you and it too was the best thing that ever happened to my business life… I’m having a great time running my own website now! We should chat sometime. Do you ever do any meetups here in STL?

  77. Suljo says:

    Wow
    How time is passing I just wander how this retarded creeps from Greddy and IS just donot forget to breathe?!
    Why they are stinking on this planet…

  78. annparry says:

    Sean, if a DOUBLE AGENT working for rival stock agency had infiltrated iS, s/he couldn’t be doing finer job than person did who green-lighted terminating your contract with them.

    Not meaning to minimize the intense work and sacrifice this will mean for you and your family in coming months, I’ll bet any day on YOUR business sense, productivity, talent, ethics, and ability to work & play well with others… over iS admin’s any day.

    iS most likely figured that so many contributors have put up with so much bad treatment for so long that your termination would serve as a cautionary tale to others being vocal about unacceptable treatment from iS. WELL…..

    ….for other heavy-hitter contributors who have long felt they had no option but to accept whatever iS does – your future survival and success may give them a compelling reason to seriously consider possibility of financial survival without iS.

    If iS gets a SECRET VALENTINE this week, it will probably be from a smart, ethical stock image agency – whether well-established or in-the-making – that wants to thank iS for so, uhm, selflessly terminating your contract.

  79. Anon says:

    I am a buyer.

    This is horrible, I would suggest that istock contributors send your work to SS or other sites.

    I personally know nearly 30 istock buyers, and in several months (when I am working again) I will be telling them to purchase from other sites. Now’s the time to get your stuff on other sites.

    Istock can NOT last with these business practices. Do you think as a buyer I want my stuff being used by google docs? I mean people will think I got my content from google docs? It makes me look unprofessional.

    The leader of Istock is clearly a fuck up.

  80. Oh I cannot believe the twists and turns, this isn’t really happening?!

  81. Starkblast says:

    A bit shocked, I am.. always interested in your point of view, I must say your leaving is a big loss to all of us at iStock. I’ll miss your honest contributions in the forums, sir! Good luck to you and your family with new things ahead and hope to hear about your plan B!!

  82. Paulp says:

    It’s part of the trilogy of hinduism, create, sustain, destroy….you have gone full circle…it’s time for new creation…new life…new opportunities.

  83. Steve says:

    Hey Sean – having followed your work for a number of years, watching you explode onto the field of microstock photography, has been a singular pleasure. It is a rare breed of men who not only execute on an amazing talent, but who are open to sharing their knowledge and experience, such that an entire community of practice is elevated. I remember the early days of iStock, and like most things that are ahead of their time, the ride simply is amazing. But once it devolves into simply profit and sterile attitudes, the love fades quickly. You have given no small measure back to the photography community … and tho it would be easy to say that ‘no good deed goes unpunished’, I truly hope this opens new and exciting (read profitable) doors for you. I can confidently speak for the hundreds who wish you all the best in your future endeavors – all the best!

  84. sunnymars says:

    You had my respect before but even more so now.

    You may not know it yet, Sean, but this will be the best thing that ever happened to you and Getty’s idiotic decision will backfire. You’ll be inconvenienced for a short time and then you’ll prevail while iStock and Getty sink further into the abyss. Their goal was to hurt you but all they’ve done is unleash you, your amazing photography plus a massive group of buyers out into the big world.

    You did not lead D-Day. It was a combined effort from many people in the stock industry who were effected by the Getty/Google deal. Even I got involved and I’m not with iStock. The people who led D-Day were Getty and iStock who started this mess with Google and kept everyone in the dark about it. They are responsible for D-Day and this move by them proves how effective it was. As always, they continue to hurt themselves while shifting the blame to others.

    I look forward to watching you rise above them.

    Best wishes,

    Marina

  85. I hope you do not have too many (if any) regrets. I don’t think you should as I wouldn’t want to be an exclusive contributor to such a miserable, authoritarian agency. If you decide to submit to SS I hope someone gets to refer you (even if now only for two years)! And if you have no one else in mind… http://submit.shutterstock.com/?ref=166210

  86. Sam Burt says:

    Utterly shocking! Good luck in your new ventures Sean, you’ll be sorely missed. :(

  87. Lisa Valder says:

    Shocked but not at all surprised. Keep us posted on your exciting new ventures.

  88. Mark Hayes Photography says:

    Best of luck to you Sean – I know you’ll land on your feet after the dust settles. I am totally amazed at the stupidity of Getty/iStock in this – but then I’ve felt that way about their decisions for a few years now.

  89. Wendy says:

    Oh wow Sean I am beyond stunned. I know that you will make a success of whatever you do from here. You are most definitely not alone and have a huge group that love and respect you.

  90. I’ve been with iStock since 2005 and was leery about the sale to Getty in 2006 since I worked for a company once that was acquired and was the first person laid off, one of many to follow. And now this. It’s personal alright. Getty boots off their site one of their top sellers and it’s “business?” Hardly. More like nasty corporate politics. Who is their inspiration here, the Third Reich?

    Best of luck Sean. The quality of your work should earn you a living elsewhere.

  91. OShoot says:

    Not so much the end of an era as it is the promise of great things for you. We’re all cheering for you!

  92. If I could make a small suggestion (not sure if it has already been mentioned): keep an eye on Google Drive. 30 days is a long time and a lot of content could be “lisenced” in that time frame. 12000+ images sold to Google for 6$ and all your IP now basically worthless? THAT would be a major blow.

    I’d contact a lawyer asap.

    I had been looking at starting stock (weekend warrior wedding photographer here who’s gonna put a gun in his mouth if he doesn’t diversify a bit) but IStock and any Getty owned companies are now on my blacklist both as a contributor AND a consumer … between this, Google Drive and the Microsoft deal? Forget it.

    I’m also a the person who purchases stock for a tiny Canadian Federal Department (we’re really tiny) … closing our accounts there. We don’t purchase much but I refuse to deal with any Getty any longer.

    Good luck with your future ventures, I’m way more talented than I am and you’ll bounce back from this no problem.

  93. gp says:

    I am an atheist, no wonder I don’t believe this is happening!

  94. [...] We’ll update this post with new details and developments as they arise. Head on over to Locke’s blog post for the whole story from his point of [...]

  95. Joe Lena says:

    Very sad Sean. Your has always been an inspiration, and no doubt will continue to be. I have no doubt you’ve always had a backup plan, you wouldn’t be as success if you did not. Best of luck.

  96. pete collins says:

    Sean, so sorry to hear…
    Maybe your new venture will be like the good ole days of the past with Istock. When we all were there as much for the community as the images.
    Keep us informed of where you land.

    Pete aka Uniball

  97. Andrew Cribb says:

    Sean, I follow your comments and have much to thank you for since I joined IS in 2006. I find the manner in which the current owners of IS doing business is exceptionally troublesome. I also find it far from reasonable to be under constant threat from Getty’s owners and management. I hope that you find a great alternative and that your business continues to grow. Thanks very much for your community support over the years. Andrew

  98. Jan Tyler says:

    Dear Sean -

    As I said to Rob- time to cut the apron strings. The apron was dirty. I am sorry they treated you in this manner – of all people. You have always been consistent with your values, and have done so frickin’ much to make this site better, to educate other of both the good and the bad.

    I’m not the least bit worried about you. This was so childish, vindictive and embarrassing to Getty and should be to anyone associated with them. Who in the world would want to join or to stay with this kind of treatment to two of the most productive, well-thought of individuals.

    Thanks for all your contributions. I think the new opportunities are going to be awesome. Good luck.

    Jan

  99. Britta Kasholm Temgve - brittak says:

    Stunned, shocked and sad. What is Getty thinking about.. iStock will certainly feel the loss and I hink also Getty in the long run. This has made even me starting to think about other sites. I wish you all luck in the new adventure and thank you for inspiration and help.

  100. Susan Stewart says:

    Good luck Sean, I hope things work out well for you.
    I am totally gobsmacked by this. What a mindless, petty, idiotic thing for istock/getty to do. I’ve always argued that their policies were a sign of incompetence rather than malice. Now in one fell swoop they have demonstrated that it’s quite possible to be both malicious and incompetent at one and the same time.

    I can’t think of anything else they could have done that would have demonstrated their complete and utter contempt for their contributor base so thoroughly.

  101. [...] a 30-day termination notice to two of the most respected long term contributors, Rob Sylvan and Sean Locke. This is the ability all the agencies have to terminate our contracts with 30 days notice for no [...]

  102. Tamara says:

    Sorry to hear this happened to you, Sean. I cancelled my account with iStock in Oct 2010 and went exclusive with another agency, and today I have discovered that iStock is still offering my images on Photos.com and Thinktank…without my knowledge, without my permission. Gives you an idea of what kind of people they are – completely corrupt!

  103. Sheila Smart says:

    Just proves my point that Getty does not like dissent, Sean. Last July, I quit Getty because they licensed my RM image for commercial product for $1.39 – I received 39 cents. I was banned from the Getty/Flickr forum because of my views on this nefarious deal with Google (even though technically, I am still a Getty contributor through AGE). I had the audacity to suggest to Getty that they did not like dissent and I received a vitriolic and somewhat hysterical response from their rep who told me that I was being paranoid and that I was flattering myself to think that I was banned because of my views. She also slammed me for her opening my email while she was with her family at home. BTW, I am in Australia and the time difference is therefore not too convenient for the US. Nuff said.

    I am sure, Sean, you will continue to live without Getty in any form. I know I have and it was a great relief that I now have control over my work and can license them to whom I damn well please!

  104. Completely stunned. I’m very new to this field but have been following everything closely, the actions of Getty strike me as immature and poorly thought out. I’m so glad to read the positive tone in your post, and I really hope everything goes as well as planned.

  105. Edgar says:

    Good Luck Sean… although these are not good news, I strongly believe that things do happen for a reason… I’m sure you will continue to be successful anywhere that you go.

  106. Dave Cearley says:

    I know nothing about stock, but followed a story on PetaPixel (a great daily digest BTW). From reading dozens of comments here and on the iStock blog, they appear to be astoundingly incompetent business managers, though this decision could have come from Getty. The greatest takeaway I see is that distributors appear to be doing everything they can to wrest control away from the actual content owners, and content owners who sign exclusive distribution deals are taking serious risks with their livelihood. I saw a thread a few weeks ago about a gamer who produces gameplay videos posted online by a content aggregator. When he tried to end the relationship with the distributor, he learned that the distributor now owned everything he had ever produced, and that his contract with them was for life. In essence, the only way for him to get out of the contract was to stop producing content forever. Maybe he should have stopped playing long enough to actually read what he signed, LOL. My point is that the digital content industry is young, and the business sharks smell blood. Maybe they also believe that with petabytes of images spread across the web, if they can draft user policies broadly enough, they really can steal trillions of dollars worth of content from non-professionals and get away with it. One poster above was a buyer and he made a great point. WHat will his customers think when the images he billed them for show up on google for free? Content developers are legitimately angry. I imagine buyers are equally angry.

    Maybe it’s time to create an umbrella organization like the MPAA whose sole purpose will be to go after copyright violators and collect royalties for their members. Does the stock business have such an organization? A class action lawsuit against Getty for in essence making millions of dollars worth of intellectual property worthless might get someone’s attention as well. A photographer’s contract with them certainly doesn’t preclude suing them for real measurable economic loss. Maybe it’s time to sue Google on the same grounds.

  107. Dina Cole says:

    Congratulations! Best thing that could have possibly happened to you. You’ll make more money on SS, DT, etc

  108. zmeel says:

    This sounds like a real bad joke. Can’t believe the stupidity these Getty guys show over and over again. I hope you have a bright future ahead and thanks for everything you done for the contributors at iStock.

  109. Alphotographic says:

    Sean my deepest best wishes, your comments and help over the years has been much appreciated. IAll the best for your new venture and as everyone else has said, you will do very well – cream always rises to the top!

  110. Sorry to hear this Sean. Things just keep getting stranger at iStock, and all heading downhill.

    All the best wishes for whatever great opportunities this opens up for you.

  111. [...] Google Image deal. It seems that the whole conflict is on a new level now. Sean Locke has been kicked out by iStockphoto. I’m really surprised to see such an reaction from Getty. This will even [...]

  112. Marvin says:

    Perhaps it would be useful for everyone to consider the following Getty owned businesses as well . . . . .

    jupiterimages
    clipart.com
    punchstock
    thinkstockphotos
    photos.com
    animationfactory.com

  113. Sad iStocker says:

    @Sean: The last thing you probably want now is to have anything to with iStock, but I would like to make a polite request, and I’m sure I speak for many. Please continue to monitor iStock/Getty and hold them to account. Obviously not on their forums, but on this blog and the other forums. You have an immense following and influence in the community, please keep it going.

  114. Giuseppe (e-person) says:

    I did disable all my files at istock more than one year ago. My stock income has dropped considerably, like from 100 to 10%. But after one year, incredibly enough, I am finally seeing sales increase, with very little new uploads. And some very welcome RM sales too. The future for me is RM. These RF microstock companies are not fair to contributors. There are not any margins to be fair to us. I am very sorry to read that istock has done that to you, but a clever guy like you should have expected something really silly from current management. As you said, last few years have not been exactly fantastic. I am sure you will recover the financial loss in a few months, with the right strategies. All the best to you, Sean. You deserve it.

  115. I’ve liked your creative work at iStockphoto – very sad story :( Good luck and all the best for your future.

    Mike Sick

  116. Middleages says:

    Hi Sean ! Sad news – as everyone here I´m astonished about that step and the philosophy behind this – “Cut the head of the loudest and the rest will be quiet” … it reminds me of the middle-ages. I always admired your work and your dedication for iStock … I hope this step will lead you to a better future – no doubt that your skills will helping you – GOOD LUCK !

  117. Good luck Sean. I can’t believe Getty/iS shot the messenger, thanks for sticking up for the contributors and all those GM scripts. Will be watching to see what you do next.

  118. PenelopeB says:

    Wow Sean, I’m so sorry. You must feel very betrayed. I purchase your images for my day job as well as being a contributor. I will bookmark your blog so I can find your photos in the future.

    Talk about shooting themselves in the foot – I think it is a very foolish move to boot your best out.

    Thank you for all your sound advice in the past.

    • Sean says:

      Thanks for your support. I’m very excited about the new venture and will sure to update when I have news…

      • Zanocs says:

        Thanks for sharing your horror story, we need more of these as that’s the only way to warn both photographers and clients to stay away from microstock.

        If you don’t mind i posted a message about this on the Alamy forum :

        http://www.alamy.com/forums/Default.aspx?g=posts&m=185560&#185560

        • Sean says:

          Cheers, but keep in mind, this came from higher up, not from IS, directly.

          • Zanocs says:

            Ultimately, your only fatal mistake was to keep a public persona and a high profile.

            However, having worked in corporates i can tell you they’ve been very friendly with you, other companies would have just sent you their lawyers and asked for damages and compensations.

            It will be funny to see istock crumble piece after piece, guess they just can’t believe how fast negative reviews about them can be spread all over the internet by an angry mob of disgruntled contributors and former buyers.

            It’s certainly a new paradigm for companies and indeed it will end up in a dangerous situation where companies will be blackmailed by buyers and content providers, just as it’s already happening for book reviews on Amazon and for tourism destinations on TripAdvisor.

  119. I just can’t believe it. Good luck, Sean.

  120. I was certainly shocked to read this. I can’t imagine why they would think it is a good idea to dump one of their most valuable resources. I will miss your voice of sanity in the forums and your lifesaving scripts which often made the unusable interface usable and enhanced the contributor experience. I wish you all the best in your new venture. I will also make a point to follow your website.

  121. Oliver Childs says:

    I am shocked and appalled by the way Getty has treated you. Good luck for the future and many thanks for all that you have done for all contributors over the years. The B plan sounds very exciting, wishing you great success with it.

  122. kayann says:

    I don’t know whether to say sorry to hear this or congratulations. I love to read how going non-exclusive works out.

  123. Jill Fromer says:

    I was shocked by this news. It’s certainly their (and our) loss. I have no doubt you will succeed wherever you go. I’ll continue to watch the developments with interest. Best wishes to you. Jill Fromer aka duckycards

  124. arsenik says:

    This is just crazy! Sorry to hear that Sean but I’m sure you will do amazing in anything you put your mind to. You have been a great example to many in the stock community and I’m sure you will continue to do the same (just not on istock). I’ve been a member on istock for nearly 11 years now and I must say I don’t ever remember a time where the company treated their contributors with such rude behavior and complete disregard for our best interest.

    Once again wish you all the best and continued success!!!

  125. louie says:

    “iStockphoto and Getty provide nearly all of my income”

    Horrible business decision. It’s like being an exclusive supplier of a product to Home Depot and relying on them for all income.

    You were a very openly loyal istockcontrib back in the day with practically no criticism of them. And they rewarded your and everyone elses loyalty with special badges and higher royalties only to screw you guys who relied too much on the income they provided. Anyone who agreed to those terms had it coming. At least you made your share of green with them.

    So the pimp has freed you to live your life as you please. At least you a smart enough ho to find other sources of money. Others maybe not so much, so they’ll watch what they say and obey like obedient little bitches so they can keep getting paydays.

  126. ABC says:

    This is truly a shocking action by Getty, and very unprofessional… They should have at least quoted the exact portion of the contract of which you broke. If a lawyer was involved, this is what they would be asking for, and the circumstances in every detail supporting the action, then declaring that the contract stands unless such detail is provided in writing (not electronic). A simple email saying, in less words, “we don’t like you anymore so there is the door”, is just the most ridiculous thing I have read in years. Obviously they don’t really want to take Contributors seriously, and don’t care who they burn. From here it is better you take a different road from iS, and look back (as you are) at a great journey with them… Good luck! :)

  127. AlasdairJames says:

    Unbelievable!
    I agree with most of the comments already left here, but I’d also like to take this opportunity to personally thank you for giving so much of your time to helping the rest of the contributor community at iStock. I’ve always found your active presence in the forums very reassuring. Thanks for all the grease monkey scripts too.
    Enjoy your freedom – I’ll be following your blog.

  128. Jeremy says:

    I’m shocked! I’ve always appreciated and respected your balanced views over all these years. I look forward to hearing about your continued success in the years to come.

  129. I don’t know you and I was never with iStock but it was your reporting of the Google Drive fiasco and subsequent posts on the iStock forum (amongst other contributors) that led me to terminate my contract with Getty (through Flickr). I was unhappy with many things about the way Getty started doing business anyway but that was the final straw. So I thank you for having the courage to stand up and tell it like it was. I’m just sorry the bullies pulled this trip on you. Best of luck to you, Sean.

  130. Paul says:

    Well, I am truly shocked at their actions. As a small time contributor I had considered leaving iStock after the whole “unsustainable” thing and RC cuts. Instead, I stopped uploading and have suffered through the various issues that kept cropping up. With the Google news, I again thought that it was time to quit, but have as yet not done so, nor have I deactivated any files.
    With the news of you being given your marching orders, for giving good info and a balanced take on things, I have to say that the writing on the wall is clearer than ever before.
    Leaving iStock is well overdue and, in hind site, I should have made my (insignificant) stand way back already.
    If they can do this to you, Sean, just how much do they care about any other contributor? This event has now provided the final, final, final (there were similar motivations to quit previously), final reason for me to quit iStock. I shall close my account before the weekend. I have been exclusive there from 2006 up to now.
    I wish you, Sean, luck and all the best, thanks for all you did over the years, and want to thank you for all the good you have done.

  131. Justin H says:

    Holy wow. I just heard about this a few moments ago. I’m speechless. All I can say is everyone else has summed it up quite well. The quality of your work and your contributions to the community speak for themselves. Onward and upward, I say!

  132. Concerning iStock: every time when I think: “this can’t be happening”, it happens. It’s unbelievable how iStock (Getty) thinks it can treat its contributors. I’m not a frequent poster but I sure follow the forums. I want to say thanks for all you did.
    Good luck with plan “B”. I’m sure it will be good!
    If I get the chance, I’m also out!
    You’ve got a new follower.
    Jolande Gerritsen aka joto

  133. Anna says:

    I have been short on IS, but I used to sell good measured at the small size of my portfolio. The decline caused by the greedy and short-sighted management of IS affected me as sa well as all the other contributors.

    At this point I started to read the forums. Because of my limited active skills in english I can’t post a lot, but I was happy about every critical comment of you and other IS members. And I hoped, you would help to save the site and our work.

    Thank you for your effort and good luck, Sean. I hope, we, the future and present “ex-ex-IS”, will see us on a site deserving critical and motivated members like yours.

  134. [...] Stock photographer Sean Locke reports on his blog: ‘Let’s get the important news out of the way first. On Friday, February 8th, I was given notice by Getty Images that they were terminating our “relationship” and my account at iStockphoto would be closed in 30 days. Well, that was a great way to end the week, eh?’ … ‘As one of the top 5 contributors at iStockphoto, having been there since August of 2004, with over 12,000 images and close to a million licenses sold, I thought I was a pretty valuable member of the community. …’ What Happened ? – read the full story here: seanlockephotography.com [...]

  135. Finkelberg Frumperknick says:

    I am not the least bit surprised. I remember having a debate with you about what Getty acquiring iStock would mean many, many moons ago, but you were drinking the Kool Aid. Welcome to the other side of the Matrix.

  136. Vincent says:

    What a good read, both my wife and myself have been looking to egt into stock photography. We have been doing a fair amount of reading regarding the subject, we are glad we came across this posting and the shocking way you have been treated. It’s made us a little cautious.

  137. Bobby Deal says:

    Sean, what a travesty but I know what you are feeling. The reality of having a stock agency forget that they are an agent and not a content creator and dump a major contributor for having the courage of his own convictions and a willingness to stand up for what is right is not a situation I am unfamiliar with.

    It has been years now since I stop contributing to Istockphoto ( right around the time they created Disambiguation and Exclusives) and shortly after that all my stock agency accounts slipped into legacy land. The industry has come so far in such a short time, sadly it seems that without a major overhaul we will see the industry we all rode up on wither and die of premature maturation fueled by disrespect and greed.

    You have been a major factor in the success of Istockphoto and they will feel your absence more then they imagine or will ever admit. You are now in position to do it all again with the people you did it with in the first place. If you guys could make it happen in the beginning with no resources just imagine what the team will put together today with the resources and experience they have at their disposal now. I can’t imagine that once the surprise of the ludicrous actions of Istockphoto wears off that you could be anything but excited about the future that is now in front of you.

    The industry is changing and it is the experienced hearts, minds and backs of the innovative that will forge the future of it. I am sure the hammer feels good in your hand. Who knows maybe you all will start something that would encourage me to turn an eye back to stock creation.

    Best of luck to you, buy an extra pair of shades cause the future looks bright enough that I think you are going to need them.

    Peace,
    Bobby Deal
    Real Deal Photo

  138. shank_ali says:

    Sausages

  139. MrUnderhill says:

    Good Luck Sean. Keep positive and work hard and you will be fine.

  140. edelmar says:

    Sean, you have been the contributors’ backbone all these years. You were a watchdog, a developer, a voice in the middle ground when things got shaky. Thank you, and I’m confident you’ll succeed wherever you land.

  141. WOW. Just wow. I don’t check the web for a few days due to being sick, and iStock kicks out their #1 guy?? They are truely losing it. I really hope this ends up only for the better for you Sean. And thanks for detailing it here so frankly. All the best.

  142. Marie O'Hara says:

    Thank you for sharing this. It confirms why I have refused to ever be part of Getty/iStock. I think they have shot themselves through the foot by devaluing their photographers and I hope there are many intelligent contribitors who will terminate their association with the above. The saddest thing of all is the quality of images will go down and there will be many out there that won’t know the difference. I am sorry it may have affected your family but with your positive attitude you will win. I have only come across you through PhotoArchive and I wish you all the best.

  143. Dereck Mitchel says:

    Sell your soul to the Devil and this is what happens I’m afraid. Getty Images are a blight on the industry

  144. past0r sc0tt (for secrecy!) :) says:

    My condolences/congratulations Sean. I’m sorry I’m so late but I had a funeral to do earlier this week. I appears here’s two funerals now as the death of trying to help by bringing good old fashioned crowd-sourcing to help has been shot down in the streets of the ‘community.’ We used to ‘partner’ on iStock (believe it or not!) to help bring clarity to what wasn’t as clear as mud. You from your podium and me from my pulpit. Since eulogies are fresh on my mind and I hate bringing sadness, a humorous last interaction we had was when I decided to use a poem to express my thoughts on ASA, Editorial, I forget exactly but it was deleted and a moderator post about not doing poetry fests in the forums and yet before the edict you had followed my poem with a Haiku. They left your Haiku which then looked strangely out of place and alone and left you alone too for quite a while despite speaking up as I instead got a forum boot a while ago now but have watched in admiration as you rallied the barebones troops to justice and the right way. Oh I wish I could’ve added a pic, poem, or a verse to show my solidarity. Despite my ultra low profile I wanted to send along my ‘group hug’ to the best Superman iStock ever had.

  145. Susan Daniels says:

    just read your blog Sean, good luck for the future you have been and continue to be an inspiration.

  146. Noel (nopow) says:

    You don’t need worry about income. You’ll make three times as much as a non-exclusive, once the long submission process is done. iStock is on its last leg anyway. This is a good thing. Welcome to the lucrative world of non-exclusivity.

  147. Mark Swallow says:

    I still find this incredulous! Good luck with your future endeavours. I think this will mark a turning point for many contributors, especially Exclusives. Exciting times ahead!

  148. Lisa says:

    Sean, I’ve been a small fish on Istock since 2005 and, like many, have looked up to you, not just for your impressive photo portfolio but your contributions to the community. Getty may not respect you, but, for what it’s worth, I sure do! Best of luck.

  149. TerryJ says:

    Takes me a while to find out what the heck is going on sometimes. Sean, I must say first and foremost congratulations, you are free at last! You are so unbelievably talented, funny, terrific sense of humor, extraordinarily smart in your profession. You will probably go down as one of the top photographers in our lifetime. I have always believed and still do!…that when one door closes, another opens. I truly hope our paths will meet again. Thank you for all your kindnesses. Stay in touch!

  150. Claudelle says:

    Thank you for posting. Incredible. I can’t even find words… This seems to me to be a tsunami in the ocean that is istock/Getty’s mistakes.

  151. [...] great reason to get into stock photography…. Not! Visit my website: http://www.johnsphotography.ca – tell me what you think Reply With [...]

  152. Malchev says:

    Similar thing happened to me 3 or 4 years ago. Istock provided almost 100% of my income, when suddenly they banned me for some strange reasons (The main of which was that I had the audacity to question their new royalty structure in front of the managers.). When I was banned I thought the world was over. None of the other agencies were good enough to match the Istock profitability. I struggled for about a year to refresh my portfolio of vector illustrations and upload them to 13 agencies. And then, one day, I was checking my sales statistics and realized that being banned from Istock was the best thing that ever happened to me. Working only with them was making me blind for a world of opportunities. Since I left I double and triple my income each year.
    Now I am watching the Istock Titanic sink with a grim smile.
    Sean, it might be hard for you for a while, but then it will be much, much better than ever before. Especially with such a portfolio. That I can guarantee.

  153. Lucato says:

    Once again, WRONG MOVE iStock/Getty!

    Hey Sean, so sorry to hear that. I’m shocked too as everybody else. Unbelievable what iStock/Getty has done lately with contributors and community. I can feel your pain, of course much worst than mine, that after 10 years as a member and most of them as exclusivity I became a non-exclusive and contacting them with the tops, I didn’t get any great feedback for the lots of years as exclusivity expend with them found out that they don’t care about you or “community” spirit or whatever, it is just business/money for them and any contributor is just one more number. I bet they slogan now a days is If you want to stay, stay if you don’t go away, we don’t care!

    Well, maybe you can launch the iStockShock. Lol!

    Glad to hear that Bruce is going to be back, not at iStock, sure, duh. So, I hope there is a light on the end of the tunnel. Btw, I need to find an invite for it. ;0)

    Good luck in your next moves and wish you a lot of sales wherever you go and success.

  154. Lucian says:

    Sean,
    I really cannot get it why you and others mention all the time Getty.
    Getty is not for a long time Getty, Carlyle Group bought it for 3.3 billion from Hellman&Friedman what previously acquired for 2.4 billion. Helman in this period cashed in dividends in the amount of 950 milions.
    Both groups didn’t have anything to do with photography, is just an investment, and the investors wanted their money back. What better cash cow then the crowd ????? You do the work they cash over 70% profits, in this time the value of the collection increses…bla, bla, you get the idea and they resell………so sincerely I realy do not understand what you complain about ????Is just business and your 12000 images are just a small fish lost in the sea. They just wanted to make a point with you, to scare further “revolted” users.
    Ciao,
    Lucian

  155. Bruno says:

    I joined iStock back in 2001, but it never crossed my mind to be exclusive, especially after the Getty purchase, infamous for “battling” their contributors back in the 90′s. Welcome to the free world of non-exclusives. More peace of mind, avenues and money for you, Cheers!

  156. Harriet says:

    WTF? They fired one of their top contributors?!
    Sean, I have seen you give so much help to contributors in the forums over the years, and I thank you for that and wish you all the best!

  157. R. Kneschke says:

    Hi Sean, I wrote about your story (and some mean comments over at PetaPixel) in my blog, it’s in German though: http://www.alltageinesfotoproduzenten.de/2013/03/05/der-fluch-des-sean-oder-microstock-hass-und-haeme/

  158. Wow, i’m quite shocked and surprised. I just want to say thanks to you. All you critques and help has really helped to teach me what I know now and I will miss seeing your honesty on the istock forums in future.

  159. Hi All,

    I know for a fact Inmagine.com & 123RF.com would love to have you onboard.
    If any of you are interested in submitting content to either site please do contact me anthony.whittaker@inmagine.com

    Or by calling one of the following numbers depending on your location;

    http://www.123rf.com/contact.php
    http://www.inmagine.com/contact.php

    Become apart of our family!

  160. [...] says had nearly one million license sales on iStockphoto until the company ended the relationship because he had criticized the Google Drive partnership, he explained on his blog. Locke is now one of 220 photographers on board at Stocksy at launch [...]

  161. [...] says had nearly one million license sales on iStockphoto until the company ended the relationship because he had criticized the Google Drive partnership, he explained on his blog. Locke is now one of 220 photographers on board at Stocksy at launch [...]

  162. [...] says had nearly one million license sales on iStockphoto until the company ended the relationship because he had criticized the Google Drive partnership, he explained on his blog. Locke is now one of 220 photographers on board at Stocksy at launch — [...]

  163. [...] two have already generated significant headlines. First of all, veteran iStocker Sean Locke was publicly ousted from iStockphoto in an apparent battle over the Google Drive fiasco and his potential involvement in Stocksy. [...]

  164. [...] says had nearly one million license sales on iStockphoto until the company ended the relationship because he had criticized the Google Drive partnership, he explained on his blog. Locke is now one of 220 photographers on board at Stocksy at launch — [...]

  165. [...] says had nearly one million license sales on iStockphoto until the company ended the relationship because he had criticized the Google Drive partnership, he explained on his blog. Locke is now one of 220 photographers on board at Stocksy at launch [...]

  166. [...] says had nearly one million license sales on iStockphoto until the company ended the relationship because he had criticized the Google Drive partnership, he explained on his blog. Locke is now one of 220 photographers on board at Stocksy at launch [...]

  167. [...] says had nearly one million license sales on iStockphoto until the company ended the relationship because he had criticized the Google Drive partnership, he explained on his blog. Locke is now one of 220 photographers on board at Stocksy at launch [...]

  168. [...] says had nearly one million license sales on iStockphoto until the company ended the relationship because he had criticized the Google Drive partnership, he explained on his blog. Locke is now one of 220 photographers on board at Stocksy at launch [...]

  169. [...] says had nearly one million license sales on iStockphoto until the company ended the relationship because he had criticized the Google Drive partnership, he explained on his blog. Locke is now one of 220 photographers on board at Stocksy at launch [...]

  170. Amy Muschik says:

    Hi Sean,
    I was looking for something else today and came upon this. I had no idea any of this was going on and I am completely shocked. I know-a bit late to the party, but I am too new to have any connections. Change is growth, and I have no doubt you will have great success in your new adventure at Stocksy. You are an inspiration to so many.

    Very best wishes for you and your family during such a trying experience.
    Amy (from the Raleighlypse)

  171. [...] says had nearly one million license sales on iStockphoto until the company ended the relationship because he had criticized the Google Drive partnership, he explained on his blog. Locke is now one of 220 photographers on board at Stocksy at launch [...]

  172. [...] says had nearly one million license sales on iStockphoto until the company ended the relationship because he had criticized the Google Drive partnership, he explained on his blog. Locke is now one of 220 photographers on board at Stocksy at launch [...]

  173. [...] But as I wanted to mix it up in 2013, I was looking to re-enter the stock-shooting ranks and get creative with non-client shoots.  That’s when I stumbled upon this post by stock veteran Sean Locke. [...]

  174. Astride Mauperier says:

    All this at the same moment when Yuri Arcurs becomes iStock exclusive………
    Hmmmm…

  175. [...] a buyer/designer, wouldn’t you like to do business with a company like that, instead of one that terminates an artist for, among other “reasons”, trying to inform and look out …?  Heck, you could even use that as a selling point to get clients.  Sometimes you just have to [...]

  176. [...] of things.  I guess I can consider myself lucky that I don’t have to deal with these things, since they terminated my agreement back in April for no particularly good reason.  However, these issues are causing contributors and buyers [...]

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