Goodbye iStockphoto

Back in early 2004, we at Disney Feature Animation Florida discovered that we were going to be laid off.  The studio was being closed, and all animation was going to be done at the California studio.  I left my favorite job as a Computer Graphics Model Technical Director to move to Missouri and work at Boeing as a Database Engineer, doing flight simulator graphics (my wife’s family lived in the area).  Looking for a creative way to make some extra money, I put together a home theater pre-show dvd featuring trivia and animation – something you watch while waiting to start the show.

While putting the show together, I needed some movie themed backgrounds for the trivia.  I guess I went to Google and discovered iStockphoto as a place to buy some images.

My first action ever there was to buy an image of a movie camera.  Well, after spending my money on buying images, I thought I could sell some of the images I had made for the dvd, and make my money back.  This image was one of my first images online as a contributor and was a big seller in the day.

After uploading quite a few 3d images, I came to the conclusion that I could create more content with a camera than a keyboard.  I convinced my wife that I should get a Canon Digital Rebel, and my first lights from Alien Bees, and I was on my way.  As soon as Bruce Livingstone, the founder of iStockphoto announced the exclusivity program in 2005, I signed up.  I wasn’t contributing anywhere else anyways, and I liked the financial incentives, and the community of people there.  I spent all my spare time shooting, editing and keywording, moving up the ranks of bronze, silver, gold and finally diamond (and then black diamond).

Over the years, I went to iStockalypses ( shooting get-togethers) in Kansas City, Austin, Seattle, Calgary, Nashville, Salt Lake City and Raleigh, to meet up with friends and do some shooting.  Here’s an image of everyone standing around and one of me (cowboy hat) and fellow contributor Ethan Myerson in Austin.  Thus the hat.  Lots of fun, great people and good content created.

Bruce sold iStockphoto to Getty Images in 2006, to help gain market share and exposure.  Unfortunately, over the years, Getty has become venture capitalist fodder, being bought and sold, and the changes did not prove good for iStockphoto.  Downloads and dollars were still there, but there was just a community frustration about things going on behind the scenes.  This culminated, for me at least, with the Google Drive fiasco.  Despite my attempts to try and help fix the issues, my exposure of this terrible deal for contributors, along with some other factors caused the very upper management at Getty Images to decide they wanted to part ways with me.

I had a great time selling my content on iStockphoto, despite the issues, and do not begrudge any of the iStockphoto staff.  I had a great time learning and working with them, and I wish them all the personal best (including all the ones that already left).

If you needed anything from my iStockphoto content library and haven’t grabbed it yet, do it quick, as in the next hours, my content will be shuttered there, and you’ll have to look elsewhere for it.

That’s actually good news, though!  More in the next post …

20 thoughts on Goodbye iStockphoto

  1. Good luck on this next stage of your career. You have tons of talent and seem to be a crazy hard worker, so I’m sure you’ll do great. iStock is a lesser place without you.

  2. Good luck for the future Sean, and thanks for all the posts, clarifications and tools you provided during these years at iStock.

  3. I wish you continued success Sean and I have no doubt you will have it. It’s nice to be able to count you as a friend (a bit mushy, I know LOL)

  4. Thanks for all you did for the Istock community. I’m looking forward to reading about your future successes.

  5. What?! I just found out…!!
    Good luck Sean, you are an inspiration, I always love your work and have actually bought your photos for my projects! Best wishes and I am sure your talent will take you even further.

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