Oh Dear, ImageBrief is Closing Shop

Only a few days ago I wrote about how ImageBrief is (probably) a waste of your time. At the time of writing, although I still saw some value in submitting to them (non-exclusively), I was highly skeptical of their business model. The main reason being that in the vast majority of time, briefs were never awarded.

Bombshell Announcement

If you’re registered with IB, you have probably received the same email today (March 1st,), which reads:

“Today, we’re announcing that after six years of connecting agencies, brands and creators, we will be closing down ImageBrief’s photographer marketing services.

We’re proud of the products and apps we built, but even more so, we’re grateful for the community that enabled them to grow. More than 70,000 creators earned millions of dollars collaborating with 12,500+ global agencies and brands in 169 countries.

There has never been a better time for creators to thrive. Demand for content has increased, and the tools to create world-class creative are more accessible than ever.

Our talented team of engineers, designers, developers, and curators have worked tirelessly to make ImageBrief a success in a competitive and rapidly evolving landscape, and our immediate priority is to help you transition to other services to support your business.

In the coming days, our team will be in contact with you directly with detailed information about your specific account, license history, and services. Over the next week, we recommend logging into ImageBrief to download and retain your license history and related assets. Further details can be found in the FAQ’s below.

We want to thank you for your participation and loyalty, and look forward to working with you in the coming weeks to ensure a smooth transition. 

Sincerely,

Team ImageBrief”

Followed by a short FAQ:

What will happen to images I have uploaded?

ImageBrief does not distribute your images through third parties. All photos you have submitted to the site will be permanently removed from our servers within the next seven days.

How do I get copies of my licenses?

For the next seven days, you will be able to login to www.imagebrief.com if you require additional copies of your licenses. Download your license and associated schedules. You are legally obliged to continue to adhere to all terms and agreements of your licensed images.

What will happen to my personal and credit card Information?

We will permanently remove your personal information where it is no longer required, protecting your personal information from unauthorized access, disclosure, loss, misuse, and alteration.  ImageBrief uses Stripe and does not store private credit card information.

What will happen to payments due to me?

Over the next 90 days, our finance team will continue to manage accounts on behalf of contributors for images recently licensed. You will be contacted directly regarding the specific status of outstanding payments and paid within 30 days of receipt of the client’s payment.

ImageRights Services

If you activated ImageRights and via the ImageBrief platform, images you have synced to ImageRights will remain in your ImageRights account.

You can use the email you used to signup with ImageBrief, but you’ll need to reset your password to be able to login to ImageRights directly. Head to the login page at www.imagerights.com/login and select the ‘Forgot Password’ link. Cases will continue to be pursued while your account remains open. You can submit an account cancellation to ImageRights by emailing support@imagerights.com.

Why did they shut down?

From their carefully-crafted information email they give nothing away. So I’m going to have to read between the lines.

“[After six years] More than 70,000 creators earned millions of dollars collaborating with 12,500+ global agencies and brands in 169 countries.”

That’s all marketing speak to say “we were great once”, but were they really? If they were so great, why couldn’t they stay afloat?

Whenever a company makes bold claim I don’t take it at face value. Did you know that at the height of the financial crisis in 2008, the investment bank, Lehman Brothers, was rated as a premium investment by rating agencies minutes before it collapsed.

It’s almost impossible to assess financial information from a private company, unlike Shutterstock that is listed in the NYSE and must publish public accounts. But my feeling is that they weren’t nearly as successful as they claimed. As for the brands, what’s the point if they didn’t purchase images from briefs? How many of those brands were established?

“There has never been a better time for creators to thrive. Demand for content has increased, and the tools to create world-class creative are more accessible than ever.”

Very general statements. What is clear is that for contributors it’s never been so competitive, as you know. In addition, even if demand has increased as they claim, it has surely failed to keep up with supply. This has led to reduced earnings that we’ve all been accustomed.

“…our immediate priority is to help you transition to other services to support your business.”

I believe this translates to: “we’ve sold our business off for a loss and hope to recoup some of those losses with other products we’re going to offer in other names”. Perhaps they made a deal with the buyer to keep some of the “goodwill”, which would be the contributors’ details. So cynical of me!

More crucially, if they failed here after promising so much, I’m even more reluctant to give them another chance. Fool me once…

What now for the on-demand business?

The ethos of IB was to create a marketplace where buyers and professional photographers can connect. The buyers post a brief with their requirements and the photographers respond with images that match the brief.

It sounds simple enough. But in reality, with so many images now available for relatively cheap & RF, why would a buyer ever want to pay more than an average of $2 for an image? The microstock subscription model has severely disrupted the industry, for better or worse (most analysts claim for the later).

I tend to be more philosophical and believe that technology has made it easier to shoot better quality images for cheaper. The best DSLR in 2003 is inferior to an entry-level DSLR in 2018.

Don’t buyers need specific briefs?

Yes, they do. Those more rare images, especially if model and/or property released are at a premium. However, the vast majority of buyers don’t need such specific images and the ones that do will not be paying silly prices like $1500/each offered on ImageBrief for them! The $15 per image offered by Shutterstock Custom seems to be more in tune with our times, even if you’re effectively selling your copyright.

Master Steve got lucky with that brief but he’s just a lucky guy in general and has even found silver in his backyard!

Crowd-sourced model is to stay

The crowd-sourced model will be around for some time to come and what I predict will happen is that brands will increasingly approach content-creators directly via social media to source images (which is already happening). The amount of content being created everyday means that a small percentage will meet the clients’ specific requirements by default, but this will require searching (that’s why they hire low-paid interns).

Conclusion

The age-old lesson of if it’s too good to be true, it probably is, holds true here. I wish ImageBrief would have been more forthcoming about their briefs from the beginning. For me it was clear for a long time that those briefs were being offered for too much (sometimes up to $1500) and there were not enough images being awarded. This suggests that there were some misrepresentation going on to entice contributors to submit images which were most probably never going to be chosen by brands.

I’m going to keep a close eye on ImageBrief’s main competor, Snapwire. Perhaps they’ll flourish now or fold. On a side note, I submitted to them for a while but gave up on them as well after being frustrated after being shortlisted so many times and never been awarded.

Lastly, I’m interested to see how ImageBrief transforms itself after it folds. Will keep you updated, of course.

 

 

8 comments

  1. I just found your blog by searching for ImageBrief closing chatter. I was in the same boat, Explorer+ member, only submitted to briefs where little work was required due to too many of my submissions always getting overlooked. I sold one image in three years of joining them but I was often shortlisted and that is what kept me going. What a fool… your take on the situation is interesting and seems to ring true.
    It seemed like a great way to be “discovered” by the big name buyers out there. I refuse to sell any of my images on Microstock sites on principle. If only all photographers had higher standards, maybe we could actually make real $$ again on our images. I look forward to reading your blog posts.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hi Buckley,

      Thanks for your comments and welcome.

      I feel sorry for those contributors who put in time, expense and considerable effort to meet briefs which were never awarded. I didn’t spend too much time on this and it appears that you didn’t as well..at least you were rewarded with one sale and hope it was a nice value.

      We cannot take ImageBrief at face value and their last message out is a joke…they could have at least dropped all that marketing mambo-jambo and been more honest. I’m curious to see which other companies are going to fold in the next few years due to unsustainable business models.

      “I refuse to sell any of my images on Microstock sites on principle.”

      I respect your principles. I hear a lot of that, especially on the Alamy forums, where Rights-Managed crusaders wish they were back in 2004.

      I’ve written a lot about Microstock, so hope you can see that there can be some benefits to licensing SOME types of images on micros. Usually the more generic types which naturally lend themselves for multiple uses. Even at a few quarters a time, over the long-term those quarters really do add up. It’s a high volume game on low individual returns, with Extended Licenses thrown into the mix to keep things more interesting. In some cases and depending on the images, it may be more profitable to submit them to micros than having them sit there for ages at Midstock waiting to be picked up for higher returns.

      I have no idea what you shoot so can only provide general advice, but if you have any questions please get in touch!

      Alex

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I hope the fog clears a little bit and we can find out what went down exactly. All in all I made a profit from being with them. But, I did invest a lot of time and energy to many briefs using imagery, I already had.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Stocksy was suggested to me so I am going to look into that. I did not see that you suggested Stocksy here? I really liked the format of Image Brief but over time, it had become an enormous waste of time. I think somehow IB needed to make the buyers a bit more accountable, if that was possible. I was contacted twice by potential buyers for commissioned work but nothing ever came of it. Most buyers were fickle and vague. Maybe some new entrepreneur will come up with a better business model for photographers to submit their work to the high end ad agencies, publishers and companies. It seemed like a great idea at first, a “one-stop shop” to reach so many different premium buyers.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Stocksy are a fantastic agency but seems like getting accepted to them is akin to winning the lottery. I’ve recently got accepted into AddictiveStock but not sure I’ll submit to them…still thinking about it, but an excellent alternative to Stocksy with decent royalties yet exclusive. May write a review of them soon.

      As for the photo-request model, seems like Snapwire is doing well. Worth checking out.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Good post! Thanks for that.
    I must say I didn’t do too bad on ImageBrief, especially in the beginning.
    I actually met these guys and hung out with them in New York.
    But when they were closing I didn’t even receive an email from them except this one:

    Hey there,
    We wanted to get this note to you first, because we noticed you paid for an annual subscription recently on ImageBrief.
    Today, you will receive an email from the company announcing the closure of ImageBrief current services.
    The key point of this message to you is to let you know that we recognize your recent annual payment, and you will be receiving a credit refund for full months of the service that will be unused.
    We’ll be in touch with you next week to send instructions on lodging your refund claim.
    Sincerely,
    Transition Team – ImageBrief

    I did not recieve my payment back (it was renewed in Dec.) and I wouldn’t know where to turn to since the Transition Team does not seem to be responding anymore.

    Anyone else here in the same situation?
    Thought I’d share that.

    Cheers from Germany!

    Liked by 2 people

    • Hi Rainer,

      I know some other people who did really well with ImageBrief. So glad you hit the iron when it was hot. I hit it when it was ice cold lol

      They’re post-closing strategy has been really poor…it’s a pity since they’ve lost much of the little respect contributors had.

      Probably the best thing to do is try to get a group of other people in the same situation to make a joint-effort to recover the missing funds. If that fails, depending on how much money is pending, you may consider a strongly worded legal letter and take it from there.

      Hope that helps!

      All the best

      Alex

      Liked by 1 person

    • Wow, Rainer that is very disheartening to hear. You must be pretty angry. I’m so busy that I never took the time to check to see if I am owed any $$ back too. I probably am… grrr… what a bunch of sleazeballs this group turned into. I think a class action lawsuit might need to be considered, if it’s worthwhile.

      Like

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