Adobe Stock Photos: Innovation, or Re-packaging?

Every time a company as big and established as Adobe decides to jump into a new industry, they of course claim that their product offerings are unique, innovative, and entirely necessary. Adobe Stock photos are no different, check its review here.  The tech and creative pioneer behind Photoshop, Indesign, and so many other iconic programs is now offering stock photography through it’s new Adobe Stock library.  And with the new offerings, Adobe claims that it will be shaking up the game and changing the stock photography field forever.

But are Adobe’s new stock photo offerings really revolutionary?  Are Adobe Stock photos really the next evolution of the industry, and is Adobe Stock as innovative as the tech giant claims?  Or are Adobe’s efforts to shake up the industry really just an elaborate repackaging of existing services?  We’ll tackle both sides of the debate in the breakdown that follows.

[Click here for Adobe Stock Overview]

Adobe Stock Photos’ Innovations

Adobe claims that they are shaking up the game in a few big and innovative ways, and it is hard to deny that they are offering some new things with their evolving stock photography service.  Here’s three things that Adobe is doing differently.

1. Adobe Stock Integrates Photography with Creative Applications

adobe stock integrates other apps

The biggest move that Adobe has made with its new stock offering, and by far the most innovative, revolves around full app integration.  In all current Creative Cloud programs, Adobe users can now open Adobe Stock Photos directly within application work spaces.  Images can be manipulated, edited, and turned into creative pieces BEFORE they are even bought, giving creative professionals a powerful incentive to switch over from their current stock photography vendor to Adobe Stock.

With their app integration, photo users can open watermarked versions of photos directly within apps before buying them, and manipulate imagery fully.  Then, Adobe Stock users can pay to remove watermarks, which are removed without changing image manipulation or work completed.  In this way, Adobe hopes to attract the massive crowd of creative and business professionals who rely on Photoshop and other Creative Cloud programs for their manipulation needs.  App integration may or may not prove to be as big of a game changer as Adobe hopes, but one thing’s for sure: it’s something new in the world of stock photography, and a feature that will surely have some effect on the shape of the industry.

2. Adobe Stock is Paying Artists More, and More Simply

adobe stock paying artists

While the marketing campaign for Adobe Stock Photos has focused on what the new vendor offers to users on the customer end, one of Adobe’s most interesting innovations is more on the artist and photographer side.  Microstock agencies like Adobe Stock rely on community contributors to generate new content for their library, and make small payouts to photographers and illustrators who licens images through their store. And to their Credit, Adobe Stock is paying artists more, and in a more straight forward manner, those most major industry competitors.

In the past, major stock vendors have offered payments to contributors based on a sliding scale, where more popular photographers earn a higher percentage of royalties from downloaded images.  For the most part, big players pay out around 30% on the highest end of their scale, but many photographers may never reach that higher earning schedule.  Adobe Stock photos’ price are higher than some other agencies, but they can justify some of that cost based on the fact that they are simply paying artists more.  Contributors to Adobe Stock earn 33% royalties on every image sold from day one.  Which amounts to higher earnings, more simply, with no sliding scale.  From an artist’s perspective, that’s valuable innovation.

3. Adobe Stock Photos Offer Creative Cloud Rebates


While this “innovation” is really just another expression of total application integration, it’s an element that Adobe has been pushing heavily, and somewhat of an innovation in its own right.  With Adobe’s latest version of it’s Creative Cloud application packages, you can get a big discount on Adobe Stock Photos subscriptions.  And the discount offered is indeed significant: without a Creative Cloud membership, image packages run $49.99 per month for 10 images, and with a Creative Cloud discount Adobe Stock Photo users can expect to pay a much more reasonable $29.99 for the same 10 image package.  Critics will say that even the discounted image rates offered by Adobe are far from the cheapest around, but Adobe maintains that the added features of app integration and image roll-over make the premium price packages a steal for creative professionals.

Adobe Stock Photos’ Repackaging

Despite some of the innovations above, it’s easy to take a cynical approach when looking at Adobe Stock Photos and come to the conclusion that the service is primarily repackaging elements of other major stock photo vendors rather than offering anything truly revolutionary.  For critics of companies that claim “innovation,” here are some of the easiest things to target Adobe for repackaging.

1. Adobe Stock Offers Standard Pricing Plans

adobe stock pricing

With their huge name recognition, huge operating budget, and huge ability to take risks, Adobe could have truly shaken up the stock photo industry by offering images through a different or non-standard pricing model.  Adobe could have afforded to take a risk here, and change the way that other major players price their photos and offer package or individual image deals.  But instead, Adobe repackaged a fairly standard approach to the pricing of stock photography, with two major ways to purchase imagery.

Just like most other big players on the market, Adobe offers stock photography through both an on demand single image service and a per month subscription service.  And just like other major players, users who can utilize a lot of stock photographs per month will find themselves with a much better per image deal through a regular subscription package.  True, Adobe’s roll-over feature, where unused images transfer over to the next month up to a full calendar year, is something not seen from most vendors.  But the way that Adobe has decided to sell their stock images, with a basic on demand and subscription service model, is nothing new, and has been embraced by every big player in the stock industry for quite some time.

2. Adobe’s Stock Photography Library is Familiar


With so much flexibility due to their size and name, Adobe could have offered something truly unique and innovative in their content delivery.  Instead, the image library for Adobe’s new service looks very standard, with sorting categories and search functions that look just like every other big vendor you will find.  Besides the straight forward nature of their image categorization, the content in Adobe’s stock library itself is far from innovative.  Adobe has been forthcoming with the fact that their library is just a repackaging of Fotolia’s, which Adobe bought recently.  All of the old images you could find in Fotolia are now available through Adobe Stock, and until Adobe starts revamping their image offerings by adding original content and freshly curated photographs, it’s hard to see their content as anything but a blatant re-packaging of what’s come before.

3. Adobe’s Curation Isn’t Anything New

adobe curation

Adobe claims that their entire stock photo library is professionally curated with an eye for quality, but since their imagery as of now is all from Fotolia, it’s hard to see how Adobe’s curation attempts are anything new.  You will still find a lot of duds in Adobe’s offerings, just like you will at any major stock photo site.  And again, until Adobe starts offering a large quantity of new imagery through its market, it’s going to be hard to tell how critically their library is really curated.  As of now, Adobe’s lofty claims to professional creative creation are playing out just like the curation efforts of every other major stock image library, and haven’t had a big impact on the quality of imagery offered.

Where Can You Find Truly Innovative Stock Photos?

Despite the new application integration features that Adobe Stock Photos bring to the table, for the most part Adobe Stock feels like a repackaged version of Fotolia and every other major stock photo vendor out there.  Even the harshest critic has to admit that Adobe is doing somethings new, but for the most part, they are running the new stock photo service just like every other major player in the game, and aren’t necessarily shaking up the game like they could or claim to do.

So where can stock photography fans find truly innovative image offerings?  It might feel counter-intuitive, but some of the players offering the most innovative deals and approaching the industry with the most creative and risky options are also some of the smallest players in the market.  There are a plethora of boutique style and medium sized agencies, like StockPhotoSecrets, that are doing truly new things in the realm of stock photography.  From pricing to content, there are companies shaking it up.  You just have to look outside of the biggest players to find the kind of innovation that Adobe and other industry leaders claim to bring to the table.

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