At last month's NY Tech Meetup, I heard about Urbis, a peer-review community for amateur writers that also aims to improve their visibility to potential publishers. At the January NY Tech Meetup, the audience was treated to a presentation from CitizenImage, a local start-up that has a somewhat similar aim, but for amateur news and creative photographers. Unlike Urbis, the focus of CitizenImage is less on review and more on publication and monetization. The site allows photographers to upload their images, and then handles the process in which third-party buyers--optimally news outlets and publishers--purchase the photos. Additionally, news outlets and businesses can put out "assignments," which are somewhat similar to Craigslist ads for photographers.
As with many of the start-ups that present at the NY Tech Meetup, CitizenImage is not a finished product. The company is working on some necessary protocols for authenticity checks as well as photographers' background checks to make sure that no images are misused or Photoshopped. Additionally, CitizenImage is hoping to partner with some popular image-sharing sites in order to extend its reach to other sectors of the Web.
Along with the presentation was the understandable prediction that 2006's big Web 2.0 notion of sharing will transform into a 2007 desire to monetize: just look at video-sharing sites Revver and Blip.tv, which are trying to one-up YouTube by letting users share in their advertising profits. In my opinion, the growing push to monetize user-generated content is a reality, and CitizenImage is filling a great niche. The deciding factor in whether or not it will be a success is really going to be the user base. As CitizenImage grows, it's going to need not only quality photographers and quality news outlets to buy images, but also the assurance that a decent snapshot has a good chance to make a buck or two.