Shutterstock buys rival, shifts photo sales strategy

More consolidation sweeps the microstock market for royalty-free photographs as BigStockPhoto gets snapped up.

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Shutterstock, a "microstock" company that sells royalty-free photographs for relatively low prices over the Internet, has acquired rival BigStockPhoto and a new sales method along with it.

Shutterstock had offered its photographs and videos through a subscription payment plan, but BigStockPhoto sells its individually with credits. Both rely on a large pool of photographers to supply them with stock photography used in everything from corporate PowerPoint presentations to tourist brochures.

"This addition will enable Shutterstock to better satisfy the diverse payment preferences of stock photo buyers worldwide," said Jon Oringer, founder and CEO of Shutterstock, in a statement Wednesday.

The sites will be operated separately for now at least, though, so customers and photographers shouldn't notice any immediate difference. Shutterstock plans to expand BigStockPhoto's global presence.

Terms of the deal weren't disclosed.

The microstock market has been consolidating. Getty Images, a longtime player in the stock photography market, acquired iStockphoto years ago and in February bought rival Jupiter Images, too, which operated a microstock site called StockXpert.

For an enlightening chart of the relative portfolio size of various microstock companies, check this Microstock Diaries post on the BigStockPhoto acquisition.