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New execs, smartphone apps -- stock-photo market still in flux

The online photo-licensing companies have disrupted the traditional stock-art business, and more changes are afoot as Stocksy gets a new CEO, Getty ends its Flickr partnership, and more iPhone photo apps arrive.

Stocksy, a newer arrival in the online stock-photo licensing business.
Stocksy's site Screenshot by Stephen Shankland/CNET

Stock-art site Stocksy United has named Brianna Wettlaufer as its new chief executive, with founder Bruce Livingstone stepping down as CEO to become chairman.

The company announced the change Tuesday, a development in an online photo-sales industry that has yet to settle down.

Stocksy CEO Brianna Wettlaufer
Stocksy CEO Brianna Wettlaufer Stocksy United

Livingstone founded the Stocksy cooperative agency, which returns a higher percentage of royalties to its photography members than most of today's online stock-photo sites, in an attempt to bring some soul to the business. But more than a decade earlier, he also founded one of the powers of the industry, iStockphoto, which old-school stock-art firm that Getty Images bought in 2006.

Wettlaufer, too, worked at iStockphoto, where she was a vice president. Stocksy also named Richard Brown as chief technology officer.

iStock and "microstock" rivals including Fotolia, Shutterstock, and Dreamstime shook up the stock-photo business by tapping into the talents of countless photographers across the world -- many of them amateurs -- and offering them a global market for their images. The low-cost licensing fees appealed to customers who needed inexpensive imagery for advertisements, annual reports, presentations, and other publications.

The market adjustments aren't over yet. Getty, trying to expand its photography pool, signed a partnership with Yahoo that would let some Flickr photographers submit imagery to a special collection. This month, though, Getty announced that it wouldn't renew the deal.

"We provided notice to terminate our existing agreement with Flickr," Getty told its contributors. "Our original agreement reached its end, and while we continue to be open to working with Yahoo/Flickr, we have not agreed to a new agreement at this time."

Fotolia's Instant app lets iPhone photographers take pictures and submit them to the stock-photo site.
Fotolia's Instant app lets iPhone users submit photos. Fotolia/App Store

Another change is the arrival of mobile phones that can take photos of reasonable quality -- not good enough to match an SLR, especially in dim conditions, but potentially bringing an air of authenticity in tune with the Instagram era.

Fotolia has its Instant collection, photographed with the Fotolia Instant iPhone app or an Android app that's still in beta. Getty, too, just launched its Moment app for iPhone, which lets contributors take and submit photographs to Getty and iStock collections and find out which subjects customers want.

"Every day you're around things that our customers need, and you have the experience, skills, knowledge to be able to capture these subjects in a creative and licensable way," Getty told its contributors. "We're all constantly taking pictures with our phones, and there are many tools available to shoot, craft and share mobile photos, yet our standard submission processes do not lend themselves to competing in the world of mobile photography. Moment will make that possible."