Corbis Launches SnapVillage

NEW YORK Corbis, the large photography repository owned by Bill Gates, is moving into the small-scale stock photo business by launching, with the hope that creatives in the advertising realm will turn to it when looking for stock images.

Photography on this level, known as microstock, differs from stock photography in that the participants are paid far less than they would receive from a stock agency. In the case of snapvillage, fees range from $1 to $50 per image and the pictures are royalty free.

The introduction of Snapvillage comes at a time when there are already several well-established microstock Web sites, including iStockPhoto, BigStockPhoto, Fotolia and Shutterstock. In addition, agencies are already using photo-sharing sites such as Flickr to assemble stock images. In 2006, AKQA populated the Web advertising for Visa’s “Life takes Visa” campaign with images from Flickr.

Adam Brotman, vp of networks at Corbis, said the company is not worried about entering an already crowded field. “We didn’t want to rush in and put together a me-too offering. We thought a lot about things like how do we empower photographers and streamline the process for customers. We realized it might make sense to put together the effort ourselves,” he said.

Snapvillage, which launched on Monday, already has about 10,000 images up and viewable. The company turned to a mix of student and professional photographers, who worked under a non-disclosure agreement, to provide content for the site so that it would not be bare when it opened its doors.

Asked why a creative might go to Snapvillage instead of Flickr, Brotman replied: “We take all the hard work out of the process. If you want to use an image from a photo-sharing site, you have to do all the work like secure the model rights and indemnifications. It’s much easier to come to Snapvillage.”