Dutch market for Stock Photography Consolidates

The recent tsunami of takeovers within the Dutch market for Stock- and Press Photography continues with new developments: the take over of “Holland in Beeld“, and the merge of “Regio Stock” with “Nationale Beeldbank“, who itself was taken over by “Hollandse Hoogte” a few months back. Hollandse Hoogte was already acquired by ANP Photo during the summer of 2018, and ANP Photo itself was bough by Talpa Media, March this year. Of five agencies, which were in business last year, only three remain. And these three remaining stock photography and press-photo agencies are now entirely owned by just one owner instead of of the former five. And that one owner is Talpa Media. Will these development turn out to be a risk or a chance?

Organigram of Ownership

I wrote previously, that the Dutch market for online stockphotography had turned into a “buyers-market”, where image buyers where able to set prices for images. That’s called fierce competition. And, with declining budgets, and the bias that everything “on the internet” is free of charge, prices for photography sank to an all time low, the past three years or so. As Nationale Beeldbank itself states in his recent newsletter: “Many customers started seeking images at international microstock sites, buying for pennies and dimes.” Not quite a sustainable environment to work in, for an enterprise which has to make a profit to survive. In the proces photographers and contributors faced rapidly declining revenues, forcing them to seek an income elsewhere.

One disadvantage of large, international microstock websites is, that specialized Dutch stock images are hard to find. Collections are just to plastic and generic for most, professional images buyers. This newly formed, much larger image- and media corporation, is able to counter balance just that. Typically Dutch Collections of images, video and more can soon be found on just one (or a very few) locations. On top of that, agencies van eliminate costs by combining resources, like sales-departments and sharing infrastructure, such as servers and software (PicturePack).

There might be a downside though: contributing photographers and photo-journalists themselves will remain vulnerable. When they left one agency in the past, for another (just to mention one example), they wil now have a hard time finding a new home if assignments are slowing down and revenues fall. On top of that, some critical issues are not jet resolved. Unclear is still, how prices for licensing of photography wil develop. Terms of contracts are even so still unclear. What happens with photographers, who have images available with multiple agencies, that are now somehow merged? Many image professionals are await of answers to their questions and remarks made earlier. The Dutch Association of Journalists (NVJ / NVF) is following the story as it unfolds. So are many other in the industry. Curiously and interested, but with just a but of “distance”.