ImageBrief is revolutionizing the way we source stock images. The “endless browsing” of search results stops here. Now, you submit a brief and let a creative crowd of professional photographers respond to your request. You only see the photos that meet your filter criteria, make a purchase and are on your way.

ImageBrief officially launched in March 2012 with a simple goal – to help connect the worlds best advertising agencies and publishers with the world’s best photographers. They help professional photographers monetize their extensive back catalogues of work that is currently not indexed and online and to help professional image buyers access fresh, high quality photography without the hassle of rummaging through irrelevant stock library search results. We conducted an interview with ImageBrief‘s CEO, Simon Moss where he elaborates how ImageBrief is giving crowdsourcing images a more meaningful direction.

What was your “aa-ha” moment when you realized that there was a better way to crowdsource images?

Our ‘aa-ha’ moment came from our experience of running a photographic agency for 7 years. We realized that most professional photographers only upload and index a very limited portion of their back catalogue content online, and there was all this amazing content that was buried on hard drives – never to see the light of day. Buyers struggle to navigate the limited content that is online because of an antiquated keyword-tagging system used to index the photographer’s images. The stock image library model is a very inefficient system.

What sets Image Brief apart from other stock sites?

We have turned the stock library model on its head. ImageBrief does not hold a static library of over circulated, key-word indexed stock content that buyers have to search through. Instead, buyers post a ‘brief’ requesting the type of image they are looking for using natural language descriptions of what they want, what the usages are, budget and timeframe. Then photographers are alerted via email and can then choose to respond by uploading exact match images for the buyers project.

We pay 70% of the sale amount to the photographer, which is roughly double the industry average. Our photographers retain control over the rights and pricing of their images, by selecting the images that they are happy to sell and submitting these images to a live brief. Photographers are in control by setting their own sale price for each image. It’s a human to human exchange. The entire process is also curated and moderated in real time by photo editing staff in Sydney, Capetown, London and New York.

Right now we have approved more than 5,000 pro-photographers who each have extensive libraries of non-indexed content – images that are not currently available to be found.

Who can contribute to Image Brief? What kind of photographers/images do you want represented on the site?

We’re looking for a wide range of professional photographers across all disciplines including Lifestyle, People, Landscape, Street, Sport, Celebrity and Food. We have had an amazingly wide range of image requests though, from underwater landscapes, insects and medical briefs – so we are always on the look out for great talent to join our community.

How many photographers do you represent currently, and how important is it that these are professional photographers?

We have approved more than 5,000 to participate and this is growing daily. We approve every photographer individually based on the strength of their back-catalogue portfolio. It’s a simple process – we just ask for a reference link to check out their work online – and then our photo editors make a decision on whether to accept or politely decline the application. It’s important for us to do this because it maintains an extremely high level of quality – which keeps buyers and other photographers coming back day after day. Based on our research, each pro-photographer has around 5,000 high quality images available to sell so we believe have a virtual catalogue of more than 25 million images.

What are some features that benefit the photographers?

Each photographer has 100% control over the usage of their images.
They have 100% control over the pricing of each image they want to sell.
Each photographer has the ability to view all briefs, or just those briefs that relate to their field of work (i.e. Lifestyle, Food etc).
They can even customize their notifications based on the customers budget – i.e.; photographers can elect to only receive briefs that are over a certain value (i.e. $1,000 USD). And, we present an opportunity to earn cash on the work they have already done and not used – win-win opportunity.

What do you offer image buyers who come to you?

Buyers can use natural language descriptions of what they want including style and mood, angles and things about the brand the images will be representing. These all help photographers hand pick images that are perfect for the buyer.

Buyers also set their budget and usage terms up front, and this means complete transparency for the photographers to select images the buyer can afford and for the purpose they need them for.

There is no cost or obligation for a buyer to pay for an image unless they award the brief and make payment. ImageBrief customers include many of the world’s most powerful advertising and publishing companies including organisations such as JWT, Interbrand, Saatchi, Conde Nast and Euro RSCG.

How often are clients looking for a ‘surprise’ element when they submit a brief and photographers submit an image from creative interpretation of the brief?

That’s a really great question – quite often. Many buyers have an idea of a theme, or style of image they are looking for – but not quite sure exactly what it is they are after. So we have a perfect system for that. The buyer can say “I’m looking something for a luxury car brand that gives the feeling of high-end comfort and style” or a publisher might say “we are doing a theme on BBQ’s on the beach in LA” – and photographer’s can respond with interpretation of that. It’s the beauty of having a brain interpreting a brief – and not a keyword tagged library – which would never be able to understand nuances in a customers needs and the feelings given off in a photograph.

Where do you see ImageBrief and the general image sourcing vertical in the next 2 years?

I believe that the big stock libraries will be on their way out. Not dead completely, but like the way we look at MySpace or Yahoo today. If you look at what’s happening on the web, it’s about connecting people with each other and helping people find and discover great content.  In the current stock library model neither the buyer or the photographer has an optimal experience. Photographer’s have seen declining commissions over the years due to the current duopoly and buyer’s are left wading through pages and pages of irrelevant and over-circulated content. There is a better way to make these connections and uncover all this amazing content that is currently buried on hard drives.