Finding extraordinary: Shutterstock’s CEO talks Offset, a new high-end marketplace for stock photos

Finding extraordinary: Shutterstock’s CEO talks Offset, a new high-end marketplace for stock photos ...

Stock photography service Shutterstock unveiled a new platform last month called Offset, which will offer premium, high-end stock photos and illustrations through a new online marketplace.

Offset is aimed at glossy editorial magazines and luxurious advertising agencies, offering a curated set of “extraordinary imagery,” of which some has never been made available through a stock photo library before.

The service is in private beta at the moment and few details have been published about when it will launch or how it will operate. We spoke with Jon Oringer, CEO of Shutterstock, to find out more.

TNW: Why not offer the collection in Shutterstock? What was the advantage of creating a new, distinct brand in Offset?

“It took about a year of work before it was ready to show the world.”

Some other strategies in this space have been to take the best of your collection and raise the prices, but we didn’t want to do that.

Shutterstock is an important collection on its own; it stands on its own. It’s why we went out looking for these different images, because we believed that it deserved its own brand, its own URL. That’s why we called it Offset.

TNW: How is Offset being treated from inside the company? Does it have its own offices or team?

Offset is its own brand, but it’s within Shutterstock. It’s one of our agile product teams and it’s in the Shutterstock ecosystem. It’s in our office and we refer to it everyday. It’s not something that’s in another office somewhere, separate. It’s a part of Shutterstock.

When we realize something important about the customers that Shutterstock has, we will apply that to Offset too. Anything we learn from the Offset collection, we will also take back to Shutterstock. We will keep them separate, but learn and apply to each.

TNW: You’ve partnered with some high-profile photographers to make the collection rather unique. How long has Offset been in development for?

We’ve been thinking about this for nine years, but it took about a year of work before it was ready to show the world. That was because we didn’t want to use the images that are in Shutterstock. We wanted to go out and find new collections.

We approached people with collections that have never been sold as stock before, for instance. We wanted to do something new and different. We didn’t want to have just another collection that cost a little bit more; that’s what you would expect from a stock photo agency. We wanted to go beyond that.

By approaching National Geographic and some special photographers that have never sold stock-images before – that was how we were able to create the Offset collection.

TNW: What’s the reaction been like since you unveiled Offset?

A lot of people are requesting access and we are continuing to build the library. Since the launch, more collections are now interested in participating. Before it was this abstract idea, but now it’s an actual website, it’s an actual product.

By inviting the people in that we may have initially had trouble explaining to them what this concept was…now they’re getting it and now they want to sell their stuff.

TNW: How will Offset ensure that its images always feel unique? As the number of consumers grow, these extraordinary images will inevitably feel more commonplace.

This is a great advantage for us, because we look at the space from a technology company standpoint. When I first built the company back in 2003, we didn’t have any content. So I created the content myself, put it out there and started to watch exactly how people were downloading this stuff. As it started to take off, I would communicate that data back to the contributors. They would then produce more content similar to what was being downloaded.

We started creating this network effect that we’re going to recreate in Offset. So as people come in and indicate demand by voting and purchasing with dollars – contributors will instantly receive that feedback, then go out and shoot more stuff.

TNW: How far away is a full public launch?

No one has ever done it like this before. This is not typical of how a stock photo agency releases a high-end collection, so we wanted to test the waters. We wanted to see how people would react.

We increased our workload by a lot to make this preview available to everyone. It’s going to take a little bit of time.

Related: 10 years on: Shutterstock has paid $150m to contributors, hit 300m downloads and amassed 25m images

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