A lot has been happening lately in the world of photography and there have been some big changes as well as some companies shifting paths within the photographic industry. Whilst some of this news might be a little old I thought that not everyone will be up to speed with them all so it might be good to share them in a blog and perhaps ignite some debate or discussion on the matters. I talk about 500px, Smugmug, Flickr, NIK collection and DXO software.

500 px News

500px is hands down the best place to find and share all kinds of amazing photography. Up until recently users could share their photo portfolio AND license and sell their work through the 500px marketplace. The marketplace for whatever reason was shutdown and last week, as a 500px user, I received an email from 500px that my work had been approved for licensing through Getty Images. So 500px and Getty Images have officially partnered up to strengthen their hold on the photographic licensing market. A few dozen of my images were approved and I was prompted via email to either opt in or out of an agreement with Getty to license them out. I was already licensing some (not all) of my work with Getty so have an existing account which probably made the transition to adding more of my work through 500px a smoother process.

This is good news for photographers who were wanting to have their work on Getty’s database for licensing and had previously found it hard to break through the strict Getty selection process. Now you can create a 500px account and setup your licensing with Getty through them. But sellers need to be aware of their rights as the owners of the images and exactly where and how these images are being sold. I think with all these large companies there are pluses and minuses so everyone should read up and decide if it’s right for them.

Smugmug Acquired Flickr

It was announced a month or so ago that Flickr had been acquired by Smugmug. I’m curious to see where this partnership will lead in the future but for now it seems to just be business as usual. As a previous Smugmug user I can honestly say that they offer a very high quality service and myself and my photo clients enjoyed the quality of prints received.

For those that don’t know, Smugmug is photo hosting platform which allows you to build your own portfolio to host your own personal photos and also sell them as prints. The prints are all done with labs through smugmug partnerships and shipped to the clients directly. You pay a yearly subscription for the service and they also take a small cut out of the sale, but this is quite small. Most importantly you can select all the products you want to sell for each photo as well as setting the markup prices. So this is where you can put a value you on your work.

What does this mean for Smugmug users & more importantly what does this mean for Flickr users? At this stage there isn’t really much info on what we can expect in the future but Smugmug has stated that it will allow Flickr to run as it has been independently. Smugmug stated on their website:

“We look forward to finding opportunities to improve both the SmugMug and Flickr experiences, companies and products. For updates please stand by.”

At this stage, all Smugmug and Flickr fees will remain the same, as well as the free Flickr acc still being an option.

My thoughts on this merger are that Flickr has been treading water for years now and it could use a boost of new enthusiasm. When Flick emerged almost a decade ago it was a powerhouse and every photographer under the sun was sharing their work on it and interacting with each other. It reminds me of how popular Google+ was when it first came out and photographers latched on to it.  I myself got caught up in the rush and some users were getting followers in the 10’s of thousands and some in the millions. At one stage I was the most followed photographer on Google+ in Sydney with over 50,000, which looking back was kind of crazy. But back to Flickr, what was great about Flickr was that it had a lot of social interaction with the way the groups and profiles were setup, but at some point around 5 years ago the developers seemed to just abandon the site completely. No significant changes were made to the site and the interface is still the same outdated look its had since its birth. I personally still use Flickr because its always been a great avenue to having my work found by clients wishing to license them for a variety of projects. I’ve been contacted on Flickr by magazines, book editors, newspapers, city councils, websites… the lists goes on and these companies all will put in a search in either Flickr or straight into to google and my images will pop up. Flickr has great SEO, which means your images nearly always are at the top of a google search list.

I understand why Smugmug acquired Flickr for many reasons but probably the most important is that its community is most likely the biggest photography community in the world, as it ranges from the hobbyist to professional. Smugmug will instantly gain a tonne more attention on their product from photographers all over the globe. Hopefully though they will put some time and effort into upgrading the hideously dated Flickr interface but keep all the features like unlimited photo uploads for PRO accounts.

NIK collection now with DXO

A long time ago… in a galaxy far far away…

No, but seriously this story needs the backstory and it goes like this…

The NIK collection was released about 8 years ago and I was one of the earlier adopters of the photo editing software. Back then we paid $500 for the complete collection and it was one of my favourite photo editing softwares. It works as collection of 6 standalone photo software apps that specialise in specific photo techniques. Like one was where you did all the colour and tone stylisation, you could sharpen images in another and then do black & white photo editing in another. Anyways, there were about 3 or 4 years there where we would receive regular updates, like HDR Efex 2 was released and we also got a module for making old film looks called analog Efex. All the while receiving updates for the latest Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom, so that the collection was compatible as a plugin software. Then all of this stopped! no updates, no new plugins… it went quiet. News began to spread about NIK collection being acquired by google and we were all getting excited. But, google did nothing with the software and had seemingly purchased it to acquire the code or rights to a part of the software it needed. In any case, with Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom CC versions being released and updated quite frequently the amazing NIK collection was suddenly incompatible and it was a sad day for its user base. There are workarounds where you save out of Photoshop/Lightroom and import to the standalone versions of NIK collection then back to Photoshop/Lightroom… then back to NIK standalone. etc. But this process of working isn’t an organic process and it breaks the creative flow. Plus working with the large RAW files of modern cameras really slows down the process of saving and loading into new programs. I still try to do this with Color Efex PRO 4 though as there are filters in that plugin that I absolutely love and can’t seem to imitate anywhere else. Just ask any photographer and they will swear by Color Efex Pro 4.

Now, we can jump to the present. DXO has acquired the entire NIK collection from google (yes it’s on its 3rd owner) and are now selling it off for $69. This is where it gets stranger, DXO filed for bankruptcy after announcing that it would re-release the NIK collection and has now made good on its promise to release a new version. The news even made its way into Forbes magazine, which shows how diverse this story had now become. Now, the collection itself is exactly the same as it used to be but what DXO has done is update it to make sure it is compatible with the latest Photo apps like Lightroom, Photoshop as well as the latest MACOS. They also will continue to update the compatibility with future releases from Adobe, which is what you are really paying for, convenience. But is this now in jeopardy now that DXO filed for bankruptcy? I’m not sure! and is it worth it to pay more? At this stage I think that the jury is still out within the photography community. There are photographers praising DXO for coming to NIK collections rescue as well as others who can’t believe they are being asked to pay another fee for a product they already own, some who paid $500. I also think DXO has used a similar business approach to Smugmug by scooping up an already huge photography community and trying to revitalise it. DXO also isn’t just doing this out of the kindness of their heart! They have their own software apps- DXO Photolab, Filmpack and Viewpoint. So they would be hoping to gain traction with those apps by having users of the NIK collection setting their eyes on these products when they update or purchase from the website.

I’m still up in the air on this one, so will watch this space to see what happens to the NIK collection in the next few months.

If you wish to know more about the project or are a current NIK owner and wish to update, you can head to this link:

You can comment below,

Cheers, Luke

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