There is some really weird stuff out there in the land of stock photos and plenty of internet memes to boot, but one Columbus-based company is taking on millions of useless stock images with Death to the Stock Photo. Creatives Allie Lehman and David Sherry are behind the lenses of the subscription-based photo provider that’s focused on carefully curated images people can actually use – often for free.
“We send out 10 high-resolution, really authentic lifestyle photos to our list around the first of every month and that’s free,” Lehman says. A premium subscription that runs $10 per month earns members an extra 10 pack of photos as well as cloud-based access to all past and future packs.
“All of the packs have a story behind them,” Lehman says. Pack themes range from the literal – coffee shop, lake house, technology – to the abstract – collaboration, taking adventures, keeping your life simplified, etc.
“Our photos tend to inspire creative people to create things,” Lehman says. DttSP looks to its subscribers for feedback and inspiration for packs. User surveys helped the photographers gain an understanding of what people wanted to see. Lehman says every once and awhile they will also shoot out a call for suggestions, aiming for topics that will be useful over and over.
“We definitely love hearing what would be helpful for people,” she says. They are also able to track statistics to see what photos are most downloaded, and organically see which are being used most often.
Columbus users will recognize their city in the background of many shots, as many packs are photographed locally. But DttSP is also using some innovate ideas to expand their reach and subjects. Last spring the duo crowdfunded a cross-country roadtrip to curate photos in Big Sur, Seattle, Nashville, Chicago, Seattle and New York. Lehman says they want to start integrating more variety into their offerings.
DttSP makes it easy for subscribers to actually take advantage of the photos once they have them – no difficult to understand licensing agreements.
“You can pretty much use it however you want,” Lehman says. Users aren’t required to credit DttSP or link back to them. The company only asks that subscribers don’t use the images to say that another company endorses them, or in a hateful or illegal way.
DttSP is creatives helping creatives. Lehman studied design in college before picking up photography. Freelancing and shooting in Columbus, she met Sherry who was very involved in the startup community and had recently gotten behind the lens himself. The two have been able to play off each others’ strengths to make the business work. Lehman is the primary photographer with Sherry acting as operations + partnership support manager.
“We were in a coffee shop and we started talking about how we had all these photos just kind of leftover from personal shoots or adventures that we had taken,” Lehman says of their beginnings. The duo realized that a lot of people could turn their photos into a lot of great stuff. It started as more of an idea than a business, but “We launched that and saw how fast it grew and knew it was clearly something that was missing from the market,” she says.
If the 10,000 subscribers a month are any indication, the concept has received mostly positive reception. As Lehman says, with anything you do online, you always open yourself up to critique or people that don’t agree with the business model, but, “At the end of the day we just want to help people create things.”
DttSP knows content can be expensive to create and they are a cost-effective solution for finding images. She hopes DttSP will encourage people to put their content out there instead of feeling restrained because they don’t have photos to go along with their words.
For more information, visit deathtothestockphoto.com.