The first stock photo agency was founded in the 1920s, making traditional stock photography a 100-year-old business. The agency was founded as a solution for publishers and newspapers to help capture concepts without conducting photoshoots for projects. In those days, clients had a more strenuous and scrutinizing process of dealing with physical archives - manually going through images in prints or slides to find the right ones.
In the 90s, the digitalization of this process and the Internet paved the road for microstock platforms that replaced agencies, making microstocks all in all a very recent business. Towards the 2000s, microstocks represented accessibility, affordability, and convenience not only for publishers and newspapers but for art directors, web designers, advertising agencies and individuals, expanding the clientele beyond the predicted crowds. The core of the business? Powering visual communication worldwide at a fraction of the cost.
The 2000s are also when things got interesting, because stock platforms underwent the most dramatic changes thanks to even more advanced technology and a growing demand from new segments of consumers. The sheer look of a typical ‘stock’ photo became a phenomenon, and towards 2009, it was becoming evident that microstocks were moving in a new direction, creatively speaking.