Photography Industry Shakeup

Digital Railroad, a popular service for professional photographers to archive and sell their images, has closed their doors. On October 28th, existing clients who logged onto Digital Railroad were told they had 24 hours to download their photo archive. However, as clients scrambled to download their images from DRR’s servers, their servers crawled to a halt and eventually were taken offline completely only 10 hours later, as reported by the National Press Photographers Association website:

It is estimated Digital Railroad’s client base was around 1,500 users. PhotoShelter, a service once competitive with DRR, issued a press release today saying Digital Railroad will shut down entirely tomorrow, October 31st:

Just last month, PhotoShelter had announced it was forced to shut down its stock photography sales unit . Ironically, Digital Railroad made the following comments on its company blog the same day:
“[PhotoShelter] exited the licensing business because ‘the growth trend isn’t steep enough to sustain the stock photography business in the long term.’ We disagree. We are bullish about the future and believe sustainable, aggressive growth is possible.”

None of the news in the stock photography industry has been good lately and it would be wrong to blame these difficulties on the current credit crisis and economic downturn alone. There has been a sea change in the stock industry that has affected both the traditional old-line distributors like Getty and Corbis as well as the newer internet-based and medium-stock players. Microstock continues to drive royalties down as well as flood the market with uneven image quality. Supply outstrips demand since the barrier to entry has dropped. Photographers and agencies will need to adapt to the changing needs of the market and evaluate their business models to better target their individual, niche market and establish their brand.

If you were using Digital Railroad for storage, you may also consider using a fairly easy-to-manage offline storage device called drobo to store your images. drobo allows you to insert up to four SATA hard drives into its hardcase and will automatically manage the storage and protection of your data.

You can read more about how one wedding photographer uses drobo to archive his images:

EDIT: PDN has posted more news about Digital Railroad and through some investigation has cited Newscom as a possible buyer for DRR. Read more here .

EDIT2: Potential buyer, Newscom, rescinded their offer for Digital Railroad and other potential buyers have fallen through. "A Newscom executive who reviewed Digital Railroad’s finances, said the company’s pricing structure ‘just isn’t sustainable.’ Read the details here .