By Tom Burton
Software giant Adobe announced in June that it was adding editorial content to its Adobe Stock collection and this week, it took a big additional step by naming Santiago Lyon as its new director of editorial content.
Lyon brings more than 30 years of photojournalism experience to the new position, most of it with the Associated Press, where he was vice president and director of photography. He left the AP last year.
Speaking during his first few days on the job with Adobe, Lyon said his first project is bringing on content partners, primarily agencies, to include their photos on Adobe Stock. Reuters and USA Today Sports signed on earlier. The goal is to create a large and diverse collection of editorial images.
“I want to make Adobe editorial stock the go-to destination for users of editorial content,” Lyon said.
The Adobe audience is large, with many news organizations using software products such as Photoshop, Illustrator and InDesign. Adobe Stock already offers several areas of visual media, including traditional stock photography, video, templates for their programs, 3D assets and premium photography from 500px and Stocksy. Adding editorial images expands their offerings.
“We want to fully leverage Adobe’s reach in the image space,” Lyon said.
Adobe Stock is competing in a market flooded with stock images. Getty Images, for instance, offers to license for as little as $10 a photo through the Squarespace web design platform and through iStock. Lyon said the goal for Adobe Stock is to stand out from generic stock images with the highest quality photojournalism gallery, emphasizing depth and breadth.
Lyon also said editorial stock, unlike traditional stock photography, will have to meet the same standards that newsrooms require. The agencies Adobe signs on will have to have reputations for authentic images that follow well-defined ethics.
“The integrity of the content is going to be hugely important,” Lyon said. “Credibility is everything.”
There is not an initial plan to add images from individual photographers or to hire photographers for assignments, though Lyon said it could be possible later. Ultimately, he also would want Adobe Stock to offer photos in “real-time space,” but breaking news won’t be the initial focus.
Adobe’s investment in evolving technology also means they could improve search algorithms or increase immediacy for social media through the stock offerings. The company is growing and putting resources into advancing photography whereas media companies are shrinking and can’t invest at that level, Lyon said.
Though news organizations are facing challenges, the distribution of news images is growing and spreading as people share news - both real and fake - with their friends through digital platforms. In an interview for Adobe’s announcement of his new job, Lyon reaffirmed his belief in authentic photojournalism:
“Amid this, photojournalism has survived and will continue to do so. Dedicated photojournalists all over the world are producing amazing and varied imagery, often braving dangers and risking their lives. The power of the still image remains undeniable.”
The goal for the editorial content on Adobe Stock, Lyon said, is to be “the most comprehensive collection possible so we don’t want there to be any gaps.” To do that, they will eventually have contributors from places around the world and who document niche topics.
So how would a photographer make a portfolio that could stand out down the road when Adobe could be adding individual contributors? Lyon said if a photographer presented a particularly high-quality body of work on a theme or subject, and it was edited and displayed well, there could be some conversations.