Taking (Photo) Stock: BrightQube Seeking Venture Funding to Enlarge Burgeoning Web Picture Business

4/15/09Follow @bvbigelow

Lee Corkran has spent most of his life working in photography, graphic design, and online media. He’s participated in changes that have transformed his industry as he moved from jobs at the former Sigma photo agency, a news photo provider, to Kodak, Yahoo, and Hewlett-Packard’s San Diego-based Imaging and Printing Group.

Based on the insights he collected along the way, Corkran told me he concluded a few years ago “that no real innovation” had been applied to the way stock photographs are provided online. So he started BrightQube, a Web site with a proprietary method of displaying stock photos and other images as if they were arranged on a photographer’s light table. Corkran launched BrightQube early last, before the teeth of the recession really took hold, in a fiercely competitive market of Web-based stock photo providers. Yet the number of BrightQube users has grown, and the business is generating enough revenue for Corkran to begin looking for venture capital.

Lee Corkran

Lee Corkran


“I just really have an intense desire to build an online business around photography and imaging,” Corkran says.

Stock photos and images have long been the meat-and-potatoes staple of advertising agencies, graphic artists, and the publishing industry. Agencies typically license images on a photographer’s behalf, and the image catalogs they once published on glossy paper to display their inventory are now increasingly available online at sites such as GettyImages.com, iStockphoto.com, and fotosearch.com.

Corkran contends, however, “going to a digital stock photography site is like going through a Google search, with 300 pages of results.” Users have to click through pages of images, which can make it difficult to select and compare photos.

“This paginated approach becomes kind of an obstacle,” Corkran says. “The existing stock photography sites have pretty much taken a print catalog and put it online. It’s not necessarily what the buyer is looking for. It’s more about what the seller wants to promote,” because favored images tend to be placed on the Web site’s first few pages.

BrightQube offers a different approach by providing … Next Page »

Bruce V. Bigelow is the editor of Xconomy San Diego. You can e-mail him at bbigelow@xconomy.com or call (619) 669-8788 Follow @bvbigelow

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  • http://www.snapizzi.com/ Brad

    The web opens up all kinds of opportunites to photographers, and anyone else involved in media.

    Stock photography is not the only area seeing innovation.

    Snapizzi was at Photoshop World in Boston and targets event and portrait photographers with it’s tagging technology:

    http://www.layersmagazine.com/snapizzi-more-cool-tutorials.html
    “…take your pictures.. Once you are done, you upload all of that information to the web, and you’re done. The client then goes through the entire process, from selection to ordering, and you don’t have to do another thing..”