Megan at Fotosearch contacted me and asked if I would take a look at www.fotosearch.com to add it to my list of stock photography sites I have reviewed. I was not familiar with Fotosearch and agreed. Here are my impressions.
Fotosearch is a division of Publitek, which has been in business since 1987, making stock photographs available to publishers back before web access for the masses. The Fotosearch website was created in 1998 and acts as a consolidator for many different image publishers that Publitek had included in their catalogs. I counted 143 sites on their source publishers page, which is pretty darned impressive!
The site lets you narrow results to focus on photographs, illustrations, clip art, vector art, and video clips. Search options are very basic compared to some of the other high-priced single-source services. You can choose a specific source publisher and aspect ratio (eg: Vertical, Horizontal, or Square). There are no filters for image background color, transparencies, number of people, age, etc. So plan to spend time paging through long grids full of thumbnail photos. Fortunately the search results and page displays come up quickly.
I did my standard test case of using the very basic search terms of "businessman" and "businesswoman." As with most stock photography sites, results were overwhelmingly skewed towards Caucasian models. The males seemed to feature a bit more ethnic variety and a better age range. Women on stock photography sites continue to suffer from sexist depictions that overemphasize tight skirts and come-hither looks. But I was encouraged to see some female subjects who looked like real human beings rather than fashion models. Adding an ethnic search term such as "Black Businessman" or "Indian Businesswoman" was very successful at bringing up many choices, which I think is an advantage of sourcing from the many different provider services.
Is there a compelling reason to consider Fotosearch over its competitors? I think the primary advantage comes from one particular pricing option that is perfect for a single user preparing a PowerPoint presentation. You can purchase a one-week subscription that lets you download ten pictures a day for seven days. It only costs $39, giving you a cost effective way to grab all the photos you need for a graphic-intensive business presentation without worrying about using up additional credits or having unneeded subscription time sitting unused in your account when you are done.
Another nice sideline is that when I did some quick Googling on Publitek and Fotosearch for complaints from unpaid photographers, I came up empty. So the company seems to be reputable and fair enough to the people making their money from the pictures. That is not always the case. The basic longevity of the company is another comforting clue as to their professionalism.
How about downsides? As I mentioned, the lack of advanced search filters is a pity. Pricing for individual photos is on the high side, and I would definitely recommend a subscription as the best value. There is no link or phone number for help with technical problems… Just an FAQ page. I know this because I ran into a problem in my tests where I could no longer get any search results displayed when asking for "Stock Footage" (video clips). It didn't matter what keywords I used, the results came up empty. Closing my Chrome browser or logging out made no difference. But if I opened up Internet Explorer or Firefox, I got results as expected. I still don't know what the heck happened, as Chrome was showing results properly when I first tried it.
I plan to add Fotosearch.com to my set of resources for sourcing PowerPoint images on my own presentations. Having access to the one-week subscription is too good to pass up.
For links to my other stock photography reviews, check out the post that started it all: http://wsuccess.typepad.com/webinarblog/2012/03/stock-photography-sites.html