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Inside the Shutterstock Zeitgeist Here's how one 'trep went from amateur photographer to web mogul, serving up the visuals that enliven the way we work, study, purchase and play.

By Jennifer Wang

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Along with the ever-growing amount of content we consume online--produced by media giants and individuals alike--comes an increasing appetite for images. In barely a decade, a multimillion-dollar industry has blossomed to feed this beast.

Stock photography--images created specifically for purchase by publishers or other clients--has been around since the 1920s. But the digital age has brought with it a new term, microstock, referring to online images, often crowdsourced from amateur photographers and artists, that can be bought cheaply and used by anyone, royalty-free.

The first microstock company, iStockphoto, was started in 2000 (it sold to Getty Images six years later for $50 million). But the market truly rose to prominence in 2003, when 29-year-old serial entrepreneur Jon Oringer thought to combine the idea of a crowdsourced image marketplace with a subscription-based business model. His company, Shutterstock, offered bloggers, media agencies and businesses of any size access to low-cost images. And that demand spurred even more supply, as contributors flocked to provide their works to a platform with high purchase volume.

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