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Author Topic: Response to Essay on Micro Payment Stock Photos  (Read 32728 times)
DarkPenguin
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« Reply #60 on: July 13, 2006, 10:19:14 AM »
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Are there any calendars produced showing a random selection of pictures by Bert Figgins, accountant and occassional amateur photographer with his brand new Canon Rebel?  No.  Why?  Because no-one would buy it.

This is too awesome.  Look for it this fall.  At $5 a picture for one big enough to put in a calendar I can make a Lulu.com calendar for $60.

Then we see how many people buy it.

Any suggestions on how to market a calendar?
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Robert Roaldi
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« Reply #61 on: July 13, 2006, 10:47:50 AM »
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Are there any calendars produced showing a random selection of pictures by Bert Figgins, accountant and occassional amateur photographer with his brand new Canon Rebel? No. Why? Because no-one would buy it.

Wouldn't it be ironic if this Bert Figgins character turned out to be the next Ansel Adams but nobody found out because his calendars were too cheap and nobody bought them?
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dickg
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« Reply #62 on: July 13, 2006, 11:34:40 AM »
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As an editor of a small magazine, the micro payment agencies are a godsend. There is no way we could afford to join high priced agencies let alone buy their pictures. These agencies allow us to find pictures to illustrate articles and often give new photographers their first showing in a national magazine.

I'm sure that stable boys, grooms and carriage drivers viewed with alarm the arrival of the automobile. But the auto gave the many the same opportunity to travel only a few previously enjoyed. The new economics of micro payment will certainly harm the fortunes of some. But they will also certainly let us see photographs we would never have seen otherwise. Isn't it possible that the next [fill in your favorite great photographer] is now selling through istockphoto?

Wow -- quite a variable approach, I'd say.

These two paragraphs are mutually exclusive so let's separate them.

In the first instance, I can see that it's cheaper for a magazine to use a micro payment agency.  However, the problem is that photographers are not receiving fair and adequate compensation for their work.  What is being offered generally doesn't even cover the material cost.  We all understand that a small publication won't have the same budget and won't pay as much as one of the behemoths.  But, financially and morally, it's no excuse not to pay fair and adequate compensation.

This leads to the virtually disingenuous analogy to horse and buggy days and cars.  This is not replacement technology and, if it was an accurate comparison, cars were more expensive than horses!  However, while we all like a good car deal, I think we'd also have to agree that you wouldn't go into the showroom and expect to pay LESS than the cost of manufacturing and distributing the car!
« Last Edit: July 13, 2006, 11:36:35 AM by dickg » Logged
Paulo Bizarro
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« Reply #63 on: July 13, 2006, 02:47:59 PM »
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Cheap digital cameras and the internet have brought photography to everybody who is willing to experiment it. It is not the feud of pro photographers anymore. Take the photo of Menorca in the article. Millions of tourists have probably taken the same, or similar, photo.

While the pro is selling it for thousands of dollars, the average Joe is quite happy to make a few bucks and feeling successful. Nothing wrong with that!

I would expect the pros to adapt, and instead of feeling threathned, just go back to take better pictures than the average Joe. Thta is where the difference lies, in the willingness to achieve a better photo. In the end, the quality will end up paying itself.
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kerryw
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« Reply #64 on: July 13, 2006, 04:28:58 PM »
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In the first instance, I can see that it's cheaper for a magazine to use a micro payment agency.  However, the problem is that photographers are not receiving fair and adequate compensation for their work.  What is being offered generally doesn't even cover the material cost.  We all understand that a small publication won't have the same budget and won't pay as much as one of the behemoths.  But, financially and morally, it's no excuse not to pay fair and adequate compensation.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=70585\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Careful, What I get paid from MicroStocks covers my cost, of course I am not a pro but don't go saying I'm being ripped off. I get decent return for my effort which I grant you is minimal. So I'm paid fair and adequate compensation for my photos.

KLW
« Last Edit: July 13, 2006, 04:39:20 PM by kerryw » Logged
kerryw
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« Reply #65 on: July 13, 2006, 04:38:35 PM »
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Cheap digital cameras and the internet have brought photography to everybody who is willing to experiment it. It is not the feud of pro photographers anymore. Take the photo of Menorca in the article. Millions of tourists have probably taken the same, or similar, photo.[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=70597\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

It is unfortunate that the photos used to illistrate this article were technically correct, pleasing but really unremarkable photos. Certainly no wow that's worth $1000.00.

There are two markets here then mundane basic ever changing viewed for a second website, the small market publication reaching only a handful OR the market where the picture will pay a role in a 6 figure profit for a company.

Now if a company stakes it's reputation and marketing budget on a very good photo purchased from MicroStock to sell say Vitamins and that same photo get used in say a AIDS prevention add or say in their biggest compeditors vitamin add well that's a mistake they will not make again  

So you see RM work will always be there. now how much people get paid for it in the future who knows...

Of course the astute among you will notice that I kind of negated my first paragraph here since used in the right context maybe the photos in this article would command more money but even then I would assume they would have a lot of competition. That paragrpah is sort of a personal observation.
 

KLW
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Rob C
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« Reply #66 on: July 13, 2006, 05:19:43 PM »
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Hi folks

I think that most of you writing here on this topic have not really had much personal experience of working in stock. I also think that you are making an amazing number of totally false comparisons  between bananas and peaches.

I did spend a great deal of time in an association with the pre-Getty version of what used to be Tony Stone Worldwide, a London-based agency with sub-agents and offices around the globe. I also managed to get some very high-value sales courtesy of Mr Stone's talents in the marketplace.

The important thing was that the production of my stock work was paid for by commissioned work, with the useable off-takes finding their way into stock. My field was calendars (I designed, photographed and produced them) and as such I had quite a lot of freedom over what I could do with the fruits of my talents and labours. The nub of the thing is this: to travel, hire models, cars, pay hotel bills for a photographic group costs mega-bucks. You can't usually do this on your own and expect to survive for long; photography is a business and unless you treat it as such, then you had better have a second string to your bow - you will need it pretty soon! Or, you have the backup of running a stock company of your own and can use funds from other sales to finance your own pleasures.

Unless you get a pretty good return on your work it becomes unviable; this is true for all of the bananas and peaches referred to earlier.

However, and a huge however at that, photography has always been a pursuit which has been open to everyone. The current chat about pixel-counts is not really the point; the money to do good stock is way beyond any of those considerations, at least in model-related work. Many amateurs can afford equipment that some pros cannot justify (note the word justify - it's business) and that is not the basic problem; the basic problem is that the pro has to sell for enough money to allow him to survive at a reasonable level; the amateur isn't concerned with money, he would probably PAY somebody just to use his product on a calendar or some such device.

Therein lies the problem and, unlike some contributors here, I do not believe that talent will always win through. I have very bitter memories of standing in front of an art director at an advertising agency and being told that my work was infinitely better than so-and-so's, but that they simply had to use him because he was so much cheaper... And that was back in the early 70s and the agency was billing millions of pounds (£).

Yes, I agree that the stock world has changed, and I think not for the better; there is also little doubt that the lower prices drop the lower they will continue to drop. Death has its own momentum and I think we are seeing the death agonies of part of the photographic business.

No doubt many will disagree; fine, it matters little. For those actually working in photography there is not a lot left of which to  be happy and before anyone brings up the 'stars' as proof of the opposite, just ask yourself: how many of these supermen/women are there out there?  

Ciao - Rob C
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John Camp
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« Reply #67 on: July 13, 2006, 06:09:34 PM »
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<snip> photography is a business and unless you treat it as such, then you had better have a second string to your bow - you will need it pretty soon!
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=70608\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

This is the key point. Photography is a business, selling to other businesses. Businesses expect x quality in whatever they're buying, which might be lower (WalMart) or higher (Nordstroms), and will pay whatever they have to to get that quality...but if they can get the quality they require for less, they'll do that, because they'll get more sales and their customers will be happier. I don't think photographic customers are accepting less quality because of micro-payment stock agencies -- I think they're getting the same quality for less. Or, in any case, the level of quality that they need, for less.

The complaints, I believe, tend to come from people who try to provide the same level of quality and service that their customers can get from micro-payment agencies for a lot less. You have a pro photographer look at his stock of equipment and skills and ask, "How can I compete with some guy who'll got out and shoot almost for free?" The answser, unfortunately for him, is "That's not really our problem, is it?"

Pros have to adapt. They have to kick up their level of service, the level of quality, or they're screwed. I once owned a piece of a pretty decent bookstore in a middle-sized Midwestern city, and early one fall a Barnes and Noble opened across town. We closed after Christmas; they were selling bestsellers for almost what they cost us from our distributor. This was a disaster for the employes of our store; but for everybody else in the city, the cost of books dropped a lot, and the selection increased a lot. Life in the big city...or in that case, the middle-sized city.

JC
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kerryw
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« Reply #68 on: July 13, 2006, 06:19:29 PM »
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Rob, you make good points, I'm not a pro, no doubt about that but I submit images to Microstocks to make money, money to pay for my hobby. I put in the effort required to generate a certain amount of cash. That amount is very small in business terms. I don't shoot people so right there I'm very limited in the Micros.

Now if I buckled down quit my day job, dedicated myself to the business of photogrpahy and still used Microstock as my only stock income source, I bet if I am as good a photograher as I think I am ;-) and I am a good and clever business man I bet I could make decent money, now I personally don't think I could make a living off it, certainly not in the style I am acustomed to, BUT i'm not sure how many people derive 100% of their income from stock, you obviously did not, it was the iceing on the cake maybe (sorry not trying to speak for you but you see where I am going here).

I certainly don't do this to see my work published, since most of it I have no idea where it goes.

Now lets say someone, a pro making a living in the photogrpahy industry wanting to shoot stock well then yes do exactly what you are doing the un-used oned from a shoot go to stock (a traditional Stock agency) and selected ones got to Microstock agency I bet in the long run you would do better than if you submitted to traditional stock only.... maybe who know unless someone wants to do a study.. BUT you get what I am saying.

KLW
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alainbriot
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« Reply #69 on: July 13, 2006, 06:50:50 PM »
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You have a good point Alain! My comment was a bit tongue in cheek though. There is no doubt that the realtive low cost of photography today has given mediocre pros a lot more competition from amateurs. I just hope I can be as optimistic as you when it comes to the Market's ability to identify and pay for quality. Also I think there is a big difference between Europe and the US here. In Europe there isn't much of a fine art market for photography as it has never really caught on. Photography has always been the ugly duckling of Art over here and seen as inferior to painting and sculpturing.
To me this boils down to values, and selling images for a few cents a pop just isn't right, unless we're talking about pure trash.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=70543\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I totally agree about selling your work for "a few cents a pop". My goal is quality, not quantity.  I detail my approach in my essay "Being an Artist in Business" on this site.  In my experience, the two are incompatible.  However, if you can prove me wrong go for it.  I''m not opposed to "crancking out" world class images and prints in a factory like fashion! I just know that this is antithetical to the process.  While genius and quality are linked at times, eventually there is no way to actually control the output volume when it comes to art unless mass-production is used.  I have seen "penny stock" photographers work, and they shoot everything and anything with the goal of returning home with the largest number of marketable images possible.  Very different from the way I work.
« Last Edit: July 13, 2006, 06:55:57 PM by alainbriot » Logged

Alain Briot
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Ray
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« Reply #70 on: July 13, 2006, 10:58:50 PM »
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I'm not sure if this has already been addressed in the thread, but do people put their best photos for sale as stock images? I've sold just a few photos in my time, as finished prints, and have thought of making my images available on the net for anyone who wants to use them, for a small fee.

Fortunately, I don't need to, but serious hobbies can gravitate towards being a business and any sale can be a validation and/or recognition of one's efforts, which is arguably the only praise ultimately worth anything, although I can quite believe I just expressed such a grossly materialistic point of view    .

I think most of us can grade our photographic results along the lines of, passable; good; very good; superb, with the main bulk of the images being in the first category and a mere handful in the last category.
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alainbriot
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« Reply #71 on: July 14, 2006, 12:24:50 AM »
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do people put their best photos for sale as stock images?[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=70635\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

It is actually very difficult to find out what people like so deciding to put your best or not your best work is a pretty difficult job. How do you know what's the best and what's not the best, besides technical considerations? For you, it may be your best.  But for the audience at large the choice is usually different than for the photographer.
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Alain Briot
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« Reply #72 on: July 14, 2006, 07:00:35 AM »
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I've always thought some aspects of high-end photography were absurd. Do you really need to pay somebody $50,000 to take a picture of a Buick? It occurred to me any number of times when I was working as a reporter, and I'd see a big photo shoot somewhere, that (as a longtime amateur photogapher) I could do something that would be 90 percent as good, for 10 percent of the money, and that 99 percent of the people who viewed the resulting ad would never be the wiser. Anyway, those over-priced chickens are now coming home to roost.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=70483\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I was a witness to an example of this price gouging a while back . . . a motorbike manufacturer wanted a still ad photo of their latest model, on a pedestal, on a beach, at sunrise. There were three ways this could be achieved :

1.   Use stock photos of the beach, and pedestal, commission one for the motor bike, and post-process it all digitally (probably the most cost effective),

2.   Commission photos of all three components, and post-process digitally (more expensive, but still reasonable),

3.   Assemble a team of marketers, stylists, photographers, other hangers-on and 3 models of the motor bike, fly 8000 miles to a foreign destination, put everyone up in a hotel and provide food and transport, wait a week for the right sunrise.

Which did they choose? . . . well, option 3 of course!  Instead of telling the client that the exercise could be done as effectively via options 1 or 2 they spun only option 3, and milked it for all it was worth.

Crazy thing is, I got to know of it because they managed to break one of the pedestals, so used a quick-fix boxwood one, and PhotoShopped the end result back in Europe!  Although the microstock scenario might not be directly comparable, the changing mindset will hopefully lead to a shift in this sort of client robbery, giving the client more options on how to achieve a desired result.

I don't buy into the excuse of justifying inflated prices based on potential large rewards (i.e. what's $50 000 if the car sells $50 million). On that basis we should be paying variable prices for everything, from food to cameras, based on our individual net worth.
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Ray
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« Reply #73 on: July 14, 2006, 07:55:21 AM »
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It is actually very difficult to find out what people like so deciding to put your best or not your best work is a pretty difficult job. How do you know what's the best and what's not the best...
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=70641\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Good point, Alain. So the only solution I see is to make the whole lot available, excluding the obvious rejects.  
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svein-frode
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« Reply #74 on: July 14, 2006, 08:01:33 AM »
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I don't buy into the excuse of justifying inflated prices based on potential large rewards (i.e. what's $50 000 if the car sells $50 million). On that basis we should be paying variable prices for everything, from food to cameras, based on our individual net worth.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=70655\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

It's not about excuses, it's about fair business. Everyone involved in creating a good project should be paid fairly for their contribution. An image sold for personal use should cost less than a commercial image because they will be valued differently by the user. That is how a proper and sound market works and creates segments with differences in price and quality. Underpricing is bad for business and leads to devaluation and deflation. On the opposite end, overpricing leads to inflation and in severe cases, bubbles. Disfunctional markets creates a few winners, but mostly losers.

Micro-payment stock agencies are big fish screwing small fish. If you like to be screwed join 'em. It's a free world. I'd rather pump gas than give my images away to people laughing all they way to the bank. My time and effort is not negotionable, life is just too short to spend it feeding sharks like Getty and the rest of 'em. That is my personal choice and opinion.
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Rob C
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« Reply #75 on: July 14, 2006, 08:19:15 AM »
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HiltonP

Price gouging: now there's a happy idea!

Have you ever actually tried to do product photography to the level require by the international advertising market? Exactly.

Take the time to look at some specialist car photographers' sites; think about what it means to run a big-time business and offices and almost certainly an expensive agent; consider the logistics of even a relatively cheap magazine shoot somewhere exotic (and that's nowhere near advertising level costs in any aspect) and you will suddenly find that your hymn book is seriously passé.

Advertising agencies spend big money making pitches to prospective clients; they have to come up with good ideas and then sell them on and finally deliver what they promised. Do you think for even one misguided moment that they are going to call in Joe Soap from the sticks to carry all that accrued responsibility? Have you ever heard of the buck stopping somewhere? Have you ever heard of professional liability insurance? Do you think that a real ad agency will go along on a trip with somebody that can't come up with the means for a re-shoot if and when things go wrong? They often do; been there, suffered the fear and the frustration.

The assurance that a big name brings to a shoot is immense; don't confuse this commercial aspect of photography with so-called art photography, where different  rules apply for many different reasons, most of them to do with the skills (marketing) of gallery owners in moving prints. I buy a lot of art-photogaphy related magazines and visit many similar websites - much of what I see is crap, only on sale because the end buyer is thinking that if it's in a gallery then it must be good, and if it's printed larger than A3 then it must be even  better.

We are a little off the stock theme here, but I do think that some of the wilder opinions you can find on this site need to be stood up to, if only to prevent the perpetuation of so much more ignorance.

Lesson over; you can all relax now and have a Coke or whatever.

Ciao - Rob C
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Gregory
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« Reply #76 on: July 14, 2006, 09:39:11 AM »
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correct me if I'm wrong but after joining and looking at the samples at iStock, I don't think my photos are appropriate for these stock agencies. many of the photos in their collection while probably technically correct look very artificial to me; too perfect to be true.

I'm a casual shooter, an opportunist photographer. I shoot when I come across something I find interesting or photographically (to my eye) attractive. I photograph a lot of nature: birds, scenery and other animals that I might come across in my walks around the hills and mountains of Hong Kong and other countries. none of these subjects seem to be the target for the stock agencies, or at least their 'most popular' images.

is anyone else selling natural (ie, not 'too perfect to be true') nature photos to stock agencies?


I found a couple of the rules at iStock to be interesting. (a) releases must be obtained on every photo where faces can be identified. that rules out my people photos from my trip to Indonesia. (b) people who purchase images from iStock can not use them in a product to be resold; eg, calendars, cups, etc. I like this rule but wonder how many people are going to abide by it. remember the (joking) note by another forum reader about buying a few $5 images and selling calendars made from them?

lots to think about...
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« Reply #77 on: July 14, 2006, 09:42:28 AM »
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It's not about excuses, it's about fair business. Everyone involved in creating a good project should be paid fairly for their contribution. An image sold for personal use should cost less than a commercial image because they will be valued differently by the user. That is how a proper and sound market works and creates segments with differences in price and quality. Underpricing is bad for business and leads to devaluation and deflation. On the opposite end, overpricing leads to inflation and in severe cases, bubbles. Disfunctional markets creates a few winners, but mostly losers.

Micro-payment stock agencies are big fish screwing small fish. If you like to be screwed join 'em. It's a free world. I'd rather pump gas than give my images away to people laughing all they way to the bank. My time and effort is not negotionable, life is just too short to spend it feeding sharks like Getty and the rest of 'em. That is my personal choice and opinion.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=70662\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


not to make this personal, but who is small fish and whi is big fish? it's all relative. and the truth of the matter is every single free market has only two inputs, supply and demand. at the same time that we see these micro-payment shops selling pictures for 2-3 dollars, we also see record prices being paid for pictures at auctions. things get priced for what they are worth, period! i'm sorry some think their pictures are worth more, but they aren't. micro-payment shops and the like are just part of reality, they allow people to fairly price a product. if you think your picture is worth a hundred dollars, more power to you.
i wonder how many of you refuse to go shop at walmart and the like, because they are "sharks"?
amnon
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DarkPenguin
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« Reply #78 on: July 14, 2006, 10:02:08 AM »
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i wonder how many of you refuse to go shop at walmart and the like, because they are "sharks"?
amnon
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=70672\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I won't shop at Walmart.  The list of reasons is a mile long.  But that's on there.
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« Reply #79 on: July 14, 2006, 12:10:53 PM »
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Gregory,

there is not that much demand for nature and casual photography on iStock, I am afraid, unless the images have some interesting angle or are technically truly excellent.  

The best selling images on the micros are those that are the hardest for the caual shooter to take.  Business shots (with model releaes where appropriate); lifestyle, high quality food, concept shots etc all do well.  Travel shots are perhaps better sent elswehwere, to a specialist travel library.  

Quentin
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Quentin Bargate, ARPS, Author, photographer entrepreneur and senior partner of Bargate Murray, Law Firm of the Year 2013
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