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Author Topic: Response to Essay on Micro Payment Stock Photos  (Read 33577 times)
svein-frode
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« Reply #80 on: July 14, 2006, 12:16:39 PM »
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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
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=70672\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

To get things priced for what they are worth you need a free market, which of course is utopia. In an economy where there are very few significant suppliers they will determin price to a larger degree than demand. The stock business has over the last years become more of an oligopoly. Prices has not be lowered because of low demand, but rahter to increase demand as the big sharks have the volume and market power to do so.

I rarely feed "Sharks" and stay away from chainstores and most global brands like the plague. Wal Mart and the like screw suppliers to get sufficient volumes of goods so they can sell 'em cheap to people who don't really need 'em. This forces suppliers to become overly efficient which in turn leads to more unhealty and unsafe food, outsourcing of jobs to third world countries and massive waste and overconsumption in our society, which isn't sustainable over time! In the end we all lose. Like I said before, it all boils down to values and common sense.
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abaazov
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« Reply #81 on: July 14, 2006, 12:40:50 PM »
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I won't shop at Walmart.  The list of reasons is a mile long.  But that's on there.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=70678\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

i understand that you won't, and that many others won't, but the truth of the matter is for every one who won't there are hundreds, maybe even thousands, who will. regardless of our personal opinions, there will always be someone willing to undercut, and someone willing to buy cheaper. photography is a product like any other, and a business model that treats it as such will succeed.
amnon
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Quentin
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« Reply #82 on: July 14, 2006, 12:45:33 PM »
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While I am sure we should all wear flowers in our hair and hug trees, most of us have other priorities and recognise a clever business idea when we see it.  The micros are a clever business idea that was waiting to happen.  Bruce Livingstone of iStock saw it first, and now many others have followed.  As the micros are not only here to stay, but growing at a rapid rate, the only point worth debating is how to make the most from a situation that is not of our making.  Liking, or not liking, the micros is simply irrelevant in this context.

Quentin
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Quentin Bargate, ARPS, Author, photographer entrepreneur and senior partner of Bargate Murray, Law Firm of the Year 2013
abaazov
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« Reply #83 on: July 14, 2006, 12:48:45 PM »
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hmm. to stay away from walmart (or any other "big" chain or oligarch or etc...) because of principles or values is one thing. we all have the power to effect change in some way by deciding where and how we spend our money and time. but to open up a furniture store let's say next to walmart is stupidity. regardless of our personal opinions the reality is this is what the stuff is worth today. to stay away from a market because there are fewer suppliers than we would like in an efficinet market is quite extreme. in that case we will not buy any cars, any new houses, any shoes, etc...even cameras!!! last time i checked there were very, very, very few makers of pro-dslrs around!
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alainbriot
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« Reply #84 on: July 14, 2006, 01:48:44 PM »
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Good point, Alain. So the only solution I see is to make the whole lot available, excluding the obvious rejects. 
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=70661\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

That's the idea. That's why stock sales are a number's game.  I remember a stock photographer I met at Canyon de Chelly around 1998 telling me about his last delivery to his stock agency in London.  That was back in the film days: he carried two of the largest Delsey's suitcases filled with 35mm transparencies via the tube (the subway for those not versed in London's transit system).  That was one delivery, and he would do that 2 or 3 times a year.  Now with digital things are easier (no more carrying suitcases of slides) but the numbers are most likely higher as well.
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Alain Briot
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luong
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« Reply #85 on: July 14, 2006, 06:35:26 PM »
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Are the high-enders losing any business, is the question?

Personally, my stock business is still growing, and from the industry surveys that I read, I gather that experienced stock shooters are doing quite well in general. A $10,000 client is not going to use a $1 image.
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luong
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« Reply #86 on: July 14, 2006, 06:50:50 PM »
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My single best selling stock image has earned me roughly AUD50,000 over the past 10 years. However, the individual sales themselves have ranges from less than $100 to $21,000. Same image - different uses, therefore different prices.

This is the way the rights-managed stock industry has always worked - price is based on use. All the micro stock agencies are doing is opening up smaller and smaller 'uses' so that now imagery is accessible to small publishers, Powerpoint producers etc.

Personally, whilst I don't use microstock myself, I don't really care if I sell one image once for $1000 or 1 image 100 times for $10 - that image is still worth $1000 to me.

I don't object to licensing an image for $1 for a powerpoint presentation by an all-volunteer organization, or an individual for non-commercial purposes.  In fact, when asked, I will take the time to grant a free written permission to do so. What I object to, is to give *unlimited rights* to one of my images for $1, when everybody else  in the image-use chain is compensated fairly. Your mileage may vary, but personally, I find that devaluates my work. There is more in life than a checkbook balance.
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Rob C
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« Reply #87 on: July 15, 2006, 05:33:27 AM »
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Hi folks

I was just wondering about the notion put forward that getting 1000 sales at $1 each is the same as one sale at $1000; there must be some awfully boring and time-consuming work involved in going through 1000 different $1 sales reports...

In the long run, I think that the idea that there HAS to be room for all sorts of stock outlets is true and is the only possible outcome; that the buying market will find its own area of suppliers is also probably true, but as Alain points out here and in his recent Lu-La article, the bulk marketing of anything takes a hell of a toll on time and resources and, ultimately, on the quality of the goods on offer.

My own experiences with stock started back in the late 70s and ended more or less with the advent of CD sales; it became very clear to me that change were irreversibly afoot and that it was costing me a heck of a lot more to produce stock than it used to. As I mentioned in an earlier post, my stock was largely derived from commissioned work 'extras' which became available to me that way. As this was mainly with calendar models and the opportunities for travel pics afforded by the foreign locations, it all made commercial sense. However, another unwelcomed storm was lurking just below the horizon: the madness imported to Britain from some of the more strident sisters in some US colleges and universities: political correctness.

Almost at a stroke, clients became afraid of pretty girls; pretty girls began to lose a hell of a lot of work and so did photogaphers who worked with them. This was all greeted with whoops of joy by the similarly weird women of some of the UK establishments who imagined that because their more attractive sisters were now less visible, it would somehow make their own plainess less apparent. Yes, of course...

Thing is, most of the girls I worked with were really very nice people, felt not in the least exploited (laughed at the very idea, as did their bank managers) and were simply doing the best with the deal that mother nature had handed to them.

Anyway, like cheapo stock, the situation was created and nobody won very much of anything whilst many, like myself, lost a hell of a lot!

So, getting closer to the stock theme:  after investigating different agency options, I realised that for MY TYPE of interest, there simply was no future. Others will have different experiences - that's the way it goes. I simply happen to believe that photography, when you are as committed to it as I have been all my life and it has been my provider all that time, deserves a better deal from ME, the doer of the deed. In other words, if I feel I'm prostituting it then I carry the guilt; as I feel guilty enough for many things in my life already, that's one additional  guilt I can  avoid!

Ciao - Rob C
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davaglo
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« Reply #88 on: July 15, 2006, 06:46:56 AM »
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I'm not a professional photographer, just an avid amature.
It seems to me that the core problem is that professional photographers have lost control of their product to a small group of non-producers and have allowed the non-producers to dictate the rules.
I'm not sure what the answer is to the solution, but, if you keep feeding the stray dog, it will stay.


Jerry
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jrg
alainbriot
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« Reply #89 on: July 15, 2006, 02:47:45 PM »
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I was just wondering about the notion put forward that getting 1000 sales at $1 each is the same as one sale at $1000; there must be some awfully boring and time-consuming work involved in going through 1000 different $1 sales reports...
 Rob C
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Definitly. You get what you pay for I believe.  I discuss what I call "quality versus quantity" in my Artist in Business essay on this site:

[a href=\"http://luminous-landscape.com/columns/Artist%20in%20Business-2.shtml]http://luminous-landscape.com/columns/Arti...usiness-2.shtml[/url]

Personally, doing quantity nearly killed me and I have no intention of going back.
« Last Edit: July 15, 2006, 02:49:02 PM by alainbriot » Logged

Alain Briot
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ericevans
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« Reply #90 on: July 15, 2006, 03:04:31 PM »
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Personally, my stock business is still growing, and from the industry surveys that I read, I gather that experienced stock shooters are doing quite well in general. A $10,000 client is not going to use a $1 image.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=70726\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I am selling more and more stock every month as well . The key is to be specialized . Most istock shooters are never going to get access to what the commercial shooters are shooting .
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Rob C
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« Reply #91 on: July 16, 2006, 05:36:04 AM »
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Hi folks

Is it that I have lost the ability to use my keyboard, or have a bunch of recent posts been deleted, scrubbed from the face of the planet?

I was (I thought) having an exchange of ideas with someone using the name situgrrl: Que pasa?

Ciao - Rob C
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Rob C
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« Reply #92 on: July 16, 2006, 05:45:16 AM »
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Hi

Just answered my own question - topic moved to more appropriate section!

Ciao - Rob C
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Nick Rains
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« Reply #93 on: July 16, 2006, 08:50:55 PM »
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What I object to, is to give *unlimited rights* to one of my images for $1, when everybody else  in the image-use chain is compensated fairly. Your mileage may vary, but personally, I find that devaluates my work. There is more in life than a checkbook balance.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=70728\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

It's worth mentioning that IStock, and others, do not market 'unlimited rights'. The whole RF concept is slightly mis-named because there are limits put on what a client can do with the image. What RF really means is that there are no more royalties payable for that image as long as it is used within the basic license parameters set by the stock company in their T+Cs.

In the case of IStock you cannot use the images to on-sell products. IOW you are not allowed to print posters, manufacture mugs, postacards, calendars etc and then sell them. You can only use the images for promotional and editorial 'entertainment' purposes, ie promoting your business or in a magazine.

Quote: "(May not) use the Content in any posters (printed on paper, canvas or any other media) or other items for resale, license or other distribution for profit"


If you want to sell the products which are using IStock images, you have to pay more. You could not, for instance, print a calendar of IStock images and then sell the calendar - but you could give it away as a promotion for you business.

RF is only RF up to a point, after that it becomes more like RM.
« Last Edit: July 16, 2006, 08:54:12 PM by Nick Rains » Logged

Nick Rains
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TheLastMan
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« Reply #94 on: July 17, 2006, 05:07:04 AM »
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Quote: "(May not) use the Content in any posters (printed on paper, canvas or any other media) or other items for resale, license or other distribution for profit"

Very good point and one that seems to have passed a lot of people by.  I think the micros are clearly good for the small web site / newsletter / e-bay advertiser but are not really designed for commercial publishing.  Anyway, do you really think the editor of Vogue, or FHM would use a micro rather than one of the big agencies or their own photographer?

What they do is make images with high production values available to the "consumer" end of the market as well as the "producer".  I like to have nice pictures on the calendar that I put my families events on.  I also like to buy nice postcards of the places I visit.  I can buy both from a shop without the photographer complaining that his images are being sold for a few dollars. What is the difference between buying a postcard and buying an image which you then print on card and send as a postcard?

Unlike most of the contributors here I am a user of photographs rather than a producer, and I suppose my views reflect that.  I like to have nice images on my personal web site and on some of the internal presentation work I do for the company I work for.  I am not even a half-good amateur photographer and the availability of decent stock imagery at affordable prices is a god send.  I am not suggesting for one minute that Alain and Michael should put a large collection of 50mb tiff files on the micros for all to download, but making a small selection of 1280 x 1024 jpegs might be an excellent way of making their work more widely seen and appreciated - and frankly excellent advertising for their higher value products (hint, hint!)
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alainbriot
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« Reply #95 on: July 17, 2006, 11:17:22 AM »
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I am not suggesting for one minute that Alain and Michael should put a large collection of 50mb tiff files on the micros for all to download, but making a small selection of 1280 x 1024 jpegs might be an excellent way of making their work more widely seen and appreciated - and frankly excellent advertising for their higher value products (hint, hint!)
[{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Regarding using microstocks to make my work "more widely seen and appreciated" I strongly doubt the validity of this approach. Can you, right here right now, name one photographer who sells his/her work via microstock agencies, without being in the microstock business yourself and therefore being familiar with other microstock photographers as "colleagues"?  Fact  is, most people can't.  Often, the name of the photographer doesn't even appear, only the name of the microstock agency.

Regarding making low price microstock images available as " advertising for my higher value products" I know for a fact this does not work. Why would anyone buy the same photograph at a higher price if they can have it for pennies?  Seems like commonsense and logic aren't being exactly followed here! If you doubt this, I recommend you read (or re-read) my Artist in Business Part 2 essay.  In it I describe how I tried to use this exact approach with fine art, and how it nearly killed me:
[a href=\"http://luminous-landscape.com/columns/Artist%20in%20Business-2.shtml]http://luminous-landscape.com/columns/Arti...usiness-2.shtml[/url]

And, without trying to be conceded or pretentious, my work is well known worldwide as it is.  Furthermore, if you read (or read) my essays on Being an Artist in Business, you will learn that my first goal was not fame.

But eventually, while I can't speak for Michael, my approach, which I detail in my ongoing series of essays is "quality and not quantity".  That being said, and while I have nothing against microstock agencies, it doesn't exactly fit their marketing model.

As a case in point, I had a 5 figure stock order on Friday from a store designer who originally bought stock photo CD's from Getty, only to realize the resolution of the images on the CDs were far too low to be enlarged at the size they needed (96"x96").  This size was no problem for me since I work with large format.   The order was for 5 images, but the sale amount was equivalent to selling thousand of images at micro stock prices.

Again, I have nothing against microstocks. I just know that it doesn't fit my approach which is to produce quality and not quantity.

To each his own.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2006, 11:27:08 AM by alainbriot » Logged

Alain Briot
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Quentin
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« Reply #96 on: July 17, 2006, 04:56:06 PM »
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Again, I have nothing against microstocks. I just know that it doesn't fit my approach which is to produce quality and not quantity.

To each his own.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=70940\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

You can have your cake and eat it.  I send entirely different work under a different brand name to the micros.  Occasionally the choice is difficult, but normally it is obvious which image goes where.

Quentin
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alainbriot
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« Reply #97 on: July 17, 2006, 06:19:08 PM »
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I send entirely different work under a different brand name to the micros.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=70967\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I appreciate the tip but doing this wouldn' t make me feel good about what I do.  And, if I can't do something in a manner that makes me feel good about it, then I won't do it at all.  I talk about that in part 3 of my essay.  Again, to each his own. Not a criticism of what anyone else does.  Just a description of what I do.

I do think that your tip is an interesting comment on the previous suggestion about using Microstocks to become better known...
« Last Edit: July 17, 2006, 06:20:32 PM by alainbriot » Logged

Alain Briot
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benInMA
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« Reply #98 on: July 18, 2006, 02:30:17 PM »
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As an amateur I think many of us have a fascination in getting a little ego boost by selling a few of our pictures, even if the rates are a joke and make your artistic hobby seem like a total waste of money.

There are enough people willing to dabble in it to make these sites work and cheapen the value of the photos.

I've tried it very briefly and sold a couple photos.  The agency kept all the money and is earning interest on it until I hit a certain $ amount.. It's very obvious who wins in this business model.  They get 100,000 photographers willing to dabble in selling a few photos and everyone who sells very small amounts never even gets their money.

I realized I would have to shoot completely different subjects & styles if I really wanted to seriously sell stock photos so that pretty much ended my interest in it.  I don't need to be able to tell people I sold $50 worth of photos a year to feel good about my hobby and I honestly don't want to take the money away from someone who might be struggling to make a living.

I would much rather focus on the quality of my work, showing it only to people I know.   Heck even sharing the photos on the internet for free often represents a waste of time IMO, while there is value in sharing photos on the interent for critique and comments some of it consists of an internet popularity contest and it takes away a lot of time that could be used for something else.
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alainbriot
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« Reply #99 on: July 18, 2006, 03:58:53 PM »
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As an amateur I think many of us have a fascination in getting a little ego boost by selling a few of our pictures, even if the rates are a joke and make your artistic hobby seem like a total waste of money.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=71035\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Yes, this is the case for many amateurs.  But by doing so many confuse art & business. Creating art and selling art are two entirely different endeavors.  The "ego boost" that "selling a few pictures" may bring can quickly be replaced by depression when the realities of the business world hit you square in the face.  

I always say that art is not validated by how well or how poorly it sells.  Art is validated by how much you like what you do, by how good creating art makes you feel and by the response you receive from the audience for whom you create (and not from everyone out there since not everyone is your audience).

Your business abilities on the other hand are validated by how well you can sell your wares.

Don't confuse the two.
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Alain Briot
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