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Author Topic: Microstocks : Blessing or Curse  (Read 6330 times)
Perrush
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« on: December 14, 2006, 06:24:24 AM »
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Update 24/12/06

I wasn't pleased with my previous layout so I redid it completely.

I also reworked the article in a big way (we went from 5 pages to 26 !)

I also removed most of the affiliate links in the text and did provide some room for discussion

Normally you will be redirected if you take the link below. But I'll give the new link anyway

http://www.perrush.be/SYF_micro_E_1.html

Greetz
Stefan



----------------
Hi,

In many articles microstocks are said to be the evil of these times.  Also in this article on luminous-landscape :
http://luminous-landscape.com/essays/micro-payment.shtml

And I too believed that a year ago.  

But during that year the unknown still attracted me.  A few months ago I subscribed at 5 sites : Shuttestock, Istock, Dreamstime, Fotolia and PhotographersDirect.

I though it was time to write MY OWN experiences with them in an article, which can be seen on my site :

http://www.perrush.be/art_micro_1_E.htm

For now my bias is towards the positive site.  It would be interesting to see how I think about it within a year.

If interested feel free to take a look.  And comments are always appreciated.

Greetz
Stefan
« Last Edit: December 24, 2006, 04:43:32 AM by Perrush » Logged

Quentin
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« Reply #1 on: December 14, 2006, 07:00:08 AM »
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I have no problem with the microstock sites;  how could I, as I submit work to four of them - iStock, Shutterstock, Dreamstime and Fotolia (plus a few on 123RF) under my pen name "Douglas Freer". I run the Micropayment group on Yahoo and I am contracted to Elsevier to write a book about them for publication in 2007.  So I am up to my proverbial neck in the micros.  I personally find iStock generates more than double the income of the next best site, so it is very difficult to generalise about which site is better, as so much depends on your individual portfolio.

I detect a change in attitude.  The micros are going maninstream and the abuse formerly hurled unthinkingly at them by some is rapidly diminishing. A major UK semi-pro magazine recently wrote an article on stock photography, and the traditional libraries hardly got a look in.  Designers I speak to incresingly use the micros to source images, and the images I am using on my main day job website all came from iStock.  No longer can any rational person decry the micros as the spawn of satan; the are without question the future of royalty free stock photography.  

Of course, there will always be a place for rights managed imagery of the highest quality, and "open" libraries like Alamy are doing well.  My recomendation is to spead your RF work amongs the micros but also to send some of your best work (i.e. work you have not sent to the micros) to traditional rights managed libraries.

Quentin

PS you should run a spell check on your article  

Quote
Hi,

In many articles microstocks are said to be the evil of these times.  Also in this article on luminous-landscape :
http://luminous-landscape.com/essays/micro-payment.shtml

And I too believed that a year ago. 

But during that year the unknown still attracted me.  A few months ago I subscribed at 5 sites : Shuttestock, Istock, Dreamstime, Fotolia and PhotographersDirect.

I though it was time to write MY OWN experiences with them in an article, which can be seen on my site :

http://www.perrush.be/art_micro_1_E.htm

For now my bias is towards the positive site.  It would be interesting to see how I think about it within a year.

If interested feel free to take a look.  And comments are always appreciated.

Greetz
Stefan
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=90505\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]
« Last Edit: December 14, 2006, 07:07:23 AM by Quentin » Logged

Quentin Bargate, ARPS, Author, photographer entrepreneur and senior partner of Bargate Murray, Law Firm of the Year 2013
Perrush
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« Reply #2 on: December 14, 2006, 09:28:43 AM »
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PS you should run a spell check on your article 

Tnx fery mutch for tat sugestion, their where indeeded a lot of typoo's an mizpellings.  I'm gona use dad sugestion a lot more ... tnx again  
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svein-frode
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« Reply #3 on: December 19, 2006, 06:15:20 AM »
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Nothing wrong with microstok. It's a free world and if earning a few $100s is worth your efforts, why not join 'em? Personally I'd rather sell a couple of fine art prints a month and make serious money. Not to mention that fine art images are more rewarding in an artistical and personal sense. It's all about personal preferances and why you do photography in the first place. If photographing apples and oranges, people in suits with cell phones and laptops is your thing, go for it!
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Perrush
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« Reply #4 on: December 19, 2006, 05:42:42 PM »
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Nothing wrong with microstok. It's a free world and if earning a few $100s is worth your efforts, why not join 'em? Personally I'd rather sell a couple of fine art prints a month and make serious money. Not to mention that fine art images are more rewarding in an artistical and personal sense. It's all about personal preferances and why you do photography in the first place. If photographing apples and oranges, people in suits with cell phones and laptops is your thing, go for it!
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=91359\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Svein, this is a very good remark.

I'm working on a updated version of the article (much more complete, neater lay-out, less ads)  I think I will qoute you in the section where I discuss the drawbacks of microstocks.

Greetz
Stefan
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feppe
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Oh this shows up in here!


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« Reply #5 on: December 19, 2006, 07:17:18 PM »
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Nothing wrong with microstok. It's a free world and if earning a few $100s is worth your efforts, why not join 'em? Personally I'd rather sell a couple of fine art prints a month and make serious money. Not to mention that fine art images are more rewarding in an artistical and personal sense. It's all about personal preferances and why you do photography in the first place. If photographing apples and oranges, people in suits with cell phones and laptops is your thing, go for it!
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=91359\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Without making any comment about your photography (haven't seen it) or fine art photography in general, it's an easily demonstrated business fact that higher selling price doesn't necessarily - or even usually - mean a higher return.

If one sells 5 fine art prints netting $500 each, that's a $2,500 return. But if one sells 5,000 stock shots at $1 each, it equals $5,000. 5,000 sold stock shots shouldn't be a problem for any serious photographer who has a good portfolio.

Very simplified example and numbers could go the other way as well. But my point is that if one is looking to make a living from photography, jacking up prices is quite often the wrong way to increase profits. There are very few pro photographers _in the world_ who can command prices in the hundreds of dollars per print compared to those who make a living from a small but steady trickle of money from stock companies (not necessarily micros) or selling prints to graduates. There are hundreds of corner-store photostudios for each Alain Briot.

Now, if one is an amateur and just wants to get some money toward buying that IS lens, that's another factor altogether. It all depends on how seriously one takes the business side of photography.
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svein-frode
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« Reply #6 on: December 20, 2006, 03:02:12 AM »
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Without making any comment about your photography (haven't seen it) or fine art photography in general, it's an easily demonstrated business fact that higher selling price doesn't necessarily - or even usually - mean a higher return.

If one sells 5 fine art prints netting $500 each, that's a $2,500 return. But if one sells 5,000 stock shots at $1 each, it equals $5,000. 5,000 sold stock shots shouldn't be a problem for any serious photographer who has a good portfolio.

[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=91498\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]


That depends on how you calculate your net income! My time is worth around $150 an hour for shooting, archiving and printing. In addition I will need to add a % of depreciation of my equipment investments and the actual cost of capturing and printing the shot (driving, studio, model fees, papers, ink, framing etc.). With my style of photography, only fine art makes sense, and the occational commercial assignment.

For an edition of 15 fine art prints I could generate an income of  15 x $400. To get the same income from a single stock image I would need to be very lucky. $6000 is 30.000 downloads of an image @ $0.20, or 12.000 @ $0.50, or 6.000 @ $1.00. Realistically, to generate a monthly sale of 10-30.000 images you would need a superb stock portfolio counting 1000s of images. The time, effort and expense of creating such a portfolio really isn't worth it, unless creating stock is your primary goal as a photographer. If you were that good at it, you could go to Getty or someone similar and make much more from less. I belive the chance of being successful as a microstock photographer in terms of "living from it" is slim, but doable, but in the end, is it worth the effort?
« Last Edit: December 20, 2006, 03:04:26 AM by svein-frode » Logged

Svein-Frode, Arctic Norway

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Rob C
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« Reply #7 on: December 20, 2006, 05:18:38 AM »
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Svein - the thing is, one has to accept that different people have different photographic dreams. For one person it is the dream of getting into print; for another it consists of an imagined means of getting girls into bed; for yet another it comes down to a way of paying the rent and buying some of life's better things (this could include the girls in bed etc.) whilst for others it is simply the only thing that interests them enough to make earning a living worth while.

This is a problem for sites such as LuLa. Here we have excellent photographers and duds too. The hope of reaching one camp and not the other is bound to fail and is further complicated by the fact that some are professional photographers and others not. Part-time pros are not the same thing at all, in fact, that is a contradiction in terms. So advice, experience and all the other bits of communicated information  that might be shared by posters are thrown into a melting pot with often unpredictable results: one takes offence here; another thinks it all too patronising there. In the end, short of some ruthless entry examination, life goes on as it has so far with interesting people and also the bores.  Expectations of photographic returns (financial) will for ever be from totally different perspectives and the same old arguments of a photograph's value/worth will rumble on.

Rights managed, royalty free or simple rob-me-as-you-will agencies will always exist just as long as there is a market at one level or another.

My guess? The lower range will kill off the higher valued one taking stock out of the pro's remit and dropping it firmly into the world of the amateur. And why not? If the market can be satisfied that way, then that's the market's voice, loud and clear.

Not how I would have liked to have seen professional photography go, but there you are.

Ciao - Rob C
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svein-frode
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« Reply #8 on: December 20, 2006, 07:33:33 AM »
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Svein - the thing is, one has to accept that different people have different photographic dreams.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=91557\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

Thought I made that clear by saying: "Nothing wrong with microstok" and "It's all about personal preferances and why you do photography in the first place" and "The time, effort and expense of creating such a portfolio really isn't worth it, unless creating stock is your primary goal as a photographer".

To me microstock isn't interesting because:
A. The images I want to make aren't suitable for stock
B. The subjects that are depicted in stock photos that sell doesn't interest me.

I have no problem with people doing things differently from me! If I could be alone in my photographhic niché, nothing could be better, right? To quote myself again: "It's all about personal preferances and why you do photography in the first place"


Quote
The lower range will kill off the higher valued one taking stock out of the pro's remit and dropping it firmly into the world of the amateur. And why not? If the market can be satisfied that way, then that's the market's voice, loud and clear.

Not how I would have liked to have seen professional photography go, but there you are.
[a href=\"index.php?act=findpost&pid=91557\"][{POST_SNAPBACK}][/a]

I don't think that will happen, I just think that some of the bad pros will suffer competing against the good amateurs. In the end, great pictures will always be in demand, and making great images will never be easy. How many 20 year old images are sold today? The markets wants new and fresh and our perception of technical and aesthetical quality constantly change. It wasn't easy making it as a pro 30 years ago, and it still isn't easy. Why should it be?

That some make money from their hobby is a good thing, because in the end, most great artists start out as amateurs and learn by doing. Musicians today face the opposite problem. It is almost impossible today for an unknown band to get gigs, while 20 years ago, you could get a gig playing spoons...
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Svein-Frode, Arctic Norway

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Rob C
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« Reply #9 on: December 20, 2006, 07:46:15 AM »
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'get a gig playing spoons'  ... yes, just like some photography of today!

The reason why I think that good quality (read expensive) stock will die is because, if you look at the business section of better newspapers you will see that advertising agencies are having a bad time because the traditional outlets for their work/services are dying or, at best, being replaced by web-based advertising. If you think that the web offers a home for high quality images, expensive (read profitable) shoots, then your dream world is cosier than mine!

There is more to be learned about future business trends from the business press than from photographic magazines: they will, until the day they fold, tell you how well they are doing. Photography is no different to any other job, but some of its practitioners are a little less willing or able to read the graffiti on that wall...

Wish I was wrong!

Rob C
« Last Edit: December 20, 2006, 11:39:31 AM by Rob C » Logged

svein-frode
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« Reply #10 on: December 20, 2006, 08:30:00 AM »
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I see what you mean Rob, and for some markets you might be right. On the other hand there has, at least in Norway, been an increase in magazine and book sales over the last 10 years opening up a larger market for photographers.

Marketingpeople of corporations are also more professional today than a few years back. The are well educated and take profiling seriously. The company I work for employ both photographers and graphical designers to ensure professional output at every level. It's not all going in the wrong direction.

But things are changing for sure.
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Svein-Frode, Arctic Norway

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Rob C
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« Reply #11 on: December 20, 2006, 11:45:24 AM »
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Svein - Also on the positive side is the fact that top quality magazines like Vogue are being printed to fantastic standards today; the quality just jumps out of the page. This might not mean that they will survive in their present form, however, because unless they can maintain their page rates for advertising the revenue will not be available, certainly not just from sales of the magazine.

This great quality seen in the top publications does have a message for us using Epsons et al. and that message is that we still have a hell of a long way to go before we catch up with the litho world!

Ciao - Rob C
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Perrush
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« Reply #12 on: December 24, 2006, 04:44:06 AM »
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update : 24/dec/2006
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