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Author Topic: A veri interesting article in the Times today  (Read 15807 times)
lisa_r
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« on: March 29, 2010, 06:20:56 PM »
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...about our industry.

"In 2005, Getty Images licensed 1.4 million preshot commercial photos. Last year, it licensed 22 million — and “all of the growth was through our user-generated business,” Mr. Klein said. That is because amateurs are largely happy to be paid anything for their photos. “People that don’t have to make a living from photography and do it as a hobby don’t feel the need to charge a reasonable rate,” Mr. Eich said."

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/03/30/business...wanted=1&hp
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gwhitf
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« Reply #1 on: March 29, 2010, 06:26:52 PM »
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Quote from: lisa_r
...about our industry.

Someone sent me that article today, but I didn't post it here, because I didn't want to be Debbie Downer. But yes, it makes you wonder. The message I take from it: Keep making the work stronger and more unique. So that they can't source it from every Tom Dick and Harry.
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fredjeang
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« Reply #2 on: March 29, 2010, 06:48:05 PM »
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Quote from: gwhitf
The message I take from it: Keep making the work stronger and more unique. So that they can't source it from every Tom Dick and Harry.
Yes, no doubt.
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AldoMurillo
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« Reply #3 on: March 29, 2010, 09:45:27 PM »
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(Sorry, New in this forum with bad english)  

"Microstock photography" it's just a small part of our industry, a small part that 10 or 5 years ago nobody would've been able to take care.  10 years ago or even today nobody would take a half spread editorial job for a LOCAL magazine (Let say a photography for an article about "Family") for $50 bucks, today with the internet an microstock I can "virtually" take 1,000 jobs like this WITH THE SAME IMAGE and with the proper distribution channel... and now those $50 became $5,000...  and its a win win situation for the low budget local magazine and the photographer... and suddendly this market doen't seem small after all.  In 2008 istockphoto's CEO mentioned that the company was paying out ‘almost’ $1.1 million dollars per week in royalty payments to contributors, and that was 2 years ago!  

I don't want to enter in the fine art vs commercial photography, amateur vs profesional or prostitution vs freedom debate   ...  I just want to say that there's an oportunity for everybody out there... for some of us is in the wedding, fine art or editorial category and for some of us is in the commercial stock category... and believe me, there's a lot o photographers that have a hard time accepting that the only “true” photography is that of fine art or journalism .

It's not news that user-generated websites are the future of internet (call it facebook, youtube, flickr, wikipedia).  But those are only tools, we are the ones that make the content...    well I can say on my experience in stock photography that the microstock and macrostock industries are converging and soon will blend and find the sweet spot.  istockphoto.com has a collection called vetta that has more unique and creative photographs... but I can tell you that there's something that stock photography won't ever do, and that's personalization.
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Aldo Murillo

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Graham Mitchell
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« Reply #4 on: March 30, 2010, 04:27:25 AM »
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Quote from: AldoMurillo
and its a win win situation for the low budget local magazine and the photographer... and suddendly this market doen't seem small after all.  In 2008 istockphoto's CEO mentioned that the company was paying out ‘almost’ $1.1 million dollars per week in royalty payments to contributors, and that was 2 years ago!

Now it's $1.6m per week, but that's among over 6.5 million members. That's a whopping 25 cents a week per member, on average. Are you kidding me?
Without microstock, those same jobs would have paid closer to $500 million per week.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2010, 05:01:52 AM by Graham Mitchell » Logged

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« Reply #5 on: March 30, 2010, 04:30:13 AM »
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Quote from: gwhitf
Keep making the work stronger and more unique. So that they can't source it from every Tom Dick and Harry.

Absolutely right, though you'd be amazed at the quality of some of the work some people are dumping in iStock. They must be desperate.
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AldoMurillo
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« Reply #6 on: March 30, 2010, 10:30:43 AM »
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Quote from: Graham Mitchell
Now it's $1.6m per week, but that's among over 6.5 million members. That's a whopping 25 cents a week per member, on average. Are you kidding me?
Without microstock, those same jobs would have paid closer to $500 million per week.


Actually theres 29,000 contributors of those 6.5 million members... thats a market of 6.4 million potential buyers. Of those 29,000 most of them are amateurs, but not all of them, I can tell you that there's a lot of full time photographers in istock (including me).   Most of the sales profits are going to 200-500 photographers that are really profesional, that would be $3,200-$8,000 per week (again, including me).  

Those $500 million per week jobs that you are saying wouldn't have done at all... because most of the buyers at istock are from low profile companies (local churches, school designing a poster for their fundraising, etc etc etc).  Most of these jobs (not the high profile projects) let say a local school triying to redesign their brochure,  have a budget of $450-$600 (and less in places outside USA) they can't pay $500 to hire a photographer and keep $100 for all the work designing it, and believe me, there are millions of jobs like this.  

High profile companies doesn't buy in microstock, they can't afford to see ther image beeing used by somebody else.  But unfortunately there's a lot of high profile companies that have a good budget and still buy stock in microstock companies.. and I think that's the problem .       It's just another type of business.    I agree that theres a lot of "snapshot like" photos, from the 6.5 million files they have, probably 70% are duplicates or with no creative thinking, thats why istockphoto launched vetta.
« Last Edit: March 30, 2010, 10:34:45 AM by AldoMurillo » Logged


Aldo Murillo

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« Reply #7 on: March 30, 2010, 10:53:54 AM »
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Sorry, you are right about the number of contributors. I misinterpreted 'members'. It seems there are around 30,000 contributors now.

Quote from: AldoMurillo
High profile companies doesn't buy in microstock, they can't afford to see ther image beeing used by somebody else.

Perhaps where you are. Here even the top 10 largest companies in this country use stock for many things.

The fact remains that 80% of the billings stays with iStock rather than photographers (or 60% for the few exclusive members), and people are not using 50 times as many photos now just because they are 1/50th of the commission price. I'd believe double but not much more than that. Overall the photographers are making around 1% of what they would if they were all commissioned jobs. It's all water under the bridge now. Fewer photographers can make a living and the ones that survive need to find new ways to attract commissions.
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« Reply #8 on: March 30, 2010, 11:10:15 AM »
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Quote from: Graham Mitchell
Overall the photographers are making around 1% of what they would if they were all commissioned jobs.

That's an entirely false premise: if microstock prices went up to commission-work levels, it wouldn't magically flood the market with money. Photography buyers have their budgets which would change little, if any.

Photo buyers have needs varying from paying 1 EUR for a stock photo of a happy couple for a local website, to commissioning a five-figure shoot for an international ad campaign, and everything in between. Before microstock the cheapest segment of the market did not exist. Therefore microstock has created jobs and work, and increased demand for paid photography - and as much is apparent in the vastly increased volume of licensed photos in the linked article.

Whether the new microstock jobs are done or even desired by those who were pros before microstock is another matter. But it is clear that the number of pros in the past could not possibly support the huge volume explosion in the past five years. I'm sure there is overlap between amateurs and pros shooting for the same market, but much of the previous pro work is still done by pros, while much of the generic work has moved down the value curve (ie. has become cheaper).

It would be interesting to see how much global licensed photo revenues have increased overall. I'm sure it's nowhere as much as volumes have increased, as you also speculate.
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« Reply #9 on: March 30, 2010, 01:01:29 PM »
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Quote from: feppe
Photography buyers have their budgets which would change little, if any.

Well I can't agree. If stock photography disappeared then the budgets would simply be higher, or distributed differently. Very few companies would drop their print or web advertising just because a photo costs $500 instead of $10.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #10 on: March 30, 2010, 01:22:17 PM »
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Quote from: Graham Mitchell
... If stock photography disappeared then the budgets would simply be higher, or distributed differently. Very few companies would drop their print or web advertising just because a photo costs $500 instead of $10.
That would be what I call a Disneyland world: a world where all our dreams come true, the world bends to our desires and demands, and fits our understanding of how things work. Another technical term would be: wishful thinking.
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Slobodan

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« Reply #11 on: March 30, 2010, 02:21:01 PM »
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Funny it seems Microstockers are coached to all say the same thing defending microstock until the day
where they see that the money they are making is just not enough , and they then fade away.

Makes me think of a Pyramid scheme.

And yes they would find the money if that is what they had to pay.

Regards
Terence
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« Reply #12 on: March 30, 2010, 06:29:35 PM »
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Microstock, good or bad?  Who knows?  

I know of photographers making money from stock and those that curse it.  

Me, I could never shoot images without knowing what they will be used for and by whom; just hoping enough will be bought to make it.  That is why I go after cliental that cant use stock photos, like architects, interior designers, hotels and B&Bs, etc.  And when reading through this post and looking at the fees offered I was offended by how low the payments are, but then I thought "didn't I just put together a pricing scheme for Facebook ads from $0.11 to $0.15 per click" (plus a base rate too of course, but nothing too high).  

Just to say, not sure if $0.11 to $0.15 is an appropriate amount to charge, but I have to test that with time.  

Also, I feel like so many photographers get so angry with the change going on instead of adapting to it, is it not better to get in front of the 8 ball than behind it?  Threes years ago when I started, things like twitter, facebook, and linkedin did not even exist and never considered making anything like them part of my marketing.  Now it seems like they will overtake my marketing and when talking to my clients, I strongly advise them to incorporate them in their marketing plan.  

And I am sure things like the iPad will completely change things even more; I am already thinking about how to utilize that tool.  Not just to use in my business, but to create a pricing scheme specifically for my images to be used in media on it.  

$0.15 sound low, but if 100,000 people click on it, that's $15,000 (what to population of the world?).  Not so bad after all; create 10 images a year with that potential and you'll be doing pretty good.
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Joe Kitchen
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« Reply #13 on: March 31, 2010, 04:39:48 AM »
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Speaking of ways in which photographers are being screwed...

"The UK Government wants to introduce a law to allow anyone to use your photographs commercially, or in ways you might not like, without asking you first."
Read more here: http://www.stop43.org.uk/pages/read_more.html

.. and contact the UK government if you are a resident! There are just days left.
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Quentin
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« Reply #14 on: March 31, 2010, 10:16:31 AM »
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Quote from: Graham Mitchell
Absolutely right, though you'd be amazed at the quality of some of the work some people are dumping in iStock. They must be desperate.

The dont "dump" their photos on iStock nor are they "desperate".   Plenty of photographers have decided to sell their work though iStock and other microstock sites as part of a deliberate business strategy to make money.  They do it because it works.  Surely we have moved beyond the usual mindeless nonesense written about microsock sites by now?

Quentin
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Rob C
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« Reply #15 on: March 31, 2010, 10:18:34 AM »
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Stetching the imagination by a huge amonut - let's say about 0.005% - you could say that the advent of microstock has simply fuelled the conception of photography as disposable garbage.

Why be surprised if any government views it in like manner?

Rob C
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« Reply #16 on: March 31, 2010, 10:42:26 AM »
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The dont "dump" their photos on iStock nor are they "desperate".

Hi Quentin, here is an example of what I am talking about, although I don't like this particular photo much. It was just the first I found in 20 seconds which involved some real production.

http://www.istockphoto.com/stock-photo-109...up-portrait.php

Getting the set together, the girls, the clothes, hair and make-up, the shoot and the retouching, the paperwork and submission to iStock, and the total hours probably look like this:

10 hrs photographer (managing project, shoot, retouching, etc)
5x 5 hours per model
10 hrs hair and make up and fashion styling
8 hours assistant (setting up lights and set, working on shoot, packing up, etc)

Total: 53 man hours

As you can see, there have been 9 downloads in 5 months. Let's assume the photographer makes $5 per download, that's $45 since it's been uploaded 5 months ago. If you pay everyone on the shoot, that's still less than one dollar per hour per person, and I haven't even added in transport costs, equipment costs, insurance, studio rental, phone bill, etc.

Am I missing something? Is 70 cents per hour now considered a viable business proposition?
« Last Edit: March 31, 2010, 11:29:29 AM by Graham Mitchell » Logged

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« Reply #17 on: March 31, 2010, 11:33:13 AM »
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Quote from: Graham Mitchell
Hi Quentin, here is an example of what I am talking about, although I don't like this particular photo much. It was just the first I found in 20 seconds which involved some real production.

http://www.istockphoto.com/stock-photo-109...up-portrait.php

Getting the set together, the girls, the clothes, hair and make-up, the shoot and the retouching, the paperwork and submission to iStock, and the total hours probably look like this:

10 hrs photographer (managing project, shoot, retouching, etc)
5x 5 hours per model
10 hrs hair and make up and fashion styling
8 hours assistant (setting up lights and set, working on shoot, packing up, etc)

Total: 53 man hours

As you can see, there have been 9 downloads in 5 months. Let's assume the photographer makes $5 per download, that's $45 since it's been uploaded 5 months ago. If you pay everyone on the shoot, that's still less than one dollar per hour per person, and I haven't even added in transport costs, studio rental, phone bill, etc.

Am I missing something? Is 70 cents per hour now considered a viable business proposition?

The photographer probably took hundreds of photos during the shoot, group photos, individuals, portraits, details of bracelets, shoes, hair shots, makeup shots, etc. If he's smart he'd be selling tens of photos from that same shoot since he clearly got the releases. This can quickly add up to a real income source - rain drops turning into rivers and all that. So while that particular photo might not appear profitable, it might very well be part of a very profitable business.

The other option is that the photographer is an amateur who shot this to build his portfolio, or the models paid him to shoot for theirs, or someone gathered couple of her friends for dress-up - and decided to put it up on iStock after getting proper releases. Not a viable short-term business proposition, but might very well be part of a budding photographer.

Even Avedon had to start from somewhere.
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amsp
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« Reply #18 on: March 31, 2010, 11:48:29 AM »
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I'm with Graham on this one, defending microstock from a professional photographer's perspective is total bs.
My only hope is that there will be a backlash and future generations of creatives and decision makers start appreciating quality and craftsmanship again, because quite frankly the cheap throwaway culture we live in today is getting tiresome.

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Quentin
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« Reply #19 on: March 31, 2010, 12:00:43 PM »
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Quote from: Graham Mitchell
Hi Quentin, here is an example of what I am talking about, although I don't like this particular photo much. It was just the first I found in 20 seconds which involved some real production.

http://www.istockphoto.com/stock-photo-109...up-portrait.php

Getting the set together, the girls, the clothes, hair and make-up, the shoot and the retouching, the paperwork and submission to iStock, and the total hours probably look like this:

10 hrs photographer (managing project, shoot, retouching, etc)
5x 5 hours per model
10 hrs hair and make up and fashion styling
8 hours assistant (setting up lights and set, working on shoot, packing up, etc)

Total: 53 man hours

As you can see, there have been 9 downloads in 5 months. Let's assume the photographer makes $5 per download, that's $45 since it's been uploaded 5 months ago. If you pay everyone on the shoot, that's still less than one dollar per hour per person, and I haven't even added in transport costs, equipment costs, insurance, studio rental, phone bill, etc.

Am I missing something? Is 70 cents per hour now considered a viable business proposition?

Graham,

As mentioned by feppe, this would be one of a much larger number of shots.  Also, is it impossible to tell which shot of a group will be popular with buyers.  You can have two near identical shots, one of which sells madly, the other hardly at all.  It has happened to me.

Whether you sell rights managed, traditional royalty free, or microstock, the only figure that ultimately matters is average earnings per image over time and the evidence is that on that basis of calculation, microstock generates income as good as or better than average sales though a traditional agency - 100 sales for $1 earn you as much as 1 sale for$100.   I do, of course, exclude the ultra-high end and refer to average stock earnings.

What hurts and offends people about microstock is the perceived devaluation of their work.  That is understandable, but most stock photographs are not "art" but products.  Most of the cost of producing typical stock photographs has been driven out - no film / processing costs, cheap broadband, affordable high quality cameras,  easy mutiple uploads to a range of stock outlets.  Microstock was and is a business model created by this perfect storm; a brilliant idea whose time came in 2003 when Bruce Livingstone launched iStock, now Getty's mnost successful operating division.  Many of the features of microstock libraries have since been copied by traditional large libraries like Alamy.

I have seperate portfilios on the micros and on traditional libraries and this bifurcation of effort and art works for me. Full disclosure -  I have, of course, also written a book about the micros (see my sig line) and will shortly begin work on a second edition

Quentin
« Last Edit: March 31, 2010, 12:04:22 PM by Quentin » Logged

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