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Author Topic: Snapixel to close  (Read 3276 times)
Gerry Walden
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« on: August 02, 2012, 12:42:47 AM »
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Microstock library Snapixel to close at the end of the month. Is this the first of many? Are prices so low now the libraries cannot survive?

Gerry
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Gerry Walden
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Rob C
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« Reply #1 on: August 02, 2012, 10:15:58 AM »
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Microstock library Snapixel to close at the end of the month. Is this the first of many? Are prices so low now the libraries cannot survive?

Gerry


Hi Gerry

Nice to meet you again - you should be more regular (on here, I mean)  and show some of your jazz work.

Anyway, regarding the stock: if it is the first of many, it might be a very good thing because I'm sure that an economic turnaround is bound to happen, if only because the only thing that's certain is change. At that point, I would imagine that a new set of values will come about and perhaps the original model of Tony Stone, Image Bank etc. might reappear. It would be good to think of stock as a viable form of photography again. As I see it, the way forward would be when photographers or ex-photographers (as with T.S.) decide that it's worth shooting it once more and they then invest in both the work and the time.

Probably the worst thing that happened to it was when money men took over and introduced their time-and-motion sort of mangement style - some work simply doesn't allow for such logical flow; all business is not alike.

Fingers crossed for all of us!

Rob C
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louoates
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« Reply #2 on: August 02, 2012, 10:48:43 AM »
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Stock pic companies fail all the time. Mostly the new entries into the market plus the low or no-earners for contributors. I don't see any shortage of low cost images anytime soon. The 5 or 6 largest microstock agencies seem to be doing just fine. Those who don't want to pay anything for images will simply steal them off their screens, as always.
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Rob C
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« Reply #3 on: August 02, 2012, 01:23:58 PM »
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Stock pic companies fail all the time. Mostly the new entries into the market plus the low or no-earners for contributors. I don't see any shortage of low cost images anytime soon. The 5 or 6 largest microstock agencies seem to be doing just fine. Those who don't want to pay anything for images will simply steal them off their screens, as always.


Up to a point; but then if it returns to a situation where only several good agencies exist, getting/paying good money, they won't have a problem in setting up controlled pages just for subscribing ad agencies etc. to access; cheapo markets were traditionally not of much interest - for example, my old agency Tony Stone wasn't particularly interested in postcards and such. I remember wondering aloud to them if the graphic colour atmospherics of foreign parts, such as some Greek and Mallorcan postcards used to feature, were of interest to them, and they were not. They did very well out of mainstream advertising and I suppose small deals cost as much to transact as they brought in, and if you include the foreign sub-agency situation, then even more so. That's probably why the big players did very well: they were already on location with all that was required and setting up a few personal shooting concepts wasn't going to be difficult, and lifestyle was the huge earner for a longish while, way ahead of 'girls' as such, which was quite peripheral, really.

As ever, it's the small chap who usually faces the most problems getting things together; money most surely talks!

We shall see.

Rob C
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louoates
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« Reply #4 on: August 02, 2012, 02:09:42 PM »
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Up to a point; but then if it returns to a situation where only several good agencies exist...

I think that genie has been out too long to return to the lamp. The entry costs for start-up micro stock companies is still very low and despite their high failure rate will continue to expand the available images for users. Tens of millions of images exist just on the top few micro-stock sites with tens of thousands added every few days.

Plus, there may be dozens of "partner" sites for every established micro-stock site. The agreements contributors sign mostly allow such uses although auditing them by contributors is impossible. When I do a Google search for one of my images I can find dozens of "partner" sites I had no idea existed let alone were showing my work. Most of those links will siphon the sale back to the original major stock site for attribution and payment. But not all. I may be a bit paranoid but the idea of getting 100% of whatever commission is due back from those branch and even sub-branch sites is fanciful. Add to that the fairly recent (I think) establishment of stock sites set up with mostly stolen images with zero compensation to copyright holders and you have another layer of image dilution.

I think, Rob, what you see as a possible market segment coming back is in the area of exclusive images? That may be the subject of another discussion.
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Rob C
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« Reply #5 on: August 03, 2012, 03:34:32 AM »
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Up to a point; but then if it returns to a situation where only several good agencies exist...

I think that genie has been out too long to return to the lamp. The entry costs for start-up micro stock companies is still very low and despite their high failure rate will continue to expand the available images for users. Tens of millions of images exist just on the top few micro-stock sites with tens of thousands added every few days.

Plus, there may be dozens of "partner" sites for every established micro-stock site. The agreements contributors sign mostly allow such uses although auditing them by contributors is impossible. When I do a Google search for one of my images I can find dozens of "partner" sites I had no idea existed let alone were showing my work. Most of those links will siphon the sale back to the original major stock site for attribution and payment. But not all. I may be a bit paranoid but the idea of getting 100% of whatever commission is due back from those branch and even sub-branch sites is fanciful. Add to that the fairly recent (I think) establishment of stock sites set up with mostly stolen images with zero compensation to copyright holders and you have another layer of image dilution.

I think, Rob, what you see as a possible market segment coming back is in the area of exclusive images? That may be the subject of another discussion.

Yes, that's exactly where my mind was going, and I think the way to achieving that is via fresh agencies with bigger ideas and closed libraries that demand a recognized, legitimate buyer's code to access them. I can't imagine that real ad agencies like the idea of their artwork being found in other published works and so yes, rights-managed and rights controlled seems a bright idea... ?

Rob C
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louoates
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« Reply #6 on: August 03, 2012, 09:06:19 AM »
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The big problem with exclusive images from a contributor's point of view is the limited market size after the image is created, assuming it wasn't a commissioned shoot. Why should a contributor consign an image to only one site, especially if it has no track record to speak of? There is a great incentive for the seller to offer it to the widest possible market for the quickest payout.

However, from the buyer's point of view I still see a great benefit shopping for a unique image for all the reasons you cite. So I have thought of this a great deal and come up with the solution: a shelf life, if you will.  Like dating milk. In other words an image will be an exclusive image only if purchased before a particular date, at which time it will be "cut loose" and available to a wider audience. Thus the site will always have exclusive images and there will be an incentive for a rapid decision on whether or not to buy it. I can also see a sliding rate, somewhat like Dreamstime, where prices are on an ascending scale according to how many downloads are purchased. So in our hypothetical new site the "freshest" images will sell at a premium. The site could contact the buyers via email or other device when an image with keywords for, say, "green-faced salamander" comes on stream. A neat wrinkle could be a waiting list for a given image that currently is in the higher-priced exclusive category.

So your "closed library" becomes open to more buyers when the exclusivity window closes.
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opgr
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« Reply #7 on: August 03, 2012, 09:32:06 AM »
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So your "closed library" becomes open to more buyers when the exclusivity window closes.

How would you connect your idea to market demand? With ubiquity of images as it is currently, why would I ever select the more expensive option? What if I want exclusive rights to an older image?

I believe a much better option would be to "rent" images for exclusivity. Suppose an ad agency wants to run a regional campaign for 6 months and therefore requires exclusive rights to some chosen image over that period, or slightly longer within that region? If they can "rent" or "lease" the image accordingly, with full regional rights etc…

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Oscar Rysdyk
theimagingfactory
Rob C
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« Reply #8 on: August 03, 2012, 11:22:01 AM »
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I think this is being complicated unnecessarily: the original stock libraries functioned perfectly well before digital, and use of images was controlled by time and countries covered by a client's exclusivity requirements, as well as the matter of competing firms being prevented from overlapping into use of the same image. Totally exclusive shots were possible at an agreed rate as was every other permutation of rental that any client could want.

The advantage to the photographer of putting all his sales into one agency? Many: the agency doesn't get put into bad situations by contributors making their own decisions about how close two images might be when sent to two separate agencies; keeping faith with one agency strengthens it and thus yourself; book-keeping is far more uncomplicated for the shooter; a closer relationship with one agency can provide invaluable information about market trends etc, that a thinly spread snapper would miss.

Why would a 'user' pay a proper agency's high fees? For the same reasons as they did before: certainty of unique or limited-by-needs use of images: the knowledge that they are inevitably seeing work from the cream of the cream; the sense of confidence of a safe buy.

The actual outright sale of an image in stock photography was pretty well unheard of in my day.

I think that an unexpected friend may arise in the shape of the taxman. The current economic crisis is making the need for more tax revenue ever more pressing. I see a time coming when the existing loopholes will close, and business will find that business-to-business deals will be more deeply regulated and that could well lead to a compulsory use of professional workers right through many industries and one where this is badly needed is photography. It’s totally unsound that pros should find themselves in competition with pirates who have no overheads, probably seldom have any route (or wish) to pay tax on their sales and, worst of all, do it for ego and not money. This isn’t of much concern to those specialists doing big time advertising or fashion, but professional stock photographers (should any still exist) are in direct line of fire from the shamateur.

Cutting away this distraction (amongst others) in the marketplace is going to happen, I believe, if only because of the need to extract more tax revenue and you can only do that when you know who’s doing the work. You think this is far-fetched? Spain already has over 24% unemployment and for young people it’s over half, according to figures in some papers… the crisis is getting so big that draconian changes will simply have to be applied in every advanced country in the world. I think the days of the black economy are very numbered.

Rob C
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opgr
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« Reply #9 on: August 03, 2012, 12:27:28 PM »
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I think this is being complicated unnecessarily: the original stock libraries functioned perfectly well before digital,

But the music industry functioned perfectly well before iTunes also. At least from their perspective. Clearly things have changed since then, both in technology as well as in society, specifically the consumer within that society. And how we consume music is very similar to how we now consume images. But also other pieces of information like news, and video etc… It all inevitably comes down to the fundamental law of information:

The quality of information is inversely proportional to its quantity and speed.

So, the added value of an agency is not (anymore) in the gathering of images (or photographers) but very much in the automation of that process, and/or in the filtering/redaction of the results. i.e. a photographer would select library X because they make the process of supplying and leasing images very simple, easy, and worry free. Or an agency would select some library because they ensure a specific type of photographers or genre of images, where you are certain that the results conform to some standard, etc…

You gather your news from many sources, but for certainty you will usually select a few sources that you regard as quality sources. And the quality is a result of the filter/redaction applied at that source. Thus getting back to the fundamental law: filtering information = less information = more quality = added value


EDIT:
Oh yeah, and whether that added value is taxable in any reasonable way remains to be seen. But I certainly like some of the comments I read accompanying this article, specifically how moving around money in microtime doesn't specifically represent productivity of any sort...
« Last Edit: August 03, 2012, 12:51:05 PM by opgr » Logged

Regards,
Oscar Rysdyk
theimagingfactory
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