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Author Topic: Stock libraries--please share experiences, thoughts, etc.  (Read 6090 times)
PSA DC-9-30
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« on: February 01, 2013, 12:50:44 PM »
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I've seen some discussion of this here and there on this forum, but I wanted to start a thread similar to the "profit from prints" thread where people can share their thoughts, experiences, and advice on working with stock libraries. (hope you're not all sick of this topic).

One stock library representative I know had a look at some of my travel and scenic images, and said they would likely accept 11 of the 76 I sent them for an initial look. Maybe that does not sound great, but I am actually encouraged by this because it is my first attempt, and my old Olympus dSLR is, of course, no match for the full frame Canikons everyone else is using (I am going to upgrade when I can afford it). I also do scientific imaging with electron microscopes, and ultimately plan to submit some of those images as well. (I do register everything with eCO).

No, I am not going to quit my day job, and I realize that ultimately, given the cost of bodies, lenses, software, time, etc. this is all just an expensive hobby, but I am interested in trying nonetheless.

Anyway, I will open the floor up to your comments, suggestions, experiences, admonitions, etc.... Grin

Thanks,
Kevin



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Rob C
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« Reply #1 on: February 01, 2013, 01:54:53 PM »
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I've seen some discussion of this here and there on this forum, but I wanted to start a thread similar to the "profit from prints" thread where people can share their thoughts, experiences, and advice on working with stock libraries. (hope you're not all sick of this topic).

One stock library representative I know had a look at some of my travel and scenic images, and said they would likely accept 11 of the 76 I sent them for an initial look. Maybe that does not sound great, but I am actually encouraged by this because it is my first attempt, and my old Olympus dSLR is, of course, no match for the full frame Canikons everyone else is using (I am going to upgrade when I can afford it). I also do scientific imaging with electron microscopes, and ultimately plan to submit some of those images as well. (I do register everything with eCO).

No, I am not going to quit my day job, and I realize that ultimately, given the cost of bodies, lenses, software, time, etc. this is all just an expensive hobby, but I am interested in trying nonetheless.

Anyway, I will open the floor up to your comments, suggestions, experiences, admonitions, etc.... Grin

Thanks,
Kevin





You post in a pro section. Have you any idea what your 'hobby' has done to many depending on stock to pay their way in life? Do you care?

Rob C

« Last Edit: February 01, 2013, 01:57:13 PM by Rob C » Logged

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« Reply #2 on: February 01, 2013, 02:09:41 PM »
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You post in a pro section. Have you any idea what your 'hobby' has done to many depending on stock to pay their way in life? Do you care?

Rob C



No. I didn't realize that I had an ethical responsibilty to avoid submitting images to stock libraries because they are solely reserved as a vehicle for those who seek to have their way paid in life. If my photos make the cut and people are interested in them, I will sell them. If people taking casual snaps with an iPhone are able to do the same at some point, then more power to them.

Do I dare sell prints of my work? Do I dare get gallery representation?

What I have learned from searching for a job and trying to set up a consulting business is that NO ONE cares about your livelihood; they only care about what value you can offer them.

Personally I do wish you well, and I do appreciate your contributions to this forum, but your attitude will do nothing to help you.

BTW, I am a professional photographer, and my 15 peer-reviewed scientific journal articles are all derived from my own photomicrography, as do my eight journal covers, exhibitions, newspaper articles, etc., etc.
« Last Edit: February 01, 2013, 02:22:49 PM by PSA DC-9-30 » Logged

Rob C
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« Reply #3 on: February 01, 2013, 02:33:51 PM »
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Good for you; as a pro, then, you should know better than to think of stock today.

As for selling prints, putting stuff in galleries, writing here and there, that's nothing to do with stock; it's a diversion from the topic. As for my personal attitude: I never ask anyone to love me. Neither do I present a face that I wouldn't recognize as my own; over several years expressing one's self in a medium such as this I think that would be self-defeating.

"Anyway, I will open the floor up to your comments, suggestions, experiences, admonitions, etc...."

Remember writing that?

Rob C
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« Reply #4 on: February 01, 2013, 02:46:42 PM »
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Um, well, apparently I don't know better than to think of stock today, and I suppose there are at least some pros who would disagree with your outlook. This is simply a different aspect of the business that I am not familiar with. So, I would appreciate it if you would expand on your discontents with stock rather than condemning me...

And inasmuch as there are people who depend on gallery representation and selling  prints, I fail to see how that is a diversion from the topic. Your disapproval seems rooted in people affecting your livelihood, is it not?
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Rob C
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« Reply #5 on: February 02, 2013, 09:44:00 AM »
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Um, well, apparently I don't know better than to think of stock today, and I suppose there are at least some pros who would disagree with your outlook. This is simply a different aspect of the business that I am not familiar with. So, I would appreciate it if you would expand on your discontents with stock rather than condemning me...

And inasmuch as there are people who depend on gallery representation and selling  prints, I fail to see how that is a diversion from the topic. Your disapproval seems rooted in people affecting your livelihood, is it not?



Sometimes, I feel I speak a different language to other English speakers, this is one such time.

But, to try and accommodate you: gallery and print sales are not stock library photography, which is what your post was about, non?

I was invited, and accepted the invitation to join Britain’s leading stock library, Tony Stone, which was eventually sold to Getty as, I think, their first major step into stock, at something rumoured to be around thirty million quid. During my time with Tony Stone Associates and its later iteration as Tony Stone Worldwide, the split used to be 50-50 between agency and snapper. Today, I think none of the majors offers that, and micro is a zillion times worse. Details are available online, as I’d expect anyone thinking about the business would have checked for themselves.

I gave up on stock even when the split was still 50-50 because of three or four  major factors: I used to get most of my models stock material from calendar shoots, where the budget  was faced by the calendar clients.  The advent of political correctness killed my calendar work. I had some holiday brochure clients ranging from Thomsons to local Scottish tour operators, and there was a decent seasonal return on both holiday atmospherics as well as property shoots for them. Holiday atmospherics were also a source of income from the stock agencies, but I remember the day Tony Stone’s man was on the telephone asking that I submit no more views of the Mediterranean, because all of London was sinking with similar imagery. I finally decided that I had to face the new reality of political correctness and give it one more round on my own money. Well, it took me two years to get the investment back, never mind even consider profit and loss of interest (yes, banks paid it then!). Around that time, The British Journal of Photography (certainly then a very respected pro publication) ran an article on the Image Bank, where they proudly claimed to have 36,000 transparencies of the Eiffel Tower. Imagine being the cat supplying tranny number 36,001.

I moved to a Spanish-based agency for a while, and in the first year they managed to bring me about twelve quid for a shot of a resort. The owner’s advice, when he came to Mallorca and we met so he could look at my stuff, was that the secret of success with stock is to do everything as cheaply as possible. That obviously included prices for work used, I later discovered. That was when I decided that it made more sense to go cruising with friends and let photography slide into memory. At about the same time, I received a call (whist moored off Formentor with one such mate, which I thought was a delightful coincidence) from a chap I’d known over the years who ran a design agency in Glasgow. He wanted me to shoot a fashion catalogue for one of his Scottish knitwear clients out here, in Mallorca. We later negotiated a price, and I agreed to put him up in my home and find a hotel for his client and the models. Just a few days later, I was told that he, my old connection, wasn’t now beng allowed on the trip, but that the client would take his place in my home. I ended the negotiation at that point.

In my view, and I hope it answers your question clearly and cleanly and, above all, honestly, stock used to be a very good business in which to dip the toes. At pennies per sale today, I think it madness for anyone other than the hobbyist with an ego problem.

Rob C




« Last Edit: February 03, 2013, 10:30:54 AM by Rob C » Logged

BrianWJH
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« Reply #6 on: February 02, 2013, 06:20:42 PM »
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Touche Grin
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #7 on: February 02, 2013, 07:03:04 PM »
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... stock used to be a very good business in which to dip the toes. At pennies per sale today, I think it madness for anyone other than the hobbyist with an ego problem

That would be a bit harsh. Unless, of course, you equate esteem and self-esteem, in terms of Maslow hierarchy of needs, to be the same as ego problem. In other words, amateurs' needs for achievement and recognition are as human as the need for safety and satisfaction of physiological needs professionals work for. It is actually a higher level of human motivation. Unless, of course, you assume that people should not aspire to anything else but to provide for food and shelter.
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« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2013, 05:00:55 AM »
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That would be a bit harsh. Unless, of course, you equate esteem and self-esteem, in terms of Maslow hierarchy of needs, to be the same as ego problem. In other words, amateurs' needs for achievement and recognition are as human as the need for safety and satisfaction of physiological needs professionals work for. It is actually a higher level of human motivation. Unless, of course, you assume that people should not aspire to anything else but to provide for food and shelter.


I posted a reply to this, but have since removed it, as I don't think any of this is worthy of a place in professional photography discussion.

Rob C
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« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2013, 09:02:33 AM »
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Kevin, I'm not sure what you hoped for by posting here but I'll give a brief outline, as I see it, in the hope it might help.

The stock industry has undergone significant change over the last decade or so. Previously there were comparatively few contributors who could expect to earn comparatively high fees. Now there are a significantly higher level of contributors who can expect to earn comparatively low fees.

Previously most stock was 'rights managed', now most is 'royalty free'.

Stock was always a numbers game, now even more so.

The world is now awash with stock images.

I'm not sure what you hope to gain from entering into stock but I'd advise you keep a sense of realism i.e. you're unlikely to cover your expenses.

The exception could be your scientific imaging. If you do decide to submit these images then you'd probably be best advised to seek a specialist agency who adhere to the 'rights managed' model.

Whatever, when dealing with agencies be very careful, and be sure to understand what it is you are entering into.

As much as I regret what I see as the demise of the stock industry I'm also a realist and accept that the world changes and owes no one a living.
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« Reply #10 on: February 04, 2013, 08:06:43 PM »
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MICRO-STOCK ONLY COMMENTS: About 7 years ago I contributed to 8 to 10 micro stock sites, mainly as outlets for images I shot while shooting my more "serious" arty stuff. About 5 years ago that market started a drastic slide in both compensation percentages and total compensation. Literally billions of nearly free image have come into the market from legitimate stock sites, pirate sites, and non-professional individuals begging to have their work used without compensation. No wonder the stock scene has become a killing field survived only by very specialized experts. My hat is off to anyone still in that business and making a living.

While I haven't uploaded any stock images for around 2 years the odd thing is that I'm still getting paid quite regularly. A decent month for me 5 years ago was around $800-1,000/month with 700 images. Now, I cash around $200/month with zero time spent.
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Rob C
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« Reply #11 on: February 05, 2013, 02:25:49 AM »
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MICRO-STOCK ONLY COMMENTS: About 7 years ago I contributed to 8 to 10 micro stock sites, mainly as outlets for images I shot while shooting my more "serious" arty stuff. About 5 years ago that market started a drastic slide in both compensation percentages and total compensation. Literally billions of nearly free image have come into the market from legitimate stock sites, pirate sites, and non-professional individuals begging to have their work used without compensation. No wonder the stock scene has become a killing field survived only by very specialized experts. My hat is off to anyone still in that business and making a living.

While I haven't uploaded any stock images for around 2 years the odd thing is that I'm still getting paid quite regularly. A decent month for me 5 years ago was around $800-1,000/month with 700 images. Now, I cash around $200/month with zero time spent.




Absoutely; underlines what both Keith and I wrote, that you can no longer spend money on providing stock and see it make you more than you spend. Seems those days have gone for ever.

The trouble with your own situation, were I you, would be the idea that to make $200 whilst the agency makes perhaps 95 cents (and upwards) to my five, would be unbearable. I would say screw them! I would rather starve than be raped.

Rob C


 
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« Reply #12 on: February 07, 2013, 08:55:40 PM »
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I'm not sure how raped I am to be getting hundreds of dollars per month for the last two years with no work other than requesting payouts.
As to your 95/5 revenue split; what company doesn't have a similar ratio? If I hired a salesperson at $100,000/yr I would sure expect them to generate 10 to 20 times that amount in revenue.
Nobody in the stock photography business is chained to their work stations. Those that believe they are not getting a fair shake have left that sector. I doubt many of them are dumb enough to give up that continuing income stream.
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Rob C
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« Reply #13 on: February 08, 2013, 03:37:11 AM »
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I'm not sure how raped I am to be getting hundreds of dollars per month for the last two years with no work other than requesting payouts.
As to your 95/5 revenue split; what company doesn't have a similar ratio? If I hired a salesperson at $100,000/yr I would sure expect them to generate 10 to 20 times that amount in revenue.Nobody in the stock photography business is chained to their work stations. Those that believe they are not getting a fair shake have left that sector. I doubt many of them are dumb enough to give up that continuing income stream.


I guess the problem is that you appear to think of a stock agency as being your employer; a stock photographer is usually not an employee. Your figures are, in that context, bullshit.

Following on, I must assume you feel happy that you finance a shoot completely, and then get 200 bucks where the agent picks up 3,800?

I rest my case, and suggest you call a man in a white coat to come rescue you from yourself.

Rob C
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chez
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« Reply #14 on: February 08, 2013, 07:46:57 AM »
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I guess the problem is that you appear to think of a stock agency as being your employer; a stock photographer is usually not an employee. Your figures are, in that context, bullshit.

Following on, I must assume you feel happy that you finance a shoot completely, and then get 200 bucks where the agent picks up 3,800?

I rest my case, and suggest you call a man in a white coat to come rescue you from yourself.

Rob C

I work for a company and pull down a good income. The product that I manage generates income for the company in the tens of millions a year. Do I bitch about this...no. Do I cry about this...no. Would I care if a stock agency sells my photos for 20x what I get...no, as long as I am ok with what I get. I really don't care how much others profit as long as I am happy with my take. Would I like for, sure...but if I was not happy with my takes I would look for another job or a different photo agency...but I would not bitch and continuously cry about how it was years ago. Things change...and you either change with them or just move along.
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Rob C
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« Reply #15 on: February 08, 2013, 08:36:37 AM »
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I work for a company and pull down a good income. The product that I manage generates income for the company in the tens of millions a year. Do I bitch about this...no. Do I cry about this...no. Would I care if a stock agency sells my photos for 20x what I get...no, as long as I am ok with what I get. I really don't care how much others profit as long as I am happy with my take. Would I like for, sure...but if I was not happy with my takes I would look for another job or a different photo agency...but I would not bitch and continuously cry about how it was years ago. Things change...and you either change with them or just move along.



Quite; that's the product that produces the millions, not you.

Why so many red herrings and false analogies from some of you guys? Is it too unpleasant to face the truth of what some of you do? Damage your comfortable self-esteem?

Rob C
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« Reply #16 on: February 08, 2013, 08:55:51 AM »
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I guess the problem is that you appear to think of a stock agency as being your employer; a stock photographer is usually not an employee. Your figures are, in that context, bullshit.

Following on, I must assume you feel happy that you finance a shoot completely, and then get 200 bucks where the agent picks up 3,800?

I rest my case, and suggest you call a man in a white coat to come rescue you from yourself.

Rob C

Thanks. I did call some folks in white coats. However, when they read the posts here they wanted your address.
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« Reply #17 on: February 08, 2013, 09:50:07 AM »
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Quite; that's the product that produces the millions, not you.

Why so many red herrings and false analogies from some of you guys? Is it too unpleasant to face the truth of what some of you do? Damage your comfortable self-esteem?

Rob C

Rob, I made the product that produces the millions. Just like you took the snapshot that the agency sells for you. I don't see a difference at all. I don't see it as a false analogy like you do.

Photography is just but one small industry that has been hit by undercutting. My industry, software has been hit hard with offshore development. The textile and furniture industry has been basically demolished in the states by cheaper offshore labour. Photography is just a drop in this big sea.

Rob, and I bet you totally contribute to the downfall of those other industries by wanting cheaper products. I bet you buy products made offshore rather than spending the big bucks for the products developed locally. If so...are you not a hypocrite?
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« Reply #18 on: February 08, 2013, 09:55:56 AM »
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I have around 100 or so images with a stock agency.  They've been there for nearly 10 years.  I make only a couple hundred dollars a year off of them, which is why I haven't submitted new images to them in many years.  Instead, I market my own stock imagery directly to magazines and calendar companies.  In doing so, I make a few thousand dollars each year in stock image licensing fees.  Is it enough to live lavishly?  Hell no.  Does it contribute to my business' bottom line significantly enough to justify the time expense of marketing the images?  Hell yes.

Realize that I don't go out of my way to make stock images.  I'm an adventure and landscape photographer.  When my friends or wife and I go hiking, canyoneering or mountain biking (for fun), I bring my camera and make images along the way.  With or without a camera I'd still be out there hiking, canyoneering and mountain biking.  So, as I see it, my expenses in doing so are negligible.  In fact, because I carry my camera and make marketable images during our adventures, I am able to write off the associated mileage, campground fees, meals, etc. as a tax deductible expense.

All this is to say that you CAN make money in stock photography despite what many will tell you.  How much you make and how much you spend in doing so will depend on your skills in marketing your work and the type of stock photography you produce.  If you're doing food shoots, or model shoots, your experience will likely be vastly different from my own.  Best of luck to you!
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Rob C
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« Reply #19 on: February 08, 2013, 02:18:03 PM »
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Thanks. I did call some folks in white coats. However, when they read the posts here they wanted your address.



If they were female and cute, I hope you passed it on: I quite fancy the fantasy of nurses; I'm told it's normal at my tender age!

Rob C
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