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Author Topic: Stock libraries--please share experiences, thoughts, etc.  (Read 4373 times)
Rob C
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« Reply #20 on: February 08, 2013, 03:04:45 PM »
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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?


The analogy is false because, as I underestand it, you are an employee and it's not your money that funds the development; you do what you are paid to do and that's it, the deal of employment. A pro stock shooter does use his own resources and not those of any stock agency; the investment is his, as is the creation, in all senses, of the product. It is not a similar deal. Getty (or Stone - same thing in the end) once offered to fund shoots, but they got the copyright and the photographer a smile. In other words, they wanted to own the source of production too. Greed, yet again.

I live on an island with nothing going for it anymore but tourism. I live right at the edge of our little devolopment, bang up against what was farmland. We used to watch the piglets being born, the goats, sheep and single cow respond to the farmer's calls every evening and abandon the field for their barn. One year, I noted there were no animals. I asked the old farmer why; he told me that the EEC had offered him a bag of money to kill the animals and plant no more cereal. Repeat that across the island and much of Europe (apart from France, where they do what suits them best, and quite rightly) and you realise that local industry dies because of governments and crazy politicians' decisions, made hundreds of miles away from the coalface, in the luxury of their city headquarters. That field now lies barren of edible crop, overgrown with maquis and turning into a pine forest.

My wife was a wonderful cook. We were up every Sunday morning at seven-thirty to be at the local market to buy freshly gathered farm products. The markets still run, if smaller, but they sell the same fruit and veg all year round. Something should indicate to you that it can no longer be local produce. Thank the EEC for that; they destoyed what was local and seasonal and now we get forced and imported shit.

Regarding photographic goods. I have already written that I do not chase the cheap; I buy my Nikon stuff now from  London's (Britain's?) premier Nikon dealer. A privately owned company, I believe, and anything but cheap. But I trust them and can speak with the people with whom I want to speak. Last week I had to telephone my bank abroad on five seperate occasions and never got through to the same person twice. I could not get passed through to the manager. (If there even is one.) My problems, of their making, not mine, were not resolved, and each call lasted about forty-five minutes. That's big business for you. If you live in Britain, it can hardly have escaped you how horses have been smuggled into the food chain as cattle. It used to be a direct line from farmer to butcher and from him, the best part of half-a-cow to our freezer. With Big Brother's intervention, the local butchers died off and the supermarkets sell it all (including banking and insurance - why?), and where do they buy? Even the government is finding it hard to discover, with trails leading to France, Luxembourg and Ireland... Look beyond one's nose, and the answer is obvious: greed. On every bloody level, greed; the dream of averice, that something for nothing. It'll be the death of us all, and we shall deserve it.

So no, by your own criterion, I am not a hypocrite.

Rob C
« Last Edit: February 08, 2013, 03:07:21 PM by Rob C » Logged

wildlightphoto
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« Reply #21 on: February 08, 2013, 03:33:43 PM »
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Anyway, I will open the floor up to your comments, suggestions, experiences, admonitions, etc.... Grin

Stock agencies have been pretty much a waste of my time, especially in the last few years.  I get much more income in a year (not that I can retire or anything... ) from buyers finding my website than from 20 years with stock agencies.

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.

Supply & demand.  The camera features that made it so much easier for established photographers to make marketable images also - surprise! - made it easier for everone else too.  The market is swamped with technically acceptable images.  To get any income from stock photography, either specialize in a unique niche or go for volume.  Adapt or perish.
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Rob C
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« Reply #22 on: February 09, 2013, 03:46:44 AM »
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1.   Stock agencies have been pretty much a waste of my time, especially in the last few years.  I get much more income in a year (not that I can retire or anything... ) from buyers finding my website than from 20 years with stock agencies.

2.   Supply & demand.  The camera features that made it so much easier for established photographers to make marketable images also - surprise! - made it easier for everone else too.  The market is swamped with technically acceptable images.  To get any income from stock photography, either specialize in a unique niche or go for volume.  Adapt or perish.




Hi,

1.   Thanks for sharing some reports of experience of then and now. I found stock was not too bad up until the mid-late 80s and then the ever-growing supply of material from more photographers seemed to affect not prices, but frequency of sales, which is a quite different matter. In other words, the value of the sales were still maintained, only there were more people chasing the same market which wasnít, apparently, growing, but value held. But, in time, not only frequency of sales fell away, but also the value of each.

2.   New cameras. I donít think that the then established stock shooters had any problems with their camera equipment that digital would have resolved Ė they were mostly pretty experienced guys who knew not only how to shoot but, most importantly, what to shoot and how to shoot it.

The first problem that digital introduced wasnít cameras: it was those CDs with a hundred or whatever images sold, all rights relinqished, for a few bucks. That was just the result of more finacial greed, and not on the part of the photographers. It never is on the part of the photographers. The net result of the introduction of those CDs was to devalue photographic images and reduce them to Ďpurchase by the toní commodities.

That amateurs were given an easier technical ride with digital cameras is actually another red herring: amateurs have always had those amongst them who are as good if not better photographers than many professionals Ė thatís not in dispute at all. In the areas where they can compete, such as scenics, travel, close-ups of flowers etc. etc. there was seldom any reason for them to find themselves held back and they were not. Where they have helped destroy the professional side of stock is in supplying imagery at the stupid (for the creator) prices with which agencies were eventually able to fob off suppliers, and in such bulk as never seen before.

The other half of supplier responsibility lies squarely on the heads of the pros who, rather than face the agents, continued to supply and only complained to one another. A total boycott would have made some agencies think again: they could not have continued without fresh material, and if their top-of-the-line stuff was left to go stale or even withdrawnÖ

Non-pros do not usually compete with pros in quality lifestyle, glamour, sport, showbiz portraiture and similar specialist areas Therefore, shooters in those areas might have been forgiven for feeling safe. But the flaw is the much lower prices that the agenciesí attempts to outsell one another allowed to take root, and you canít go back to better levels. (Thatís why I always told any young guy starting out in this business who asked me, that you have to price yourself pretty much where you reasonably want to end up; you canít charge your client a hundred bucks a day today and expect him to happily stump up a grand next year for the same thing: It wonít fly.)

Why did it go this way at agency level?  Just think who owns or owned the two mega agencies: one was an oil baron and the other a computer software billionaire. Neither of these two probably knew or cared anything about the life of the photographer: they represented the biggest of big business and all that mattered was making money by buying up the competition. The final round is inevitably going to be the gobble up of one by the other, leaving a single monopolistic survivor: the perfect deal in any venture.

So yes, I agree with wildlight that doing your own selling is going to be the only reasonable way left to make anything at all out of stock. It will be up to the individual to decide if the hours spent runnng such a business (if as a business), as well as the choice of genre, will be worth what it brings in. My solution? When I saw that it wasnít paying off anymore I stopped throwing away my pennies.

Bitter? Bet your ass! Iíd imagined my trannies represented the greater part of my pension!

Rob C

« Last Edit: February 09, 2013, 03:49:31 AM by Rob C » Logged

wildlightphoto
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« Reply #23 on: February 09, 2013, 08:00:13 AM »
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Bitter? Bet your ass! Iíd imagined my trannies represented the greater part of my pension!

Diversifying risk is never a bad idea.
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #24 on: February 09, 2013, 12:10:00 PM »
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... A total boycott...

General strike? Sounds like unionizing would have helped? But then again, if I remember correctly, you are staunchly against unions, no?

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... Bitter? Bet your ass! Iíd imagined my trannies represented the greater part of my pension!

Seriously, Rob, and I am not trying to be mean or flippant, but what is a life span of a stock photograph? Especially the generic ones, girls, beaches, exotic locales? How long did you expect to milk the same? Those things date pretty quickly. If not clothes, hair and makeup style, then even general look and feel. Even boobs date: the lack of silicone does that to them (ie, dates them, for better or worse). Kodachromes, which I loved dearly, become recognizable, as style, after a while. The same with Velvia.

Coincidentally, just got a flier in the mail: Pink, a Victoria's Secret brand, aimed at younger girls, is totally done in Instagram style, (if not outright by iPhone, then instagrammed). That's what photography is for today's young: Instagram. It's "art" filters and HDR, all the way, baby, not Kodachrome, nor Velvia. Photographic styles date. Ad world has been inundated until very recently with draganized imagery... it seems that Instagram is the new kid on the block. Not Kodachrome, nor Velvia.

But, it is ok to be bitter. I am often. It's human. And natural. Just like greed.
« Last Edit: February 09, 2013, 01:44:35 PM by Slobodan Blagojevic » Logged

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Rob C
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« Reply #25 on: February 09, 2013, 04:11:20 PM »
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Slobodan,

1. Unions. Unions had a place Ė possibly still do. But it isnít unions that are the problem: itís when they are hijacked by political extremists, and the ones I know about first-hand were in engineering, and that was how it was.  Proto-reds took control, not because there were many of them about, in reality, but because of the usual lack of activity from the huge, rational majority: apathy. Apathy about votes closed down so many British engineering companies it is frightening to think about it.

For those photographers already members of photographic associations, there is a certain potential strength in numbers, and perhaps they could have been organized a bit better to act collectively. Where these associations differ from the bog-standard union, is that members donít usually expect collective bargaining because the membership is largely of the self-employed Ė God help us, even the taxman has a thing about us. So, a call to arms would have possibly had an effect if taken in time. But, I suspect that apathy would have won yet again; apathy and fear.

2. Actual stock. Yes, I agree that many picture (unless historical) have a finite lifespan.  Maybe mine are now old enough to have reached historical valueÖ I think I jest. But some things donít have to be new: monuments and such Ė one of my most frequent sellers (to my surprise, I have to admit) was a shot in Rhodes of the Temple of Diana, I think - would have to look it up Ė and the whole point of it (that genre) is to preserve what was in days of yore.

Going to the girls genre: yes, things do change but not as rapidly as you might think: we are not talking fashion or hairstyle shots, but even those can certainly have reference value for some markets. Itís also far from clear that plastic implants are really all-conqueringÖ but, thatís only part of the picture as far as Iím concerned: much of the damage was done by political correctness well  before penny-stock agencies came along, and amateur competition in the genre was not a threat. I would have liked to have been gainfully employed after official retirement because freedom from the urge or need to find commissions never meant I had lost my love of photography; doing the occasional shoot  now and then would have been a great way to achieve a small but welcome revenue stream as well as spiritual satisfaction. But, you know where the photo stock market has gone as well as do I: thereís no point to shooting anything thatís going to cost money, which travel most certainly does Ė the odds are too stacked against one.

3. Greed. No, itís not the same as bitterness or actually particulary natural outwith modern man. Bitterness comes from anger created from frustration and helplessnes in the face of an injustice in the form of a situation over which one has no control. Like watching someone you love die for reasons not of their making; or your living taken away by people already well-off with other jobs. Greed is unnatural: even a beast of prey stops killing when it has eaten enough. Most people I know also have a normal cut-off point; I donít think I know anyone willing to work themselves to death for a few dollars more if they are already comfortable. But I guess I have just been lucky: the outer world now seems filled with such people.

So, apart from bitterness, add depression at the thought of whatís now out there. Itís a lot more than photography thatís changed: so have people. Itís funny: I never thought the day would come when I found myself thinking about, and regretting, the death of morality. Without morality, we people are not much more than slightly intelligent pigs. I watched part of a programme today on Aljazeera about medicine in India; they were working on pig hearts as a way of teaching young surgeons to perform heart ops on people: seems the two organs are almost identical. Not a lot more to add, really.

Rob C
« Last Edit: February 09, 2013, 04:16:26 PM by Rob C » Logged

Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #26 on: February 09, 2013, 05:04:06 PM »
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... I donít think I know anyone willing to work themselves to death for a few dollars more if they are already comfortable...

Then Scots and Serbs have much more in common than I thought Smiley Apart from being four-letter words, that is Grin
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Slobodan

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Rob C
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« Reply #27 on: February 10, 2013, 02:54:38 AM »
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Then Scots and Serbs have much more in common than I thought Smiley Apart from being four-letter words, that is Grin


I see it as European heritage.

;-)

Rob C
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« Reply #28 on: February 13, 2013, 12:28:49 AM »
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Although the heydays of stock photography are now over, it is still possible to make enough to buy every year a new lens. Depending on the size and quality of portfolio, this could be a beaten-up Kiev prime or a nice Schneider zoom.
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Rob C
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« Reply #29 on: February 13, 2013, 03:05:31 AM »
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Although the heydays of stock photography are now over, it is still possible to make enough to buy every year a new lens. Depending on the size and quality of portfolio, this could be a beaten-up Kiev prime or a nice Schneider zoom.



Indubitable so, Les, but as a professional venture, on a time/reward basis, is that worth the doing?

Rob C
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« Reply #30 on: February 13, 2013, 11:16:26 AM »
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Indubitable so, Les, but as a professional venture, on a time/reward basis, is that worth the doing?

Rob C

Not, if you blow all your earnings on Kiev lenses.
« Last Edit: February 13, 2013, 12:52:55 PM by LesPalenik » Logged

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« Reply #31 on: February 15, 2013, 05:31:43 AM »
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Seriously, Rob, and I am not trying to be mean or flippant, but what is a life span of a stock photograph? Especially the generic ones, girls, beaches, exotic locales? How long did you expect to milk the same? Those things date pretty quickly. If not clothes, hair and makeup style, then even general look and feel. Even boobs date: the lack of silicone does that to them (ie, dates them, for better or worse). Kodachromes, which I loved dearly, become recognizable, as style, after a while. The same with Velvia.

After looking at Rob's latest image on Recent Professional Works I think perhaps the most serious challenge to the longevity of such stock images would be the tans.

Tans to die for?
« Last Edit: February 15, 2013, 01:46:47 PM by KLaban » Logged

Chairman Bill
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« Reply #32 on: February 15, 2013, 05:45:56 AM »
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... In other words, they wanted to own the source of production too. Greed, yet again.
It's what drives capitalism. But I agree, the workers should own the means (source) of production. Welcome to the Dark Side  Wink

Quote
... That field now lies barren of edible crop, overgrown with maquis and turning into a pine forest.
That's what you get when corporations/big business & government get together. As Mussolini put it, "Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism, because it is a merger of state and corporate power."

<stands back & awaits the furious onslaught from certain quarters>
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Rob C
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« Reply #33 on: February 15, 2013, 01:42:11 PM »
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It's what drives capitalism. But I agree, the workers should own the means (source) of production. Welcome to the Dark Side  Wink
That's what you get when corporations/big business & government get together. As Mussolini put it, "Fascism should more appropriately be called Corporatism, because it is a merger of state and corporate power."

<stands back & awaits the furious onslaught from certain quarters>


Relax, Bill, no need to stand back; most everyone else can differentiate between what a pro snapper does at his own expense in product production and the rŰle of an employed worker in a factory. I've been both.

;-)

Rob C
« Last Edit: February 15, 2013, 02:04:58 PM by Rob C » Logged

Rob C
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« Reply #34 on: February 15, 2013, 02:02:19 PM »
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After looking at Rob's latest image on Recent Professional Works, I think perhaps the most serious challenge to the longevity of such stock images would be the girl's tans.

Tans to die for?


You have a good point, Keith, and I haven't sunbathed in decades. (Do you remember Ibiza, or was that Espalmador or Formentera?) This little lady, though, was of mixed origin and the tan came with the attractive territory.

Actually, given the opportunity, I think I would currently prefer doing interior shots in black/white in old mansions with girls in lots of lace, broderie anglaise and stuff like that. In short: Sarah Moon's Pirelli, 1972, but sans colour. I just can't get that production out of my head since I saw it back in the year. Why without colour? My printer produces better b/white than it does colour, and I think b/white more satisfyingly beyond the norm. It adds something that colour often lacks: colour can feel too real for dreams to survive.

And without dreams, what's left? What's the point? Might as well just go for a walk down to the supermarket and gaze at the shelves. Women do that all the time... better solution than mother's little helpers.

;-)

Rob C
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Slobodan Blagojevic
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« Reply #35 on: February 15, 2013, 02:08:36 PM »
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After looking at Rob's latest image on Recent Professional Works I think perhaps the most serious challenge to the longevity of such stock images would be the tans.

Tans to die for?

Not so fast. It is quite contemporary. Just google Tanning Salon Mom  Grin
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Slobodan

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« Reply #36 on: February 15, 2013, 04:20:34 PM »
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You have a good point, Keith, and I haven't sunbathed in decades. (Do you remember Ibiza, or was that Espalmador or Formentera?)

Rob, yes indeed.

I have very fond memories of a misspent youth and blazing hot summers in Formentera, although I suffered the consequences some years later when I was diagnosed with malignant melanoma. Happily I survived, sadly many don't.

Nothing wrong with dreams, I enjoy mine!
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« Reply #37 on: February 15, 2013, 04:22:49 PM »
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Just google Tanning Salon Mom  Grin

Eww!
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KevinA
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« Reply #38 on: February 16, 2013, 06:08:49 AM »
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Put it this way. I've ditched all the libraries I was in. The effort for the return diminished to pointless, bordering on insulting.
I've tried the micro's and other libraries, I found it just devalued my product.
I sell direct to clients, most sales I get £180. plus taxes for, sometimes less and sometimes more. I do more in a moth this way than all the libraries I was in provided in a year. I get to know my clients, build a customer base and keep all the money, what I am directly getting £180. for, Alamy was selling on a good day for $50. or more normally about $5. and I would get 50% some months down the line. It's a £ucking bad joke, photographers let the shinny suits brigade take our living by being bone lazy.
Micros will suck the life out of you, you need to being uploading lots and lots of images every month to many micros to get anything back and it isn't a five minute job. Some sites will reject an image or batch of images for "quality" issues others will take them, then they sell them on subscription for $0.25 a time.
By all means give it a go, you can't harm the industry anymore than already achieved. Expect nothing back and you will not be disappointed.

I can't recommend Photodeck enough for setting up your own online selling, if you go with them quote YG@UWJZSV (yes I will get a kick back, just a small discount on my next years fees), I would not be using them if it did not work!
I paid over £4k some years ago to have a bespoke site built, that never worked properly and would not do half of what Photodeck does.
I contacted them the other day about them designing my site for me, I don't have the time to get my head around the finer points and there is lots of stuff I'm not happy about. But it still works for me, sells images and builds a client base. http://kevinallen.photodeck.com/-/galleries

Kevin.
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Rob C
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« Reply #39 on: February 16, 2013, 08:00:39 AM »
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Kevin,

I'm happy you have found a realistic way to market your material, and I think that a part of your success has also to do with your subject. I imagine that it appeals to a more 'serious' market than do many usual GP sites, where you can buy anything from landscape to babies and kittens. Perhaps such a specialised market allows for more repeat business too, as you indicate happens with you.

More power to your arm.

Rob C

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