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Microstock Photography Forum - General => General Stock Discussion => Topic started by: superjoseph on April 25, 2014, 05:56

Title: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: superjoseph on April 25, 2014, 05:56
hi guys
i just want to talking about Microstock Golden age.

someone say Microstock Golden age is over. we no come back at 2009or2010.
but some people say  Microstock still in development. Just more mature。

what do you think ?
How do you think it will develop in the future?
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: luissantos84 on April 25, 2014, 06:02
as your 1st post here why don't you tell us?
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: superjoseph on April 25, 2014, 06:11
I think the idea is not dead, the institutions will be a lot of cleaning up old images,then introduction of new creative images.The final formation of monopoly
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: luissantos84 on April 25, 2014, 06:21
there is only one agency doing cleaning (Dreamstime), in the other hand there is one accepting pretty much everything (iStock) so your theory may have flaws there

I just wonder if there will be any players apart from SS in a few years? for sure a few because there are quite a few agencies with zero sales still surviving

also believe that we should invest more in selling direct, sort of mission impossible but a sale here and there might be a good start
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: ShadySue on April 25, 2014, 06:24
I just wonder if there will be any players apart from SS in a few years? for sure a few because there are quite a few agencies with zero sales still surviving
I don't think a monopoly is ever a good idea.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: luissantos84 on April 25, 2014, 06:25
I just wonder if there will be any players apart from SS in a few years? for sure a few because there are quite a few agencies with zero sales still surviving
I don't think a monopoly is ever a good idea.

and I agree Sue but looking at my earnings it looks like...
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: superjoseph on April 25, 2014, 06:26
yes , Monopoly will bring contributors‘ income cheap
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: Shelma1 on April 25, 2014, 08:38
I just wonder if there will be any players apart from SS in a few years? for sure a few because there are quite a few agencies with zero sales still surviving
I don't think a monopoly is ever a good idea.

Agreed. I'd love to see a bunch of agencies with strong sales offering us fair commissions. It's nice to dream. ;)
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: Harvepino on April 25, 2014, 08:38
The industry is in shake out phase. More smaller players will be acquired by larger ones or forced to close down. Barriers to entry are becoming higher and so we'll see less and less new start ups. It may or may not end up in monopoly. It depends on SS's and iStock's next steps.
I personally believe that he current "agency" model of microstock industry will be transformed into something quite different, but I don't know what it'll be. I guess something like Spotify in music industry could eventually rise in our market too.
I'm not too worried about the future though. We create images, our images hold value. If you have a valuable portfolio, there will always be some way of monetizing it.

There is one event in my mind that can potentially change everything very quickly anytime. Just imagine, what would happen if SS starts offering exclusivity at good commission rates? Other agencies would stand no chance. That could be a quick way to monopoly.  :)
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: Red Dove on April 25, 2014, 09:00
Continued growth for me or stable development if you like. I find it amusing to talk of a golden age in a ten year old business but there you go. No doubt some were earning more money back then but there are probably more earning even higher returns now.

As with any business, if you can adapt to changing demand and are able to step out of your comfort zone at the drop of a hat, you can still earn a pretty penny....the caveat being that even the most adroit and gifted don't make it without a sprinkling from the Luck Fairy - whose name is Gwendoline by the way.

ETA: Already written numerous times about emerging markets, new platforms and technologies etc that have me convinced this business will grow for years to come. We can expect casualties along the way of course but that is nothing new.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: cthoman on April 25, 2014, 09:25
I'd say it is in decline. There is still a lot of room for growth, but I don't know if it will significantly (at least from the contributor perspective).
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: Perry on April 25, 2014, 14:41
someone say Microstock Golden age is over. we no come back at 2009or2010.

Newbie? For me, the golden age was somewhere in the 2005-2006 area. Decent profits for any miserable image I managed to produce... those were the days...  *sigh*
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: cathyslife on April 25, 2014, 19:45
For most contributors I think it is in decline. So many new photographers and photos being uploaded every day, tough to find or hold a spot.


For buyers, i think things are good. Really excellent photos can be purchased for reasonable prices.


For agencies, well, some apparently just keep raking in the millions but a decline for smaller agencies; they will drop by the wayside.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: Hobostocker on April 27, 2014, 05:22
Sport and News and Fashion and Paparazzi will never die, but the most generic stock stuff can pretty much become worthless before or later.

and for web use i see a strong demand for video but a sharp decline for images as the internet is almost replacing TV as the new medium of choice.

besides, users watching images on a small smartphone screen is not doing us any favour.


i've spoken.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: ferdinand on April 27, 2014, 05:43

There is one event in my mind that can potentially change everything very quickly anytime. Just imagine, what would happen if SS starts offering exclusivity at good commission rates? Other agencies would stand no chance. That could be a quick way to monopoly.  :)

SS will never do that - offering exclusivity - because than other agencies will be pushed to offer even much higher commission rates - and that would be,let s call it, race to the top - agencies  don t want that...
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: salaahkhayr on May 03, 2014, 05:14
About monopoly, can someone explain?


Sent from my iPod touch using Tapatalk
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: scottbraut on May 03, 2014, 08:35
Hello,

I usually skip the opinion threads, but on this topic, I think it's very important to look at the big picture.   I started in photography as a teenage commercial studio assistant in the late 1980s, eventually working at a wire service who served international newspapers and broadcasters.  At that time, you were looking at a few thousand newspapers, major magazines, book publishers and broadcast outlets as the primary consumers of photography. 

Fast-forward to today. If you take Shutterstock as an example, we have nearly 1 million customers on Shutterstock.com, with an audience of an additional 1 million active advertisers on Facebook (backed by an additional 18 million businesses on the FB platform). That's just one partnership.  There have been over 400 million paid image licenses.  Footage licensing (which is well within the reach of any photographer) is rapidly growing.  We're now paying royalties of $120 or more for image licenses. 

If you're shooting a business handshake, then yes - the market for that image has likely diminished as more artists come to the platform.  But we go into client meetings every day with publishers, brands, etc..., who tell us they need more images and can't find XYZ.   For example, a local publisher will tell you - "it's great, you've got images of children. But in our city, kids wear white and green school uniforms.  There's none of that.  And you've got real estate images.  But who in our country has a stereotypical American suburban house?  There's none of that around here.  And our city has 100 different types of regional ethnic cuisine.  We need more images."   Extrapolate that out to the many millions of searches we get, and there are exponential combinations of topics and concepts still to fulfill as new markets emerge and mature markets look for more images and increased variety.

We have to do a better job of educating you on the gaps, but we've started through things like the ShutterstockReq Twitter (https://twitter.com/ShutterstockReq) feed.

One thing that has amazed me about Offset, for example, is how -- after 20 years of major talented and smart players in stock -- so many customers are excited about and embracing the collection.  It's just proof that there's still much opportunity to provide something new and unique if you listen to them carefully and focus on the needs of the customer (instead of focusing on other artists or the competition).

Call me biased, ;)  but I think it's a **very** exciting time in the industry.  It's very hard to be able to see the big picture when you're in the middle of a period of change, but between the technology choices, distribution and consumption platforms, learning platforms (https://www.skillfeed.com/), crowdfunding, easy access to social media advertising, access to a global customer base, etc...  --- there's tremendous opportunity to be entrepreneurial and successful. 

I think the hardest thing is to break out of old habits, to focus on the customer, and to be very forward-looking on rapidly emerging trends.  But the customer audience and demand is there.

Best,

Scott
VP of Content
Shutterstock




Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: lisafx on May 03, 2014, 10:55
Scott, I don't think anyone here would doubt that the future looks rosey for the agencies and the customers.  It just isn't looking too bright for contributors.  With stagnant or dropping prices and commissions on all major agencies,  high volume shooters have seen big drops in income and it only seems to be getting worse.

Sure there are some specialized requests, but to take your examples of regionally specific homes or school uniforms, there isn't going to be enough sales volume to make it worthwhile to shoot these for the micro market.

You mention Offset. Perhaps at those macro prices it would be worth shooting such specific content, but this discussion was about microstock and its decline.  If this is an attempt to recruit micro photographers for Offset, that should probably have its own thread and include instructions on how to submit images there.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: farbled on May 03, 2014, 11:02
Lisa beat me to it, and said it much better than what I was working on.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: cthoman on May 03, 2014, 11:05
Sure there are some specialized requests, but to take your examples of regionally specific homes or school uniforms, there isn't going to be enough sales volume to make it worthwhile to shoot these for the micro market.

I'll occasionally do custom work for low prices, but it definitely can be a slippery slope looking like you are on call for the price of a subscription royalty. I definitely don't want to give that impression.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: stockastic on May 03, 2014, 11:26
The problem is the one-size-fits-all pricing.    Go into a "dollar" store in a strip mall.  What sorts of products do you see?  What would happen if those stores were the only retail outlets in existence?  Welcome to the future of microstock.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: Goofy on May 03, 2014, 11:28
"You mention Offset. Perhaps at those macro prices it would be worth shooting such specific content, but this discussion was about microstock and its decline.  If this is an attempt to recruit micro photographers for Offset, that should probably have its own thread and include instructions on how to submit images there."


Now this would be a great topic to get into great detail for sure...
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: BaldricksTrousers on May 03, 2014, 11:38
Do they actually want bog-standard micro shooters on Offset? I've got shots of Qatar 5 to 10 years ago that are now historical documents. the world's gas capital changes that fast, I sell them as micro because the likes of Offset and Stocksy want really cool commercial shots with high production costs. I'm not sure how their concept differs from the old Getty idea. (I can't vote on this topic because I think the future of microstock depends on whether you are an agency or what I guess we now call an "old-time microstocker".)
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: Jo Ann Snover on May 03, 2014, 12:16
...We have to do a better job of educating you on the gaps, but we've started through things like the ShutterstockReq Twitter ([url]https://twitter.com/ShutterstockReq[/url]) feed.


Great post Scott, and I'm glad you decided to weigh in on the topic.

I hate to sound critical, but I'm going to have to :)

I would say "Yes, but..." to your suggestion that what needs to happen is just that Shutterstock has to educate contributors on the gaps in the collection.

I've been producing images for stock for a little longer - although much less successfully :) - than Lisa. I'm not a volume shooter, but I do mix what I like to photograph with what I think will sell. The change I've noticed most is how agencies have changed as they've become very successful - less communication with and reduced focus on contributors and their issues (and I'm thinking of the large mass of smaller contributors, not the big factories with whom I'm sure agencies stay in touch).

I haven't done something semi-custom in a while, but I used to when I was fairly sure the results would be more broadly useful. For these sorts of requests I would only shoot things that cost me nothing but time and weren't hard to set up.

Do a search on Shutterstock for septic tank (http://www.shutterstock.com/cat.mhtml?lang=en&language=en&searchterm=septic+tank) and although there are only 125 results, 7 of my images are in the first few rows.

The way that a bunch of these items (including the series above) came about was the iStock Request Forum. The iStock forums are currently largely useless, but they were once pretty active with both designers and contributors. Twitter isn't a bad vehicle for many things, but when you're limited to 140 characters, (a) there's not a lot of detail and (b) there's no way to ask the designer a question. Asking questions is less about doing a custom shoot than getting a better understanding of what they need to produce more usable stock. That was the case with the septic tank images and several others in the same vein.

Take a recent tweet from Shutterstock about women in their 50s reading tablets (https://twitter.com/ShutterstockReq/status/461924807429599232). Inside or outside? Isolated on white or in a setting? In business attire or home/weekend? With makeup or in their jammies? Caucasian, Asian, African, Indian - what would be the point in me sending in something of a blond 59-year-old if they wanted another ethnicity?

If there's to be something usable here, (a) I think you need a place on the web site where people can review past requests (don't get rid of Twitter); (b) you need a way to give more detail and allow potential shooters to ask questions. In the iStock past, that was directly with designers. Possibly in the current environment the agency doesn't want contributors in touch with buyers directly but somehow there needs to be a way to get questions answered.

The other aspect of this is inspections. I have more recently had some images of subjects like the septic tanks (this was a valve setup in the dirt for inground sprinklers) rejected (not for noise or focus). Some of these subjects that sell don't look pretty - you'd never hang them on a wall - but they sell. 

After I have a few from a series of this sort rejected, I just stop submitting more like that to SS and return to things I'm fairly sure I can get approved. I'd like to see the inspection issues get resolved in general, but especially if you want people to respond to requests, you probably need a way to tag something that was submitted for a request to stop the rejections for non-technical reasons so the buyer can get what they need.

How about putting a feed of the last few requests up on the contributor home page? How about doing a survey of contributors to find out how getting them information might work best? If contributors are really to be the agency's partners (versus just a cost to be minimized) improvements on that side of the operations as well as on the customer facing side could be more of a priority?
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: gostwyck on May 03, 2014, 12:25
Scott,

As I've said in a similar thread, there's a significant supply/demand gap that is inevitably widening. The growth in supply is massively outstripping the growth in demand. That's not going to be good for contributors and ultimately will probably hit the agencies too.

The emergence of DPC is evidence of just one potential threat to the incomes of both contributors and other agencies. It seems that FT themselves have effectively 'given up' on trying to grow the main Fotolia site and now want to 'disrupt' the microstock industry with a new lower-priced business model (which, if successful, will also kill their main brand).

If DPC succeeds, or even if it does not, then you can be sure that others will follow and introduce their own disruptive model. IS have become pretty desperate of late to breathe life into their ailing business. If the new subscription thing doesn't work for them, as it probably won't, then a mega-low priced model could be the next thing they'll try.

I'm a huge optimist by nature but I struggle to see much of a long-term future for microstock contributors who undertake it as their main occupation.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: cthoman on May 03, 2014, 12:59
Scott,

As I've said in a similar thread, there's a significant supply/demand gap that is inevitably widening. The growth in supply is massively outstripping the growth in demand. That's not going to be good for contributors and ultimately will probably hit the agencies too.

The emergence of DPC is evidence of just one potential threat to the incomes of both contributors and other agencies. It seems that FT themselves have effectively 'given up' on trying to grow the main Fotolia site and now want to 'disrupt' the microstock industry with a new lower-priced business model (which, if successful, will also kill their main brand).

If DPC succeeds, or even if it does not, then you can be sure that others will follow and introduce their own disruptive model. IS have become pretty desperate of late to breathe life into their ailing business. If the new subscription thing doesn't work for them, as it probably won't, then a mega-low priced model could be the next thing they'll try.

I'm a huge optimist by nature but I struggle to see much of a long-term future for microstock contributors who undertake it as their main occupation.

Unless the focus shifts away from volume and low prices, I fear the same thing.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: scottbraut on May 03, 2014, 13:00
Hi All,

Thanks.  Lisa - I think the important thing to note is that I was giving a few specific examples, but the reality is that you can extrapolate that concept to millions of searches and I wouldn't be an advocate if I thought I were simply recommending niche opportunities that don't work for individual contributors - just the opposite.  I consider it an obligation to give you the best information possible.

Now, let's just talk about existing content on popular topics.  As we've sought to create educational material (and as part of the daily monitoring of contributor success, content performance, etc....), we've done things like looked at popular topics.  Would it be possible to upload a pizza image today and have that sell well?  I wouldn't suggest that people focus on popular topics, but it is. 

For workshops, I've pulled three images that were:


From that perspective, they were almost exact.

Looking at the performance of those three images, there's wildly different results, with one image generating thousands of downloads and other images generating dozens. 

Based on what?  It's not the search engine. 

It's based on the styling of the model; the composition of the image; depth-of-field, the central object of focus, prop styling, naturalistic lighting, retouching and post-production, keywording and overall - the qualities of the image that make the image findable or desirable to customers. But nothing in those three images was something that the photographer didn't have control over.

That's awesome news.  It means that individual contributors have some control over their success --- not only in the many, many untapped subject areas, but also in areas in which content has been well-covered. 

When we announced support for illustrative editorial images (http://www.shutterstock.com/buzz/announcing-shutterstocks-new-editorial-guidelines), I'm wondering how many people submitted content?  I'm sure some have and some haven't.  We created some quick images internally as educational examples (literally, a few minutes of shooting everyday objects in natural light) and began seeing immediate downloads ourselves.  We're not talking complex setups and high-priced models.  There's a lot that you can do with natural light and environments (in some ways, natural light shooting is even more desirable these days), though making natural light look highly professional does take skill. 

And just to be clear - this isn't an attempt to pontificate.  I'm genuinely excited about what it means for contributors, because it basically means that if we do a better job with education and knowledge-sharing, there's tremendous opportunity to be invested in "contributor success" and to help individuals take advantage of the vast customer demand.  We're here to help, because if you understand better what customers need, they're happy, you're happy, and everyone succeeds.

Best,

Scott

 
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: stockastic on May 03, 2014, 13:25
Scott,

SS could give us all the marketing info and tips they could come up with - but as long as the price of a product can have no relation to the cost of production, or to the expected number of sales, nothing is going to change.  You'll continue to get pretty much what you're getting now.   

If you broadcast a specific customer need, you'll simply create what amounts to a flash mob of thousands of photographers submitting the same thing at the same time.  A handful will win, 98% won't even recover their costs; most will lose interest in this game pretty quick.  Maybe that model actually works for SS, but I have doubts about even that, in the long term.

Your posts give me the feeling that SS now feels locked in to a model of abysmally low royalties, can't change anything, and doesn't want to discuss that aspect of it.  As a result we end up talking around a very large elephant in the room, and I'm not seeing the point.


Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: cthoman on May 03, 2014, 13:30
We're here to help, because if you understand better what customers need, they're happy, you're happy, and everyone succeeds.

LOL. Now, I feel like I've been missing out on all the happiness because I'm too focused on the financial part.  ;D
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: farbled on May 03, 2014, 13:36
Using your example scenario, it simply isn't feasible for me to do the work and get a high enough return to make it worthwhile anymore. I simply shoot things that I already have access to now, or things that I make for other reasons. Shooting something for stock is no longer my primary goal.

It's not all that hard to find good subjects. It is hard to make it worthwhile to invest the money, time and energy into shooting them for little return.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: lisafx on May 03, 2014, 13:40
We're here to help, because if you understand better what customers need, they're happy, you're happy, and everyone succeeds.

LOL. Now, I feel like I've been missing out on all the happiness because I'm too focused on the financial part.  ;D

Yes, this is certainly the bottom line for a lot of us. 

Like JoAnn, I really appreciate Scott and any other admins that come in here to interact with contributors.  But if I could say only one thing that would perfectly sum up how most of us are feeling about microstock these days it would be this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGYk0nf4Ono (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGYk0nf4Ono)

(can't figure out how to embed a youtube video into a post)

Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: scottbraut on May 03, 2014, 13:44
Hello,

Obviously, the broad point across the entire thread was to increase your quantity of customer downloads, which increases your income and revenue.  When I'm referring to success, I'm directly relating that to your portfolio performance in terms of getting you the highest possible financial returns.

Best,

Scott
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: farbled on May 03, 2014, 13:50
Hello,

Obviously, the broad point across the entire thread was to increase your quantity of customer downloads, which increases your income and revenue.  When I'm referring to success, I'm directly relating that to your portfolio performance in terms of getting you the highest possible financial returns.

Best,

Scott

Understood, but generally speaking for my own experience, the returns don't justify the expense to shoot more higher cost scenarios. If you had a way where we could opt specific images into Offset, I would happily put my best works there and work harder to improve my content.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: cthoman on May 03, 2014, 13:54
Hello,

Obviously, the broad point across the entire thread was to increase your quantity of customer downloads, which increases your income and revenue.  When I'm referring to success, I'm directly relating that to your portfolio performance in terms of getting you the highest possible financial returns.

Best,

Scott

Definitely true. Making new and great images is the best part of my job, but the most profitable part of my job is figuring out how to get better returns on my existing images. Whether that is higher royalties or joining a new agencies, those are the quickest way to making more money. It's also the hardest to implement because there are a lot of forces working against those goals. Which I think is part of the reason for this thread and others like it.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: scottbraut on May 03, 2014, 14:01
Farbled,

I understand that's a concern, particularly for people who don't shoot things that might sell in volume.  It's probably helpful to understand more about the nature of our direct sales and enterprise business (also called Premier).   This partially addresses Stockastic's question as well (I try not to comment on opinions, though I appreciate them).

Many contributors think of their costs and revenue on a per image or per shoot basis, rather than on a portfolio basis.   I'm not saying that one way is right or wrong, but there are a number of different strategies one could take.   

As far as opportunity, Shutterstock has many different products and sells the collection through many different price points via Shutterstock.com.  Value is added to licenses such as legal indemnification, accounting features, the option for sensitive use, prenegotiated volume agreements, etc...   Those licenses can be in the hundreds of dollars.  Those opportunities are always emerging, in the sense that tomorrow, we might work with a new corporation, partner, or customer that we weren't working with yesterday.

Everyone has to make their own decisions about what model that they sell their images through, how they think about their returns, etc...  We're not prescriptive.  High production value images can (and do) perform very well over the lifetime of the image, supported by the high volume of customers on the site.  It's really a case-by-case basis and can vary by portfolio and by image.

Best,

Scott
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: stockastic on May 03, 2014, 14:14
Well ok then - if it's all up to me - just let me opt out of subs, and I'm back on board.   :-)
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: cthoman on May 03, 2014, 14:27
Well ok then - if it's all up to me - just let me opt out of subs, and I'm back on board.   :-)

More control would be nice. I think that is my message to all agencies this year. I'd like more control over where and how my images sell. I don't see it happening though.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: r2d2 on May 03, 2014, 14:31


Many contributors think of their costs and revenue on a per image or per shoot basis, rather than on a portfolio basis.   I'm not saying that one way is right or wrong, but there are a number of different strategies one could take.   


Yes totally agree! My new strategie is to think about what me costs the agencies!
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: farbled on May 03, 2014, 14:43
Farbled,

I understand that's a concern, particularly for people who don't shoot things that might sell in volume.  It's probably helpful to understand more about the nature of our direct sales and enterprise business (also called Premier).   This partially addresses Stockastic's question as well (I try not to comment on opinions, though I appreciate them).

Many contributors think of their costs and revenue on a per image or per shoot basis, rather than on a portfolio basis.   I'm not saying that one way is right or wrong, but there are a number of different strategies one could take.   

As far as opportunity, Shutterstock has many different products and sells the collection through many different price points via Shutterstock.com.  Value is added to licenses such as legal indemnification, accounting features, the option for sensitive use, prenegotiated volume agreements, etc...   Those licenses can be in the hundreds of dollars.  Those opportunities are always emerging, in the sense that tomorrow, we might work with a new corporation, partner, or customer that we weren't working with yesterday.

Everyone has to make their own decisions about what model that they sell their images through, how they think about their returns, etc...  We're not prescriptive.  High production value images can (and do) perform very well over the lifetime of the image, supported by the high volume of customers on the site.  It's really a case-by-case basis and can vary by portfolio and by image.

Best,

Scott

I understand and appreciate the reply Scott. As my works fall mainly into two very specific niches, I cannot compete with the higher volume (usually people and lifestyle) subjects on volume. So it really is about the smaller dollars and cents stuff. (edit) I've been submitting to micros since 2005-ish so I can take a longer view on the sales of an image over time.

I have some unique access to areas that would be great sellers, but I have done that with my other niches and the returns don't justify it on micro. When I feel comfortable enough with my work, I will try for Offset or other RM style places with those.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: Goofy on May 03, 2014, 14:58

 It's based on the styling of the model; the composition of the image; depth-of-field, the central object of focus, prop styling, naturalistic lighting, retouching and post-production, keywording and overall - the qualities of the image that make the image findable or desirable to customers. But nothing in those three images was something that the photographer didn't have control over.

Than I must have the wrong composition of the image; depth-of-field, the central object of focus, prop styling, naturalistic lighting, retouching and post-production, and keywording  8)
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: Sean Locke Photography on May 03, 2014, 15:31
I haven't, in a year and a half, planned any shot that would go on the micros.  The return for the effort isn't there.  Everything I plan is meant for Stocksy, where one sale counts for 100 micro sales.  My existing micro work is still coming online, but I'm not shooting niche stuff if the hopes of $1 or 2.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: BaldricksTrousers on May 03, 2014, 17:27
In 10 years of microstocking I've never really understood the argument that high commercial value images are what we should aim for. Every HCV idea quickly has 1,000 photographers rushing to mimic it and I'm sure the top 10 do absolutely brilliantly out of it. I suspect the bottom 990 (struggling with prop styling, lighting, DoF, etc) make very little and can easily lose on model fees.  If you shoot LCV images you have very little competition and a good chance of making a sale to the few people looking for that thing.
I shoot LCV and I'm pretty sure I make more than the bulk of people shooting HCV. In addition, we LCV shooters fill up all the gaps around the HCV stuff which, in my opinion, is probably more important to the agencies than having another 10,000 pictures of happy White families posing in front of a house, or athletic goldfish.  Not that I've ever seen any indication from the agencies that they regard LCV as being worth shooting, so I'm probably wrong.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: Ron on May 04, 2014, 00:44
How many buyers need images of school children in a white and green uniform? Probably only one buyer, so you get a few sales. Thats not solving the problem we are facing.

PS: I submitted an editorial shot once, of school children in Dublin on a school trip. It was rejected for lighting, even it being the only image of school children in Dublin wearing a uniform had it been accepted by SS. So much for trying to fill the gaps.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: pancaketom on May 04, 2014, 00:51
In 10 years of microstocking I've never really understood the argument that high commercial value images are what we should aim for. Every HCV idea quickly has 1,000 photographers rushing to mimic it and I'm sure the top 10 do absolutely brilliantly out of it. I suspect the bottom 990 (struggling with prop styling, lighting, DoF, etc) make very little and can easily lose on model fees.  If you shoot LCV images you have very little competition and a good chance of making a sale to the few people looking for that thing.
I shoot LCV and I'm pretty sure I make more than the bulk of people shooting HCV. In addition, we LCV shooters fill up all the gaps around the HCV stuff which, in my opinion, is probably more important to the agencies than having another 10,000 pictures of happy White families posing in front of a house, or athletic goldfish.  Not that I've ever seen any indication from the agencies that they regard LCV as being worth shooting, so I'm probably wrong.

I think the goal should be to match the commercial value with the effort put in. - so maybe an image doesn't get a lot of sales, but if it is easy for you to get it is still worthwhile. The best would be some sort of medium to high commercial value images that aren't easy for others to produce. There is a lot of return in the long tail without so much competition. Especially as once your HCV  image drops back a few pages in a search it won't get many or any downloads but your images without much competition will always be in the first few pages of images for the search because that is all there are.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: scottbraut on May 04, 2014, 07:32
How many buyers need images of school children in a white and green uniform? Probably only one buyer, so you get a few sales. Thats not solving the problem we are facing.

PS: I submitted an editorial shot once, of school children in Dublin on a school trip. It was rejected for lighting, even it being the only image of school children in Dublin wearing a uniform had it been accepted by SS. So much for trying to fill the gaps.


Hi Ron,

Thanks.  I was just giving a hypothetical example, but to answer your question - quite a few buyers could need that image if say, for example, the uniforms within a particular country (or countries) are similar.  Every publisher that serves educational institutions needs them and what they tell us is that they default to using the few images that they can find over and over.

Most respectfully (and in the interest of constructive criticism), your image above makes my earlier point about composition and other attributes of the image being key distinctions. If an educational institution or publisher is looking for an image to use on their website, books and brochures, it's likely something more intimate and close up.   If it's a publisher specifically, they'd be looking for different actions or activities that look natural.

Street photography can still be valuable for filling gaps, but based on what we know about how images perform, there can be very different results based on how the image was constructed.

Again - this is just me passing information based on what we've seen in practice when studying what images bring the highest returns to artists.   One thing that we know absolutely (using illustrative editorial images as an example (http://www.shutterstock.com/s/starbucks+coffee/search.html?page=1&thumb_size=mosaic)), is that gaps in the collection -- when filled with quality content -- can be a great source of revenue.  And I would argue that quality content is not something that's always or necessarily tied to the cost to produce an image.


Best,

Scott

 
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: Ron on May 04, 2014, 07:46
I agree that commercial shots will have a greater audience and attract more sales, but 1 image sells better then no image. You still have not one shot of Dublin school children in uniform. If the reviewer had made that assessment, the shot could have been accepted and we would have both potentially made some money.

I understand your point to illustrate about supply and demand, I am just adding my two cents.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: ShadySue on May 04, 2014, 07:48
If an educational institution ... is looking for an image to use on their ... brochures, it's likely something more intimate and close up.   
Would you count that as a fair use for an editorial photo?

(Though in reality they'd no doubt make their own photos for their own site or brochure.)
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: scottbraut on May 04, 2014, 07:57
I agree that commercial shots will have a greater audience and attract more sales, but 1 image sells better then no image. You still have not one shot of Dublin school children in uniform. If the reviewer had made that assessment, the shot could have been accepted and we would have both potentially made some money.

I understand your point to illustrate about supply and demand, I am just adding my two cents.

Totally agree.  I can't speak for the reviewer, but this is a daily topic of discussion when we think about how we mature our review standards to bring in the greatest variety of images with commercial (or editorial) relevance.   
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: scottbraut on May 04, 2014, 08:01
If an educational institution ... is looking for an image to use on their ... brochures, it's likely something more intimate and close up.   
Would you count that as a fair use for an editorial photo?

(Though in reality they'd no doubt make their own photos for their own site or brochure.)

I'm sure it depends on context (who is using it and in what capacity). I'll grab our "official" standard from our Compliance team.  We're in the process right now of translating an free eBook on these topics. I can say that schools here in the U.S. are often pressed to not use copyrighted material, or material that otherwise creates risk.   
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: ShadySue on May 04, 2014, 09:26
If an educational institution ... is looking for an image to use on their ... brochures, it's likely something more intimate and close up.   
Would you count that as a fair use for an editorial photo?

(Though in reality they'd no doubt make their own photos for their own site or brochure.)

I'm sure it depends on context (who is using it and in what capacity). I'll grab our "official" standard from our Compliance team.  We're in the process right now of translating an free eBook on these topics. I can say that schools here in the U.S. are often pressed to not use copyrighted material, or material that otherwise creates risk.

OK, it was just an off-the-top-of-your head example, but I'm just thinking that presumably a 'school brochure' (rather than a handbook) is for a private school trying to attract custom, so wouldn't that be a commercial use?
In reality, I doubt very much if a school would look through stock agencies on the random chance that someone will have a photo of pupils in their school uniform, and even if they did, they'd need several, not just one image. Obviously they wouldn't use a photo from a rival school.
(In fact, schools here can't use micro agencies anyway because of the requirement to pay in advance. Our accounting requires the goods to be delivered, invoiced and paid afterwards.)
Most / all schools here have an AV technician who would at the least be competent enought to take photos of pupils and activities for a brochure. If not, they'd almost certainly have a keen photographer in the staff equally competent.
So I wasn't really asking about this exact scenario, which is a 'very improbable sale', just trying to understand what your company regards as 'fair use' for editorial photos.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: scottbraut on May 04, 2014, 10:28
Hello,

Yes - not to go too far down the road of a hypothetical example, ;) but the one I was thinking of was an actual conversation with a large, multi-national educational publisher.   was that they license (many) thousands of images per year, and that uniforms wouldn't need to be exact -- simply reflective of the national colors.  But that would apply to brand colors as well for a private school.  Depending on the source - many are aware of stock (definitely not all), and even if they're not looking for their own uniforms specifically, they're looking for students engaged in various activities and *then* finding that the existing images don't work because the details get in the way.  Since they struggle to find relevant images, they use the same images over and over, much to their dismay.

Often, there are specific internal rules around what type of license they're allowed to use (RM vs. RF - increasingly, we hear that customers are specifically told to use RF to avoid rights issues later on), budgets for commissioned shoots (they may do very little assigning), etc...   I think that's an important point in the space - because of internal workflows (imagine trying to manage rights across hundreds of thousands of images across  thousands of publishing titles with a very old proprietary software system used by different departments, and the legal risk it creates) - they simply push their teams to use RF. 

Another example is the real estate example I gave.  It's great to have a concept shot of a real estate sale or transaction, or even different ethnicities in front of a house.  But often, those shots are in front of an American suburban lawn or home, which doesn't work outside the U.S.   There are even variances within the U.S. - homes in Seattle don't necessarily look like homes in Florida.  So whereas you might consider that "it's all been done,"  we hear directly from customers every day (we visit them in their offices, bring them in for research, etc...) who say that they'd download much more if we had XYZ because it's more accurate to them.  Details matter. Some of that bubbles up to direct conversation and the ShutterstockReq feed - sometimes we don't have more details from the customer - but we want to do more in that area.

Best,

Scott

Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: farbled on May 04, 2014, 11:19
I haven't, in a year and a half, planned any shot that would go on the micros.  The return for the effort isn't there.  Everything I plan is meant for Stocksy, where one sale counts for 100 micro sales.  My existing micro work is still coming online, but I'm not shooting niche stuff if the hopes of $1 or 2.
I think when someone with Sean's experience and success with micro says something like this, then it would be a good idea to consider it. While I appreciate Scott's input, it is an agency perspective, not a contributor's.

Back on topic, I think the golden age is done for contributors. It is a good time to be a reseller though, so perhaps the next move would be for those tech-savvy individuals and companies to start more partner sites. Again, not really doing much for contributors, but great for free money business. It's a great model where a company has absolutely zero supply costs.

For contributors, I predict that we'll see smaller co-ops and smaller agencies trying to make a go of it in the next few years. I doubt very many will succeed initially, but sooner or later something will click and we'll see a big swing from agencies once there's money involved.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: cthoman on May 04, 2014, 11:35
For contributors, I predict that we'll see smaller co-ops and smaller agencies trying to make a go of it in the next few years. I doubt very many will succeed initially, but sooner or later something will click and we'll see a big swing from agencies once there's money involved.

I've been waiting for this for a few years, and I'm starting to feel like Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: Jo Ann Snover on May 04, 2014, 11:43
...It is a good time to be a reseller though, so perhaps the next move would be for those tech-savvy individuals and companies to start more partner sites. Again, not really doing much for contributors, but great for free money business.

This area - long chains or large groups of do-nothing or do-very-little distributors siphoning money out of the system - is one that only goes on if contributors accept it. At the moment, only a few agencies - DT, 123rf and Alamy come to mind - let you opt out of partner distribution.

I have opted out at all three.

For those agencies who have demonstrated their lack of concern for contributor fairness and have refused an opt out - Getty/iStock being the primary offender with the Google giveaway and other bad moves since, but Veer as well (and I did sell reasonably well there) I have left the agency over the lack of an opt out. CanStock refuses an opt out and won't list the partners, but so far haven't done anything terrible (other than not selling much).

To think that an agency believes it's OK to refuse to make a list for contributors of who their partners are? It's our content, our copyright and they somehow think they don't have to tell us where it's being sold and for how much? And in Veer's case they didn't share the income with us, just paid us the flat amount as if the content had sold on their own site.

What we need - other than sales and decent pricing models - is transparency and choice. We don't have all those things anywhere, although some agencies come closer than others.

Part of what was good earlier in microstock's evolution was that there were more viable and growing agencies and thus none of them could afford to treat contributors poorly because they needed our images and knew we had lots of other choices. Jupiter Images (RIP) bent a little in response to contributors when moving StockXpert content to photos.com and Jupiter Images Unlimited. Dreamstime changed a one year lock on images to 6 months. Fotolia modified the terms of their newly introduced subscriptions.

We have many opportunities now that would have been hard to imagine in 2004, but we (contributors) have a lot less influence and control, in part because our numbers are so much greater and the big stock factories have brought the macro look to the micros in huge numbers.

I think what has been going on with Fotolia and DPC is in a way encouraging as it's the first time in a while that a large-ish group of contributors has put their portfolios on the line to stop agency abuse (and wouldn't it be nice to be able to get a restraining order against that!). Fotolia is a weak agency (except perhaps in Germany) so that may be a factor, but I'm sure all the other agencies are watching and it wouldn't be a bad thing to have the agencies just a little anxious about keeping contributors content.

I want the agencies to do well - that's how we can earn very good money - but I want them to want us to do well too. The second part has been in short supply of late.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: farbled on May 04, 2014, 11:46
For contributors, I predict that we'll see smaller co-ops and smaller agencies trying to make a go of it in the next few years. I doubt very many will succeed initially, but sooner or later something will click and we'll see a big swing from agencies once there's money involved.

I've been waiting for this for a few years, and I'm starting to feel like Linus waiting for the Great Pumpkin.
Me too, but I am ever hopeful. The good part is, I will be taking the pictures anyway (I can't leave my camera alone). If I can't get the return anymore, I'll simply stick them on my own website and work on selling them there.

Or, depending on how low prices go from the agencies (DPC and GI in mind), offer them for (almost) nothing and make money from advertising. :)
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: Shelma1 on May 04, 2014, 11:59
I agree with what others have said above. And I'll add that I find it a bit arrogant of buyers to expect very specific images from a stock house—using Scott's example, children (what nationality?) in green and yellow school uniforms—yet they're only willing to buy those images through their monthly subscription, which means the artist gets paid 25-38 cents for what sounds like an expensive and complicated shoot (paying for studio space, multiple models, assistants, hair & makeup, buying uniforms, etc.) with little commercial value outside of countries or regions—or in this case, one buyer—that need children in those school colors.

In situations like that we usually recommend our clients pay for a shoot, which will result in an image bank of thousands of images they can use exclusively. Then the photographer is fairly compensated for the day's shoot and the buyout. Same if they're looking for a specific illustration. Clients sometimes forget that people need to be paid for their work, though they themselves receive their own paychecks direct deposited like clockwork.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: farbled on May 04, 2014, 12:08
Just a side note about the example used here in case there's a bunch of shooters now wanting to go out and get these kinds of photos. It can be ill advised for anyone to try and photograph any children without permission or approval from the school, parents, etc.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: scottbraut on May 04, 2014, 12:15
I agree with what others have said above. And I'll add that I find it a bit arrogant of buyers to expect very specific images from a stock house—using Scott's example, children (what nationality?) in green and yellow school uniforms—yet they're only willing to buy those images through their monthly subscription, which means the artist gets paid 25-38 cents for what sounds like an expensive and complicated shoot (paying for studio space, multiple models, assistants, hair & makeup, buying uniforms, etc.) with little commercial value outside of countries or regions—or in this case, one buyer—that need children in those school colors.

In these cases, they aren't necessarily buying them through subscriptions, since different classes of clients such as publishers can be on enterprise plans that cost more on a per-image basis. 

I think when someone with Sean's experience and success with micro says something like this, then it would be a good idea to consider it. While I appreciate Scott's input, it is an agency perspective, not a contributor's.


Of course consider Sean's input! I think the important thing to consider when hearing our (Shutterstock's) recommendations or mine personally, is that: a) it's often based on analyzing large amounts of data across diverse customer groups and successful contributor portfolios; b) we visit customers and contributors every single day on a worldwide basis and hear their feedback. That might not be the same for every agency. Next week I'll be in a series of customer meetings to hear what images they want to license and I'll be meeting with contributors as well.  Do what you will with that information! My goal is only to connect you to it so you have opportunities to make more money and have a great experience licensing images.

Best,

Scott
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: dirkr on May 04, 2014, 12:52


In these cases, they aren't necessarily buying them through subscriptions, since different classes of clients such as publishers can be on enterprise plans that cost more on a per-image basis. 


It would be great if there was a possibility to upload niche content to Shutterstock in a way that allows this content ONLY to be licensed via plans that pay significantly more than subs.

But that would also require a bit more transparency about what these plans are, what customers pay and what our cut is.

Right now it is more like a gamble: Upload a low-demand subject that fills a gap in the collection and hope for a big sale - but accept that the one customer needing exact that content ends up buying it as subscription.

Unique or low-demand content just doesn't fit to the subscription model where you make up the low commission per sale by a higher number of sales.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: Shelma1 on May 04, 2014, 13:04
I agree with what others have said above. And I'll add that I find it a bit arrogant of buyers to expect very specific images from a stock house—using Scott's example, children (what nationality?) in green and yellow school uniforms—yet they're only willing to buy those images through their monthly subscription, which means the artist gets paid 25-38 cents for what sounds like an expensive and complicated shoot (paying for studio space, multiple models, assistants, hair & makeup, buying uniforms, etc.) with little commercial value outside of countries or regions—or in this case, one buyer—that need children in those school colors.

In these cases, they aren't necessarily buying them through subscriptions, since different classes of clients such as publishers can be on enterprise plans that cost more on a per-image basis. 
Scott

Perhaps. But I know no photographer who would take on an assignment similar to the one you used as an example based on nothing but the hope he or she might get paid even $50 or $75 eventually. Surely the shoot itself would cost more than that. And microstock houses need to understand that we image creators have to shoot and draw what we think will sell multiple times in order to be fairly compensated through your business model.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: stockastic on May 04, 2014, 13:27
Unique or low-demand content just doesn't fit to the subscription model where you make up the low commission per sale by a higher number of sales.

SS has apparently decided to write off that portion of the microstock market and focus exclusively on high-volume images. 

New agencies - that are paying reasonable returns, and not running crazy giveaways or shell games with shadowy 'partners' - will increasingly be getting the new, unusual and creative images.   Eventually, that will translate into a competetive advantage for those agencies.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: ShadySue on May 04, 2014, 17:57
Thanks for your answer, Scott.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: EmberMike on May 04, 2014, 18:54
...New agencies - that are paying reasonable returns, and not running crazy giveaways or shell games with shadowy 'partners' - will increasingly be getting the new, unusual and creative images. Eventually, that will translate into a competetive advantage for those agencies.

That is really the way I see things going as well. I have a lot of new work that I haven't put anywhere in stock yet, mostly because I feel like I'm in a transitional phase in which I need to really reassess who I trust with my work. There are some microstock companies that will continue to get a lot of my new work. And I still count Shutterstock among them. But even they won't get everything. I really need to be looking at higher-priced agencies. Fotolia and Depositphotos are out for my upload rotation for sure. No way would I trust those two companies with any of my new work.

So that really is the way things will go for me and (I suspect) many other folks, where the companies that do right by artists will get the latest and most creative work. Eventually I think buyers will notice the effect this has. Even among these large collections, buyers can still tell who has the best collections and who the cheapo bargain basement dealers are. So what happens in a year or two when one company gets double or triple the amount of high-quality, unique, creative images? Buyers will notice, and they'll go where they can get the best stuff. 
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: shudderstok on May 04, 2014, 21:04
I haven't, in a year and a half, planned any shot that would go on the micros.  The return for the effort isn't there.  Everything I plan is meant for Stocksy, where one sale counts for 100 micro sales.  My existing micro work is still coming online, but I'm not shooting niche stuff if the hopes of $1 or 2.
I think when someone with Sean's experience and success with micro says something like this, then it would be a good idea to consider it. While I appreciate Scott's input, it is an agency perspective, not a contributor's.

Back on topic, I think the golden age is done for contributors. It is a good time to be a reseller though, so perhaps the next move would be for those tech-savvy individuals and companies to start more partner sites. Again, not really doing much for contributors, but great for free money business. It's a great model where a company has absolutely zero supply costs.

For contributors, I predict that we'll see smaller co-ops and smaller agencies trying to make a go of it in the next few years. I doubt very many will succeed initially, but sooner or later something will click and we'll see a big swing from agencies once there's money involved.

there were lots of people saying this way before sean, we were called the "trads". funny how so many of you who supported microstock are now doing a quick about face and concluding it is not sustainable to sell you work a million times over for a pittance, and now it is cool to sell it once for 100 times what you'd get for micro sales. why do you think so many so called "trads" resisted the whole microstock thing? go figure???
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: farbled on May 04, 2014, 21:20
I haven't, in a year and a half, planned any shot that would go on the micros.  The return for the effort isn't there.  Everything I plan is meant for Stocksy, where one sale counts for 100 micro sales.  My existing micro work is still coming online, but I'm not shooting niche stuff if the hopes of $1 or 2.
I think when someone with Sean's experience and success with micro says something like this, then it would be a good idea to consider it. While I appreciate Scott's input, it is an agency perspective, not a contributor's.

Back on topic, I think the golden age is done for contributors. It is a good time to be a reseller though, so perhaps the next move would be for those tech-savvy individuals and companies to start more partner sites. Again, not really doing much for contributors, but great for free money business. It's a great model where a company has absolutely zero supply costs.

For contributors, I predict that we'll see smaller co-ops and smaller agencies trying to make a go of it in the next few years. I doubt very many will succeed initially, but sooner or later something will click and we'll see a big swing from agencies once there's money involved.

there were lots of people saying this way before sean, we were called the "trads". funny how so many of you who supported microstock are now doing a quick about face and concluding it is not sustainable to sell you work a million times over for a pittance, and now it is cool to sell it once for 100 times what you'd get for micro sales. why do you think so many so called "trads" resisted the whole microstock thing? go figure???

If this was directed at my comment above, that's not what I said at all. My contention is that it isn't feasible to do a unique, higher cost shoot for micro. I still maintain that low or no cost shooting is key for my success in micro.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: shudderstok on May 04, 2014, 21:30
I haven't, in a year and a half, planned any shot that would go on the micros.  The return for the effort isn't there.  Everything I plan is meant for Stocksy, where one sale counts for 100 micro sales.  My existing micro work is still coming online, but I'm not shooting niche stuff if the hopes of $1 or 2.
I think when someone with Sean's experience and success with micro says something like this, then it would be a good idea to consider it. While I appreciate Scott's input, it is an agency perspective, not a contributor's.

Back on topic, I think the golden age is done for contributors. It is a good time to be a reseller though, so perhaps the next move would be for those tech-savvy individuals and companies to start more partner sites. Again, not really doing much for contributors, but great for free money business. It's a great model where a company has absolutely zero supply costs.

For contributors, I predict that we'll see smaller co-ops and smaller agencies trying to make a go of it in the next few years. I doubt very many will succeed initially, but sooner or later something will click and we'll see a big swing from agencies once there's money involved.

there were lots of people saying this way before sean, we were called the "trads". funny how so many of you who supported microstock are now doing a quick about face and concluding it is not sustainable to sell you work a million times over for a pittance, and now it is cool to sell it once for 100 times what you'd get for micro sales. why do you think so many so called "trads" resisted the whole microstock thing? go figure???

If this was directed at my comment above, that's not what I said at all. My contention is that it isn't feasible to do a unique, higher cost shoot for micro. I still maintain that low or no cost shooting is key for my success in micro.

noted! it was directed more at the whole concept of wholesale stock photography in general ie: microstock. it was also an observation of the rapid about face of some shooters. sad to say though, now that microstock is widely accepted for price point, it is here to stay, and going upwards for income will be next to impossible. i can understand why buyers would go from $75 for web usage to $1 but am having difficulties understanding why they would go from subs or $1 to $75.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: EmberMike on May 04, 2014, 21:57
... it was also an observation of the rapid about face of some shooters...

Who is doing an about-face? Someone can turn away from microstock and not necessarily be going back to "traditional" pricing. There is a lot of room in between.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: shudderstok on May 04, 2014, 22:44
... it was also an observation of the rapid about face of some shooters...

Who is doing an about-face? Someone can turn away from microstock and not necessarily be going back to "traditional" pricing. There is a lot of room in between.

sure there is lot's of room. but there are many now that are totally contradicting what they advocated and pontificated several years ago. i won't mention any names here but i seem to recall one fellow who was idolized and deified by far to many, and now only works with "professionals" and now another comes out and says how they have not shot for microstock for a year and a half. i just see a pattern forming so please forgive me. and i do find it interesting how the about face is distancing itself from what was once advocated by many the only way to go. nice to see actually. finally people are starting to realize that microstock is not such a good thing if you are serious about photography/stock photography as a profession.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: Ron on May 05, 2014, 01:24
2 people, and they are both still supplying for microstock. Dont get over excited now.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: cthoman on May 05, 2014, 08:29
... it was also an observation of the rapid about face of some shooters...

Who is doing an about-face? Someone can turn away from microstock and not necessarily be going back to "traditional" pricing. There is a lot of room in between.

sure there is lot's of room. but there are many now that are totally contradicting what they advocated and pontificated several years ago. i won't mention any names here but i seem to recall one fellow who was idolized and deified by far to many, and now only works with "professionals" and now another comes out and says how they have not shot for microstock for a year and a half. i just see a pattern forming so please forgive me. and i do find it interesting how the about face is distancing itself from what was once advocated by many the only way to go. nice to see actually. finally people are starting to realize that microstock is not such a good thing if you are serious about photography/stock photography as a profession.

I don't think that it is that everyone wants out of micro or into traditional stock. It's that there are a broad range of people that want different things from it. We've evolved with micro and have certain expectations now of what it should or shouldn't be.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: Sean Locke Photography on May 05, 2014, 08:35
I don't think that it is that everyone wants out of micro or into traditional stock. It's that there are a broad range of people that want different things from it. We've evolved with micro and have certain expectations now of what it should or shouldn't be.

As well, for me, personally, my 9 years of building a business were tossed out the window and I had to start from scratch.  If I'm going to concentrate on rebuilding my portfolios, it's going to be on the sector where I see the most promise now.  If I had 10,000 images that had grown on SS, I might have a different viewpoint.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: DF_Studios on May 05, 2014, 09:10
Nice thing about "gaps" in the microstock offerings is these are the few remaining areas that photographers have to eek out a decent living.

Once the gaps are closed there is not much need to hire a photographer for a custom shoot.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: ShadySue on May 05, 2014, 09:46
Nice thing about "gaps" in the microstock offerings is these are the few remaining areas that photographers have to eek out a decent living.

Once the gaps are closed there is not much need to hire a photographer for a custom shoot.

There really is. It's usually obvious when a photo hasn't been taken specially, but is a 'satisficing' stock photo.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: EmberMike on May 05, 2014, 11:05
sure there is lot's of room. but there are many now that are totally contradicting what they advocated and pontificated several years ago. i won't mention any names here but i seem to recall one fellow who was idolized and deified by far to many, and now only works with "professionals" and now another comes out and says how they have not shot for microstock for a year and a half. i just see a pattern forming so please forgive me. and i do find it interesting how the about face is distancing itself from what was once advocated by many the only way to go. nice to see actually. finally people are starting to realize that microstock is not such a good thing if you are serious about photography/stock photography as a profession.

You're drawing end-result conclusions from things that slowly changed over time. Microstock today isn't what microstock was years ago. When I started in microstock in 2007, it really was the best way to go for me and for a lot of people, especially for emerging artists. I couldn't sell my work anywhere else. And even for established artists, it was a new opportunity to sell images to a different market. It was simpler, there were fewer ways we were getting screwed by agencies, and in general microstock wasn't as bad then as it is today.

You make it sound like people just woke up and realized that this is a bad business, but in reality people are coming to that conclusion after years of change, and mostly the bad kind.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: lisafx on May 05, 2014, 12:24
sure there is lot's of room. but there are many now that are totally contradicting what they advocated and pontificated several years ago. i won't mention any names here but i seem to recall one fellow who was idolized and deified by far to many, and now only works with "professionals" and now another comes out and says how they have not shot for microstock for a year and a half. i just see a pattern forming so please forgive me. and i do find it interesting how the about face is distancing itself from what was once advocated by many the only way to go. nice to see actually. finally people are starting to realize that microstock is not such a good thing if you are serious about photography/stock photography as a profession.

You're drawing end-result conclusions from things that slowly changed over time. Microstock today isn't what microstock was years ago. When I started in microstock in 2007, it really was the best way to go for me and for a lot of people, especially for emerging artists. I couldn't sell my work anywhere else. And even for established artists, it was a new opportunity to sell images to a different market. It was simpler, there were fewer ways we were getting screwed by agencies, and in general microstock wasn't as bad then as it is today.

You make it sound like people just woke up and realized that this is a bad business, but in reality people are coming to that conclusion after years of change, and mostly the bad kind.

SO TRUE!!  I was just about to make the same point.  Thanks for saving me the trouble :)
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: stockastic on May 05, 2014, 12:58
You can see the change just from the content of MSG.  A couple of years ago, there was a lot of discussion about things like getting accepted at agencies, keywording strategies, how the search engines treated you, 'artifacts' at IS, ranking of new images, white balance, etc.   Now it's mostly about the latest outrageous partner programs, agencies you'll drop this year, what's new in POD, alternatives to stock, royalty cuts, and speculation on which agency will be the object of the next D-Day.

 
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: focus40 on May 05, 2014, 15:24
Unique or low-demand content just doesn't fit to the subscription model where you make up the low commission per sale by a higher number of sales.

SS has apparently decided to write off that portion of the microstock market and focus exclusively on high-volume images. 

New agencies - that are paying reasonable returns, and not running crazy giveaways or shell games with shadowy 'partners' - will increasingly be getting the new, unusual and creative images.   Eventually, that will translate into a competetive advantage for those agencies.

Your second paragraph sums up my feelings quite well. I would love to see new innovative agencies gain ground in a market that is currently hostile toward content creators.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: wordplanet on May 05, 2014, 15:57
I got into microstock very slowly and hesitantly and just as I realized too late that there really was money to be made there, the market started to change. I still feel that it's a good outlet for some of my work including a sprinkling of my travel photography (though I have saved my best for RM and traditional RF) and certainly abstract backgrounds and textures which I love creating and which make me way more on the micros than they would via traditional outlets.

I have no regrets about my foray into microstock. Though I started out with Alamy in the days when a $250+ license was common, about a year before I joined shutterstock and eventually other micros, I found that I learned so much more from shooting micro because the volume of multiple daily sales even with a very small portfolio, taught me so much about what buyers were looking for and I've really enjoyed creating concept shots and experimenting with digital enhancements and the like. It's made me a much better photographer.

I think there are markets for both traditional and microstock and while those markets are continuing to evolve and change, I don't believe either will disappear.

I've been licensing more work lately directly via my Photoshelter site as well as through working directly with calendar companies and other volume publishers am hopeful about what seems to be a resurgence of traditional stock photography - though I'm afraid the golden days there have faded too. I'm hopeful that new traditional stock agencies such as Offset and Stocksy and innovators such as Imagebrief will help that segment grow and plan to apply to some more traditional agencies while continuing to slowly build my micro portfolio on shutterstock and dreamstime where I'm still earning a respectable RPI most months.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: wordplanet on May 05, 2014, 16:07
You can see the change just from the content of MSG.  A couple of years ago, there was a lot of discussion about things like getting accepted at agencies, keywording strategies, how the search engines treated you, 'artifacts' at IS, ranking of new images, white balance, etc.   Now it's mostly about the latest outrageous partner programs, agencies you'll drop this year, what's new in POD, alternatives to stock, royalty cuts, and speculation on which agency will be the object of the next D-Day.

 

It makes perfect sense to me that those who've learned and grown as photographers by shooting for the micros would begin to branch out into higher paying venues. If you started shooting in 2006 or 2008 or 2010, you should be a better photographer in 2014 and naturally expect to be earning more.  Submitting your work to traditional agencies doesn't mean you've given up on the micros, only that as a better photographer you now have more options.
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: shudderstok on May 05, 2014, 20:47
sure there is lot's of room. but there are many now that are totally contradicting what they advocated and pontificated several years ago. i won't mention any names here but i seem to recall one fellow who was idolized and deified by far to many, and now only works with "professionals" and now another comes out and says how they have not shot for microstock for a year and a half. i just see a pattern forming so please forgive me. and i do find it interesting how the about face is distancing itself from what was once advocated by many the only way to go. nice to see actually. finally people are starting to realize that microstock is not such a good thing if you are serious about photography/stock photography as a profession.

You're drawing end-result conclusions from things that slowly changed over time. Microstock today isn't what microstock was years ago. When I started in microstock in 2007, it really was the best way to go for me and for a lot of people, especially for emerging artists. I couldn't sell my work anywhere else. And even for established artists, it was a new opportunity to sell images to a different market. It was simpler, there were fewer ways we were getting screwed by agencies, and in general microstock wasn't as bad then as it is today.

You make it sound like people just woke up and realized that this is a bad business, but in reality people are coming to that conclusion after years of change, and mostly the bad kind.

i see where you are going with this and to a point i do agree with you. however this is not an end result conclusion i am making. it was totally predictable from my view point.
it is also not that i think people just woke up, rather i think that most did not even know anything about the very well established stock industry before microstock and the damage that it did to that industry as a whole right up till today.
the buzz word years ago was that microstock will "cannibalize" the stock industry, then itself. we were saying that well before i got into microstock in 2007 and the end result is not far from it.

Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: Ron on May 06, 2014, 02:08
Why did any pro get involved with Microstock when it was clear from the get-go it would be disruptive to their own business?
Title: Re: about Microstock Golden age
Post by: shudderstok on May 06, 2014, 02:59
Why did any pro get involved with Microstock when it was clear from the get-go it would be disruptive to their own business?

to survive my friend, to survive. as posted above, the cannibalizing effects really took hold of the traditional agencies around 2006/2007 and it turned into one of those remain stubborn and deny the facts (which some of my trad friends did) or jump onto a lifeboat and accept the fact that the stock industry has changed and changed really fast and to accept that the new world order of stock photography is now based on dramatically devalued imagery to where it remains today situations.