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Poll

Microstock in the future

Stable development
46 (41.4%)
Like Nokia
6 (5.4%)
Decline
38 (34.2%)
Rapid growth
2 (1.8%)
No more room for development
19 (17.1%)

Total Members Voted: 97

Voting closed: July 24, 2014, 06:07

Author Topic: about Microstock Golden age  (Read 11134 times)

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« Reply #50 on: May 04, 2014, 10:28 »
+1
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



farbled

« Reply #51 on: May 04, 2014, 11:19 »
+3
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.

« Reply #52 on: May 04, 2014, 11:35 »
+5
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.

« Reply #53 on: May 04, 2014, 11:43 »
+13
...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.

farbled

« Reply #54 on: May 04, 2014, 11:46 »
0
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. :)

Shelma1

« Reply #55 on: May 04, 2014, 11:59 »
+16
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 houseusing Scott's example, children (what nationality?) in green and yellow school uniformsyet 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 regionsor in this case, one buyerthat 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.

farbled

« Reply #56 on: May 04, 2014, 12:08 »
+4
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.

« Reply #57 on: May 04, 2014, 12:15 »
+2
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 houseusing Scott's example, children (what nationality?) in green and yellow school uniformsyet 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 regionsor in this case, one buyerthat 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
« Last Edit: May 04, 2014, 12:23 by scottbraut »

« Reply #58 on: May 04, 2014, 12:52 »
+12


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.

Shelma1

« Reply #59 on: May 04, 2014, 13:04 »
+11
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 houseusing Scott's example, children (what nationality?) in green and yellow school uniformsyet 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 regionsor in this case, one buyerthat 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.

« Reply #60 on: May 04, 2014, 13:27 »
+10
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.
« Last Edit: May 04, 2014, 13:30 by stockastic »

ShadySue

« Reply #61 on: May 04, 2014, 17:57 »
+1
Thanks for your answer, Scott.

EmberMike

« Reply #62 on: May 04, 2014, 18:54 »
+9
...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. 

shudderstok

« Reply #63 on: May 04, 2014, 21:04 »
+3
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???

farbled

« Reply #64 on: May 04, 2014, 21:20 »
+1
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.

shudderstok

« Reply #65 on: May 04, 2014, 21:30 »
0
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.

EmberMike

« Reply #66 on: May 04, 2014, 21:57 »
+3
... 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.


shudderstok

« Reply #67 on: May 04, 2014, 22:44 »
0
... 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.

Ron

« Reply #68 on: May 05, 2014, 01:24 »
+4
2 people, and they are both still supplying for microstock. Dont get over excited now.

« Reply #69 on: May 05, 2014, 08:29 »
+2
... 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.

« Reply #70 on: May 05, 2014, 08:35 »
+10
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.

« Reply #71 on: May 05, 2014, 09:10 »
+2
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.
« Last Edit: May 05, 2014, 09:13 by DF_Studios »

ShadySue

« Reply #72 on: May 05, 2014, 09:46 »
0
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.

EmberMike

« Reply #73 on: May 05, 2014, 11:05 »
+12
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.

lisafx

« Reply #74 on: May 05, 2014, 12:24 »
+4
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 :)


 

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