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Author Topic: Does MicroStock lower design standards?  (Read 12255 times)

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Noodles

« on: January 14, 2010, 20:08 »
0
What does a designer do?

I have a $2000 budget to design an A4 ad for a glossy magazine. I found the perfect shot from one of the big boys. Its classy, high quality and perfect for what I need - cost $1000. Or alternatively I buy a shot I found on SS which is average, okay but not classy!

One path would allow me to buy that new Quad Amp I've been eyeing for some time, while the other option will impress my client but not my pocket!

Its a tricky choice for sure. And I'm sure many a designer has this issue often.

I haven't decided yet. What do you reckon?


« Reply #1 on: January 14, 2010, 20:20 »
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Why not find something classy on iStcok? Best of boh worlds:-)

« Reply #2 on: January 14, 2010, 20:39 »
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Do you want any more business from this client or anyone else who sees the ad? If not, use the photo you don't feel is the best. Short term gain vs. long term gain.

It's also a false choice to compare only SS to the macro sites - there are several other micros, 3 of which have exclusive content.

« Reply #3 on: January 14, 2010, 21:07 »
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What does a designer do?

I have a $2000 budget to design an A4 ad for a glossy magazine. I found the perfect shot from one of the big boys. Its classy, high quality and perfect for what I need - cost $1000. Or alternatively I buy a shot I found on SS which is average, okay but not classy!

"Does MicroStock lower design standards?"

Five years ago your choice would be between a classy image and a big white space.  I'd say your choices are pretty flexible now! :)

Noodles

« Reply #4 on: January 14, 2010, 21:09 »
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Short term gain vs. long term gain.

That probably is the bottom line but its still a hard choice because its possible only a critical eye would tell the difference - what's obvious to me may not be so obvious to the client and their readers.  

IS was the first site I searched - just so happened SS had a better shot!

Noodles

« Reply #5 on: January 14, 2010, 21:19 »
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Five years ago your choice would be between a classy image and a big white space.  I'd say your choices are pretty flexible now! :)

true but it also reminds me of Pink Floyds lyrics "Got thirteen channels of **** on the T.V. to choose from".   ;)
« Last Edit: January 14, 2010, 21:23 by Noodles »

« Reply #6 on: January 14, 2010, 21:46 »
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I have seen images on IS that are clearly superior to some from the 'big boys' and vice versa.

It it were me... I would buy the best one for the job. Which in this case is the more expensive item.

As was already stated on this thread, its a question of how short sighted you are, since you obviously don't need the extra cash to eat or put a roof over your head. This was made clear by your desire to use the windfall for an amp.

OTOH, companies such as Dell and HP have used microstock in the past for their 'back to school' ads. Which really begs the question of why go better than 'good enough'.

 

« Reply #7 on: January 14, 2010, 21:54 »
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Trust me, buy the Quad amp __ irrespective of the current issue. I've been a Quad enthusiast for over 20 years and IMHO it's still the standard that all other manufacturers bid for. Btw, my existing set-up is 15 years old but is still easily competitive with current equipment at twice the new price nowadays.

Noodles

« Reply #8 on: January 14, 2010, 23:27 »
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I have seen images on IS that are clearly superior to some from the 'big boys' and vice versa.

For sure, and indeed I buy far less from the big boys these days but this job was just one of those tricky images to source.

Trust me, buy the Quad amp __ irrespective of the current issue. I've been a Quad enthusiast for over 20 years and IMHO it's still the standard that all other manufacturers bid for. Btw, my existing set-up is 15 years old but is still easily competitive with current equipment at twice the new price nowadays.

I guess we both have the 405 then hey :)  My 405 amp and pre-amp still work fine but I picked up some nice 200watt plus JBL speakers recently and I don't want to damage them with the low 80watts the 405 pumps out. The Quad99 is rated to 150watts - I'm guessing even at half volume its gonna be pretty * loud.

Placed the SS shot in the mock-up and sent to client  ::) - see what he thinks

cascoly

  • Photography, travel & online games at cascoly.com

« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2010, 01:55 »
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as others have commented i find it difficult to believe these are the only 2 choices - $1 or $1000

another question is why clients still expect they need to pay $1000 for artwork in the first place - nice for an aware designer, but it's still bloating the client's budget.  sorta like the military contractors who get cost-plus contracts -  no incentive to be frugal

in a global economy those wasted $ add up to a competitive disadvantage for those companies still doing things the old fashioned way

---
s

« Reply #10 on: January 15, 2010, 01:58 »
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Given the wide variation in image costs available today I'm a bit surprised you are working to a fixed amount. Wouldn't it be better to charge for your time plus image costs, and let the client decide which image to use, at their expense.

« Reply #11 on: January 15, 2010, 02:42 »
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What does a designer do?

I have a $2000 budget to design an A4 ad for a glossy magazine. I found the perfect shot from one of the big boys. Its classy, high quality and perfect for what I need - cost $1000. Or alternatively I buy a shot I found on SS which is average, okay but not classy!

One path would allow me to buy that new Quad Amp I've been eyeing for some time, while the other option will impress my client but not my pocket!

Its a tricky choice for sure. And I'm sure many a designer has this issue often.

I haven't decided yet. What do you reckon?

Why you don't download both comp images and do your design on both versions and let your client decide which he prefers? That is most fair to you and to client. If client more likes micro image then you'll get more money. If client more likes 'big' image you'll have better reputation on long run... It is only way that I'd made approach to if I am designer.

« Reply #12 on: January 15, 2010, 02:59 »
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Interesting discussion.

I would surely think that there is some good microstock competition out there - if you can manage to find it.  Check out the istock Vetta, or the Veer collection if you want something 'different' .

I also agree with what Albert Martin said - if you are able, make a mock-up using both images and ask what others think.  Perhaps you are just getting stars in your eyes from the most expensive image.  I think the advertising worth has really made us believe that paying more always gives us a better product.  Even though that is often very true - it isn't always the case. 

« Reply #13 on: January 15, 2010, 04:12 »
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I guess we both have the 405 then hey :)  My 405 amp and pre-amp still work fine but I picked up some nice 200watt plus JBL speakers recently and I don't want to damage them with the low 80watts the 405 pumps out. The Quad99 is rated to 150watts - I'm guessing even at half volume its gonna be pretty  loud.

I used to have the 405 but upgraded to the 606 (140W) a few years ago __ I was genuinely surprised just how much of a difference to the overall sound quality that extra current-dumping capacity made. You won't damage your JBL's with the 405 but you'll certainly get far more out of them with the 99. Well worth the extra money.

It might be worth contacting the 'big boy' agency to see if they are prepared to sharpen their pencil regarding the price of the image you like. These are very hard times for traditional agencies __ even more so at this time of the year. They might be desperate to make a sale even at a substantial discount.

Noodles

« Reply #14 on: January 15, 2010, 05:56 »
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Why you don't download both comp images and do your design on both versions and let your client decide which he prefers? That is most fair to you and to client. If client more likes micro image then you'll get more money. If client more likes 'big' image you'll have better reputation on long run... It is only way that I'd made approach to if I am designer.

Yes, its a good point and a fair one. There is always a battle as to how much information you allow a client to see. I believe a good designer trains his client into understanding good design - which may sound strange but true. So in some ways its my call, hence the subject "Does MicroStock lower design standards?" because I'd sure like that Quad Amp!

Gostwyck - I've haggled before and been surprised how much macro prices will drop. I wouldn't even be surprised if I could reduce the quote by half. That will be my next plan if the SS shot doesn't meet the clients expectations. I still don't have a CD player - My Revox looks better and sounds as good anyway, but the kids are nagging at me - any thoughts? Thanks.

Leaf - I didn't check Veer so I will do over the weekend.

Noodles

« Reply #15 on: January 15, 2010, 06:13 »
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Given the wide variation in image costs available today I'm a bit surprised you are working to a fixed amount. Wouldn't it be better to charge for your time plus image costs, and let the client decide which image to use, at their expense.

Honestly its just the way I have always done it. I just like to quote for the job. If the image costs $1 and the ad takes me 1 hour to design then I can go fishing for the rest of the day. If it works the other way around, then even though I've worked all day and spent up to a 1000 bucks, I still come away with a profit. It all balances in the end.

« Reply #16 on: January 15, 2010, 06:52 »
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I still don't have a CD player - My Revox looks better and sounds as good anyway, but the kids are nagging at me - any thoughts? Thanks.

CD players almost always sound exactly the same __ honestly. I have the Quad 67, which was widely applauded as one of the 'best in the world' in the reviews, but it sounds exactly the same as a basic Philips player I also own and which cost a quarter of the price. The Quad unit looks nicer, has a few more functions and is able to play dodgy CD's that the Philips unit can't handle but beyond that there is no difference.

The 'music' on a CD is just a series of 1's and 0's which are read by a standard laser pick-up (I've heard that the lasers are all the same as they are patented by Philips/Toshiba). Any electronics between the laser pick-up and your amp, beyond basic buffering, is more likely to deteriorate the sound than improve it.

IMHO there has been virtually no significant improvement (i.e. detectable by the human ear) in either amplifier or CD technology for the last 20 years. Speakers however have advanced hugely __ the quality of speakers today is simply staggering compared to their predecessors.


Noodles

« Reply #17 on: January 15, 2010, 07:32 »
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IMHO there has been virtually no significant improvement (i.e. detectable by the human ear) in either amplifier or CD technology for the last 20 years. Speakers however have advanced hugely __ the quality of speakers today is simply staggering compared to their predecessors.


I heard that the Quad CD players were very good - I have the Quad FM4 Receiver and that is excellent.
I agree about the quality of speakers today but before I bought the JBL's I was originally looking for a pair of Tannoy's. However, the old ones now sell for ridiculous amounts of money (for example these reds). Sound purists swear by old Tannoys apparently. The ones made in the 1950's (silver I believe) and before that the "blacks" I've seen go for $10,000+ on Ebay.

« Reply #18 on: January 15, 2010, 11:36 »
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design standards were already lowered anyway if you ask me. In some aspects, micro has actually forced the industry to become more picky about certain flaws .. grain for example. The bad thing is there's a lot of confusion about the actual differences between the traditional concept of grain compared to noise generated from bad exposures and sensor amplification. I could submit a slightly grainy (not noisy) image to a micro and get rejected for quality. On the other hand, I could submit RM or direct assignments to a major publication like Newsweek that have more noise than you can shake a monopod at (not grainy) and it passes QA for a coveted spot on the cover.

As for the reference to money affecting design standards I would say no .. at least not on a major level. I sometimes get contacted by art directors who originally found me through micro and then commission me to do a custom shoot on a much higher budget. Designers for major corporations don't care how much they spend on a shot .. it's not their money .. $3 .. $3000 .. who cares.

I can see the financial differences affecting the quality standards in the smaller freelance sector though. However, you can't group local business brochures and restaurant menus with international corporate campaigns and say that the smaller affects the larger.

RT


« Reply #19 on: January 15, 2010, 13:13 »
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I sometimes get contacted by art directors who originally found me through micro and then commission me to do a custom shoot on a much higher budget.

Cool, got any examples you could show us?

« Reply #20 on: January 15, 2010, 14:00 »
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I think that the cost of the image should be somewhat irrelevant...assuming your client will pay for either one, $1 or $1000.

The decision should be based on what is best for the ad and for your client, not what can you buy with the money you save. If you think the less expensive image is just as good as the expensive one, by all means use it. If you think it is inferior, then you are giving your client an inferior product just so you can have a new toy.

Sorry to spoil your fun!

I do also like the idea of comping the ad with both images and showing to the client, as was mentioned earlier.

helix7

« Reply #21 on: January 15, 2010, 14:49 »
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design standards were already lowered anyway if you ask me...

Absolutely. Microstock has had very little to do with the problems the design industry faces.

lisafx

« Reply #22 on: January 15, 2010, 18:24 »
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I sometimes get contacted by art directors who originally found me through micro and then commission me to do a custom shoot on a much higher budget.

Count yourself lucky then.  I have been contacted a number of times to do custom work, but when I quote them a price on the low end of the industry standard they either complain and decline, or just disappear.

I have yet to have a single one of these requests through the micros for a custom shoot pan out.  Seems like micro customers, for the most part, just have no idea how much (custom) photography is supposed to cost....!

« Reply #23 on: January 15, 2010, 19:44 »
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I never quote a price until they first tell me their budget. If they say $1500, I say this is you're lucky day because I can do it $1499. LOL You don't want to tell them $1000 and then later realize they had a photo budget of $3000 and you don't want to lose it by saying $3000 when they only had a budget of $1000.

I actually had one buyer contact me and ask how much I would charge to resize a photo of mine they bought. They bought the XL but then said they needed it resized to 60MP ... for a brochure .. I was honest and told them 60MP was way overboard for their needs but they insisted so I thought hmmmm that's just goofy ... ok send $75 to my paypal. That was a well paid 30 seconds of work. LOL

Noodles

« Reply #24 on: January 15, 2010, 20:56 »
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I can see the financial differences affecting the quality standards in the smaller freelance sector though. However, you can't group local business brochures and restaurant menus with international corporate campaigns and say that the smaller affects the larger.

That's true - my clients are mostly small to midrange corporate - but far below being called major. As far as I can tell they prefer freelancers to ad agencies because they offer a more personal and cost friendly service without sacrificing quality (IMHO)

Seems like micro customers, for the most part, just have no idea how much (custom) photography is supposed to cost....!

That is a concern for sure. At least you stuck to your guns and didn't give in - plenty would I'm afraid.


 

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