MicrostockGroup Sponsors


Author Topic: What's the future for Stock Photography?  (Read 1698 times)

0 Members and 2 Guests are viewing this topic.

« on: October 12, 2018, 06:22 »
0
I've been reading comments on here about a decline in sales and it's made me think recently about the future for stock photography. I have a small image portfolio (1500 images) and have had a strange year compared to last year. A lot of up and down activity (istock and shutterstock especially so I thought I would put the question out there and see what everyone thought.

Cheers.

newbielink:https://www.shutterstock.com/g/AnnaSwiderska?language=en [nonactive]


« Reply #1 on: October 12, 2018, 06:31 »
+1
It's going to decline for contributors as demand is growing much more slowly than supply but much more gradually than the doom mongers say. People who are extremely talented and work hard will make money the mediocre will not......

« Reply #2 on: October 12, 2018, 08:38 »
+3
"What's the future for Stock Photography?"

Close your eyes. What do you see? (nothing but darkness)

That's the future of Stock photography... 8)


« Reply #3 on: October 12, 2018, 09:19 »
+2
Once its been sucked dry and bled to death then everyone will move on to the next big thing

« Reply #4 on: October 12, 2018, 09:28 »
+1
Once its been sucked dry and bled to death then everyone will move on to the next big thing
But will it last longer than cryptocurrencies?

« Reply #5 on: October 12, 2018, 09:32 »
+4
People who are extremely talented and work hard will make money the mediocre will not......

Are you suggesting it will go back to the way it always was before microstock started accepting anyone who had a camera?

That said, I personally feel very few will succeed at stock photography moving forward for a few reasons... the main one being the current pricing of imagery and the royalty rates are simply not sustainable as a career path. The industry for whatever reason has been in decline for the last 15 years, or roughly since the time microstock put downward pressure on valuation with the idea of shoot, upload, and repeat. I have been a stock shooter most of my life and I could not even be bothered these days to go and shoot anything. The current costs of even shooting anything simply is not rewarded with the pitiful valuation and royalty structure on offer at pretty much every agency that has traffic.
For example something very basic here... go shoot a skyline... parking meter $2-$5 , gas to and from $2-$5, a few hours of your time (travel, shooting, post production etc.) even at minumum wage let's just say roughly $40, equipment to do so cameras, computers, programs etc.. $$$, you literally have to sell the images from that shoot dozens to hundreds of times just to break even.

If you are just doing this for a hobby or beer bucks then overall it is a great way to go, but if you are serious about making a full time living from it, yeah it can be done, but I would definitely keep my options open at this point cause the stock industry is very much a losing game these days.

I

« Reply #6 on: October 12, 2018, 09:53 »
0
People who are extremely talented and work hard will make money the mediocre will not......

Are you suggesting it will go back to the way it always was before microstock started accepting anyone who had a camera?

That said, I personally feel very few will succeed at stock photography moving forward for a few reasons... the main one being the current pricing of imagery and the royalty rates are simply not sustainable as a career path. The industry for whatever reason has been in decline for the last 15 years, or roughly since the time microstock put downward pressure on valuation with the idea of shoot, upload, and repeat. I have been a stock shooter most of my life and I could not even be bothered these days to go and shoot anything. The current costs of even shooting anything simply is not rewarded with the pitiful valuation and royalty structure on offer at pretty much every agency that has traffic.
For example something very basic here... go shoot a skyline... parking meter $2-$5 , gas to and from $2-$5, a few hours of your time (travel, shooting, post production etc.) even at minumum wage let's just say roughly $40, equipment to do so cameras, computers, programs etc.. $$$, you literally have to sell the images from that shoot dozens to hundreds of times just to break even.

If you are just doing this for a hobby or beer bucks then overall it is a great way to go, but if you are serious about making a full time living from it, yeah it can be done, but I would definitely keep my options open at this point cause the stock industry is very much a losing game these days.

I
No I'm suggesting exactly what I said which applies to all mature businesses. In the early days there was easy money even for the moderately talented. In almost every arts related industry it is extremely competitive and hard to make money...the early years of microstock was the exception and was never going to be the norm for long. Yes almost anything is accepted now that doesn't mean anyone is buying it. If I wanted to make money as a full time photographer I would only look on Stock as a part time filler when I couldn't get more lucrative work......which is how it started ;-).

Uncle Pete

  • Great Place by a Great Lake - My Home Port
« Reply #7 on: October 12, 2018, 10:14 »
+2
Just as you think that things cannot get possibly worse they suddenly will?  ;)

I would not have any confidence that earning money or a living for most people is a future reality in Microstock today. Yes some do, some will, hard work and smart, will pay more. In some places where $100 - $200 a month is good money, Micro is a good income. Living where I do, it's spending money, discretionary income. In general I use the returns for more equipment or waste it on "stuff" from eBay.

My current personal position is, I shoot what I like and if someone else buys licenses, I'm happy. I don't depend on this income, however I find the hobby interesting and a challenge to come up with new ideas. I get to use my experience and equipment which I'd have anyway. I get a tax deduction for equipment against my earnings.

If I needed the money or depended on the Micro income, I'd be looking really hard for somewhere else to earn money. Not that the future is terribly bleak, but growth in this area has gone flat, incomes are not going to rise like they did in the early years. Many will drop as competition is 20 times more than five years ago. That's just the way markets, trends and economics works. There's still room to make some money but for most, not a living wage.

We are suppliers of an over produced, easily available commodity.
« Last Edit: October 12, 2018, 10:17 by Uncle Pete »

« Reply #8 on: October 12, 2018, 11:58 »
+1
People who are extremely talented and work hard will make money the mediocre will not......

Are you suggesting it will go back to the way it always was before microstock started accepting anyone who had a camera?

That said, I personally feel very few will succeed at stock photography moving forward for a few reasons... the main one being the current pricing of imagery and the royalty rates are simply not sustainable as a career path. The industry for whatever reason has been in decline for the last 15 years, or roughly since the time microstock put downward pressure on valuation with the idea of shoot, upload, and repeat. I have been a stock shooter most of my life and I could not even be bothered these days to go and shoot anything. The current costs of even shooting anything simply is not rewarded with the pitiful valuation and royalty structure on offer at pretty much every agency that has traffic.
For example something very basic here... go shoot a skyline... parking meter $2-$5 , gas to and from $2-$5, a few hours of your time (travel, shooting, post production etc.) even at minumum wage let's just say roughly $40, equipment to do so cameras, computers, programs etc.. $$$, you literally have to sell the images from that shoot dozens to hundreds of times just to break even.

If you are just doing this for a hobby or beer bucks then overall it is a great way to go, but if you are serious about making a full time living from it, yeah it can be done, but I would definitely keep my options open at this point cause the stock industry is very much a losing game these days.

I

very good comments!  Many of more former mentors feel that the digital camera, which allowed the masses to enter, ruin the lively hood of the professional photographers...

« Reply #9 on: October 12, 2018, 12:17 »
+2
People who are extremely talented and work hard will make money the mediocre will not......

Are you suggesting it will go back to the way it always was before microstock started accepting anyone who had a camera?

That said, I personally feel very few will succeed at stock photography moving forward for a few reasons... the main one being the current pricing of imagery and the royalty rates are simply not sustainable as a career path. The industry for whatever reason has been in decline for the last 15 years, or roughly since the time microstock put downward pressure on valuation with the idea of shoot, upload, and repeat. I have been a stock shooter most of my life and I could not even be bothered these days to go and shoot anything. The current costs of even shooting anything simply is not rewarded with the pitiful valuation and royalty structure on offer at pretty much every agency that has traffic.
For example something very basic here... go shoot a skyline... parking meter $2-$5 , gas to and from $2-$5, a few hours of your time (travel, shooting, post production etc.) even at minumum wage let's just say roughly $40, equipment to do so cameras, computers, programs etc.. $$$, you literally have to sell the images from that shoot dozens to hundreds of times just to break even.

If you are just doing this for a hobby or beer bucks then overall it is a great way to go, but if you are serious about making a full time living from it, yeah it can be done, but I would definitely keep my options open at this point cause the stock industry is very much a losing game these days.

I

very good comments!  Many of more former mentors feel that the digital camera, which allowed the masses to enter, ruin the lively hood of the professional photographers...

I don't feel it is the digital camera which allowed the masses to enter as there are some amazing digital photographers out there that produce work that is very good. Sadly many of them don't have an outlet that sells their work at a price it should be sold at. I think it comes down to the internet age and allowing the bar to be lowered for entry into the business. Granted shooting digital makes things a whole lot easier as you literally need very little technical know how to get a decent shot. I guess the way I see it is that the origin of microstock is like picking the low hanging fruit and sadly it has brought the whole industry down with it. Sadly everyone is lowering their pricing to compete with each other. As suggested, I think the stock industry is a dying profession. Dead end for the long run or sustainability.



« Reply #10 on: October 12, 2018, 14:11 »
+2

I don't feel it is the digital camera which allowed the masses to enter as there are some amazing digital photographers out there that produce work that is very good.

The point about the digital camera was that it allowed us to learn how to take photos without having to spend an enormous sum spoiling film and printing rubbish to find out what our mistakes were. I got decent family snaps with film but until digital came along I couldn't have afforded to learn how to shoot stock. And if I had made the effort, the trad agencies probably wouldn't have been interested in me (not, for example, being available for custom shoots, as Getty used to demand).

cascoly

  • Photography, travel & online games at cascoly.com

« Reply #11 on: October 12, 2018, 18:43 »
+4

very good comments!  Many of more former mentors feel that the digital camera, which allowed the masses to enter, ruin the lively hood of the professional photographers...


in the same way Henry Ford ruined the lives of buggy whip makers & horse breeders. lots of programmers lost market share as windows incorporated more of their special apps.  shift happens.  old timey stock photography earned more because of scarcity, not quality.

« Reply #12 on: October 13, 2018, 06:23 »
+2

very good comments!  Many of more former mentors feel that the digital camera, which allowed the masses to enter, ruin the lively hood of the professional photographers...


in the same way Henry Ford ruined the lives of buggy whip makers & horse breeders. lots of programmers lost market share as windows incorporated more of their special apps.  shift happens.  old timey stock photography earned more because of scarcity, not quality.

I always reckoned that top quality old-timers would remain at the top of the heap, while the micros massively increased the amount spent on stock (but spread it more thinly). The mediocre old-timers were potentially going to get devastated, though.
I doubt if many photographers were exclusively shooting for stock back in 2000, anyway. It was regarded as a handy supplementary income from shots that didn't make it for the purpose originally intended, according to what I read around that time.

« Reply #13 on: October 13, 2018, 07:56 »
0

very good comments!  Many of more former mentors feel that the digital camera, which allowed the masses to enter, ruin the lively hood of the professional photographers...


in the same way Henry Ford ruined the lives of buggy whip makers & horse breeders. lots of programmers lost market share as windows incorporated more of their special apps.  shift happens.  old timey stock photography earned more because of scarcity, not quality.

wait! I drive a Ford  8)

« Reply #14 on: October 13, 2018, 14:54 »
0
Only a matter of time before it's completely replaced with renderings.   Want 2 happy seniors cycling in a park?  Meet Mr. and Mrs.  CGI,  no model releases required.


« Reply #15 on: October 14, 2018, 01:14 »
+3

very good comments!  Many of more former mentors feel that the digital camera, which allowed the masses to enter, ruin the lively hood of the professional photographers...


in the same way Henry Ford ruined the lives of buggy whip makers & horse breeders. lots of programmers lost market share as windows incorporated more of their special apps.  shift happens.  old timey stock photography earned more because of scarcity, not quality.

I always reckoned that top quality old-timers would remain at the top of the heap, while the micros massively increased the amount spent on stock (but spread it more thinly). The mediocre old-timers were potentially going to get devastated, though.
I doubt if many photographers were exclusively shooting for stock back in 2000, anyway. It was regarded as a handy supplementary income from shots that didn't make it for the purpose originally intended, according to what I read around that time.

Old timers...

100 images (transparencies that offered you no wiggle room to do post production, you either got it right or you did not) sent to editor's and you passed or not. Mediocre did not cut it. Yep a strange concept, the you just got rejected generation.

You got into an agency if you could prove you had your training wheels off. Even the smaller agencies had standards. I was rejected by many agencies cause I simply was not good enough. Then I passed. In days of yore if you could make it into The Image Bank, Tony Stone, Getty etc you were accomplished at your craft. If you could make it in what is considered on this forum as the low earners then you had potential (above mediocre), if you made it into the middle tier you were very good (you'd make extra income potentially), if you made it into the top tier then it was an honour (and you very much might have made it a full time gig).

My gut tells me in 2000 there was a higher percentage of photographer's making a full time living from stock than the percentage that is doing so today.

Anyway, back to the point... I don't think there is a future for stock photography in the current climate and I think there are some really amazingly talented digital shooters that sell themselves short, sadly they don't have a choice. In days of yore if they had the talent they have today they certainly would not be jumping up and down because one of the agencies raised their royalty to $0.38c. Sickening if you ask me.








« Reply #16 on: October 14, 2018, 04:26 »
+1

very good comments!  Many of more former mentors feel that the digital camera, which allowed the masses to enter, ruin the lively hood of the professional photographers...

Don't even get me started about what happened to log and sledge makers when they invented the wheel.


« Reply #17 on: October 14, 2018, 04:45 »
0

very good comments!  Many of more former mentors feel that the digital camera, which allowed the masses to enter, ruin the lively hood of the professional photographers...

Don't even get me started about what happened to log and sledge makers when they invented the wheel.
The clever ones defined their business as "transport" and embraced the new world....the ones who defined their business as log and sledge makers went bust.

csm

« Reply #18 on: October 14, 2018, 14:34 »
0

very good comments!  Many of more former mentors feel that the digital camera, which allowed the masses to enter, ruin the lively hood of the professional photographers...


in the same way Henry Ford ruined the lives of buggy whip makers & horse breeders. lots of programmers lost market share as windows incorporated more of their special apps.  shift happens.  old timey stock photography earned more because of scarcity, not quality.

I always reckoned that top quality old-timers would remain at the top of the heap, while the micros massively increased the amount spent on stock (but spread it more thinly). The mediocre old-timers were potentially going to get devastated, though.
I doubt if many photographers were exclusively shooting for stock back in 2000, anyway. It was regarded as a handy supplementary income from shots that didn't make it for the purpose originally intended, according to what I read around that time.

Old timers...

100 images (transparencies that offered you no wiggle room to do post production, you either got it right or you did not) sent to editor's and you passed or not. Mediocre did not cut it. Yep a strange concept, the you just got rejected generation.

You got into an agency if you could prove you had your training wheels off. Even the smaller agencies had standards. I was rejected by many agencies cause I simply was not good enough. Then I passed. In days of yore if you could make it into The Image Bank, Tony Stone, Getty etc you were accomplished at your craft. If you could make it in what is considered on this forum as the low earners then you had potential (above mediocre), if you made it into the middle tier you were very good (you'd make extra income potentially), if you made it into the top tier then it was an honour (and you very much might have made it a full time gig).

My gut tells me in 2000 there was a higher percentage of photographer's making a full time living from stock than the percentage that is doing so today.

Anyway, back to the point... I don't think there is a future for stock photography in the current climate and I think there are some really amazingly talented digital shooters that sell themselves short, sadly they don't have a choice. In days of yore if they had the talent they have today they certainly would not be jumping up and down because one of the agencies raised their royalty to $0.38c. Sickening if you ask me.

Too true.
Nothing like sitting in front of the desk of picture editor as they look at your transparencies on a lightbox through a loupe commenting on your work as you sit there!

Uncle Pete

  • Great Place by a Great Lake - My Home Port
« Reply #19 on: October 15, 2018, 07:34 »
0

very good comments!  Many of more former mentors feel that the digital camera, which allowed the masses to enter, ruin the lively hood of the professional photographers...

Don't even get me started about what happened to log and sledge makers when they invented the wheel.
The clever ones defined their business as "transport" and embraced the new world....the ones who defined their business as log and sledge makers went bust.

Candle Makers - gas lights and then electric. Buggy whip makers, saddle makers, some may have adapted but their products went from mainstream to historic. Just about anything hand made that was created by machines, except artisan and custom made. Moving forward a bit... fax machines, pagers, word processors, typewriters, Polaroid cameras and film.  ;)

Back in the days of slides and agencies there was also another factor. If the agency had a couple good people in an area, they didn't accept more or new. They didn't want to have a number of people shooting the same. subjects. Not only that, assignment work, we had to go to the location, take the photos, process them, and ship or transport the images to the buyer. Now they go anywhere in the world in seconds, digital.

Let me say that blaming the digital camera or Microstock is ignoring the major part of the market changing. The Internet and a global market, where anyone, anywhere can sell to any buyer who can find their work. This is progress, all about high speed communication, not just "oh woe is me, someone invented a digital camera".  :'(

Just like everything else that has become obsolete or a much lesser market, the major cause is changes in technology. Sometimes how a product is produced and marketed. In a global market, products that came from one location or country are now available from many sources and easily transported anywhere else. Microstock is like the big box and huge franchise stores, most of the little shops are driven out of business.

Oh and the future is just fine. We won't be seeing a huge boom, no "next big thing" or fantastic growth. But there's room to make some money.


 

Related Topics

  Subject / Started by Replies Last post
4 Replies
3226 Views
Last post February 03, 2007, 13:22
by epixx
3 Replies
1077 Views
Last post August 24, 2013, 16:09
by Leo Blanchette
13 Replies
2988 Views
Last post January 08, 2017, 12:46
by cobalt
3 Replies
1956 Views
Last post March 02, 2017, 21:43
by michaeldb
12 Replies
3325 Views
Last post September 30, 2017, 11:05
by noodle

Sponsors

Microstock Poll Results

Sponsors