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Author Topic: Is This The New iStock Standard Of Picture Quality?  (Read 7504 times)

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« Reply #75 on: April 12, 2012, 02:59 »
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4 - iStock is not a place to explore ones inner level of artistic expression

Because you say so ?

There are some fantastically creative successful portfolios on iStockphoto - not just artsy but also conceptual and experimental. As well as all of the fantastically executed more conventional portfolios. And pretty much everything in between. It's a broad church from that perspective. Something for everyone, how it should be.

Personally I really like some of the more indy - styled portfolios.

Good point about creativity.  I love some of the creative imagery on Istock and see no reason that creative work not be accepted. 

But I do agree with Daisy's points 1-3.  Quality standards should be high and consistently enforced.  Nothing about technical quality precludes creativity.  It's not either or.

I think on point 4 Daisy probably means that there are certain artistic channels that aren't suited for stock - the current fad for pinhole photography, for example, which creates exceedingly soft images that can look sharp in a thumbnail and could, therefore, confuse buyers. Then again, if there were a pinhole collection it wouldn't be misleading.

Wow. Ok, so now Ive read most of this thread and finally got to the bottom of which contributor was being discussed. I am by no way an inspector or insider at istock although I have been a contributor there for many years. I have admired this contributor's work from afar since I started here at iStock. It is obvious that he knows what he's doing and is fully capable of producing what many of you consider "suitable stock" images. He also obviously has his own style and in this case is working towards a newer trend which is currently becoming more popular in the artsier side of photography and advertising (yes, I'm talking commercially).

While I cant see the original image being discussed as it has been removed from istock, I can see the type of image in his portfolio and so my comments are based on those. I think its pretty telling that many of you think this genre isnt "suited for stock" as was expressed in the above quote. If any of you have been selling stock for long, one thing you must know is that it's all about what the current trends and styles are. Yes, there are certain types of stock images that may never go out of style, but there are also many trends that come and go. Currently there is a very popular trend towards the supposed "real" looking faded, cross-processed style that has been made popular in part by, yes, instagram. Whether you like it or not, there is no set "standard" when it comes to trends or styles. In this case there is a certain segment of the market that are looking for this type of image so they should most definitely be included in stock collections. Buyers aren't stupid, so this talk about "confusing" buyers is funny to me. The buyers are the ones who decide what sells, so let them decide!

Having said this, should we have quality standards at iStock? Certainly, but not at the expense of providing images that meet a given market demand. Is it fair that certain proven contributors should be given more leeway than beginners? Yes, why not. While I may or may not enjoy this leeway myself, I don't have a problem with someone who is a proven artist/contributor having more freedom. I think it comes with the territory and is fair. Does it mean there won't be some mistakes? No, but I see many newbie images that I think should never have been accepted either, but they somehow get in the collection because they barely met a certain technical standard. Heck, there are plenty of images in my own portfolio that make me sick as an artist (bright lights, fake, plastic smiles) but for some reason sell. Who decides? The buyers.


« Reply #76 on: April 12, 2012, 03:38 »
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Give me a break when has IS taken anything other than technical quality into account?  Sure there must be tons of really excellent images (by any criteria) on the site done by folks on top of their game that meet the pixel peeping standards.  There are, however, hundreds of thousands more on the other sites that may have some insignificant technical flaw that wouldnt pass the IS inspectors but that these sites recognise will enhance their collections.  There are literally millions on flickr that are really creative, original and say something that would never get past the door on any MS site.  It is a hell of a lot easier to do a simple technically perfect image than it is to do a complex one.  The image posted is devoid of any merit just a technically bad version of the technically good boring images that are spread across the Internet.  You have standards or you dont have standards and when acceptance is based on who produced the image or the equipment used instead of the work itself, you dont have standards.

« Reply #77 on: April 12, 2012, 04:12 »
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Give me a break when has IS taken anything other than technical quality into account?  Sure there must be tons of really excellent images (by any criteria) on the site done by folks on top of their game that meet the pixel peeping standards.  There are, however, hundreds of thousands more on the other sites that may have some insignificant technical flaw that wouldnt pass the IS inspectors but that these sites recognise will enhance their collections.  There are literally millions on flickr that are really creative, original and say something that would never get past the door on any MS site.  It is a hell of a lot easier to do a simple technically perfect image than it is to do a complex one.  The image posted is devoid of any merit just a technically bad version of the technically good boring images that are spread across the Internet.  You have standards or you dont have standards and when acceptance is based on who produced the image or the equipment used instead of the work itself, you dont have standards.

I have no problem with questioning or calling out iStock on it's practices or policies. I for one have been negatively affected by many things iStock/Getty have done, especially recently. However, I do think that skewering this contributor and this genre is short-sighted.

« Reply #78 on: April 12, 2012, 04:47 »
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I have no problem with questioning or calling out iStock on it's practices or policies. I for one have been negatively affected by many things iStock/Getty have done, especially recently. However, I do think that skewering this contributor and this genre is short-sighted.

Here's the the thing - I'm not skewering the contributor, just the image that was posted  :)  (which is the point I'm trying to make).  There have been a lot of posts to say this guy produces outstanding work - I haven't looked but I have absolutely not reason to suppose he doesn't.

« Reply #79 on: April 12, 2012, 05:00 »
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^ Ok, I see. Since I never got to see the original image being discussed, I was referring to the more general discussion about whether this genre has value as stock and should be allowed in the regular stock collections.

« Reply #80 on: April 12, 2012, 05:03 »
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The problem with the argument that there is some demand somewhere for faded, cross-processed images, or pinhole images, or Holgaesque images is that in the end it boils down to an argument that every image ever shot should be accepted because sometime, somewhere it might be exactly what someone wants. Which makes inspectors redundant.

To some extent Getty has already embraced that idea by tying up with Flickr - and you can always contact Getty to see if they can persuade someone to sell you a flickr shot, even if it isn't in the Getty Flickr collection.

« Reply #81 on: April 12, 2012, 05:34 »
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The problem with the argument that there is some demand somewhere for faded, cross-processed images, or pinhole images, or Holgaesque images is that in the end it boils down to an argument that every image ever shot should be accepted because sometime, somewhere it might be exactly what someone wants. Which makes inspectors redundant.

To some extent Getty has already embraced that idea by tying up with Flickr - and you can always contact Getty to see if they can persuade someone to sell you a flickr shot, even if it isn't in the Getty Flickr collection.

I think there's currently as much market for these type of images than for the standard plasticy, fake smile, fake lighting, fake people stock images that crowd the stock libraries. Just open any of the higher end magazines and look at the ads. We're not talking about a couple people come out from under a rock looking for these type of images. It's a wider trend which should be noticed and responded to by stock agencies as if they have any business sense. Just because you or others don't like the style doesn't mean it doesn't exist or have value. I can't tell you how many people I talk to that can't stand and even make fun of the fake look of the standard white background, brightly lit, fake smile images that fill stock libraries. Does it mean those images shouldn't exist or be sold on stock sites? No. It just means there are many styles and tastes and if something becomes big enough and in demand than why wouldn't you want to offer it in a stock library?

« Reply #82 on: April 12, 2012, 05:41 »
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The problem is that deprived of fake smiles, lighting, setting etc, some are completely lost and void of ideas.

« Reply #83 on: April 12, 2012, 05:44 »
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I don't have a problem with someone who is a proven artist/contributor having more freedom.

I agree.

++ I also happen to think it's fun and interesting for a collection to contain a distribution of potentially W-T-F images for people to find and discuss - to get people talking about how pictures work in different contexts and why. Pictures which get discussed are good IMO.  Personally I am very interested in and (I think) best understand a sort of photography which seems to many people like boring pictures. I'm much less interested in much 'good' photography. Some of the photographers' books I bought in the 80s are now quite valuable. Retrospectively people don't see them as boring but at the time they seemed difficult to understand and were even derided. But sometimes it takes a while for people to see what the photographer is saying. And I can think of various ad campaigns which have been built around that.

« Reply #84 on: April 12, 2012, 06:07 »
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The problem with the argument that there is some demand somewhere for faded, cross-processed images, or pinhole images, or Holgaesque images is that in the end it boils down to an argument that every image ever shot should be accepted because sometime, somewhere it might be exactly what someone wants. Which makes inspectors redundant.

To some extent Getty has already embraced that idea by tying up with Flickr - and you can always contact Getty to see if they can persuade someone to sell you a flickr shot, even if it isn't in the Getty Flickr collection.

I think there's currently as much market for these type of images than for the standard plasticy, fake smile, fake lighting, fake people stock images that crowd the stock libraries.

I don't shoot people, anyway, so I don't have a vested interest in this but I think you are wrong. There certainly is a good market for people who look real and who aren't pretty, especially if they are in a proper working environment - and there always has been that demand. The reason the micros aren't full of those is that they are harder to arrange than studio shots.

But if you are saying that there is as big a market for really badly lit, badly composed food shots. or for heavily degraded shots with strange NIK filter effects, as there is for plastic people with toothpaste grins and white backgrounds I think you are wildly wide of the mark. There is a niche market for overfiltered or badly-lit images, though why a good designer would do the processing themselves I don't know, but it certainly doesn't compete with the market Arcurs feeds.

I've just looked through one newspaper and one magazine for the images you describe and in all the adverts the only one that fits the description is from Olympus cameras (and that just uses a retro style filter, the composition and lighting are excellent)  The rest all use traditional "good" images.
« Last Edit: April 12, 2012, 06:09 by BaldricksTrousers »

« Reply #85 on: April 12, 2012, 06:52 »
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The real problem here is what is meant by good.  Instead of looking at the whole image and making a holistic quality judgement based on the aesthetics and marketability of an image, most agencies (others far less so than IS) look at pieces of the image for an insignificant jagged line or bit of noise and accept or reject on that basis.  The thing is that you can probably train monkeys to do that kind of review and, as some quality control is needed, the industry just equates quality to technical quality, and its a matter of just holding up a ruler to the work being judged.  The mere idea that something is good because its produced  by someone who can do good work is as bad and, again, requires no actual judgement.

« Reply #86 on: April 12, 2012, 10:07 »
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  Wait a minute. Cell phones are perfectly capable of taking stock worthy photos. Take a look at the sample photos on Apple's web site taken with the iPhone 4s. They would pass inspection on iStock. Just not as high a resolution as Nikon's top of the line.

  The problem with the photo in question is that it is crooked, washed out, a terrible composition, and was submitted by an inspector. Not the camera. You can achieve bad photos with any camera.

Very true. The threads here made me curious so I took a decent iPhone shot of mine last week and uploaded it. Many agencies accepted it with metadata stripped. Canstock even with metadata.

Oh lord. Now my iPhone-experiment has sold three times within a few hours of being online at Shutterstock. This is embarrassing.

« Reply #87 on: April 12, 2012, 10:22 »
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I don't have a problem with someone who is a proven artist/contributor having more freedom.

I do. An image that has good composition, taken with a phone, can be produced by ANYBODY, regardless of whether they are PROVEN contributor or not. If these images are not going to be judged on technical quality, the only things left are saleability and composition. If it's composed properly, why should it be rejected because the contributor doesn't have a crown next to their name or only has uploaded 10 other shots? Do you think that only PROVEN artists have original and creative ideas?

It all goes back to the whole elitist attitude present at istock.  ::)

Caz

« Reply #88 on: April 12, 2012, 11:22 »
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I don't shoot people, anyway, so I don't have a vested interest in this but I think you are wrong. There certainly is a good market for people who look real and who aren't pretty, especially if they are in a proper working environment - and there always has been that demand. The reason the micros aren't full of those is that they are harder to arrange than studio shots.

But if you are saying that there is as big a market for really badly lit, badly composed food shots. or for heavily degraded shots with strange NIK filter effects, as there is for plastic people with toothpaste grins and white backgrounds I think you are wildly wide of the mark. There is a niche market for overfiltered or badly-lit images, though why a good designer would do the processing themselves I don't know, but it certainly doesn't compete with the market Arcurs feeds.

I've just looked through one newspaper and one magazine for the images you describe and in all the adverts the only one that fits the description is from Olympus cameras (and that just uses a retro style filter, the composition and lighting are excellent)  The rest all use traditional "good" images.

I think that this new design trend is for a specific (mostly young) target audience. I've seen a big shift towards this style for products like mobile phones, travel, food & beverages etc where I live. But understandably, the advertisements are placed with their audience in mind. You're unlikely to find them in the Times or Woman's Weekly  :) I see buses, bus-stops, billboards and music magazines carrying this style of image in their advertising every day. Advertisers know that their audience needs to identify with the images in an advert in order to buy into the brand. The fact that these images look like their life as shot through their iPhone is what makes them work for these brands. To the audience, it looks genuine, looks like their life and that's what builds brand loyalty (currently. I'm sure this too, as a phase, will pass). Of course it's not "replacing" the traditional (if there is such a thing) stock image for some brands, some products. This is a new thing, for the iPhone generation of consumers that advertisers need to reach.

« Reply #89 on: April 12, 2012, 16:55 »
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I think that this new design trend is for a specific (mostly young) target audience. I've seen a big shift towards this style for products like mobile phones, travel, food & beverages etc where I live. But understandably, the advertisements are placed with their audience in mind. You're unlikely to find them in the Times or Woman's Weekly  :) I see buses, bus-stops, billboards and music magazines carrying this style of image in their advertising every day. Advertisers know that their audience needs to identify with the images in an advert in order to buy into the brand. The fact that these images look like their life as shot through their iPhone is what makes them work for these brands. To the audience, it looks genuine, looks like their life and that's what builds brand loyalty (currently. I'm sure this too, as a phase, will pass). Of course it's not "replacing" the traditional (if there is such a thing) stock image for some brands, some products. This is a new thing, for the iPhone generation of consumers that advertisers need to reach.

Yes, I get that, but I still question how large the market for such images is compared with the traditional stock style.
Remember when Vetta came in - lots of very strange stuff in there but from what I saw most of it never sold. Did it fail to sell because of the price, or was it priced high because the market was too limited to justify producing it for ordinary sales?
One problem with the "wow! It looks just like something from my phone" idea is if that is the prime connection point for the advert then there is an enormous number of sorts of images that would meet the bill. How, then, are you going to construct an image that has a reasonable prospect of selling?
1) It must look like a mobile image
2) It quite likely needs young people in it
3) It probably needs something else that makes a connection (e.g. holiday background - famous building etc).

If you use a generic beach background it might sell but you are likely to find a million distorted wide angle faces in front of beaches hit the sites in short order. If you have if you have a very specific background - say Big Ben - then you will have very severely restricted the potential sales as few people are likely to look for that particular combination of factors. In my opinion, images which have limited sales potential are better suited to Alamy or other higher-priced sites than to the micros (unless they go into Vetta, of course).

So, for the moment I remain deeply sceptical about the idea of micros trying to feed into this area and risking annoying their traditional client base (brochures, web sites, pamphlets etc) by doing so.

« Reply #90 on: April 13, 2012, 04:35 »
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4 - iStock is not a place to explore ones inner level of artistic expression. The proactive removal of the image of questionable quality from the iStock archive provides us with a clear message of that. Buyers are looking for commercial creativity with a commensurate level of technical quality. Images which trade off quality to allow mobility for artistic exploration should not be made available for sale on iStock.

Point #4 in my previous post was broadly misunderstood. iStock is a place for creativity and creativity is definitely needed in commercial stock photography. But it must coincide with producing images that meet a certain level of technical standards in order for the images to be viable for commercial use.

The subject picture of this thread was not acceptable as commercial stock on a technical level. That is widely agreed. It had many technical faults as already pointed out by other posts in this thread. In fact, the composition was rather flawed, lacked creativity, and it wasn't a commercially viable image in any way. Thus it was eventually removed from the iStock collection.

In addition, the description provided for the photo was not complete, as it stated nothing about the subject or contents of the image the way a description/caption should do.

It is an image however that might fit into a photo exhibition if it is a photo that makes up part of a story being told through an essay of editorial photos. It would also have a place if it is a particular artistic style, process, or finish applied to a series of images being exhibited.

So what was meant by "iStock is not a place to explore ones inner level of artistic expression" is that images like this might be viewed as artistic under certain conditions and in certain instances, but it was not suitable as a commercial stock photo or even usable as a simple illustrative stock image for the type of food it portrayed.   

If you don't adhere to the principle of the point made here then you end up with a collection of images unsuitable for commercial use. This needs to be avoided at all cost and images like the subject image need not continue to pass inspection in the future or the standards of what is deemed as viable commercial stock photography on iStock will be lost.

ShadySue

« Reply #91 on: April 13, 2012, 05:27 »
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4 - iStock is not a place to explore ones inner level of artistic expression. The proactive removal of the image of questionable quality from the iStock archive provides us with a clear message of that. Buyers are looking for commercial creativity with a commensurate level of technical quality. Images which trade off quality to allow mobility for artistic exploration should not be made available for sale on iStock.
Point #4 in my previous post was broadly misunderstood. iStock is a place for creativity and creativity is definitely needed in commercial stock photography. But it must coincide with producing images that meet a certain level of technical standards in order for the images to be viable for commercial use.
NOT referring to the photo referenced in this thread, the technical standards normally set by iStock are well above the standards required for virtually all commerical uses.

« Reply #92 on: April 13, 2012, 05:35 »
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By the way, it seems the Microstock Forum site may contain some Malware on the site. The anti-malware program Malwarebytes running on my computer puts up a Malware warning each time I try to enter the site. I must override the program to access the site. Not a good sign.

« Reply #93 on: April 13, 2012, 07:02 »
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4 - iStock is not a place to explore ones inner level of artistic expression. The proactive removal of the image of questionable quality from the iStock archive provides us with a clear message of that. Buyers are looking for commercial creativity with a commensurate level of technical quality. Images which trade off quality to allow mobility for artistic exploration should not be made available for sale on iStock.

Point #4 in my previous post was broadly misunderstood. iStock is a place for creativity and creativity is definitely needed in commercial stock photography. But it must coincide with producing images that meet a certain level of technical standards in order for the images to be viable for commercial use.

The subject picture of this thread was not acceptable as commercial stock on a technical level. That is widely agreed. It had many technical faults as already pointed out by other posts in this thread. In fact, the composition was rather flawed, lacked creativity, and it wasn't a commercially viable image in any way. Thus it was eventually removed from the iStock collection.

In addition, the description provided for the photo was not complete, as it stated nothing about the subject or contents of the image the way a description/caption should do.

It is an image however that might fit into a photo exhibition if it is a photo that makes up part of a story being told through an essay of editorial photos. It would also have a place if it is a particular artistic style, process, or finish applied to a series of images being exhibited.

So what was meant by "iStock is not a place to explore ones inner level of artistic expression" is that images like this might be viewed as artistic under certain conditions and in certain instances, but it was not suitable as a commercial stock photo or even usable as a simple illustrative stock image for the type of food it portrayed.   

If you don't adhere to the principle of the point made here then you end up with a collection of images unsuitable for commercial use. This needs to be avoided at all cost and images like the subject image need not continue to pass inspection in the future or the standards of what is deemed as viable commercial stock photography on iStock will be lost.

Then how did it get approved in the first place? If someone here hadn't "outed" it, it would still be up, for sale.

« Reply #94 on: April 13, 2012, 08:58 »
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With tens of thousands of images inspected weekly it's normal than now and then one fells in the wrong side (approved, accepted). A 100% accuracy would be anormal, in these circumstances.

« Reply #95 on: April 13, 2012, 09:11 »
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With tens of thousands of images inspected weekly it's normal than now and then one fells in the wrong side (approved, accepted). A 100% accuracy would be anormal, in these circumstances.

Oh, come on, that's fair comment if Fred Bloggs has a duffer approved - but we all know that this was not a Fred Bloggs image. It's pretty obvious that it was one that got a free pass for one reason or another.

« Reply #96 on: April 13, 2012, 09:14 »
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If someone here hadn't "outed" it, it would still be up, for sale.

" Yes, this world would be a pretty easy and pleasant place to live in if everybody could just mind his own business and let others do the same .... most of the trouble in this world has been caused by folks who can't mind their own business :D
« Last Edit: April 13, 2012, 09:16 by bhr »

ShadySue

« Reply #97 on: April 13, 2012, 09:24 »
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(Re photo first referred to)
Then how did it get approved in the first place? If someone here hadn't "outed" it, it would still be up, for sale.

I still suspect it was a sanctioned experiment.
I remember a couple of years ago seeing some very strange photos appearing in the port of a very, very high iStock contributor. In some ways, they were that tog's usual: 'perfect' models with shiny white teeth in a studio, but the setting was really 'naff': whole series of them. The technical side was presumably perfect, but the compostion and setting were not up to that person's usual standard. I wondered if it was a trend in the US or something, but in fact only tiny numbers sold from the whole series, from a person who normally gets well into double or triple figures from most of their submissions.
Now I'm wondering if that tog was asked to create and upload this very specific series, as an experiment.

B8

« Reply #98 on: April 13, 2012, 09:48 »
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@DaisyPond, your right. I tested it too. This site does seem to be infected with malware.

« Reply #99 on: April 13, 2012, 14:50 »
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(Re photo first referred to)
Then how did it get approved in the first place? If someone here hadn't "outed" it, it would still be up, for sale.

I still suspect it was a sanctioned experiment.
I remember a couple of years ago seeing some very strange photos appearing in the port of a very, very high iStock contributor. In some ways, they were that tog's usual: 'perfect' models with shiny white teeth in a studio, but the setting was really 'naff': whole series of them. The technical side was presumably perfect, but the compostion and setting were not up to that person's usual standard. I wondered if it was a trend in the US or something, but in fact only tiny numbers sold from the whole series, from a person who normally gets well into double or triple figures from most of their submissions.
Now I'm wondering if that tog was asked to create and upload this very specific series, as an experiment.

You could be right. Guess the experiment failed if the photo has been pulled. Now that I think about it, I've read of other instances where companies try "experiments" by passing off lesser quality product than their customers are used to. If no one notices, boy can they save money!


 

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