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Microstock Photography Forum - General => General Stock Discussion => Topic started by: Brasilnut on March 19, 2021, 04:13

Title: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: Brasilnut on March 19, 2021, 04:13
Interested to know your thoughts if you believe that there's any reason to be optimistic in regards to the future of the microstock photography industry as a viable business opportunity.

https://brutallyhonestmicrostock.com/2021/03/18/7-reasons-why-microstock-photography-is-probably-a-waste-of-your-time/

Just checked my February 2021 iStock earnings results making me even more pessimistic.

Looking forward to a fruitful discussion.

Best regards,

Alex
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: ShadySue on March 19, 2021, 06:02
The model you mentioned in the article (suing Getty) was apparently awarded $125K.
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/model-hiv-campaign-brooklyn-avril-nolan-advertising-aids-a8680621.html (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/model-hiv-campaign-brooklyn-avril-nolan-advertising-aids-a8680621.html)
I'm slightly confused, though as this article quotes the same amount but that it was from the Human Resources Dept which used the image:
https://www.lgbtqnation.com/2019/01/nyc-used-womans-photo-hiv-ad-campaign-sued (https://www.lgbtqnation.com/2019/01/nyc-used-womans-photo-hiv-ad-campaign-sued)
Still, from the article you quoted, the photographer bore some responsibility. Though I thought the Getty MR precluded sensitive use, certainly without a 'posed by model' disclaimer.
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: everest on March 19, 2021, 09:54
No reason at all. Agencies are giving away the images for free or they have arrangement where they pay nearly nothing to contributors and get their piece of the cake. Worst offenders are without a doubt Getty/Istock and Shutterstock but the pressure is nearly everywhere. On the other side there might be an opportunity in the future. Many videos are already flowing to Pond5 exclusive and if tomorrow Adobe offered a 40% forever for exclusive images (not contributors) I think Shutterstock and Getty would loose half or more of their pro photographers in a year.
Maybe a large player outside of the known name like Google Instagram will enter the market.

Right now it is a total disaster and as you said selling your images at micro prices only gives you a very bad rap as a photographer.
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: MatHayward on March 19, 2021, 12:13
Interested to know your thoughts if you believe that there's any reason to be optimistic in regards to the future of the microstock photography industry as a viable business opportunity.

https://brutallyhonestmicrostock.com/2021/03/18/7-reasons-why-microstock-photography-is-probably-a-waste-of-your-time/

Just checked my February 2021 iStock earnings results making me even more pessimistic.

Looking forward to a fruitful discussion.

Best regards,

Alex

Hi Alex,

I appreciate your insight. While it would be inappropriate for me to get into a philosophical debate about your talking points, I would like to ask you a question. Without a doubt, the entire world has been disrupted the past year with the Covid-19 pandemic. As we all know by now, the stock industry was no exception. Sales continued to grow overall, but generally speaking, the type of content that was in demand had dramatically changed. Portfolios that had great success even as recently as two years ago may not have faired so well this past year if the content didn't reflect the current trends. With lifestyle and business images in particular we saw a dramatic shift in what customers were buying. They were, and are looking for content with a Covid filter on it...people living their lives but with masks and socially distanced for example or working or attending school from home as opposed to a traditional office setting or classroom for another. It's a massive understatement to claim the pandemic created many challenges for creatives but on the flip side, the pandemic also revealed huge content gaps creating massive opportunities for pro-active contributors intentionally shooting ahead of the trends. Those that started creating quality content specific to the pandemic right away did very well.

My question to you and anyone on this thread is this...Did you do anything different this past year to keep up with the evolving trends and to maintain a relevant portfolio? Or did you continue to shoot and submit the same kind of content you always have created? Or, did you stop or reduce your production hoping to maintain the status quo with minimal effort? No judgement regardless of your answer..there were so many obstacles to overcome as creatives in 2020.

My follow up question is this...now that we are slowly coming out of the pandemic, that's going to create an abundant supply of new opportunities in stock..businesses re-opening, families reuniting, etc. What do you have planned for 2021 for production of stock content?


-Mat Hayward
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: MircoV on March 19, 2021, 12:42
Well... there is always the solution in the form of Wirestock. Upload once, no keywording and have images online at 7 agencies happening all in from one place. Plus many extra earning channels.

My upload process is like 5 percents as it used to be.
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: Uncle Pete on March 19, 2021, 14:03
Well... there is always the solution in the form of Wirestock. Upload once, no keywording and have images online at 7 agencies happening all in from one place. Plus many extra earning channels.

My upload process is like 5 percents as it used to be.

Actually I keyword before upload to WS because their words and data are seriously weak and generic. After that, interesting point. I'm lazy... I'll give the 15% to do the work.

To answer Mat, I couldn't do the same, no access. Did I try some current issues images, yes, but I can't call what I did a serious attempt. Did I do more of the same, in some cases yes.

What I don't believe Mat stated in an obvious manner was this, every year we have to adjust and find trends and interests that match with the buyers changing interests. Not just because of Covid, all the time. New colors, new trends, new social issues, the world changes, we need to change with that.

No I don't do a good job of that myself, but for someone who cares and is working for the money, you need to adapt to the most current market and stay in tune with the times.

Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: Clair Voyant on March 19, 2021, 14:14
I truly believe the biggest obstacle and threat to shooting stock and making it a viable entity is the decreasing valuation of an image and low royalty rates all agencies offer in addition to the costs to produce content overall.

I have been shooting stock since before Getty images and have had an amazing career both in the old school way and in the current rapid fire shoot upload and repeat school of today. I can't think of one reason why I would go out and spend time or money to create new content as it is no longer sustainable in any way.

I simply would not be able to do what I have done in the past in today's current climate or the current valuation of creatives. Photography and stock photography has always been competitive in every way, but it had a value attached to quality and skill set. Simply not the case today.

In the past to be selected to be included in an agency was more often than not a badge of honor whereas today every and any agency will accept you and you can use applications to upload to every site in the click of a button.

I am not intending to create a pissing contest argument of then versus now, but I can confidently say then was sustainable and now is not.

Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: Uncle Pete on March 19, 2021, 14:17
The model you mentioned in the article (suing Getty) was apparently awarded $125K.
https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/model-hiv-campaign-brooklyn-avril-nolan-advertising-aids-a8680621.html (https://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/model-hiv-campaign-brooklyn-avril-nolan-advertising-aids-a8680621.html)
I'm slightly confused, though as this article quotes the same amount but that it was from the Human Resources Dept which used the image:
https://www.lgbtqnation.com/2019/01/nyc-used-womans-photo-hiv-ad-campaign-sued (https://www.lgbtqnation.com/2019/01/nyc-used-womans-photo-hiv-ad-campaign-sued)
Still, from the article you quoted, the photographer bore some responsibility. Though I thought the Getty MR precluded sensitive use, certainly without a 'posed by model' disclaimer.

And the devil is in the details as well: "Cumbo never received authorization from Nolan to sell the photo after the fashion shoot two years ago" She had a release for a fashion shoot, not for stock resale. That's going to hurt.

Good Blobg post Alex. Instead of a book, consider a YouTube channel?  :)

Lower returns, lower sales, this is "unsustainable"!
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: everest on March 19, 2021, 14:22
Mat as you ask. You are right that the content need have changed and that now everybody has to wear a mask and "travel" "tourism" images are out of fashion but surely they will return once the pandemic is over. I truly think that those that produced lots of covid related content for sure did better but they will also pay a price for it because once the pandemic is over and it seems it will be sooner than expected now that so many vaccines are on the table that content will become stale very quickly and "regular content" has a much longer shelf life and hopefully will keep selling for years to come.

But the biggest problem I see now are the ridiculous nanostock prices everywhere. Today i received my Getty statement and I can tell you I have thousands of sales for 0.01$ thats right 0.01$ expensive lifestyle shoots that are given away. I don't supply anymore nor Getty nor Shutters in their race to become a free site. So what I have done is to concentrate in the few well paying sites that are left like Arcangel, Pond5 Envato (not element the regular one where I can set my prices) and Adobe , those last ones mainly in video as they still pay a reasonable amount of money for every sale. All the other receive 0 content from me and it is going to stay that way. If all the market becomes like Getty Shutter pretend it to be so be it . I will be out and doing something more profitable. I supply agencies for the money not for fun , ego or wasting my time.

I am happy that your agency is still resisting the urge to follow the other two gorillas that only take stain with mud a wonderful way to be creative. No respect at all for them and I really wish more artists take notice and begin kissing goodbye all those blood suckers.

Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: oooo on March 19, 2021, 14:37
Quote
different this past year to keep up

already before the pandemic it was getting hard to cover the costs.
+no one can say if the "covid filter" is still needed next year



Quote
with a Covid filter on it...people living their lives... quality content...

DEAR MAT, MY QUESTION TO YOU IS:

What costs do YOU calculate for this kind of content,
lets say a conceptual work with 3 to 10 models,
clothing, background and location?

thank you
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: qunamax on March 19, 2021, 15:20
Interested to know your thoughts if you believe that there's any reason to be optimistic in regards to the future of the microstock photography industry as a viable business opportunity.

https://brutallyhonestmicrostock.com/2021/03/18/7-reasons-why-microstock-photography-is-probably-a-waste-of-your-time/

Just checked my February 2021 iStock earnings results making me even more pessimistic.

Looking forward to a fruitful discussion.

Best regards,

Alex

Well checking my February IS earnings just made me optimistic, they are constantly rising month after month, moving my new uploads, currently they are by far my best earner. That's it from me about IS right now.
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: MatHayward on March 19, 2021, 15:55
Quote
different this past year to keep up
DEAR MAT, MY QUESTION TO YOU IS:

What costs do YOU calculate for this kind of content,
lets say a conceptual work with 3 to 10 models,
clothing, background and location?

thank you

I typically pay $50 per hour for models with a minimum of 2 hours per shoot. If they are very experienced and have a unique look I really want to work with, I'll pay up to $100 per hour. I have models bring their own wardrobe after asking me to send photos of options prior to the shoot. I've only paid for a location once, usually I work in places free to me. It's very rare for me to use more than 2 models on one shoot specific for stock that I am personally financing. I'm typically all-in for a cost of between $200-$300 for a formal stock shoot.

-Mat
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: Brasilnut on March 19, 2021, 16:03
Interested to know your thoughts if you believe that there's any reason to be optimistic in regards to the future of the microstock photography industry as a viable business opportunity.

https://brutallyhonestmicrostock.com/2021/03/18/7-reasons-why-microstock-photography-is-probably-a-waste-of-your-time/ (https://brutallyhonestmicrostock.com/2021/03/18/7-reasons-why-microstock-photography-is-probably-a-waste-of-your-time/)

Just checked my February 2021 iStock earnings results making me even more pessimistic.

Looking forward to a fruitful discussion.

Best regards,

Alex
My question to you and anyone on this thread is this...Did you do anything different this past year to keep up with the evolving trends and to maintain a relevant portfolio? Or did you continue to shoot and submit the same kind of content you always have created? Or, did you stop or reduce your production hoping to maintain the status quo with minimal effort? No judgement regardless of your answer..there were so many obstacles to overcome as creatives in 2020.

My follow up question is this...now that we are slowly coming out of the pandemic, that's going to create an abundant supply of new opportunities in stock..businesses re-opening, families reuniting, etc. What do you have planned for 2021 for production of stock content?


-Mat Hayward

Hi Matt,

Thanks for contributing to this thread and asking these two questions which I'm happy to reply.

As you've read my post, you'll see that I took some stabs at Shutterstock, iStock and Alamy...thus leaving out Adobe Stock which is yet to been awarded the coveted Turd of the Month. This wasn't an accident as I remain cautiously bullish that Adobe Stock has what it takes to be a leader in this industry and personally, I would be more than happy to see the crown being taken away from SS, who have become a cancer in this industry.

In reply to your first question: Yes, I began creating content even before the pandemic hit in January 2020 - https://brutallyhonestmicrostock.com/2020/01/31/jan-2020-brutally-honest-earnings-report/. (https://brutallyhonestmicrostock.com/2020/01/31/jan-2020-brutally-honest-earnings-report/.) I do try to predict trends with varying degrees of success. During, I mainly ventured out in Madrid and then Lisbon to capture the usual (mainly unreleased) concepts: social distancing, hand sanitizers, mask concepts...almost all sold for subs.  https://www.shutterstock.com/g/AlexandreRotenberg?searchterm=covid&sort=newest (https://www.shutterstock.com/g/AlexandreRotenberg?searchterm=covid&sort=newest)

Also, some breaking news at protests and even outside a hospital in Lisbon. I look to upload those at Alamy Live News and Shutterstock Editorial (formally Rex Features).
Always researching trends: https://www.stockstudio.io/post/covid-related-stock-opportunities-in-2021-using-google-trends-analytics-part-i (https://www.stockstudio.io/post/covid-related-stock-opportunities-in-2021-using-google-trends-analytics-part-i)

Otherwise, Iíve been migrating more towards videos and book covers (Arcangel) which seem to have more longevity and higher returns than my usual bread and butter microstock photos.

Looking at my earnings stats it does seems that I rely mainly on my more established older portfolio of travel content for earnings. Newer stuff just isnít selling regularly and when it does itís for peanuts. I donít usually work with models and shy away from creating studio work so itís partly my fault that Iím not producing content that buyers need at the moment. 

As for your second question, indeed there are many new emerging opportunities for ďnew normalĒ travel content and I look forward to fully taking advantage. I havenít thought so much yet about what to create as it depends more about where I hope to travel, shying more away from big cities as most tourists will do. Iím at the back of the queue in terms of obtaining my vaccine so may take a while before Iím wanderlusting (hopefully by late-September).

Nevertheless, the concepts Iím thinking about are more sociological than practical at this stage. Humans are incredibly resilient and there is an inherent need to travel and connect. There should be ďroaring 20sĒ (100 years on from the roaring 1920s) once the epidemic is brought down to more manageable levels. Perhaps something related to the generational gaps, old and young mixing again mask-less and drinking beers on the street.

One concept in particular that interests me is related to those professionals that have continued to work from home during the pandemic have amassed considerable savings (no commuting nor travel and less eating out/entertainment for a year), while millions have been laid off / been put on furlough schemes which have long expired. This newfound inequality in itself could be interesting to show as stock content, somehow. Back to the drawing board.

Thanks again for reaching out to contributors and I fully support Adobe Stock in its quest for microstock hegemony. 

Alex
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: steheap on March 19, 2021, 17:02
Interesting questions, Matt, and thanks Alex, for the article. Alex and I did have some discussions before the article was published as I was not seeing the decline in anywhere near the terms that Alex was. In fact, in my end of 2020 earnings review: https://backyardsilver.com/annual-review-of-stock-photography-2020/ (https://backyardsilver.com/annual-review-of-stock-photography-2020/) showed that I reported a small increase in 2020 over 2019 because I refocused and produced new images that were in demand. In that article I did try to explain my thinking and how I approached the different scenarios we face. Even now, I am getting sales because I made some silly IRS checks to represent the new Biden stimulus payments (and some for the change of the tax date in the USA. Simple stuff, but it sells.

I'm doing a bit of a reset myself by seeing if I can build some more consistent Print on Demand sales by becoming a heavy Pinterest creator. Who knows - but if you don't try, you don't succeed!

Steve
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: aphasia on March 19, 2021, 17:50
As I only started 4 years ago I haven't suffered like most, my monthly earning grow $100 a month each year, currently around $450 a month and I only spend 3 hrs a week doing this, uploading 25 photos a week, no more and never any less. 3hrs work for over $100 isn't too bad.
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: Firn on March 20, 2021, 01:45
I started microstock in late 2018 and my experinece so far is a bit different.

There is no downwards trend for me, even with SS's pay cut.  I keep submitting content and on most agencies my earnings keep rising. One year ago I made around $450-500  a month, this year I am at around $1000 per month. (All agencies combined, only photos, no footage) Some months are better than others, but on most agencies the trend is clearly onwards. I know it's not "big money", but it's enough to make a noticable difference in my overall income and is not a waste of my time.
On Shutterstock and iStock the upwards trend is most noticale.
There is also one on Dreamstime, though there it is less noticable, because my overall earnings are much smaller.
I only started submitting to Depositphotos and Bigstock at the end of last year, so I can't say anything about trends here yet.
The only two agencies without any real upwads trend are Alamy and Adobe for me, though there is also no downwards trend.
Alamy is generating sales for me only once in a blue moon. Has always been like this and still is like this.
Adobe was having an onwards trend for the first 1,5 or so years, but for the past year it has been stagnating, no matter how many new images I submit. That's actually the most puzzling to me, because within a year I rose by over 20.000 ranks on Adobe. So what does it mean that my overall rank there keeps improving, while my sales don't?

What has proven a good tactic for me is to "not put all my eggs in one basket" and by that I don't mean to not only stick with one agency, but to not stick with one topic of photography. My portfolio is all over the place. I do a lot of dogs, but also food, flatlays, plants, travel, news concepts, if I have an idea for one and so on. I feel like by this, if something like Corona happens, and one thing like travel photos almost stop selling completely, I still have a great amount of other topics to offer. And something will always be in demand. I would like to expand my portfolio with footage and people, but I am not really good at videos yet and obviously I don't make that kind of money to be able to afford models.
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: Tenebroso on March 20, 2021, 01:51
I started microstock in late 2018 and my experinece so far is a bit different.

There is no downwards trend for me, even with SS's pay cut.  I keep submitting content and on most agencies my earnings keep rising. One year ago I made around $450-500  a month, this year I am at around $1000 per month. (All agencies combined, only photos, no footage) Some months are better than others, but on most agencies the trend is clearly onwards.
On Shutterstock and iStock the upwards trend is most noticale.
There is also one on Dreamstime, though there it is less noticable, because my overall earnings are much smaller.
I only started submitting to Depositphotos and Bigstock at the end of last year, so I can't say anything about trends here yet.
The onyl two agencies without any real upwads trend are Alamy and Adobe for me.
Alamy is generating sales for me only once in a blue moon. Has always been like this and still is like this.
Adobe was having an onwards trend for the first 1,5 or so years, but for the past year it has been stagnating, no matter how many new images I submit. That's actually the most puzzling to me, because within a year I rose by over 20.000 ranks on Adobe. So what does it mean that my overall rank there keeps improving, while my sales don't?

What has proven a good tactic for me is to "not put all my eggs in one basket" and by that I don't mean to not only stick with one agency, but to not stick with one topic of photography. My portfolio is all over the place. I do a lot of dogs, but also food, flatlays, plants, travel, news concepts, if I have an idea for one and so on. I feel like by this, if something like Corona happens, and one thing like travel photos almost stop selling completely, I still have a great amount of other topics to offer. And something will always be in demand.


There is the possibility that it is the type of client differentiated in each agency. AS clients may be increasing in variety, but perhaps, its largest sector is software professionals and with a certain demand for their images.
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: DOP on March 20, 2021, 07:34
Quote
different this past year to keep up
DEAR MAT, MY QUESTION TO YOU IS:

What costs do YOU calculate for this kind of content,
lets say a conceptual work with 3 to 10 models,
clothing, background and location?

thank you

I typically pay $50 per hour for models with a minimum of 2 hours per shoot. If they are very experienced and have a unique look I really want to work with, I'll pay up to $100 per hour. I have models bring their own wardrobe after asking me to send photos of options prior to the shoot. I've only paid for a location once, usually I work in places free to me. It's very rare for me to use more than 2 models on one shoot specific for stock that I am personally financing. I'm typically all-in for a cost of between $200-$300 for a formal stock shoot.

-Mat

How long will it take you recoup that money Mat (assuming you will) and go into profit?
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: MatHayward on March 20, 2021, 10:34
Quote
different this past year to keep up
DEAR MAT, MY QUESTION TO YOU IS:

What costs do YOU calculate for this kind of content,
lets say a conceptual work with 3 to 10 models,
clothing, background and location?

thank you

I typically pay $50 per hour for models with a minimum of 2 hours per shoot. If they are very experienced and have a unique look I really want to work with, I'll pay up to $100 per hour. I have models bring their own wardrobe after asking me to send photos of options prior to the shoot. I've only paid for a location once, usually I work in places free to me. It's very rare for me to use more than 2 models on one shoot specific for stock that I am personally financing. I'm typically all-in for a cost of between $200-$300 for a formal stock shoot.

-Mat

How long will it take you recoup that money Mat (assuming you will) and go into profit?

It varies completely. Sometimes a couple of weeks, sometimes months, sometimes years. I can't think of a shoot that I haven't recovered my initial investment. I'm at a place in my portfolio where my archived content can fund new shoots which is nice. When you are first starting out, that's not as easy of course.

When I shoot specifically for stock as opposed to captured stock secondary to either a personal shoot or an editorial assignment, I find consistent results that justify the expense.

-Mat
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: DOP on March 20, 2021, 10:51
Quote
different this past year to keep up
DEAR MAT, MY QUESTION TO YOU IS:

What costs do YOU calculate for this kind of content,
lets say a conceptual work with 3 to 10 models,
clothing, background and location?

thank you

I typically pay $50 per hour for models with a minimum of 2 hours per shoot. If they are very experienced and have a unique look I really want to work with, I'll pay up to $100 per hour. I have models bring their own wardrobe after asking me to send photos of options prior to the shoot. I've only paid for a location once, usually I work in places free to me. It's very rare for me to use more than 2 models on one shoot specific for stock that I am personally financing. I'm typically all-in for a cost of between $200-$300 for a formal stock shoot.

-Mat

How long will it take you recoup that money Mat (assuming you will) and go into profit?

It varies completely. Sometimes a couple of weeks, sometimes months, sometimes years. I can't think of a shoot that I haven't recovered my initial investment. I'm at a place in my portfolio where my archived content can fund new shoots which is nice. When you are first starting out, that's not as easy of course.

When I shoot specifically for stock as opposed to captured stock secondary to either a personal shoot or an editorial apssignment, I find consistent results that justify the expense.

-Mat

Thank you Mat. Much appreciated.
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: oooo on March 20, 2021, 13:32
Quote
all-in for a cost of between $200-$300

thanks,
you forgot in your calculation:

-your own working hours (shooting, culling, postproduction, keywording, uploading,taxwork etc)
-transportation
-running costs for gear, lightning, software, hardware etc
-internet, electricity, rent ..
+consider Taxes, Fees(transactions,currency,paypal,etc), insurances...

+all costs are on rhe rise

just some thougths, no offend
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: TaxcoBoy on March 20, 2021, 13:35
Quote
My question to you and anyone on this thread is this...Did you do anything different this past year to keep up with the evolving trends and to maintain a relevant portfolio?


Hi Mat,

I haven't done anything differently but still uploading quite actively. I deal exclusively with travel photography and don't complain about Adobe performance. Being able to maintain pre-covid levels on Adobe is impressive these days.
This brings me to a follow-up question.
What in general can be done differently in travel photography niche that can make it more relevant to today's demand and trends?
(besides doing covid-related travel images).
Here is my port for reference https://tinyurl.com/3krwjk62

Elijah
 
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: pancaketom on March 20, 2021, 13:48
Microstock photography would be a complete waste of time for me if I didn't already have a lot of images up. As it is, I haven't seen much return on my investment (of time) in the few times in the last years where I specifically shot stuff for stock as opposed to photos I would be taking anyway. I was never particularly good at predicting what would sell well, but I used to get a few hits every few months. It seems that has dried up lately and certainly doesn't motivate me to put a lot of work into trying some new ideas (unlike years ago where there was a decent chance some of the pasta would stick to the wall). Some of the old stuff still sells, but others have stopped. RPD, number of downloads, and RPI are all down pretty much across the board. I can understand and accept the dilution of my sales as the total number of assets for sale climbs faster than the total number of sales and the drop in sales from the pandemic. What pisses me off more is the agencies taking a bigger chunk of each sale for as best I can see just propping up their bottom line and cutting prices in the hopes that they can steal market share from other sites that might pay better. The only time an agency took a bigger cut and I actually made more was when Alamy opened the N America office, but that also coincided with me getting a better camera and submitting a lot more to them - which probably accounts for at least some of my better sales there. Their latest 20% more for them change certainly didn't seem to help me at all. Sadly I don't have any reason to believe that next time a site has problems with their income they will try to prop it up the same way - cut our take again. Sadly enough contributors will put up with it.

It doesn't help me at all that 2 of the biggest earners have gotten to the point that they take more than I am willing to give from every sale.

I still think if you are good and clever and hard working you can make $ at this, but you could also probably make more doing something else. It certainly would be hard to go full time somewhere with a higher cost of living.
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: Asthebelltolls on March 20, 2021, 14:44
And for me photo income increased year after year since my first submissions to agencies more than 10 years ago. The decline started 3 years ago with reduction in commissions so while my portfolio may increase, my income is down 75% from 3 years ago. Some of that income is, in part, due to the marketplace moving from HD to 4K. I sell far fewer clips than I once did. It's my view that if agencies wanted to make cuts they should have reduced HD and kept images where it was - in the minimum $0.30 - $0.36 range. Videographers/Photographers would have remained motivated to submit images and motivated to upgrade equipment to 4K. 6K digital is just around the corner. How many of us are motivated to once again purchase new equipment for the new marketplace? Especially when we now know agencies are foaming at the mouth to reduce commissions?
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: Pauws99 on March 20, 2021, 14:49
I think the question  "Should I continue to shoot stock?" is very different from "Should I start doing stock". The first can be answered by analysis of costs and a projection of income the second is more of a gamble. I'm pretty sure also that its getting progressively harder to make a good income. For the best it will remain a decent source of income for a while but for the more average/less committed its probably not worth it.
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: Clair Voyant on March 20, 2021, 15:31
Quote
all-in for a cost of between $200-$300

thanks,
you forgot in your calculation:

-your own working hours (shooting, culling, postproduction, keywording, uploading,taxwork etc)
-transportation
-running costs for gear, lightning, software, hardware etc
-internet, electricity, rent ..
+consider Taxes, Fees(transactions,currency,paypal,etc), insurances...

+all costs are on rhe rise

just some thougths, no offend

Based on my RPD of 1.24 per image on AD, just for the $200-$300 in expenses I would need to have 160-240 downloads on AD just to break even on fixed expenses. When you factor in your "reality" costs then I would presume it's safe to say you would require a bare minimum of 200-300 downloads just to break even.  8 of those downloads would go back to AD for the dreaded cloud monthly, that's 96 downloads per year.

This is hardly cause for celebration. The only winners in this game are the agencies. Anyone with a modicum of business acumen can see this immediately.



Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: MatHayward on March 20, 2021, 16:50
Quote
My question to you and anyone on this thread is this...Did you do anything different this past year to keep up with the evolving trends and to maintain a relevant portfolio?


Hi Mat,

I haven't done anything differently but still uploading quite actively. I deal exclusively with travel photography and don't complain about Adobe performance. Being able to maintain pre-covid levels on Adobe is impressive these days.
This brings me to a follow-up question.
What in general can be done differently in travel photography niche that can make it more relevant to today's demand and trends?
(besides doing covid-related travel images).
Here is my port for reference https://tinyurl.com/3krwjk62

Elijah

I think that will depend on where you are traveling. My first thought is if you can capture in your content how various locations are re-opening. Safety measures in the travel process such as airports and train stations. "Welcome Back" signs with travel locations in the background, etc. There are opportunities, you just need to figure out what they are before your competition does. What are you seeing differently in travel. Stock is really about capturing real life as it is. Since travel will undoubtedly look different when it resumes on a larger scale, there will be content gaps available for you to fill. Be observant when you are out and about and translate what you see with your camera.

I really appreciate the dialogue in this thread. I genuinely understand why some of you are discouraged. The reality is that the market has evolved and the industry has changed both for customers and contributors. If you intend to find success shooting stock, you need to be ready, willing and able to adapt as the changes happen. Don't make excuses and do not allow defeat. Be versatile, continue to learn and invest in your personal growth as a creative. Take a look at the content you were creating 10 years ago. If you don't see a noticeable difference in quality and subject matter from then until now, you have been missing out. I guarantee you have opportunities for growth. I know I do. Heck, WE ALL DO! Set a personal goal to learn something new and try something different with your camera every month. Challenge yourself to diversify your portfolio. Who knows? You may just find what you've been missing even if you didn't realize it wasn't there to begin with.

-Mat Hayward
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: farbled on March 20, 2021, 16:57
Like others noted, "breaking even" is hardly an incentive to go lay out expense for a shoot. Here's my issue with wildly popular or in demand areas: Agencies see a trend (or create one) and ask for contributors to fill it. There is a rush to do so depending on the ease of shooting, location, etc. Some make some money, most don't, or make not much. The client wins with a good selection, the agencies win because they have a wide range and profit no matter which image sells. But the individual contributor very often makes little simply because of the competition chasing the same dime. I have lots of respect for those who can and do make enough to keep doing it, like Alex and Steve or Matt here. But I have found, for an independent "hobbist" shooter like I am, or was, it is better to find those few areas that no one cares about either because shooters don't have easy access, or agencies don't care because the volume isn't high enough. What is too low to consider for an agency can be a wonderful return for that one shooter who has little to no competition.

I think we are returning to the "B-roll" days of micro (for the average contributor), where you need another reason to take the picture in the first place, and if you can submit something for stock later, even better. But going out to shoot solely for stock makes little sense (or cents) for me nowadays.

The other thing to point out is, like them or hate them, free sites have very talented shooters as well. I can see that soon that the only differentiator (potentially) for agencies will be to have content that actually costs real money to produce. But since there is smaller and smaller rewards, I believe that content is going to dwindle. There is simply less and less incentive to throw money away.

Just my opinion.
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: ShadySue on March 20, 2021, 18:13
Wow, reading some of the above (what people are photographing), it seems a lot of countries must be much further out of lockdown than we are here. We've been in a pretty strict lockdown since 26 Dec.

Still, there seems to be a new third wave in several counties of Europe who eased lockdown rules before getting a significant proportion of their population vaccinated, so I'm not complaining.
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: pancaketom on March 20, 2021, 18:27
snip...  Stock is really about capturing real life as it is.
....

I think that this statement is rarely true. It seems agencies always crow about "reality" and being "genuine", but what they mostly want is a sort of curated version of reality that fits whatever dream someone is trying to sell.  Maybe they don't want airbrushed plastic looking models anymore, but they sure do want better than average looking people with clean backgrounds, good weather, etc.  Maybe they want older people or plus sized or different demographics, but they still want the good looking versions of those. There is nothing wrong with this - the purpose of stock is usually to sell something, and you aren't going to sell much with average reality. - you need the iconic, the perfect, the essence of what you are shooting, and that isn't really the reality of most people and most places.

Mat, I definitely appreciate your point of view and your coming on here to communicate with what can be a pretty hostile crowd, and maybe even give me some ideas to shoot, so thanks.
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: cascoly on March 20, 2021, 20:34
tho retired, i still lead trips to Turkey & India and participate in fb/forums for travel industry folk - they've been revving up for awhile now, mostly w NO mention of the pandemic (no need to remind people why they haven't been traveling!)  i'm planning a lighting hiking tour to Bulgaria/Georgia/Turkey this fall and the 2 comments I've rec'd are either -' i'm ready to travel again', or 'i've ALREADY booked my travel for late 2021'.

so like holiday sales the time for post-pandemic images may already have passed - and the demand will be short-lived.
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: Pauws99 on March 21, 2021, 01:26
Wow, reading some of the above (what people are photographing), it seems a lot of countries must be much further out of lockdown than we are here. We've been in a pretty strict lockdown since 26 Dec.

Still, there seems to be a new third wave in several counties of Europe who eased lockdown rules before getting a significant proportion of their population vaccinated, so I'm not complaining.
Covid is miles from being "over" and as long as countries like Brazil are acting as mutation incubators things will be difficult. The UK is doing well at present but a surge in Europe is a big threat.
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: Pauws99 on March 21, 2021, 01:57
snip...  Stock is really about capturing real life as it is.
....

I think that this statement is rarely true. It seems agencies always crow about "reality" and being "genuine", but what they mostly want is a sort of curated version of reality that fits whatever dream someone is trying to sell.  Maybe they don't want airbrushed plastic looking models anymore, but they sure do want better than average looking people with clean backgrounds, good weather, etc.  Maybe they want older people or plus sized or different demographics, but they still want the good looking versions of those. There is nothing wrong with this - the purpose of stock is usually to sell something, and you aren't going to sell much with average reality. - you need the iconic, the perfect, the essence of what you are shooting, and that isn't really the reality of most people and most places.

Mat, I definitely appreciate your point of view and your coming on here to communicate with what can be a pretty hostile crowd, and maybe even give me some ideas to shoot, so thanks.
Not much travel photography used to sell holidays features the crowds and queues that are ever present at major tourist sites ;-).
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: JaenStock on March 21, 2021, 13:44
I am very unmotivated with Istock and Shutter. I can't imagine taking photos to sell them at 0.02 or 0.10 ... and on top of that with crazy rejections, different requirements, tedious loading and indexing processes ...

The problem with the covid photos is that the difficulty is greater, the cost is the same as models without a mask and when the pandemic ends, those photos will stop selling at once.
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: farbled on March 21, 2021, 14:31
The problem with the covid photos is that the difficulty is greater, the cost is the same as models without a mask and when the pandemic ends, those photos will stop selling at once.

Good point, one of the major reasons (for me at least) to do micro at all is to have an image generic enough to be useful in multiple venues, for as long as possible, earning the entire way. It was almost the entire selling point of making micro payments for images. Volume. Without the volume, the point of micro is gone, in my opinion.
 
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: Tenebroso on March 21, 2021, 15:45
The volume and great competition in a market on the edge for the artist. The market needs to provide new formulas to help customers. The more offer the customer has, the better for the business. We must be the artists, the ones who are able to find our opportunity.

If I were the owner of AS I would help make Matt accessible. I'm not talking about the quality of his work. I am talking about the power of the volume of files and the ability of agencies to decide on their offers and marketing line.

Agencies have the ability to give visibility, agencies determine the level of visibility of each user. They have the power to decide whether to offer you images or hide them. It is normal, it is the business of its owners. It's not my business, it's the agency business.

Let's do our business. Simple decision and very difficult to do. But we will.

The future is heading towards partnering. A single artist is unable to sell images, he can sell by chance or miracle. 20k artists, if they can sell files. And more. Few at first. Over time, the advantages of going to an image bank of 20k artists have their advantages for the client and for the artist.

It is very complex and with many problems to solve. Since the group must fight with the bias of the searches, for example.

However, regardless of the amount of problems that exist in associating, groups of artists will soon begin to offer their products directly to customers.

The agencies will continue their business. There is cake for everyone.
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: farbled on March 21, 2021, 16:18
Well, I am pretty much retired so its a moot point for me. I'll leave the chase to the younger, eager, and more talented bunch.
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: Pacesetter on March 21, 2021, 21:20
I started in early 2019, grew ports (photos, videos, illustrations) across a number of agencies. 2019 was slow beginnings but things really picked up throughout 2020 (during the thick of the COVID pandemic). However since 2021, sales volumes and earnings have fallen sharply with no sign of recovering to 2020 levels even with increasing content in subjects that are evergreen and have shown to sell as they were just months prior.   
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: mj007 on March 22, 2021, 15:59
Good photos sell, bad photos don't...I have good photo's from 15 years ago that sell today and bad photos that never sell. I have bad photos that I shot yesterday that most likely will never sell. Most of us know what is good and most likely will sell. I still make good walking around money from stock. I still have fun with stock. When the magic of a good photo happens it always puts a smile on my face. It is really easy to shot bad photos and really hard to shot good one... We all became photographers to show our work to the world. That is what stock dose , you just might publish ever once in a while a good photo to the world. I am a photographer and will always be a photographer, how about you....   
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: Pauws99 on March 23, 2021, 04:55
Good photos sell, bad photos don't...I have good photo's from 15 years ago that sell today and bad photos that never sell. I have bad photos that I shot yesterday that most likely will never sell. Most of us know what is good and most likely will sell. I still make good walking around money from stock. I still have fun with stock. When the magic of a good photo happens it always puts a smile on my face. It is really easy to shot bad photos and really hard to shot good one... We all became photographers to show our work to the world. That is what stock dose , you just might publish ever once in a while a good photo to the world. I am a photographer and will always be a photographer, how about you....
In Microstock the definition of a "good photo" is something that sells nothing else.......
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: MotionDesign on March 23, 2021, 14:36
i don't know about photography, but for illustrators and motion designers i think that there is some room.
There is a high demand of 2d/3d images and animations...high quality 2d/3d images and animations.
Invest on expensive hardware and software, learn how to use them, develop your own style, follow the trends,
or better, try to anticipate them, and you'll be the king of microstock :)

A message for the newbies: Forget about following tutorials and upload the result...sorry, but it doesn't work.
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: Tenebroso on March 23, 2021, 15:03
I have it on the agenda as well as approaching the sale of music. I need to learn and know the different fields. I am with a thousand things at the same time, but you recommend a first approach.

Some professional on YouTube?. Something from where to approach a beginning? Of movement, not illustration. 3D programs that record movement or frame by frame. Can you tell me a start?

Thanks.
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: alexandersr on March 23, 2021, 15:31
i don't know about photography, but for illustrators and motion designers i think that there is some room.
There is a high demand of 2d/3d images and animations...high quality 2d/3d images and animations.
Invest on expensive hardware and software, learn how to use them, develop your own style, follow the trends,
or better, try to anticipate them, and you'll be the king of microstock :)

A message for the newbies: Forget about following tutorials and upload the result...sorry, but it doesn't work.
How many dollars we need to invest in a fast computer for 3d animations?
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: Tenebroso on March 23, 2021, 15:54
The team, of course. But very basic things.


I'll have to start with the displaced effects in a word, bulge, turn of each letter, glitter moving. A bubble, drops of water, plane, drone up and down and back on the other side. Eyes widening, and things like that. I guess by recording it to video, it will make movement. I will need imagination and taste.

It's microstock not a Pixar feature film.
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: MotionDesign on March 23, 2021, 17:47
Hi all

Iím using a Dell mobile workstation with intel i9 and nvidia quadro card,
itís about 4000 euros.
You can do almost the same with a less poweful computer, but the
render time will be longer.
The software i use: Adobe CC, Cinema 4D, and Blender.
And a lot of after effects plugins (element 3d, plexus, stardust and others)
But itís not all about money. Because you have to learn the software.
Itís about time, and mostly about passion and love for what you are doing.
Itís not an easy path, iím sorry :)
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: MotionDesign on March 23, 2021, 17:55
@tenebroso
If you want to start with 3d, you could try Blender
Itís free, and you can find a lot of tutorials on youtube
Not easy to learn but very powerful.
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: Tenebroso on March 23, 2021, 18:32
Thanks. I know that software from listening to it, I have read blog users that it is good software for 3D. To give you an idea, I registered with SS to send GIFs, which I am a professional, and I was surprised that the GIF did not work, therefore, I saw another business opportunity, as well as the PNGs. Right away I saw that agencies work on impulse and that they need some competition to move them from their comfort state.

You could have shut up and continued at your own pace. Your contribution is very sincere and collaborative. You are not the first to hint that you are making money from moving images. Thanks.

I promise you I look at this software. Very thankful.


I need moderators who want to help create a help forum. In addition, in this forum, we will talk in a private group about solving problems around various groups of direct sales of digital files.

I would like to count on you. If you are interested to send me a private. It is to open the forum in two months. I am working on an online sales platform for digital articles of all kinds, books and microstock files, directly client and artist, Marketplace. I want the best by my side. At least in attitude.

Unfortunately, the subject of the videos is complicating our lives. The memory is very cheap, but the amount of space for the videos is very expensive at the time of acquiring space.

I hope I can count on you and share knowledge. Just because of your attitude. We will start in Alpha mode and we will make a lot of noise.

Thanks. A hug.
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: Pacesetter on March 23, 2021, 21:13
@tenebroso
If you want to start with 3d, you could try Blender
Itís free, and you can find a lot of tutorials on youtube
Not easy to learn but very powerful.

3D is very nice. Do you have a port to show? Can you still make nice salable 3D animations with After Effects and Element 3D?
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: MotionDesign on March 24, 2021, 01:49
@Tenebroso
Thanks for your kind words!

I really appreciate your offer, but i work full time on microstock plus some freelancing (i upload new content almost every day),
so i have little to no spare time for other projects.

But i read this forum, and if there are any questions i can answer i'll gladly do so. :)

@Pacesetter
Sorry, i prefer to not share my portfolio, but if you are searching for inspirations this is a good start point:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UqWqoJ6qJo (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UqWqoJ6qJo)

And yes, i often use element 3d, especially for conceptual animations where i don't need realism
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: Pacesetter on March 24, 2021, 02:40
@Tenebroso
Thanks for your kind words!

I really appreciate your offer, but i work full time on microstock plus some freelancing (i upload new content almost every day),
so i have little to no spare time for other projects.

But i read this forum, and if there are any questions i can answer i'll gladly do so. :)

@Pacesetter
Sorry, i prefer to not share my portfolio, but if you are searching for inspirations this is a good start point:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UqWqoJ6qJo (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8UqWqoJ6qJo)

And yes, i often use element 3d, especially for conceptual animations where i don't need realism

Thanks for that. I followed some tutorials online learning After Effects and made a couple of cool animations but nothing like what some of the more powerful 3D programs can accomplish. I will consider adding Element 3D and likewise learn with YT tuts.
Title: Re: 7 Reasons Why Microstock Photography is (Probably) a Waste of Your Time
Post by: MotionDesign on March 24, 2021, 03:54
you are welcome!
Usually, if i need realism, i model and animate in cinema4d and render in Blender with Cycles.