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Author Topic: Does micro-stock have the most stringent technical standards of all commercial p  (Read 6006 times)

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« on: April 27, 2012, 21:47 »
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Of the various fields of commercial photography, do you feel micro-stock has the most stringent technical standards?

Macro-stock appears to me to be less technically demanding according to the images I have purchased over the past 20 years. Weddings, corporate work, PR, newspapers etc all have non-technical buyers, for the most part so noise, artifact, CA and such is not as critical as in micro-stock.

Perhaps, photo book publishers, national magazines and advertising art directors set the bar up high but are the micro-stock inspectors consistently the toughest?
Your thoughts?

OX


tab62

« Reply #1 on: April 27, 2012, 23:04 »
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CREstock rules this area hands down or should I say thumbs down...

lisafx

« Reply #2 on: April 28, 2012, 12:37 »
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Technically, microstock probably does have the most exacting standards.  Artistically though, is another story.

Wim

« Reply #3 on: April 28, 2012, 13:02 »
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Technically, microstock probably does have the most exacting standards.  Artistically though, is another story.

Exactly Lisa!

« Reply #4 on: April 28, 2012, 13:36 »
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one of the reasons MS is tougher is that the buyer is undefined - for weddings, etc, or brochures, magazines, the ultimate size of the image is kniown in advance, and is usually much less than the huge images that MS provides.  few people need a 24MP image at 100%. it's easier to enforce a high standard at the top end and let users downsize, even though this eliminates many images that would be 'good enough' for many uses

Ed

« Reply #5 on: April 28, 2012, 18:38 »
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No - Inmagine/IRIS has the most stringent that I've come across in the business.

I've had studio images rejected because they want a property release for the location (they didn't believe that I could put together a few foot lockers, some camouflage netting, and a pit helmet as a series of props for use in studio - they thought I was shooting in a museum or something).

They are asking me for a property release for images shot in a public park...with 50+ images already accepted that were shot in the same location.

I have a few images of women in a doorway - walking into the doorway, walking down a banister in front of a doorway, etc.  I've been told this is private property that also needs a property release.  There are no distinctive architectural features except a door...and a woman...and maybe a banister.


This is the ONLY traditional agency that I've come across that has been absolutely ridiculous and basically assumes you are guilty until proven innocent.  I have images on Corbis and elsewhere that I have not had issues with.  I don't contribute to Getty...maybe it's the same there?

gillian vann

  • *Gillian*
« Reply #6 on: April 28, 2012, 22:29 »
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yes I think they do. although photography college also is pretty strict.

velocicarpo

« Reply #7 on: April 28, 2012, 23:26 »
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Technically, microstock probably does have the most exacting standards.  Artistically though, is another story.

Exactly. I would even go so far and say that technical quality excludes creativity from a certain level on.

lagereek

« Reply #8 on: April 29, 2012, 00:04 »
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Oh NO!  far from it. Agree with Lisa on the technical side but apart from that, no way.  The Getty-RM, house collection, etc, is by far the toughest in the world, have always been since 92. From a submission of say 50 files, you are lucky to get 3 accepted, if that.

On the technical side, only, SS, DT and FT, can boast about though editing,  which is a good thing,  inspections should be hard, not letting any old rubbish into the files.

In the Micro world, Im not too sure artistic values count all that high, its pics off the peg and most micro buyers are non creatives, buying for their clients or whatever. If creativeness, was the prime criteria, I am afraid, some 75% odf all micro shooters would bite the dust.

Wim

« Reply #9 on: April 29, 2012, 04:30 »
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Yes, microstock is very professional where reviewing is concerned  ::)
No, they do not accept old rubbish  ::) they not only accept it, they keep selling it.

Suggestion to all big players here, start over from scratch and see how you would fare these days as an "unknown photographer"
« Last Edit: April 29, 2012, 04:32 by Wim »

« Reply #10 on: April 29, 2012, 04:52 »
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Suggestion to all big players here, start over from scratch and see how you would fare these days as an "unknown photographer"

errrr.... no thank you.

Wim

« Reply #11 on: April 29, 2012, 05:06 »
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Suggestion to all big players here, start over from scratch and see how you would fare these days as an "unknown photographer"

errrr.... no thank you.

Thanks for being honest bro, something that is rare in MS.

« Reply #12 on: April 29, 2012, 06:32 »
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2 interesting points here
On the technical side, only, SS, DT and FT, can boast about though editing,  which is a good thing,  inspections should be hard, not letting any old rubbish into the files.
Ive seen you say something similar before and find it strange IS isnt in this list.  Surely IS has to be the most picky on technical aspects (if nothing else)? The vast majority my stuff the other 3 accept no problem would be rejected there and its 50 / 50 punt even with the best I can do technically.
In the Micro world, Im not too sure artistic values count all that high, its pics off the peg and most micro buyers are non creatives, buying for their clients or whatever. If creativeness, was the prime criteria, I am afraid, some 75% odf all micro shooters would bite the dust.
I think shooting for stock corrupts ones sense of aesthetics and Im still amazed sometimes when I see praise heaped on stock photos that Id regard as snapshots.  On the other hand, the 75% may simply be adopting a professional approach and feeding the market.  Im sure most are quite capable of producing very interesting, creative images.

ShadySue

« Reply #13 on: April 29, 2012, 06:45 »
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Technically, microstock probably does have the most exacting standards.  Artistically though, is another story.

Exactly. I would even go so far and say that technical quality excludes creativity from a certain level on.

But artistic creativity doesn't alway sell on micros. There are some truly stunning (to me) 'creative/artistic' images on iStock with 0 - 3 sales. It that's your bent, you'd need to look for other outlets.
(There's also some creative/artistic stuff that has sold well, so I guess if you have the marketing nous to be where the market is, you could still be OK.)

And hey, we don't have to look too far back in this forum to see what happens when someone gets a picture accepted that the group doesn't think is up to the tech standards.

[needle stuck]
I only wish they would stick to keyword standards.

« Reply #14 on: April 29, 2012, 12:49 »
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  I think shooting for stock corrupts ones sense of aesthetics and Im still amazed sometimes when I see praise heaped on stock photos that Id regard as snapshots.  On the other hand, the 75% may simply be adopting a professional approach and feeding the market.  Im sure most are quite capable of producing very interesting, creative images.

i see no need to make that distinction - many people have jobs that are non creative, but retain their creative urges and find other ways to express them. eg much of a computer programmer's work may be boring commercial apps [remember COBOL?] 

the focus in stock is on the generic and universal rather than the unique and inquisitive.

lisafx

« Reply #15 on: April 29, 2012, 15:37 »
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Suggestion to all big players here, start over from scratch and see how you would fare these days as an "unknown photographer"

errrr.... no thank you.

LOL!  The master of understatement!  :)

I would never want to have to start this today. Some of us are well aware we started at just the right time.  Would be difficult to impossible to start now and achieve the same success unless you were already an established stock producer (i.e. monkeybusiness). 

« Reply #16 on: April 29, 2012, 18:35 »
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Suggestion to all big players here, start over from scratch and see how you would fare these days as an "unknown photographer"

errrr.... no thank you.

LOL!  The master of understatement!  :)

I would never want to have to start this today. Some of us are well aware we started at just the right time.  Would be difficult to impossible to start now and achieve the same success unless you were already an established stock producer (i.e. monkeybusiness). 

After years of doing technical design, travel, etc, I got into MS only 5-6 years ago.  I have done plenty of professional shoots, staging, etc in the days when we''d use Polaroids to test exposure/composition, etc and then shoot the film version. Wish I'd have gotten into MS sooner. All of that experience, with the advent of digital would have made it a lot easier for me to make some money. It's been a hard, challenging five years but I am growing my sales as I grow my port.  But back in the day the standards of acceptable images were based on composition, feel, message, not so much technical standards.  Does the image meet our requirements? Yes.  Cool. Let's pay the photographer his $375 an hour for that two hours.  There was no zooming in at 100 percent, etc.  Once I got in to MS, these criteria were new to me and they are, technically speaking, more stringent than shooting a brochure or magazine image.


jbarber873

« Reply #17 on: April 29, 2012, 21:48 »
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  I think you can't really compare stock shooting with commercial work for a few reasons. While stock has certain stringent hurdles technically, I think that's just one way of training a reviewer. You can quantify noise and artifacting, but it's much harder to quantify creativity, which is of course, very subjective. And, as others have said, you do not have the luxury of knowing how the image will be used. Most macro stock agencies have , or at least used to have, a point of view- a "look" that they tried to build a collection around, whereas microstock is just quantity as a driving idea.
  Commercial photography at the advertising level is mostly driven by a very specific idea that needs to be communicated, so it's actually easier to concentrate on that one goal. Plus, most ad agencies just take the raw files and send them to a retoucher. The retouching can easily cost twice as much as the photo shoot these days. The other thing that has changed is that the average art director is more comfortable looking at an image on the screen than standing in front of the set during the shoot. They would rather email comments to you, even if they are at the shoot. ( this also gives them a paper trail when the inevitable second guessing begins).
  The entire process of creating images has changed, and the stringent technical demands of microstock is just a symptom of a world that wants everything to fit into a spreadsheet so they can make a graph and put it into a powerpoint presentation. But then the consumer has changed as well, and is much less influenced by advertising on an emotional level. It's really becoming robots selling to robots.

« Reply #18 on: April 29, 2012, 23:54 »
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Suggestion to all big players here, start over from scratch and see how you would fare these days as an "unknown photographer"

errrr.... no thank you.

LOL!  The master of understatement!  :)

I would never want to have to start this today. Some of us are well aware we started at just the right time.  Would be difficult to impossible to start now and achieve the same success unless you were already an established stock producer (i.e. monkeybusiness). 

With the skills I had eight years ago I wouldn't get accepted by any agency today. With the skills I have now, I would easily be accepted but it would take me years to build up a portfolio delivering a worthwhile return and by the time I had done that, the RPI might have dropped so low that it still wouldn't be a worthwhile return.

I see very little incentive for anybody to start out in microstock these days.

(I just wish I'd had the skills eight years ago that I've got now, because I would have made a stonking great fortune from it).

« Reply #19 on: April 30, 2012, 00:18 »
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.....
(I just wish I'd had the skills eight years ago that I've got now, because I would have made a stonking great fortune from it).

Isn't that the truth, although I'd have probably only made a modest fortune. :)

I also wish I had my kit (which was unavailable or would have cost a fortune back then).

I don't think I'd be very motivated in this business these days if I didn't have my older bestsellers still selling to keep the monthly return up. Not that I am always very motivated these days anyway with the commission cuts and RC nonsense and new images getting buried.

« Reply #20 on: April 30, 2012, 00:38 »
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I don't think I'd be very motivated in this business these days if I didn't have my older bestsellers still selling to keep the monthly return up.

It's ironic, isn't it, that they keep cranking up the technical standards year after year but a considerable proportion of the sales come from things that are six, seven or eight years old. And the punters don't complain about 2004 quality.

lagereek

« Reply #21 on: April 30, 2012, 00:55 »
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  I think you can't really compare stock shooting with commercial work for a few reasons. While stock has certain stringent hurdles technically, I think that's just one way of training a reviewer. You can quantify noise and artifacting, but it's much harder to quantify creativity, which is of course, very subjective. And, as others have said, you do not have the luxury of knowing how the image will be used. Most macro stock agencies have , or at least used to have, a point of view- a "look" that they tried to build a collection around, whereas microstock is just quantity as a driving idea.
  Commercial photography at the advertising level is mostly driven by a very specific idea that needs to be communicated, so it's actually easier to concentrate on that one goal. Plus, most ad agencies just take the raw files and send them to a retoucher. The retouching can easily cost twice as much as the photo shoot these days. The other thing that has changed is that the average art director is more comfortable looking at an image on the screen than standing in front of the set during the shoot. They would rather email comments to you, even if they are at the shoot. ( this also gives them a paper trail when the inevitable second guessing begins).
  The entire process of creating images has changed, and the stringent technical demands of microstock is just a symptom of a world that wants everything to fit into a spreadsheet so they can make a graph and put it into a powerpoint presentation. But then the consumer has changed as well, and is much less influenced by advertising on an emotional level. It's really becoming robots selling to robots.


I have done commercial photography, at advertising level and Industry, for over 20 years, still am. In fact, I wouldnt have been able to achieve some 80%, of my stock-shots, if it wasnt for a mutual client trust, built up over many, many years.
Its two differant worlds though. As a dayrate photographer in advertising or industry, you can earn between, 2-5K, per day,  big budgets, big clients. Stock, on the other side, is a numbers game, where quantity is as important as quality.

The worlds most successfull stock-photographers in RM, for example, are those who can supply from interesting and relevant commissions, and who can get-in to places which are a closed door for others.
Pete-Turner, used to say, " why should I spend time on assignment? when I can spend the same time shooting stock and in the long run, earn much more"?  that was back in the days of the Image-Bank, and the guy was clocking in over a million dollars per year, from stock alone, back in 1990.

Today its a differant ballgame, instead of having photographers in the thousands, we are in the hundereds of thousands, cams, softwares, computers have made it possible for just about anybody to produce.
Micro came along, for better or worse and made it possible for millions, the monopoly was broken, add to that, todays buyers are not your AD, at an advertising agency and that todays buyers are far from quality conscious with very little money in the pockets.

« Reply #22 on: April 30, 2012, 01:32 »
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[Micro came along, for better or worse and made it possible for millions, the monopoly was broken, add to that, todays buyers are not your AD, at an advertising agency and that todays buyers are far from quality conscious with very little money in the pockets.

In your opinion...what is the profile of today's buyers?

lagereek

« Reply #23 on: April 30, 2012, 01:49 »
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[Micro came along, for better or worse and made it possible for millions, the monopoly was broken, add to that, todays buyers are not your AD, at an advertising agency and that todays buyers are far from quality conscious with very little money in the pockets.

In your opinion...what is the profile of today's buyers?

I recon its made up of smaller one-man band designer operations, webb, homepages, non creative buyers, etc. They dont need to spend hundereds or thousands on a shot, what for? here, Micro came along and made it possible for the little guy to get a picky, which really is a good thing I suppose.

I mean, if you take the big sites, like, SS, IS, DT, FT, we do scream and complain when things arent going our way but they are actually providing a nice and healthy side-income, arent they. :)

« Reply #24 on: May 01, 2012, 03:13 »
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[Micro came along, for better or worse and made it possible for millions, the monopoly was broken, add to that, todays buyers are not your AD, at an advertising agency and that todays buyers are far from quality conscious with very little money in the pockets.

In your opinion...what is the profile of today's buyers?

I recon its made up of smaller one-man band designer operations, webb, homepages, non creative buyers, etc. They dont need to spend hundereds or thousands on a shot, what for? here, Micro came along and made it possible for the little guy to get a picky, which really is a good thing I suppose.

I mean, if you take the big sites, like, SS, IS, DT, FT, we do scream and complain when things arent going our way but they are actually providing a nice and healthy side-income, arent they. :)

I would add to that, all the small boutique design firms and advertising agencies which make up the majority of creative web, print and branding design in small  towns and many major cities. The large firms with big-budget national accounts of course will hire the specialized professional photographer (who hates microstock). Also, the marcom and product managers at mid-sized tech and manufacturing companies ($10 million plus annual billing) are fully hip to iStock and ShutterStock from my experience. They cringe at buying from Corbis of Getty due to the high prices, and licensing issues. Macro stock is an antiquated business model now that microstock has matured and gained mind share. The perceived value proposition cannot be denied. Over the past 15 years, I have had only one of my branding clients purchase a photo from Getty when they could not find an image at IS or SS.


 

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