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Author Topic: Fed up to my ears with all the sites. And why!  (Read 27084 times)

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PaulieWalnuts

  • On the Wrong Side of the Business
« Reply #75 on: April 19, 2010, 20:33 »
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If the sites want to continue to get high-production conceptual shots involving props, models, locations, etc.  they will have to continue to compensate photographers enough to make it worth doing.    If they don't, then they will go back to being libraries full of flowers, cats, and travel snapshots.  

You're partially right about the flowers, dogs, and cats. But I don't think people will yank their portfolios. They'll stop submitting and leave their portfolios there. Most of the fresh content will be newbie snapshots of flowers and cats. The rest will be stale technology and models with outdated styles.

I think a few factors are going to change things fairly soon. Contributor profitibility, agency relations, and recovering economy.

Sounds like unprofitible contributors are already jumping ship and focusing on other areas.

Contributors are getting tired of getting their T&C getting regularly changed to their disadvantage.

And I think a lot of people dove into micro to help pay the bills to weather the economy. When things pick back up and people are back to work are they really going to spend as much time on micro to make pocket change? And even if sales pick up and agencies make more you can bet that they'll cut commissions again.


« Reply #76 on: April 19, 2010, 22:45 »
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I know that he has an account at Alamy but have no idea what pseudonyms he is using. I'm sure he is not so willing to show his RM stuff to a lot of people.


Form Advertising.

http://www.alamy.com/search-results.asp?qt=+form+advertising&submitsearch=Search&st=0&go=1&a=-1&archive=1&size=0xFF&CreativeOn=1&lic=6&lic=1&mr=0&pr=0


and shoosh, both are RF portfolios.


shoosh .. isn't that the name used when all his RF images was uploaded to Alamy as RM and then when people started talking about him trying to pull a sneaky it was changed to RF and noted that an error was made by some third world country uploading company LOL .. Form Advertising sounds like another sweat shop distributer to me.

Does seem kinda odd that he isn't tooting his own horn on where his RM stuff can be viewed.  ??? Why would somebody who had already placed years of getting their name out to build a brand name not better that brand name by saying ok we're bumping things up a notch and here it is. You wouldn't start over from scratch .. goes against business logic .. except in situations where a business runs themselves into the ground and creates a bad name for themselves or if they want to introduce a cheaper lower quality product line .. that's when you brand from scratch .. not the case with Yuri going to RM. So going from uploading 1000+ images a month on a micro level to saying I'm shooting 80% RM but not providing a reference ... isn't that like saying I have a MONSTER portfolio of higher quality images available as RM .. but I'm not going to market it or use my established name to draw any attention to it in order to increase the income stream from the highly profitable images.

Seems extremely odd .. just my opinion.

« Reply #77 on: April 20, 2010, 06:43 »
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If the sites want to continue to get high-production conceptual shots involving props, models, locations, etc.  they will have to continue to compensate photographers enough to make it worth doing.    If they don't, then they will go back to being libraries full of flowers, cats, and travel snapshots.  

You're partially right about the flowers, dogs, and cats. But I don't think people will yank their portfolios. They'll stop submitting and leave their portfolios there. Most of the fresh content will be newbie snapshots of flowers and cats. The rest will be stale technology and models with outdated styles.

I think a few factors are going to change things fairly soon. Contributor profitibility, agency relations, and recovering economy.

Sounds like unprofitible contributors are already jumping ship and focusing on other areas.

Contributors are getting tired of getting their T&C getting regularly changed to their disadvantage.

And I think a lot of people dove into micro to help pay the bills to weather the economy. When things pick back up and people are back to work are they really going to spend as much time on micro to make pocket change? And even if sales pick up and agencies make more you can bet that they'll cut commissions again.


You and Lisa NAILED IT!

Amen

-Larry

« Reply #78 on: April 20, 2010, 09:13 »
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... Sounds like unprofitible contributors are already jumping ship and focusing on other areas.

Contributors are getting tired of getting their T&C getting regularly changed to their disadvantage.

And I think a lot of people dove into micro to help pay the bills to weather the economy. When things pick back up and people are back to work are they really going to spend as much time on micro to make pocket change? And even if sales pick up and agencies make more you can bet that they'll cut commissions again.

I think there's a few holes in this theory... if contributors start dropping like flies, will the agencies be able to afford to cut commissions across the board?  The law of supply and demand would suggest not.  If what you're really suggesting is a leveling out of the contributor base (growth slows to zero), then reduced commissions on the big sites seems plausible, but if you're thinking that the amount of contributors will fall by a significant percentage, the agencies will start to fear for their futures and cutting commissions would be against their interests.

I see a rebounding economy as a very good thing for contributors, and they'll increase their output.  As more money is available and small businesses flourish, we'll see much more spending on microstock.  And even the big buyers will have increased budgets, but now that they've discovered microstock during the lean years, they'll continue to buy here instead of returning to macro.  That genie is out of the bottle.

« Reply #79 on: April 20, 2010, 18:29 »
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PowerDroid said: "...will the agencies be able to afford to cut commissions across the board?  The law of supply and demand would suggest not."

Well, the law of supply and demand is one of attributes of a homeostatic system, and economic systems could be classified as such. But - every homeostatic system has its limits: if the external influences exceed the capacity of the system to adjust - it inevitably ends with the destruction of the system.

If, say, US economy was a closed system - then yes, the law of supply and demand would apply (in a sense that an equilibrium would be achieved). However - the US economy (and every other developed economy, for that matter) does not exist in vacuum - there are new external forces at work. What I mean is a cheap supply of images (and not only) from economies where the cost of production (and a cost of living) are incomparably lower.

Of course - the equilibrium will be eventually reached, but in the process the original system will be destroyed (or transformed to a degree which will render the difference immaterial). This, however, will be no consolation for you and for everyone who believes that "competition is OK, one needs to change and adjust, blah blah blah...".

If one rat in a cage needs to produce 200 revs/minute in order to survive, and the other rat needs only 20 - then it doesn't take a rocket scientist to predict the outcome.


What is happening in microstock - is only an aspect of far deeper processes in economy, which has been globalized. And - due to the fact that there are large inequalities in production costs/living costs, the field is far from being level.

Mind it, I am not blaming the developing countries for all the woes of Western economies - I am just observing what is happening (and there are many more factors buried in our economies - like fractional reserve banking, credit based development, short-term profit, built-in inflation etc. etc.) which make our world what it is now.

So - have no doubt, commisions CAN be cut across the board, and most likely WILL be. I guess - if you are good and dedicated - you will be able to increase the revs of your cage and stay in the competition for some time. But - you can't do this indefinitely - and someone somewhere will produce images for $0.10 a pop (or less). Examples are many - from various industries which are disappearing/going broke because of that.

You may say - this is OK, this is normal - and in a sense it is. Except - the adjustments to the new (economic, but not only) reality may be a little bit more than most of the public in the West can imagine in their worst dreams.

All things are driven by the lowest common denominator - and the bottom line is defined by the accountants. They do not care if their images (and profit) come from you or from someone in Burkina Faso (no offense intended).

 

« Reply #80 on: April 20, 2010, 18:41 »
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All things are driven by the lowest common denominator - and the bottom line is defined by the accountants. They do not care if their images (and profit) come from you or from someone in Burkina Faso (no offense intended).

While a drone in Burkina Faso may be able to photograph some apples on white, I'm pretty sure some subjects are far from their ability.

« Reply #81 on: April 20, 2010, 18:54 »
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I agree with Leszek - and it's exactly what I've seen from the inside in the software business, for about 10 years now.   Guys in India and Russia are just as smart as I am, but their cost of living is a fraction of mine here in the U.S., and there isn't much I can do about it.  The only thing that held them back (for a while) was lack of broadband, and the cost of a PC, which is the same everywhere - but eventually things change so that anyone could get into the game.  It's the same with the cost of a DSLR.

If you think of people in less developed parts of the world as just "drones" who lack our "ability", I've got news - those drones are highly motivated, and they're going to get at least a big piece of your lunch.   And that's going to go on for a long time, until the cost of living in these various parts of the world starts to equalize.


  
« Last Edit: April 20, 2010, 19:17 by stockastic »

ShadySue

« Reply #82 on: April 20, 2010, 19:21 »
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All things are driven by the lowest common denominator - and the bottom line is defined by the accountants. They do not care if their images (and profit) come from you or from someone in Burkina Faso (no offense intended).

While a drone in Burkina Faso may be able to photograph some apples on white, I'm pretty sure some subjects are far from their ability.
And I'm perfectly sure that ability and skills is not a problem for some BF photographers, although access to certain subjects may be, as access to other subjects may be for you. You, however, are in the lucky position of having easy access to most of the subjects currently in greater demand.

« Reply #83 on: April 20, 2010, 19:23 »
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Before I retired 15 years ago I made 250,000.00 plus per year as a wedding photographer. I had 10 photographers working for me. So the money is there always has been and always will be.
But not selling RF images for .25 Cents each. Needless to say I do not need the money from RF sales.
-Larry


Microstock keeps wannabe photographers away from where the real money is - I see no problem with this  ::)


Every microstocker I know (who are doing it for a living) shudders at the idea of doing weddings. That's what many of them used to do and they are so glad to give it up.

You can certainly make decent money doing weddings but that's because it's a horrible job, that mostly has to be done during anti-social hours, that any half-decent photographer would gladly do anything else instead if they could get the same money. Same with having commercial clients. Who needs all that hassle __ the ever-changing briefs, chasing the money, dealing with the unwashed masses of the public, etc, etc?



That is why I hired photographers to do the work. I ran the studio and collected the money. Lived well and spent my spare time in the woods shooting wildlife in Montana while my studio was in New York. Just because your in the business does not mean you personally have to do the dirty work.




Just having fun in Montana.

-Larry



Wow you are in Montana jizz!!!
You have opportunity to be the one of the first mans putted in orbit of the Earth without expensive paying visit to international Space Station like newborn geeks if Yellowstone pimple explode.
I am not scientist and dont now to calculate if this explosion will paste you face on Moon too. Maybe you will be the first Microstocker on the Moon like fly on car window. LoL

Sorry I dont want to offend you anyhow, just try to be humorous in my morbid creepy way.

V
Live long and prosper...

« Reply #84 on: April 20, 2010, 19:25 »
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You, however, are in the lucky position of having easy access to most of the subjects currently in greater demand.

In greater demand, until low-cost designers from Burkina Faso start doing the buying...

« Reply #85 on: April 20, 2010, 19:30 »
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"While a drone in Burkina Faso may be able to photograph some apples on white, I'm pretty sure some subjects are far from their ability."

You may be right - and then, you may not.
The example I am most familiar with is aircraft industry. Over the last decade or so there is increasing trend to move the production to the "developing" countries. As a result - manufacturing facilities here are getting closed. The quality seems to be taking (far) second place - and I know this for a fact.

Furthermore - the recent (or not so recent, depends how you look at it) trend is to farm out the design and analysis to outfits in Malaysia, Indonesia, India - and couple of other places. The economics is simple: it can be done properly, quickly and with required quality, taking - say - 6 months at a rate of $100/hour - by subcontracting to engineering company in the "West". If it goes somewhere else - it also may take 6 months, but with 3x more people employed and a rate of $15/hour. The job gets botched - and it comes back to the "West", but as a "correction" - at $60/hour and 30% of the original hours. So - let's do the math the way accountants do it:

-Option 1 (doing it properly)
Cost = 100*T = 100T

-Option 2 (farming out)
Cost = 15*3*T + 60*0.3*T = 63T

This is a whopping 37% saving - which means large bonuses for the selected few. And the next job goes where ? No cigar for guessing.

In the meantime, you can't survive doing "corrections" at a cut rate with insufficient hours given for the job - which means a lot of unpaid overtime, frustration, people leaving the industry, businesses getting closed. And - as a side effect - educating the competition while going out of business. This, unfortunately, is the prevailing economic/business model (at least in civil aviation, the military branch fares quite a bit better), which results in loss of skils (frequently this is irreversible), loss of manufacturing facilities (mostly irreversible), transfer of know-how - and increasing unemployed rate.

Sounds familiar ? So, what makes you think that microstock is exempt ?

« Reply #86 on: April 20, 2010, 19:59 »
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So, what makes you think that microstock is exempt ?

I don't think anyone actually stated that 'microstock's exempt' did they? For starters the agency 'bosses' don't ponder over a globe from where to draw their 'workforce' from, as they might in a manufacturing industry.

Truth is the current market for images appears to be almost entirely Western oriented __ and it's very difficult, and probably more expensive, to produce Western-style images in Burkina Faso. Try moving there yourself and see how you get on. I spend a lot of time in the developing world and, trust me, it's not that easy or cheap to be productive in effective microstock whilst you're there.

I'd very much recommend Jim Roger's 'Investment Biker Around the World' and his follow-up 'Adventure Capitalist' amongst his other books __ very, very insightful observations of the world's economies from a man who's dabbled in most of them and made billions doing so.

One of the things he points out is that the Middle Ages were very much the 'Commodity Age' in that those who traded silks, spices, etc tended to be the richest men in the world. Then it moved to the 'Industrial Age' in which the richest were those who manufactured things, like Henry Ford for example. Now we're in the 'Information Age' in which the richest are those who sell you very expensive 0's and 1's on a cheap CD (nowadays you're lucky to even get that!), like Bill Gates and many others. As microstockers we sell 0's and 1's too, or at least the license to use them. It's our ability to produce the right 0's and 1's that will keep us ahead __ or not.

« Reply #87 on: April 20, 2010, 20:28 »
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Leszek - yes, that's exactly how it works in the software industry too. Same dollar amounts, big promises, same timetable. 

But I'm now seeing a trend towards bringing work back to the US because companies have been through that cycle a couple of times, and gotten burned.  The problem isn't really a lack of competence, it's the language barrier, time zone differential, and the hierarchical/bureaucratic structure of companies in places like Bangalore. Basically, there just isn't enough direct communication with the technical people doing the work.

Why are we even talking about Burkina Faso? The real competition today is from Eastern Europe isn't it?

« Reply #88 on: April 20, 2010, 20:41 »
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And I'm perfectly sure that ability and skills is not a problem for some BF photographers, although access to certain subjects may be, as access to other subjects may be for you. You, however, are in the lucky position of having easy access to most of the subjects currently in greater demand.

Aw, you read between my lines!

« Reply #89 on: April 20, 2010, 20:59 »
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Yes, people around the world will be more competitive as access to broadband improves and computer hardware and software gets into every home in every nook and cranny of the Earth.  They will have access to the same tools as you, except for one... your creative mind.

In the early days of microstock, you didn't need to have brilliant or original ideas to succeed.  Any isolated apple or business handshake shot would sell.  But if your work is uninspired and doesn't stand out from the crowd today, you're watching your sales plummet, and rightfully so... worse yet, there's no way you will survive tomorrow.   As the playing field becomes more and more flat, it will be more and more apparent who the true artists are... they will continue to rise to the top, whether in the U.S., India, Ethiopia, etc.    

And yes, we could see commissions fall, but also keep in mind that as world economies open up and your competitors grow in numbers, so will your customers.   Small business will sprout everywhere, and the demand for quality, creative images will only increase.  If you think this is a volume business today, just wait for tomorrow.  But these expanding markets will have unique needs, so the smartest among us will be watching these emerging markets and adapting our styles and subject matter to serve these new customers.

That's my glass-half-full view, anyway.  You can pick it apart, but I believe those who complain about the changing world are the ones left behind... those with the positive attitudes will see through the clouds to new opportunities and reap the rewards.  Choose your side wisely.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2010, 21:02 by PowerDroid »

PaulieWalnuts

  • On the Wrong Side of the Business
« Reply #90 on: April 20, 2010, 21:07 »
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I think there's a few holes in this theory... if contributors start dropping like flies, will the agencies be able to afford to cut commissions across the board?  The law of supply and demand would suggest not.  If what you're really suggesting is a leveling out of the contributor base (growth slows to zero), then reduced commissions on the big sites seems plausible, but if you're thinking that the amount of contributors will fall by a significant percentage, the agencies will start to fear for their futures and cutting commissions would be against their interests.

You're missing one part. There will always be a strong supply of contributors. But more happy snappers and less high production cost contributors. What will level off is the supply of good quality fresh images. Shutterstock lives on new stuff. What would happen to them if over a period of a few years that quality producers taper off and most new people joining are snapshooters with their cats? Sales would probably also taper off. If supply drops and demand remains/increases then contributor value goes up.

Quote
I see a rebounding economy as a very good thing for contributors, and they'll increase their output.  As more money is available and small businesses flourish, we'll see much more spending on microstock.  And even the big buyers will have increased budgets, but now that they've discovered microstock during the lean years, they'll continue to buy here instead of returning to macro.  That genie is out of the bottle.

You're assuming the rebounding economy will be good for contributors. Just because the economy rebounds and agency sales go up doesn't automatically mean contributor sales go up. Rising sales would be a perfect time for agencies to continue dropping commissions and spin it as "we're doing you a favor, you're still making the same/more money". Fotolia has already proven it can do whatever they want and not even respond to contributors because they know eventually the bitching and moaning will go away. All of these agencies are focused on growth and profits. One easy to cost way to increase profits is through what they perceive as powerless contributors.

Contributors are not powerless. They just haven't been pushed hard enough to push back or go away. I'm guessing both will happen at some point and then contributors will have better leverage.

« Reply #91 on: April 20, 2010, 21:13 »
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If supply drops and demand remains/increases then contributor value goes up.

I think we're saying the same thing.  SS and other agencies need to keep quality contributors happy.  So cutting commissions would be exactly the wrong thing to do.


Contributors are not powerless. They just haven't been pushed hard enough to push back or go away. I'm guessing both will happen at some point and then contributors will have better leverage.

Again, I think we're on the same page.  But I'm using this argument to say that ultimately commissions can't fall too much -- or if they do they will have to rebound -- because the agencies can't afford to have the best contributors stop uploading.


« Reply #92 on: April 20, 2010, 21:29 »
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and the cost of a PC, which is the same everywhere - but eventually things change so that anyone could get into the game.  It's the same with the cost of a DSLR.
Again (I've said it so many times in other threads), I can't tell about Russia or India, but the cost of electronics is very expensive in Brazil, cameras & stuff cost twice the price as in USA, and even the chance of buying second hand is much smaller.  PCs are now much cheaper than they used to be, but they are still much more expensive.

PaulieWalnuts

  • On the Wrong Side of the Business
« Reply #93 on: April 20, 2010, 21:37 »
0
^^ Agencies should be doing things to keep contributors happy but are they? Can you name one that either isn't doing nothing or cutting comissions? Istock seems to be making the most positive changes but they're still adjusting comissions.

Yes, when contributors get hosed badly enough and either leave or stop uploading agencies will need to do something to bring them back and maybe increasing comissions will be one way.

Unfortunately I think we have a lot more "adjustments" to our T&C coming before we hit the boiling point. Ever hear of boiling frogs? http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boiling_frog

« Reply #94 on: April 20, 2010, 21:38 »
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industrial age -> information age -> conceptual age

Many tasks/jobs of information age, e.g., software development or accounting, are getting automated or outsourced to Asia or other developing countries. It leads to a higher demand for a conceptual "right brain" work.

« Reply #95 on: April 20, 2010, 21:57 »
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The cost of a PC is NOT the same everywhere. Same applies to photo equipment, power tools, PC games, CDs etc. etc.
It is called "price discrimination" or "yield management".

Very nice euphemisms for profit gouging.
While manufacturers are allowed to produce their stuff "somewhere in the world" at a very low cost - more and more barriers are being raised for the consumers to access the world wide market in order to buy at a best price.  Try to buy a power tool (reputable brand, but made in China, of course) on Amazon: you will find very quickly that it can not be sent to your address (if outside US).

Very quickly growing practice - where the producers (and sellers) feel entitled to a proportional (and sometimes very disproportional) part of your income - no matter where in the world you are and w/o any regard to the profit margin. Mind it - it is being done by segmenting the market, limiting the supply and selling the same products at wildly differing prices.

Supply and demand, someone said ? Sure - let's regulate the supply, the demand (and the price) will take care of itself.
Isn't it what is happening with microstock too ?

The entry barrier for the new players is already too high - so now market is being "consolidated" (read: big dogs devour the smaller ones). When it is all over - two things will happen:
1) the price (for the buyer) will go up
2) the price (for the seller) will go down

Time will tell how this will work out.
My guess is - like some other of my guesses. First people tell me that I am being "pessimistic", and after some time that "I couldn' have known at the time".
« Last Edit: April 20, 2010, 22:00 by leszek »

macrosaur

    This user is banned.
« Reply #96 on: April 21, 2010, 03:59 »
0
the problem is always the same : agencies must pay more and sell more.
it's unthinkable to keep selling as low as 0.25$.

macrosaur

    This user is banned.
« Reply #97 on: April 21, 2010, 04:04 »
0
I agree with Leszek - and it's exactly what I've seen from the inside in the software business, for about 10 years now.   Guys in India and Russia are just as smart as I am, but their cost of living is a fraction of mine here in the U.S., and there isn't much I can do about it.  The only thing that held them back (for a while) was lack of broadband, and the cost of a PC, which is the same everywhere - but eventually things change so that anyone could get into the game.  It's the same with the cost of a DSLR.

If you think of people in less developed parts of the world as just "drones" who lack our "ability", I've got news - those drones are highly motivated, and they're going to get at least a big piece of your lunch.   And that's going to go on for a long time, until the cost of living in these various parts of the world starts to equalize.


  

well actually living in russia and especially in moscow can be more expensive than London.

and talking about china : they've excellent and very skilled IT guys there, computers are made
there and a lot cheaper than in the west, broadband is everywhere, 15$/month for a decent connection
with China Telecom.

India has slower connections but plenty of fresh engineers, i've never seen so many job offers
as if you search for India and especially Bangalore, i mean there's microsoft seeking kernel
developers for windows while in europe they hire salesmen and tech support guys.

the core production of microsoft, oracle, ibm, and many others is already in india and china,
the west now is only a market where they sell at premium price what they make for cheap
in the orient !

will it happen also for STOCK ?
i think so, the only problem for them is mastering the keywording with english words
but indians are already good at this.

« Reply #98 on: April 21, 2010, 07:55 »
0
But who is it who buys stock? At work today I saw the latest copy of New Scientist in the staff tea room. Opened it and a big ad on the inside of the front cover. I immediatley recognized the three models  in one photo - Cecilie, Sophie and Ask. Not too many blond, blue eyed Scandinavians in India or China.

« Reply #99 on: April 21, 2010, 08:13 »
0
But who is it who buys stock? At work today I saw the latest copy of New Scientist in the staff tea room. Opened it and a big ad on the inside of the front cover. I immediatley recognized the three models  in one photo - Cecilie, Sophie and Ask. Not too many blond, blue eyed Scandinavians in India or China.

Good point.
And food is different too.


 

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