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Author Topic: Financially sustainable? An agency dedicated to images of 'real' people?  (Read 9706 times)

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« on: May 20, 2013, 14:58 »
0
I mentioned in another thread that due to being unable to quickly find the types of images I need for my graphic projects I am doing research into the viability of starting yet another microstock site. Yes, I am crazy. But I am finding other designers expressing their request for diversity and not so many perfectly polished (fake looking) photos also so there seems to be a good demand. And I have ideas for unique selling points that no other agencies are doing.

The images would be the type that so far no other stock site is interested in posting large quantities of - authentic, real people - not models - that are of different ethnicities, age, class, profession, you name it. And that are not too refined and perfect technically. Because when it's too perfect technically it loses some authenticity. And that are candid shots, not people smiling into the camera. These images would contain many non-smiling serious people as well as smiling. I found a site doing this for other countries but not so much in the US so that would be my focus in the beginning.

Shady Sue mentioned it's not financially sustainable to build a site around these images so I am interested in everyone else's thoughts and opinions. Please try to keep the comments constructive so I can get a true idea of whether this will work or not.

I'm curious why so little of these images are found on the current sites when the demand is rising?  Would it be financially sustainable for the agency?

Thank you for your input!
Rana


« Reply #1 on: May 20, 2013, 15:08 »
+3
Anyone that poses for images is a "model".  I use "real people" as my "models".  They don't smile all the time, and I try to get them to strike "natural" poses.  I'm not sure what you plan on being able to shoot that others aren't already doing.  Give us an example.

SS said it isn't financially feasible, because to hire a large group of multi-ethnic "models" costs a lot of money.

« Reply #2 on: May 20, 2013, 15:17 »
+14
When you say real people, do you mean average looking people, who may be overweight, with large noses, double chins, and yellowish teeth, or do you mean people who are in the top 15% for good looks? Maybe not the top 2%, which is what we see now, but still, really good looking?

I have seen these requests for real people over the years, and in the past have photographed a few and uploaded them, but they don't sell.

TBH I think you will find photos of real people on line, but they are probably way down the sort order because no one wants them.

ETA The other thing is pricing. These ordinary looking people may sell once or twice, but at micro pricing, it's just not worth the effort.
Also, you have to think about their hurt feelings when their photo doesn't sell!
 
« Last Edit: May 20, 2013, 15:23 by Travelling-light »

« Reply #3 on: May 20, 2013, 15:23 »
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When you say real people, do you mean average looking people, who may be overweight, with large noses, double chins, and yellowish teeth, or do you mean people who are in the top 15% for good looks? Maybe not the top 2%, which is what we see now, but still, really good looking?

I have seen these requests for real people over the years, and in the past have photographed a few and uploaded them, but they don't sell.

TBH I think you will find photos of real people on line, but they are probably way down the sort order because no one wants them.

Exactly. The market is already providing for what the market actually wants. Contributors watch what sells (or doesn't sell) like hawks and modify their shoots accordingly. If you want really niche stuff you might have to shoot it yourself or hire someone to do it for you.

« Reply #4 on: May 20, 2013, 15:26 »
+1
I think there's a market for what you're describing.   But maintaining the integrity of your collection would be a challenge.  As soon as you get some market presence you'd be besieged by pros trying to "game the system" and mass-produce the look they think you want.

« Reply #5 on: May 20, 2013, 16:19 »
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Anyone that poses for images is a "model".  I use "real people" as my "models".  They don't smile all the time, and I try to get them to strike "natural" poses.  I'm not sure what you plan on being able to shoot that others aren't already doing.  Give us an example.

SS said it isn't financially feasible, because to hire a large group of multi-ethnic "models" costs a lot of money.

For example, I just searched Shutterstock for "Mexican Family". I picked "relevant", started at the last page (12) and worked forward. In most of the photos the people were posing, smiling and looking into the camera. They are affluent and very good looking. There are no candids and no average looking or low income people. And so many were shot in the park - what's up with that? A Canstock search pretty much resulted in the same and usually the other sites are similar too.

So just in this search, there isn't much variety. There seems to be a lot of missed opportunities - I can't imagine that what's there is all that sells?

« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2013, 16:21 »
+1
There are no candids and no average looking or low income people. And so many were shot in the park - what's up with that?

What should they be candidly doing?  What makes an average looking person?  What designates "low income"?  Where should they be?

« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2013, 16:25 »
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Reminds me of the classic definition of "obscenity":  we know it when we see it.


« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2013, 16:26 »
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When you say real people, do you mean average looking people, who may be overweight, with large noses, double chins, and yellowish teeth, or do you mean people who are in the top 15% for good looks? Maybe not the top 2%, which is what we see now, but still, really good looking?

I have seen these requests for real people over the years, and in the past have photographed a few and uploaded them, but they don't sell.

TBH I think you will find photos of real people on line, but they are probably way down the sort order because no one wants them.

Exactly. The market is already providing for what the market actually wants. Contributors watch what sells (or doesn't sell) like hawks and modify their shoots accordingly. If you want really niche stuff you might have to shoot it yourself or hire someone to do it for you.

I am thinking of niche stuff - mainly focusing on providing images for the nonprofit industry. I know corporations and big media agencies primarily buy and want the images that are currently in the market now so they are not as much of a focus. Obviously I still have A LOT of research to do.

ShadySue

  • There is a crack in everything
« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2013, 16:27 »
0
Would you be restricting your sales to education, charities and nonprofits? Or will you be allowing businesses to buy also?
Whatever, your 'real people' may not agree to sign MRs. If your non-profit's staff and volunteers won't allow their photos to be used to promote their own projects, where are your 'real people' going to come from?

« Reply #10 on: May 20, 2013, 16:37 »
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Would you be restricting your sales to education, charities and nonprofits? Or will you be allowing businesses to buy also?
Whatever, your 'real people' may not agree to sign MRs. If your non-profit's staff and volunteers won't allow their photos to be used to promote their own projects, where are your 'real people' going to come from?

No restrictions, of course anyone can buy.

That is more of the issue - if the 'real' models will agree to sign MRs and thoroughly understand what they are signing so it doesn't become a future problem. Thanks for bringing that up in the  other thread. I have a lot more research to do in the licensing area of what the images can be used for and why 'real' people may not be interested in signing.

« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2013, 16:48 »
+1
why 'real' people may not be interested in signing.

Mostly because it sounds like you think "real people" don't want to be paid?   Well that, and "real people" - candids (?) - are people who weren't expecting to be photographed and used in commercially licensed images, whereas "models", people that seek out opportunities to be paid to be in image, are likely ok with it.

ShadySue

  • There is a crack in everything
« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2013, 16:52 »
+1
I have a lot more research to do in the licensing area of what the images can be used for and why 'real' people may not be interested in signing.
In my experience, mainly because they don't want to be seen apparently promoting "any product or service".
Also remember that a normal licence allows images to be manipulated in almost any way, sometimes excluding porn etc. Remember that you will have to factor in legal advice and representation.

« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2013, 17:00 »
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There are no candids and no average looking or low income people. And so many were shot in the park - what's up with that?

What should they be candidly doing?  What makes an average looking person?  What designates "low income"?  Where should they be?

By candid I mean interacting with one another not paying attention to the camera. Kind of like a snapshot but technically better.

Ok, maybe 'average' looking person is not what I mean. It's more of the people not looking so perfect and high end. If I'm doing a brochure for a food bank or a nonprofit that provides basic needs I can't use photos that don't relate/fit in to the context.

« Reply #14 on: May 20, 2013, 17:06 »
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why 'real' people may not be interested in signing.

Mostly because it sounds like you think "real people" don't want to be paid?   Well that, and "real people" - candids (?) - are people who weren't expecting to be photographed and used in commercially licensed images, whereas "models", people that seek out opportunities to be paid to be in image, are likely ok with it.

Not at all, of course they want to and would be paid. They would be models and would be expected to be photographed but the shot would be set up so that it wouldn't look set up. Can't that be done?

« Reply #15 on: May 20, 2013, 17:13 »
+1
Sure, you can direct people to pretend they aren't being photographed... http://www.stocksy.com/42921

« Reply #16 on: May 20, 2013, 17:18 »
0
Sure, you can direct people to pretend they aren't being photographed... http://www.stocksy.com/42921


Yeah, like that. Those are great - the candid-type photos I need for nonprofit projects.

Here's another example: I searched 'food bank' on SS and only 2 pages came up. Within that, there's only a few shots from one photo shoot and even those don't look as realistic as they could. I'm just saying there seems to be a lot that isn't being done that could be done.

http://www.shutterstock.com/cat.mhtml?lang=en&search_source=search_form&search_tracking_id=F41PAnpcgi6f3UHwtLXYRQ&version=llv1&anyorall=all&safesearch=1&searchterm=food+bank&photos=on&search_group=&orient=&search_cat=&searchtermx=&photographer_name=&model_released=on&people_gender=&people_age=&people_ethnicity=&people_number=&commercial_ok=&color=&show_color_wheel=1&secondary_submit=Search#page=1


ShadySue

  • There is a crack in everything
« Reply #17 on: May 20, 2013, 17:21 »
+1
That search is the worst SS search I've seen for ages. What a huge percentage of totally irrelevant images. SS search isn't usually that bad.

« Reply #18 on: May 20, 2013, 17:27 »
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That search is the worst SS search I've seen for ages. What a huge percentage of totally irrelevant images. SS search isn't usually that bad.

And that is what I find basically every time in my searches for np projects. That's what leads me to believe there are so many kinds of photos that are not being listed. That's why it takes me 10-15 hours sometimes to find the photos I need for most projects. I search up to 5 sites sometimes before I find the right photos. Even in the 'relevant' searches. I'm so tired of it.

ShadySue

  • There is a crack in everything
« Reply #19 on: May 20, 2013, 17:29 »
+1
Does "food bank" have a different meaning somewhere? iStock's "food bank" search is pretty awful too, as is DT and FT. Is an isolated can with no label a "food bank"? In MR / PR images, Alamy surprisingly only has that same set that's everywhere else, plus two irrelevant couple pics. They do have a lot of 'real' but unreleased food bank images.

ShadySue

  • There is a crack in everything
« Reply #20 on: May 20, 2013, 17:33 »
0
Bear in mind that as well as model releases, you'd have to either have food / boxes etc with no labels (fruit, veg etc) or make your own labels to go around cans/make your own boxes etc. Unless you can get food brands to give you releases. Or shoot with such a shallow dof that you can't read any brand names. All of that conspires to make the image look 'unreal', but it's inevitable.

« Reply #21 on: May 20, 2013, 17:37 »
0
Does "food bank" have a different meaning somewhere? iStock's "food bank" search is pretty awful too, as is DT and FT. Is an isolated can with no label a "food bank"? In MR / PR images, Alamy surprisingly only has that same set that's everywhere else, plus two irrelevant couple pics. They do have a lot of 'real' but unreleased food bank images.

See what I'm talking about? And that's just one 'food bank' search. It's pretty abysmal. And I know other designers who do np work and they have the same problems finding the right images too. So it seems there is an opening for a niche site to offer these kinds of images don't you think?

« Reply #22 on: May 20, 2013, 17:39 »
0
Bear in mind that as well as model releases, you'd have to either have food / boxes etc with no labels (fruit, veg etc) or make your own labels to go around cans/make your own boxes etc. Unless you can get food brands to give you releases. Or shoot with such a shallow dof that you can't read any brand names. All of that conspires to make the image look 'unreal', but it's inevitable.

I would definitely have to take all of that into consideration for sure and find a way to get around it to maintain the authenticity.

« Reply #23 on: May 20, 2013, 17:48 »
+3
Sure, you can direct people to pretend they aren't being photographed... http://www.stocksy.com/42921


Your photos on Stocksy are great - a good combination of candids and people looking at the camera. And they don't look so posed and fake. I will have to search Stocksy more now that they've launched!

« Reply #24 on: May 20, 2013, 18:17 »
0
Sure, you can direct people to pretend they aren't being photographed... http://www.stocksy.com/42921


Your photos on Stocksy are great - a good combination of candids and people looking at the camera. And they don't look so posed and fake. I will have to search Stocksy more now that they've launched!


Sweet.  Thanks!


 

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