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Author Topic: Jim Pickerell story on Micro: Daniel Laflor shines  (Read 27812 times)

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« on: January 13, 2011, 15:40 »
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 Hi All,

 Just finished reading todays post by Jim Pickerell. It is a strong well made statement on the future of Microstock. The story really focuses on how there is still room to be big in Micro and uses Daniel Laflor as an example. Great read to finally here that stock can still make you a strong living if you know what you are doing. Well done Dan my hat is off. I cannot post the letter as it is a payed site but maybe Jim will catch this and share the letter with all of us here. Great read Jim thank you.

Best,
Jonathan


« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2011, 09:23 »
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Jim Pickerell made it a guest post on the Microstock Group blog.. you can read it here
http://blog.microstockgroup.com/earning-a-living-in-stock-photography/

I agree Jonathan, very well done by Daniel - impressive to say the least.

« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2011, 12:53 »
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Excellent info on what it really takes to make a lot of money -- still -- in this business. In fact it is a good guideline to being successful in any line of work.

It reminded me of selling photography successfully at art shows. It's amazing to see new photographers struggle with art show sales then give up because their work "just isn't selling". They all had neglected the main requirements that Daniel had learned: product quality, selection, quantity, and price points suitable for his market segment.

Daniel's apprenticeship speaks well on his ability to see its value and then apply that knowledge creatively. There is no reason that others can't profit in this business,  as Daniel did or with a variation of his methods. But there are thousands of excuses why they can't. Following posts will illustrate many of those.

« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2011, 13:00 »
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Nice article. This Daniel is a real person, right? Not just Yuri with a goatee disguise.  ;D Kidding aside, it's nice to see someone can still rise up quickly.

« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2011, 13:50 »
+1
Thanks to Jim for making it a guest post - and to Leaf for making that happen.

It says a couple of key things about how Daniel has achieved his sales volume, and talks about the exclusivity decision. Without the higher upload limits of an exclusive, Laflor could not have increased his portfolio as he did in 2010. I think an independent diamond gets 38 slots a week, and even at 100% approval rate that would net you slightly more than 1900 images in a year.

Certainly a partnership or some sort of sharing deal with another photographer to help keep expenses under control would be a big assist in making this profitable (versus just excellent revenue). Given iStock's exclusivity rules, it would seem that Yuri and Daniel's arrangement is just about the ideal - Daniel pushes the shutter button and he's the legal copyright holder. His images look very much like Yuri's, but as long as Yuri's OK with that, iStock has no say in having many "similars" out there on other stock sites.

Certainly all food for thought.

grp_photo

« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2011, 14:26 »
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Nice article. This Daniel is a real person, right? Not just Yuri with a goatee disguise.

lol   ;D
you can even recognize the use of Yuri's Studio in his portfolio ;D

okay after reading the blog-entry I'm not the only on who is recognizing Yuri's Studio  ::)
« Last Edit: January 15, 2011, 14:33 by grp_photo »

« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2011, 15:53 »
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Hi Leaf,

 Thanks for getting this out. Jim is a good resource and generous to share. Good article and Daniel offers good food for thought about the entire industry. From mentorship to producing this model follows a similar practice of many successful photographers I have met over time. Good luck Daniel, great to hear positive results in this industry gives me a sense of security that stock photography is still very strong and if done right can still make a smart photographer move quickly to the top.

Best,
Jonathan

« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2011, 18:03 »
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Thanks to Jim for making it a guest post - and to Leaf for making that happen.

It says a couple of key things about how Daniel has achieved his sales volume, and talks about the exclusivity decision. Without the higher upload limits of an exclusive, Laflor could not have increased his portfolio as he did in 2010. I think an independent diamond gets 38 slots a week, and even at 100% approval rate that would net you slightly more than 1900 images in a year.

Certainly a partnership or some sort of sharing deal with another photographer to help keep expenses under control would be a big assist in making this profitable (versus just excellent revenue). Given iStock's exclusivity rules, it would seem that Yuri and Daniel's arrangement is just about the ideal - Daniel pushes the shutter button and he's the legal copyright holder. His images look very much like Yuri's, but as long as Yuri's OK with that, iStock has no say in having many "similars" out there on other stock sites.

Certainly all food for thought.

I was going to say about the same thing (ok not that well written) but you have pointed a few topics that I agree totally

« Reply #8 on: January 15, 2011, 18:23 »
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Very interesting read. I was looking at "Daniel Laflor"'s portfolio a while ago myself and was wondering if it's just a part of Yuri's portfolio under a different name:). With very restrictive upload limits for non-exclusives it's very hard to grow your presence on Istock. So, to avoid those restriction one could register under a different name (or hire a real person to do that) and shoot some stuff exclusively for Istock... (not that I would see anything wrong with that). The images definitely have identical "look and feel", and yes there are models that appear in both Laflor's and Arcurs' portfolios.
It's either that, or Yuri trained a very capable competitor to himself;-)

« Reply #9 on: January 15, 2011, 19:44 »
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Very interesting read. I was looking at "Daniel Laflor"'s portfolio a while ago myself and was wondering if it's just a part of Yuri's portfolio under a different name:). With very restrictive upload limits for non-exclusives it's very hard to grow your presence on Istock. So, to avoid those restriction one could register under a different name (or hire a real person to do that) and shoot some stuff exclusively for Istock... (not that I would see anything wrong with that). The images definitely have identical "look and feel", and yes there are models that appear in both Laflor's and Arcurs' portfolios.
It's either that, or Yuri trained a very capable competitor to himself;-)
Hmmm. I always thought it a bit strange that Yuri appeared so relaxed and comfortable about his 'apprentice' producing near identical images to his own and I was always staggered how well the lad had learned at the knee of his master too. But of course if you were going to have an 'exclusive arm', as it were, then it would be in your interest to reproduce your own best-sellers to sell at the higher rate. Of course it's probably just co-incidence.  The two world-wide top selling microstock photographers both bursting on to the scene from a small town in Denmark could easily happen by pure chance. Or is Yuri really so sickeningly talented that he can be not just the 'world's best microstock photographer' but also the second-best too?

Reminds me of one-line comic Stewart Francis;

"My father was a schizophrenic ... but he was good people. I remember that summer we spent together. I was 5 ... and he was Mussolini"

RacePhoto

« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2011, 01:09 »
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Very interesting read. I was looking at "Daniel Laflor"'s portfolio a while ago myself and was wondering if it's just a part of Yuri's portfolio under a different name:). With very restrictive upload limits for non-exclusives it's very hard to grow your presence on Istock. So, to avoid those restriction one could register under a different name (or hire a real person to do that) and shoot some stuff exclusively for Istock... (not that I would see anything wrong with that). The images definitely have identical "look and feel", and yes there are models that appear in both Laflor's and Arcurs' portfolios.
It's either that, or Yuri trained a very capable competitor to himself;-)

Lets see, he was tutored by Yuri. He works out of Yuri's studio with the same equipment and models and possibly staff. Let me introduce a hypothetical, that he pays Yuri for all of this and is a real individual, not a pseudonym to make exclusive images. It would make sense that under those conditions, he would have a giant advantage in leaping into the ranks of the high production, high sales shooters. Darn good work if you can get it.

So since this whole premise some are touting is that anyone can do this, I'd like to move to  Denmark and have Yuri coach me, while I use his facilities and I'll bring my own camera. Is that the idea of how anyone can do this? Or is there a tad bit of reality that what he has done is an amazing feat in itself and then the conditions and location are also pretty exclusive. Anyone can't just will their way into success, it takes an amazing set of circumstances, location, talent and help! Another poster boy story of microstock fortunes?

I liked this part: "It is unclear how Daniel was able to get so many images accepted by the iStock editors," aside from a sweetheart deal, which is the only way, I'd say talent and great shots would help a bit too. :D He's got it all.

Do exclusives really get $4.50 a download? That's the figure in the blog for the $400.000 Gross income before expenses. And by the way, shared expenses? Smart move, that means cost reduction and making the most of available resources, everything from models to the person who does the uploads. Great plan and wonderful way for Yuri and Daniel to both gain and succeed.

Anyone have a studio with staff, models, lighting, computers and everything else that I can share?  ::)

Please don't hold up one person in 50,000 who made it, without looking at the next 2000 who worked darn hard to get what they have and the other 48,000 who make nothing!

SNP

  • Canadian Photographer
« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2011, 02:06 »
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Thanks to Jim for making it a guest post - and to Leaf for making that happen.

It says a couple of key things about how Daniel has achieved his sales volume, and talks about the exclusivity decision. Without the higher upload limits of an exclusive, Laflor could not have increased his portfolio as he did in 2010. I think an independent diamond gets 38 slots a week, and even at 100% approval rate that would net you slightly more than 1900 images in a year.

Certainly a partnership or some sort of sharing deal with another photographer to help keep expenses under control would be a big assist in making this profitable (versus just excellent revenue). Given iStock's exclusivity rules, it would seem that Yuri and Daniel's arrangement is just about the ideal - Daniel pushes the shutter button and he's the legal copyright holder. His images look very much like Yuri's, but as long as Yuri's OK with that, iStock has no say in having many "similars" out there on other stock sites.

Certainly all food for thought.

agree with what you've stated JoAnn. production quality is very clearly a factor if photogs have ambitions to make a living in microstock...I wondered if Daniel or Yuri agreed to be 'featured'?

CarlssonInc

« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2011, 04:55 »
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Something about this whole thing just doesn't sound and feel right. Much like someone is having one's cake and eating it too.

It would be quite a clever way for two photographers to "split" the images like this in a way to circumvent iStockphoto's exclusivity policies. It just feels wrong, but if acceptable we all could potentially do that and reap the obvious benefits. We can just hand over copyright of whichever images we like to the wife, friend, mother whoever. Nah, it all smells well fishy too me.

PaulieWalnuts

  • On the Wrong Side of the Business
« Reply #13 on: January 16, 2011, 05:54 »
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I wondered if Daniel or Yuri agreed to be 'featured'?

As I was reading this I was thinking "it doesn't even seem like Daniel was involved". Seems kind of sneaky/awkward to showcase someone without even a quote or acknowledgment from them. John Lund has a lot more engaged approach.

Another thought on this is I can't see how he could have added 5,500 images without employees or outsourcing which would have taken a big chunk out of that six figure revenue.

And the $4 per download seems a bit high. I thought I remember seeing stats averaging closer to $2 or $3 at most.

ShadySue

« Reply #14 on: January 16, 2011, 05:58 »
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agree with what you've stated JoAnn. production quality is very clearly a factor if photogs have ambitions to make a living in microstock...I wondered if Daniel or Yuri agreed to be 'featured'?
Clearly not, when you read all the speculation in the article. I guess you don't need to agree to be featured in an 'editorial' article. He obviously wan't interviewed. At least it's 'admitted' speculation unlike most of the speculation-presented as fact stuff we usually read:
"From his blog we know..."
"It is unclear when he went exclusive"
"probably occurred as soon as he reached the 250"
"It is unclear how Daniel was able to get so many images accepted"
"Based on what other iStock exclusive photographers tell us ... he should have averaged at least $4.50 per download"
"We have no information as to what his expenses might have been"
"We also suspect that he employs significant staff in order"
"It is also unclear how much experience he had as a photographer before he started assisting Yuri."
"there are a number of things we dont know about Daniels experience"
"it certainly appears that many might have been shot..."
To be honest, it looks as though JP is 'outing' Daniel, not using him as an inspiration for aspiring microstockers. For the latter purpose, we'd need to know a lot of the things he speculates about. I'd want to know exactly the income/expenditure ratio, and how that works for tax etc to know what the bottom line was. Of course, it's highly unlikely any top flier would reveal that. But, hey, we need to know the profit and the profitability (is there still no-one who can explain to me why the latter is more important?) and how sustainable the model is?
Clearly his model is not one for more than a micro-percentage of aspirees - those who can be apprenticed to Yuri (or similar) and have the great good fortune that their mentor will let them use their set ups and models to further their own career. I'd imagine (If JP can speculate, so can I!) he has to pay Yuri a pretty penny for that privilege, eating further into profit/profitablitiy. Which of course helps Yuri's bottom line.
And if the intention was to 'out' Daniel, iStock clearly know about it and don't care. They have subsequently headhunted at least one contributer on an 'exclusive-lite' deal whereby they can sell their 'exclusive' images elsewhere, whereas the rest of us drones can't even send our rejected images RM without crawling for permission.
I've read about two other 'togs who shoot together, one exclusive to iStock, one independent - and wrote about it on iStock's forums.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2011, 06:30 by ShadySue »

PaulieWalnuts

  • On the Wrong Side of the Business
« Reply #15 on: January 16, 2011, 06:21 »
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To be honest, it looks as though JP is 'outing' Daniel, not using him as an inspiration for aspiring microstockers.

Good description for it. Seems kind of counterproductive to use this approach on the people you're trying to get to pay for your service.

« Reply #16 on: January 16, 2011, 06:42 »
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To be honest, it looks as though JP is 'outing' Daniel, not using him as an inspiration for aspiring microstockers.

Good description for it. Seems kind of counterproductive to use this approach on the people you're trying to get to pay for your service.

I took the blog post to read as an impressive story about how it is still possible to build up and earn a serious income from microstock - even for those 'late in the game'.  Regardless of how much cooperation or direction Danial has had from Yuri, he has still achieved very impressive levels with his portfolio and I am inspired by his work.  I certainly wouldn't have posted the article if I felt it was 'outing' Daniel, that is not what the blog is about ... to that end, I sent the article to Daniel before it was posted on the MicrostockGroup blog to get the OK from him.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2011, 06:46 by leaf »


PaulieWalnuts

  • On the Wrong Side of the Business
« Reply #17 on: January 16, 2011, 06:54 »
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To be honest, it looks as though JP is 'outing' Daniel, not using him as an inspiration for aspiring microstockers.

Good description for it. Seems kind of counterproductive to use this approach on the people you're trying to get to pay for your service.

I took the blog post to read as an impressive story about how it is still possible to build up and earn a serious income from microstock - even for those 'late in the game'.  Regardless of how much cooperation or direction Danial has had from Yuri, he has still achieved very impressive levels with his portfolio and I am inspired by his work.  I certainly wouldn't have posted the article if I felt it was 'outing' Daniel, that is not what the blog is about ... to that end, I sent the article to Daniel before it was posted on the MicrostockGroup blog to get the OK from him.

I don't think anyone was questioning you posting the article and it doesn't surprise me that you got approval. You're that kind of person and have good credibility.

Still can't say I like the approach of the original article. Seems I'm not alone.

Regardless, I'd agree that what Daniel has accomplished and his work is pretty impressive.

CarlssonInc

« Reply #18 on: January 16, 2011, 07:04 »
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When something doesn't sound or feel right it usually isn't. I hope I'm wrong.

By the sound of things it all goes against the "spirit" of exclusivity at iStockphoto as they share locations, models, props, equipment, assistants and other staff. It would all be so easy to have the cake and eat it too i.e. "we put these images exclusively with istock under your name, and these images everywhere under my name".... Yuri might be a very generous person, but also business-savvy, hence I'm sceptical that someone would want a DIRECT competitor under the same roof, maybe not even a competitor, close to copy-cat - same style, same locations, same models, same props, same equipment used etc. I does raise a lot of questions. Also if trained by Yuri and having access to all of Yuri's research which made him take the decision of being independent, why then go exclusive? It would be very tempting to let the 2nd photographer remain on the payroll...use his name for copyright reasons and therefore be able to go exlusive and still let the royalties earned go to me - thus having said cake and eating it too... But of course this is just hypothetical, my own suspicions and hopefully I am COMPLETELY wrong...

Haven't spent any time thoroughly checking their portfolios against eachother, but what about sistering and similars?

« Reply #19 on: January 16, 2011, 07:22 »
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I think people are jumping to a lot of conclusions here.

I have done group shoots with other microstock photographers, where we shared models and locations.  I hardly see a problem with this and it makes perfect business sense.

In regards to exclusivity, Yuri has recommended exclusivity for quite a while now.  I remember back in early 2009 at UGCX in San Jose, when asked if starting microstock now, would Yuri go exclusive or non exclusive - he answer he would go exclusive.

CarlssonInc

« Reply #20 on: January 16, 2011, 08:19 »
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The rules of exclusivity just seem a bit "bendier" for some than others in my opinion. My wife shoots too, we share locations, models, props, equipment, ideas, style, all the income goes to the same pot and we share expenses. To not put all eggs in the same basket should we let one of us be exclusive and the other one independent? Nah, it just wouldn't be right and if I'm not completely wrong against the "spirit" of exclusivity at iStock.

In the same way me and my wife are too closely connected for one of us to be exclusive and the other one independent, the same way I perceive Yuri's and Daniel's relationship. Not saying that they are married, but too close for comfort. Am I really the only one thinking that this is, sound and feels wrong? Is the road really wide open to interpret iStock's rules like this, is this something we all should and could do? It all comes across as a way of circumventing the rules of exclusivity, whether this technically would be allowed (is it?) and just doesn't sit right with me.

If I remember correctly there has also been incidents where the same method has been used at iStock to have multiple accounts, thereby getting more upload slots.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2011, 08:23 by CarlssonInc. Stock Imagery Production »

« Reply #21 on: January 16, 2011, 08:30 »
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No, it is wrong, and against what exclusivity is supposed to mean.  It's supposed to create a unique selling point to draw buyers to IS (or the Getty family).  If the two shooters are at the same shoot, using the same models, etc., regardless of the silly "I've been to group shoot and all the shots are different!" notion, then essentially, they are spreading the same work around, one reaping exclusive benefits, and one the benefit of multiple agencies.  Especially here, where laflor is pretty much a carbon copy of yuri.  If I was running an Agency, we'd have none of this nonsense.  People destroying my USP would be out on the sidewalk.

Not that they aren't both nice guys, at least in their postings.  And the article is just observational guess work (admittedly), with neither being interviewed.  ( Oh, thanks for the mention :P )  However, none of it is a surprise.  Anyone can see that you could mix the two ports together and you wouldn't be able to pick any shot from any other, because of the same models and everything.

Other issue is Jim trying to come up with material for his paying audience, trying to convince even more competition to step into the ring.  Thanks for that too.

CarlssonInc

« Reply #22 on: January 16, 2011, 08:37 »
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No, it is wrong, and against what exclusivity is supposed to mean.  It's supposed to create a unique selling point to draw buyers to IS (or the Getty family).  If the two shooters are at the same shoot, using the same models, etc., regardless of the silly "I've been to group shoot and all the shots are different!" notion, then essentially, they are spreading the same work around, one reaping exclusive benefits, and one the benefit of multiple agencies.  Especially here, where laflor is pretty much a carbon copy of yuri.  If I was running an Agency, we'd have none of this nonsense.  People destroying my USP would be out on the sidewalk.

Not that they aren't both nice guys, at least in their postings.  And the article is just observational guess work (admittedly), with neither being interviewed.  ( Oh, thanks for the mention :P )  However, none of it is a surprise.  Anyone can see that you could mix the two ports together and you wouldn't be able to pick any shot from any other, because of the same models and everything.

Other issue is Jim trying to come up with material for his paying audience, trying to convince even more competition to step into the ring.  Thanks for that too.

Thanks Sean! Finally, I'm not the only one feeling that this is just plain wrong and smell fishy! Would be interesting what the powers at iStock think of this. If they are fine with it, then we all know what is available to us, if not then take appropriate measures. At the moment the playing field ain't level.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2011, 08:40 by CarlssonInc. Stock Imagery Production »

« Reply #23 on: January 16, 2011, 08:43 »
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My memory is a bit fuzzy, but I believe Yuri's girlfriend was cut from IS a few years ago for doing the same thing.

Kudos to you for staying above the fray.

ShadySue

« Reply #24 on: January 16, 2011, 09:01 »
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I'm pretty sure Yuri said in his blog at one point that you shouldn't sign up for an agency that was paying less than 40%. You should contact them directly and lay down your terms.
Of course if I did this, they would laugh all the way to the email delete button, but if Yuri does it, they'd need to sit up and take notice.
So they could either cut Yuri a private deal, that none of us would ever know about. But it couldn't include unlimited uploading, or we'd notice.
So, hey, a nice compromise. And although it may be against the 'spirit' of exclusivity, it's not against the letter.
And how much of the 'spirit' of iStock is left? So only the letter can guide us - but their letters, as I've often said  before, are ambiguous and obfuscatory - probably deliberately so, to leave themeselves, if not us, some 'wiggle room'.
And yes, the above is all pure speculation, just like JP's article.
This post comes to you from someone previously so neurotic about breaching exclusivity 'spirit' that I made my poor husband take a non-stocky image that I wanted to put onto a particular Flickr stream as it was a very unusual natural history photo relevant to that stream, but I wasn't sure that exclusives could post on Flickr (seems we can, under restrictions). So he, the non-photographer, has a Flickr account with one photo. And no, I didn't 'set up' the photo other than giving him my camera and lens and asking him to take it.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2011, 09:17 by ShadySue »


 

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