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Author Topic: Picture buyers panel confronts challenges  (Read 6757 times)

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PaulieWalnuts

  • On the Wrong Side of the Business
« on: August 25, 2010, 21:29 »
0
The Picture Buyers Fair in London had a buyer panel and podcast.

I normally don't sit through anything for an hour but hearing image buyers talk about how they think was enlightening.

The small panel probably doesn't represent buyer thinking as a whole but they bring up some topics that will confirm and also contradict a lot of the people's views here about what helps and hurts contributors. Here are some nuggets from the buyers:

- Same images on multiple websites at different price points devalues photography
- Buyers aren't driving prices down, flood of contributor images allows more negotiation (what???, isn't part of negotiation driving prices down?)

And this one was really good. A photographer told them they were contradicting themselves that they want higher quality images but are forcing prices down. One buyer responded they are worried about this because:

- There will come a point when publishers drive prices down too far which will push smaller agencies out of business. Supply and pricing will then be controlled by handful of larger agencies who will force prices back up and then the publishers will be at a disadvantage.

Poscast is at http://www.fastmediamagazine.com/blog/2010/08/24/panel-of-picture-buyers-confronts-challenges/


« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2010, 22:09 »
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opinions are like... Everybody's got one and they all stink.  ;D

PaulieWalnuts

  • On the Wrong Side of the Business
« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2010, 22:27 »
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Even though this is a random handful of buyers I tend to pay a little more attention to image buyers opinions.

It would be nice if there was a formal study done on a large number of image buyers to see what the top trends and issues are.

red

« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2010, 23:30 »
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Interesting, these are some of the points that were made and some of the same points often discussed here. The 3 buyers in this discussion were from different types of companies - fashion, magazine and book publishing. The podcast is worth listening to -

-fashion and magazine buyers want quality, book publishers want cheap
-fashion buyer thought microstock people pics were cheesy
-book publishers have low budgets, don't want extra cost for use for other platforms
-book publishers love microstock
-book publisher on panel downloaded 7,500 images in 6 months from shutterstock
-didn't know about "free" images or may use flickr for free images since those contacted via flickr will be happy to give their images away
-don't care if image is RF or RM, will only use an image once, just want one price
-will pay more if image is exclusive
-like specialty agencies with fewer pics
-fashion/magazine buyers will only pay 20 to 50 pounds per image, don't want bother of different types of licenses
-large buyers expect discounts
-rights-ready is confusing
-think agencies should cull their collections and not accept everything, too much out there to wade through
-don't like google images but can see how it might evolve
-don't want one or two big sites, they will never be able to find anything and then prices will increase
-they acknowledge that as lower prices are sought, quality suffers
-book publisher is not as concerned with quality if image serves purpose
-industry is forcing photographers out, can't compete with prices so low, production costs high
-digital technology has brought production costs down
-same images on different sites at different prices is devaluing photography and gives agencies bad rep
-photogs are driving down their own prices especially if their images can be purchased at different prices on different sites and/or with a subscription
-new crop of buyers today may not know where to look or what to get, need training on what a good image is with no attention to quality
-flood of imagery gives ability to negotiate, drive prices down
-want metadata on lo res because they download comps to present and they do not use lightboxes
« Last Edit: August 25, 2010, 23:34 by cuppacoffee »

PaulieWalnuts

  • On the Wrong Side of the Business
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2010, 00:25 »
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Great notes summary!

lagereek

« Reply #5 on: August 26, 2010, 00:53 »
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Same old tea cups philosophy.

« Reply #6 on: August 26, 2010, 02:17 »
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-same images on different sites at different prices is devaluing photography and gives agencies bad rep
I hope alamy listen to it, might be too late for them now but I still think they should have a separate microstock section.

« Reply #7 on: August 26, 2010, 04:23 »
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Interesting list Cuppa __ thanks for providing it.

I didn't quite understand how the book publisher managed to 'download 7000 images in 6 months' as that works out at 41 images per day ( assuming 7 days a week). I guess they could have had 2 subscriptions running together. I wonder how many of those images will ever actually be published though?

« Reply #8 on: August 26, 2010, 05:40 »
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-fashion buyer thought microstock people pics were cheesy


Funny - I think most "fashion" pics are terrible.
http://www.benjaminkanarekblog.com/2010/06/26/fly-moon-harpers-bazaar-china/

« Reply #9 on: August 26, 2010, 05:57 »
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-fashion buyer thought microstock people pics were cheesy


Funny - I think most "fashion" pics are terrible.
http://www.benjaminkanarekblog.com/2010/06/26/fly-moon-harpers-bazaar-china/

I'd agree. I suppose a great many microstock images are 'cheesy' in that almost by definition they are horrifically cliched and lacking sublety. But that's simply the market speaking because contributors tend to produce what is proven to sell and the default search orders reflect the buying habits. If buyers choose to download 'cheesy images' by the bucketload, which they do, then that's what they will be mainly presented with. If they didn't then they wouldn't. Ultimately it is the buyers that steer both the producers of images and the search engines.

« Reply #10 on: August 26, 2010, 06:03 »
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they are horrifically cliched and lacking sublety. But that's simply the market speaking because contributors tend to produce what is proven to sell and the default search orders reflect the buying habits.

And it's partly also becayuse "shiny happy images" gets more easily accepted...

« Reply #11 on: August 26, 2010, 06:30 »
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It is interesting getting the buyers perspective.  I wonder if they understand how little commission we make from some sites?  They will continue to want higher quality and lower prices and we will want to get paid a reasonable amount.  If buyers and contributors got together, that might be achievable.  While we only make 20%-50% commission, that doesn't seem possible.

I hope one day that someone comes up with a successful way to sell images without having to pay so much for an agency.

« Reply #12 on: August 26, 2010, 07:21 »
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-same images on different sites at different prices is devaluing photography and gives agencies bad rep

Similar quality images of the same subject on different sites at different price points undermines prices ("devalues photography" is utter nonsense, the value of photography itself is not defined by cash prices). It doesn't matter whether they are the same photo or different photos. Imagine "girl with headset" on Alamy. Is the value of that image affected if it is at other sites or not? Obviously not, because there are a billion cheap similars available wherever you go.

I don't post editorial photos on the micros now because that clearly devalues the one market that Alamy and the others have been able to maintain a grip on. Editorial sales are too low on the micros for it to be worth the photographer's while sending them in so the volume sales argument doesn't apply. For editorial, use Alamy.

It probably is correct that the agency's reputation gets damaged if a client finds an expensive photo is available elsewhere for pennies, but that is different from "devaluing photography". 

Also, some people like paying more for the same thing. It makes them feel good, especially if they put a % mark-up on the clients bill.

red

« Reply #13 on: August 26, 2010, 07:33 »
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Another thing that was mentioned by one of the participants - they are beginning to use PicScout to find out if they can get an image cheaper elsewhere. I thought it was too slow and cumbersome but it appears that big buying houses may be training their people to look for "bargains". If you listen to the podcast the 2 "higher end" buyers went on and on at the beginning about how they want quality images and will pay for them, then at the end said they will only pay 20 to 60 pounds per image. That's not a high price for what they purport to say they want. They did admit that because of this they might be a major force in bringing down prices to the detriment of the industry. One participant even mentioned that today "anyone with a digital camera" could provide usable content.

They also didn't like it when agencies combined or were bought out by larger entities. They said that made it harder to find what they wanted, more images to wade through and they lost all past search history when this was done. They professed no love for Getty.

Yes, this was only 3 buyers from the UK but some of their comments seem to be universal from both the buyer's and seller's perspective and shouldn't totally be discounted. Time will tell.
« Last Edit: August 26, 2010, 07:42 by cuppacoffee »

PaulieWalnuts

  • On the Wrong Side of the Business
« Reply #14 on: August 26, 2010, 08:00 »
0
Now I can see why agencies do some of the things they do.  Like negotiations. All three buyers seemed unanimous that negotiation is a normal "part of the game" and they will negotiate hard and every time they buy. They're always searching multiple agencies at the same time. Any agency that doesn't budge or insists on list price is immediately excluded and they go elsewhere or even directly to the photographer.

I also found it interesting that they all seemed to prefer smaller boutique agencies where they know they can get specific types of images. Which kind of ties into the recent marketing thread. If you had a site or collection with a large quantity of highly specialized images buyers may like this and pay more. But it would require a lot of marketing to build buyer awareness and they expect top notch customer serivce and a lot of handholding.

It would have been nice if they had been more clear on what they meant by quality and exclusive.

« Reply #15 on: August 26, 2010, 08:30 »
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"Quality" is anything. "Exclusive" almost certainly means the right to exclusive use of the image in a given territory for a certain time, so a rival cannot come out with  the same image.

From the summary, it seems to me that what they are really saying is they want every possible benefit of top quality and exclusive rights at virtually no cost. Hardly surprising but not very encouraging for us.

« Reply #16 on: August 26, 2010, 09:52 »
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It would be nice if there was a formal study done on a large number of image buyers to see what the top trends and issues are.
Photoshelter published a report on buyers' online habits (500 buyers) about a year ago. You have to sign up with Photoshelter (free) to be able to download it. Amongst other things, it contained very valuable info about webdesign to bring your bounce ratio down.


« Reply #17 on: August 26, 2010, 13:48 »
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-fashion buyer thought microstock people pics were cheesy


Funny - I think most "fashion" pics are terrible.
http://www.benjaminkanarekblog.com/2010/06/26/fly-moon-harpers-bazaar-china/


Ha!ha! Well done. Even you see now on fashion magazine lots of on camera flash with ugly shadows that would not make IStock reveiw. But is done by designers with quality of phonecam. If not, it mostly oversaturation and is call new style photography glamour.
It same copy style of soft porn . All bad focus . But for soft porn no one is looking for composition except eyes on
vital parts. h@ha!

ShadySue

« Reply #18 on: August 26, 2010, 14:30 »
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It same copy style of soft porn . All bad focus.

If soft porn was sharp it would fall foul of the Trades Description Act.

lisafx

« Reply #19 on: August 26, 2010, 14:40 »
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This is really very interesting to know.  Thanks Paulie and Cuppa for posting about it, and for the excellent summary.  

Unfortunately, the following did not surprise me:

If you listen to the podcast the 2 "higher end" buyers went on and on at the beginning about how they want quality images and will pay for them, then at the end said they will only pay 20 to 60 pounds per image. That's not a high price for what they purport to say they want. They did admit that because of this they might be a major force in bringing down prices to the detriment of the industry.

« Reply #20 on: August 26, 2010, 14:53 »
0
This is really very interesting to know.  Thanks Paulie and Cuppa for posting about it, and for the excellent summary.  

Unfortunately, the following did not surprise me:

If you listen to the podcast the 2 "higher end" buyers went on and on at the beginning about how they want quality images and will pay for them, then at the end said they will only pay 20 to 60 pounds per image. That's not a high price for what they purport to say they want. They did admit that because of this they might be a major force in bringing down prices to the detriment of the industry.
I thought someone said they used sites that were much more expensive than Getty?  Perhaps I was dreaming ???

cmcderm1

  • Chad McDermott - Elite Image Photography
« Reply #21 on: August 26, 2010, 16:04 »
0
Great stuff - thanks for the legwork to summarize it.  Helpful insights.

- Chad

RacePhoto

« Reply #22 on: August 31, 2010, 01:48 »
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The Picture Buyers Fair in London had a buyer panel and podcast.


- Same images on multiple websites at different price points devalues photography
- Buyers aren't driving prices down, flood of contributor images allows more negotiation (what???, isn't part of negotiation driving prices down?)


Odd, I've been writing the same thing for three years and getting no response from anyone. Maybe it was the wording of only send your good files to the top sites and don't devalue your own work.  ;)

No matter which side anyone is on or how they want to lay blame for falling prices (even myself blaming photographers themselves for over saturation and shotgun distribution) in the end, agency price competition for clients is the cause. The buyers will go where they get the best deal, just like some people will shop for lower gasoline prices, before filling their tank. There may be some agency loyalty, but when you can get the same image for $5 one place and it's $15 at another, it doesn't take long for that loyalty to fade.

The quality of a collection is another important factor, but if all agencies have essentially all the same images, it's all about price. But image selection and quality is a good point for some agency looking to capture a solid position in the market. IS is on track with that and Vetta. SS isn't going to be going that way, unless they completely overhaul BigStock for that selection. What have they got to lose? All the same images already, prices that are about the same, they are just competing with themselves under two names. There is some potential if they decide to hit the higher end market.

Sorry but that's about all I see for the top two micro players. The rest are mass marketing micro and will always be volume micro, selling generic micro images, nothing else.


 

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