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Author Topic: Quality of stock photo  (Read 1575 times)

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« on: March 07, 2021, 17:24 »
+1
Hello:

I am preparing an article about stock photography.  Those of you who have been in this business for a number of years, do you agree that

-over the years, the quality of stock photo increased tremendously

-Prices and commissions decreased dramatically and out of the millions of stock photographers, very few make a living from stock photography and those who do have highly specialised portfolios

-Would you advise a young photographer to join the industry?

Thank you for your feedback



ShadySue

  • There is a crack in everything
« Reply #1 on: March 07, 2021, 17:40 »
+1
Hello:

I am preparing an article about stock photography.  Those of you who have been in this business for a number of years, do you agree that

-over the years, the quality of stock photo increased tremendously

-Prices and commissions decreased dramatically and out of the millions of stock photographers, very few make a living from stock photography and those who do have highly specialised portfolios

-Would you advise a young photographer to join the industry?

Thank you for your feedback

Quality: Was high to begin with, got higher, but in very restricted ways, for a while, now inspections are either less strict (iStock may well reject only on IP issues for photos) or randomly variable.
Prices & commissions decreased dramatically: Yes, plus vast increase ('democratisation') of photographers means an ever-shrinking share of the shrinking pie.
Advice: No, and especially not if they need it as their main income, or a substantial proportion of their income. Unless as you hint at they have a niche which requires specialist knowledge, equipment or access (so it can't be copied) AND is highly desireable and likely to stay so in the future. I'd recommend they try to get into a specialist macro agency.

« Reply #2 on: March 08, 2021, 03:45 »
+2
The quality is higher in the sense that because of the sheer increase in volume more quality images can be found. In absolute terms the average quality of images has plummeted.

I would advise against viewing it as anything more than a potential side line when their main business of being a photographer is slack. I would advise them to work hard on their people/networking skills as much as photography. Its not technically difficult these dys to produce decent quality images. Marketing yourself is. The money is in Face to Face and "experiences" (post covid). If you are good with people teaching/workshops/events is where the money is. Thinking of yourself as "a stock photographer" narrows the options to one with a limited future.


« Reply #3 on: March 08, 2021, 03:51 »
+1
The quality is higher in the sense that because of the sheer increase in volume more quality images can be found. In absolute terms the average quality of images has plummeted.

Absolutely agree with this. More contributors mean more  potential high quality contributors that submit good content. But it also means more images of really poor quality. I see so many photos on stock agencies where I don't even understand how they were ever approved. I would even go as far as to say that percentage-wise the amount of poor quality images outpasses the amount of good quality images, simply because nowadays everyone can snap a photo with a cell phone, so more people who have no idea what they are doing submit photos (Not saying that a photo taken with a phone has to be bad, just that the means to take a photo have become easily available to everyone)
« Last Edit: March 08, 2021, 07:49 by Firn »

« Reply #4 on: March 08, 2021, 04:46 »
+2

-over the years, the quality of stock photo increased tremendously


I wouldnt say over the years. I would say quality increased rapidly the first couple of years, starting from only snapshots. As the pros saw the potential and some of the people that started as amateurs upped their game. There's a greater volume of high quality images mass produced by studios now, there's still a lot of trash too though.

-Prices and commissions decreased dramatically and out of the millions of stock photographers, very few make a living from stock photography...

Depends what you mean. There's a LOT of anecdotal nonsense spouted about RPD. Theres this idea that Microstock has been a race to the bottom since day one. Truth is RPD increased from ZERO when IStock started then to 25c and on up for many years. Heres a breakdown from my numbers across some of the agencies I can easily track with my software. For context I was getting roughly 70000 dls per year from 2007 and am now getting somewhere in the 200,000 range/ year.

SS RPD increased from 2006-2017 then stagnated and has fallen since then. The most rapid decline being after the new system was just bought in.

IS RPD increased rapidly from 2006 to 2009 then a massive 50% drop 2009-2010 with continuing decline until 2016. Very slight increase since then.

FL/AS RPD bounces around quite a lot year to year.

DT RPD been dropping since 2015 (bug in my stats package means I cant comment on RPD before that)

EDIT logged in checked my DT stats direct as I was curious. Looks like RPD increased from 2006 until it peaked early 2012, bounced around until 2014 then has been pretty much declining.

123RF RPD increasing steadily since 2006 with a small drop in 2017 until this year when there has been a big drop

BS steady increase from 2006 to 2012, HUGE drop 2012 (for those not on bridge)

This is all relative though so for example DT has been dropping shouldnt be a reason not to upload there. DT still has the best RPD of all the major sites!

In absolute terms DP is the absolute worst even for those on higher tiers. Followed by BS, then IS and now SS (also now v. bad).

AS and DT IMHO is where peoples efforts should be. I stopped giving new content to the sites that  pulled the rug out from under us with regards to RPD.

But... the real problem is with RPI which is down 7Xish when you include IStock or 4Xish when you exclude IStock (because of Istocks huge drop in overall revenue per image).

...and those who do have highly specialised portfolios

Yeah, no. These are unicorns. The people making a living are churning out generic images of what evers in vogue at a rate large enough to offset the drops due to library size and increased competition. If you come up with an original niche it will be cannibalised as soon as you sell enough for that niche to be significantly profitable. Its not sustainable. You dont see these factory people posting here because they arent really photographers any more than someone who runs a factory in China producing alabaster statues for the tourist industry is a sculptor.

-Would you advise a young photographer to join the industry?

Absolutely NOT. I have made a 7 figure sum in this industry but it took sacrificing way too much of my time even when conditions were much more favourable than now. Theres more chance of making it buying scratch cards than starting out in this space now. I work non-stop to maintain my earnings. It just isnt possible to see significant growth past a very low level with RPI where it is. Production is shifting and has already shifted to countries where cost of living is much lower and agencies are still looking for ways to cut our earnings below even that level.

Now youve made me sad. I was thinking about an alternative universe where Shutterstock continued to improve the lot of creatives by introducing image exclusivity when they couldnt keep increasing RPD in 2017/2018. Instead here we are with their All The Best Artists" nonsense. Well actually all the best artist in micro are at least also at the better paying sites and several of them are only on those sites, like Adobe Stock and Dreamstime.  Sad

Aplogies for the length of my post
« Last Edit: March 08, 2021, 07:04 by Justanotherphotographer »

Uncle Pete

  • Great Place by a Great Lake - My Home Port
« Reply #5 on: March 08, 2021, 10:24 »
0
Aplogies for the length of my post

Accepted Remember who posted that...

Hello:

I am preparing an article about stock photography.  Those of you who have been in this business for a number of years, do you agree that

-over the years, the quality of stock photo increased tremendously

-Prices and commissions decreased dramatically and out of the millions of stock photographers, very few make a living from stock photography and those who do have highly specialised portfolios

-Would you advise a young photographer to join the industry?

Thank you for your feedback



Many artists equipment, quality, technique, skills and overall standards have increased. Demands from the agencies have decreased. The agencies don't seem to hold us to higher standards like they used to. Also as a separate area of that, taking cell phone photos has diminished the overall quality, so those contributors are not as high quality as the old... and the agencies accept those.

Prices and commissions have decreased dramatically, anyone can have their own view of why. Just the facts, we get less for the same images and less for more time, investment and effort than in the past.

I would not advise ANYONE young or old, to get into Microstock.  ;) 

This was not supposed to be a way to earn a living wage. The artists created that myth and dream. If there was anything potentially in the earlier years, that growth is gone, the rewards are still falling, the earnings are smaller and smaller. If someone sees this as a way to build long term residual income, they are blind.

If anyone has any basic business sense, Microstock is not a sensible way to make money, and no one should have any expectations that they are going to be different from the other hundreds of thousands of people taking photos, making video or flying a drone.

Just like many other creative pursuits, a very select small group are at the top and make a living and produce good work that earns well. These people possibly number in the hundreds, while those hoping to be as good are probably in the millions. While nothing is impossible and someone new could make it, the reality is Most Do Not!

Starving artists isn't just a cliche term, it's the way the world has been forever. Most arts and artists find it's not easy to get to the top and not well paying on the way up.

NO Find something else that is new and has some growth potential.

« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2021, 13:15 »
0
I really appreciate the feedback received so far, keep it coming.   It confirms my bias -  I think that to make money from stock photography one would be well-advised to buy shares.  Dividends for shareholders are more generous than commissions for photographers.   When I started ten years ago, the figure old timers would cite was one dollar of return for each photo per year.  A portfolio of 1000 high quality photos would yield about 1 thousand dollars per year.  I think that in today's market, it is about ten cents per year and the same quality portfolio of 1000 returns $100 per annum.     


Hello:

I am preparing an article about stock photography.  Those of you who have been in this business for a number of years, do you agree that

-over the years, the quality of stock photo increased tremendously

-Prices and commissions decreased dramatically and out of the millions of stock photographers, very few make a living from stock photography and those who do have highly specialised portfolios

-Would you advise a young photographer to join the industry?

Thank you for your feedback

« Reply #7 on: March 08, 2021, 14:07 »
+3
I really appreciate the feedback received so far, keep it coming.   It confirms my bias -  I think that to make money from stock photography one would be well-advised to buy shares.  Dividends for shareholders are more generous than commissions for photographers.   When I started ten years ago, the figure old timers would cite was one dollar of return for each photo per year.  A portfolio of 1000 high quality photos would yield about 1 thousand dollars per year.  I think that in today's market, it is about ten cents per year and the same quality portfolio of 1000 returns $100 per annum.     


Hello:

I am preparing an article about stock photography.  Those of you who have been in this business for a number of years, do you agree that

-over the years, the quality of stock photo increased tremendously

-Prices and commissions decreased dramatically and out of the millions of stock photographers, very few make a living from stock photography and those who do have highly specialised portfolios

-Would you advise a young photographer to join the industry?

Thank you for your feedback
Buying shares now would be a big mistake in my opinion....I think they are very over valued. This isn't a growth industry and shares are priced as if it is.

« Reply #8 on: March 08, 2021, 15:47 »
0
Yes, Yes, NO!

« Reply #9 on: March 08, 2021, 16:25 »
0
1)Yes,
2)yes,
3)no.

all the best for your article! cheers

« Reply #10 on: March 08, 2021, 18:16 »
0

Buying shares now would be a big mistake in my opinion....I think they are very over valued. This isn't a growth industry and shares are priced as if it is.

If one wants to make big money now maybe one should be jumping on the NFT (non fungble token) bandwagon

PaulieWalnuts

  • We Have Exciting News For You
« Reply #11 on: March 09, 2021, 07:31 »
0
I really appreciate the feedback received so far, keep it coming.   It confirms my bias -  I think that to make money from stock photography one would be well-advised to buy shares.  Dividends for shareholders are more generous than commissions for photographers.   When I started ten years ago, the figure old timers would cite was one dollar of return for each photo per year.  A portfolio of 1000 high quality photos would yield about 1 thousand dollars per year.  I think that in today's market, it is about ten cents per year and the same quality portfolio of 1000 returns $100 per annum.     


Hello:

I am preparing an article about stock photography.  Those of you who have been in this business for a number of years, do you agree that

-over the years, the quality of stock photo increased tremendously

-Prices and commissions decreased dramatically and out of the millions of stock photographers, very few make a living from stock photography and those who do have highly specialised portfolios

-Would you advise a young photographer to join the industry?

Thank you for your feedback

  • Content quality has increased. Technical quality has decreased. When I first started 14 years ago the technical quality was very stringent including lists of acceptable DSLRs. Now low quality cell phone photos are fine.
  • Correct
  • No. And the reason I say this is profitability and continued decline. Collections are now massive with huge competition while these sites continue to decrease commissions. So it would be difficult to make a profit and even if you did it's likely to decline long term.

$1 per image per year used to be what beginners could expect. Top contributors were earning well over $12 per portfolio image per year and up to $60 PIPY. There's another post on here where a "top contributor" is earning about 50 cents PIPY from SS. If he's submitting to a dozen sites he may be at $.75-$1.00 PIPY total. That's a huge drop from the average ten years ago and still headed downward. And this is why I said no in #3. You'd be getting into this knowing the results won't be good long term. I'm sure a small fraction of people can be successful but for most people the gold rush is long over.

« Reply #12 on: March 09, 2021, 12:14 »
0
...Technical quality has decreased. When I first started 14 years ago the technical quality was very stringent including lists of acceptable DSLRs. Now low quality cell phone photos are fine. ...

'acceptable' dslrs has always been a silly criteria - alamy always had a banned list altho most of my early digitals (ca 2002-2006)were taken w a camera that used floppy disk storage! all the other agencies accepted these (and alamy often did too, which shows just how silly it was - technically images were fine and i suspect the rejects were from metadata.  sales were good

PaulieWalnuts

  • We Have Exciting News For You
« Reply #13 on: March 09, 2021, 12:39 »
0
...Technical quality has decreased. When I first started 14 years ago the technical quality was very stringent including lists of acceptable DSLRs. Now low quality cell phone photos are fine. ...

'acceptable' dslrs has always been a silly criteria - alamy always had a banned list altho most of my early digitals (ca 2002-2006)were taken w a camera that used floppy disk storage! all the other agencies accepted these (and alamy often did too, which shows just how silly it was - technically images were fine and i suspect the rejects were from metadata.  sales were good

Yeah I didn't really agree with the list method but it was their game their rules. Point being, they used to have strict rules for technical quality and don't anymore. Phones are fine. I have the iPhone 12 Pro Max and am underwhelmed by the new raw feature and overall image quality. It's still nowhere even close to the quality of the Nikon D50 I had fifteen years ago.

« Reply #14 on: March 09, 2021, 21:58 »
0
Quote
Would you advise a young photographer to join the industry?

Why not if you are young and have plenty of time to waste?

SpaceStockFootage

  • Space, Sci-Fi and Astronomy Related Stock Footage

« Reply #15 on: March 10, 2021, 00:30 »
0
I wouldn't specifically advise them against it... but I wouldn't encourage them to do it either. Best to explain how it works, but manage their expectations, so they can decide if they want to give it a go.

« Reply #16 on: March 10, 2021, 11:17 »
0
I wouldnt encourage anybody nowadays. Imagine the embarrassment when they ask how much you earn and you tell them 0.10c a piece! they will tell you to go and see a shrink!


SpaceStockFootage

  • Space, Sci-Fi and Astronomy Related Stock Footage

« Reply #17 on: March 10, 2021, 11:32 »
+1
Well Coca Cola probably don't make much more than 10 cent a piece, and they're not doing too bad for themselves. If they ask you how much you earn (and you're happy to tell them)... tell them how much you earn. They probably weren't all that interested in your net income per sale!

Uncle Pete

  • Great Place by a Great Lake - My Home Port
« Reply #18 on: March 10, 2021, 11:44 »
0
I wouldnt encourage anybody nowadays. Imagine the embarrassment when they ask how much you earn and you tell them 0.10c a piece! they will tell you to go and see a shrink!

I'd answer, I made (make up a round number which includes all downloads for the last day or two from all sites, combined) and skip the per image. Besides as much as someone would think I'm nuts for caring about 10 cents?

How about Getty just gave me some connect commission, it was less than a third of a cent. 0.02598, or the 28 last month for 0.00059  Oh but that's OK when the sales add up to 2 cents, they credit my account!  ::)

Don't mention agencies that go out of business or those that don't review unless you nudge them or the ones that don't pay without constant emails and threats. Professional? I used to laugh when people called Microstock a game. Now I think they saw the future.

« Reply #19 on: March 10, 2021, 12:13 »
0
1) Yes / No - technically there has been an improvement, relating to creativity its still the same like 10 years ago.
2) Yes / No - because ten years ago it was much harder to produce large amount, upload it and get it accepted.
Nowadays its not so difficult to produce 400 images a month, edit it and get 90% accepted at istock, shutterstock and AdobeStock..
3) It depends were you are living. If you are leaving in Russia and produce 5000+ images a year, i think its fine.


 

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