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Author Topic: Stock Artists Alliance Closes Doors  (Read 10892 times)

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PaulieWalnuts

  • We Have Good New For You
« on: March 23, 2011, 06:22 »
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« Reply #1 on: March 23, 2011, 06:26 »
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No, they were only ever interested in the traditional stock photographers.

PaulieWalnuts

  • We Have Good New For You
« Reply #2 on: March 23, 2011, 06:36 »
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Given the growth of micro, decline of macro, and the buzz here about unions, seems there was/is an opportunity for an organization like this. Why only focus on a declining market and ignore change?

microstockphoto.co.uk

« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2011, 06:48 »
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they don't even dare to call our name

guess who are the "tremendous competitive pressures"?  :)
« Last Edit: March 23, 2011, 06:52 by microstockphoto.co.uk »

PaulieWalnuts

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« Reply #4 on: March 23, 2011, 06:52 »
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Were they anti-micro? Or just focused on macro?

microstockphoto.co.uk

« Reply #5 on: March 23, 2011, 06:59 »
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Not sure. I remember visiting a site of an association which was definitely against microstock (they said they could not represent photographers involved in microstock) but maybe it's not them, I can't remember exactly.

jbarber873

« Reply #6 on: March 23, 2011, 07:48 »
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  A few years ago, there was a seminar at the PDN Photoplus show that , as I remember, had someone involved with SAA as a speaker. ( I could be "misremembering" ). The other speakers were all in the "selling something to the photographers camp"- put your website here, use this license agreement, etc  (A photoplus tradtion). The takeaway from that seminar was that traditional stock was under attack from an  unnamed enemy . Someone brought up microstock,  and the presenters all said they wouldn't even discuss the subject. It was a real head in the sand moment. Their advice to traditional photographers was to cut the costs of their photoshoots, and find a niche to exploit. The star example was some guy who only shoots underwater images. It was all very sad, with a lot of complaining and not any real ideas of what to do. It was basically a " we want things to be the way it used to be" seminar. Of course, there's been a lot of that around here lately, too.

RT


« Reply #7 on: March 23, 2011, 08:57 »
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They were an organisation with no powers who didn't understand the industry - so who cares

« Reply #8 on: March 23, 2011, 09:01 »
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I found this doing a google search:

http://www.microstockgroup.com/general-stock-discussion/the-birth-of-saa-%28stock-artists-alliance%29/10/?wap2

Here's their answer, from that thread:

Quote
leaf:
I wrote to Shanon Fagan, the president of the SAA to ask if SAA had an official stance on microstock photographers joining.  This is what he replied and allowed me to quote him here.

Quote

The SAA Board has discussed the changes in the industry, and microstock is right up there on the agenda. Your readers are asking good questions, so let me try to provide some answers and perspective.

The SAA has no official policy excluding photographers on the basis that they shoot microstock.  The only basis for membership is that the candidate be a professional involved in professional photography, whether stock or assignment. We ask for credentials which could be a website, portfolio, client lists, distributor contracts, etc.  We are an association of professionals, not hobbyists, and our membership policy is designed to maintain that distinction.

Defining professional can be more or less difficult to define, as with the influx of Web 2.0 participants to many fields, defining professional is just as hard as defining who's serious?  :)  Indeed many involved in microstock are clearly both serious and professional, and on the traditional realm we have many participants who skirt only occasional stock submissions just like you see in micro.

A practical issue at hand right now is that the SAA simply does not have the resources to expand our already busy advocacy role and education to an entirely new set of contracts, shoot methodology, and general support as would be needed for the micro end of the market.  While industry buzz is much about micro, and it is without a doubt gaining share, the majority (80-90% by current estimates) of stock revenues continue to be generated by traditional licenses.  Our priority must be to serve the business interests and needs of our current membership.

What I've observed is that the most serious and involved micro photographers have a tendency to participate only in micro, and the same goes for the traditional side of the market too.  Until there's more overlap, and convergence, it's likely that the SAA's emphasis will remain as is.  This may, indeed, change if and when more photographers with significant businesses in microstock begin joining the Stock Artists Alliance.   

At the present time, I'd say there's a genuine advantage to micro photographers to learn about and get to know the traditional side of the business.  That expertise is what the SAA provides to emerging pros (in both micro and traditional), and assignment photographers interested in stock.

This is a wealth of information and the SAA is the only trade organization devoted to providing it on a continual and updated basis.  The SAA is committed to being contemporary in the respects of where our market is headed.  A few years back, we expanded our missions from RM to all professional stock licensing.  This association, like our industry, is ever evolving.

We invite your feedback, your readers' input, and the start of an exciting dialogue!

Shannon Fagan

President
Stock Artists Alliance
www.stockartistsalliance.org


It sounds like a catch 22.  SAA can't begin to get involved in the microstock industry if there are no microstock members. And from what I hear hear in this thread, microstock photographers aren't interested in joining if is geared towards traditional photography.

I think SAA is a good organization and would like to see it represent both micro and macro... It appears that there is nothing in the way for that to happen except for the biases of us photographers.

helix7

« Reply #9 on: March 23, 2011, 09:57 »
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Were they anti-micro? Or just focused on macro?

Anti-micro.

From their website:

Quote
Are we missing something? It may be exciting to see your image in print, but after the initial thrill is gone, whats so great about giving your image away to a major corporation for a buck? (Actually, the photographers share is only 20 cents.) This must be why these companies are being referred to as micropayment agencies.

For the stock web site owner, a dollar a download can add up to millions. To an advertiser, a dollar an image is a giveaway. But for the photographer, is this any way to build a business?

Not even accurate info. I contacted Betsy Reid about this a couple years back, and she definitely came across as very much anti-microstock. When she stepped down and Shanon took over, it seemed like Shanon might be more receptive to microstock members. But the anti-micro stuff they've kept on their website to this day suggests otherwise.

Good riddance that they're gone. No need for an agency that represents artists when the agency isn't interested in what the artists are doing and where the industry is headed.

« Reply #10 on: March 23, 2011, 10:31 »
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Completely out of touch and completely anti micro. Very arrogant whenever you came across them on the internet.

They could have easily survived by targeting the successful new photographers, but they were too interested in protecting their little club...

The succsessful artists had long included micro anyway.

« Reply #11 on: March 23, 2011, 10:34 »
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Were they anti-micro? Or just focused on macro?

They were Very Anti-micro and closed minded.

« Reply #12 on: March 23, 2011, 11:27 »
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Here is PDN pulse's summary.

The comment about SAA's founding was that it was to advocate for photographers and against Getty trying impose less favorable terms. Sounds like a familiar theme, no?

Unfortunately it seems they couldn't figure out how to navigate the many competing interests of their memebers. There's some=http://old.nabble.com/Getty-Premium-Access-lawsuit-td21105696.html rambling back and forth here over why RM photographers left SAA when they found - horrors - that SAA was supporting royalty free as a business model.

They got involved in fighting Getty's introduction of the $49 web use of RM images.

As far as I can tell Getty has just steamrollered through and keeps on cutting. Seems the approach they took - mostly saying "no" to things - just doesn't work. What we could use is an organization that ensured that whatever money Getty makes, photographers get a fair share of it. Getty just keeps increasing its share of the pie instead of growing the pie as a way to increase its revenues.

And this article, Turkeys Vote for Christmas, is very funny about the SAA and RF, including microstock RF. Such lovely digs as:

 "Best of all however was the claim that by allowing RF photographers to join, the SAA would suddenly have Getty Images, their bte noir, quaking in their corporate boots. Zut alors! would be Gettys reaction. The SAA isnt just a grumpy minority of our RM contributors: they represent everyone! You can just see Jonathan Klein clambering onto the ledge now, cant you?"

and about microstock members:

"On what basis would the SAA face control decide the status of, for example, Lise Gagne? For those who dont know her, Lise is the worlds first crowdsourcing photography star. As one of the most successful iStock photographers shes one of their poster children. That same token makes her a figure of such extreme dislike within the SAA that its been claimed that she may have been secretly funded and promoted, even that she doesnt actually exist, but is merely an iStock marketing fiction."
« Last Edit: March 23, 2011, 11:38 by jsnover »

lisafx

« Reply #13 on: March 23, 2011, 11:28 »
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What a pathetic shame.  There is such a need right now for an alliance of some sort to represent contributors as the agencies squeeze us harder and harder.  SAA could have been that agency if they had only been more forward thinking and open minded.  

So now we have the one organization designed to advocate for stock photographers closed and still nobody to represent microstock contributors.  

Nobody wins here except the agencies, who can continue unchecked in their greed.

(BTW, not including all agencies here, so please don't take offense unless the word "greed" directly applies to yours. )

« Reply #14 on: March 23, 2011, 12:27 »
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wow.  doesn't seem like a great loss for us.  Perhaps their closing has created an opportunity?

jbarber873

« Reply #15 on: March 23, 2011, 13:38 »
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   This reminds me of when the APA ( Advertising Photographers of America) first started. I went to a meeting to see what it was about, and there were a bunch of big name photographers there ( who will go unnamed ;) ). They all told us that we should not compromise on day rates and stick to a certain pricing level. The next week, one of those very same photographers underbid me on a job by 50%. I've never joined any of these groups, because someone always has an agenda, and it's usually about what's good for them, not you. SAA and the traditional agencies have always been a little club, and the biggest problem has always been that they are more interested in keeping competition out than seeing where the business was going. I wish things were they way they used to be, but the reason I'm still in business is that I accept the way things are...

« Reply #16 on: March 23, 2011, 13:43 »
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I believe with the transparaency the internet has created a lot of what these interest groups used to do isnt needed anymore. Everyone can use their own brain to think, we can all share information and when a storm cloud of angry contributors and buyers descends on an agency they will react.

The internet has also created great business opportunities for digital artists, we are much better off than anyone who has to find his clients locally. With a good website and good online marketing it is possible to attract business in your chosen niche from across the globe.

A central represantation would be a nice idea, but I think this forum is already doing a great, if not much better job, than if there was any kind of union.

thank you leaf!


« Reply #17 on: March 23, 2011, 13:51 »
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I believe with the transparaency the internet has created a lot of what these interest groups used to do isnt needed anymore. Everyone can use their own brain to think, we can all share information and when a storm cloud of angry contributors and buyers descends on an agency they will react.

The internet has also created great business opportunities for digital artists, we are much better off than anyone who has to find his clients locally. With a good website and good online marketing it is possible to attract business in your chosen niche from across the globe.

A central represantation would be a nice idea, but I think this forum is already doing a great, if not much better job, than if there was any kind of union.

thank you leaf!

+1 on all your points.

lisafx

« Reply #18 on: March 23, 2011, 15:29 »
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I believe with the transparaency the internet has created a lot of what these interest groups used to do isnt needed anymore. Everyone can use their own brain to think, we can all share information and when a storm cloud of angry contributors and buyers descends on an agency they will react.


Jasmin, as you know, I have a world of respect for you, but I will have to disagree here. 

What good has the storm cloud of angry contributors and buyers done at Istock lately?  Despite all the shared information, the anger and unrest in the past year, royalties have still been cut repeatedly as prices are raised, we have been charged for the theft of our intellectual property, and the site functionality is a shambles. 

Our anger and frustration is useless if we aren't able to unite and negotiate better terms for ourselves.  There is definitely a need for some sort of association to represent contributors IMO. 

« Reply #19 on: March 23, 2011, 16:43 »
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I believe with the transparaency the internet has created a lot of what these interest groups used to do isnt needed anymore. Everyone can use their own brain to think, we can all share information and when a storm cloud of angry contributors and buyers descends on an agency they will react.


Jasmin, as you know, I have a world of respect for you, but I will have to disagree here. 

What good has the storm cloud of angry contributors and buyers done at Istock lately?  Despite all the shared information, the anger and unrest in the past year, royalties have still been cut repeatedly as prices are raised, we have been charged for the theft of our intellectual property, and the site functionality is a shambles. 

Our anger and frustration is useless if we aren't able to unite and negotiate better terms for ourselves.  There is definitely a need for some sort of association to represent contributors IMO. 

The way I interpreted cobalt's post was that a. the internet provides us with a forum to be able to create a storm cloud...it's just that no organization can ever get all the members to unite. I'm not convinced yet that the storm cloud hasn't totally passed by istock yet...it's possible they will continue on as they were, and contributors will continue on, but I would say that maybe the storm cloud is still hovering. No, istock has not reversed anything they have done, but I'm thinking they are suffering losses. Just my take on it.

But I do agree with you Lisa that an association with the right leadership could only help.

« Reply #20 on: March 23, 2011, 16:53 »
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I agree that there is an opportunity to organize "something" to protect our creative products. There is a compelling need for some method that so many independent operators can relate to. One thing for sure is that someone will come up with a creative idea. It may well be a site with 100% exclusive content.

« Reply #21 on: March 23, 2011, 18:19 »
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Hi Lisa,

loads of respect here as well! :-)

I really dont think the storm cloud has left istock untouched. But no, the decision wasnt reversed.

But do you really think that a union would have achieved more? I doubt it, but here we differ of course.

Sometimes a management has to try something new even if it is unpopular. Inspite of the protest the new system had many good points, especially for new incoming exclusives (there was nothing to like for the non exclusives, I agree). Under the old system it had become extremely difficult to reach higher canister levels, the downloads had dropped as the prices increased, so the new RC levels that connect real value of the sale with your royalty level was intended as an improvement.

I know it backfired for many, especially mixed media contributors. I also dropped a level. But many people benefitted, you just dont see them brag about it. Hardly anyone quit exclusivity about it.

Of course, I wasnt happy about the lack of communication. As a moderator...well...you sit between all fires, nothing much you can do.

But if a union had existed - what would they have done???

And how do you organize a union with 80 000 people from around the globe?? If you have a union, then the members will have to sign voting power over to them for negotiations. I would never do that.

And just last week istock asked for contributors to nominate people they trust to discuss the fraud issue with them. I think that is a very good idea. If they do that more often, we would have a form of representation - free of charge, by the way (and thanks again to all the participants).

Ideally they would ask for new nominations depending on subject matter than we could have a fresh team everytime. Although Sean would be in high demand ;-)

So, no, we dont have a union, but maybe "trusted contributors" are already a step in that direction.

So they do listen to the community. They have to anyway, internet marketing demands happy contributors. Discontent is bad for business.

But as the agencies grow, we also have to accept that decisions and changes will no longer be instant, but probably go through several layers of management.

And like I said in the thread on fraud: I look forward to any IPO, because the contributors become shareholders. Strong contributors like Sean might be asked by investors to sit on the board.

The internet changes at light speed, so I believe that we have all have more direct influence with our posts and discussions than we think.

I know istock is unpopular over here and with all the site problems, I cant say I blame you, but FWIW anyone I ever met from management was genuinly interested in promoting the artists and the community. They are also very, very talented people. If they really just wanted to make money, they would be working in other industries. Doesnt mean they dont make mistakes. But they really do listen and read everything we write.

So, even without a badge I am optimistic...:-)

« Reply #22 on: March 23, 2011, 18:34 »
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Hi Lisa,

loads of respect here as well! :-)

I really dont think the storm cloud has left istock untouched. But no, the decision wasnt reversed.

But do you really think that a union would have achieved more? I doubt it, but here we differ of course.

Sometimes a management has to try something new even if it is unpopular. Inspite of the protest the new system had many good points, especially for new incoming exclusives (there was nothing to like for the non exclusives, I agree). Under the old system it had become extremely difficult to reach higher canister levels, the downloads had dropped as the prices increased, so the new RC levels that connect real value of the sale with your royalty level was intended as an improvement.

I know it backfired for many, especially mixed media contributors. I also dropped a level. But many people benefitted, you just dont see them brag about it. Hardly anyone quit exclusivity about it.

Of course, I wasnt happy about the lack of communication. As a moderator...well...you sit between all fires, nothing much you can do.

But if a union had existed - what would they have done???

And how do you organize a union with 80 000 people from around the globe?? If you have a union, then the members will have to sign voting power over to them for negotiations. I would never do that.

And just last week istock asked for contributors to nominate people they trust to discuss the fraud issue with them. I think that is a very good idea. If they do that more often, we would have a form of representation - free of charge, by the way (and thanks again to all the participants).

Ideally they would ask for new nominations depending on subject matter than we could have a fresh team everytime. Although Sean would be in high demand ;-)

So, no, we dont have a union, but maybe "trusted contributors" are already a step in that direction.

So they do listen to the community. They have to anyway, internet marketing demands happy contributors. Discontent is bad for business.

But as the agencies grow, we also have to accept that decisions and changes will no longer be instant, but probably go through several layers of management.

And like I said in the thread on fraud: I look forward to any IPO, because the contributors become shareholders. Strong contributors like Sean might be asked by investors to sit on the board.

The internet changes at light speed, so I believe that we have all have more direct influence with our posts and discussions than we think.

I know istock is unpopular over here and with all the site problems, I cant say I blame you, but FWIW anyone I ever met from management was genuinly interested in promoting the artists and the community. They are also very, very talented people. If they really just wanted to make money, they would be working in other industries. Doesnt mean they dont make mistakes. But they really do listen and read everything we write.

So, even without a badge I am optimistic...:-)

Strewth __ you have been drip-fed with the Kook-Aid for far too long. You seem to be completely oblivious to the common knowledge that events over the last few months have all been a ruthless cash grab by H&F. That'll be the same H&F who have publically stated their intention to sell Getty in 3-5 years from when they bought it. It's what hedge funds do.

« Reply #23 on: March 23, 2011, 19:05 »
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What makes you think that the other agencies are the generous Santa Claus that are handing over all profits to the contributors??

Its not like a desire for profits is a new thing?

And nowhere did I suggest to accept less money. I like money. I want more money. Like everyone else.

You chose your agent because you think working with them will be good for you. No other reason.

I just dont think all the demonisation of istock gets results. But maybe the other agencies really are more trustworthy and reliable, I dont know them that is true.

But we all have options. I still like mine.
« Last Edit: March 23, 2011, 19:09 by cobalt »

« Reply #24 on: March 23, 2011, 19:14 »
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From what I could tell they spent an inordinate amount of time talking about photography and the state of the industry, which quite frankly only interests other photographers.  They didn't understand how to market to buyers, and did not write much which would have peaked the interest of a designer searching Google.

If you want to sell photographs, don't write incessantly about the state of your industry.  None of your buyers care.


 

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