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Author Topic: Stock Artists Alliance Closes Doors  (Read 13765 times)

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PaulieWalnuts

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« 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

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« 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.

« Reply #25 on: March 23, 2011, 19:32 »
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Just checked their site, nothing about this news there.

Anyway, why not let them represent whoever they want? it's their problem.

donding

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« Reply #26 on: March 23, 2011, 19:57 »
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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.

Photographer's Direct


« Reply #27 on: March 23, 2011, 21:33 »
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what targets should the alliance have?
what ammount does any of you would pay for an organisation what "start" to fullfill these targets?
First of all, any money goes to fundraising (website, PR, getting Members, office, coordination, pay the people who do the job...and no one at the front has to be a micro, because she/he would be executed by al the big agencys.)

PaulieWalnuts

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« Reply #28 on: March 23, 2011, 21:56 »
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Anyway, why not let them represent whoever they want? it's their problem.

They can, and did, represent who they wanted. And apparently that didn't work out too well. But yes, it's their problem.

Just seems odd they would shut down rather than pursue a segment of contributors who have been outright asking for some sort of group to organize with.

helix7

« Reply #29 on: March 23, 2011, 22:05 »
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...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. 

It's true, istock operates completely unfazed by any contributor backlash over any of the actions they've taken. And they aren't alone. Despite protests by contributors, many stock agencies continue to make moves in their own best interests while moving in opposition to contributor interests. They do it because they know they can get away with it.

And as much as I wish that some sort of contributor association could make a difference, I have serious doubts. If these companies won't change their ways based on the protests of individual contributors, why would they be influenced by an organized group represented by a select few? The agencies would be under no obligation to hear the representatives. They could ignore the organization just like they've ignored us.

At the end of the day, we're asking these companies to basically stop grabbing at the money, and I don't think that many of them are capable of doing that. And they'd feel no greater pressure to stop the money grab from an independent organization than they do from an individual contributor.

« Reply #30 on: March 23, 2011, 23:31 »
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what ammount does any of you would pay for an organisation what "start" to fullfill these targets?
That's an interesting question. I could see favorable results bring hundreds if not thousands more a month for me, but that is assuming someone can actually get results. There's a ton of money between us, and I would gladly pay to see results. But, those are the million dollar questions of who, what, where, when and how.

RacePhoto

« Reply #31 on: March 24, 2011, 01:23 »
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Anyway, why not let them represent whoever they want? it's their problem.

They can, and did, represent who they wanted. And apparently that didn't work out too well. But yes, it's their problem.

Just seems odd they would shut down rather than pursue a segment of contributors who have been outright asking for some sort of group to organize with.

Yes, it seems there was some political division within SAA as well, board members quitting and leaving the group. Not a good sign. But it doesn't matter, your point takes it. They have a willing group who could be represented, looking for an alliance and SAA just couldn't understand that the times have changed?

I liked this best of all and I may laugh at it over and over:

"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."

So what about Yuri, Nico_Blue, SJLocke, hidsey, dny59, & jhorrocks, are they just figments of the IS imagination? :D

What am I talking about? SAA was in denial that Micro was real or serious and choose to ignore crowdsourcing.

PaulieWalnuts

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« Reply #32 on: March 24, 2011, 05:03 »
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Regarding the political division, you're right. It seems that some of SAA hated micro and others wanted to address it. I found this by Zave Smith and it's an interesting read and also something I agree with. It was a great idea back in 2008 when he wrote it but may be a bit too late now. He was saying a potential solution would be to recruit the most talented producers to macro. The idea being this would remove high value images from micro and would correct the pricing imbalance. Getty is somewhat doing this now with Flickr and Istock but not aggressively.

Quote
I dont want to dwell on why I believe that selling a Lexus at the same price, as a Kia is silly. What I want to offer is a possible way out of this rabbit hole.


http://www.microstockdiaries.com/can-intervention-save-the-stock-photography-industry-from-microstock.html

microstockphoto.co.uk

« Reply #33 on: March 24, 2011, 08:28 »
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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.

Photographer's Direct

It's them! Thanks

« Reply #34 on: March 24, 2011, 13:34 »
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They can, and did, represent who they wanted. And apparently that didn't work out too well. But yes, it's their problem.

Just seems odd they would shut down rather than pursue a segment of contributors who have been outright asking for some sort of group to organize with.

Of course that is often the problem with 'union' mentality. A blinkered refusal to accept new practices or working methods at all. In this case microstockers were only ever seen as competitors undermining the industry and never as fellow stock photographers.

The recent concession over Thinkstock commissions is proof enough that even Getty can be forced to move in the opposite direction. Any microstock company can be forced to amend unpopular terms by the united actions of enough contributors and that's where SAA could have played their part.

People who work in performance media have always stuck together, been strongly represented and enjoy union-agreed rates for almost every job. The Writers Guild of America always win when they choose to take a stand, unite and put down their pencils until their demands are met.

Even the largest microstock agency can become almost valueless overnight by the actions of contributors.

« Reply #35 on: March 24, 2011, 15:03 »
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so whats the difference between a guild and a union?

« Reply #36 on: March 24, 2011, 15:26 »
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so whats the difference between a guild and a union?
Secret handshakes.


lisafx

« Reply #37 on: March 24, 2011, 15:39 »
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so whats the difference between a guild and a union?

Stigma? 

« Reply #38 on: March 24, 2011, 16:14 »
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.... The Writers Guild of America always win when they choose to take a stand, unite and put down their pencils until their demands are met.


This is slightly OT, but I don't think that the the Writers Guild has always had such clear cut success. See articles here, here, here...

It's not that I'm in any way unsympathetic to the goals of the WGA, but the point in several of those articles is that in a sense you've already lost by the time you go on strike and that the glut of reality TV garbage that graces US airwaves is in part a result of some of the "win" in the 2007 writer's strike.

« Reply #39 on: March 24, 2011, 16:41 »
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so whats the difference between a guild and a union?

Stigma? 
stigmata  :)

« Reply #40 on: March 24, 2011, 17:07 »
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This is slightly OT, but I don't think that the the Writers Guild has always had such clear cut success. See articles here, here, here...

It's not that I'm in any way unsympathetic to the goals of the WGA, but the point in several of those articles is that in a sense you've already lost by the time you go on strike and that the glut of reality TV garbage that graces US airwaves is in part a result of some of the "win" in the 2007 writer's strike.


Don't forget about crummy game shows too.  ;D

Has anyone really mentioned what they want out of a union? Isn't that supposed to be the first question you ask yourself when seeking any sort of representation. It would be interesting to see how far apart or close everyone is. I'll go first. My demands are:

1. 50% or higher royalties
2. A lowest price cap of $5
3. Royalties for subs starting at $1

I figure that's a good start or at least something to work towards.

« Reply #41 on: March 24, 2011, 17:09 »
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In this case microstockers were only ever seen as competitors undermining the industry and never as fellow stock photographers.
And weren't they (we)?

Microstock images were offered for a very small fraction than the traditional market would require, with very broad usage. Many were low quality or low resolution, but we know this changed. We accepted to sell for very little, and it looked great. We accepted subscription packages just because they would bring many repeated sales. Most have grown into more accomplished photographers, and now demand better return for their time.

Let's face it, most people here (most is not all) started to make money from photography in microstock, very few were photographers before microstock (either stock or assignment). Why would traditional photographers' join efforts with microstockers?

« Reply #42 on: March 24, 2011, 17:14 »
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In this case microstockers were only ever seen as competitors undermining the industry and never as fellow stock photographers.
And weren't they (we)?

Microstock images were offered for a very small fraction than the traditional market would require, with very broad usage. Many were low quality or low resolution, but we know this changed. We accepted to sell for very little, and it looked great. We accepted subscription packages just because they would bring many repeated sales. Most have grown into more accomplished photographers, and now demand better return for their time.

Let's face it, most people here (most is not all) started to make money from photography in microstock, very few were photographers before microstock (either stock or assignment). Why would traditional photographers' join efforts with microstockers?

I agree with you, when microstock started. But after 3 or 4 years, when a lot of traditional photographers jumped into the game, figuring if they couldn't beat them, they could join them, the game changed. I think it was at that point that the Stock Alliance should have been a little more willing to make the change, too.

lisafx

« Reply #43 on: March 24, 2011, 17:33 »
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Has anyone really mentioned what they want out of a union? Isn't that supposed to be the first question you ask yourself when seeking any sort of representation. It would be interesting to see how far apart or close everyone is. I'll go first. My demands are:

1. 50% or higher royalties
2. A lowest price cap of $5
3. Royalties for subs starting at $1

I figure that's a good start or at least something to work towards.

Good thinking Cory.  Any collective effort should have clear goals. 

I like your three goals, but for photos I would be willing to sell for a minimum price of $2 for XS. 

I would also like to see the following:

4. Royalties tied to standard credit price, so 50% is 50% of the credit price.  If credit prices go up, so do royalties. 

5. Any discounts, over and above the standard credit packages, paid for by the agencies, and not out of our pockets.

6. Aggressive enforcement of licenses by the agencies and active pursuit of misuse. 

7. Agencies foot the bill for fraud/theft of images.   

8. Open communication with contributors before large scale site changes.

« Reply #44 on: March 24, 2011, 17:36 »
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I suppose the first thing you'd need to implement is a way to bargain. Not all sites have a quick or easy way to temporarily deactivate your images. Without that you can't strike.

« Reply #45 on: March 24, 2011, 17:47 »
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Has anyone really mentioned what they want out of a union? Isn't that supposed to be the first question you ask yourself when seeking any sort of representation. It would be interesting to see how far apart or close everyone is. I'll go first. My demands are:

1. 50% or higher royalties
2. A lowest price cap of $5
3. Royalties for subs starting at $1

So there's a thorny topic in the making :) I think some talk of fairness has been bandied about, but otherwise not much in the way of specifics. Mostly the issues have been specific unfair moves on the part of agencies, for example:

Various agencies (DT, FT and IS come readily to mind) cutting contributor royalty rates
Fotolia's currency games with you getting paid in one currency even though they get paid in others. IS briefly had a fling with currency games over credit purchases but backed off after people complained.
Various subscription pricing complaints.

I'm less concerned with a specific royalty percentage than with the overall notion of contributors sharing equally in the growth with agencies. We've had agencies paying more than 50% but without sales, that's meaningless to contributors. Investing heavily in marketing, sales, site infrastructure (particularly a stellar search engine) is something that benefits me, the contributor, in the long term. Putting money into H&F's bank account has no value to me whatever and is akin to H&F stopping by my house to steal the carpet and the drapes.

I have very negative views of subscriptions unless they limit sizes, have different prices to include vectors or other higher priced items, so I'd be less interested in a minimum price than in ensuring a vector or XXXL image didn't cost the same as a blog sized image. The other thing that I don't much like about the SS model of subscription (in spite of how well it does) is that the more money contributors make, the less the agency makes. Seems to me that long run things work better when agency & contributor interests are better aligned.

I wouldn't be interested in a minimum price - seems too limiting and doesn't stop agencies from doing ridiculous things such as insisting that all icon sets will now be 64 icons instead of 16 while keeping the minimum price.

I guess for me I want an agency that wants to stay in the business for the long term (i.e. not a get rich quick scheme), has enough cash to invest to grow the business without turning to investors (who will strip the business and ruin it) and where the principals have enough business experience to be competent running the place.

« Reply #46 on: March 24, 2011, 18:01 »
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I agree with you, when microstock started. But after 3 or 4 years, when a lot of traditional photographers jumped into the game, figuring if they couldn't beat them, they could join them, the game changed. I think it was at that point that the Stock Alliance should have been a little more willing to make the change, too.
But how many are they in respect of the other "traditionals"? The ones I knew then remained "traditional". They had an advantage, I think, that they had been long enough in the market to have a name with clients, so they don't rely just on stock agencies sales. And unlike what most people here think of "traditionals", they embraced digital photography and mastered photoshop edition.

I, for one, when I started to try to sell my photos over 5 years ago, I had two people contacting me through my website and one sale, so I thought "hey, I may have some chance after all to market my travel photos". I looked for some agencies and the few I saw or contacted were disencouraging, because either they did not reply my contact or they required something I was not able to provide (Alamy large files, when all I had were slides to scan an photos from a 2MPix camera, or I don't know how many exclusive images in Lonely Planet). I saw many microstock sites, but I thought "no", so I ended up joining Shutterpoint. I met people there who insisted I should go to micros, and IS for instance had one good point that they accepted 2Mpix images, and when StockXpert started they would also take 1MPix images. So I uploaded some ordinary shots, and it was a good learning. Then I learnt a bit of illustration. But that has never driven me to dedicate myself more to microstock, because I didn't feel the agencies were doing a good thing with the very low prices. I wouldn't sell my travel/nature/landscape/architecture images in micros, because I didn't (and still don't) consider prices are fair. Ok, this is just a hobby, I have a full-time job from which I make my living, so I am able to do this choice.


 

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