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Author Topic: Stock as raw material  (Read 5740 times)

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« on: October 08, 2010, 09:19 »
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I always considered stock to be the raw material of photographs needed by designers and graphic gurus to do their work. But lately, I've come across a LOT of photomanipulation work in the stock area, and I'm wondering: shouldn't that be the designer's work? Lightbulbs shaped like a brain, pigs that fly on a cloudy background... all work that shouldn't be done by photographers. Yet, they sell. People getting lazy?

Whose fault is this? Is there a fault at all? Is my view of the (micro)stock market as the one providing raw material outdated?

(Have in mind: I have nothing against retouching, it's just that those complex photomanipulations that should be the work of a designer that bugs me)


lisafx

« Reply #1 on: October 08, 2010, 09:35 »
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Stock photos as raw materials is a part of the microstock market, but not all of it. 

Because of the low prices, it's not just professional designers buying images.  It's bloggers, housewives, teachers, students, etc.  Pretty much anyone can afford microstock prices, and a lot of these end users don't have the skill or interest to do photo manipulation.  They are looking for a finished product.  That's why some of the high concept manipulated images sell so well.

I'll take any sales I get.  I don't worry if they are from designers, students, bloggers, whatever :)

« Reply #2 on: October 08, 2010, 09:35 »
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I suppose it all depends on your budget and skill level. Some designers don't have the time, budget or skills to create new or mash up images. I personally like creating my own images, but if it is something I can't create or not in the budget, then stock is the way to go.

« Reply #3 on: October 08, 2010, 09:42 »
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A buyer that I know can barely spell Photoshop much less actually use it. He just wants to pluck and image out and plonk it into the space for it. If it is a vertically-oriented space then he will search only for vertical images. It doesn't even occur to him that a horizontal image could be cropped to fit.

« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2010, 09:51 »
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Seems to me that if there's a market for it, maniuplated photos - along with 3D renders - make fine stock. Why would anyone want to make an arbitrary line over which designers or photographers should not step?

Those designers who want to do their own compositing will buy the plain jane raw materials. Those who are in a hurry or who can't do their own Photoshop work will buy the more finished pieces. More business for contributors seems good to me.

« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2010, 10:00 »
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Seems to me that if there's a market for it, maniuplated photos - along with 3D renders - make fine stock. Why would anyone want to make an arbitrary line over which designers or photographers should not step?

Those designers who want to do their own compositing will buy the plain jane raw materials. Those who are in a hurry or who can't do their own Photoshop work will buy the more finished pieces. More business for contributors seems good to me.
There's also a notion of "being original" that has spread over the microstock communities and sites. For one: if the photographer supplies raw material, then there is no room for originality.

The creative work "should" be done by people who are payed to be creative: designers.

To me: this is a much bigger issue that lowering the commission from, let's say, 20% to 15%. Photomanipulation work and "being creative" requires much more effort on the photographer's part, and they sell it with the same price as the raw material. Is this "fair"?

Anyway, just to clear one thing up: I'm not writing this out of envy or something because I don't know how to use photoshop. I was first a designer for six years, and then started doing photography, so one could say I'm skilled in that respect. It's just that it doesn't seem fair since some photographers seem to be working a double job for the same price. But then again: it's their choice.
« Last Edit: October 08, 2010, 10:01 by spike »

« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2010, 10:30 »
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Stock photos as raw materials is a part of the microstock market, but not all of it. 

Because of the low prices, it's not just professional designers buying images.  It's bloggers, housewives, teachers, students, etc.  Pretty much anyone can afford microstock prices, and a lot of these end users don't have the skill or interest to do photo manipulation.  They are looking for a finished product.  That's why some of the high concept manipulated images sell so well.

I'll take any sales I get.  I don't worry if they are from designers, students, bloggers, whatever :)
Don't you think that the people who have put much more effort in their work should earn more than those that just cleaned up the image, reduced the noise and boosted the colors (most of microstock images)?

Also, don't you think that, by selling those high-quality products at the same price as the raw photographs, "they're" doing more damage to the market than the lowering of the commision, since one would much rather buy the finished product, than make it by himself?

« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2010, 10:43 »
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Don't you think that the people who have put much more effort in their work should earn more than those that just cleaned up the image, reduced the noise and boosted the colors (most of microstock images)?

Also, don't you think that, by selling those high-quality products at the same price as the raw photographs, "they're" doing more damage to the market than the lowering of the commision, since one would much rather buy the finished product, than make it by himself?

The production cost of individual images, either in terms of time or money, is a huge variable anyway. If you invest more time or money in a particular image then obviously you are hoping it will be unique enough to attract the sales to make it worthwhile. A decent selling image can easily make a few hundred $'s, more than enough to justify someone spending a little time in PS to create it. Some people even enjoy it.

« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2010, 11:17 »
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Don't you think that the people who have put much more effort in their work should earn more than those that just cleaned up the image, reduced the noise and boosted the colors (most of microstock images)?

Also, don't you think that, by selling those high-quality products at the same price as the raw photographs, "they're" doing more damage to the market than the lowering of the commision, since one would much rather buy the finished product, than make it by himself?

The production cost of individual images, either in terms of time or money, is a huge variable anyway. If you invest more time or money in a particular image then obviously you are hoping it will be unique enough to attract the sales to make it worthwhile. A decent selling image can easily make a few hundred $'s, more than enough to justify someone spending a little time in PS to create it. Some people even enjoy it.
Absolutely, but if we look at it in general terms, then:

unprocessed image < processed image < photomanipulation

lisafx

« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2010, 11:25 »
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The production cost of individual images, either in terms of time or money, is a huge variable anyway. If you invest more time or money in a particular image then obviously you are hoping it will be unique enough to attract the sales to make it worthwhile. A decent selling image can easily make a few hundred $'s, more than enough to justify someone spending a little time in PS to create it. Some people even enjoy it.

Exactly^^

Better images will attract more sales and bring in more money for their creator. 

Microstock has always been dog-eat-dog capitalism.  Fairness doesn't really seem to figure into it.  If you have any doubts check out recent trends in contributor royalty percentages...

I'm not defending it, BTW.  But that's the reality of the situation.  We have the choice to either play or not.

« Reply #10 on: October 08, 2010, 11:47 »
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Exactly^^

Better images will attract more sales and bring in more money for their creator.  

Microstock has always been dog-eat-dog capitalism.  Fairness doesn't really seem to figure into it.  If you have any doubts check out recent trends in contributor royalty percentages...

I'm not defending it, BTW.  But that's the reality of the situation.  We have the choice to either play or not.
It might be the general case, but I can't say it's true, at least for me.

My best sellers are images that are very niche-oriented, there were almost no retouching on them, some of them were even upsized (oh the horror!) and they sell well since I have found something other people didn't find or don't have access to. Some of the work I've been doing for hours have virtually no sales since there are a gazillion images similar, so the quality or the effort put into a photo doesn't really matter in my case. So, I'd say it's a myth. :)

Also, I have nothing against the "Better images will attract more sales and bring in more money for their creator." market, bit I'm finding it "unfair" that the high-end photomanipulations sell for as much money as the raw shots. I'd say: "Better PHOTOGRAPHS will attract more sales and bring in more money for their creator", and that's a statement I would have no problem with.

lisafx

« Reply #11 on: October 08, 2010, 11:52 »
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Also, I have nothing against the "Better images will attract more sales and bring in more money for their creator." market, bit I'm finding it "unfair" that the high-end photomanipulations sell for as much money as the raw shots. I'd say: "Better PHOTOGRAPHS will attract more sales and bring in more money for their creator", and that's a statement I would have no problem with.

FWIW, I don't do any photo manipulation much beyond curves either.  The few shots I have taken the time to do a complicated composite on haven't sold well enough to justify the effort invested.  I do find that my higher production value shoots (locations, models, multiple strobes, elaborate props)  are better financially rewarded than the simple studio stuff. 

« Reply #12 on: October 08, 2010, 11:54 »
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There's also a notion of "being original" that has spread over the microstock communities and sites. For one: if the photographer supplies raw material, then there is no room for originality.

The creative work "should" be done by people who are payed to be creative: designers.

To me: this is a much bigger issue that lowering the commission from, let's say, 20% to 15%. Photomanipulation work and "being creative" requires much more effort on the photographer's part, and they sell it with the same price as the raw material. Is this "fair"?

Anyway, just to clear one thing up: I'm not writing this out of envy or something because I don't know how to use photoshop. I was first a designer for six years, and then started doing photography, so one could say I'm skilled in that respect. It's just that it doesn't seem fair since some photographers seem to be working a double job for the same price. But then again: it's their choice.
I can't say I see anything wrong with it, though there are some things I agree with you on. It would be nice to put together a creative pack and sell it for a little more. I see it a lot on the vector end, and I'm surprised sometimes by what people put together in one file for a sub sale on SS. Sometimes I think people are giving too much away for very little, but I suppose that is the nature of the micros competitiveness.

« Reply #13 on: October 08, 2010, 13:34 »
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For an example of what I'm talking about: http://abduzeedo.com/playing-displace-filter-photoshop

This is some great design/photoshop work being done, using raw materials from shutterstock. So, why do some photographers assume the role of designers and devalue their work by selling their work under subscription prices?

« Reply #14 on: October 08, 2010, 17:00 »
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I have some photomanipulations in my portfolio. Some of them sell very well, in those cases I have been compensated for the work I have done.

« Reply #15 on: October 08, 2010, 17:31 »
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For an example of what I'm talking about: http://abduzeedo.com/playing-displace-filter-photoshop

This is some great design/photoshop work being done, using raw materials from shutterstock. So, why do some photographers assume the role of designers and devalue their work by selling their work under subscription prices?


Because its paying the bills, and is fun.       

« Reply #16 on: October 08, 2010, 17:34 »
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Quote
Lightbulbs shaped like a brain, pigs that fly on a cloudy background...
Am I right when I suppose that you even refer to the blogs that John Lund published lately?
I don't think he is selling this work for microsoft prices...


 

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