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Author Topic: Stock Photography Future  (Read 4425 times)

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« on: September 12, 2020, 07:19 »
+5
Stock Photography Future
By Jim Pickerell Posted: 9/8/2020 Read Full Article (0 Credits) 1060 words 9/8/2020

A young man studying photography wrote recently and asked if I [Jim Pickerell] could supply him with some accurate stock photography analysis. I told him I could, but he wasnt going to like what I had to say.  (This article is free to all readers, but there are a number of links within the story that require payment if readers want more detailed information.) - Read the whole story...  https://www.selling-stock.com/ViewArticle.aspx?id=b865e98a-3320-4c60-89b5-574021525673


« Reply #1 on: September 12, 2020, 08:18 »
+3
Nothing earth shattering about that piece.  I think anyone who has been in the biz for a while knows the themes very well.  The one thing he states is the "internet scams" and he is right. I still see all these ads to make a good income from photography.  "We are better than Fine Art America" gallery sites, "we have an un-discovered photography niche", etc. They are really laughable and Jim is right in that the only ones who will make any money are those agencies who exploit photographers.


« Reply #2 on: September 12, 2020, 09:08 »
+2
Nothing earth shattering about that piece.  I think anyone who has been in the biz for a while knows the themes very well.  The one thing he states is the "internet scams" and he is right. I still see all these ads to make a good income from photography.  "We are better than Fine Art America" gallery sites, "we have an un-discovered photography niche", etc. They are really laughable and Jim is right in that the only ones who will make any money are those agencies who exploit photographers.

As someone who sells on Fine Art America, I know their deficiencies all too well and I'd be very happy to find another gallery site that's "better".  Who's making that claim?  I haven't seen the ads.

« Reply #3 on: September 12, 2020, 11:02 »
+2
this article was written in 2020 but if you had your eye on the ball it could have been written in 2010 with a similar synopsis.

« Reply #4 on: September 12, 2020, 12:49 »
+6
Thanks for posting a link to the article.

A couple of thoughts on the main article (I didn't look at all the linked stuff).

He suggests that video is a better option than photography. If you look at recent moves by Shutterstock that resulted in masses of extremely low (under $1) royalties for video (API partnerships), it's not clear that video is exempt from the same pressures on price & royalties.

He also suggests design as a way out of the conundrum. I don't think he realizes how many subscription sites there now are which either offer tons of templates so you can be your own designer (like Canva & its clones) or a real designer (I think all hired in low wage places) that works with you - Design Pickle, Penji, NLC and their many competitors. I don't know how much of a dent these (expensive) services are making, but they offer to take all the pain out of hiring designers :)

"Whether you have considered hiring an in house designer, tried to manage a freelancer, or even worked with one of those other design sites, we know it sucks. Design Pickle is all about making your life easier. AKA not suck. All for one flat rate"

All sobering stuff...

« Reply #5 on: September 13, 2020, 01:19 »
+3
"He suggests that video is a better option than photography." It may be for now but its destined to follow the same path. So heavy upfront investing would be very risky. To me the only future for microstock for the typical contributor  is to minimise cost and squeeze every cent out while minimising investment.

« Reply #6 on: September 13, 2020, 03:04 »
+4
"He suggests that video is a better option than photography." It may be for now but its destined to follow the same path. So heavy upfront investing would be very risky. To me the only future for microstock for the typical contributor  is to minimise cost and squeeze every cent out while minimising investment.

Agree 100%

Video is the worst thing to get into now as prices are falling even quicker than for photos. It is going to get unsustainable in no time and accurately calculating ROI is impossible.

Shutterstcok has done us a favour by showing what can happen. ROI is made over a number of years in this industry and the rug can get pulled out from under us in an instant if an agency is evil enough. For example exploiting contributors desperation in a pandemic (looking at you Stan you ******* sociopath)

EDIT: sorry just noticed, of course not referring to Stan the OP!
« Last Edit: September 13, 2020, 03:56 by Justanotherphotographer »

Uncle Pete

  • Great Place by a Great Lake - My Home Port
« Reply #7 on: September 14, 2020, 11:56 »
+7
"...there is already a huge oversupply of images relative to demand, and an ever growing number of people who are able to produce reasonably good images..."

Of course I agree, I've been saying that for over eight years now.  :)

Same for video and slightly less for illustrations. Illustrations, graphics, seem to be difficult enough and demand better skills and craft.

Mostly I don't understand why I see new people getting into the market, asking which agencies after the top four, when there isn't much from those four any longer? Not enough to live from, working the top agencies, why expand and support the market killers? Unless of course, someone lives where the cost of living is very low. When I see someone new from the UK or the US, for example, entering into the market and asking for how to improve, what to shoot, how to make more, I think they should have done the research to start with, and believed the advice from the forums.

Don't Do It! Find something else.

Those who have invested the time and effort, can at least gather some residual income, from the years of work.

The future market for Microstock and stock photography is flat. The international boom, the demand and rapid growth is over.

« Reply #8 on: September 14, 2020, 14:59 »
+2
Don't Do It! Find something else.

+1,000

Advice to eager newbies who may be lurking here:

Heed Uncle Pete's words of wisdom. He knows whereof he speaks, and so do all the rest of us old timers.

« Reply #9 on: September 14, 2020, 15:28 »
+1
As long as, continue the current trading system. I still think that the market will evolve towards associating collectives that erase the intermediary. I am convinced that there will be many groups that will coexist with AS in the short term future.

« Reply #10 on: September 15, 2020, 00:56 »
+1
As long as, continue the current trading system. I still think that the market will evolve towards associating collectives that erase the intermediary. I am convinced that there will be many groups that will coexist with AS in the short term future.
Do you have any evidence for that? From what I see the most succesful businesses these days are intermediaries from hotel booking sites to take-away apps. I really hope this changes but I wouldn't place any bets on it right now.

« Reply #11 on: September 15, 2020, 04:39 »
0
Exact. Internet evolves the market by sectors. Music, cinema, books, .....
Internet, customer service convenience. The hypermarkets ended with the retail trade, and the internet brings you home the plane ticket, pizza, sex, ...

The microstock has not changed, the client buys from the Agency. And the contributor does not receive a fair reward.

The difficulty of partnering because we are rivals, among other things, such as attracting customers in a pseudo-monopoly market.

It is a comment and my thought.

I lead a team focused on this issue. And I am convinced that once we break the system, imitations, copies, scammers, serious people, and a lot of competition will be born.

The Internet and the technology that exists now, facilitates change, evolution.

Tests? I am convinced that by eliminating the agency, the benefit remains with the content authors.

Not forgetting the enormous complexity and difficulty of this market, which has remained unchanged for decades.

It is not the end of AS, they will have their collaborators and clients. However, each collaborator will tell their adventures in each group where they have their files for sale, together with AS.

But it's my opinion and that's why I'm working on it.

The topic of this thread, should not motivate new contributors. It is true. My comment is, I am sure that in the short and medium term, the sales and marketing system will change.

I don't need to prove anything to anyone. I wanted to comment, my idea. It is something that the users of this forum already know and are waiting to throw my failure in my face and others in the hope that it is a reality.

Uncle Pete

  • Great Place by a Great Lake - My Home Port
« Reply #12 on: September 15, 2020, 11:41 »
+3
As long as, continue the current trading system. I still think that the market will evolve towards associating collectives that erase the intermediary. I am convinced that there will be many groups that will coexist with AS in the short term future.

You mean like Symbiostock?  :)

Don't Do It! Find something else.

+1,000

Advice to eager newbies who may be lurking here:

Heed Uncle Pete's words of wisdom. He knows whereof he speaks, and so do all the rest of us old timers.

Oldtimers Disease that's me.

Good advice is usually given by someone who was once a bad example. ?

Actually good advice is only of use, when it's taken and applied. Otherwise it's just words.

If I came to a forum about making money selling worms (this is much longer but just to make it simple... worm farming) and most of the posts talked about the downside of the market, how profits were dropping, how Worm Farmers were under paid and the product was over supplied, and the expense of producing, plus the competition was excessive. I wouldn't go into Worm Farming!

Yet people come here and the last of the active Microstock forums. They read the news that since 2012 has been disappointing, yet some made good returns. In 2016 we saw iStock cut commissions and revise pay schedules. Then other agencies dropped levels, restructured, lowered the returns. Finally in 2020 SS joined in and cut us from minimum or 25 cents to a subscription rate of virtually teen cents, 10c to 17c, for the most images download by most high volume buyers.

Yet new people show up asking how they should begin, what to shoot and what agencies. I guess when someone has their mind made up and they are blind to the facts, there's not much anyone else can do, even if we try to warn the beginners to look elsewhere?

Somewhere, someone is still telling people, this is a good way to make extra money? My view is, the agencies stopped doing that, if they ever did, about ten years ago, so the force and attraction is actually other contributors who are selling how much this stock photo business is good? I don't really see many of those people anymore, maybe new people are reading old advice?  :)

« Reply #13 on: September 15, 2020, 11:53 »
+3
Quote
  Somewhere, someone is still telling people, this is a good way to make extra money?

Yeah, all the experts with their how to blogs and books.  ;D

Uncle Pete

  • Great Place by a Great Lake - My Home Port
« Reply #14 on: September 15, 2020, 12:42 »
+4
Quote
  Somewhere, someone is still telling people, this is a good way to make extra money?

Yeah, all the experts with their how to blogs and books.  ;D

Yup, I was being nice. That was the best free marketing that the agencies got. Referral links and people selling "How to make money with Microstock" books, blogs and websites.

Anyone here who used to be a coin or stamp collector? The dealers wrote the price guides.  :o With the Internet people can see real values. With Microstock, even the little poll on the right, sends a message. The people on the forum, and the ones who take the time to respond to the poll are often the best, most active and involved.

DT or DP, they make $25 a month? These people have thousands of images and are experienced and have been working for years.

A while back, I was writing my Step-Daughter about how good her photos were (and they are) and she could make some spare change, uploading to Microstock. Now I'd advise her that posting to Facebook and sharing with friends is more valuable.

History teaches. The future of Microstock is dim, especially for new people. I'm happy with the residuals and I upload photos that most of the time, I would have been making anyway. Yes I enjoy ideas and concepts, then I move on. Sure I like learning techniques and processing. But I'd never tell anyone that they should go out and invest in equipment, the software and their time, because they can make money from Stock Images. That time has passed.

« Reply #15 on: September 15, 2020, 12:44 »
+1

Yet new people show up asking how they should begin, what to shoot and what agencies. I guess when someone has their mind made up and they are blind to the facts, there's not much anyone else can do, even if we try to warn the beginners to look elsewhere?

Ignorance is bliss for as long as it lasts.

Uncle Pete

  • Great Place by a Great Lake - My Home Port
« Reply #16 on: September 15, 2020, 12:57 »
0

Yet new people show up asking how they should begin, what to shoot and what agencies. I guess when someone has their mind made up and they are blind to the facts, there's not much anyone else can do, even if we try to warn the beginners to look elsewhere?

Ignorance is bliss for as long as it lasts.

So you mean I could have saved a bundle and made the same living, if I didn't spend five years in college to get a couple of degrees that I never needed or used. LOL

I sold Amway once, not for long. If I need some LOC I'll call my Brother. Hey the stuff works, but MLMs are generally not a good business. Unless you listen to the people selling you on how great it is being a dealer?  ;)

On the other hand, people come here and ask people who are in the business, and most of us are seeing dropping income and not a very bright future, yet the new people don't listen. Go figure. Yet I have personally restrained myself from writing, "I told you so", partly because I still have accounts, still upload and I haven't dropped Microstock myself.

What's the line? Do what I say, not what I do?

July iStock. Yes, I stopped uploading, but these images have been there for a long time. Future?  Revenue 0.05 USD, Downloads 35 photos sold. Not claiming to be the top of the heap or best images, these are getting stale. But honest, 35 sales for 5 cents for the month? Just waiting for August numbers which should be coming in soon? Note: I make much more on Wirestock! That's sad.


« Reply #17 on: September 15, 2020, 14:52 »
+1
I want to offer a contrary point of view.  Have been in the stock photo market for more than 10 years.  I make more than $6500 a year but nowhere near 100,000.

But the real issue is what is your objective.  If your objective is to make a living in stock photography, forget it.  Back in my college days, I was a Photo major for one quarter.  Thankfully I got out early and then went on to be a lawyer.  I used my law earnings to fuel my passion.

Now in my retirement stock photography is a good gig.  I make enough to pay for my equipment and some travel costs.

Also when Shutterstock dropped its commissions, I had to decide what to do.  I stayed in because back in March, I sold a photo through SS Premium and my commission for that one sale was $1,000.  First sale through SS Premium and no sales since.

But I checked with SS Premium and every photo on SS can also be sold through Premium so I stayed in.

Moreover, I talked with a friend who is a middle person bundled in the stock market and has been in the market since the 1980s.  Her reaction to the SS Commission drop was What can you do?

Also when I mentioned the boycott and the contributors pulling out, her response was good, in effect less competition in the market place.

Bottom line again is what is your objective.  If it is to make a living in Stock, forget it.  But if it is to provide extra income, then it may be an option.

« Reply #18 on: September 15, 2020, 15:37 »
+2
Quote
  Somewhere, someone is still telling people, this is a good way to make extra money?

Yeah, all the experts with their how to blogs and books.  ;D

Don't forget about youtubers who say you will be rich with microstock bussines.

PaulieWalnuts

  • We Have Exciting News For You
« Reply #19 on: September 15, 2020, 16:32 »
+4
Lost me at the Covid-19 comment. Future is fairly predictable because the current path has been the same probably since 2012.

  • Buyer growth is slowing forcing prices and contributor royalty percentage down
  • More competition from free sites forcing prices and contributor royalty percentage down
  • Exponential image supply growth forcing prices and contributor royalty percentage down
  • Contributor inability to consistently create a huge quantity of new images forcing earnings down
  • Convoluted secretive subscription programs forcing contributor earnings down

Pretty simple. Continue this path forward and stock sites will continue to earn a ton of money by paying contributors less.

« Reply #20 on: September 15, 2020, 19:53 »
+1
...

Now in my retirement stock photography is a good gig.  I make enough to pay for my equipment and some travel costs.
....
Bottom line again is what is your objective.  If it is to make a living in Stock, forget it.  But if it is to provide extra income, then it may be an option.

exactly, which is something that doesnt seem to sink in for the subset who declare you're either for the boycott or stupid, etc

« Reply #21 on: September 16, 2020, 06:45 »
0
As long as, continue the current trading system. I still think that the market will evolve towards associating collectives that erase the intermediary. I am convinced that there will be many groups that will coexist with AS in the short term future.

You mean like Symbiostock?  :)





No. I don't mean anything from the present or past. I mean the future. Far from the middleman approach. Clients and collaborators. Nothing else. It is not easy, and we are not going to invent the wheel either. We are simply going to innovate, with small details, but far from the Agency mentality. Client and collaborators. Many groups will come after us.

Because our mentality does not think of agency, which is the problem of the attempts of now and the past. Collaborators and clients. That is the project, and the time is right.

When it comes to the end of microstock, professionals can offer more than just the existing free market. And users need microstock. What is the end, is of microstock as we know it now.

In my opinion, only AS and the groups will dominate the market in no time. As long as AS continues with your head on your shoulders.

Brasilnut

  • Author Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock & Blog

« Reply #22 on: September 16, 2020, 10:26 »
0
Imo the future belongs to programmers. Those that can create very very realistic models/animals and scenarios using CGI without leaving the comfort of their homes.

Imagine lifestyle photography without the hassle and administration to shoot models in fun scenarios.

https://edition.cnn.com/2019/02/28/tech/ai-fake-faces/index.html

Chichikov

« Reply #23 on: September 16, 2020, 10:58 »
0
How something that is already part of the past can have a future?

PaulieWalnuts

  • We Have Exciting News For You
« Reply #24 on: September 16, 2020, 12:59 »
0
Imo the future belongs to programmers. Those that can create very very realistic models/animals and scenarios using CGI without leaving the comfort of their homes.

Imagine lifestyle photography without the hassle and administration to shoot models in fun scenarios.

https://edition.cnn.com/2019/02/28/tech/ai-fake-faces/index.html

It's already beyond that. Maybe CGI for contract work like Ikea. But the future for stock people, objects and scenery will probably belong to AI.


 

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