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Author Topic: What do you think about this?  (Read 4077 times)

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« on: January 15, 2007, 15:14 »
I have read a whole think about microstock sites on photographersdirect, I must agree that there is some true in this. But suddenly I remember that without microstock someone like myself, a computer science student with passion for photography, never and never would begin to sell its photo to raise some money. Why? just because I have no professional experience, no contacts with pro photographer, no idea at all about this market. Microstock sites give me the possibility to trust in my work (just a passion before), telling me since the beginning that experience is not important if the photo sells. If after only one month of submitting photos to a "macrostock" site I would have noticed no sales, thing that is common, surely I would have give up with this business.
So, again, what do you think about this?

"Why will Photographers Direct not represent photographers who have images on micropayment / microstock sites?

Because they are the antithesis of Fair Trade Photography. Micropayment sites (which sell Royalty Free images for 1 to 3 dollars) prey on the lack of industry-experience of amateur photographers.

The only people who benefit from these sites are:

   1. The site owners, because they make money from the images and do not care about the damage they are doing to professional photographers' livelihoods.
   2. The buyers, who cannot believe their luck at being able to get images for a few dollars, and being able to use them as often as they like, for as long as they like, wherever they like.

The people who lose out every time are the photographers. Almost every photographer we have spoken to on this issue has expressed regret at placing their images on micropayment sites. Initially they are excited at people taking an interest in their images and paying for them. Of course they like making an income from their images, but here are the facts:

    * The average fee for an image licensed through Photographers Direct is about 200 dollars, of which the photographer will receive 160 dollars. Images have been licensed for up to 5000 dollars. These license fees are usually for a single usage, not a Royalty Free license. The photographer can license the same image again and again for similar fees.
    * To make the same average amount through a micropayment site you will have to sell anywhere between 200 and 800 images. These images can be used anywhere at any time and cannot realistically be traced. You are not 'selling' your images, you are not 'having success'; you are giving away your images, and the buyers cannot believe their luck.

Imagine the day when you see one of your images on a book or magazine cover. You will probably be very happy and proud, until you realise you earned one dollar from an image that is helping to generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in publishing sales. Is this fair?

A lot of people will respond that this will not happen, that images off micropayment sites are only used by designers for initial layouts and by 'mom and pop' businesses who would never pay more for images. This is simply not true - a quote:

"SAA executive director Betsy Reid pointed out a discussion board on iStockPhoto where members were congratulating photographer Lise Gagne, who wrote that she had just seen one of her stock images on IBM's web site.
'Once you're done celebrating, is anyone going to stop and think that you got 20 cents for that image?' Reid asks."
Quote from Photo District News.

Can IBM afford to pay market rates for images? Of course! Would they pay 500 dollars for this same image if that was the price? The odds are they would. So why did they pay 1 dollar? Because that was the price it was offered for. The photographer has thrown away 499 dollars.

Surely photographers should have the right to market their images where they like?

Of course, but we also have the right to make conditions on who we will and will not represent, and we have a duty to protect the livelihoods of all our photographers who agree that micropayment sites are just downright bad. Here is an example from a micropayment newsgroup of the perils of playing 'boths sides of the fence':

"I signed up to Photographers Direct and was right on the point of selling 6 of my images at $120 each. I then received an email from the guy politely saying that he had found my images on Shutterstock and would I mind if he used them instead before he downloaded them. I politely declined and removed all of them [from Shutterstock] before he could use any, I was fuming at my own stupidity."

In this case the photographer was lucky that the buyer was honest enough to tell him he had found the same images on a micropayment site. The buyer could have just cancelled the sale through Photographers Direct and downloaded the same images from Shutterstock. Rather than (80% of) $720 (which the buyer was clearly happy to pay!) the photographer would then have earned 1 dollar and 50 cents for the use of his images.

Further damage is caused because any buyer who uses a micropayment site will begin to see it as the norm. Whenever they get a normal quote from a photographer for an image, their response will be 'but I can get images at microwhateverstockphoto for 1 dollar!' Where does this leave the photographer?

For these reasons Photographers Direct cannot represent photographers who have any images on micropayment sites. This is part of our Fair Trade policy.

"Micropayment sites sell your work for peanuts and give you the shells"
Quote from World of Stock.

Examples of microstock sites are: istockphoto, canstockphoto, shutterstock, dreamstime, bigstockphoto, crestock, fotolia, 123rf, stockxpert, gimmestock, scandanavianstockphoto, usphotostock, areaimage, shuttermap, stockphotomedia,"


PS: someone could "patch" my English? please
« Last Edit: January 15, 2007, 15:16 by snem »

« Reply #1 on: January 15, 2007, 15:35 »

As I have said before, I have different portfolios for macro and micro stock sites.  One reason is that I don't agree with selling some good high res images for so little.  I don't mind selling a photo of a brownie or of a sudoku game for some cents.  I do mind however to sell a photo of a wild cheetah for some cents.  I keep hearing people saying the volume pays for the low price, and I agree this can be true in many cases, however it's a personal thing: it's not just for the money I can get, but for the money I think images are worth (not only mine, I see some amazing images in microstock that are regret they are available for so little).

We can make this parallel: you can have a street prostitute making little money with many clients every night, or an "escort" who makes good money (or at least has a good life) with a single client who pays well.  Both are prostitutes, but with a very different clientelle, and people will seldom call the second one a whore.  :)


« Reply #2 on: January 15, 2007, 15:44 »
Hi madelaide, I totally agree with you!  but, maybe it was not clear in what I wrote, the question was about photographersdirect's decision to make business with everyone but not with those who submit photos to microstock sites. Just because those "help" microstock to go on in the business?
I would be pleased to choose my best photos and to submit them only to photographersdirect, but I can't. For their policy, right?

« Reply #3 on: January 15, 2007, 16:06 »
that is right.  Photographers direct only accept photographs who are NOT contributing to the micro sites.

Kind of ridiculous if you ask me.

If the photog. in the end, gets the same amount per photo on the micros as in the macros... the photographer is getting paid fairly for their photos.

Alamy and even now getty is accepting images from photogs who are submitting to both micros and macros.  i think photographers direct is a little extreme.

« Reply #4 on: January 15, 2007, 16:36 »
Both are prostitutes, but with a very different clientelle, and people will seldom call the second one a whore.  :)

I disagree, many if not everyone will call both whores.

« Reply #5 on: January 15, 2007, 17:53 »
yeah......    this policy of Photographersdirect will surely put the microstock industry out of business.   yup,  gee  what am I going to do now? ....... [insert extreme sarcasm here]

As Leaf pointed out,  some of the Macros are taking pix from micro-folks.  Now,let's think about this.   If Photographersdirect's competition is taking the pix from microphotogs,  ....... who REALLY IS the one in danger of  'going out of business' ?    It ain't the micro's, baby. 

Many of us are like Adelaide as well.  My BEST work isn't on ANY microsite. I hope to soon be with a macro outfit and I can say this as well.  I have work that will never go on a macro either.  That work will go to something or someone special willing to PAY for it. Or not.   Maybe it will go nowhere except to my kids when I kick the bucket. The point is what it is worth to me.

My selling a picture of a 1950's transistor radio that took me all of 2 minutes to shoot, process and post....  for a buck on bigstock... doesn't make me  "a whore of photography".    The shot's only worth  50 cents.   I'd  feel more like a whore selling the stupid pic to some guy for $300.  Now THAT's whoring!  Let's be honest. It didn't take me $300 bucks worth of talent to shoot it. 
      Then, there are shots that I put my heart into.  Well,  they aren't on microsites.

I get so tired of that old  "micro photogs aren't professionals, only macro photogs are"  .... it's such a load of  horse-waste.  All you have to do is click on Getty, Corbis, Jupiter..... any of them and you can find a whole boatload of terribly, lousy photos!!   Photos that you know would not get past a reviewer at SS, LO or StockXpert or others.   On the other hand,  some of the best photography I've seen in my life  (58 years of it now),  I see on microsites!!   Far superior to some of the so-called,  ' macro professionals'.  And I stress  some!!  There are photogs on the macros that I will NEVER even COME CLOSE TO in artistic work! They are true artistic photographers. But just because you get picked up by Getty, doesn't give you talent and make you instantly.. a "professional".  Unless of course as, I think it was our own dbvirago once said,  you get your decoder ring and special handshake.

Only time will put that ridiculous debate to rest. And I think we all know how it is going to turn out. Who do you think will make the most money? The car dealer selling Rolls Royces for list price, 2, 4, 500 thousand or the dealer that's doing volume selling them a couple grand above cost. Where would you go buy the car?  It's pure economics,  those like Photographersdirect can stand on their precious principles all they want....  perhaps even  while hashing out their bankruptcy  terms. The photo world will be passing them by.  They don't want my pictures, Almay will take 'em.

and just for the record.  I'm happy with the buck for the picture.  If some dude really feels the need to pay $300 for it, he thinks it's worth it, that's okay too.   Hey,  'The customer is always right.".
« Last Edit: January 15, 2007, 18:08 by TGT »

« Reply #6 on: January 15, 2007, 19:54 »
I signed up for Photographersdirect and still get their photo request emails. Chances are, I could've submitted to about 1% of their requests and even then I would not be certain of selling the shot. They are after RM style images in most cases, which would require a large investment in terms of time/models/location and to do that without the security of a sale is madness.

I discounted doing any work for PD a long time ago and do not regret for a single second the decision to sell to microstock sites rather than them. Let the whinge and whine - who cares! It's not like they are going to save the world (or the industry)!

« Reply #7 on: January 15, 2007, 20:00 »
You guys did not get my point. 

A man wanting some fun will pay the street prostitute.  A man with a lot of who wants to feel macho and impress other men will pay for the babe half his age.  :)  She's with him for the money, but people don't really call her a prostitute.  If he is your friend, you may even invite them for your house.

Anyway, the idea is: a big corporation/editor/advertiser doesn't want an image that has been around.  They can afford $$$ for something that looks exclusive.  If you want an image to illustrate your kid's school assignment, you won't pay much for it.  Micro and macro stock have different markets, with some overlapping (especially with the special licenses - if the buyer really cares to observe the usage restrictions).  Usage restrictions are often different (at SP, for instance, an image can be used in resale items)

Given some cases of sucessful sellers in microstock, I have the impression most of them are not just microstockers, they are pro photogs who also do microstock.  Most probably do macro an microstock (I've read about at least one who does).

For most of us, I'm quite sure we might be able to make much more money in other ways (not prostitution!), but the thing is that we like photography and we feel good about selling our photos.  Technical translation isn't that fun indeed.  But many of us are selling our work too cheap anyway, for the effort involved, IMHO. 

The other day I asked about DT levels affecting sales, as prices increases, the responses I got was that they don't affect sales, because if a photo is good a buyer is eager to pay more for it.  This illustrates exactly the point, we can sell by $2 but we accept to sell by $1, even though the buyer would pay $2.  That's why I like a site like FP, were you can set your prices not just by size like most sites do, but by quality (in your point-of-view). If you have a top quality image, you don't need to sell it for $1, you can set a higher price and sell less, but at a more fair price. 


« Reply #8 on: January 16, 2007, 00:15 »
Adelaide, I just submitted to FeaturePics this weekend and am still waiting review. I was at a loss as to what to charge.  What's reasonable, what's not? What license to go with.... 
      Do you mind if I ask how you rate your images?      peace - tom

« Reply #9 on: January 16, 2007, 02:10 »
Where did I hear this whining of Photographers Direct before?  Oh yes, the film shooters that said that digital photography is not "real photography" and that it will NEVER replace film.  Where is film today?

I was with Photographers Direct for almost a year.  I have put my absolute best material there.  They don't sell your images; they only bring you in contact with potential buyers.  In that year I had one potential buyer contacting me. I quoted to him a (modest) amount of $80 for the use of one of my images - I never heard from him again.  Beginning last year I pulled all my images from Photographers Direct and joined microstock and I never looked back.  More than once I have made $80 IN A DAY on microstock.

Fact is the stock market is currently in a period of massive change.  Those that will survive (stock companies as well as photographers) must either adapt to the changes or go out of business.  I am sure we all would like to get paid more for our images, but microstock is here to stay and it is likely to change the stock market for ever.   I will not be surprised if more and more professional photograpers will be joining microstock to market are least some of their images.  I think it is already happening.  I predict that the more saturated the market become the more difficult it will become for beginners and amateurs to get into the big microstock sites (because of the higher standards if the images submitted) and rejections will increase.  In fact, I think this already started to happen.

Bottom line:  For photographers to survive in the future they must diversify by marketing their work in all potential markets.  For Photographers Direct to deny photographers the right to also market  their images on microstock will eventually lead to their own demise.
« Last Edit: January 16, 2007, 02:13 by Eco »

« Reply #10 on: January 16, 2007, 18:18 »
Adelaide, I just submitted to FeaturePics this weekend and am still waiting review. I was at a loss as to what to charge.  What's reasonable, what's not? What license to go with.... 
      Do you mind if I ask how you rate your images?      peace - tom

Hi Tom

I never sold one at FP, so I may not be the best reference, but all my images there are priced at 5 with the option for diferent prices to diferent sizes.
I really don't know why I keep feeding FP as I never sold one (my only income there is one referal) but I guess that's just because it's easy to upload and they don't reject my images too much.

« Reply #11 on: January 16, 2007, 19:08 »

I have a mix of images in FP, both at microstock and macrostock prices.  The microstock ones I generally price between US$1.5 and 4, depending on the size and the quality of the image, according to my opinion.  The most recent ones (like the roses in another thread) I set at US$3.80, so they would be 99c at 800x600.  Someone mentioned early in another thread that he/she reduced prices and they began selling more.  I reduced prices of some of my fireworks (because they are not so outstanding and they are mostly just 2MPix), but I haven't noticed any change.  Of course, sales are somewhat slow there to notice changes (I sold two images this month, earning US$2.10, which is more than 123RF and close to CanStockPhoto).


« Reply #12 on: January 16, 2007, 23:23 »
thanks for the info, folks!!      peace - tom



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