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Author Topic: Zack Arias on microstock  (Read 23687 times)

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helix7

« on: November 23, 2010, 16:28 »
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Normally it wouldn't catch my attention when a photographer does a blog post about microstock, but in this case it's Zack Arias doing the post, and he's a guy I have a lot of respect for. He's just a cool guy, with a very refreshing outlook on photography and creativity in general. And you know you've seen his "Transform" video and loved it.

Anyway, he did a blog post about his views on microstock as a photographer who admittedly doesn't have any desire to participate in microstock and believes that the microstock business is headed towards collapse. Can't say I totally disagree with him there.

It's a good, long read, definitely worth the time: http://www.zarias.com/microstock-sim-cards-in-cameras-big-foam-fingers/


LSD72

  • My Bologna has a first name...
« Reply #1 on: November 23, 2010, 16:58 »
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Good read. Thanks for that.

« Reply #2 on: November 23, 2010, 17:05 »
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I like ZA too.

A bunch of obvious observations, some misconceptions finally coming down to promoting his biz because it will save you time over searching 20 million images on Alamy.  You know what might save time?  A good search engine with a controlled vocabulary and relevancy factor, and perhaps some smaller collections of high quality imagery.  At a higher price, of course. ;)

microstockphoto.co.uk

« Reply #3 on: November 23, 2010, 17:16 »
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His article won't convince me to stop doing microstock of course, but at least he's being polite.

« Reply #4 on: November 23, 2010, 17:19 »
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Makes perfect sense to me.

« Reply #5 on: November 23, 2010, 18:49 »
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Excellent op-ed, and I too like ZA.  Dan Heller made the same argument, that microstock priced itself way too low at the outset and are paying for it to this day.  And I think we've all experienced what Arias pointed out regarding hundreds and thousands of images in the search results which all look the same, and often have little or nothing to do with the intended search.  The more images microstock adds, the worse the problem becomes.

« Reply #6 on: November 23, 2010, 20:46 »
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Like most anti-microstock photographers, ZA still doesn't understand Thompson's words.  It seems they only see the words which they have been so desperately waiting to hear: "As a business model, its simply unsustainable" .   Unfortunately for them, those words doesn't mean what they think they mean.

« Reply #7 on: November 23, 2010, 21:18 »
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I doubt many businesses believe they are buying crap images. They are buying images good enough to fill their needs. The people who are viewing the end product aren't purists and have very little image sophistication. The end "consumer" is thinking little of the artistry of photography. To most of them it's a pretty picture that suits the product. Will all of microstock go out of business? No way. The dumb ones will. The smart ones will prosper.

« Reply #8 on: November 23, 2010, 21:23 »
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Nothing more than a deluded, self-serving manifesto from a pro photog who fears his days are numbered.  

Zack, and anyone else predicting doom for microstock (which I'll define in general terms as "selling images for a very low price") needs to examine these two key questions:

1. As time goes on, will people still need images?  Communication around the globe is becoming more visual, not less so.  More and more, people will rely on images to convey their messages.  This is a trend that will not suddenly reverse itself.

2. As time goes on, will people be willing to may more or less for those images?  There's also no turning back from the trend of communicators expecting images to match their messages for a lower and lower price.  Will that price ever become zero?  Maybe, but there will need to be a way to compensate image creators for their work, or image creation will grind to a halt, and the rising demand for images (see point 1) will ensure there's a market for this work.

You put these two points together, and it should be clear that microstock -- or something similar that supplies images to buyers for a very low price -- will continue in one form or another for a very long time.
« Last Edit: November 23, 2010, 21:35 by stockmarketer »

« Reply #9 on: November 23, 2010, 22:19 »
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There seemingly was a confusion between RF and microstock. RF can be reused/resold many times, but not necessarily as microstock. It's also striking all those non-microstockers are only mentioning IS as an example for microstock. Don't they know there are other agencies like SS, DT, FT?

« Reply #10 on: November 24, 2010, 01:40 »
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The blog post was blah, blah, blah - nothing new, generalizations and some inaccuracies - mixed with "hire me instead".   I think his biggest contribution is his white seamless tutorial (that I direct many people to) but it starts and ends there.

grp_photo

« Reply #11 on: November 24, 2010, 06:56 »
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Some things are right:
- boring search results (thousands of more or less the same image)
- prices are generally to low
etc.
Some things are dead wrong:
- not sustainable for the stock companies  it is very sustainable the only reason thompson said this was to get more money to istock and less for the contributors.

« Reply #12 on: November 24, 2010, 12:33 »
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Some things are dead wrong:
- not sustainable for the stock companies  it is very sustainable the only reason thompson said this was to get more money to istock and less for the contributors.

I would think that this is true.  I have no proof though.  Can you provide some proof?

lisafx

« Reply #13 on: November 24, 2010, 13:16 »
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I would think that this is true.  I have no proof though.  Can you provide some proof?

What kind of proof would convince you?

« Reply #14 on: November 24, 2010, 13:48 »
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I would think that this is true.  I have no proof though.  Can you provide some proof?

What kind of proof would convince you?

Numbers.  Not just angry speculation.  Or at least an actual model that incorporates the significant variables to show how their system works. 

lisafx

« Reply #15 on: November 24, 2010, 13:55 »
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Numbers.  Not just angry speculation.  Or at least an actual model that incorporates the significant variables to show how their system works. 

I'd love to see those numbers too.  Doubt it will ever happen though.  Until then I think all we have is speculation... :(

RT


« Reply #16 on: November 24, 2010, 13:58 »
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A photographer who's known more for doing workshops and blogs than by his actual photography is upset about microstock.

Moral of the story - don't teach others how to take your away your income.


molka

    This user is banned.
« Reply #17 on: November 24, 2010, 14:08 »
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Why is it so hard for some to understand that unsustainabilty issue? When that guy at istock said it's unsustainable on their side, that was obvious bullsh*t and an insult to everybody's intelligence. What a shameless bloke ( nice community site, yeah : ). But as the sites get (over)saturated, the micro payments don't pile up most of the time, and it's not worth shooting for it. Heck, it won't even pay for the goddam shutter wear. It's gonna become unsustainable for the contributors, but that won't bother the sites for a long time. The few downloads pile up for them, but not for you.

RT


« Reply #18 on: November 24, 2010, 14:22 »
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It's gonna become unsustainable for the contributors......

Only if they contribute to microstock as part of their business, which for a very high proportion of contributors is not the case. For the one's that do it for fun, to earn a little extra or just to get a kick out of seeing their images downloaded and maybe used somewhere ( ::)) sustainability is not an issue, and these are the people (no offence intended to anyone in particular) that cause the problems.

WarrenPrice

« Reply #19 on: November 24, 2010, 14:34 »
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It's gonna become unsustainable for the contributors......

Only if they contribute to microstock as part of their business, which for a very high proportion of contributors is not the case. For the one's that do it for fun, to earn a little extra or just to get a kick out of seeing their images downloaded and maybe used somewhere ( ::)) sustainability is not an issue, and these are the people (no offence intended to anyone in particular) that cause the problems.

No offense taken and I agree ... the fun bunch is a problem.  But, aren't they the very core of the original model?

« Reply #20 on: November 24, 2010, 14:45 »
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Why is it so hard for some to understand that unsustainabilty issue? When that guy at istock said it's unsustainable on their side, that was obvious bullsh*t and an insult to everybody's intelligence. What a shameless bloke ( nice community site, yeah : ). But as the sites get (over)saturated, the micro payments don't pile up most of the time, and it's not worth shooting for it. Heck, it won't even pay for the goddam shutter wear. It's gonna become unsustainable for the contributors, but that won't bother the sites for a long time. The few downloads pile up for them, but not for you.

overall, what do you want with your continuous posts regarding microstock?? I really don't understand what's your point.. Everybody knows what they are doing, don't understand so many concern!

RT


« Reply #21 on: November 24, 2010, 14:48 »
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It's gonna become unsustainable for the contributors......

Only if they contribute to microstock as part of their business, which for a very high proportion of contributors is not the case. For the one's that do it for fun, to earn a little extra or just to get a kick out of seeing their images downloaded and maybe used somewhere ( ::)) sustainability is not an issue, and these are the people (no offence intended to anyone in particular) that cause the problems.

No offense taken and I agree ... the fun bunch is a problem.  But, aren't they the very core of the original model?

Exactly my point, because sustainability is not an issue for the majority of contributors I don't think the microstock sites factor it into the equation the same way a traditional stock site would.

molka

    This user is banned.
« Reply #22 on: November 24, 2010, 14:49 »
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It's gonna become unsustainable for the contributors......

Only if they contribute to microstock as part of their business, which for a very high proportion of contributors is not the case. For the one's that do it for fun, to earn a little extra or just to get a kick out of seeing their images downloaded and maybe used somewhere ( ::)) sustainability is not an issue, and these are the people (no offence intended to anyone in particular) that cause the problems.

I think your mistaken there. I did talk to some of those 'hobbyists' and they go thru great pain to get stuff accepted because of the relative high technical standards, working for hours on a pic, and that is because they are amateurs, not too handy with photoshop or the camera even if talented, so it's even worse for them. The 'fancy snaphost' category simply gets rejeceted, even if it's a really nice shot, they have too many (complaints at shutterstock f.e. coming up from that direction nowadays)... so I don't think thats gonna work, they are getting fed up. I'v seen those guys posting pics on how they worked hours on a setup with a lightbox, fake grass, and an UTP cable (you get the idea), years ago. It got them decent  rewards by their standards. Nowadays it would only get them pissed of at the 3 bucks (if they get lucky) they make on it before it sinks. Lowest minimal wage in the known unverse. They can't run on snapshots, an those won't get accepted. Diluted sales = need for large amount of shots for any income that's not an insult = impossible with luckyshots / impossble for a slow amateur to pum out.

« Reply #23 on: November 24, 2010, 15:40 »
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Interesting read. I think he gets some of it right. The prices are a bit low, and we should worry about sustainability. I think what he misses though is that micros not only go after his older larger clients, but they also go after the guy that can't afford to hire him. It is a volume business, so low prices are important. That said, I'm not sure selling images for a buck is sustainable. Not that demand is waning, but competition is increasing and it gets harder to maintain volume. Selling images for $10-$50 for standard RF seems more reasonable to me. Maybe that prices some out of the market, but at some point you have to wonder which buyers you want to keep and which ones are just dumpster diving.

« Reply #24 on: November 24, 2010, 15:44 »
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A photographer who's known more for doing workshops and blogs than by his actual photography is upset about microstock.

Moral of the story - don't teach others how to take your away your income.


Tonight, on a very special Blossom ...


 

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