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For independent contributors - in light of Istock's new policy of mirroring all non-exclusive content in the Partner Program, will you be agreeing to the new ASA or leaving the site?

I will be pulling my portfolio from Istockphoto
52 (21.8%)
I will be staying and allowing my content in the PP
104 (43.7%)
Not sure right now.
47 (19.7%)
Going exclusive.
10 (4.2%)
I left already.
18 (7.6%)
Never joined
7 (2.9%)

Total Members Voted: 214

Author Topic: Independents - do you plan to leave Istock or not?  (Read 40736 times)

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« Reply #125 on: September 01, 2011, 22:28 »
0
I'm surprised that all these people posting lately about getting laid off don't seem to want to find jobs in their career field, instead choosing what everyone here thinks is something really unstable.


lthn

    This user is banned.
« Reply #126 on: September 02, 2011, 03:13 »
0
It's interesting to see how ppl talking about 'the future of microstock' almost always excuse themselves from considering the fact that tens of thousands of shots are uploaded every week. : ) Of course you never achieve anything, you can't even have an honest conversation about the situation with yourelves! Just childish... yeah i'm a * troll, sure...

« Reply #127 on: September 02, 2011, 04:00 »
0
^^^It's still quite easy to find things that have little competition.  Most people seem to upload similar stuff, I don't do people photos.  I'm not bothered about the number of new images being uploaded every week, the commission cuts and other continual detrimental changes are my main concern.  The fact that the sites can change the rules whenever they want and I get a financial hit takes away my motivation to continue working with them.  I still think they would make more money by paying us a reasonable commission and not making so many changes.  They should be looking at other ways to increase profits, I'm sure most of the sites could improve the EL licences and sell a lot more of them.  They could be much tougher with the copyright violators and make more people aware that high quality licensed images enhance their business.  Taking money from their suppliers and making detrimental changes might work short term but I don't see it as a good long term strategy.

lthn

    This user is banned.
« Reply #128 on: September 02, 2011, 05:10 »
0
^^^It's still quite easy to find things that have little competition.  Most people seem to upload similar stuff, I don't do people photos.  I'm not bothered about the number of new images being uploaded every week, the commission cuts and other continual detrimental changes are my main concern.  The fact that the sites can change the rules whenever they want and I get a financial hit takes away my motivation to continue working with them.  I still think they would make more money by paying us a reasonable commission and not making so many changes.  They should be looking at other ways to increase profits, I'm sure most of the sites could improve the EL licences and sell a lot more of them.  They could be much tougher with the copyright violators and make more people aware that high quality licensed images enhance their business.  Taking money from their suppliers and making detrimental changes might work short term but I don't see it as a good long term strategy.

I think having to upload the same thing as anybody else is one of the the biggest failures of microstock, and it is the cause of being expandable. I tried doing a bit more unique variations on popular themes and they only lead to lot less / little / no sales, even slight variations, nothing extraordinary... just as I expected. Imho the 'be unique' line is total bulls**t for micro. It might work on RM where a big sale on 'your special item' thats someone falls in love with gets wortwhile money - in micro you likely to get the same rare sale on it.....  for $1.  You do the same generic things as everybody else or sales are useless. Implications are obvious.

« Reply #129 on: September 02, 2011, 06:08 »
0
Actually, I don't have the choice too...
I'm keeping my files on istock and stop uploading, like at fotolia, it's finally a good news: the upload process on these two sites were a real pain and last upload almost never sell...
I'm planning also to remove some selective files in the istock portfolio.

Microbius

« Reply #130 on: September 02, 2011, 06:32 »
0
..... Imho the 'be unique' line is total bulls**t for micro. It might work on RM where a big sale on 'your special item' thats someone falls in love with gets wortwhile money - in micro you likely to get the same rare sale on it.....  for $1.  You do the same generic things as everybody else or sales are useless. Implications are obvious.

Sadly I think this is true for the most part. Someone here recently said we should be thinking like, say, an organic food shop or boutique that opens next to a supermarket, offer something a bit different and unique. The problem is that in those examples you can pick a different price point to make it worth your while supplying the niche.
Selling through the micros is completely different, the organic food that costs twice as much to produce and appeals to a far smaller niche would have to sell for the same price a the supermarket food. No quicker way to go out of business.

jbarber873

« Reply #131 on: September 02, 2011, 07:51 »
0
I may leave all microstock sites and that would not make any difference in my life. I'm lucky to have a good full-time job.


And here you have come to the crux of the issue.  As usual, the ones urging the most drastic actions are the ones who don't really have much at stake.  

I don't have to answer to anyone in these forums for my actions.  I answer to my family, and I'm not going to put a hardship on them just to satisfy some anonymous (or pseudonymous) poster on an internet forum  ::)

I do understand that, but as I said in my post, what I don't understand is that people like you still see microstock, given all the negative changes these main sites have been imposing every year, still see it viable for the future. I mean, what is there already making you money, fine. But will the future working hours pay off with these ever decreasing commissions? I don't mean just IS.

You guys&gals have such a talent and technical skills for much more that microstock seems to offer right now and its perspective for the future. I know a fellow photographer who I met at Shutterpoint, she now works as a wedding photographer, but not just the traditional wedding photography, she does it very creatively. She also does portraits and pet photography, I believe it is in an improvised studio at home. A friend of mine had a photographer shoot him and his wife when she was pregnant, some very beautiful unusual and outstanding B&W photos. Here there is a growing market for creative wedding photography, and even bizarre things like in-water and underwater wedding photography.

    Maria, you make a good point. There are many artists here that could easily compete in the general market for assignment work, whether it's in the advertising, business to business, or local markets. I had a professor at RIT many years ago that used to say " give me a camera and drop me into any city in the country, and I can make a living". Having done so all my life, I agree. But there is something very seductive about microstock. First of all, there is no direct contact from the client. Yes, there's the review process, but that's really not the same as standing in front of a client waiting to be judged( and paid). Second, the sales start right away, where in the traditional stock world you can wait 6 months to see your images online, and much longer for a sale. It's a very comfortable environment to let someone else do the marketing and fulfillment. You don't have to deal with the whining art director who wants all his money refunded because his client hates the shots he chose. You just shovel it in, and money comes out. For the casual amateur getting the thrill of a sale, and the chance to pretend to be a pro, it works fine. But for someone with real talent, and i put Lisa right at the top here, there are better ways to make money from your skills. You just need to identify markets and go after the clients. I did weddings when i was young, and I wouldn't do another one unless you held a gun to my head, but for many people, it's a great business. there are always local companies that need images of their products, and they aren't going to find that on IS. Local businesses need images that illustrate what they do. The point is, don't sell yourself short. there are many very talented people in this industry, but you need to step out of your comfort zone. Here's an idea for free: A "photo shoot birthday party" aimed at teenage girls. They would come to the studio and do each other's hair and makeup with your advice and direction, you do a photoshoot of each girl, and give them a contact sheet and headshot printed out when they leave. You could email them a shot for their facebook page. Then you do a group shot. The birthday girl could get a full portfolio. Do it like they do in the movies- loud music playing, lots of lights flashing when you shoot. You would make money off of reprints. Don't have a studio? Do a tie in with a local restaurant or hotel with an extra meeting room and let them sell the birthday cake and pizza. Maybe it's a stupid idea, but my point is that there are many ways to make money in the world. Microstock was fun while it lasted, but don't be the one to have to turn out the lights after it's gone.

« Reply #132 on: September 02, 2011, 08:04 »
0
Its good to see this thread back on track and that people are 'thinking out loud' and sharing their fears.

As I posted last Wednesday, I have submitted my ticket to iStock to ask that my account be terminated. As of yet I still haven't heard back from them so maybe they're being inundated with similar requests! So, I'm still earning the occasional few cents in the meantime.  ;)

When I sent that request I can tell you that it felt SO good. I really hadn't realised how many negative feelings I'd been harbouring towards iStock.

For anyone who's on the fence and undecided and, like me, doesn't earn huge sums through their work, then one thing you can do is to take a more pro-active approach and really try to submit high quality work to the other sites. Its not always quantity that counts after all. Make sure that iStock will be missing out on your gems! This decision has really spurred me on.

What do you think went on in those boardroom meetings - wouldn't you love to have been a fly on the wall? One phrase that sticks in my mind is the bit where they mentioned the fact that so many good images are buried and they needed to change that. Simply 'mirroring' independents' images to another site won't alter that so that's what convinces me that the 2nd iteration will almost certainly be that iStock will become an exclusives only site.

Am I wide of the mark or is that the general consensus now?

RT


« Reply #133 on: September 02, 2011, 08:41 »
0
    Maria, you make a good point. There are many artists here that could easily compete in the general market for assignment work, whether it's in the advertising, business to business, or local markets. I had a professor at RIT many years ago that used to say " give me a camera and drop me into any city in the country, and I can make a living". Having done so all my life, I agree. But there is something very seductive about microstock. First of all, there is no direct contact from the client. Yes, there's the review process, but that's really not the same as standing in front of a client waiting to be judged( and paid). Second, the sales start right away, where in the traditional stock world you can wait 6 months to see your images online, and much longer for a sale. It's a very comfortable environment to let someone else do the marketing and fulfillment. You don't have to deal with the whining art director who wants all his money refunded because his client hates the shots he chose. You just shovel it in, and money comes out. For the casual amateur getting the thrill of a sale, and the chance to pretend to be a pro, it works fine. But for someone with real talent, and i put Lisa right at the top here, there are better ways to make money from your skills. You just need to identify markets and go after the clients. I did weddings when i was young, and I wouldn't do another one unless you held a gun to my head, but for many people, it's a great business. there are always local companies that need images of their products, and they aren't going to find that on IS. Local businesses need images that illustrate what they do. The point is, don't sell yourself short. there are many very talented people in this industry, but you need to step out of your comfort zone. Here's an idea for free: A "photo shoot birthday party" aimed at teenage girls. They would come to the studio and do each other's hair and makeup with your advice and direction, you do a photoshoot of each girl, and give them a contact sheet and headshot printed out when they leave. You could email them a shot for their facebook page. Then you do a group shot. The birthday girl could get a full portfolio. Do it like they do in the movies- loud music playing, lots of lights flashing when you shoot. You would make money off of reprints. Don't have a studio? Do a tie in with a local restaurant or hotel with an extra meeting room and let them sell the birthday cake and pizza. Maybe it's a stupid idea, but my point is that there are many ways to make money in the world. Microstock was fun while it lasted, but don't be the one to have to turn out the lights after it's gone.

Your post is well intended but I find it strange you're encouraging someone like Lisa with 'real talent' to go after local business or do "photo shoot birthday party" type stuff, I can't speak for the rest of the world but here in the UK pretty much every town has a photographer who is a jack of all trades wedding/portrait/commercial set up, and generally speaking their stuff is OK but bordering on the mediocre side, the type of shoots you're describing are fine for those sort of photographers and the quality is OK for local business shoots and the portrait/wedding market, but someone with real talent in this industry would be losing money - local businesses don't have the budget to compete with what a top stock photographer would be making - I have a rough idea of what someone at Lisa's level is making and I don't think things are quite that bad yet.  :D

I appreciate what you are trying to say and I would be the first to agree that we are not being paid the commissions our talent deserves, but it's a sad fact of the corporate world that the vast majority of businesses don't have or are not prepared to pay the budget for real talent.

Speaking personally doing stock was a choice I made having spent a fair time doing commercial jobs, it pays better and the working conditions are great in comparison.

My reply to your statement "There are many artists here that could easily compete in the general market for assignment work, whether it's in the advertising, business to business, or local markets" would be - Yes there are but in many cases to compete with a photographer who has less talent and who's prepared to do the job for less money would be a step backwards.

 

« Reply #134 on: September 02, 2011, 09:39 »
0
I'm surprised that all these people posting lately about getting laid off don't seem to want to find jobs in their career field, instead choosing what everyone here thinks is something really unstable.

I got laid off two years ago, started uploading illos to assorted sites in hope to earn some extra cash in-between freelance gigs. I now have a full-time job in my chosen field and have not uploaded anything in a year. There is no way I could make a living at micro. The field is too bloated and too many people better than me.

jbarber873

« Reply #135 on: September 02, 2011, 09:45 »
0
Quote

My reply to your statement "There are many artists here that could easily compete in the general market for assignment work, whether it's in the advertising, business to business, or local markets" would be - Yes there are but in many cases to compete with a photographer who has less talent and who's prepared to do the job for less money would be a step backwards.


  Wel i guess you're right. People seem to be complaining about a downward spiral, so I was only trying to point out that there are alternatives. And to "compete with a photographer who has less talent and who's prepared to do the job for less money" seems to be a description of microstock as well.

« Reply #136 on: September 02, 2011, 10:19 »
0
It's interesting to see how ppl talking about 'the future of microstock' almost always excuse themselves from considering the fact that tens of thousands of shots are uploaded every week. : ) Of course you never achieve anything, you can't even have an honest conversation about the situation with yourelves! Just childish... yeah i'm a  troll, sure...

That is a concern, but I think things will move more niche for some people. At least, that's where I think my future is. I see selling from my own site and a few other smaller sites. I'll probably sell a lot less, but get to keep more. That's just my theory.

helix7

« Reply #137 on: September 02, 2011, 10:56 »
0
I'm surprised that all these people posting lately about getting laid off don't seem to want to find jobs in their career field, instead choosing what everyone here thinks is something really unstable.

Says a lot about the job market these days that people are opting for the volatility of the microstock market vs. more traditionally safe methods of making a living with a camera/pen/brush/computer.

Can't say I blame them. Finding a job nowadays is hard enough, and when you do find one, it's usually a crappy deal. Employers know they hold all the cards now, so they're taking advantage of it. Lower pay than a few years ago, less (or no) benefits, no retirement contributions, etc. I know a lot of people working salary jobs who no longer get health insurance, which for a lot of folks is the main draw to a salary job over self-employment.

I'll gripe about microstock and a few companies in particular, but that doesn't mean I'd ever go back to a regular job as long as I can still make a living between this and some freelance work.

« Reply #138 on: September 02, 2011, 11:37 »
0
...For most independents, they have more files on SS than on IS anyway (because of upload limits and SS's very different editorial choices about what they accept). Not to mention those independents who aren't on IS anyway. So putting independent IS content onto TS & photos.com is unlikely to hurt SS in any way. My guess is that this move will hurt the earnings of those who are already in IS's partner program though - big influx of competition for existing subscriber dollars.

So I could make the argument that other than hurting my pride by (a) having no control of my images being there and (b) TS & photos.com being Getty's dumping ground for not so good content, I wouldn't be hurting SS by having my images in the partner program.

If that logic holds, then the point I should pull out of IS altogether is when Getty mandates that exclusives have all their content in the partner program - at that point Thinkstock would have something SS doesn't have and might be able to gain some subscription defections as a result...

Could be true. It does make sense. ...

From your post this morning in the IS thread, it seems you've bought into my thread of reasoning :) I'm still thinking (about 3 weeks left, and that's assuming they can actually get the connector working; given the shambles on the site last night and this morning, that's a very big if)

helix7

« Reply #139 on: September 02, 2011, 11:56 »
0
...From your post this morning in the IS thread, it seems you've bought into my thread of reasoning :) I'm still thinking (about 3 weeks left, and that's assuming they can actually get the connector working; given the shambles on the site last night and this morning, that's a very big if)

Yeah, I'm a lot less concerned about TS as it relates to SS now. Although I do think TS would be a threat with exclusive content included. That's the only distinguishing factor that would make any difference. On price, TS is actually more expensive than SS on a monthly basis, and only slightly cheaper on an annual plan. And loading TS full of the same independent content that SS already has isn't going to bring buyers over. In fact, TS will have far less independent content due to istock's years of stricter acceptance standards and upload limits. There is nothing in this new ASA policy that will boost TS to the point where it is any more of a threat to SS than it is today.

That said, I also know that the istock/getty execs aren't stupid and they have to know that loading TS only with independent content isn't going to make a difference. They need their istock exclusive content in there as well. So I think it's just a matter of time before there's another ASA change that requires at least partial exclusive participation in the partner program.

« Reply #140 on: September 02, 2011, 12:21 »
0
... There is nothing in this new ASA policy that will boost TS to the point where it is any more of a threat to SS than it is today.

True. SS has more content, better content and the presentation is far superior too with search order choices, etc. Even if TS subscriptions were half the price of SS it wouldn't seem good value. I really can't think of any reason why a buyer would choose TS over SS ... unless of course they want dowdy images of businessmen wearing brown suits using cell phones the size of house-bricks.

« Reply #141 on: September 02, 2011, 12:25 »
0
... unless of course they want dowdy images of businessmen wearing brown suits using cell phones the size of house-bricks.

There's my niche! No one's doing images like that...

rubyroo

« Reply #142 on: September 02, 2011, 12:32 »
0
Dang.  You beat me to it.  OK you get that one... 

lisafx

« Reply #143 on: September 02, 2011, 12:45 »
0
But for someone with real talent, and i put Lisa right at the top here, there are better ways to make money from your skills. You just need to identify markets and go after the clients. I did weddings when i was young, and I wouldn't do another one unless you held a gun to my head, but for many people, it's a great business. there are always local companies that need images of their products, and they aren't going to find that on IS. Local businesses need images that illustrate what they do.

Your post is well intended but I find it strange you're encouraging someone like Lisa with 'real talent' to go after local business or do "photo shoot birthday party" type stuff, I can't speak for the rest of the world but here in the UK pretty much every town has a photographer who is a jack of all trades wedding/portrait/commercial set up, and generally speaking their stuff is OK but bordering on the mediocre side, the type of shoots you're describing are fine for those sort of photographers and the quality is OK for local business shoots and the portrait/wedding market, but someone with real talent in this industry would be losing money - local businesses don't have the budget to compete with what a top stock photographer would be making - I have a rough idea of what someone at Lisa's level is making and I don't think things are quite that bad yet.  :D

SNIP

My reply to your statement "There are many artists here that could easily compete in the general market for assignment work, whether it's in the advertising, business to business, or local markets" would be - Yes there are but in many cases to compete with a photographer who has less talent and who's prepared to do the job for less money would be a step backwards.

 

Thanks Jim, for the vote of confidence.  Coming from someone with your abilities and experience, I am quite flattered. 

But I have to side with Richard on this one.  I mentioned earlier that I tried the "local market", and was quite disappointed with it.  From my experience, it was far less about photographic ability and far more about marketing ability.  The successful folks on the local market A)make far less money than I do, and B)have a completely different skill set. 

The reason there are so many mediocre photographers making a living in the local markets is that business and marketing skills will trump photographic and artistic skills every time in that type of situation.  If I had business and marketing skills, and enjoyed that type of thing, I would be far better off working a corporate job than chasing my tail as a bottom feeding local photog.

Stock is completely different - your work can speak for itself.  You don't have to chase after customers, and deal with all their personalities and idiosyncrasies, nor do you have to chase after the money when it's time to be paid. 

I am actually quite surprised that so many people fail to understand that someone who is ideally suited to shooting stock is very likely completely unsuited to assignment/event work. 

And FWIW, I don't mind being used as an example of a larger issue, but this thread was never intended to be my own personal jobs counseling program ;)

rubyroo

« Reply #144 on: September 02, 2011, 12:47 »
0
...and you might not have a fan club in Australia for 'Romancing The Toes'  ;D

I loved reading about that, and loved the shot too.  Good for you Lisa  :)

« Reply #145 on: September 02, 2011, 12:56 »
0
Stock is completely different - your work can speak for itself.  You don't have to chase after customers, and deal with all their personalities and idiosyncrasies, nor do you have to chase after the money when it's time to be paid. 

It's like you read my mind, Lisa.

I've spent my career in the computer business, largely in marketing and sales support.  I've had colleagues who went off and created very lucrative consulting gigs, getting paid rather more for the same work I did as an employee.  But much as I may have envied them, I knew I'd never do as well.  The problem with consulting or any other freelance work is that you have to be good at drumming up business.  And I'm not; I'd rather clean sewers for a living than cold call potential customers.

Which is what's so appealing about microstock.  I shoot, submit and somebody else does the marketing and the selling.  As Lisa says, the photographers who do well at events are good at selling themselves.  The quality of their work is secondary.  I'd never want to shoot weddings; the stress and the personalities would eat holes in my stomach lining.  The events I've shot were as favors for friends, sometimes paid and sometimes not.  I explained the difficulties and set expectations, and they were pleased with the results.  But underselling and overdelivering is no way to make a living.  I'd stink at overpromising, and would hate starving because I can't or won't do it.

lisafx

« Reply #146 on: September 02, 2011, 13:19 »
0
...and you might not have a fan club in Australia for 'Romancing The Toes'  ;D

I loved reading about that, and loved the shot too.  Good for you Lisa  :)

Thanks Ruby!  It was definitely the highlight of my day - maybe week!

« Reply #147 on: September 02, 2011, 14:36 »
0
...and you might not have a fan club in Australia for 'Romancing The Toes'  ;D

I loved reading about that, and loved the shot too.  Good for you Lisa  :)


Thanks Ruby!  It was definitely the highlight of my day - maybe week!


Here's the rest of the story for those who missed it.

« Reply #148 on: September 02, 2011, 14:58 »
0
I absolutely agree that stock photography is our n1 choice as a photography job :  shoot what you like, and forget about marketing.  But right now, I am considering to drop my day-job by the end of this year and become a fulltime photographer.
Would it be wise to go for 100% stock photography?  I think not.  Isn't diversification the best defense against the downward spiral of our commissions?  And I'm not only talking about shooting events and portraits, but also about product shoots, pet portraits, food shots, teaching photoshop ... anything except weddings (that's the last thing I will do!).
I've been reading a lot about marketing lately, and cold calling potential customers is now almost entirely replaced by e-marketing on facebook, twitter and blogs. 
So during the first year(s) of my fulltime photography, I will slowly start diversifying, and only speed it up if/when my stock income goes down.
Makes sense?

lthn

    This user is banned.
« Reply #149 on: September 02, 2011, 19:04 »
0
It's interesting to see how ppl talking about 'the future of microstock' almost always excuse themselves from considering the fact that tens of thousands of shots are uploaded every week. : ) Of course you never achieve anything, you can't even have an honest conversation about the situation with yourelves! Just childish... yeah i'm a  troll, sure...

That is a concern, but I think things will move more niche for some people. At least, that's where I think my future is. I see selling from my own site and a few other smaller sites. I'll probably sell a lot less, but get to keep more. That's just my theory.

I wish you luck, and it would great news if thats succesful, but I have serious doubts. : /


 

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