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Author Topic: iStock Stirs the Pot Once Again  (Read 15053 times)

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« on: August 25, 2006, 09:55 »
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To all of you that currently, or plan to, use models in your photos.  SUBMITTER BEWARE!

Here is a story that you might find helpful.

====

A photo of an elderly gentleman sitting in a chair was used in an ad for a strip club.  In the ad, he is shown holding dollar bills, sitting in front of a topless girl that is stripping, with sex toys everywhere around him.

The photographer of the image was very concerned for the elderly man, since she thought that iStock would protect her images from "sensitive" situations such as this, and never thought that iStock would allow something of this nature.  She asked that they remove the image from the design, but it was denied.  She was very disheartened by the whole thing and has decided to remove the image from the site for future purchases.

Many other photographers, including some of the major players, have decided to join suit and remove their images with models.

Some of the major issues seem to be the following:

1. The IS TOS (Terms of Service) (@ http://www.istockphoto.com/license.php) state that it is prohibited to use an image of a model in a manner that (a) would lead a reasonable person to think that they endorse a business, or (b) depicts them in any way that would be offensive or unflattering.  The ad obviously violates both.

But IS has decided to provide a lot of legalese that basically says that the TOS are ambiguous at best and that they are the only ones that can decipher the TOS and decide whether the use of an image is breaking the TOS.  This has upset a lot of people.

2. If the TOS don't protect against this sort of situation, then what does it protect against?  If a child were placed in the ad instead of an elderly gentleman, would IS have stepped in?  Is topless not enough?  What about bottomless from the rear?  What are the constraints?  Once again, IS has evaded the question with a bunch of legalese.  So nobody now knows how an image can or can't be used.  Basically, the TOS is worthless.

3. Even if an image is obviously breaking the TOS, how can IS even enforce it?  With IS in Canada, photographers around the world, and buyers everywhere in between who has jurisdiction?  For example, if an image of a model's face is placed over a nude body and then placed on a porno site in another country, how can it be enforced?

4. There are images in the IS database that are insensitive in the first place.  Images of sexual body parts, homosexuals kissing, etc.  How can an insensitive image be used in a sensitive way?  Once again, no answer from IS.

IMO, iStock should have stepped in and at least tried to go after the buyer to remove the image.  This would have showed that they truly do care about their "community" of photographers.  Their silence on this shows their true colors.  The TOS is there to protect them and nobody else.

This whole topic has obviously opened a lot of eyes to how IS operates.

And to top it all off, IS has locked the thread.

To view the original image, go here:

http://www.istockphoto.com/forum_messages.php?threadid=38581&page=1

Here is the ad:

http://www.istockphoto.com/design_spotlight_fileview.php?size=3&id=6588[/img]

Here is the website that used the ad:

http://www.electricdisco.com/index.php?page=home


« Reply #1 on: August 25, 2006, 10:12 »
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I saw this on istock as well.

I would say i have to strongly agree with you StockManiac.

If istock was ever going to step in and say something was over the bounds of acceptable i would think this would be such a case.  Sticking someone in a strip bar would surly be against their terms of service posted which state that
Quote
use or display any Content that features a model or person in a manner
that (i) would lead a reasonable person to think that such person uses
or personally endorses any business, product, service, cause,
association or other endeavour; or (ii) that depicts such person in a
potentially sensitive subject matter, including, but not limited to
mental and physical health issues, social issues, sexual or implied
sexual activity or preferences
, substance abuse, crime, physical or
mental abuse or ailments, or any other subject matter that would be
reasonably likely to be offensive or unflattering to any person
reflected in the Content;

Greg Boiarsky

« Reply #2 on: August 25, 2006, 10:48 »
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I find this problem a bit unnerving.  We all know that the most successful portfolios have models in them (just look to Phildate or Lise Gagne!).  We need some assurance that our models won't be abused.  The Istock admins didn't find the design offensive, but I did--I find strip bars demeaning and offensive in general.  More important, however, is that there is a general lack of older/elderly models in places like Istock.  This kind of design, and the Istock response, will not help in that regard.

Regardless, one crucial point that came out of this debacle is that we should use professional models, rather than family and friends.  A professional model's job is to be photographed, regardless of the use of the image.  The only difference here is that the model doesn't know where the image will be used.  It could be argued, though, that the model often doesn't know how or where the image will be used.

« Reply #3 on: August 25, 2006, 11:59 »
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...one crucial point that came out of this debacle is that we should use professional models, rather than family and friends.

Yes, but microstock does not fit will with this financial model (no pun intended).  Hiring professional models for microstock doesn't make much sense, unless you are one of the big hitters, since it requires that you pay them.  With 20 cents royalty on an image, that doesn't make financial sense.  You would have to literally sell thousands of images just to break even with the payment for the model.

One of the reasons that family and friends are used is because of the fact that you don't (usually) have to pay them.

Also, at least one or two of the buyers on that thread voiced their opinions on this matter as well.  They said that the microstocks had "real" looking people in their images (as opposed to professional models in professional poses) and that was something that helped the microstocks stand out.  If this "realness" is lost, then a great disservice will be done to the microstock industry and buyers will return back to the macrostocks from whence they came.

Greg Boiarsky

« Reply #4 on: August 25, 2006, 13:12 »
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I agree with what you say, in principle.  But, I'm finding models aren't really hard to come by.  The people in my portfolio (not many, I admit) all agreed to sit for free.  I just do environmental portraits, so I don't have to bring them into a studio--not that I have one ;).  My contacts on other sites say they rarely pay a model, unless it's for a commissioned shoot.  Apparently, lots of people want to model and will do it for free, just for the experience.

I intend to post flyers at the local university to get some models.

Good luck, and let me know how and if you get any good models.  I'm new to this, and I'd like any possible advice . . .

...one crucial point that came out of this debacle is that we should use professional models, rather than family and friends.

Yes, but microstock does not fit will with this financial model (no pun intended).  Hiring professional models for microstock doesn't make much sense, unless you are one of the big hitters, since it requires that you pay them.  With 20 cents royalty on an image, that doesn't make financial sense.  You would have to literally sell thousands of images just to break even with the payment for the model.

One of the reasons that family and friends are used is because of the fact that you don't (usually) have to pay them.

Also, at least one or two of the buyers on that thread voiced their opinions on this matter as well.  They said that the microstocks had "real" looking people in their images (as opposed to professional models in professional poses) and that was something that helped the microstocks stand out.  If this "realness" is lost, then a great disservice will be done to the microstock industry and buyers will return back to the macrostocks from whence they came.

amanda1863

« Reply #5 on: August 25, 2006, 14:11 »
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The pro model versus using family is an interesting sticking point here.  If I got anything out of the discussion (which I spent all day reading yesterday) it really seems to me as if it is the beginning of a bigger divide between hobbyists and "professional microstock".  Anyone else get that out of it?

« Reply #6 on: August 25, 2006, 14:49 »
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I don't see the problem. Its a tastfullly put together ad in my opinion. There is no nudity visible except for the bare back. I would love to see one of my pictures used in that ad. And please don't play the "have compassion with this elderly man" card. Elderly people aren't as prutisch as you might think. What makes you think its a strip bar anyways? It looks like a nightclub to me. The ad anounces upcoming events and the featured artists. Alot of nightclubs use pole dancing images to send out a sexy vibe. Or am i missing someting here?

« Reply #7 on: August 25, 2006, 15:03 »
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Or am i missing someting here?

You're definitely missing more than "something".

I don't see the problem.
Whether you see the "problem" is not the question. The ad breaks the iStock TOS in more than one way, and iStock did nothing about it.

What makes you think its a strip bar anyways? It looks like a nightclub to me.

Call it whatever you want. Some people will even call it a "gentlemen's club".

Here is a direct quote from the site. Please note that I had to clean it up slightly by adding asterisks (*) for the family audience:

"Electric Disco. Electro mashup music for wankers and prancers once a month. Hot girls. Hot guys. Sex on the dancefloor. Party pashing. Getting loose. Get it out. Get it on. Get with it. Drink. Drink. Drink. Vomit. Drink more. Come and listen. Come dance. Come get naked on the dancefloor, but only if youre hot. Come have a drink or two. Come and get your freak on. Come heckle the DJs. Come get your flirt on and maybe even leave early. With someone else. Or even two people. Drink. Dance. Smoke. Flirt. F**k. Cough. Spew. Bump. Grind. Laugh. Cry. Gargle. Go home satisfied. Come back next month!"

grp_photo

« Reply #8 on: August 25, 2006, 16:56 »
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The add is well made nobody denied it. I wouldn't have a problem with it either. BUT its against the TOS that is for sure. And if you look at the original picture of the elderly man you easily can imagine that it could be a problem for him or his relations.
I mostly shot people but i don't have a single picture with recognizable persons on microstock i feel responsible for the people i photograph and therefore microstock is not the right place for it.
That said i made 31,50 Dollar on Stockxpert today so you still can make some money with microstock even if you don't have recognizable people in your microstockportfolio.(the new prices on stockxpert are great  ;D).

« Reply #9 on: August 25, 2006, 17:39 »
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I don't use models, though I would like to because of the potential earnings, but I wouldn't feel comfortable to use them in RF images because of such possibilities.  Or I would at least tell them this might happen (and I would include some wording about that in the model release to protect myself). 

But it is a pity that IS took this position of protecting the buyer rather than the photographer.

Regards,
Adelaide

« Reply #10 on: August 25, 2006, 17:57 »
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Yeah well is suppose people could have other feelings about whats apropriate and what not. I would have found it inapropriate if the man was naked, or having sex or something. The TOS should give some clear examples as to what is allowed and what not. I don't see how the current TOS ferbids this kind of use, even if some of you would like it to.

There is nothing special or inapropriate about a bar. People go to bars to get drunk and have sex. Thats just the way it works. The site is very honest about that and thats what attracts most young people these days. I'm not saying i agree with this type of social behaviour but its not for me to judge.

Stockmaniac, you may have a problem with these sort of bars but if most people don't then doesn't that mean its not inapropriate and maybe you are a bit of a prute? You can't even type the word fuck. Whats so horrible about a word. Everybody says it and everybody does it. Don't be so hypocritical an start seing the world the way it is.

Greg Boiarsky

« Reply #11 on: August 25, 2006, 18:03 »
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Getting a bit personal, aren't we?  And by the way, it was me who doesn't like stripper bars.  They degrade women.  And, you can tell me to get real all you want and it won't change my mind.  That ad was sexist and it was inappropriate to include an elderly man.  Period.

I'm done with this thread.

« Reply #12 on: August 25, 2006, 18:14 »
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The typical its degrading for women speach. Those women chose to do what they do. Just because you don't like it doesn't mean they can't do it. If you don't like it don't go there. Its only people like you who degrade them by talking about it the way you do. I'm sure 80% of the people end up going to a strip bar at least once in their lifetimes so don't treat it like its some sort of taboe. Its like porn, everybody hates it and the woman are sluts, but still 95% of the people watch it.

There is absolutely nothing degrading about the ad. I've seen more nudity on istock itself then in the ad so how can they lable it as inapropriate?

« Reply #13 on: August 25, 2006, 18:21 »
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I don't see how the current TOS ferbids this kind of use, even if some of you would like it to.


As was said at the beginning of this thread:

The IS TOS (Terms of Service) (@ http://www.istockphoto.com/license.php) state that it is prohibited to use an image of a model in a manner that (a) would lead a reasonable person to think that they endorse a business, or (b) depicts them in any way that would be offensive or unflattering.  The ad obviously violates both.
« Last Edit: August 25, 2006, 19:19 by GeoPappas »

« Reply #14 on: August 25, 2006, 18:27 »
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i don't see it that way, clearly istock doesn't either

« Reply #15 on: August 25, 2006, 18:46 »
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People go to bars to get drunk and have sex. Thats just the way it works. (...) Don't be so hypocritical an start seing the world the way it is.

People consume drugs, people kill, people steal, people make wars, people lay landmines, people use illegal immigrants as slave workers, people are racist, people are pedophiles, people beat their children.  That's just the way it works, however I think most of us would be concerned if the confidence people who model for us had on us may be shaken due to image misuse.

Regards,
Adelaide

« Reply #16 on: August 25, 2006, 18:58 »
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It may sound...but I am thankful about two things

1. That I never got admitted at IS.
2. That I don't shoot people for stock...

Call me silly, stupid or whatsoever, better missing out a couple (or more) of $$$ but having a good sleep... SY

« Reply #17 on: August 25, 2006, 19:17 »
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I just started thinking about shooting models.

I'm starting to rethink that strategy.

« Reply #18 on: August 25, 2006, 19:21 »
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i don't see it that way, clearly istock doesn't either

Maybe you don't see it that way because you are a designer, or maybe because you don't have photos with models in them.

But either way, I'm glad that you joined the conversation and gave your opinion because it shows that the iStock TOS are worthless.  The Internet is global and cuts across many different religions, cultures, etc.  What is offensive in one country is acceptable in another.  So how can anything be defined as "over the line"?
« Last Edit: August 25, 2006, 19:31 by StockManiac »

« Reply #19 on: August 25, 2006, 20:20 »
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1. The IS TOS (Terms of Service) (@ http://www.istockphoto.com/license.php) state that it is prohibited to use an image of a model in a manner that (a) would lead a reasonable person to think that they endorse a business, or (b) depicts them in any way that would be offensive or unflattering.  The ad obviously violates both.


The first part, (a), is ridiculous at best. I'm not even sure what they are trying to say here because the whole point of advertising with a person is to associate the model with the product/service to make people want to buy.

The second part, (b), is too subjective to be really meaningful.

I'd toss the first part out and just go with the second and since I don't find it offensive or unflattering it doesn't violate the TOS.

The add is well made nobody denied it.


I would deny it. It's not very good, no regard for lighting angles so most of the people and products in it don't feel like part of the image.


« Reply #20 on: August 25, 2006, 21:21 »
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I for one am very surprised and disappointed at the response from istockphoto.  I disabled all of my model-released photos (eighty or so images) and will not be uploading any more. 

« Reply #21 on: August 26, 2006, 00:25 »
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People consume drugs, people kill, people steal, people make wars, people lay landmines, people use illegal immigrants as slave workers, people are racist, people are pedophiles, people beat their children.  That's just the way it works, however I think most of us would be concerned if the confidence people who model for us had on us may be shaken due to image misuse.


What a rediculous response. I was clearly speaking of things that almost everyone does and that doesn't involve hurting people.
1. The IS TOS (Terms of Service) (@ http://www.istockphoto.com/license.php) state that it is prohibited to use an image of a model in a manner that (a) would lead a reasonable person to think that they endorse a business, or (b) depicts them in any way that would be offensive or unflattering.  The ad obviously violates both.


The first part, (a), is ridiculous at best. I'm not even sure what they are trying to say here because the whole point of advertising with a person is to associate the model with the product/service to make people want to buy.

The second part, (b), is too subjective to be really meaningful.

I'd toss the first part out and just go with the second and since I don't find it offensive or unflattering it doesn't violate the TOS.


exactly!

« Reply #22 on: August 26, 2006, 01:40 »
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I myself thought about uploading images with faces on it, but now I too am not sure if I will start with that. Sure some people would have no problemes with that, but I know tons of people who would not like to be in such an advertism. Especially many old people are often more sensitve about that.
This old guy might not, but who knows?? I for myself would not want be in such an advertism, if I had been a model. I guess I will stay with penguins..

« Reply #23 on: August 26, 2006, 10:04 »
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Just my two cents worth...

The foundation of the TOS is very subjective since the medium (internet) has no definite boundaries. What's right for one country might not be right for another. However, the TOS' intention, although weakly defined, is to protect the model. I guess for this scenario, the first person who should actually define whether the ad was offensive or not, is the model himself (the old man). If it's ok with him, even if his friends or relatives says otherwise, then there is no problem. He was not offended. Whether others thinks they would be offended if it had happened to them, it has no bearing since the model involved was not.

Unfortunately, based on what I have already read in the forum there (although I haven't read all) the photographer was still undecided to tell the old man how his photo was used because he was unsure how the old man would react. I hope he decides soon, lest the old man found out from others. In my opinion, that would increase the possibility that old man would react negatively, especially if the person who would relay the message also has negative opinion on the matter.

Regards.

amanda1863

« Reply #24 on: August 26, 2006, 14:16 »
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While everyone has their personal moral grounds from which to judge this particular incident, what it comes down to is that the official response from iStock states that while this may be a gray area, they (and their in-house lawyer) judge this to be within bounds as far as their EULA. I think the more legal contracts you read you will find that the language is often purposefully vague, in order to accommodate the infinite variety of situations that may come up. There is no possible way to cover every scenario that could happen, which is why in the legal world contracts are defined in terms of concepts rather than straight forward examples.

On the whole iStock's License agreements, models releases and TOS are very much in line with the industry standard and you will find similarly worded agreements at other stock houses from microstock sites to Getty, Corbis and Alamy.

One of the things to keep in mind when deciding to participate in creating Royalty Free stock images for sale on the Internet is that it is very much a business when it comes down to legalities and licensing. While it starts as a hobby for almost all in the microstock industry it is most definitely a business when you sell that first image, which is something that I don't think some people fully grasp at the beginning due to low commissions per sale and the community feel of many of these sites.

As has been pointed out several times in this thread, everyone's threshold for what is acceptable use is a bit different, and if you are considering doing model released shots for Royalty Free use you may want to do some more in depth research on what can be considered fair game. If you're not comfortable with the wide variety of uses it may be a more viable option for you to search out some rights managed agencies and consider different licensing models.

Another alternative to consider is to take the time and effort to find semi-pro and amateur models who are overall more tolerant of how their images may be used and often more knowledgable about the field than your average joe or your family members. (Added bonus: you don't have an emotional connection at this point.)

 Before anyone starts screaming that this is microstock and the industry doesn't support the kind of money for shoots that involve pro models, there are lots of options out there that almost guarantee you a model for free, such as trade for prints or CD. There are almost as many models trying to start a career as photogs which is a great thing for the new-to-stock group that can't pay an hourly fee not knowing if they will make their money back.

One more thing to consider, (and then I will shut up!) is that contributors on iStock who are considered the "super-stars" of microstock now and have thousands (literally) of sales per week, started out in relatively the same boat that everyone does. A lot of them started with a comparatively medicore portfolio made up of self portraits and family/friends snapshots. The one thing they have in common that has caused them to really excel above the rest of the bunch is their constant improvement and pushing of boundaries and the fact that they approach it like a business and have from the start even when they were making ten cents a download.

It seems to be a well proven theme that moral opinions and emotions don't tend to mix well with business. It's like mixing science and psychology. One is cut and dry the other is subjective and often immeasurable. ;)

« Reply #25 on: August 26, 2006, 15:33 »
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Your opinion on the matter is well stated amanda1863. The core nugget of truth that I see there is that "while this may be a gray area, they (and their in-house lawyer) judge this to be within bounds as far as their EULA." It is that judgement on the part of istock that startled me so and has made me have a change of mind about using friends and family as istock models.

With that in mind, I am looking for advice or opinions from anyone who wishes to offer one about the use of non- professional models on other stock sites. I had decided to return to exclusivity with istock after my 6 month obligation to Dreamstime had passed, but this whole episode has caused me to rethink that decision. I remain hesitant about posting model shots at Dreamstime or ShutterStock... should I be?

What about Rights Managed sites? Is my understanding correct that RM sales are more controlled? I'm vaguely familiar with Alamy but wonder if there are other less pricey RM companies. Any advice appreciated.

I guess that lastly I need to clarify that I don't really want to argue whether istock was justified or not to make the judgement that they did. It is what it is and I can work with that. Whether I (or you) agree with it is not the point. I am just trying to figure out how to proceed from here.

« Reply #26 on: August 26, 2006, 16:04 »
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Well, what did I say all along about iStock being the evil Walmart of microstocks? Anyways, I am one of the people who has removed all of his model released photos. Good riddance: I'm not going to have my girlfriend potentially on a right-wing fascist ad, my grandma advertising Chipendales or my mom with a thought bubble "Satanism. Is it for me?"

Greg Boiarsky

« Reply #27 on: August 26, 2006, 16:44 »
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What kind of images does that leave you with?  How well do they sell?  (Not that I'm asking you to reveal trade secrets . . .  :D).

Well, what did I say all along about iStock being the evil Walmart of microstocks? Anyways, I am one of the people who has removed all of his model released photos. Good riddance: I'm not going to have my girlfriend potentially on a right-wing fascist ad, my grandma advertising Chipendales or my mom with a thought bubble "Satanism. Is it for me?"

amanda1863

« Reply #28 on: August 26, 2006, 20:36 »
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Well, what did I say all along about iStock being the evil Walmart of microstocks? Anyways, I am one of the people who has removed all of his model released photos. Good riddance: I'm not going to have my girlfriend potentially on a right-wing fascist ad, my grandma advertising Chipendales or my mom with a thought bubble "Satanism. Is it for me?"

As I mentioned their legal language is very similar to that of many of the other stock houses and in Royalty Free licensing this is in fact a borderline case.  It could happen anywhere, and there is certainly a chance that other agencies would come to the same conclusion about the this particualr use being (barley) within bounds.

I think the issue here is industry wide, especially as applies to microstock, and the importance of a very clear understanding by the photographer of the royalty free licensing is paramount.

As for you removing your files from iStock, I am really curious after having read your comments why you persist in keeping a portfolio at a site that you profess to hate so much. You don't seem to understand that your shots of models on Shutterstock or Dreamstime or anywhere else could very well end up on  "right wing" or radical right political campaign ad, as long as the image is not meant to mislead the viewer into believing this is an actual person that supports the cause as in your thought bubble example.  It is a fine line that requires full understanding before you decide to jump into selling model released images.

Take a closer look at the ELUAs of the other sites you mention.  Not one of them spells out a comprehensive list of exactly what uses are ok and which ones cross the line.  it is all written in standardly vague CYA legal speak.

While some may like to simplyify it down to "iStock is evil!" some may want to take the time to look at is a sobering example and use it as an opportunity to learn more about the industry.  It will only become a profession is you treat it like one.

One last thing, when comparing iStock to Walmart, remeber that they started the entire microstock industry and started by being a free photo trading site, gorwing into only charging a few pennies for bandwidth and developing a brilliant business model as they went which has now been copied in varying degrees by several of the other sites listed on this forum. As far as I can tell Walmart and iStock don't have too much in common, at least history wise.

« Reply #29 on: August 26, 2006, 22:07 »
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Nice portfolio Amanda1863. Honestly.

As for you removing your files from iStock, I am really curious after having read your comments why you persist in keeping a portfolio at a site that you profess to hate so much. You don't seem to understand that your shots of models on Shutterstock or Dreamstime or anywhere else could very well end up on  "right wing" or radical right political campaign ad, as long as the image is not meant to mislead the viewer into believing this is an actual person that supports the cause as in your thought bubble example.  It is a fine line that requires full understanding before you decide to jump into selling model released images.

Take a closer look at the ELUAs of the other sites you mention.  Not one of them spells out a comprehensive list of exactly what uses are ok and which ones cross the line.  it is all written in standardly vague CYA legal speak.

Now pardon me for not taking your objections seriously as we see that you are a full time exclusive member at iStock heavily involved in the community based on your posts, referrals and battle cage activity. It's nice that you like iStock so much. Just as I like Starbucks. Or as another Joe likes Walmart. It doesn't mean that others have to as well.

You are really curious after having read my comments why I persist in keeping a portfolio at a site that I profess to hate so much? Well, I shall give you two reasons, which I've stated before many times: 1) money: even after removal of my model released photos iStock still generates a solid income payment every month (and that's for not being exclusive), 2) I do not mind my photos of buildings, tomatoes or bees pollinating flowers on there. Stock is not art. I do not feel attached to my work I submit to microstock. It's technically perfect, conceptually useful for designers, yet devoid of any emotional or artistic value. Anything else I've ever shot, I would never upload to microstock, 3) whatever makes you feel that I "hate iStock so much"? I believe that they are over the top, arrogant and bloated company with bunch of inflated egos going about, acting like they are God's gift to the world, not acknowledging the wonderful photographers and illustrators (like yourself) who make what they are. But they do a good job of marketing and attracting buyers, so just like I will criticize Walmart for their arogance and labour practices, I will still buy t-shirts there; similarly with iStock: as long as they keep making me money I have no problems with selling my pictures there. I am a pragmatist. I have embraced microstocks as "the necessary evil" and come out well ahead.

And I understand quite well the reprecussions of having model released shots elsewhere. The point is how admins and others approach their relationship with those who make them money, i.e.: us the photogs / illustrators and the buyers / designers. iStock is without a doubt (and this is proven and can be shown by the number of locked threads, number of bans of members due to criticism, even quality of their customer service responses: which I can provide as well) filled with most blatantly self-important and arrogant staff out there. And this isn't my opinion. I try to keep my interaction with iStock to a bare minimum. I use it purely for making money, not giving a rat's ass about their "community" of moderated sycophants. And here I shall restate the point I made in the paragraph before: I think iStock does a wonderful job of marketing and sales, and I agree with you that they invented a brilliant business model. But I do know from experience that you got to keep up with the times or you will go down into the shits. And this recent issue where several well selling members of iStock (follow their thread and you'll know who they are) withdrawn their model released photos (to the total of about five thousand photos from just six portfolios) in protest / moral dillema illustrates that point clearly. Perhaps iStock can afford to do so with their fleet of exclusives.

While some may like to simplyify it down to "iStock is evil!" some may want to take the time to look at is a sobering example and use it as an opportunity to learn more about the industry.  It will only become a profession is you treat it like one.

I should really find the above quoted bit a little condescending. But I suppose sycophants for all sites will infiltrate the forums, as do the admins. For your information: I do not need to treat it as a profession, as I've been making a living as a full time photographer for quite a long time. PHOTOGRAPHY is my profession, not MICROSTOCK and I suppose that's where we differ. I simply wouldn't feel comfortable putting all my eggs into one basket. Commissioned assignments provide about half of my income, selling through traditional methods (mags, macrostocks, specialized agencies) another quarter. The final quarter of my monthly income comes from microstocks: primarily six agencies that generate a payment monthly and four others that trickle along like a slightly open tap. So as you can see, I'm deeply entrenched in photography, just to restate again: not microstock. And definitely not iStock.

Well, that's it for me. It's 5 in the morning. Sun shall be up soon, so I better get my camera ready for the golden hour.

« Reply #30 on: August 26, 2006, 22:28 »
0
What kind of images does that leave you with?  How well do they sell?  (Not that I'm asking you to reveal trade secrets . . .  :D).

No trade secrets involved here. :) Especially with the microstocks having "Top photos" lists available for everyone to peruse. My portfolio now purely consists of:

1. variety of architecture shots (primarily the least original photos that fall by the waysides of my assignment shoots: I am involved in a lot of corporate construction / architecture shooting)
2. selection of non-exclusive travel stock I've accumulated along the years of freelancing for Travel & Leisure, Vacations, Conde Nast Traveller, Natural Geographic Adventurer, etc.
3. experiments with a light tent / studio setup of shooting socks, CD's, hammers, half-eaten sandwiches and plates of spaghetti.

That's pretty much it. I do have just couple principles for submission to microstock: I never send pictures with the "ooh and aah" factor. Yes, they would make me more money on microstock (my best selling photo on micros is now worth just under $1000, my best selling macrostock photo is now worth $819, the most I ever gotten for a single assignment shot: $500 for a cover), but on principle I just won't do it. I do not submit any of my previously sold assignment photos, even if they weren't exclusive (if they were good enough to sell for $50-$100 a pop, I won't have them at a discounted rate of $1). I do not submit pictures of myself as a model: ever! :)

amanda1863

« Reply #31 on: August 26, 2006, 23:30 »
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Kacper, I never said everyone had to like iStock.  And if you think I'm condescending in my remarks I don't mean to be, but you did just say that you don't take my opinion or objection seriously.  I think if people are allowed to express a negative opinion iStock I should be able to share my opinion even if it differs from yours.  If I seem like I am being too personal with you, I apologize, it is because the first posts I saw on this site were from you and were insulting to some people that I consider friends and mentors who have always been good to me and perfectly pleasent in my experience.  I didn't say they were perfect and you have every right to disagree.  That's the beauty of free speech.  I hope you and I can agree to disagree (which we clearly do :D ) and get on with some useful discussion and debate which can be really healthy, and this board seems to be a great place for that.

The point I was getting at with the quote about treating microstock as a profession ( I didn't word it clearly,) is that the more it is treated like a serious business the more likely the individual contributer is to succeed monetarily in microstock, whether it is a full time income or supplementary income, on one site or many. That wasn't directed specifically at you at all actually it was a feeling I was getting from some of the comments in that thread at iStock where people were saying that it isn't about money for them and they only wanted to shoot family and things like that.  I just thought it seemed over there to be more of a divide between the people who have very few uploads and don't see it as an income source, and the people who are really serious about building up as much revenue as possible.

On a side note I am an exclusive to iStock for many reasons and one of the big differences to keep in mind (or that I will try to) is that I may have a much different perspective on it being a vector artist. there aren't many outlets at these prices for illustration.  The numbers don't lie on that, I'm not one of the leading illustrators there by any means, but overall vectors get more downloads per file than photos simply because there are less of them at this time, but that may change.

As far as the photo perspective and my opinions on the model issues in this thread, I did have a portfolio of photos when I started which are all deactivated because I wanted to focus on illustration. (And I'm not that great a photographer truth be told.)  The other basis for my opinions on the legal issues here come from having to deal with the cold hard truth that what the lawyer says goes, and in having a few conflicts where I had to enlist iStock's legal team in the past.

Greg Boiarsky

« Reply #32 on: August 27, 2006, 00:43 »
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I think that Amanda makes a good point here, as does kacper.  As Amanda points out, there are a number of people out in Microstock Land who simply want to sell a picture or two of relatives.  They tend to dilute the gene pool, as it were, by reducing the professionalism.  Those of us who are serious about it--whether beginners like me or others like Phil and kacper who have already proven themselves by their portfolios--should think about what these other people are doing to microstock.  They not only reduce the credibility of microstock as an enterprise, they dilute our earnings by making our good images hard to find in the dross that they fill the sites with.  They also come to this enterprise with unrealistic expectations, based on romantic notions of what it means to be a photographer. 

As much as I despise the Istock response that started this thread, it has brought this divide between professionals and wannabes to the fore.  I believe we need to recognize that photos of friends and family shouldn't necessarily contribute to our revenue streams.  Let professional/paid models who understand the risks do that for us--not our loved ones.  This is a business, not a family photo shoot.  And, Istock will not protect our models; it is not in Istock's best interest to do so, as there are many photographers and illustrators as skilled as any of us to take our places.  We need to protect our models ourselves.

On the other hand, kacper is correct in saying that the sites have an obligation to run themselves in an ethical fashion.  If our agents aren't going to protect us, why should we allow them to continue to profit at our expense?  A reputable agent would put more than 10 people on staff to police the use of over 1,000,000 images.  This is an undeniable truth.  Istock had better fix this PR and ethics problem, pronto--or they will be replaced by other agencies.  Kacper says he is a pragmatist; how long will he keep his images with an agency that doesn't protect those images?  At what point will the profit be balanced by losses due to theft because Istock won't enforce its policies?

I think that you two are saying essentially the same thing--that the microstock industry had better learn how to protect its suppliers and run an ethical business.  You just disagree in the extent to which you think Istock is unethical and/or heartless.  While defending Istock, Amanda has repeatedly said that she disagrees with Istock policy.  And she also correctly points out that this policy hardly differs by agency.  She is certainly no sycophant.  Nonetheless, I respect Kacper for taking a nice ethical stand by removing his model images from Istock.  I would argue he should do the same thing for all the other sites like Shutterstock and Fotolia, who run by the same rules--just not quite so visibly.

You also agree that this is a business.  The disagreement is in how personally involved we should be with those who run the business.  In the end, however, Istock had better take its suppliers' concerns more seriously.  Locking out offensive threads is not the way to take us seriously.  This "community" they profess to care for could easily desert them.  And, let's be honest here.  "Community" don't feed the cat.

This whole debacle highlights the problems with the microstock industry.  I know that I will make just enough money to upgrade my equipment, and in this I'm realistic.   But, I'd rather work for someone I can trust.  Do either of you need a modestly talented assistant from Colorado?

« Reply #33 on: August 27, 2006, 00:56 »
0
Do either of you need a modestly talented assistant from Colorado?

I think the commute to Singapore every day would kill you!

« Reply #34 on: August 27, 2006, 03:20 »
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Well you're right. We agree to disagree. I wasn't dissing anyone in particular at iStock, but rather the admins in general and I had personal dealings with quite a few. And believe you me Amanda, besides Brianna, the rest took a rather lofty: "what . do you want?" approach. Being an exclusive, you're likely to have nice feelings about iStock, because as many people will point out here: iStock treats their exclusives much nicer. Much MUCH nicer. Seperate fast queue, very relaxed approvals. Preferrences for every contest, AOTW, IOTW, etc.

And it was the same attitude about this "grandpa porn" design. Putting the issue to the side, it's about how it was handled. As long as it was people mainly discussing whether or not it was a good design, whether it crossed the line or not and just one photographer expressing their concern and suggesting that he's pulling pictures it was left on. Then legal beale chips in saying "pretty much our release is so fluffy that we are protected, but can't and won't do anything about issues like that" and many photogs start to worry about their models. Of course the ones that worry most are the photogs with their children and wives and girlfriends in their portfolio, not semi-pro models. Then two admins chips in with some sarcastic remarks and the worried photogs get yet more pissed off and messages about pulling model released photos start flowing in. Pretty soon, thread is locked.

Now to something completely different. Take a look at this thread http://www.istockphoto.com/forum_messages.php?threadid=38573&page=1. It's about piracy. It's about stealing music and videos. Whether you do it or not is not important. Check out the admins "sarcastic" comment that pretty much outlines the best way to steal work off the internet. You'd think that people that are in business in selling copyrighted works woud be a little less hypocritical about things like that...

« Reply #35 on: August 27, 2006, 07:32 »
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As Amanda points out, there are a number of people out in Microstock Land who simply want to sell a picture or two of relatives.  They tend to dilute the gene pool, as it were, by reducing the professionalism.  Those of us who are serious about it--whether beginners like me or others like Phil and kacper who have already proven themselves by their portfolios--should think about what these other people are doing to microstock.  They not only reduce the credibility of microstock as an enterprise, they dilute our earnings by making our good images hard to find in the dross that they fill the sites with.  They also come to this enterprise with unrealistic expectations, based on romantic notions of what it means to be a photographer.

I hardly think that you should blaim the amateur for trying to make some money off of their photos.

You should be blaming the agencies for accepting their stuff.  If it is not up to par, then it should be rejected.

Greg Boiarsky

« Reply #36 on: August 27, 2006, 09:02 »
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Absolutely, I agree.  My bad.


I hardly think that you should blaim the amateur for trying to make some money off of their photos.

You should be blaming the agencies for accepting their stuff.  If it is not up to par, then it should be rejected.
« Last Edit: August 27, 2006, 09:10 by Professorgb »

Greg Boiarsky

« Reply #37 on: August 27, 2006, 09:13 »
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You know, it's not the sarcasm that bothers me here (although the humor is juvenile).  What bothers me is the implicit support for piracy on a site whose contributors would lose money from exactly the piracy they're advocating.

Why don't they lock that thread?  This is exactly the type of unethical behavior I was talking about.  If this kind of stuff is more widely advertised, it will be a PR nightmare.  These people need to learn how to run a business.

Thanks for the post.

Now to something completely different. Take a look at this thread http://www.istockphoto.com/forum_messages.php?threadid=38573&page=1. It's about piracy. It's about stealing music and videos. Whether you do it or not is not important. Check out the admins "sarcastic" comment that pretty much outlines the best way to steal work off the internet. You'd think that people that are in business in selling copyrighted works woud be a little less hypocritical about things like that...

amanda1863

« Reply #38 on: August 27, 2006, 10:19 »
0
I really do wonder if there will be a point in the near future (and I am torn on this,) if the forums at iStock will become all business which seems to be the way it's leaning in the main forum and pretty much everywhere except the off topic forum.  On one hand I would miss some of the exchanges with people I've been chatting with for years, on the other hand I am learning to hold the whole community a bit more at arms length on the site and to limit my personal interactions to blogs etc. where it's not right out there in front of the customer and I am beginning to wish others would too.  It seems like a bit of a struggle latley and that's a whole different discussion!

Your right Kacper, it is hypocritical. Bad PR is bad PR and that thread could absolutley be categorised as unprofessional in certain light. Nor do I personally agree with stealing anything, which is something having my own work stolen repeatedly has taught me.  Now I use iTunes and lecture anyone who doesn't pay for their music. ;)  (A discussion I've had in private with a few who posted in that thread.)

Professor, I believe by now we owe you an hourly fee for mediation!

Greg Boiarsky

« Reply #39 on: August 27, 2006, 10:48 »
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Heck, I owe you two for the fun you've provided, and the insight.  This is exactly why I joined this site--a frank exchange of ideas to learn from and participate in.

Now, if only Istock will review my files.  Because so many of their contributors are exclusives, I find myself waiting in line while they get all their files reviewed.  It makes it hard for someone like me to even consider exclusivity because I can't get reviewed fast enough (and upload enough) to reach the requisite 500 DL.

Professor, I believe by now we owe you an hourly fee for mediation!

« Reply #40 on: August 27, 2006, 16:36 »
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No kidding. With their new lowered limits... blimey I used to be able to submit 50 a week, now... not even worth mentioning.

Aah... iTunes... Love 'em, especially now that they have Stargate SG-1 episodes available to download (no Stargate SG-1 where I'm at :(). I reckon I spend ten times more money on iTunes that I've ever spent on CD's. Brilliant system and it proves the point that most people don't want to steal music. I'll spend an average of $10-$15 a month now, get the 10-15 songs I want, everyone wins, everyone's happy. I'll still pirate an occassional song now and then, but only if I can't get it on iTunes or iPlay, and that's rare. So far this year I ripped two songs, as compared to hundreds per month before iTunes and other services were available.


Heck, I owe you two for the fun you've provided, and the insight.  This is exactly why I joined this site--a frank exchange of ideas to learn from and participate in.

Now, if only Istock will review my files.  Because so many of their contributors are exclusives, I find myself waiting in line while they get all their files reviewed.  It makes it hard for someone like me to even consider exclusivity because I can't get reviewed fast enough (and upload enough) to reach the requisite 500 DL.



 

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