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Topics - Yuri_Arcurs

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1
This is the guy:
http://www.shutterstock.com/g/gorillaimages

Does anybody know this guy or has his contact details? He is doing pretty good!

2
Microstock sees its first major setback in 6 years and here is why:

http://arcurs.com/2013/07/microstock-sees-its-first-major-setback-in-6-years-and-here-is-why/

3
Hi Guys.
Recently my legal team has been working overtime battling a case against us made by a company manufacturing glasses. I can't mention their name here until the case opens to the public. The problem is that quite a few of the models that we have shot over the years have used their own glasses on shoots, which then turn out to of this particular brand and are "design trademarked". (There are no trademarks or logos on these glasses, just a shape of that particular design series from that year for that brand). These models have paid prices in the range of 800 USD for just one pair of glasses so they are quite expensive.

The problem is, that if this case goes into court and I lose, it will have a huge effect on the rest of the industry and we estimate that about 100000 images (at least) needs to be removed from all the online stock libraries, because as you know stock agencies don't want content online where their customers risk a lawsuit if using the images. Istock has done several of these "mass take downs" in the last few years. So if you shoot people like I do, and you have 10000 images in your portfolio, you should expect to have to remove 50-200 images.
Another effect we might expect, is that other brands of glasses will follow suit or that the agencies themselves will request you to remove all images with XXX brands, at which point we are looking at having to remove about 30-50% of all images on all stock sites with glasses. For me personally about 1500-3500 images. Potentially the biggest take down in stock history.

However. Is this fair?
1. Glasses are by the very nature something you wear on your face in all circumstances and thus are almost imposible not to take pictures off. Brands making glasses are aware of this and make them for this very purpose. Cars, computers and other everyday items are similarly recognisable, but are part of every day life. We can remove the logo, but can't remove the car.
2. Is it fair that a photographer that removes all trademarks, now have to risk being sued because of "design"in something as generic as glasses?
3. Is it fair that a photographer has to research into patent registrations prior to a stock shoot or a portrait series of a client? And in fact remove the model's/clients own glasses if they are of a particular brand? Even when this client has paid top dollar for them?

I think this case is ridiculous as you can probably hear, but it could become quite a big problem for us and all other photographers especially portrait photographers or other commercial photographers doing client work.

Any advice that we can use in our case preparations are very welcome. Good arguments, links to similar cases, reflections, law experience. Whatever you think is relevant is very welcome. If this case becomes a reality (which it looks like it will, because they are now already expanding their demands to more images) we want to take it to supreme court. Our lawyers are however not positive about our chances. :(

Best Yuri Arcurs

4
Here are some statistics from our backend at PeopleImages.com from today :. Just wanted to celebrate a bit, since my sales are down on almost all other sites. :(
Peopleimages.com: 5 months in, $0 spent on marketing (to come later) and increases in sales by almost 100% per month. (Still low actual monthly sales, but with days like today, getting much closer to something that might actually go into profit one day)

Clients report two things they like:
The site is super fast and userfriendly. They are tired of waiting for pages to load on fotolia, dreamstime, istock, shutterstock, etc.
Customer support is extremely helpful and friendly.

Anyway. A little celebration. Y

5
Leaf. Delete my post if you think it is a duplicate, but for those of you that did not get a chance to see this, its worth 30sec:
http://www.buzzfeed.com/mjs538/60-completely-unusable-stock-photos

That is probably the biggest laugh I have had this month. OMG. That's how you hit 10mil images! I'm suddenly happy only to have 80000 on peopleimages.com. CRAZY

6
General Stock Discussion / Wow. Have you guys seen this.
« on: September 24, 2012, 05:18 »

7
Last three months:
I have spent my time completely rewriting peopleimages.com's landing, checkout, image view and sign-up pages (based on the user feedback we received during the first month). These are the cornerstones of a website so they take a little time to complete.
The good news: The website is fast, customers are surprisingly happy and uptime as been 100% since we launched.

Uploading.
DT: We see the biggest drop in income from Dreamstime primarily because of the upload limit they impose. It is hard to quite understand why an agency would put an upload limit on it's top content providers. DT is getting images that are quite old while the other sites have the most recent and fresh content. Of course this matters and as we can see on their Alexa rank, new agencies like DepositPhotos will probably overtake them in rank in the upcoming years.
iStock: We have a serious problem with their commissions and upload limits for non-exclusives. We stopped uploading primarily based on that. We are still in doubt off what to do here.
Shutterstock: When commissions became public due to Shutterstock's IPO they where staggering low. The net payout to the contributors was surprisingly below 20%. I like Jon a lot, but it's time for a raise! :)

Income from Micro and PeopleImages.com
The only income we have from a microtock channel that continues to increase is from our own site. The income/file from all microstock agencies we submit images to seem to be shrinking. My income from peopleimages.com is growing slowly but steadily with about 30% per month and sometimes more. It is still low, but not for long at this growth rate. One thing I have noticed, and which I did not know about before, is that a lot of people buy more credit than they spend. Who receives all the money for these credits? Well, the majority of the credits are lost, never spent and forgotten by users. So to my big surprise you don't get a 100% commission rate from having your own site, you actually get closer to 200-300% because you also get to keep the lost credits that nobody uses or just stays on their accounts. A major income that we, as contributors, currently receive no share of through the agencies. But the agencies receive this money only because of our images being on their site. Food for thought!

8
General Stock Discussion / Sales dropping. Istock especially.
« on: September 18, 2011, 02:38 »
Surprisingly it looks like that my income for Sep this year will be below my Mar sales this year. This is the first time in five years of production and certainly not due to me not uploading enough images. I have asked around and the trend seems to be the same for most contributors, especially Istock exclusives. Istock seems very affected in both sales and overall income.
Shutterstock has gone up it seems but has the same low "per-item" commission. Fotolia is about equal and DT seems to go a little below (Probably because of the upload limit they have there)
What are your experiences..And explanations...

9
Calculator. Considering removing this feature from my site in arcurs.com v2

Is anybody at all using this feature? Can I remove it from my new site due for launch soon?

http://www.arcurs.com/cal/

Best Yuri

10
The monopod of totalawesomeness has finally been finalized and is for sale now. Back seven months ago, I teamed up with Custom Brackets to create the perfect tool for high demand shooting. Long shooting days, high requirement for sharpness and very high degree of ease of use. I took my cut out to lower the price, so don't complain. This is for the professional shooter.

http://www.steady-pod.com/scripts/prodViewnew.asp?idproduct=217

You like? I love it. :)

Y

11
General Stock Discussion / Gift from me to you ;0
« on: August 29, 2009, 10:35 »

12
General Stock Discussion / Stock buyers are geeks...are you?
« on: April 18, 2009, 10:48 »
HI guys. I just did this post on your buyers... (Geeks). Perhaps it is a little above what most people in microstock like to consider before going to a shoot, but here it is anyway. Hope you enjoy.

And buy the way: Subscribe to my blog or you wont see this kind of stuff:  www.arcurs.com

Here goes:


Have you ever stopped to really think about who your buyers are? Well I have and guess whattheyre design geeks. Design geeks are a breed of their own. They care more than you can imagine about small details, and they love images with subtle messages that dont bonk them over the head. If you can learn how to give design geeks what they want, microstock will be very kind to you.
I have a "test group" of some of my most prominent buyers. I often discuss specific shoots with them and I sometimes like to pick their brains in general interviews. The info they give me is crucial and very very very (very) helpful. In this post Ill give you an overview of things theyve told me that initially came as a surprise.

1. Subtle is better then loud... (Yes....we get it, alright!)
When it comes to a really great stock image, less is more. Let me just say that again: less is more. Really. Have you never done a shoot and thought, "I nailed it! This will sell like hotcakes," but when you got it online sales were dismal? In this case, maybe your images were too literal. Designers will often provide comments like: "no no no... this is too corny, too bold, or too straight forward." Translation: if you spell a concept out too plainly, your image has no magic. Subtlety equals sophistication.
Consider the shot above of the couple holding hands. We don't need any more information to understand that this is two young people in love relaxing on the beach. Because the image is subtle, it appeals and actually speaks volumes. In it there hints of things we don't see but are led to imagine, which is great.
You know how when you read a great book and then see the movie, its the movie that often disappoints? Well, why were you disappointed? Because the literal interpretation wasnt anything like what your imagination could cook up. The subtle images Im talking about are more like the intriguing book and less like the literal spell-it-out movie.
An image where less is more screams "fill in the missing slots yourself" and suddenly youre involved and you love it.... Well no wonder! You designed it in your own imagination.



2. Its about the story
In microstock everybody tries to make blockbuster superhit images (me included) but lately Ive come to realize that if I want to be a step ahead I need to shift gears... downward. Today my shootplan is nearly empty. It contains hardly any pictures that I want to redo. What is does contain is a lot of text. Now in my planning, I focus on telling the story of a shot. How did the people get here? What are the still-life images in the environment that support the story? What are the props needed for making the shot look real? With this kind of planning I can shoot a concept and end up with many images that will convey a running story using the same subject matter.
Why do I do this? Its because my buyers constantly keep saying the same thing: "when we find an image we like, we will most often need more then one image from that shoot and we often cannot find even the most simple images from such shoots." My buyers say they will pass on a great image if the rest of the images from that shoot are missing or not usable for some reason.



3. Be different or be dead
My buyers tell me they are simply sooooooo tired of seeing the same shots over and over again. They say microstock lacks creativity. I will rephrase this, because I personally dont think microstock lacks creativity, however I do agree that its missing a certain something. That something is shots done outside the photographers comfort zone.
When big traditional agencies talk about the characteristics of great stock photographers, they dont mention the ability to create stunning photos. They do mention the ability to create rare shots. If you want to stand out from the crowd instantly, execute shoots that are hard to plan, hard to shoot and hard to do.
Many microstock photographers have had their photographic self-esteem shoot through the roof over the last couple of years. Theyve jumped from amateur to pro, and theyll often approach traditional agencies with gusto and then be baffled as to why their application was turned town.
Well, the bad news for these photographers is that the big agencies do not consider them to be true professionals. They are "comfort" shooters, and these are a dime a dozen. There will be very little room for comfort shooters in the future of microstock and I predict we will see a lot of forum whining as these kinds of shooters start losing income, fast. The good news is that if youre willing to go the extra mile, you will be one of the few and youll face less competition.

4. The devil is in the details
Often, buyers say: "I was just about to download this perfect business shoot and when I looked closer, the girl had a freaking tattoo on her neck!" In a way weve never seen before, microstock is the "handyman, improvised, mixed together, do-it-yourself" of stock photography. Tennis socks showing under business suits, overt sexuality in the wrong context, inappropriately young businesspeople, weird looking clothes, weird looking models, weird location, weird haristyle. etc. are a huge turnoff to buyers. Be critical of your pictures. Scrutinize them and decide what does and doesnt belong.
And speaking of leaving a little to the imaginationThe biggest and most ironic error I see all the time is the cleavage mistake. While shooting serious subject matter a photographer gets carried away a little and thinks "well if I like what Im seeing, chances are that other people will too!"... Um, NOOOOOOOO! They won't! EVER! I have seen so many micro photographers' shoots start out really neat and professional, and then step-by-step denigrate into what looks like a softporn covershoot. Sheesh. Keep it inside your pants and focus on what youre doing!



6. Too "model looking"
An interesting trend Ive noticed is that when it comes to models, there can be too much of a good thing. Contrary to what you might think, models with the widest appeal are not of the uber-high-end-four-coats-of-varnish variety. In fact, real, down-to-earth, everyday people are what sell. Our buyers want healthy, friendly and energetic models with a genuine warmth and a personality we can all relate to. The quintessential girl or boy next door with a twinkle in their eye. These people translate as more real and they naturally bring an open warmth that everyone can feel.
Look at the couple on the beach below. Does this look real? These two people just look like two models on a beach in my eyes....which they are. They are toooooo good looking to be real, approachable and genuine.
Think about beauty campaigns put on by big cosmetic companies. Who are their models? Scary looking runway vixens? Uh, no. More like real people that you or I would love to hang out with. When youre sourcing your models, keep this in mind. And when youre shooting, remember that this natural genuine energy is what youre going for. If your model starts with the plastic fake posing, stop them, engage them (get them relaxed and comfortable), re-set, and start again.



So, to recap, put yourself in the (stylish, high-end patent leather) shoes of your design-geek buyer friends. Give them intriguing images that hint at a story. Give them rare shots they havent seen a million times. Consider and tend to all the little details that might ruin an otherwise great picture. And give them warm, friendly, down-to-earth models. Give them what they want wrapped up in a nice package and youll not only stand out, youll become indispensable.

13
As the photographers are getting better and more proff, the agencies stay the same. I am facing constant problems in working with professional models and their agencies, because of lack of proper user right restrictions and legal follow-up.

Just this other day, some German newly started blog, had taken a picture of Cecilie and called her Heidi or so, claimed she was 31 years old, had two kids, had a couple personal problems and spoken on behalf of her as if she was writing this blog herself. She apparently endorsed the product they where trying to sell!. This kind of "identity theft" if one of the things that causes my business the most problems. I have lost two good models on this account, that now will not do stock anymore and I have jeopardized my working relation with lots of model agencies

I suggest that we stand together on a set of "bill of rights"


Uploading.
Simplified uploading system where images do not need to be processed individually, but properties can be batch applied, such as model releases, keywords, categories, etc.

Restrictions.
User rights restricting basic abuse of images, so it is possible to work with professional models and model agencies.

1. Identity theft. Calling the model a new name, speaking on behalf of the model. Assigning properties to the model, such as "has two kids", "lives in Germany" etc.

2. Usage where the model is used in a fashion that is defamatory, political, racist or phornographic or in relation to such content.

Legal follow-up or the capacity to do so.
The agency must have legal resources available to resolve cases of abusive use of images.

Progressive plan for higher prices.
Agency must show a forward going progression in prices, normally set to 20% increase per year.

14
General Stock Discussion / www.arcurs.com/keywording working again
« on: December 07, 2008, 16:50 »
After a devastating three days of failure on our keywording site we have now managed to fix it and it is running again and is ready to use.

Sorry for the delay.

Please include any new years wishes for the keywording service and I will see what we can do.

Best Yuri

15
iStockPhoto.com / Istock rejections based on Model Release
« on: August 29, 2008, 09:45 »
I am getting so many files rejected for missing model releases. The rejections suddenly started about a week ago and since then I have had over 15 rejections based on that alone. There seems to be no system in the rejections, some images with the same model are accepted and others are rejected based on missing model releases.
Istock has accepted these model releases with no problem before, so I am a little confused as of why they are getting rejected. I have not been able to find any official notice or reason on the forums or any other place. Does anyone know anything about what is going on and are people experiencing the same?

16
General Stock Discussion / Help me out with the rest.
« on: July 22, 2008, 06:08 »
As you can see from this survey (http://www.arcurs.com/uploading-time-average) there are quit a few agencies I don't have any data on, so please help me out.

Next time you upload to one of these agencies, time it, and post your result here or as a comment on the post. Once we have 3-5 independent results there should be enough for a good average calculation for that agency. I am looking for time in seconds/file for both with and with-out model releases.

Swing me some numbers! Yuri

17
Microstock News / Keyword research and science.
« on: January 07, 2008, 06:52 »
For the purpose of making a good keywording program which I and heavily involved in these days. I have had to do a lot of research on keywording and search patterns in our buyers. I have done this based on some back-end material that I cannot share in the public, but I CAN share my findings:)
Use these results wisely.

General observations:

-   People are inconsistent and non-decisive about using plural and do so randomly. The highly ranked keyword groups illustrate this very well. People may often search for girls, fun, lifestyle and end up buying a picture with only one girl.

-   Search patterns are heavily dependent on stereotypical behaviour to a much more serious extend then first concluded. From a logical point of view it would have been good keywording to include the following keywords together: multi-ethnic, multiethnic, mixed races, diversity, diverse, international, multi-national, multinational, multi, ethnic but my research indicate that all these keywords combine to only one forth of the search rank of one single keyword: interracial. This means that leaving out essential keywords can damage the sales at a much higher level then I thought.

-   Search patterns are much more direct then common sense would dictate. People looking for a picture of three or more business people discussing can be found searching for three, suits, business, table and not business people talking or businessmen interacting. This means that concrete keywords like faces, hands, table, sitting/standing are much more important then secondary keywords. For example people will search for face when they are looking for a close-up and not search for close-up. 

-   People never use the - when searching. No search pattern occurrences of close-up or multi-ethnic.

-   Keywords longer then 8 characters account for less then 10% of the total search rank from all keywords.

-   The keywords: splat, splatter, award, happy hour are highly searched for but no one uses them.

-   The adult and adults are useless, and almost never lead to sales.
-   There is a 80% overlap between highly searched for keywords and highly used keywords by a photographer. This means that one can use the public resources available on istock, fotolia, ss and Dreamstime and do not need back-end material on search behaviour.

In other words. All the keywording I have done on my 8000 picture portfolio is wrong :(

The keywording program I am trying to design will warn a user when a stereotypical keyword is left out and suggest other highly ranked keywords based on the keywords the user types in.
We have been into some really serious mathematics and some really crazy algorithms to get the program to work.

To all the beta-testers: Sorry for the delay. My programmers are working night and day -  I am waiting myself for a functional beta. The first beta will be an XP version and should be ready for beta feedback late this week.

18
Whats your experience? Are things going well in microstock?
Here is an honest breakdown from my perspective:
Over the last three months I have produced over 2000 images of the highest quality I have ever made. They are bright, colourful, super sharp and ultra high res, all with new faces - professional models and new locations. It has cost me over 40000USD to produce these images and three months of 60 hours a week. 

Now this is the problem:

I have had no increase in income for the last four months. None. I am actually down with about 5%

Doing this kind of production for microstock is not worth it, and looking at it from an investment point of view, it is time to downscale or find new waterswith higher prices. I am in particular losing revenue on the subscription sites. SS, 123RF and StockXpert.

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