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Topics - Leo

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Off Topic / How long can you survive in Maggot Invaders?
« on: May 14, 2018, 18:38 »
Hey guys,


See how long you can survive without
A: Letting a maggot escape
B: Throwing up

I used a roadkill stock image (dreamstime) in this game (ie, I did not personally kill the bird used in the game).

Direct download:

Please post screenshots of your final score when you finally lose control.

Intro here:

(PC Only)



Destroy maggots by running into them (move by pointing LMB).
Select "weapon"  by RMB.
Deploy weapon by slamming spacebar

General Stock Discussion / Latest Atrocities in Modern Art
« on: March 26, 2018, 03:02 »

Has there ever been a stranger time to be alive?

Continued from here:'legacy-users'/msg474259/?topicseen#new

I've had a few people nudging me on my past endeavors to create an ideal stock-image sell-direct solution.

[edit: thread has been aggressively trolled, so I've distilled the Q/A into this main post here:]

See the screenshots below. These are images of a working system I use for myself. Its a client-side website generator for your stock images. It removes the complexity of web design by pre-generating and pre-processing on your computer, then uploading the resulting website to your server.

This allows an artist to simply input FTP credentials (like any stock website) and the software manages everything else.

I created this system because I wanted to set up my website to stand the test of time, and require 0 maintenace -- forever. By reducing dynamic files and not using CMSs like Wordpress, there is no need for upgrades and maintenance. Hacking threats are reduced as well. Server resources are used only to serve html and images.

The main beauty in this is absolute simplicity and the speed resulting.

What it is:

-A simple static website generator.
-A way to simplify and save time in self-hosting your image store.
-A way to use "cheap hosting" without sacrificing performance.

What it isn't:

-A solution to microstock political/economic issues often spoken about.
-A guaranteed way to sell independently (this differs from person to person).
-A network or co-op.

How can a static (html-only) site perform ecommerce functions?

All functionality is Javascript run (browser) and not server side.

Why not just use some other self-hosting solution.

You certainly can. Other solutions can be useful for people with some experience in web design. The purpose of this is ultimate simplicity and stability, not to mention SPEED. Most dynamic sites can be rather high maintenance or resource hogs. This removes all those burdens.

Will it generate AWESOME looking websites?

It will generate minimalistic and clean websites, devoid of a style-statement, with all focus on your product and a rapid-checkout scheme. The pages (much like my website) will be mobile-device compliant and standards compliant, besides having the basic SEO considerations.

Is it better than the other stuff everyone has tried?

It is far different, with different priorities (simplicity, speed, user-friendliness). If you want a super-feature-oriented, super-customizable site, it might be better to learn a bit of web-culture/design and use one of the common options. This is for people who, like me, don't want to be bothered with my site except to just add products occasionally.

Please note that I am currently refining and rewriting the systems for largescale use, but it works thus far. My website is Django-run, but the client-side page-generator works fine.

More information provided on previous thread.

Image explorer (not unlike Adobe Bridge)

Image search:

Meta data:

Previews/sales info:


Site monitor/viewer:

Speed, performance, and crystal-clean code is usually my objective. I'm not so concerned with boastful gloss in ecommerce sites -- I believe in functionality first and minimalism so as to keep focus on the product.

Currently I am pursuing other things, having left off from microstock a long time ago. But still, people may wish to find a "graveyard" or final resting place for their images that they can leave for 10 years without thinking about it. That is what I did, and I enjoy sales on my site too. Because my site runs so clean, it has absolutely no issues on minimal-charge hosting.

It is my honest opinion that for any continued survival in this business more changes will be needed in expectations as well as pursuits. Meanwhile I do enjoy building this stuff :)

As early as 2011 I realized for certain where things were going with Microstock. Today, August 5th, I have decided to stop uploading and pursue a new industry. I'll let my work fall below a certain point in income then I will shut down all of my agency connections. Customers will only find me on my website.

I should praise microstock for bringing me from a sign shop to being a programmer, 3d artist, web designer, etc, besides the many customers who searched me out because they found me on an agency. Microstock has been full of good times. These things would not have been possible without this industry. There was a genuine turning point when I saw Istock giving away my images, and the obvious crash was silent, but it has happened. Much like the 2008 housing crisis, people only realize what a huge fall that had occurred in retrospect.

With these online superstores there comes a point when you are gaming or getting gamed, or maybe a little of both. Obviously when it comes to shear profit and opportunity, you know who is making bank. I don't think the owners of the agencies are motivated by canister achievements and cute pixel badges. Random rewards are good for rats, but not for me. If I tweet "I got a sale on Dreamstime!" I'm not sure how this is helping me... but this is the proverbial "Skinner Box" where contributors are led on by less than logical motivations. Some recognize this, some don't. Its not a common subject.

On this island I walked into a photographer's shop (undersea photography). He had to sell enough of his work to pay rent in the Queen's Shops at least. He was roughly my age, give or take a few years. I said "Your work is phenomenal! I'm curious - have you ever sold through a microstock agency?"

He stated quite matter-of-factly that he would be throwing away his work and dooming his career if he did this. This was not a surprise to me - I've asked quite a few photographers around here about that and they responded similarly. I understand though there are different ways to approach a market or markets, so this is not to say they were "right" but rather decided what they thought, with obvious results, what sustainability meant. Its the difference between a gormet chocolatier (we have one on this island here too!) and someone who runs a general candy shop (in hilo! awesome shop!).

I'm not badmouthing Microstock. I did well up till 2013. It had its place. In my teens I could have easily been convinced that investing in Beanie Babies would put my unborn kids through college, and silly me, a few years later I would have a room stuffed with useless sock animals. But I'm 37 tomorrow, and I've decided to make a career change. I look at the ploys and obviously less-than-logical motivations this industry uses to lead people on, and I've put it behind me and below me. I recognized the methodologies as early as 2008 when I saw Istock "Steel Cages" but hey I was making money so I could overlook it. Besides, that little double-blue-flame was a fun thing to see at the time even if it inspired people to copy me. I could tolerate the "community" power plays and hierarchies because the money was good.

I was telling my wife, as I woke up with an epiphany, that I used to count my sales in $3-$7 increments multiple times a day on the same image, and multiple images would sell this way. Profits were astronomical across the board. While diversifying among agencies has slowed the decline, the dynamics and numbers are different now. Its enough to say "Ok, I'm out". The epiphany was that my first 100 images in the first months outperformed my 4000 images in these months. My production is higher in quality and some months quantity, but the return is fractional compared to before.

That is not to say, of course, that there not will be many newcomers who might actually come into this business and rock the house. But I haven't numbered myself among those obviously more qualified producers.

Since many of us have shared successes together, as well as declines, perhaps we might share the enlightenment too. As for anyone who can stick it out longer - no shame on you! You are probably the right animal for this savana. But I believe, like many here, this industry has polished us up for the next venture. Onward and upward!

If you've come to the same conclusion I have, feel free to speak up with the good bad and ugly times, and if you are happy to share your new direction please do. I hope for the success of everyone I had known in Microstock.


This morning I woke up to this message:

Dear Leo Blanchette,

Shutterstock, Inc. ("Shutterstock") has discovered that an image or images in your portfolio appears to have elements that are copies of another individual or entity's work and, therefore, belong to that individual or entity.

The original image is believed to be a clipart illustration from Microsoft Office '95.

Your image(s) are attached to this email.

Currently, we have suspended your Shutterstock account. Prior to taking any further steps, we are inviting you to respond to this claim.

At the minimum, please let us know:

a) where, when and by whom the image(s) in question was created;

b) how you obtained the idea for the image; and

c) what program, if any, was used to generate or modify the image(s)

If it turns out that the claim is without merit we will not take any further action and your account will remain active.

Please respond to this email within three (3) days. If you fail to respond by said date with the information we outline above, your submitter account may be closed.


Shutterstock Compliance


See attached image (you might have to log in to see it)

Oddly enough, the image that was claimed to have been lifted (or copied?) was not included. Google searches do not reveal anything similar. So I'm in the dark as to what they are talking about. Its just a claim that it's copied without any reference to the supposedly copied work.

I'm not against the idea that little faceless humanoids might chance to look like other faceless humanoids in the clipart world, but this is one of my oldest images, derived from the orange people, which have always had a fairly solid / unique place in the micro world.

What image are they referring to? Certainly the pen is my own work, and the red woman was just recolored from the orange version.

I can almost assume that this was probably a mistake by an overly-automated process or perhaps a trigger-happy employee? Maybe a competitor trying to make trouble? Anyone else been through this? I'd hate to lose this account for nothing.

For selling digital stock... which we are.

Looks very nice.  8)

There are a few agencies that require special upload considerations.

I only know of two:

  • pond5: To my knowledge, they require vectors to be uploaded in a ZIP file with a preview.
  • Alamy: You can supply a spreadsheet that contains metadata that correspond to file names.
Part of my project contains a special stock-exporter for such requirements, so that users can have these things automated.

If possible (the more info the better) I'd like to obtain a list of unique upload needs for various agencies (unique from the usual my-file.jpg format)

Second, if you can supply links to the template files that some provide, even better.

Its common on agencies to have sales reversed for fraud.

I think I'm on 5 years of selling direct now, and I *think* I've only seen one fraud occur from the buyer (I use paypal exclusively).

Has anyone experienced any sort of customer fraud on their sell-direct site?

I have a question for the sell-direct-experienced people, so I can make a proper decision in the software I've been working on.

An elephant experiences the world different than a mouse, and an ant experiences the world differently than both of those. Each one practically dwells in its own universe.

I've found the same to be true of selling direct, VS selling via agencies. We are like the mice or ants, with our own advantages, unique and wonderful. But trying to be another creature is full of folly. There are a few in this industry who are very very experienced in selling direct. Others are experienced enough to know what is practical. I'd love to have your guidance here.

I find many questions converge on the OPTIONS and the related LICENSING system, especially when one considers the future of downloadables in general. I don't go on assumption, but rather everything should have a sound purpose.

The more experienced the sell-direct opinions given, the better.

Essentially there a few ways we can go:

The Simple System:
  • One product = One Download. No size choices.
  • One license page that all products refer to.
  • One price, no confusion.
This is my favorite because general sell-direct users are not lawyers, do not have easy access to lawyers. Its simplest to design for, simplest to expand on, and its simplest for users to follow. I also don't think (personally) size choices are necessary anymore. I also feel it is the most honest.

Best of all, its most appropriate for a "product-agnostic" system, where users might want to sell other downloadables, like 3d models, mp3s, or books.

The Multi-License/Options System
  • Multiple Options / Sizes / File Types.
  • Multiple Licenses.
  • Multiple Prices, Based on Options.
My least favorite. It forces average sell-direct artists to become something they usually are not: Legal experts. Its hard to design for, hard to expand on, and hard for the webmaster AND his/her customer to follow. It offers too many options, bogging down the process of sale. Also, I wouldn't call it an "honest" system when executed by sell-direct people who cannot enforce licensing (much less design it properly).

Yet I find the insistence is on the second one, by most people, especially photographers.

To be perfectly honest, there are only two reasons I would design the second option:
  • Sell-direct experts insist on it for reasons I have not yet considered.
  • Keeping up with the competition, who include it.
Otherwise, I see little rationale in including it.
The software I am designing is so far well-aimed, except for this issue which is highly subjective.

Please give your opinions, and give your experience / case examples where its possible.
Another thing to consider: Our future is a highly downloadable one, with the advent of 3d printing, gaming, virtual reality, books, and more.

I think our traditional licensing system is based on ideas that are expiring. Please give your comments on this as well, and how licensing should be approached future-oriented.


Once I've gotten some feedback and isolate a few possibilities, I will post those options as a poll and keep the thread active for a month or so, so I can arrive at the best solution.

Off Topic / Small Humming Bird
« on: March 08, 2016, 17:36 »
Saw this tumbling through facebook activity:

Absolutely amazing.  :)

Executing that little bit of code in the screenshot below brings you to Shutterstock's jobs page. I thought it was funny.

I like little web easter eggs like this. Typing certain search criteria into google will also get you a gamified programmer's test that results in a job offer.

Symbiostock - General / To the "Legacy Users"
« on: February 25, 2016, 19:17 »
This post is addressed to the initial users of the old system we had created to network sites and sell direct.

Soon I will be putting out a beta for it's replacement, 6 months in the making. While there were many users, this call goes out to those I had been more closely associated within it's development, its testing, etc. The announcement also extends to those who grew "attached" to it, have been enjoying sales through it, etc. This does not apply to those who have very understandably moved on, or to those using the hybridized version which was repurposed for other agendas (not my product).

I will not putting out the initial release here in MSG, though I would have liked to do so, but rather I will be dealing personally with those who maintain interest and have found the concept useful.

It is prudent not to go into great detail at this time, but here are some things you can expect:

  • No more wordpress dependency.
  • No more complex website administration.
  • Cleaner, faster, simpler.
  • Future-oriented.
I could expound, but I think these four things really emphasize what I have striven for.

Unlike my previous endeavour which was indiscriminately crowd-sourced, this will start mostly as a private endeavour between myself and those mentioned above.

You may contact me via my website ( or via facebook.

When I was uploading to pond5 I had to zip up vector files with image files. Unless I automated the zip process, I couldn't have done it in reasonable time.

What agencies have unique upload requirements, different than the my-file.jpg + my-file.eps convention?

Also, what agencies have upload requirements that would benefit from pre-upload automation?

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