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Messages - csm

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1
It is quite simple actually:

Right now inflation for most products is simply caused by production costs rising: The material to produce a product costs more, so do transportation and energy costs.
In 99% of all cases the person/company that produces the product gets to decide the price for which they sell them to end-customers and retailers. Their production costs have risen, so in order to keep the same profit, they sell their product for more.

But Microstock is one of the few industries where the producer - the person who now has higher production costs, for example by higher fuel prices when driving to shooting locations or higher prices for gear -  does not get to decide the price. It's the agencies that decide the price and they aren't the ones who have higher porduction costs, so they see no reason to raise prices for end products as, unlike contributors,  they have no financial loss due to rising production costs.

That's the whole problem. In microstock producers can't decide their prices. We can't forward our rising expenses to customers and microstock agencies don't have high enough morality standards to do it for us.


I've often thought that.

Train fares go up like clockwork every year, normally by 5 - 10% in the UK.

Petrol has been known to fluctuate by 10% in a week.

Even fast food chains are raising their prices.

Meanwhile MS agents have been terrified to raise prices for years.

How can the price be fixed for so long.

Why is the price the same across the world and not reflect costs in different locations?

not only do prices not go up, they keep going down - or at least the amount the photographer gets keeps going down.

When people ask about the industry, I reply, "All the agents think about now is how low they can sell an image, and how much of the pie can they keep."

2
It is quite simple actually:

Right now inflation for most products is simply caused by production costs rising: The material to produce a product costs more, so do transportation and energy costs.
In 99% of all cases the person/company that produces the product gets to decide the price for which they sell them to end-customers and retailers. Their production costs have risen, so in order to keep the same profit, they sell their product for more.

But Microstock is one of the few industries where the producer - the person who now has higher production costs, for example by higher fuel prices when driving to shooting locations or higher prices for gear -  does not get to decide the price. It's the agencies that decide the price and they aren't the ones who have higher porduction costs, so they see no reason to raise prices for end products as, unlike contributors,  they have no financial loss due to rising production costs.

That's the whole problem. In microstock producers can't decide their prices. We can't forward our rising expenses to customers and microstock agencies don't have high enough morality standards to do it for us.


I've often thought that.

Train fares go up like clockwork every year, normally by 5 - 10% in the UK.

Petrol has been known to fluctuate by 10% in a week.

Even fast food chains are raising their prices.

Meanwhile MS agents have been terrified to raise prices for years.

How can the price be fixed for so long.

Why is the price the same across the world and not reflect costs in different locations?

3
Pond5 / Re: Pond5 has joined Shutterstock
« on: June 09, 2022, 09:51 »
Where does all this leave Blackbox?

At one time you couldn't move for people recommending them.

But now that SS and Pond5 are joining...

4
Pond5 / Re: Pond5 has joined Shutterstock
« on: May 26, 2022, 08:34 »
I was once with an agency called "The Stock Market."

Then they were acquired by Corbis.

The Stock Market collection was then known as Corbis Stock Market.

Then eventually they all went under the Corbis.

It was mentioned in the interview about how artists also buy footage making their own blogs and things now, and maybe would not be able to do that if stock footage wasn't available at lower prices.

But I'd rather not sell clips at all that for 25c a time. Every time I get a footage sale for that price it feels like an insult.

And perhaps if it wasn't for footage selling for lower prices artists wouldn't feel the need to make other videos to make money, if the prices were higher artists could and would concentrate on shooting footage and nothing else.

5
I think the vast majority of images in many agency libraries are overpriced and will never see the light of day. If I can get some dollars for images that have never sold, and likely will never get used even as giveaways, sign me up.

We artists (just my opinion) often fail to recognize that the value of our work (when we submit to an agency) is purely in how it sells. That's it. I decided in the very beginning that for minimal returns, I put in minimal effort. I save my "art" and what talents I have for other venues. That strategy has always worked for me. Other strategies work for others.

"I think the vast majority of images in many agency libraries are overpriced and will never see the light of day."

This is true, and the agents shouldn't keep any imagery they don't think will sell.
Go back to the old days and have editors. I know that would cost money.
What is the point for photographers to submit images of another sunset, ducks on a pond or a brick wall, they will never sell, and you never see these images on the front page of an agents website?

There were / are many who put in a lot of effort, just in to stock in the expectation that they will be properly rewarded for their efforts.
Look at what most agents put on their front page, and look at what most people are shooting, they are two different things. I think the agents should only keep what they would be happy to put on their front page.
I had several images in the past that took a year to complete.
( I kept going back to them in between other projects.)
They sold well as Rights Managed, and I learnt well out of them.
Not, they still sell well for peanuts.
But there will be no point doing anything that takes a lot of effort now.

No matter how  hard you work, all it needs is for the agents to change their t and c's and then all of a sudden you have to work twice a hard just to stay afloat.

Stock is all I thought about for 25 years.
But I gave up a year ago. I could see that there is no future in this anymore.
I'm still trying to see it as a blessing in disguise for me.

I know nothing stays the same but royalty rates now are an absolute insult.

"Congratulations you have made a sale"
1c.
Probably costs more to send the email out.
Do the agents ever look at those sales and question it?

I sold all my camera gear a year ago, which still seems weird.

I highly admire Jacob's work, and found what he wrote here interesting.
I don't see there being much of a future for stock, even though I don't play any part of it anymore.
It just seems very unfair now, and I don't know how the agents can justify, the royalty cut and the prices that artists receive.
It is simply unsustainable, and unrewarding for the effort that artists put in to the work.



6
Pond5 / Re: Pond5 has joined Shutterstock
« on: May 12, 2022, 12:39 »
And now from SS:
To our creative community:

I am excited to announce Shutterstocks acquisition of Pond5, a leading video-centric content marketplace with a mission to create world-class storytellers. Pond5 is a trusted partner for many filmmakers, media organizations and marketers worldwide due to its award-winning tools, including patented Visual Search for video, and it's easy-to-use platform. Through this acquisition, Shutterstock will not only gain a world class platform and tools, but will also expand its marketplace to include more customers and contributors than ever before.

For now, Shutterstock and Pond5 will continue to operate as separate distribution platforms. This means there will be no operational changes for our valued contributor networks on either Shutterstock or Pond5.

Together, Shutterstock and Pond5 will continue to find new ways to bring value to our creative communities, whether it be through education, submission support or data and insights.

Thank you for being a valued part of Shutterstocks growth and evolution! We look forward to continuing on this journey with you.

Jon
Interim CEO, Shutterstock


If they are still operating as separate platforms, what was the point SS buying them?

20 years ago I was with The Stock Market photo agency, they were acquire by Corbis.
Then they became Corbis Stock Market.
Then eventually Stock Market was under the Corbis umbrella.
I can just see the same happening here.

7
Average RPD in free-fall is my prediction for the next few years... (up to 2021 are my actuals).

With yearly inflation in Europe / North America projected at 5-7% for the foreseeable future, the fall in our earnings will be even steeper.

Thinking that the recession/covid has accelerated the end of this business as a way to make a living, these agencies are all startups who owe millions on VC investors usually at 30% terms, or in the case of SSTK they have shareholders, they all have massive overhead, office space, staff, data storage and transfer costs and now the economy in the worst shape since the depression.

Now the agencies are being squeezed and they are ramping up their deals with god knows who and we're getting pennies, one only has to look at the Alamy 7 cents thread, it's a deal with some company in China.

So business is down, advertising is down worldwide since covid hit and now the recession and that affects editorial producers like me as the media and production companies have lost most of their advertising and also affects demand for commercial content but the agencies still have their obligations to investors and shareholders so I guess we are the first to get squeezed out, then maybe they will start downsizing their massive office footprint, might be some mergers etc.

There is still millions being made in stock otherwise the agencies would be all closing, they are still making a ton of money on these wholesale content deals but maybe less millions than before.

The worst part is they couldn't run a lemonade stand on a hot summer day and make a profit with their obsession to race to the bottom and "free free free" which has me thinking they want to report a loss for tax purposes.

Some of the agencies are fronting the free sites......there's money in free and my best guess is it comes in the form of a tax write off or even tax credits.

In the physical world here even the second hand stores don't give product away for free.

Good points.
I left stills to concentrate on footage 5 years ago for the higher prices and now footage is going the same way.
30 footage sales = $30, that is not what I had in mind.
How come I'm selling more content that I ever did in the good ole days but can't afford to do it anymore?
I can't believe how it has come to this, from a time when everything was Rights Manages / Royalty Free.
I'm think it doesn't help that, an image technically, doesn't exist anywhere, and like music, the value has dropped. Free? When was the last time you went into a shop and they were giving away free clothes as soon as you enter?
Free, it's still cost me something to produce it.
Rail fares go up every year, how come, it must be pictures and music that have tumbled, everything else seems to go up every year like clockwork.

Best thing everyone could do is to stop supplying, for 6 months, see what happens.
It does seem like a combination of covid and the agencies combined have finished this industry as a way to make a living.
I do wonder about pricing of images, did clients keep asking for cheaper images or did the agencies just decide lets just sell them for as cheap as possible? Because now it is simply unsustainable.
Sad really.

8
Shutterstock.com / Re: Shutterstock Q4/2021 full year financials
« on: February 11, 2022, 17:14 »
Well, all I notice at the moment since I removed all my stills is the drop in prices for video clips.

So many sales for 0.25 and hardly any of the what used to be regular priced sales of $25 and upwards, I left stills for video for the higher prices. Now video has gone the same way. This is not what I had planned although looking back inevitable. I worked so hard producing video clips the last couple of years, and of course it hasn't helped the last couple of years being what they were but it just goes to show you never know whats round the corner. All that effort and then they can decide to change the contract, the pricing or the algorithm and there's nothing you can do about it.

9
Quote
Any idea what your acceptance rate is for the past 12 months?


Good question. From the beginning of January 2021 until January 31, 2022 I've had 294 images accepted.

As for the number of rejections, too many to count as there were dozens of batches (with some being outright rejected).

During this period, I estimate that I've had about 1500 images rejected, so an acceptance rate of about 20% on average.

If we want high acceptance rates, plenty of Microstock agencies that will take all our work, but would they sell and if so for how much?!

I once made a good living from 500 images.
Everyone needs to stop obsessing with numbers.
Sometimes its quality not quantity.
The success rate with Corbis probably even less.
Often I'd go on a trip abroad and get 20 images accepted, and that felt like a success.
They sold them well though.

10
Lower and lower rates because we do nothing about it, people still contribute regardless so the agencies do whatever they want.

Thats exactly it.

11
I don't know, I think that as the market devolves by virtue of attrition there might actually be fewer frustrated contributors. As SS pushes further into Stan's dream of a subscription only model and AS promotes CCE to the detriment of our silent yet critical partners like mom & pop designers and smaller ad agencies, the market for higher value sales will dwindle even further. Couple this with an industry wide adoption of free content libraries and the incomprehensible (to me) embracement of those by many contributors, means there's little if any room for the pendulum to swing back closer to equilibrium at this point. For anyone whose content actually comes at a cost, or even anyone who places a value on their own time for that matter, the situation will be untenable. Leaving only hobbyists and a handful of factory producers with any incentive or motivation to continue.


---------------


Very true.
The cost of taking pictures has come come down because of digital, and like many other industries prices have dropped, but the cost of travel hasn't come down, good cameras are still relatively expensive, models or locations don't come cheap either, if you live in Europe or the US mainly. It seems to me there is a big gulf in what most contributors produce and what agents want. Look at "whats new", flower pots and sunsets and other objects. Front page of most agents sites, is authentic lifestyle which most people aren't producing. I think agents should only be keeping images that they'd be happy to show off on their front page.

I think one needs look no further than the engagement on this forum over the past year to see evidence of this already.

12
What would not be good, for contributors anyway, is for their income to go up without ours also going up by a similar percentage.

Hmmmm. Gotta wonder what the odds of that might be. Pretty high, mesuspects.

it won't go up. They are scrambling to keep finding new ways each year to keep shareholders and Wall Street happy.  Eventually the milk will run dry. There's only so much juice to the squeeze.  I can see them going down the route that for every 10 images sold you'll get a nickel.  And people will upload for that.

Yes, unfortunately, the downtrend continues. But one does have to ask the question, at what point will the source of  high production value/cost (strong models in proper wardrobe and locations etc.) dry up? When the money isn't there anymore, it just won't make financial sense be to produce this type of imagery.

Sooner rather than later hopefully:)

13
It's sad to see what stock has become. And how it appears the agents show no interest in protecting the copyright of artists work.
You'd think in this day and age it would be easy to monitor.

I want nothing to do with it anymore.

14
Shutterstock.com / Re: 0.25 USD per footage on SS
« on: September 08, 2021, 17:31 »
300 sales in July for 25c!
That is $75, buy some food at the grocery store.

Won't buy much where I live.  :(

I moved from stills to video because prices were higher, now footage prices are going the same way as stills - downwards.

Think of what 300 video sales would have brought in not long ago.

Although the RPD for video is laughable nowadays, you should into account that those videos probably wouldn't have sold 300 times for $20 a piece.
But in terms of video becoming a cheap subscription commodity, that path has indeed been set into motion.

15
Shutterstock.com / Re: 0.25 USD per footage on SS
« on: August 04, 2021, 05:48 »
300 sales in July for 25c!

16
Photo Critique / Re: What to do with these photos?
« on: August 02, 2021, 19:19 »
I wish agencies still had editors...

17
General Stock Discussion / Re: 150 sales at 25c
« on: July 16, 2021, 04:01 »
I gave them the benefit of the doubt

There's your problem!

I know and they've proved me right! :)

18
General Stock Discussion / Re: 150 sales at 25c
« on: July 15, 2021, 04:11 »
39 sales yesterday for 25c! :(

19
General Stock Discussion / Re: 150 sales at 25c
« on: July 15, 2021, 03:51 »
So far this month I've had 150 video clip sales for 25c each from you know who.

Lord Voldemort?

:)

20
General Stock Discussion / 150 sales at 25c
« on: July 14, 2021, 06:28 »
So far this month I've had 150 video clip sales for 25c each from you know who.
I got levelled up yesterday as well! Should I feel pleased?!
Perhaps I've been getting these sales to help me level up :)
But no change in my cut, I thought I was going to get 30% now?
Or does it not apply to these sales?
Never thought I`d reach payout just from 25c sales of video clips.
Deleted my images last year as soon as the change in royalties started.
I gave them the benefit of the doubt for video.
It looks like video is going to go the same way too, then its the end of the road for my clips there too.
Its a joke, and an insult to my / our effort and creativity.

21
General Photography Discussion / Re: Paul Hardy interview
« on: June 19, 2021, 05:14 »
hi Paul,
that's great to have you here! I was just trying to be brutally honest, in line with Alexandre blog, so no hard feelings.
I only responded because I figured that we have a lot in common (age, love and passion for stock photography and career), but also so different life circumstances, which I find interesting to observe.
Thank you for your interview once again, and for sharing this huge amount of useful information.
I wish you the best in your life, best health and job!

Thanks for your comments :)

22
General Photography Discussion / Re: Paul Hardy interview
« on: June 18, 2021, 17:00 »
Thank you Alexandre for this interesting interview. It always helps to hear others stock photographers experience.
What puzzles me is how come he has only 300 pictures in his portfolio after all these years?
Also, why doesn't he shoot high lifestyle productions if that is what editors use? (He mentions it in that part about importance of photo editors - great point! - and people submitting flowers and sunsets).
Generally, I don't like people crying over "old good days" and blaming others for their failures, but, all in all, very interesting interview!
Also, he should be aware that his 90s success should not be credited exclusively to his skills. He was extremely lucky to live in London and to be able to travel to New York at the time when stock market was relying on physical contact, prior to internet. At that time I (living in so called third world country) was not able to participate in the game. I even think we are about the same age, and I was recalling my struggle to get to the market at the time, while reading the interview (war, poverty, afforded few long distance calls with European representative of american stock agency without much success and got in debt for these calls at the time, hard times). So, luckily, internet was invented, Istock and Shutterstock popped up, and now, I'm rich. As soon as I was able to participate in the game, as soon as I was given a chance, I climbed the ladder, and he was sitting there, spoiled and too relaxed, I think he was not even aware what hit him. Sorry man!

Thank you for your comments.

Thank you to Alex for asking my to do the interview.

I had about 700 images with Corbis when they closed.
Probably about 200 - 300 were film scans, and I had no desire to get them scanned.
And probably another 100 that were editorial.
One of my best selling images was the Eiffel Tower illuminated at night.
It was Rights Managed.
No agent now will touch those images together with others which were editorial.
Which is a shame because I think I had the best images of the Eiffel Tower.

I wasn't`t prolific, but if I'm making a lot from each image, why change?
I'm still selling about 200 images a month, not bad from a portfolio of 300 images I think.
I have always paid my models, I don't expect to photograph people for free, if they are going to benefit then I think they will be more enthusiastic about doing it.

I have no enthusiasm for doing lifestyle now if I'm barely going to get my money back.
Out of my portfolio I think 85% had sold, which I think was quite high %, I`d like to know what the average is.

I think it will only be the lifestyle production houses that can afford to continue to shoot lifestyle.

The last 5 years I have been shooting footage instead of stills, and got about 1700 clips with Pond5, hence why I only have 300 images in my portfolio currently. Given the chance I`d still like to shoot stills aswell.
Now we have a situation where footage prices are dropping too and I am selling 4K clips for less than $1.

I was successful, but there were many photographers far more successful than me, and that spurred me on too.
With prices now, everyone looses out and I don't think it is sustainable.

I was little lucky but also determined and good at what I did.
Success didn't happen over night, took years.
Some ways I was lucky that I knew what I wanted to do from school. I then had 7 years before I got signed to The Stock Market.

Whatever you are earning from Ss or iStock, now at a quick guess multiply that by 10.
Then the next month Ss and iStock go under.
What would you do next?

Shortly before Corbis closed sales were getting more volatile and looking back I should have been more proactive in looking at what to do next, but I was very anti micro-stock.

Didn't have a chance to sit there being spoiled and relaxed when I was going in to hospital couple of times every month for 2 years. It was very hard to think creatively then.
But I won't go into that here.

23
So if you agree to these images going into the free collection, would you need to pull them from other sites?

24
Probably one understanding is that our lack of unity and lack of strong resistance to Shutterstock has led to all agencies going the same route.

What now? How do we now learn from this and push back. Alamy has barely any significant earnings. Can they be dropped enmasse

Where was the unity and resistance to iStock which was much worse than Shutterstock and still is. Where was the resistance and unity against the tiny new agencies that offered minimal returns for work. Yet people flocked to those and sold their souls for penny stock.

yes -- continue to blame SS for everything (correlation is not causation) rather than face the fact that stock is a fungible commodity and price has little to do with quality --> more to SEO & other marketing.  Falling prices should be no surprise with any understanding of basic capitalist economics -  i paid over $5000 for my 1st PC and it didnt have a hard drive!  now, mutatis mutandi,  there's no difference among PCs and price is the determining factor for many/most buyers

Right, the world changes, sometimes for the better, but world markets and open access changed the stock photo industry, not the agencies. Technology is the culprit not the people who saw the future and created a new way to market and distribute.

For others, who wish to live in the dark ages and never grow or advance or change?

Trads, those people who think they died from Microstock? What a joke. When you have negatives and slides, mailed. We have gone from chipping notes in stone, to pressing letters in clay, to other forms and the huge revolution with movable type. Linotype machines, casting letters in lead or bars of lines, and the people crying about the demise of Trads, forget that offset virtually eliminated typesetting and streamlined printing.

Would people argue against the fact and ability that we have to write, as we are right now, and distribute whole books, electronically, instead of in print? If we were writing the old way, before electronics and computers, we could mail letters to each other. That's Trads. Now I can type this, click POST and anyone, anywhere can read it.

The change is not because of stock agencies changing, it is because of technology.

Good news, good images are still good images. We just don't have to use expensive films, process in chemicals, and do delicate spotting or alterations. Welcome to the 21st Century... cameras are pretty much similar to the old ways. The way of recording images has transformed the way we can share those images.




As mentioned I think I became a better photographer turning digital.
And of course delivery of images was a lot easier, cheaper and convenient.
Someone once said to me you will probably be able to send an image directly to your editor from the camera one day, that felt like science fiction.

Its just a shame that editors have gone in the process.
And why did images have to be sold so cheaply?
The cost of producing images has never been cheaper.
The cost of overheads hasn't.
Rail fares go up every year like clockwork.
Clothes haven't dropped by 1000%.
Models still need paying.
Etc.

25
Exactly!

wirestock gets the 40% (they told me they have defenitly more tha 250 per year), then they cut the 15%, which makes for us contributors: instead of getting 40%, we get 34%, BUT NOT THE crap 20%

I closed my account on Alamy. In 45 days I can just click on the images in wirestock for submit to alamy.
Because I also nearly closing my account on Adobe, it is the same way. Deposit: I also delete there and click on deposit in wirestock later for deposit.
What I will leave on Adobe, Deposit: What wirestock did not accept because of similary, but Adobe and Deposit later on accepted. So, might be I will get my payout on Adobe and Deposit not before I die, but it might be just nice to see: Hey, you got a sale! LOL
But the real money I make via wirestock. I sold anyway more there than on the personal accounts.

And before dreamstime comes around with their new exciting announcement:
I will move all images from there also to wirestock. Even I would get more money for each sale on dreamstime, but I do not want to dream, when i get paid from dreamstime with its contributor unfriendly 100 $ limit! No! Then I am okay with the cut of 15% from wirestock and I will get faster money from my images.

AND: Everything getting much easier: uploading, (well, keywording not really, if we really care on our images and sales, then better we keyword ourselve.)

What happens if Wirestock decide to change their terms and conditions for a higher fee or goes under in 5 years time?

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