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Messages - iFlop

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iStockPhoto.com / What is happening to iStock?
« on: August 03, 2015, 16:17 »
...what do you think of the current state of IS/getty and future prospects. it appears the futzing has stabilized for the moment. (did i really say that?) :o

I think that they have one big problem they haven't figured out. 3 credits versus 1 credit for essentially the same content -search for orange slice, woman gym, new home and you can't see any reason that one image is three times the price of another.

And they still have the should-have-been-rejected content that came from off site and flooded the collection with rubbish - two examples (no surprise they haven't sold since 2013):


There are smaller problems - the site regularly not working well and some really odd choices with the "new" interface versus the "classic"; inspection standards that I hear let just about anything in (when they used to have some of the most exacting standards, at least for technical excellence); no inexpensive sizes for blog or web use any more.

Why would you shop at iStock if you were a buyer? You have so many other choices that are a whole lot easier to deal with.

All the points mentioned about the mistakes iStock has made over the years thus, leading us to this low point are all spot on. But the mention above of the "3 credits versus 1 credit for essentially the same content" is really the key to why the bloodletting still continues and never stops.

Basically iStock decided if content is exclusive to their site then it gives them the right to charge buyers more for it. But what they don't understand is that most buyers who are looking for micro/mid stock priced content don't see the value in paying triple the price simply because an image is offered for rent on only one site.

Then you have to ask yourself, "Why is iStock really charging more for exclusive content, is it actually better or more valuable?" The answer is no of course on the issue of better and very debatable on the matter or more valuable.

So when the photo buyer doesn't want to pay 3 credits for an image they don't usually bite the bullet and pay the higher price anyway just because they can't buy the exact same image elsewhere. No, they find another solution.

First the buyer might try and find what he/she is looking for in the 1 credit category on iStock, and, if they can't, then they simply move onto lower cost pastures to get their content elsewhere, and then usually they never come back. 

But what actually drives all this as always is the fact that iStock is simply looking for a way to make more money from their images by splitting them into multiple price categories.

Though if you want to charge buyers more for certain images then the images really need to be more valuable. And since they are not, what iStock should be doing instead (to achieve their goal of making more money out of certain content) is not penalize the buyers, as their current 3 credits versus 1 credit structure does, but penalize the non-exclusives instead by raising prices on non-exclusive content (content where iStock keeps a bigger piece of the pie) and up all non-exclusive content to the same price as exclusive content.

Then this current problem of wrongly penalizing the buyers is easily solved by splitting the present pricing down the middle and making all content only 2 credits. This would completely simplify their pricing and no longer raise questions from buyers about why some pictures are 3 credits and others are 1 credit for virtually the same quality picture.

Do that to the pricing, and maybe Getty has a chance of selling more total pictures again than before and saving iStock. Well, maybe not saving iStock, but perhaps stopping the bloodletting from continuing until the dead horse starts rotting even more.

Over the last 12 months, ever since they started the subs thing in May of 2014, I have watched my average dollar per download drop to about 20% of what it was 18 months ago as subs sales have increasingly cannibalized my credit and cash sales into being next to nothing. And since 2011, I have watched my total monthly income drop to about 15% of what it was at its peak.

Of course my total monthly downloads have gone up a bit again in the last year, but this just means that people are getting use of my images for a much lower cost. Does this make me happy? No, of course not. It devalues my work and means people are paying me less for my creative efforts now. As an artist that never feels good. But that's not really the most important issue here.

On a business level I can no longer afford to create quality imagery for stock photo purposes. The return per image just isn't there anymore based on the investment cost (money and time) of creating new content.

For the old imagery I put online 2-3 years ago, it has already paid for itself, so if I am now getting less per image but more downloads from it then it is still not OK, but I'm not actually losing money on those images, just making a lot less from them.

But if I am to create new imagery, and will get much less per image for the new stuff, and have my sales spread over a greater number of my images to make those sales, then the cost of creating new imagery just can't pay for itself anymore on a per image or even a per shoot basis.

So what do I do? I may snap something on the street, or here or there and upload it to iStock when I have a bit of extra time. Or I may not upload anything at all. But when I do,  the images I am uploading are stuff that requires almost no effort to shoot, thing's that cost me nothing to create, and things that I am not going to spend any time post processing or compositing like I did before. I also may upload some leftovers I have from a commercial shoot, basically the stuff nobody really needs or wants that wouldn't be used for anything else.

The result of this is iStock, and many of the other stock sites that have also raced to the bottom (to offer photo buyers who were still willing to pay a lot more for quality pictures until this race to offer the lowest prices started) are now being flooded with mainly shooter's garbage snaps again.

We have now gone full circle by going back to the days when photographers used to just give their leftover images to photo banks to try and sell for them while the togs mainly just concentrated on commercial assignments. So we are back to square one where nobody is really shooting quality stuff for stock anymore, nor have we really progressed in the last 10 years in terms of a more sustainable stock photo business model.

The one good thing is I can put up any leftover stuff I do have now without having to worry about painstaking inspection standards now that iStock opened the flood gates. So I am welcome to dump my garbage into my online portfolio as much as I want in the off-chance some subs buyer is willing to download it for a few dimes and quarters. Truth is I'm hardly doing myself a favor with that approach though (because the income from it is so nominal), nor am I really helping buyers either with my junky file uploads, but that's all that's left to do. So I'm just offering buyers low quality photos for low prices when what most of them really want is high quality stuff and would still be willing to pay more for it.

But are the buyers really unhappy knowing that there isn't much new high quality stock being created now? Probably they can't really tell the difference just yet because there is still so much good quality older stuff online that they can choose from at these lower prices. So they are having a field day for now and are the true winners in all of this. Neither the artists or the photo resellers are benefiting at all from this when they should be in some way. And for the photo buyers themselves, this just means more money left over to keep in their pockets with prices now being about 20% or less of what they were before. Nice one iStock!

Though when trends and styles start changing, as they do quite often, graphic artists and photo buyer's will start finding themselves having difficulty finding current, high quality, and relevant stock content they need in the future. Just like it was back in the day where much of the time you couldn't find relevant stock photos in photo banks and had to hire a professional to shoot what you really needed.

Also, it will reach a point where the quality stuff that is online for these cheap prices will have been seen and used so much already by the marketplace that image buyers may not want to keep using the same old stuff that everyone else has used already over and over again, regardless of its quality.

Maybe at that point some agency will emerge from the rubble charging prices again that makes it worthwhile for photographers to invest time and money to create quality content for stock once more and then buyers will return to paying the prices they were willing to pay before iStock went head to head with Shutterstock to try and win this game of who can sell the most downloads at any cost.

The irony in all this is that Getty will probably bankrupt themselves by racing to the bottom which will just prove to everyone that it was probably one of the worst business decisions ever made by a competing stock agency to try and copy Shuterstock's business model and cheapen the value of everyone's work even further to the point of capitulation.

General - Stock Video / Re: Stock Video Length?
« on: May 15, 2015, 20:53 »
Understood. Thanks. Then that probably helps to identify what is most usable by clients too. If that's the industry standard then that's what clients probably want and use the most.

General - Stock Video / Stock Video Length?
« on: May 15, 2015, 15:24 »
OK, so we have a range now of 5 to 30 seconds. At least we've established a range rather than saying there is no ideal range. I think obviously for most commercial stock subjects a 5-10 minute clip for example would be far too long. So there is a range and there is a number and frankly if that number is from 5 up to 30 seconds then it is still a pretty narrow and finite range. So I'm satisfied with that knowing that clips can be as short as need be, depending on the subject, but probably less than 5 seconds is too short and anything above 30 seconds tends to be dragging on too much. Question answered.

General - Stock Video / Stock Video Length?
« on: May 15, 2015, 12:10 »
10 to 15 for me

Cheers. That's about what I thought.

General - Stock Video / Stock Video Length?
« on: May 15, 2015, 10:28 »
What the average time length and/or most sellable time length period for stock video clips?

Is the sweet spot around 15 seconds?

iStockPhoto.com / Re: iStock | 15 Year Anniversary
« on: April 27, 2015, 09:45 »
Most iStock contributors may not be aware of the YouTube link to the video.

Exclusive contributors were originally told to log into the Getty Images Contributor Community site to watch it in a secure area. Non exclusive contributors didn't have access to it.

Shortly after that, iStock decided to provide a public link to the video within the iStock public forum. That link is here and I believe where most iStock contributors went to watch it:


Unfortunately the above link doesn't allow any place to leave comments on the video though.

iStockPhoto.com / iStock | 15 Year Anniversary
« on: April 26, 2015, 12:44 »
Maybe it's a loss  for some that the forum will be gone but let's put in a prayer that they will get rid of that ubermuppet Lobo in the process.

I personally have never understood why they keep him. Even when he is attempting to be helpful he is still a snark. As far as I am concerned he does more damage than good.

I totally agree. I never understood his attitude and the whole unappealing "hammer-time" de moniker he exudes. Who needs it really? It's not cute or funny at all to me.

If iStock is going to have someone act as the face of iStock to interact with its thousands of contributors then you would think they would choose someone with the right interpersonal skills to be a positive representation of the company.

Well, I guess I need not wonder why iStock has hired the wrong guy for the job. Every corporate decision they have made since early 2012 has done nothing but damage the individual contributor on one level or another. So he just falls into a long line of bad corporate decision making. But hey, at least their consistent in their bad decisions because consistency seems to at least count for something.

I am glad I am not him though. It would bother me to know I am generally disliked by over 30,000 people. But I guess it pays the bills so...

iStockPhoto.com / Re: iStock | 15 Year Anniversary
« on: April 26, 2015, 08:56 »
Nah, keep him. I just skip over his posts,  so it's just 5-10% less posts I would have to read when going through a thread. Good, forgettable filler.

iStockPhoto.com / iStock | 15 Year Anniversary
« on: April 25, 2015, 15:05 »
I think everyone is reading the Getty message wrongly. The point is they don't want community anymore. Never did in fact. Those were left over warm fuzzy Brucie remnants. They were never Getty's thang. They were just slow to start tearing down the walls.

They have been dismantling it bit by bit, piece by piece for the last few years though. Haven't we all noticed?

No more about/blog pages on profiles, no more light box linking, no more iStock contributor friend following, no more descriptions, etc.

I think it's clear what they want. No visible human element to the buyer experience. No more old rants that buyers can pick through in forums posts dating back through 15 years. They want to shove all their sorry, dirty laundry under the bed and out of sight now for good.

What they want to be selling simply is the notion that a picture is worth a thousand words and that's it. See it, you like it, buy it, goodbye, but come back when you want another picture please.

Forums? Of course they don't want those or to preserve 15 years of contributor chatter history. Meaningless to someone who wants to buy a photo, no? And I'm not saying it's good or bad, but that's just how it is and will be.

Frankly, I can live without all of it though and I do. I never post anything on the iStock forums and hardly read them. It's as censored and full of fake high fives as reading a North Korean propaganda newspaper anyway.

So just show me the money Getty. That's all I want. But you can't even do that anymore.

iStockPhoto.com / Re: iStock | 15 Year Anniversary
« on: April 24, 2015, 16:08 »

Does anyone have a link to the video, or is it a private exclusive video for exclusives' eyes only?

Someone put it here for public consumption on YouTube:
<a href="http://youtu.be/R12s2Acv_IQ" target="_blank" class="aeva_link bbc_link new_win">http://youtu.be/R12s2Acv_IQ</a>

I posted this link in this thread once already. Guess it wasn't so obvious the first time.

iStockPhoto.com / Re: iStock | 15 Year Anniversary
« on: April 24, 2015, 15:17 »
Alas, let's not forget this one hit wonder: http://www.istockphoto.com/profile/rrockafellar?id=592029

iStockPhoto.com / Re: iStock | 15 Year Anniversary
« on: April 24, 2015, 14:26 »

Quote from: KelvinJ in 2010
You don't seem to be taking the hint. They've F'd us in the A, rolled over, farted and are reaching for their cigarettes. They don't want some cosy post coital chat. They're just hoping you will realise how embarrassing the whole situation is, take the couple of dollars they've left on the bedside table, get dressed and do the walk of shame.

Quote from: KelvinJ in 2015

I only joined in 2005, but it's hard to explain just what a profound and positive influence this place has been on my life and work over the last 10 years. The people I've met and the places I've been have been amazing. I can't wait to see what the future holds for all of us. Happy 15th Birthday iStock!

What happened there ??  :o

I think it's obvious he's just feeling the love. Aren't you?

iStockPhoto.com / Re: iStock | 15 Year Anniversary
« on: April 24, 2015, 13:32 »
Just when you thought it was safe to stop throwing up in your mouth, KelvinJ posts this about an hour ago:

I only joined in 2005, but it's hard to explain just what a profound and positive influence this place has been on my life and work over the last 10 years. The people I've met and the places I've been have been amazing. I can't wait to see what the future holds for all of us. Happy 15th Birthday iStock!

iStockPhoto.com / Re: iStock | 15 Year Anniversary
« on: April 24, 2015, 11:34 »
Perhaps all this shuffling of administrators all the time within iStock and Getty isn't because the individuals don't want to stick around. I assume they are offered positions with big salaries and big expectations to go along with the positions. Performance expectations and goals that often probably aren't attainable or realistic. Then heads roll, hire a replacement, and start all over. But people accept these tall order jobs because they are waving a lot of money in your face. So people roll the dice, ultimately fail, and then are forced to move on after they have only had a chance to send out one wooyay email to contributors.

iStockPhoto.com / Re: iStock | 15 Year Anniversary
« on: April 24, 2015, 07:30 »
Wasn't there another guy (not Brad Ralph) who sent out some sort of rah-rah corporate communication to contributors a while back (within the last year), who also had claimed to be another mysterious co-founder, and then we never heard from him again?

iStockPhoto.com / Re: iStock | 15 Year Anniversary
« on: April 24, 2015, 05:01 »
I think about everything they did starting since September 2012 and everything, and I mean every single change they have "made for the better",  has resulted in a pure and measurable additional net loss of income for me.

Nothing I have done to try and fight the declining curve (optimizing keywords, linking light boxes, adding new content, etc) has made one bit of difference to thwart my steadily falling income on a monthly basis.

Nothing will get better I'm certain at this point. The only thing that has gone up has been subscription sales, but that is a red herring because for the small increase in income from subs I have lost volumes of credit sales, and the net result of that has been a net decline in additional income as well.

I think it is ironic they even implemented the phrase "race to the bottom" because everything they have done in the last 2.5 years has been nothing but a race to the bottom on my income.

The only time I will take one word from them seriously about how they cherish their exclusive contributors is when I see my income start to steadily rise again as it did from 2010 to early 2012.   But I think the chance of that happening is between slim and none and it appears slim just left town.

iStockPhoto.com / Re: iStock | 15 Year Anniversary
« on: April 23, 2015, 06:38 »
Derek Snyder of Getty Images Speaking About iStock Photo On 22 April 2015 - For The iStock Photo 15 Year Anniversary - A video published on the Getty Images Contributor Community site on 22 April 2015 titled "Looking Ahead: An Update For Our Exclusive Contributors". Presented by Derek Snyder Sr. Director, Product and Ecommerce. Produced by Jacleen Boland Sr. Manager, Corporate Communications at Getty Images.


iStockPhoto.com / iStock | 15 Year Anniversary
« on: April 22, 2015, 13:24 »
We are proud to represent your content, and defy the race-to-the-bottom trend in pricing...

So if they aren't part of the race to the bottom then why am I earning $2 or less on a XXXL download  when I used to earn as much as $30 for the same download? I don't know where his maths are coming from but my math explains why I am now earning less than 20% of what I was earning as an exclusive in 2011 and yet with double the portfolio size now.

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