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Author Topic: Chat with Stock Photo Industry Veteran  (Read 5683 times)

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« on: March 14, 2007, 18:27 »

just wanted to let you know stock photo veteran Ron Chapple ( has recently joined StockXpert and is in the StockXpert forum fielding questions about the biz.

Feel free to stop by, say hello, and ask him any questions you may have about the stock photo industry.



« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2007, 15:13 »
OK so I'm confusicated here.  The announcement above says Ron is "chatting" at StockXpert but if you go to his blog at it points you over to a blog over at Lucky Oliver.  On top of that, if you do a search on Alamy, you'll notice that he has about 17,000 images up there.

Is it me, or is this business getting a bit incestuous?

« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2007, 17:50 »
Ron isn't exclusive with anyone, so he gets around I guess. It's nothing more than a photographer marketing . out of himself and covering all the bases. He has the knowledge, images, energy, and organization, so why not?

The question is how will the entrance of established "brand name" stock photographers like Ron affect the industry and affect you?


« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2007, 18:16 »
The question is how will the entrance of established "brand name" stock photographers like Ron affect the industry and affect you?

Based on the images I've seen from Ron, his style is slanted heavily toward the "Lifestyle" genre.  I'm not a lifestyle photographer so I'm not concerned from that aspect.  Quit frankly I'm very surprised that someone that spends that big of a budget on a shoot would submit those images as RF stock - especially to the micros.

Honestly, I'm going to watch this pretty closely.  I've had a lot of doors slammed shut (tightly I might ad) on the traditional agency side for participating with the micros.  Many times those doors don't close on folks when an agency wants your stuff (kind of like when an agency insists on exclusive contracts then they back down when you say no - there is an unspoken double standard in the industry sometimes).  I'm taking the wait and see position - not quit ready to abandon the traditional model just yet.

« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2007, 18:27 »
The question is how will the entrance of established "brand name" stock photographers like Ron affect the industry and affect you?

For the microstock industry, this senior gentleman seems to have entered that venue along with the pioneers anyway, so there won't be any change in the industry with his added presence at SX.

For us photographers, it would obviously affect us less if you hadn't promoted him yourself on the SX site, and here.  The emphasis and the consequences are up to you.  I respect your advertising choice.  Personally, like eendicott just said, it won't affect me either because the stock style I use is completely different from his.

Right now, the SX search 'by users' shows as the main page the photographers with the larger portfolios as being first on the list - iofoto being ranked third -  so you obviously are favoring the quantity aspect.

Whereas LO chose as 'photo of the moment' a picture from Martie Venter who just joined and only had not even 10 pictures in her portfolio and no reputation to start with when they selected her.

Wherever goes attention goes life...


« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2007, 18:36 »
Steve - forgot to other reason I'm not too concerned about seasoned pros like Ron dominating or doing anything else is I can't see many folks of his caliber wanting to hang around places where posts like these pop up every now and then:

I know when I saw that post I shuttered (not the camera).  A big part of photography is who you run with.  I can't tell you how many times I've heard "just because someone owns a digital rebel doesn't mean they are a pro" (note - I've never owned a digital rebel).  Unfortunately, image means a ton in this industry.  You will never see Annie Leibowitz selling photos at a micro and you will never see the guy with a brand new digital rebel hanging images in the same gallery.  I'm sure you have a lot of business sense and training - how many times have you heard in business that you need to "know your market"?

If you want to swim with the sharks, you've either got to be a fish as big as one, or be one.  Currently, Ron is simply a fish out of water at the micros (though I do appreciate his contribution).

« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2007, 20:24 »

that's a fair comment. In fact we do try and promote various artists in the newsletter, and I am going start featuring more artists on the site. That's part of our plan. Personally I think there are many photographers at StockXpert who have images that compete with Ron's (and are better) in terms of quality.

endicott, you may be right. Ron is not shy about admitting this is an experiment, and it just might not be worth it to him in the end. We'll see.

« Reply #7 on: April 08, 2007, 01:01 »
This is Ron- thought I might jump in here... many thanks to Steve and Stockxpert for getting these discussions underway!

I've been in the stock photo business for over 20 years. We're going through the most invigorating changes that I've ever seen. One of the exciting parts is that photographic artists who may have never had the chance to sell their work, can now get their images online and distribute to clients anywhere in the world. I know how exciting it was for me to start selling stock images many years ago, and its cool to see many new artists share in that same euphoria.

We're in a very dynamic period development! Microstock today won't be the same 2 years from now, and the "traditional" agencies won't be the same either. Nor will Flickr, or Zooomr, Smugmug or anyone else in the business of sharing and selling images.

I thought about remaining anonymous, but the internet makes the world a very small place. So I decided to be transparent in testing out the microstock waters. By the way, my studio aggressively submits images, and creates revenues, from all aspects of stock licensing- rights managed, royalty free, and microstock. As a photographer, I need to create images that clients want. As a business-person, I need to go to the client. Just makes sense in today's environment to have a balanced portfolio. Getty, Jupiterimages, and Corbis (soon) all have microstock brands- why shouldn't a photographer license images at all price points?

There's a ton more things I could say. If you're interested, read more on the Stockxpert forum at newbielink: [nonactive] and in a business interview on About The Image: newbielink: [nonactive]

« Reply #8 on: April 08, 2007, 03:05 »
Hey Ron.  Welcome here.

I checked out your blog - very inspiring.  I am a full time photographer doing real estate photography and portraits in between stock.  I think it would be great to be a full time stock photography, but haven't committed myself yet.  It is great to read the thoughts from someone who has done it for a while.


« Reply #9 on: April 08, 2007, 08:53 »
Thanks Ron for jumping in.  Definitely interesting times and I'm looking forward to your sharing experiences.  As I mentioned above, my experience has been very different having agencies lock doors and run when they find out I submit to the micros (a couple being Acclaim, MyLoupe, Photographersdirect, etc., etc.). 

I've also had some conflicting thoughts about you and folks like Ellen Boughn (who is also a member here and gives terrific advice on what to shoot and how) propose or conduct photo shoots as advice for folks contributing to micros that may cost a contributor some serious cash.   Ellen recently wrote in her blog at Dreamstime about spending $500 on permits to shoot at the Seattle airport - not including modeling fees, mandatory insurance, etc., etc.  I read your blog entries regarding your shoots on Vail pass and on Steamboat - living fairly close to the area, I know what kind of fees a shoot like that can cost and I'm very interested to hear how you recover those costs with an average return from the micros being a dollar or so per image downloaded.

I know I will be watching closely.


« Reply #10 on: April 08, 2007, 10:28 »
I hope my recent blog post on Dreamstime didn't imply that photographers needto pay heavy location fees! My goal in writing the blog is to offer education, information and direction to Dreamstime contributors at all levels. The article about shooting air travel was primarily geared to the pro/am photographer without a budget. I dropped in the bit about the location fee at the Seattle airport because I often did rights managed productions there as the fee was so low compared to other public and private spaces where we often pay up to $2,000 a day in location fees. Like everything: it's all relative. I advise everyone to balance  investment with long term revenue expectations.
Thanks for the good words about my blog. Appreciate it! Ellen


« Reply #11 on: April 08, 2007, 16:44 »
I'm very interested to hear how you recover those costs

Ed, good question! I rarely do a major location shoot with only one licensing model in mind. For example, the productions with the largest investment will be submitted to rights-managed or royalty-free. But while I'm in the area, I can book a second set of models and create a few images for microstock. The cost is amortized over all the licensing models. Investment in production must be viewed over at least a 5 year period. In general terms, if I break even by year 2, I'm doing great! The profit comes in year 3 and after.

As Ellen mentioned, its all about balance, long term investment, and upfront research. Suggestion: find an image category, or demographic, that has very few images, then invest in that "keyword"  to increase your rate of return since there will be fewer images for the client to choose from.

As far as airports go, you can probably find a smaller city with a nice clean airport at no location fee- just trade out a few photos!


« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2007, 17:21 »
I'm just a little bemused that after being a microstock "veteran", helping sites like StockXpert get going, investing  two and a half years uploading and being there in the lean years. Now "we" have changed the stock landscape, all of a sudden here comes the big guns, who may have been standing on the side lines bemused at the whole micro thing, hoping it would go away.

I think there are a lot of regular contributors here at Microstock Group, that industry "Veterans" can learn from, like seizing an opportunity when it's created.

I know I'll apologize now...


« Reply #13 on: April 08, 2007, 17:53 »
Thanks Ellen and Ron - very good information.  I know times will change and I'm pretty sure we'll have to increase quality and production costs to get that quality.  It's also becoming more and more difficult to decide what is appropriate for RM, what is appropriate for RF, what is appropriate for the micros and what's appropriate for the traditional agencies.  Naturally, everyone wants the best of your work but the decision is at what cost to the contributor and the speculation of that 5 year recovery time.

Where the industry will be in 5 years - anyone's guess (and naturally everyone has an opinion about how to run your business   ;D ).  Again, I can't express enough how helpful and grateful I am for your advice on both fronts.


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