Pages: 1 [2]   Go Down

Author Topic: BJP - How the Stock Industry ate itself?  (Read 8055 times)

Graham Mitchell

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 2287
Re: BJP - How the Stock Industry ate itself?
« Reply #20 on: July 14, 2011, 05:44:56 PM »

What I don't accept is the nostalgia of a golden age of stock photography that should be somehow restored to its former glory.

I agree. There was no golden age - it was trouble from the start :)

Another huge flaw in the current stock photo model - not only are low-res versions disproportionately cheap compared to the high res versions (although they took the same effort to make them and upload the master file) but any kind of content is paid the same price. No wonder iStock asks that no more cat or dog photos be posted - they are quick and simple to produce. Instead they ask for office scenes with multiple models, yet offer the same price per download as a photo of a flower from your back garden!

The change I'd like to see in iStock is people being able to set their own price per image rather than being stuck with the rigid and nonsensical pricing model they have now.
Graham Mitchell -


  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 835
    • Lou Oates Photography
Re: BJP - How the Stock Industry ate itself?
« Reply #21 on: July 14, 2011, 10:46:42 PM »

"What I don't accept is the nostalgia of a golden age of stock photography that should be somehow restored to its former glory. I suppose the buggy whip makers mourned the coming of the automobile in much the same way."

Then I take it that you are saying that a Golden Age didn't exist? I know better; I was there enjoying it. As for whip makers - red herring, false analogy, call it what you will.

"Any more than that is way too long in the current stock environment."

With that statement you have just removed the legs from your own stance: in the GA that you deny, stock was used for, and priced, for some very high-value advertising; it was worth spending time and money producing a great original transparency in the camera.

By your own admission, then, today it's a load of crap in, another similar load out, and then straight into the fan and out again all over the world.

Whether anyone can get the system back to sanity I can't say; however, genies and bottles notwithstanding, I do suspect it's possible. It would take a lot of good guys resigning and just letting the cesspool overflow until sanity rules and the plumbers get called back in. Five years? Money talks, and when the sales messages are seen to fail, that money will scream.

Rob C

Sorry Rob, I didn't deny a Golden Age, just the nostalgia about it. I understand that customers are still paying decent rates for high value projects. But I agree that the lower overall prices for more microstock images have dragged the rates for high value projects down somewhat as well.
An ironic feature of this whole "cheaper" discussion is that most microstock shooters would say that the overall quality of recent (last few years) microstock images is up significantly due to more picky site inspectors as well as improvements in the camera technology. Where the really crappy images are turning up is on the smaller and newer microstock sites who will take any and all images from anyone. Those are the poorest selling sites and rarely contributed to by experienced microstock photographers.
The microstock blogs are always brimming with different schemes to, as you say, "get the system back to sanity" including boycotting sites and various union pipe dreams. Those trains have left the station long ago.
So what we are left with is the reality of adapting to what is actually happening or moving on to other endeavors.

The reason Istockphoto and most of the other large sites don't want any more dog and cat pictures (and a dozen or more subjects) is that they have plenty of them and they aren't that commercially salable. Sure, they'll love to have more office scenes and office people because they sell tons more of them. Some contributors do quite well with supplying them because they gear that type of shooting to produce 50 to 100 "keepers" per shooting day. Factory shooting? Of course. Salable? You bet. Some of those images are selling 10-20 per day every day.

Graham, there are many microstock sites that allow you to set your own prices. I remember seeing many on that topic on this blog site:
If I remember correctly those sites didn't do so well for contributors. Many felt that with all the easily-accessible search engines customers could easily find similar images much cheaper on the major sites. Such is the world of competition.


N Walker

  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 335
Re: BJP - How the Stock Industry ate itself?
« Reply #22 on: July 15, 2011, 03:20:00 AM »

In my opinion the digital workflow for stock is much faster, cheaper, and easier than pre-digital.  Shot properly a stock image should require less than a minute to select the best among similar shots, maybe another minute to apply a standard PS action for minor contrast and sharpening adjustment, and less than a minute or two to keyword and upload. Any more than that is way too long in the current stock environment.
I still spend countless hours in Photoshop but only with my fine art work that gives me much more satisfaction than stock.


I disagree with your opinion about the speed advantage of digital for stock, for all genres of photography.

Film was already photoshopped, it only had to be processed, duplicated, mounted, captioned (only event, date and competitors name could be squeezed onto each mount) and posted. I didn't waste my time processing chrome film as this freed-up time to shoot, carry out office based tasks, or more often than not, wash my smalls in time to make the next flight out of the country.

Pro digital cameras are far more expensive than pro film cameras. The client paid for the film, processing, costs, scanning and pre press without batting an eye lid - these days some clients scratch their heads in bewilderment and bitch if digital processing fees are quoted - some photographers' only have themselves to blame, they helped create the now widely believed notion that digital is cheaper - computer hardware costs, processing time, skill and effort should be free?

No matter how skilled the operator, the digital workflow, time-wise, is 'brutal' in comparison to film. Covering a major sports event with a large contingent of top flight players, shooting RAW, with all manner of lighting throughout the day and DAM tasks, is not my idea of fun - regardless of image adjustment pre-sets, batch processing and pre-prepared metadata templates. Accurate keywording is a slow process for multiple competitors performing multiple tasks.

Image searches were performed by art directors' and picture researchers' without the requirement of computer metadata. They made selections based on the player and type of image required from groups of slides submitted from an event, or from material retained in 'their' filing system. Prior to DIY scanning, top grade libraries carried out this painstaking task with drum scanners.

RAW processing and DAM must be a breeze for those taking an occasional landscape image, or multiple pictures of the same beer can using a digital camera for stock.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2011, 12:50:47 PM by Nick Walker »


  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 699
    • advantica blog
Re: BJP - How the Stock Industry ate itself?
« Reply #23 on: July 25, 2011, 10:32:55 PM »

My point is that both the photographer and stock agency make 1/4 the amount on a web page image compared to print image, for an image that was the same amount of work to create, which is not a healthy model for an internet-based future. I'm also amazed that you seem happy to be selling your work for $2. Where will you draw the line? $1? 10 cents?

That point has already been reached. As the quoted article about the Stock Artists Alliance pointed out, because of the hidden, multi-layered sub-distribution arrangements, it is not uncommon that the photographer's cut comes to only 10-20 cents, even if the client pays five to ten dollars for a RF image.  Paradoxically, this situation is occurring now also with some trad agencies and RM images that before used to pay royalty fees in hundreds of dollars per image.

As quoted:
Photographers who had been puzzled by surprisingly low licence fees now had an explanation; many had been unaware that the revenues they received were often a meagre single-digit share of the licence fee, rather than their contracted royalty rate.    
« Last Edit: July 25, 2011, 10:49:40 PM by LesPalenik »


  • Sr. Member
  • ****
  • Offline Offline
  • Posts: 427
Re: BJP - How the Stock Industry ate itself?
« Reply #24 on: July 27, 2011, 05:36:28 PM »

My best selling stock image sells 75-90 times per month and many of those are in the $2 to $4 range.
that would make whopping 180/360 a month! ;D

better have many of those "high end" images selling so consistently and for many months.
only you know it, of course!
« Last Edit: July 27, 2011, 06:08:47 PM by ziocan »
Pages: 1 [2]   Go Up