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Author Topic: Microstock vs Gallery Sales  (Read 14112 times)

trevarthan

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Microstock vs Gallery Sales
« on: July 28, 2014, 02:18:45 pm »

I've been on a couple of microstock sites for years, but my photography has never sold well. I think a number of factors contributed to this poor performance in the past, like my preference for subject material and my preference for f1.4 and low light. This was all part of my exploration of what was possible and what I enjoyed shooting, as well as my exploration of what the market wants. I've always wanted to make a decent income from photography and I'm currently evaluating what I can change on my end to accomplish that goal. As such, I've started shooting landscapes on a tripod, mostly using f16 and the hyperfocal length to keep everything in focus. As opposed to f1.4, I think this will generate more marketable images, and frankly I'm really enjoying the results. Sometimes I miss the bokeh, but seeing all that detail is a reward of it's own.

Similarly, my people photos destined for stock will now be at f2.8 or above. However, I mostly want to talk about landscapes and cityscapes in this thread, because I'm more interested in that genre as a photographer.

For landscapes, the general consensus out there seems to be that they don't sell well on microstock sites. However, I think there must be exceptions to this rule. I've heard of people with huge landscape portfolios (5000 images) bringing in four figures or more, monthly, on microstock sites.

So here are my questions:

As I shoot landscapes, should I submit them to microstock sites? Or should I just print them and pursue wall space in galleries?

In particular, should I worry about microstock sales of an image cannibalizing gallery sales? Or should I simply treat them as separate markets entirely and not worry about it?

Should I segregate my work and post the B grade landscapes on microstock sites, while placing the A grade work in galleries? Or should I put the A grade work up for sale wherever it is accepted?

Am I asking the right questions?
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Justinr

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Re: Microstock vs Gallery Sales
« Reply #1 on: July 28, 2014, 05:19:58 pm »

I think the problem is more likely to be that your images are lost in the vast ocean of pictures now available on stock sites.
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LesPalenik

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Re: Microstock vs Gallery Sales
« Reply #2 on: July 29, 2014, 05:38:46 am »

Very true, especially with landscapes and other nature categories. Nowadays, many agencies offer 30-50 million images, adding 10M per year.
Landscape images do sell, but just on Shutterstock, there are currently 2.5M landscape entries.

In other words, if you have a portfolio of 1,000 images, each of your images competes with 50,000 other images.
In practical terms, if the agency search function shows 100 images per page and your images are of average quality, a prospective buyer would have to look at 500 such pages to find one of your images (only 250 pages if your image is smack in the middle of those 50,000 images).

Unless you can grow you portfolio faster than the agency (impossible after the first few years), the odds get worse every year.


EDIT: To make it even harder for stock photographers, Flickr has just announced their Image Licensing marketplace:

http://techcrunch.com/2014/07/29/flickr-rolls-out-a-new-commercial-licensing-program-to-compete-with-500px-and-others/
« Last Edit: July 30, 2014, 06:00:13 am by LesPalenik »
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Justinr

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Re: Microstock vs Gallery Sales
« Reply #3 on: July 30, 2014, 10:30:06 am »

Very true, especially with landscapes and other nature categories. Nowadays, many agencies offer 30-50 million images, adding 10M per year.
Landscape images do sell, but just on Shutterstock, there are currently 2.5M landscape entries.

In other words, if you have a portfolio of 1,000 images, each of your images competes with 50,000 other images.
In practical terms, if the agency search function shows 100 images per page and your images are of average quality, a prospective buyer would have to look at 500 such pages to find one of your images (only 250 pages if your image is smack in the middle of those 50,000 images).

Unless you can grow you portfolio faster than the agency (impossible after the first few years), the odds get worse every year.


EDIT: To make it even harder for stock photographers, Flickr has just announced their Image Licensing marketplace:

http://techcrunch.com/2014/07/29/flickr-rolls-out-a-new-commercial-licensing-program-to-compete-with-500px-and-others/

Time for a bit of DIY I reckon.

The web is awash with images that are available for use and I rather pity those who have to wade through it all looking for pictures, indeed, one wonders just how big this group of photo purchasers is, vastly outnumbered by those trying to sell photos I should imagine. So rather than just put my images up anywhere and hope for the best I've started to create my own stock gallery and will be able to target those who are likely to be wanting them. Early days yet but I have made a start here -

http://inkplusimages.com/zenstock/Contemporary-Agriculture/Tractors-and-machinery/
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Justinr

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Re: Microstock vs Gallery Sales
« Reply #4 on: July 31, 2014, 09:32:45 am »

I've updated my blog with a piece upon this very subject - http://inkplusimages.com/wp/
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Gulag

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Re: Microstock vs Gallery Sales
« Reply #5 on: July 31, 2014, 01:21:44 pm »

You probably will be able to make it if, a big if, you understand the business, know what sells, know what subjects haven't been covered to death, and know how to market images for stock. Microstock is a really bad idea because you won't be able to make a living out of it. RM is a better option; however, generally speaking, you're fifteen years late to the party.
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Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: Microstock vs Gallery Sales
« Reply #6 on: July 31, 2014, 01:28:26 pm »

... you're fifteen years late to the party.

But just in time for the funeral ;)

Gulag

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Re: Microstock vs Gallery Sales
« Reply #7 on: July 31, 2014, 01:46:57 pm »

But just in time for the funeral ;)

that's right and it seems even Yuri Acurs hasn't made much from it recently.
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"Photography is our exorcism. Primitive society had its masks, bourgeois society its mirrors. We have our images."

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Justinr

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Re: Microstock vs Gallery Sales
« Reply #8 on: July 31, 2014, 02:16:38 pm »

that's right and it seems even Yuri Acurs hasn't made much from it recently.

I've never been under the impression that riches are to be be from stock, quite the opposite in fact as I mention in the blog. But what I am looking at is directing what I have to offer straight at potential purchasers rather than hoping they'll trip over them some day. I was also quite surprised at how many of those agencies listed in the 12 year old handbook were still around although they may be tied in with a microstock site. Of the dozen or so I looked at only 3 had left no trace on the web. Not a very scientific survey I know, but interesting all the same.
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trevarthan

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Re: Microstock vs Gallery Sales
« Reply #9 on: July 31, 2014, 02:18:40 pm »

You all seem very pessimistic about stock. Are you as pessimistic about gallery sales?
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Slobodan Blagojevic

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Re: Microstock vs Gallery Sales
« Reply #10 on: July 31, 2014, 02:30:43 pm »

You all seem very pessimistic about stock. Are you as pessimistic about gallery sales?

These are very broad generalizations.

There have always been people making money in stock, as there have been people making money in galleries (or art fairs). Just as there are people winning in Las Vegas everyday. It is just that statistics does not work in our favor, i.e., average Joe submitting to stock or galleries is not going to make much money today, as opposed to yesterday. Or, in other words, most people today would be worse than most people were yesterday.

It all boils down to how exceptionally good you are to make it in galleries. Sure, there are millionaires like Peter Lik or Tom Mangelsen who sell through their own galleries, as well as several others who make a decent living, if not millions. But on average, our chances today are not as good as theirs yesterday.

Justinr

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Re: Microstock vs Gallery Sales
« Reply #11 on: July 31, 2014, 03:20:48 pm »

These are very broad generalizations.

There have always been people making money in stock, as there have been people making money in galleries (or art fairs). Just as there are people winning in Las Vegas everyday. It is just that statistics does not work in our favor, i.e., average Joe submitting to stock or galleries is not going to make much money today, as opposed to yesterday. Or, in other words, most people today would be worse than most people were yesterday.

It all boils down to how exceptionally good you are to make it in galleries. Sure, there are millionaires like Peter Lik or Tom Mangelsen who sell through their own galleries, as well as several others who make a decent living, if not millions. But on average, our chances today are not as good as theirs yesterday.

I think that applies to most, if not all pro photography. You also need to add to the mix that there are probably many more people who have ambitions of being pro photographers as well (many of them reasonably good at it) and the situation is not helped by the lack of opportunities in other fields at present.
« Last Edit: July 31, 2014, 03:22:39 pm by Justinr »
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Gulag

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Re: Microstock vs Gallery Sales
« Reply #12 on: August 02, 2014, 04:25:09 pm »

I've never been under the impression that riches are to be be from stock, quite the opposite in fact as I mention in the blog. But what I am looking at is directing what I have to offer straight at potential purchasers rather than hoping they'll trip over them some day. I was also quite surprised at how many of those agencies listed in the 12 year old handbook were still around although they may be tied in with a microstock site. Of the dozen or so I looked at only 3 had left no trace on the web. Not a very scientific survey I know, but interesting all the same.

Andy Anderson does it all by himself online. Perhaps you can do even better.
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"Photography is our exorcism. Primitive society had its masks, bourgeois society its mirrors. We have our images."

Jean Baudrillard

Justinr

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Re: Microstock vs Gallery Sales
« Reply #13 on: August 02, 2014, 04:37:13 pm »

Andy Anderson does it all by himself online. Perhaps you can do even better.

Why should you assume that?
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Gulag

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Re: Microstock vs Gallery Sales
« Reply #14 on: August 02, 2014, 04:40:54 pm »

Why should you assume that?

at least that's what he said when the whole thing got started. you know something he doesn't?
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"Photography is our exorcism. Primitive society had its masks, bourgeois society its mirrors. We have our images."

Jean Baudrillard

Justinr

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Re: Microstock vs Gallery Sales
« Reply #15 on: August 02, 2014, 04:51:53 pm »

at least that's what he said when the whole thing got started. you know something he doesn't?

I haven't a clue who you are talking about to be honest.
« Last Edit: August 02, 2014, 05:12:50 pm by Justinr »
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Gulag

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Re: Microstock vs Gallery Sales
« Reply #16 on: August 02, 2014, 05:21:54 pm »

I haven't a clue who you are talking about to be honest.

I thought Google was available.
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"Photography is our exorcism. Primitive society had its masks, bourgeois society its mirrors. We have our images."

Jean Baudrillard

Justinr

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Re: Microstock vs Gallery Sales
« Reply #17 on: August 02, 2014, 05:26:59 pm »

I thought Google was available.

When trying to make a point it is often considered advantageous to actually explain what it is.
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Gulag

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Re: Microstock vs Gallery Sales
« Reply #18 on: August 02, 2014, 06:23:30 pm »

here is what I wrote:

"Andy Anderson does it all by himself online. Perhaps you can do even better."
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"Photography is our exorcism. Primitive society had its masks, bourgeois society its mirrors. We have our images."

Jean Baudrillard

Justinr

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Re: Microstock vs Gallery Sales
« Reply #19 on: August 02, 2014, 06:30:28 pm »

here is what I wrote:

"Andy Anderson does it all by himself online. Perhaps you can do even better."
Sigh, but who the hell is this Anderson fellow?




« Last Edit: August 02, 2014, 06:32:47 pm by Justinr »
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