Ilya Genkin

Quality vs Quantity (once again)

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Hi folks,


I guess that will be a never-ending story - again and again people will be coming to this topic. I'm in stock since 2004 (yet not selling actively on Alamy etc - mainly licensing everything via my own website and cannot really complain) so I know quite well about the Holy Trinity of the Stock Photography: Quantity, Quality, Diversity. Before posting this one I read like a dozen of threads here on 'quantity vs quality' and 'making living from stock' topics and it still bothers me. After reading all these threads I'm still surprised to see people like Jeff and Geophoto are not making living from stock while they have quite extensive portfolio.

 

I personally know a couple of photographers who are making living just from stock photography. They both selling only RF on major microstock sites. One has just above 3K images and has income of something $4-5K/month - shooting mainly landscape and travel images from Europe, North Africa and Mid-East. Another one has about 10K images and has around $7-8K/months - shooting mainly lifestyle. Every their image is a top notch one. Scene, subjects, perfect composition, colors etc. They are producing far less images per year than others, but the quality (not just technical one, but quality in a broad way) is great. And because the quality is great, subjects are highly sellable people are buying it. I know that in theory any image can be sold. But if you are producing tons of images with small selling potential then what's the point of that? You still need to shoot it, process, keyword etc. With tons of images it's a lot of effort. 

 

From time to time my partner needs images for her websites and presentations. Majority of the images she is getting from Getty and not Alamy. When I asked why she said: "Easy to find images with better quality." And she wasn't talking about technical quality. She was more about subjects, composition, etc - i.e. sellable images.

 

Maybe it's better to create less images, but with better selling potential? Not just a snapshot that potentially (maybe) can be sold once in 10 years, but an image that can be sold multiple times per year or even per month.

 

Any thoughts?

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I'm sure there are a number of folk on Alamy making a living wage. Seasoned professionals that have chosen Alamy rather than "G" too. I guess it comes down to different markets and what type of photography you wish engage in. Personally I'd find Micro lifestyle smiley faced high key shots very boring and tedious to produce. Also, there are probably many like myself who just like photography and submit images here as a way to subsidise that interest as well as getting a kick out of seeing their images in print. Money aint everything you know. Sometimes it's the participating that counts. ;) 

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Yes I can spot an agency image at 1000 paces, boringly perfect people in perfect surroundings. They do sell, I'm forever tripping over them in the newspapers, but would I want to follow that route? 

 

We are all different, each to their own.

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You can find images like that here on Alamy but I don't think that was / is the direction Alamy intends on going.  Alamy is primarily an editorial stock image site.  Sure you can set up an editorial shot in the studio, pay models, stylists etc, but from what I'm seeing, from what sells here, that's not what the Alamy buyer is asking for.

 

I think that is the major difference, that and the fact that Alamy is still accepting new photographers at an alarming rate.  I think the latest figure they quote is over 70,000 "active contributors".  It kind of dilutes the gene pool, so to speak.

 

Rick

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Yes, I agree lifestyle images with smiley faces are very boring, but the other guy (actually lady) I know shoots lanscape and travel and yet has substantial income. It's not a typical "agency image" or  seasoned professional. She travels with her family, shooting and then selling. Wakes up early, shoots city, streets etc. I'd say great travel images. Not snapshots but rather good finished product.

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35 minutes ago, Ilya Genkin said:

Yes, I agree lifestyle images with smiley faces are very boring, but the other guy (actually lady) I know shoots lanscape and travel and yet has substantial income. It's not a typical "agency image" or  seasoned professional. She travels with her family, shooting and then selling. Wakes up early, shoots city, streets etc. I'd say great travel images. Not snapshots but rather good finished product.

 

Sounds like she's a very capable photographer. Have you asked her why she's not on Alamy possibly making even better money? ;)

 

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1 hour ago, Sultanpepa said:

 

Sounds like she's a very capable photographer. Have you asked her why she's not on Alamy possibly making even better money? ;)

 

 

Yes, she is. Sometimes I'm a but jealous. :)  She is saying that for some images she knows it would be a high selling image right at the shooting time. And she is very robust as well - she can wake up at 3am, drive 300km, shoot something, drive back, get to office (despite such high income from stock she has daily job in the office as well), work in the office, spend time with kids in the evening etc. Maybe I'm old but I cannot do that. :) 

No, to be fair I haven't asked why she is not selling on Alamy. 

Edited by Ilya Genkin

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It is not fair to compare earnings on one library against those on many. If your thread really is about quantity v quality then makes more sense stick to comparisons within one library and with the same genre of photography.

 

 

 

 

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21 hours ago, Ilya Genkin said:

One has just above 3K images and has income of something $4-5K/month - shooting mainly landscape and travel images from Europe, North Africa and Mid-East. Another one has about 10K images and has around $7-8K/months 

Maybe I'm certainly wrong, but reading the amount, I get the feeling that (I do not want to be rude), my grandmother is a virgin. It is very similar to a fable that with a small portfolio it is possible to have such income in a month.
 

Edited by Gennadii Rybalov
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12 hours ago, andremichel said:

It is not fair to compare earnings on one library against those on many. If your thread really is about quantity v quality then makes more sense stick to comparisons within one library and with the same genre of photography.

 

 

 

 

 

Tha's true, but we are talking about microsotock libraries with very small payment per image comparing to Alamy with quite good prices per RF image. So one sale on Alamy equals a few sales on microstock sites.

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53 minutes ago, Gennadii Rybalov said:

Maybe I'm certainly wrong, but reading the amount, I get the feeling that (I do not want to be rude), my grandmother is a virgin. It is very similar to a fable that with a small portfolio it is possible to have such income in a month.
 

 

"Doctor, my neighbor tells everyone he is having sex three times per night and he is 75! I'm 60 and I can do only once!"

"Well... Who stops you saying the same?"

:)

 

I'd say the same if I didn't know these people personally. That's the difference. Yes, there is a chance they are not saying the right thing, but when a person quits his daily job and does only stock... Well... I guess he is doing better than in the office. Otherwise why you need to do that?

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I don't have the talent to make a good income from a small number of images so there is no point me trying to do what your friends do.

 

There is no answer that fits everybody so there is no answer to your question.

 

Do what you feel best suits you and don't worry about what others are doing.

 

You point to a couple of people making money at micro stock. How many are not making good money, and why focus on exceptions rather than the norm?

 

Isn't this really just a disguised micro stock promoting, anti-Alamy thread, wrapped up in a supposed question?

Edited by geogphotos
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32 minutes ago, Ilya Genkin said:

 

"Doctor, my neighbor tells everyone he is having sex three times per night and he is 75! I'm 60 and I can do only once!"

"Well... Who stops you saying the same?"

:)

 

I'd say the same if I didn't know these people personally. That's the difference. Yes, there is a chance they are not saying the right thing, but when a person quits his daily job and does only stock... Well... I guess he is doing better than in the office. Otherwise why you need to do that?

I'm just talking about these myths.
Think for yourself, if these people would leave their jobs and take up only stocks, then why such small portfolios !?
Delirium, it is unclear to whom and most importantly for what? Rather, they are those who conduct their video blog and who need subscribers and I do not know who else.

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16 minutes ago, geogphotos said:

Isn't this really just a disguised micro stock promoting, anti-Alamy thread, wrapped up in a supposed question?

 

Not at all :) I quit microstock (as microsales) about 8 years ago and do not want to go back. Moreover I started uploading my images to Alamy again recently. But what I see here is people are following the same strategy as people on microstock and that really surprises me - upload everything with hoping it would sell. Maybe I'm too naive but when I came to Alamy in 2006 I thought it's the place with much higher image standards.

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10 minutes ago, Ilya Genkin said:

 

Not at all :) I quit microstock (as microsales) about 8 years ago and do not want to go back. Moreover I started uploading my images to Alamy again recently. But what I see here is people are following the same strategy as people on microstock and that really surprises me - upload everything with hoping it would sell. Maybe I'm too naive but when I came to Alamy in 2006 I thought it's the place with much higher image standards.

Naivety is not a vice.
Simple mathematics and a sober view of things.
Everything itself falls into place.
Of course, if you are not the owner of the publishing house, in this case I would give the command to buy only from myself .......

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I think an analogy made by Philippe (no longer on the forums at the moment unfortunately.. so I'll borrow his analogy) is that there are two approaches:

 

1. The bonsai approach

2. The fishing trawler approach

 

The bonsai approach suggests that you go for a small(ish), tightly maintained portfolio in which every photograph is perfect. The idea is that you mantain a good ranking and sell a high percentage of your images.

 

The fishing trawler approach suggests that the more images that you have, the more likely you are 'catch a bite' and make a sale. Sometimes, particularly for editorial purposes, having a perfect image might not be as important as just having an image that matches a buyers search.

 

Both strategies work for different people.

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16 minutes ago, Ilya Genkin said:

 

Maybe I'm too naive but when I came to Alamy in 2006 I thought it's the place with much higher image standards.

As long as you meet the technical srandard alamy is open to join and images are not edited. This attracts both the best and the worst.

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43 minutes ago, Ilya Genkin said:

 

Not at all :) I quit microstock (as microsales) about 8 years ago and do not want to go back. Moreover I started uploading my images to Alamy again recently. But what I see here is people are following the same strategy as people on microstock and that really surprises me - upload everything with hoping it would sell. Maybe I'm too naive but when I came to Alamy in 2006 I thought it's the place with much higher image standards.

 

For many years it was, well, not exactly encouraged, but the idea to shoot lots and see where the mud sticks was not exactly frowned upon by Alamy. Examples were given of images which sold where many a lay person would think, who'd have thought that could make money. It is only in recent years that the accent has changed to upload your best images. Many who took the advice were /are also making money so it wasn't all bad advice. There were also many discussions where photographers of certain subjects would complain that they weren't seeing the returns they anticipated from their exertions whereas photographers of the local chip shop were making sales. At which point it was suggested if maybe they too should take photos of chip shops they may see more returns. At which point doors get slammed  and the question of what is quality is raises its head. I sold a shot of my local tax offices today through another agent. It is not a shot which will win any awards. But it is of a subject which affects us all. It fits the purpose. It is not the sort of image I want to spend my whole working life producing but if I am walking past anyway, pfff... I'll take the money. Within the quality question there is also the question of taste, which will vary from  person to person, country to country.

 

 

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I think that temperament plays a role as well. Some people are more attracted to the "

52 minutes ago, Matt Ashmore said:

I think an analogy made by Philippe (no longer on the forums at the moment unfortunately.. so I'll borrow his analogy) is that there are two approaches:

 

1. The bonsai approach

2. The fishing trawler approach

 

The bonsai approach suggests that you go for a small(ish), tightly maintained portfolio in which every photograph is perfect. The idea is that you mantain a good ranking and sell a high percentage of your images.

 

The fishing trawler approach suggests that the more images that you have, the more likely you are 'catch a bite' and make a sale. Sometimes, particularly for editorial purposes, having a perfect image might not be as important as just having an image that matches a buyers search.

 

Both strategies work for different people.

 

Interesting analogies. I think that temperament probably plays a role as well. Some people are "naturally" more attracted to the bonsai approach and others more to the fishing trawler approach. There are dangers inherent to both approaches, though. The way of the bonsai can become obsessive and confining, while trawling can become unsustainable (e.g. higher risk of burnout, too much bycatch, etc.). Perhaps there is a middle way...

 

 

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I might be floundering in the middle if it’s a large middle. I spend time on each image, no bulk editing. As a result, I cannot produce large volumes and don’t care to. It doesn’t suit my personality.  I don’t really produce commercial images, highly styled ones anyway.

I do, for the most part, try to shoot images that I can project what they can be used for. 

I didn’t in the beginning because I hadn’t learned that concept when I started. Little by little I’m deleting the early stupidly shot ones.

Betty

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I refer you to the photo of the kitchen sink reported as a sale ....

Edited by geogphotos

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On 10/01/2018 at 22:26, Ilya Genkin said:

Hi folks,


I guess that will be a never-ending story - again and again people will be coming to this topic. I'm in stock since 2004 (yet not selling actively on Alamy etc - mainly licensing everything via my own website and cannot really complain) ..

 

I personally know a couple of photographers who are making living just from stock photography. They both selling only RF on major microstock sites. One has just above 3K images and has income of something $4-5K/month - shooting mainly landscape and travel images from Europe, North Africa and Mid-East.

 

Any thoughts?

I took a quick look at your alamy port and your website and you clearly fall into the quality over quantity camp. You say you aren't actively selling on alamy but I can see many of the stand out images from your website are also within your alamy collection. 

 

How does the quality of your landscapes compare to your friends?

Is the quality over quantity approach not working for you on alamy?

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This Quantity V Quality is a dead subject. Have a look at searches for Sydney ( where the OP has many pics) on Alamy's micro competitors - plenty of both Qs on offer there.

 

How about some variety, something different, something very specific? Diversity - something that not everybody and their uncle are also shooting?

 

Do whatever floats your boat and brings in the sales.:)

 

Edited by geogphotos
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2 hours ago, geogphotos said:

This Quantity V Quality is a dead subject. Have a look at searches for Sydney ( where the OP has many pics) on Alamy's micro competitors - plenty of both Qs on offer there.

 

How about some variety, something different, something very specific? Diversity - something that not everybody and their uncle are also shooting?

 

Do whatever floats your boat and brings in the sales.:)

 

I think the OP is maybe suggesting that it isn't dead, but he is using other photographers, whose images we have no visibility of, to argue quality is king. So the strategy would be not to find under saturated niches to shoot, but instead aim to produce better images than most and it won't matter if the subject is highly saturated.

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13 hours ago, Matt Ashmore said:

I think an analogy made by Philippe (no longer on the forums at the moment unfortunately.. so I'll borrow his analogy) is that there are two approaches:

 

1. The bonsai approach

2. The fishing trawler approach

 

The bonsai approach suggests that you go for a small(ish), tightly maintained portfolio in which every photograph is perfect. The idea is that you mantain a good ranking and sell a high percentage of your images.

 

The fishing trawler approach suggests that the more images that you have, the more likely you are 'catch a bite' and make a sale. Sometimes, particularly for editorial purposes, having a perfect image might not be as important as just having an image that matches a buyers search.

 

Both strategies work for different people.

 

Here's that thread.

 

wim

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