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Jose Elias

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Posts posted by Jose Elias

  1. My largest single sales from a well known micro, compared to my biggest sale from alamy on that month. From the micro agency I'm excluding all other hundreds of smaller sales, even if many of those smaller sales are still higher than the rest I get from alamy.



    Known Micro agency (highest net sales): 35.17$ / 19.05$ / 18.95$ / 17.66$ / 14.27$

    Alamy highest sale (net): 19.14$



    Known Micro agency (highest net sales): 91.86$ / 66.85$ / 31.21$ / 29.85$

    Alamy highest sale (net): 15.02$



    Known Micro agency (highest net sales): 94.67$ / 22.67$ / 18.06$ / 16.14$

    Alamy highest sale (net): 11.87$


    November (so far):

    Known Micro agency (highest net sales):  81.17$ / 56.31$ / 14.82$

    Alamy highest sale (net): 11.33$


    I don't have a clue about what alamy sales team is doing, but when a micro agency is able to license images for those prices and alamy only sells them for a fraction, something very wrong is happening.

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  2. I also have experimented on this subject and found that after "optimizing" several images, they have fallen drastically in the search results.


    I had several images on the first page of a specific search that returned almost 700 photos. One was in the 29th position and the other three near the bottom between the 90th and 100th position. After optimizing four images all of them dropped three pages in the search results.


    The optimization I've made consisted in deleting some less relevant keywords and adding expressions, like the two-word name of the subject to the super-tags, and keeping the caption and previous super-tags.


    Their previous place was then occupied by other non optimized images of mine, but the images I've worked on dropped like a stone.

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  3. Well, we have two very recent cases particularly bad in Portugal. The most recent a 300 year old sculpture, and previously a 19th century statue in the facade of a building of the neo-manueline style and a landmark for several reasons. Both were tourists from the selfie brigade, but nonetheless there was a photo involved.










  4. I would like to see Alamy giving a search advantage to those images that have been keyworded with 50 tags to motivate people to review their images. Those who were able to reduce to 30 keywords would receive a even bigger benefit.


    Not only would that recognize the efforts of those who try not to spam, but punish those who use a horde of irrelevant keywords. In fact, my experience tells me that 30 keywords are more than enough. Looking at alamy measures and other agencies that identify the keywords used by buyers show that almost all searches use a couple words and are pretty direct on what they want.


    One of the agencies that has been recently purchased by a software giant we all know started doing this and I could only see advantages. They accept 50 keywords but value more the images with just 30 and give a higher value to the first seven.

  5. Personally I think between licensing images and recent issues with the forums Alamy has enough on their plate. 

    Basic websites are cheap or even free. Many ISPs include them in the basic package or you can set up a free blog at Wordpress, Google, or one of many other sites and use your own domain name.

    I think many of us already have websites elsewhere. I'd much rather they focus on promoting and licensing photos than getting into the business of web hosting.




    What's wrong to have a simple page with the portfolio organized in folders where we present a potential costumer our work with a payment and billing structure and even support team if they require it?


    Alamy already hosts our work, so they would not be entering the hosting business, just providing a way for us to organize a view of it to potential clients. Everybody wins.


    Creating a personal website, with payment and billing options and all that alamy already offers is not that simple for the vast majority of us. I know as I've created a couple of personal websites.

  6. I've asked for the development of the photographer page for years now, and even got answers from alamy in discussions unfortunately stating that that's not their priority.


    With simple work, like allowing to create folders to organize the portfolio, the display of more thumbnail per page, and a simple introduction/presentation column that would be enough.


    I often felt tempted to promote my portfolio in alamy, since alamy already provides the payment and billing structure and a support team making it much more easy than to build a personal website. But with such a poor page I always gave up on that idea as I never saw an effective way for a customer to get interested.


    We lose, alamy loses and also the customers since most designers never heard of alamy and do not know the very different type of imagery alamy offers.

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    The two darker ones at the bottom left and the three silver ones on top of them with the golden stripes in the forehead are, according to wikipedia, the Sparus Aurata. And they have as common name in English: Gilt-Head Sea Bream.


    In the wikipedia page there are the common names for them in several countries. You may want to include some of those in the keywords. I don't know about other countries but in Portugal it's a very appreciated fish, and it's called Dourada.



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    If I were an editorial customer, I also wouldn't love the captions on a lot of microstock images. It doesn't look to me that they have improved much over the years. Many are still inaccurate and virtually useless.



    That problem in not exclusive to micros. In respect to Portugal in all searches I make on alamy there are gross errors of misidentified places, monuments, and all sorts of things. Including messing up world heritage sites names! Sometimes I almost sent alamy a mail, but didn't do it because it would become a full time job.


    The fact that alamy has an advantage of years in terms of editorial content, which is not a surprise since it's the agency's main focus, obviously gives it not only a larger collection but probably more correction in terms of keywords and captions.


    In terms of the Micro agencies that may very well change as more and more informed contributors, join the editorial segment. Some agencies even have in place an alert to badly captioned and keyworded images.

  9. From a photographer's point of view, I think "Why we hate Microstock" would have been a much more appropriate title. I absolutely don't understand what is going on here, and I cannot say I like it.


    I think that being in 2015, has given everybody more than enough time to get over the trauma. Microstock was an absolute inevitability despite some people refusing to see it. Once high-quality and affordable digital cameras were invented allowing anyone to become a photographer, and high-speed Internet access became widespread allowing high-resolution photos to be sent and bought from anywhere, the recipe was complete.


    Maybe you could hate the Internet, maybe you could hate digital photography. But hating something that was inevitable...


    Even if the price for Microstock RF photos had been established at $100, today they were being sold at $10 or $1, without a doubt. Even with the low prices established at the beginning there has been a fierce and constant price war between agencies. It's the so called free-market in the capitalist societies.


    How many orange sellers do you guess would be left, and how much would a kg cost if anyone suddenly owned an orange-tree? Don't waste your energy hating something that was evident it would happen from day one if you look back. Just adapt to the reality and make the best you can.

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    Perhaps a much more radical alternative would be to open up pricing to contributors.  We do everything else, so why not set prices?  Drop all the haggling and messing up the existing priceing scheme.  It would be chaos for a while, but most would soon wise up, find that they had to drop some prices (a lot), but occasionally could demand much higher fees.  Buyers would be able to buy at a range of price points, from micro level to expensive.  Basically that's what they get at the majors, including the one with two names (iStock/Getty). Also give contributors more promotional tools.  If they did this, some pros might return.  I haven't contributed for a while now, but would certainly give it a go.  It would be like Photoshelter, but with a huge client base.




    As far for allowing contributors to set their own prices there are some examples in Micro agencies in the footage segment.


    The leading micro agency in footage allows you to set the prices freely but informs the contributor of the overall average sale price of the agency's actual sales, and the average sale price of the best sellers, in each image submission page as a way to inform the contributor of a realistic price and avoid dumping. Another agency has a three tier system and we can choose the tier for each video. This last example is a good solution to avoid excessive confusion among clients. The only thing I think is almost mandatory in something like this is a fixed bottom price.

  11. I don't have any experience of micros....


    ....but I've just spent a while searching various subjects (editorial - that Alamy have recently licensed of mine) on two of the big micro sites (SS, and IS).

    I was surprised at the unexpected,unwanted and rubbish results !  


    The other images are ok, but often totally irrelevant. And limited choice. And I think, 'well...., that was a waste of time'. Not so here.


    I'm not a customer, but if I was, I wouldn't love microstock.


    The question is, how long will you be safe on the themes you sold recently on alamy and didn't find competition on Micro?


    It's becoming more and more common on the MSG Forum for people to complain about falling income, over-saturation of the market, low income not justifying expensive productions, etc. So, what are stock photographers doing to keep their income? Besides submitting to new and very dubious agencies, they are moving into new types of subjects that weren't their initial focus like travel and themes editorial in nature. And I think this trend will grow. We are already seeing many people entering the footage production too.


    I have an easy way to monitor this, which is to occasionally take a look at what images are appearing from Portugal outside the main tourist destinations (Algarve, Lisbon, Porto). And they are appearing, slowly but they are. There are cities from the interior of Portugal, already represented in Micro. And Portugal is a small country with only a handful of stock photographers and the occasional tourist going of the beaten path. 


    So, in Portugal there isn't a multitude of people photographing the country from top to bottom. Yet, despite the demand being certainly low for most images they are getting into Micro. What will happen to countries like UK, France, Germany, etc, which have thousands of stock photographers, most of them seeing their income shrink day by day?

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  12. John I think RM is dead. The only reason I have RM images is because Alamy forces me to have RM when a model release is impossible.

    And it drives me bananas!! I would prefer to shoot exclusively RF so it could be transitioned to microstock.



    Exactly. I also think that RF Editorial should be an option for every image if the photographer wanted.


    RM could be an option for extremely high-quality content with high costs of production, for images resulting of some sort of exclusive access to a place or event, or had Model or Property releases hard to get for others, if the creator decided so. 


    I would add that RF should be licensed with limitations of use if it was to be supplied in the Micro / Low Cost style just as it happens in Micro, contrary to the traditional RF license. For more uses Extended Licenses would be required. That is standard in micro.


    John Mitchell


    I don't see the need for RF to require releases. RF doesn't automatically mean that an image is commercially viable. If in the terms of use it's stated (very clearly in all agencies I've seen) that commercial use is forbidden than it's no different than RM in that matter.

  13. OK, so what types of images should those of us who still believe in the RM licensing model be submitting to Alamy if we want to see both us and the agency succeed? What can Alamy offer that "conventional" microstock (editorial RF and otherwise) can't?


    My honest opinion? At this moment alamy cannot offer almost anything that Micro won't be able to offer currently, or at least in the near future. SS alone added almost 400 thousand images this last week and tenths of thousands of videos.


    Plus, Micro offers vectors, footage, sound clips, etc. So it gives more choices for clients to shop anything it needs, most of the times in one single place in a very effective manner. 


    With the introduction of RF Editorial in 2007 the last barrier has been broken because it competes with RM. Sure, clients wanting an exclusive use of an image may need to resort to RM specifically if they want to know the history of that image but how common is that? RM may still be around but the prices won't be far from Micro but my guess is that RM may very well be replaced by commissioned work when a client needs something specific.


    As I said I resisted to submit RF Editorial to not undermine my portfolio at alamy. Yet, I uploaded a handful of images in 2007 just to see how successful they were. And they were the only ones I had until the beginning of the last year. One particular image of that initial batch have given me, on SS alone, over $400. If I sum what other Micros have given me I can add several hundreds more. And it's only a seasonal image.


    As soon as I saw that Micro started to offer good quality images of the same themes I had on alamy, I felt forced to compete in that front even keeping the best ones on alamy. But now I think that even that may have been a mistake. Others submit high-quality images to Micro as their primary agencies for Editorial content. 


    Once alamy started to make 90% discounts I said on the forums that they needed to compensate that with volume. I don't know if alamy succeed that for themselves, but for me as a single contributor it didn't happen. I probably have a big responsibility in that, but I never felt alamy was adapting to the more aggressive actions of other agencies.


    Hope that what I wrote makes sense as I'm felling very tired. Sorry for not being more profound in the analysis.

  14. it will soon reach a point where the hours spent creating a large and varied portfolio,  will not be worth the investment of  time and energy spent!


    When I get 5x more RPI in the type of images that alamy is supposed to be the expert in a single micro agency this tells me that alamy, with a great sorrow, will be the last to receive new material.


    But it's not just the RPI, the actual income is greater with only a tiny fraction of the images I have here. I've made everything to keep these images only available on alamy. Yet, after 7 years with lower than expected results and the competition strongly building up on Micro after Editorial RF became available, I just gave up and start submitting this type of images to them since I believe that this content will be dead in a very short term on alamy.


    At the moment I have over 700 images to be keyworded here and will do it only when I have some spare time.


    I know that this isn't a very popular view or opinion, but with bills to pay, and the decrease of income from alamy and no visible strategy to counter-attack the RF Editorial in Micros I was left without a choice.


    PS: I've mentioned in the past that alamy could create a simple personal page for each contributor similar to a personal website with basic functions, since we already have a "My Alamy Homepage". This would allow for photographers to promote their portfolios and drive the costumers to "their" website conquering clients to alamy.


    But then we have another problem. The calculator is completely outdated in terms of prices. How can I direct a client to alamy, and then they see images quoted for $500 when similar ones are being sold by a fraction of that at other agencies? And since we cannot promise them a discount or a negotiation how can we help alamy grow, or at least, maintain the sales volume?

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    I can't help but wonder if photographers would be better off if Alamy lowered the image price in order to create volume.


    Dangerous thought. How can you be sure that lowering prices would create volume? Perhaps raising prices would create volume. Sometimes it's all a matter of perception -- i.e. if something costs a bit more, it is often perceived as being better quality. 



    Alamy has a different type of collection when compared to micro agencies, even if a large portion overlaps or is even the same. So that difference must be taken into consideration, when adopting a new strategy is considered.


    But the problem is that alamy is not going in the right direction. At least looking at my income in the past years. From 2010, my best year in terms of income, to 2011 I saw a large increase in the number of licences sold (+45%), but at the same time a drop in the value of the commission received after alamy and distributors had their share (-59%). So in 2011 I ended up losing money regarding 2010.


    In 2014 I lost 65% of my income when compared to 2010 due to the decrease of the value for which image is licensed and the drop of the volume in sales that put me below 2010. The curious thing is that in 2014 I received two mails congratulating me by being part of the top 500! So this really made me think about the state alamy must be.


    There's a very important factor most people don't seem to account for here, which is the introduction of the RF Editorial in Micro agencies. Not only we must now compete with a larger number of images being uploaded every day by more photographers on alamy, the "uniqueness" of the alamy collection is being quickly eroded.


    Micros don't accept only images from touristy places in their RF Editorial collection. They basically accept any image that meets their quality standards, even if of some obscure village lost somewhere. As long the image is good in visual terms and the photographer writes a good caption, it's accepted. So, very soon forget the sales of that "local hidden pub billboard" sales on alamy. They'll probably have some in Micro. And since it's a curated collection the average visual quality will be higher than alamy. And those images do, in fact, sell in micros.

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  16. Although most people point the low prices for which images are licensed in the Micro agencies as the worst thing for photographers on that model, the truth is that the worst thing is the unstoppable greed of the agencies and total lack of respect for their contributors.


    For example IS, once the leading Micro agency decided that the business was unsustainable if they had to continue to pay 20% of commission, so they lowered from 15% to 20% whee only a handful of photographers could reach the top tiers.


    Many agencies frequently sign highly damaging or ethically appalling agreements, like one that had a partner licensing images for $30 and since they classified this scheme as a subscription service the photographer would only get $0.30 per sale.


    Others, refuse to delete your images even if you terminate the contract, saying that they keep those images for statistical purposes... Guessing if they keep in fact supplying them to partners and keep 100% of the commission.


    Persecution of contributors and termination of contracts because the photographers discovered schemes the agency had arranged with partners, that were ripping off contributors, and talked about it in forums. Mind that those arrangements were not secret and were publicly evident if someone crossed the partners sites, but since they would be unpopular they were put in place without any announce, in an undercover way. As said, people criticizing the agencies in neutral forums had the accounts deleted.


    And these examples could be multiplied by 100 that I would not be exaggerating.


    So, although people point price as the worst thing, the truth is that the greed and 3rd world exploitation mentality that rule the heads of many micro agencies is the worst to us. In that sense alamy, although not perfect and exempt of criticism has been until this moment the most correct agency toward photographers I know.


    With a bigger presence in the stock business and a bigger share of the market, this attitude towards photographers could turn alamy in the most supported agency by contributors and help change some bad things that currently happen in this business. 

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  17. You do not own your cat. He owns you.

    In the UK you're liable for damage caused by your dog, because he's presumed to be under your control. Not so for cats.

    A cat? Under your control? You must be joking. He'll do just enough to convince you to keep feeding him and letting him sleep on the sofa. It's mind control, I say.



    Very true! And the saddest part is that I have two. I'm in the bottom of the food chain!  :)

  18. Anyway, I'm not surprised your cat doesn't talk to you, in your keywords you describe it as "nobody" . . . it's a wonder it's still your cat.





    Maybe that's what's causing the silent treatment... :)


    But he's not trustworthy too.


    When it's mentioned that the product doesn't need batteries because it recharges through the kinetic energy of the pet, I cannot know how he can endorse that, since he hardly moves except to go to the food and water bowls and to the litter. Even when I try to play with him, he prefers to stand there and watch me play alone with his toys.


    If I were to rely on him for that I would have broadband for about 3 minutes a day! Don't believe that cat, He's a liar! :)

  19. Considering how loose, layered and confusing his clothes are I think it's quite possible that the image is not photoshoped, and a simple result of the previous with the angle and the slightly diffused light around him that eliminates strong shadows around the arm that could create shapes and volumes..


    Plus the angle of his hands seems perfectly natural to me since we do not see him holding anything, but simply pointing. The light colour in the tip of his finger seems to be the nail and not the chalk so there's nothing wrong with the position or anatomy of the hand. I can put my arm and hand very easily in that position.


    Not saying that it wasn't manipulated, but I think there's a strong possibility that it wasn't.

  20. Beef cattle tend to be in open fields. Milk cattle are not (usually). So finding the right sort of cows in the right environment is unlikely without a trip to New Zealand, in which case animated CGI cows can be found easily.


     In the Portuguese islands of Azores the milk cows not only roam free in the fields, but the landscape itself is amazing. Plus, this happens in many places in Portugal.


    As for wrong captions and keywords, every time I search anything about Portugal many of the images have wrong identifications, not only in the location, the characteristics, but even in the name of what is being shown.


    Unfortunately these results appear in the first pages, which means that they are being uploaded by people with high rankings that should know what they are doing.

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