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Marianne

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Everything posted by Marianne

  1. I did a broad two word search on google images that would cover some of my best-selling photographs - a place name and the word lighthouse which covers a couple different ones - many that have been licensed multiple times by Alamy and also directly from Photoshelter (but there it was some years ago) - I have 12 of them on Alamy and the same 12 are searchable on Photoshelter, 6 are on Fine Art America and 10 are on Adobe (the same 10 were on shutterstock but that portfolio is now disabled). My images on Fine Art America start to show up in the 4th row, and more in the 6th, by the 8th row I see some from Adobe, by the 16th row I see images of mine licensed for local web sites interspersed going down more rows, I have to go down to the 30th row to see my first one from Alamy, though many of these images have been licensed over the years by them - I only scrolled the initial page and did not hit "see more images" but none of mine from Photoshelter are showing on that initial page. When I did the same search in the past, my shutterstock photos were often in the top three rows. I know that google often shows you stuff you want to see, so I'm not sure that if someone else did the same search they'd see those images, but as they are so spread out and since I haven't uploaded or shared any of them on social media in a long time it seems like it may be a valid search - showing things you've engages with recently may just be in ads and not in the image search - I'm not sure. Looking at all the images and where they are from seems to indicate that certain sites are doing better than others in their placement in searches. I remember when my Photoshelter photos used to show up at the top of google images searches and I'd get direct licenses from magazines and web sites but as algorithms change, so does search placement. The search gives you other two word options to click on across the top. Hitting the placename and "harbor" are another choice (a more focused search term) and with that I'm in Row 1 for both ALAMY & FAA, Row 2 for Photoshelter, with more from Alamy, Adobe, FAA, and other stock sites throughout page 1. This shows me that a more focused 2-word searches brings up all of my images that have those terms and they rank well from various sites. When I clicked across the top for the location itself, just one word (town, no state), I see my licensed photos up top for various travel and local business websites, and about halfway down the page (I'm tired of counting rows), one on my Photoshelter hosted site (not one I've licensed). Clicking on a broader regional term, I'm up top in the first three rows with a few different images from FAA, then more from licensed websites. I see Alamy (not mine) a few rows down from there and some rows below that mine from Alamy start to appear. In all these searches, a nice variety of my 6-12 images from the various sites show up. Lots of Alamy and Photoshelter images in other two word searches across the top row too. It is a very popular tourist location in the US and searches on Alamy and elsewhere bring up pages and pages of images. Some years ago, I'd never see Alamy images in a google search but now they are showing up, so things have improved. In the initial search, the first FAA and ss images (not mine) show up in Row 3 (my first from FAA is in Row 4) and the first from Alamy (not mine) is in Row 4, so that is positive for Alamy. My image in Row 8 from Adobe is the highest ranking image from there. I don't see any from Photoshelter nor from any Photographer's websites at all. Weirdly, when I click on the links that show across the top for the name of one lighthouse, the only image of mine I see is one that Getty now has from 500px (which didn't show on page one of the broader search), and a few on local websites. There are very few stock images that show up at all. When I click on another lighthouse name, my first image is in Row 2 (from FAA), with an image from ss (which leads to their Spanish site - I scrolled for ages when I clicked and my image is fortunately not showing so it appears to be properly disabled) and others from local and national websites but none from alamy. It's impossible for figure google out but it is concerning that the most specific search terms, the actual lighthouse names, rarely bring up any stock photos. This was interesting but I'm going down a rabbit hole. I'll try another search where I have more than 12 images - like the broad regional term without lighthouse, and see if at some point too many with the same search term hurts my images, though if they are spread among different sites, maybe that's less of an issue. Interesting experiment. Many of these images show up in the top row or rows for searches on the various stock and POD sites, since most have been online since 2010 and still sell regularly as framed art and licenses for web and print, though there is lots of competition, so it seemed like a good search to compare how they rank on google. Evergreen travel has been good for me and it will be so good when it's safe to travel again. It may be a very long time.
  2. I deactivated my account as soon as this mess started, but won't delete in case things change, although I don't hold out much hope. It's too bad as I was making a reasonable amount with a small portfolio there and had intended to add to it as I was adding images here and at Adobe. May was the first month I didn't make payout there, so I guess I'll have to ask for my earnings. I assumed they would just be a loss. This really seems like a minor issue in light of what is happening in my country, a distraction, but one that has threatened the livelihood of people who have large portfolios there and were making a living at ss. All part of the same greed and income inequality that is bringing our way of life down. In stark contrast to shutterstock's underhanded move and refusal to respond to contributors, Alamy and Adobe's willingness to engage with their contributors gives me hope that stock photography will still be viable as an adjunct to photographer's income, but I worry that pricing in the stock photo industry has passed a tipping point so that it will no longer be viable as a full time profession, even for those with tens of thousands of images.
  3. What he said. Until I disabled my portfolio, I got sales nearly every day on shutterstock for 12 years with anywhere from 10 to 500 images (and fewer than 100 the first few years). Alamy is a different animal. It can take several months before your first image is licensed and you need tens of thousands of images to see daily sales in most cases. Alamy also does not pick and choose your best images, rejecting similars the way microstock sites do. It is up to you to choose only your best few images from a set - getting 20 of a similar scene online here is not a win - too many similar images and you will see your view to zoom ratio (i.e. your CTR = click through rate) plummet, and your images will not come up on the first pages of searches, making you chance for a sale even slimmer. Wander around the forum and learn. You have a lot of travel images, something a lot of Alamy buyers are looking for (or were before the pandemic at least), but don't upload everything that is good enough - pick and choose your best. In the long run, you'll have a better CTR and this should help you make your first and subsequent sales. Good luck.
  4. In most instances it might bother me but it won't stop me from taking photos - but with what is happening now here in the US it feels different and too dangerous to our democracy to shoot images that can be used by the rightwing to further their agenda. It feels wrong to say this since my journalistic instincts tell me to remain neutral but my morality and frankly my love for my country and my wish to see things change tells me that at this moment in history how my images could be used is too important to let them be co-opted. It's gut-wrenching to feel this tension between my principals and the need to document history - I can relate to the fear of that protestor Gina mentioned and her uneasiness in this situation despite my conviction that she had every right to take that woman's photo had she been so inclined and that she should not feel any guilt about it - and I can also relate to Kristin's uneasiness in documenting the historical riots taking place around her - it's unbelievable to me that I would ever feel this way - and I think it is so important for the story and images to get out there - but I can't fault anyone for holding back or being conflicted in this particular situation if they don't know how their images will be used. It's ironic as stock photographers our aim is usually to make the most useful photos possible, photos that work for a variety of situations, even news images that can later be used as secondary editorial stock, but in a situation like this the malleability of our images can be dangerous to our principals. Quite a dilemma.
  5. I vote for the micro 4/3 system. I used Nikons (both Full Frame and APS-C) for years and now use an older Olympus m4/3 (an OMD E-1) as well as a Full Frame Sony a7rii. The Olympus was my first foray into mirrorless so I purchased 3 lenses with the body - none of them are in the Pro series - the 17mm f1.8 and 25mm f/1.8 and the inexpensive 40-150mm f/4-5.6 - they are all tack sharp. I don't have a macro lens for the Olympus but I use the Nikon 4T closeup lens (it screws onto the front of the lens and increases the magnification so it acts like a macro lens, though not 1:1) It weighs little more than a lens filter and I've gotten some wonderful images with it (it has a 52mm filter thread so it fits that particular lens). I have a very expensive Sony 90mm macro that I use on my full frame Sony, but I still use the little close up lens on the Olympus if I'm out for a long hike and want to be able to shoot both birds at a distance and butterflies close up. The 40-150mm cost me $125 or $150 new (on sale) and gives you the equivalent of an 80-300mm zoom - not as far a reach as you might want for serious wildlife work, but a good start. There is also a setting in the camera that increases the zoom beyond 300mm (I think up to 600mm but it also decreases the quality and I believe cuts it to 7 or 8MP - I don't recall - I only used it once - but that would still pass QC here). If you purchased a newer Olympus second hand and started with that lens and a closeup filter, you'd have a nice kit to start learning. I'm still debating whether to purchase one of the Olympus pro zoom lenses which would duplicate the range of the 40-150mm f 4/5.6 but even if I did, I would keep the 40-150mm I have because it weighs less than a pound and is so small I can fit it in my pocketbook. I have never had a fail here with it. Here's an image I took handheld at 150mm with the 4T attached: Pretty good for an inexpensive setup. It is not a 1:1 macro solution, it is a close up lens so it is good for butterflies but it won't let you take a close of just part of the wing like a true macro. As you get more experienced, you can add the Olympus pro 60mm (120mm equivalent) macro lens which, with certain Olympus cameras, lets you stack something like 50 images together for incredibly detailed macros. I don't have it but it looks amazing. The only place where the micro 4/3 system falls down sometimes is if you are taking images at night without a tripod and you need to really push the ISO, however you can shoot very slowly handheld with the Olympus because of its amazing in body stabilization so you can often manage to keep the ISO down. I've had the 42MP Sony for 2 years now, and have a couple of the super pricey Master lenses which I love, but when I'm out hiking I often opt for the much lighter 16MP Olympus and my little non-pro lenses. Olympus lenses are sharp and the cameras and lenses are light. Full Frame cameras require larger and heavier lenses, so even a mirrorless Sony can be quite heavy. The Sony is amazing for night photography, and as primarily a landscape and travel photographer, I lean toward using it at night, but for wildlife and macro, you'll probably be happy with the Olympus, especially if you move up to the pro telephoto zoom and macro lenses. One thing I would note is that Olympus is exiting the camera market in So. Korea - I don't know if this means anything for its business in the rest of the world and certainly hope not. I got my first SLR back in 1978 and it was an Olympus OM-1 - I use my old lenses on both my Sony and my mirrorless Olympus with an adaptor and they are super sharp too. I really like Olympus lenses. Another few things to note - if you go the closeup lens route, opt for top quality like Nikon. There are a few different strength diopters (which effects magnification) and each is suggested for a different range of focal lengths so be sure you get the proper diopter and also that the lens threads fit your lens. You can also stack them to increase magnification, though I haven't. You'll also need to buy them second hand - the only used place I'm familiar with in the UK and US is mpb and I'm sure they can direct you properly but you can also google Nikon close up lens. Again, it is not a 1:1 macro solution, it is a close up lens so it is good for butterflies but it won't let you take a close of just part of the wing like a true macro. If you want a true macro then the Olympus macro lens has amazing capabilities from what I've read, with the stacking capability - so make sure you get an Olympus camera that works with it, whether you get the macro lens now or later. Mpb in the US had a lot of Olympus equipment when I looked and second hand can really save you a bundle. My only experience with a APS-C sensor was the Nikon D-5100 which I bought as a backup camera. Like the OMD E-1 it is 16 MP The Olympus is smaller, lighter, and better in low light; In fact, the images I've taken with the Olympus are just better all around, even though I used much more expensive Nikon lenses on the D-5100.
  6. It's really hard shooting stock in any kind of political arena since you don't know how your photos will be used. It made me crazy that about half the photographs I took of Hillary Clinton during the 2016 election ended up in right-wing media articles critical of her, but that is the risk you take. One even used a bogus quote about her and the way they used my byline it was easy to think it was something I said if you didn't read it carefully. That last bit really shook me, but it didn't stop me from taking photos,. However, she is a public figure and, more important to this discussion, the photographs themselves did not harm her. But what happens if your photograph of a peaceful protestor is captioned in a way that makes it look as though they are a looter? Do they lose their job? Get arrested? If you are shooting for a reputable media outlet, and you take photos documenting what went on, including photographs of those who are looting, and you caption your images with the facts, you can trust that your client/employer will rely on those facts and properly caption the image. But you cannot always trust the buyer of a stock image to do so. That's what makes it so hard in this instance, at this particular moment in history - and it makes me both sad and angry that we have to worry about documenting the truth. If you are a photojournalist shooting stock, the integrity of your image can be turned on its head. That doesn't mean we don't have the right - or even the obligation - to document what is going on, but being mindful of how our images can be used when our country is literally burning, may understandably make us take a step back and decide not to take those photographs, or to take photos as part of the historical record, but not to release them now when things are so fraught. Photographs don't always tell the truth. They are open to interpretation. That doesn't mean we shouldn't take them - and I applaud those photojournalists out there - on assignment or shooting stock - who are taking a risk right now, with both protestors and the police turning on the media - but I also understand stock photographers here in the US, whether or not they have a photojournalism background - who worry about how their images may be used - and who chose not to document these protests. As stock photographers we are not assured that any of the images we take will even be published, nor can we control who publishes them and how. The "media" has changed - there was always "yellow journalism" but today the "media" is so amorphous, so all consuming, and so out of control, and our country stands at the brink - it's incredibly scary right now - and we are rudderless. Those of you who don't live in the US, I believe, can't know the depth of the horror those of us who support the Black Lives Matter movement and the peaceful protestors feel as we see this essential movement turn into chaos, as we watch our country literally burning, and fear the instability of those in control, the threats that our own military will be turned on our citizens. You probably don't know the pain of having a child who can't see a future for herself in the country of her birth if things don't change. I wouldn't want to take a photograph right now that would ruin someone else's daughter's life because some unscrupulous editor captioned it wrong. I had a long talk with a friend today who is so frightened because her 22-year-old African American daughter is out protesting in California, she's proud of her but fearful for her safety, and reading this discussion I couldn't help thinking of how a photo of her peacefully protesting could effect her life. I don't recognize the world I'm living in. Our dystopian present started a while ago. I envy you Canadians, Brits, Dutch, Aussies, and all the rest. I can empathize with my African American relatives and friends but I don't really know what it's like to be them. And, lucky for you, you don't really know what it's like to be us right now, but we appreciate your empathy. We have all of us on this fragile planet gone through something so frightening and it should have brought us closer, yet here in the US it is causing an even greater divide.
  7. It was a difficult choice from the top eight! Nice challenge!
  8. It's hard to imagine prices getting any lower but we've seen pennies from Getty, so it's a concern. I'd love to see them raise prices instead. If this pandemic is the final blow for many small agencies, perhaps we'll see those that remain raising their prices but it seems to buck the historical trend.
  9. Shutterstock sources many of its editorial images from large news agencies including AP, as Chuck mentioned some photographer's images are sent there by their agencies and not by them.
  10. The concern is that this will enable them to cut prices and undercut other agencies even more in an attempt to dominate the field. Microstock has hurt traditional agencies and this could trickle down to depress prices throughout the industry even more.
  11. Sorry - I didn't mean to overstep. I realize this was not the appropriate forum in which to make that statement, but, just to be clear, I wasn't urging people to sign because I want higher commissions there, I wanted to make a statement about how photographers should be treated, and to help stop a move that could enable them to cut prices which could effect the industry as a whole, but in retrospect I realize this was not the appropriate place for such a statement. Again, apologies for overstepping. I will not do it again. Thanks for your understanding and your polite admonishment. I stand corrected. And it was really nice of you to just cut the offending statement. I appreciate Alamy's involvement here and the fact that management will have a dialogue with us.
  12. Throughout the pandemic the NYTimes has been using photos from shutterstock. It's very discouraging. I wish they were sourcing the news they can't find from here, though even then we would get less than our work is worth. When I think of people shooting news during the pandemic and getting microstock commissions for it, it's just so wrong.
  13. The biggest fear many of us have is that if shutterstock reduces commissions this drastically (going from a range of 38 cents to $120 per download down to 10 cents to $40, a 67% reduction in commissions for those who reach the highest tier early on, with an even greater commission cut at the start of the year), it will make it that much more difficult for other agencies, including Alamy, to compete, and we will all lose, not just those who depend on shutterstock for a big portion of their income. Many of us saw how drastically our incomes from iStock and/or Getty dropped when they pulled a similar move. I started on shutterstock with just over 100 images and though I had anywhere from 5 to 8x as many images on here as on there at the time, I always made considerably more from shutterstock, but felt my best work should be here and valued Alamy because I felt they valued my work. People also feel valued by Adobe Stock because, despite being a micro, their commissions are higher and with just 150 sales a year (last year it was 300 accepted uploads) they provide you with a free yearly PS & LR subscription (or illustrator, etc as the case may be), so a $133 bonus. They have also held weekly live webinars and chats with clients and contributors during the pandemic, and they have a dedicated customer contact who goes out of his way to answer contributor questions and help contributors succeed, much as Alamy responds to our questions via email and here on the forum. With this latest move, there are 90+ pages of complaints on the shutterstock forum and others elsewhere with many expressing the desire to concentrate their focus on Alamy and Adobe. I agree it would be better if they just rid the collection of the chaff but they purposely dropped their standards a few years back allowing for exponential growth of the collection, so I don't think that is their intent here - I think they want to cut commissions for those of us in the higher tiers (easier to get to than you might imagine - especially before 2012 - I made it to the third tier early on with just under 200 images). I've disabled my portfolio and directed my financial advisor to sell my shares in the company (at a loss at this point - I sold a chunk of my shares when the stock went over $80 doubling my investment, so that was a windfall, wish i'd sold it all then). I've signed the petition and have tweeted my displeasure to my 7,200+ followers. I know microstock devalues our work, but it was still very lucrative at one time (and can still be more lucrative than traditional stock, as insane as that seems) but it was also a train that would eventually go off the rails, because competing on price meant there was no way to charge clients more as time went on. How insane is it to be in a business where the value of what you produce diminishes over time while the rest of the world earns more? I hope that this latest move sends more buyers to Alamy. Many shutterstock contributors are designers and have successfully urged their companies to look elsewhere for stock. Adobe has very limited editorial offerings, which puts Alamy in a good position, although as Chuck mentioned AP distributes their work via shutterstock, so we'll see how it shakes out. Two struggling micros - Cutcaster and Crestock have closed in the past month or so as has a traditional agency that tried to treat photographers fairly - fotolibra, so competition is shrinking and hopefully that will help Alamy. Thanks Alamy for letting us discuss this news.
  14. I think it is just the way we are wired - an inherited tendency. We have both extremes in my family and I took after the wrong branch, but I knew enough to have married an optimist and to count many among my friends. The internet is a Godsend in these times, agree wholeheartedly. God and science are not mutually exclusive. Interesting read along those lines: https://apnews.com/01716afc8e0a746be7ded77162d25437
  15. Banana bread - yum! - I need to bake more. Smith has a gorgeous campus - a pond right in the middle, ivy-covered buildings, and a lovely little town in the foothills of the Berkshires. A photo I took at the last Reunion I attended was recently licensed for a Serenity calendar. Cool about your Italian cousins. I've gotten to know some of mine through FB - and got to meet some of them in NY last year. Without our current technology getting through this pandemic would be touch - but then the world would be so different, we'd be mailing slides to Alamy, spending time in a darkroom, so much has changed in just this young century of ours. It would be fun to see the photo. History in the US doesn't go back the way it does in Europe. The college had just turned 100 the year before I started, which seemed ancient. I had some friends whose great-grandmothers had gone there which seemed very interesting, the idea of generations at the same place.
  16. I second Betty - WOW! You can shelter in place forever and still be living the dream. Simply stunning. Where in Canada on planet Earth are you @Autumn Sky ? Edit: Found it Alberta. I hope to get up to see the Canadian Rockies one of these days. So much on my bucket list I fear I may not get to now. But perhaps someday I will be able to drive across my country and yours.
  17. I'll have to try to find it and check it out. A good laugh is such a valuable commodity these days!
  18. I had a mini 40th college Reunion today via Zoom - so missed seeing my friends at Smith College and being in beautiful Northampton, Massachusetts, but wonderful to see people if just on a tiny Zoom screen - we had 150 participants. I also now have a few new Amazon movies and books on my to read/watch list - always fun to read or see something by people I know. I even found out an old friend I'd lost touch with is the US Ambassador to Montenegro. It made me once again grateful to have good internet, something so many people are without, so at least I can see friends, whether it's a huge group like this, or drinks with my book group, networking with my fellow photographers, facetime with my grandson, learning new things - have you checked out Coursera? - some wonderful stuff! So happy to see everyone's good news here. Congrats Betty! I have a new great-niece on the way next week - the second one to be born during this pandemic. Hopefully things will be better by the time your new grandchild gets here - we can hope and pray. Michael and Betty I'll try not to be jealous of your seeing your daughters - actually one silver lining of this plague is that rather than weekly FaceTime visits I see my daughter and grandson via FaceTime nearly every day and since Matteo was nearly 18 months old when this started, within a couple of weeks of our frequent chats, he started to really understand that Noni (and sometimes Pop) were inside Mommy's iPad. Seeing his development on a nearly daily basis over these two months has been a wonderful gift. Betty, thanks for starting this and the nature thread. As a lifelong pessimist, I value optimists like you. We may disagree politically, but if we don't value our shared humanity, we will never get through this. I'm grateful for everyone on this forum. Be well.
  19. I love Amy Poehler and Ricky Gervais - both comedy geniuses IMHO - but I'm with Chuck on Parks & Rec and The Office, could never get into either of them (unless his Parks & Rec comment is really sarcasm and not DT's version of sarcasm). I've never seen the British version of The Office but since Monty Python days I've been a fan of British Comedy, so perhaps I should track down the British version? Thinking about it, @Chuck Nacke and I being from the same generation, the same age I think in fact, we grew up in the 60's and 70's heyday of great comedy, and so perhaps our expectations are different. I think we also share a dry sense of humor, which doesn't always come across in written comments. I disagree on the dashboard though. My dashboard has been the same for way too long now so I HATE the fact that it hasn't changed, views, zooms and sales at an all-time low.
  20. Sorry about your dog, an especially tough time to lose a pet. If you really can't find it, and you should make a good-faith effort to look first, but if you can't find the photos, you can write to contributor relations and ask them as a favor to let you download them. I had a backup hard drive die on me and a particularly special image was nowhere else to be found and Alamy was good enough to let me download it when I explained the situation a few years ago, a favor I much appreciated.
  21. As photographers we can do good during this time by telling the stories out there, so we should never feel we are doing something wrong. I remember the first time someone wrote me a letter (an actual letter years ago) thanking me for the information in one of my articles and telling me how it had helped her to be able to help her mother. In college I had written articles for the school paper that led to my college divesting their investments in companies that did business with South Africa during apartheid, but so many years later when I returned to writing, my focus was feature articles, so I didn't think that I was contributing to society, but that letter made me realize that even if I helped one person my work was doing more than just helping me make income. I wish my health did not keep me from getting out there to tell this story and I keep hoping that when they have a handle on the antibodies and whether they confer immunity I'll find out the weird symptoms I had back in March will tun out to have been Covid and that I'll be immune so I can cover the story and even if just in some small way, contribute to the knowledge base about this pandemic. I live in the well-off suburbs of NYC and many people don't realize we have great inequality here in the suburbs and children and families in need of food. There are people in need everywhere. I hope I'll be able to return to volunteering with low income immigrant children, who I miss so much. And I'd like to tell their story in photographs too. And this is not going to change, I fear, even when the pandemic runs its course with so many people who have lost jobs, parents who have quit their jobs because they have no childcare, people who can't work for fear of getting the disease due to pre-existing conditions or living with loved ones at risk. This story is far from over. Keep making those photos. You are all doing good work!
  22. Hungry kids move hearts. These are important photos, difficult to take but we need to move out of our comfort zones and you have done that to contribute images that may well help keep this child and so many like her fed.
  23. I agree. They said that's what turned the tide in the Viet Nam war - seeing those photos - it's shocking and we need that visceral shock. The statistics are so mind-numbing as to become unreal in a way, but you can't internalize and accept photos of people suffering the same way.
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