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Sheila Smart

To sell or not to sell

To sell or not to sell - that is the question  

102 members have voted

  1. 1. Is a sale a sale regardless of the amount?

    • Yes
      28
    • No - I would rather not license an image than sell it for peanuts
      54
    • It depends on how precious the particular image is!
      20


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There is a constant debate on the value (or lack of) of our images on Alamy and elsewhere. I have deliberately placed restrictions on my Alamy images and quit Getty because of the commercial license of an RM image for $1.19 by a large manufacturer in China. So how do you value your work on stock libraries, including Alamy?

Edited by Sheila Smart
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I had a poll filled in but it has disappeared! Bear with me!

 

Sheila

 

Now working...I hope.

Edited by Sheila Smart

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This is a moral versus practical debate - and I can sympathize with both camps - obviously a bit of something is better that all of nothing - but the devaluing of your work is a painful business.  It is just as easy to take the scrapings from the floor and say that it is better than nothing as it is to sit back and watch the filing cabinets full of unselling masterpieces gather cobwebs.

 

Answers - I don't think that there is one - the middlemen and gullible hobbyists have seen to that - together with the elitists who place unreasonable values on their 'creations' - I am beginning to doubt that this trade will continue to produce a realistic living - and certainly not a viable return for time/effort input......

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It's a big cake. There are more pictures published, year by year. But there are vast numbers of people wanting their slice. So a lot of them just get crumbs.

 

If our only response is to restrict the sales of our pix, then we might as well give up. I take the rough with the smooth.

 

It could be worse. Trying talking to ostlers, coal-miners, typesetters, etc...

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It's a big cake. There are more pictures published, year by year. But there are vast numbers of people wanting their slice. So a lot of them just get crumbs.

 

If our only response is to restrict the sales of our pix, then we might as well give up. I take the rough with the smooth.

 

It could be worse. Trying talking to ostlers, coal-miners, typesetters, etc...

I agree John, it is a big cake with more pictures being published - but it is tiny compared with the number of images being made available - and I am currently taking the rough with the rough ........

 

Regarding your ostlers and typesetters - they were both still about in my day - and I suppose that IT and call centres may be the way to go.....with a bit of clicking away to keep us sane.....

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There has to be a tipping point on the value of the image. If getting peanuts doesn't cover the cost of creating the image then you are in negative equity. I think you are better putting a minimum cost on the image. If it doesn't sell then you aren't really any worse off than if you sell it for $6.

 

Yes, times change and the possibility is that there will be no printed media in a few years time.

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I accept your point Alex, but if the peanuts contribute towards the cost of creating the image then the second or third sale might just cover your costs and put you in positive equity - God ! this is really depressing though isn't it !

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Very depressing David.

 

You shouldn't have to sell an image three times to cover the cost of making it but I know the market is oversaturated and my odds of turning back the tide are less than King Canute's. :)

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Yes, times change and the possibility is that there will be no printed media in a few years time.

 

People will still want images, even when we all get our news 'n' views from hand-held devices.

 

I haven't bought a 'physical' newspaper or magazine for maybe 5 years. No 'physical' music either. But I read, listen to music, etc.

 

The current state of the stock market will drive many people into other, better-paying jobs and interests.

 

As an old geezer, I try my best to avoid looking back to the 'good old days'. Anyway, I can never find those rose-tinted glasses when I need them.

 

The best response to the state of the stock market is to look at it straight, without all those negative feelings, and to start from there.

 

There will be opportunities aplenty for people who can look ahead, rather than backwards.

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True John, I haven't bought very many papers or magazines either in the past few years.

 

Video rather than still images will be what people want on their hand held devices but post processing is much longer on video than stills. I have tried it but don't like being on the laptop far longer than behind the camera.

 

I'm not looking back to the good old days because we probably moaned just as much back then :) Just I think you have to draw a line as far as stock/news prices go before calling it a day and looking for something else to pay the bills.

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As a business I'm quite happy for my competitors to restrict themselves out of my market. Please carry on ;) 

 

The real answer to this question will depend on whether the photographer makes his/her living from photography. If they do not need the income then they can afford to restrict or price themselves out of a market where prices are heading south due to oversupply. Nobody is going to stop that. 

 

If they do rely on that income they need to take a business decision on whether they want to shift 100 images at $5 a piece or wait for one sale at $250. I know what my accountant would say!

 

J

 

p.s. the problem comes when low prices are married to low volume. That's when it becomes uneconomical to produce.

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"The best response to the state of the stock market is to look at it straight, without all those negative feelings, and to start from there."

 

That's really the only way to do it. Complaining about prices isn't going to change them. And unless you are huge major player in the market with thousands of unique images in your portfolio, pulling out of a market will have no effect, even if anyone notices.

If enough people (i.e. a very large percentage of contributors) put the same restrictions on their images, it might have an effect, but most likely the effect would be Alamy losing customers.

I don't like low prices any more than anyone else - and I agree with Sheila about that sale to China, I would rather have gone without the money on principle - but the market is as it is and I'm afraid doing things on principle might make you feel better but if nobody notices, it won't actually change anything.

 

Having said that, I do buy more expensive free-range eggs on principle, knowing that my tiny contribution makes no impact whatever on the factory chicken market - but I need those $3 sales to pay for the ethical eggs.

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"It depends on how precious the particular image is."?

 

I have never taken a "precious" image.  Now if

you say, "How exclusive or newsworthy the image is"

I would cast a vote and it would be for holding a line

that does not insult the photographer or agency (library).

 

I will say that raising to minimum license fee for images

as well as the quality of those images available is vitally

important  for everyone in the industry.

 

PS  I still have two newspapers delivered to my door

every day, well the WSJ does not publish on Sunday.

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Dose adding restrictions really help,  i once read if restrictions are implemented the work is not saleable,  i am a little confused with this restriction thing!

 

Cheers,

 

Paul.

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I checked Yes. My personal philosophy is, when it gets to the point where it is not worth the effort for me, then I will depart Alamy. Just that simple, right now it is still worth the effort. I would rather not have photos sold for peanuts but I am still seeing decent value sales too, so I will take the bad with the good...for now.

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Alamy has to swim in the same ocean as all the other agencies, and my philosophy in the past had been to give them their head as middlemen in their part of the stock business. But earlier this year I did drop out of the Novel Scheme when they sold one image (large on a prestigious site) for $1.00 gross and another for .83 cents gross. With those ludicrous "sales" they caused me to op out of schemes. I had a good sale over the weekend, so that does still happen. 

 

I don't plan to leave Alamy; I'll go down with the ship. But lower and lower prices do not motivate me to shoot. My time would be better spent busking in the Subway. If Joshua Bell can busk, so can I. 

 

:unsure:

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I'm fairly new to the stock photography market. I'm pushing retirement age and decided to get back into photography after an absence of about 20 years. Had my own darkroom, developed my own film etc. Never sold anything, it was a hobby and I did the odd commercial shoot for some company parties, and that was about it.

 

My son started college last year and is a film student.  He had to buy a decent camera so he got himself a Canon t4i.  I was very jealous.  I had only bothered with the digital point and shoots for family stuff as money had been tight and couldn't justify the expense.  Well this year he upgraded himself to a Canon 7D so gave me his t4i just before I headed to Africa.

 

It was funny me trying to figure out this camera while on one of the best places to be for wildlife photography. I had no telephoto, and winged it for the first few days. Slowly I began to figure it out (at lot more complex than my old Canon AE-1).  I certainly would have had a lot more great Africa pics if I had mastered it before I left for Africa.

 

But I am a tech junkie, so it hasn't taken me to long to learn the ins and outs.  Then got myself a used Canon telephoto, (some had read my initial complaints about it in another thread) that now is working great, so I feel minimally complete as an amateur photographer. 

 

Certainly post production work back in the darkroom days was much more time consuming. The cost more prohibitive. We certainly wouldn't have wasted time on the weaker shots and we we wouldn't have had the economic freedom to take as many shots of a certain subject as we want to just get that perfect shot.  So from that point of view, we don't tend to have as much time and money invested in each individual shot as we did in the film days.

 

No, I don't want to sell my stuff for a $1.19 as there is still time and money invested. And of course ego always enters into it.  It stings as a personal insult that someone only thinks my work is worth that much, but in this day of supply and demand, the supply quite often outweighs the demand.

 

I am hoping in my impending retirement to make a decent sub-income doing something I have always loved to do. It serves multiple purposes. I can make a small income, I can find somewhere to put those photos of the odd things my family wonders why I want to bother taking pictures of, and I can continue to hone my skills as I see what the market demands.

 

The large influx of photos is from hobbyists and are causing the drop in prices. I know many of the professionals here resent we hobbyists, but a good or great photo is just that. And just because its a hobby, doesn't mean I'm not a good photographer. I'm also into horses, but don't train for a living. But I'm one hell of a rider.

 

I have wandered off the original premise of this thread, but with the internet basically causing an even playing field for everyone, it is going to affect prices. Hell, it eventually killed my ebay sales when all the big wholesalers started selling there.

 

We must adjust to an ever-changing tech world, and volume over price is going to be it.

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Hi, good afternoon and welcome Jill - you have every right to enter stock at whatever level of input and experience that you offer - but having read your post a couple of times I have to just say - "I rest my case" - (and I can't ride a horse at all !)

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Hi, good afternoon and welcome Jill - you have every right to enter stock at whatever level of input and experience that you offer - but having read your post a couple of times I have to just say - "I rest my case" - (and I can't ride a horse at all !)

 

The reality of the web has pros and cons, always depending on where you are standing.  From my ebay days when I used to take 2 full mailbags a day to the post offce, to where I know do about a 1 bag a week (from webstie sales) to adjusting (we must always adjust, these days more often than in the past). When an even playing field is created for all, it increases some people's benefits and decreases others. Think how thrilled some people are that before they could never make extra money, but are now making some from their photos. 

 

Expense limited most people from even thinking of trying to sell stock photography, The financial investment from equipment to film and darkroom supplies would put off many people.  Now you need only invest in a decent camera, after that its your eye that will sell your photos for you, and you can get away with one decent memory card and shoot till your finger drops off.  Lots of decent software out there that isn't as costly as Photoshop to do your editing.

 

I embrace it, even though the open field killed one of my more lucrative areas of income. I adjusted. Do more live vendor shows and of course have expanded into stock photography.

 

Versatility is the name of the game these days.  Just be sure you love what you do, and you'll survive.

 

 As i never sold photos for great sums, I don't feel the sting as badly as those who have.  And although I know it hurts the bottom line, I think the low numbers are sometimes more of an ego it that a financial hit.

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As a business I'm quite happy for my competitors to restrict themselves out of my market. Please carry on ;)

 

The real answer to this question will depend on whether the photographer makes his/her living from photography. If they do not need the income then they can afford to restrict or price themselves out of a market where prices are heading south due to oversupply. Nobody is going to stop that. 

 

If they do rely on that income they need to take a business decision on whether they want to shift 100 images at $5 a piece or wait for one sale at $250. I know what my accountant would say!

 

J

 

p.s. the problem comes when low prices are married to low volume. That's when it becomes uneconomical to produce.

 

Agree.  Anyway, we are not selling images, just usage rights.  If I buy a movie DVD, I don't actually buy the movie and wouldn't expect to pay millions.

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I didn't vote because I don't know what "for peanuts" means. Under $100? Under $50? Under $25? Or under...?

 

Personally, I think that a $50 minimum for RM images would be acceptable through a stock agency these days. However, I still try to maintain a $75-$100 minimum for images that I lease on my own.

Edited by John Mitchell

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As a business I'm quite happy for my competitors to restrict themselves out of my market. Please carry on ;)

 

The real answer to this question will depend on whether the photographer makes his/her living from photography. If they do not need the income then they can afford to restrict or price themselves out of a market where prices are heading south due to oversupply. Nobody is going to stop that. 

 

If they do rely on that income they need to take a business decision on whether they want to shift 100 images at $5 a piece or wait for one sale at $250. I know what my accountant would say!

 

J

 

p.s. the problem comes when low prices are married to low volume. That's when it becomes uneconomical to produce.

 

Agree.  Anyway, we are not selling images, just usage rights.  If I buy a movie DVD, I don't actually buy the movie and wouldn't expect to pay millions.

+1

 

And to Jill, I helped bring one image to market that was taken with a "one-touch" disposable film

camera and it made over six figures in licenses on the first day.  Not all great Photojournalistic

images were shot by guys with top end cameras hanging from the shoulders of bush jackets.

 

 

 

I do not have anything against nonprofessional photographers, unless they are standing in my

way or asking unintelligent questions (I am not saying you have or accusing anyone of that). 

I've worked as a photographer for publications since I was 15 and I am now past those

numbers when reversed and I would not call myself a current "working photographer."

 

 

 

A couple of things I would point out to you, based on posts you have made on other threads.

 

 

 

1: Never let an image out of your hands (computer) without all of your contact information in

the IPTC fields (file info in Photoshop).

 

2: Do not sell an image, license the limited reproduction of an image, unless of course someone

offers you a large truck of large denomination bills (USD).

 

3: Really learn how to work with digital images, it is a lot more difficult than the film days.

 

 

 

Best of luck to you on Alamy, it is one of the best photo organizations I've contributed to and

don't pay too much attention to posts on this forum.....

 

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John, are your suggested minimum sales amounts gross or net?

 

Gross was what I had in mind. Although $50 still leaves only $15-$25 for the photographer (thru Alamy or a distributor). As someone else mentioned, the real problems arise when really low prices are coupled with low volume. Making ten $25 sales on the same day is a lot easier to swallow than having only one $25 license per month.

Edited by John Mitchell

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