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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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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.....

 

Thanks for the advice. Not sure why you got a hit on that post, but I evened it out for you.

 

I am slowly learning to master my digital images. Photoshop has quite a steep learning curve and I have mastered all the basic stuff, and am slowly working through some of the more detailed and creative areas. Thank God for Google.

 

There are a couple of photos I may re-edit and the resubmt. I find the hardest is removing my personal artistic taste and replacing it with a commercial slant Both in taking the photos and editing them.

 

I don't worry about forum posts. If everyone said the same thing the same way, man, who would read any of them? And I have learned a lot here and will continue to ask some of my under experienced (I won't say stupid) questions because you learn a lot more when you ask. Most people here are quite helpful and I find it interesting that there are so few of the thousands who contribute to Alamy who also contribute to the forums.

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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.

 

Perhaps the poll question and options are not phrased as tightly as they could be but the idea still comes across.

Maybe it would have been better to ask:

"Do you think it is better to sell an image regardless of the amount obtained?

Yes anything is better than nothing.

No all my images are worth at least (pick a number say $20) and I don't want to sell for less than that.

It depends on the image.

 

I voted option 3. It's surprising to me how few people have voted for the third option as the difficulty in creating an image should surely be a factor here which is presumably what is meant by precious - this to me would include, among other things, skill and ability of the photographer, quality of equipment in many cases, care taken in capturing and post-processing, physical difficulty and cost of capturing the image (e.g a mountain top in contrast to yet another high street shop sign) and knowledge of the subject in some cases.

 

I have certainly been unhappy to see any of my images going for peanuts (say $20 or less) but there are some I would value less than others. Unfortunately we have no control here on Alamy over setting of minimum prices for our images and more and more images seem to be going cheap through the newspaper scheme or IQ sales. The market will continue to dictate the prices. If Alamy did not adapt, it would perish. There are probably many millions of images on the site which are worth far less than peanuts. And then there are many many images which are truly worth much more than peanuts. But they are only really worth what a buyer is willing to pay.

 

For anybody who has voted no, then there is always the option of leaving. Regardless of what we vote, the situation remains. However, it would be crazy (for me at least) to leave Alamy after all the time spent keywording so I'll just keep on. Is anything better going to turn up soon in terms of stock photo prices? Unlikely I think.

 

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OK, I voted for #3, although I would have preferred the word "scarce" to "precious." The latter term is too subjective IMO, and the economists (if you can believe them) tell us that scarcity -- coupled with demand of course -- is what creates monetary value. The only time that I'm happy about a really low sale/licensing fee on Alamy is when it is for an image (scarce or not) that has been kicking around for years and has never sold.

Edited by John Mitchell

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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.....

 

Thanks for the advice. Not sure why you got a hit on that post, but I evened it out for you.

 

I am slowly learning to master my digital images. Photoshop has quite a steep learning curve and I have mastered all the basic stuff, and am slowly working through some of the more detailed and creative areas. Thank God for Google.

 

There are a couple of photos I may re-edit and the resubmt. I find the hardest is removing my personal artistic taste and replacing it with a commercial slant Both in taking the photos and editing them.

 

I don't worry about forum posts. If everyone said the same thing the same way, man, who would read any of them? And I have learned a lot here and will continue to ask some of my under experienced (I won't say stupid) questions because you learn a lot more when you ask. Most people here are quite helpful and I find it interesting that there are so few of the thousands who contribute to Alamy who also contribute to the forums.

 

Glad to hear that you paid attention to Chuck's very good advice and thereby didn't take his advice about not paying attention to posts on this forum. ;)

Edited by John Mitchell

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I'm a 3 on this. I make images that I expect to sell for peanuts (but lots of peanuts a day) and others that I would expect a better return and as such, will only sell them directly or via RM agencies. 

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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.

 

That's the problem with analogies, they often don't bear close scrutiny: if it was for my personal use, neither would I expect to pay millions . . . but try to put that DVD (or the images in it, or the music in it, or the artwork on it) to a commercial use and see how much you will be required to pay  . . .

 

dd

Edited by dustydingo

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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.

 

That's the problem with analogies, they often don't bear close scrutiny: if it was for my personal use, neither would I expect to pay millions . . . but try to put that DVD (or the images in it, or the music in it, or the artwork on it) to a commercial use and see how much you will be required to pay  . . .

 

dd

You know, I think the analogy still holds.  The essential point is that there is no transfer of ownership, just a limited use licence.  For example, TV and radio stations will make licenced use of such media for commercial purposes and will pay considerably more but they still don't own it and pay nothing like the production costs or the inherent value of the product.  Other factors that affect pricing are the the sheer oversupply vs demand and the fact that there is no longer any real physical artificact involved (e.g. the nicely toned original print) - every copy is absolutely identical to the original.

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Ed Rooney: "I did drop out of the Novel Scheme when they sold one image (large on a prestigious site) for $1.00 "

 

That's interesting. I have always rationalised my use of the NU scheme with the assertion by Alamy that the sales were to markets that would not undermine their other business. I would be very interested to hear where this NU image was used! 

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Most of the time we never see where the image was used; never see our image in the magazine, ad or whatever. If we saw the use most of the time and even got samples of the product; mag or whatever it would be more palatable. I know a lot of people (not pros though) would even give their image away if they got the byline credit plus a sample of the product. This is why it is so disappointing. We spend so many hours doing this to get little or nothing out of it and often not even the credit line.

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The stock houses now have so many images that they can profit based on volume. These companies are focused on profit not how it affects us. The more they sell no matter what the price (remember their competitors- they have to compete) the more profit they make. One can say - well i'll shoot something rare; a hard to get shot and that will sell for more $. No that may not happen; these stock houses often don't know or realize that this is a rare shot that should be sold for more $. They just sell sell sell; they have sales people focused on selling as much as they can sell. 

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Most of the time we never see where the image was used; never see our image in the magazine, ad or whatever. If we saw the use most of the time and even got samples of the product; mag or whatever it would be more palatable. I know a lot of people (not pros though) would even give their image away if they got the byline credit plus a sample of the product. This is why it is so disappointing. We spend so many hours doing this to get little or nothing out of it and often not even the credit line.

 

Well, it's a bit impractical for a big agency like Alamy to send everyone tear sheets. I find that when I lease photos myself, publications are usually very good at sending tear sheets. I've even had entire travel guidebooks mailed to me. Also, Google searches can sometimes help find images used (or stolen) online. But, yeah, I know what you mean.

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Answers and I'd say pick yours.

 

My Uncle Ed used to say "I'd rather sit for nothing than work for nothing." (If the pay doesn't cover expenses, we're not working for peanuts were working for the joy of making pretty pictures, at our personal expense. No Gain)

 

OR

 

My Father used to say: "10% of something is more than 100% of nothing."   Making a sale for some income, offsetting expenses, is better than nothing?

 

OR

 

Mom was a believer in "If you have a horse apple in one hand and a wish in the other, which one has more?" Wishing for higher returns or a turn back into the past, isn't going to lead to anything.

 

And there we very well are. :)

 

I don't think I've ever taken a rare or "precious" image. I have some that I think are better than the other 100,000 digital images. But what I think and what a buyer wants or needs are two different things. If I have something that is precious I won't be uploading it to any stock site. We live in a world market, where we honestly don't have much control over what happens to our work. If we put it out in the wild, we must be able to expect good or bad adventures. It's the nature of marketing on large scale Stock Image agencies.

 

I'm happy with Alamy for percentage share of sales, market presence and opportunity. The place I can see the most room for improvement is my own effort, new interesting image production, and choice of submissions.

Edited by Klinger
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I have started to shoot again. I simply like to do photography. Probably won't bother to upload much to the agencies though; that's more work. I'll just upload a few that i really think might sell. I trying some reportage for fun. I shoot because i am addicted as i say.

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I have started to shoot again. I simply like to do photography. Probably won't bother to upload much to the agencies though; that's more work. I'll just upload a few that i really think might sell. I trying some reportage for fun. I shoot because i am addicted as i say.

 

That's where find myself at the moment. Totally addicted to shooting. It's consuming my every thought. I see everything as an image now.

I think this drive and grit has earned me a few jobs on the side, and I'm not looking back.  

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Just completed my tax return for 2012-2013.  My Alamy figures make depressing reading; despite an increase in the number of sales by 70%, my net income had gone down very slightly from 2011-2012.  

 

I am talking relatively small numbers here, probably statistically irrelevant, given the number of variables.

 

This year looks to be better to date, both in terms of number of sales and income, but very much a case of running hard to make only a moderate gain.

 

Took this up to boost retirement income, and initially, it looked promising with 3 figure deals the norm.  Now it does provide an interesting activity, but not the source of cash anticipated. 

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Well, there's a thing Bryan, just got mine back from the accountant for approval -

 

One interesting figure is that in spite of a large number of infringements which were impossible to collect on, the ones that were successfully settled amounted to more than the Alamy (NET) sales - and these were mostly for what Alamy euphemistically refers to as 'third party usage'.

 

Had two of these third party things confirmed yesterday by MS - in which they tell me that they made two 'editorial' sales of the image (I count a large number of website uses of this image by these customers under the 'buy once use as many times as you like' editorial deals) - they then say "The company more than likely retrieved the image online, therefore this is third party use. You will need to follow this up at your end contacting the websites in question."

 

My Alamy sales numbers (year to date) are up, but sales values down. 285 sales $13,888 (GROSS) - so about $5,000 ex commission for Alamy and distributors - so about £3,000 less tax and cost of business expenditure - and my analysis predicts a severe drop-off in the last couple of months - the only brightish thing on the Alamy front is that sales from my next largest source are even worse !!!!!!

 

This is commercially sensitive information and I hope that none of you will be using it to take advantage of me......

Edited by DavidC
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Ed Rooney: "I did drop out of the Novel Scheme when they sold one image (large on a prestigious site) for $1.00 "

 

That's interesting. I have always rationalised my use of the NU scheme with the assertion by Alamy that the sales were to markets that would not undermine their other business. I would be very interested to hear where this NU image was used! 

 

Phil, I've posted the name of the buyer on that $1.00 sale somewhere on here in the past. It is/was the Telegraph of London, on their Website. I can't believe that anybody who has spent thousands on gear would be happy with a $1.00 gross sale. I would just consider that bad judgement and shake my head in wonderment.

 

In film days, I carried most of my technique around in my head. With digital, most of the tech is carried around in the camera or on the computer. The switch to digital was indeed a steep learning curve, but now that I'm comfortable with digital, I find it lots easier. I still carry much of my old hard-learned film-shooting knowledge with me, for example . . . I almost never look at a histogram. A histogram is just a graphic representation of a scene; I can read the scene itself. I can also tell you the exposure of a scene without a light meter. Mind you, I was not over confidant and did not flaunt this ability, in fact I carried two incident Gossen meters with me, one in my pocket, another in my bag. 

 

From watching people shooting on the street, I found that very few have good hand-holding technique—they just don't get the obvious. 

 

I'm sorry, Sheila. I seem to have gotten way off topic here.

 

Ed

Edited by Ed Rooney

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Ed Rooney: "I did drop out of the Novel Scheme when they sold one image (large on a prestigious site) for $1.00 "

 

That's interesting. I have always rationalised my use of the NU scheme with the assertion by Alamy that the sales were to markets that would not undermine their other business. I would be very interested to hear where this NU image was used!

 

Phil, I've posted the name of the buyer on that $1.00 sale somewhere on here in the past. It is/was the Telegraph of London, on their Website. I can't believe that anybody who has spent thousands on gear would be happy with a $1.00 gross sale. I would just consider that bad judgement and shake my head in wonderment.

 

In film days, I carried most of my technique around in my head. With digital, most of the tech is carried around in the camera or on the computer. The switch to digital was indeed a steep learning curve, but now that I'm comfortable with digital, I find it lots easier. I still carry much of my old hard-learned film-shooting knowledge with me, for example . . . I almost never look at a histogram. A histogram is just a graphic representation of a scene; I can read the scene itself. I can also tell you the exposure of a scene without a light meter. Mind you, I was not over confidant and did not flaunt this ability, in fact I carried two incident Gossen meters with me, one in my pocket, another in my bag. 

 

From watching people shooting on the street, I found that very few have good hand-holding technique—they just don't get the obvious. 

 

I'm sorry, Sheila. I seem to have gotten way off topic here.

 

Ed

 

 

No worries, Ed!
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Personally I am in this to make money, not to be precious about my photos. These days I do not even look at the amounts images sell for I look at my earnings spreadsheet. If I happen to log in to Alamy and see a really low sale looking at my spreadsheet and seeing that I made twice as much this month as this time last year soon cheers me up.

 

All this said the production cost of my images is only really the cost of fuel, if I had invested in expensive studio style photography then seeing images sell for NU prices to national news papers would not sit so well.

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Ed Rooney: "I did drop out of the Novel Scheme when they sold one image (large on a prestigious site) for $1.00 "

 

That's interesting. I have always rationalised my use of the NU scheme with the assertion by Alamy that the sales were to markets that would not undermine their other business. I would be very interested to hear where this NU image was used! 

 

Phil, I've posted the name of the buyer on that $1.00 sale somewhere on here in the past. It is/was the Telegraph of London, on their Website. 

 

Ed

If you mean the Telegraph newspaper, that totally undermines my faith in the system and, it has to be said, Alamy. If the Novel Use scheme has been used to license images to national newspapers for that amount, then we have been deceived an I am extremely disappointed that I ever signed up to the scheme. If not, I would be grateful to Alamy to clear up the confusion.

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A while ago there was talk about the Farmers going out of business due to the major Supermarkets not paying them enough money, if the Farmers were in a similar state to Stock Photographers.

 

Millions of people would have a Cow or a Goat at home and be selling milk to the Supermarkets at a penny a gallon, no Farmer would be in business.

 

The main problem most people who run picture Agencies are only there to make money, and have no involvement in production costs if they did they would not be selling them at such ridiculous low prices.

 

As an example to how crazy things are it costs between 5000-10,000 pounds to go on a trip to take pictures of Penguins, some Agencies are selling these pictures as low as 25 cents just pure madness.

 

My answer would be how much does it cost you to produce the picture? and make a small profit that's how much you sell it for.

 

The Agencies and Photographers have two choices continue on the race to the bottom where all pictures will sell for 10 cents a download, or charge more for quality pictures, and pay a rate that covers the Photographers costs and makes a profit to the Agency and Photographer.

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Ed Rooney: "I did drop out of the Novel Scheme when they sold one image (large on a prestigious site) for $1.00 "

 

That's interesting. I have always rationalised my use of the NU scheme with the assertion by Alamy that the sales were to markets that would not undermine their other business. I would be very interested to hear where this NU image was used! 

 

Phil, I've posted the name of the buyer on that $1.00 sale somewhere on here in the past. It is/was the Telegraph of London, on their Website. 

 

Ed

If you mean the Telegraph newspaper, that totally undermines my faith in the system and, it has to be said, Alamy. If the Novel Use scheme has been used to license images to national newspapers for that amount, then we have been deceived an I am extremely disappointed that I ever signed up to the scheme. If not, I would be grateful to Alamy to clear up the confusion.

 

It on the Telegraph's Website, not in the newspaper itself, Phil. That fact doesn't make me feel any better. 

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A while ago there was talk about the Farmers going out of business due to the major Supermarkets not paying them enough money, if the Farmers were in a similar state to Stock Photographers.

 

Millions of people would have a Cow or a Goat at home and be selling milk to the Supermarkets at a penny a gallon, no Farmer would be in business.

 

The main problem most people who run picture Agencies are only there to make money, and have no involvement in production costs if they did they would not be selling them at such ridiculous low prices.

 

As an example to how crazy things are it costs between 5000-10,000 pounds to go on a trip to take pictures of Penguins, some Agencies are selling these pictures as low as 25 cents just pure madness.

 

My answer would be how much does it cost you to produce the picture? and make a small profit that's how much you sell it for.

 

The Agencies and Photographers have two choices continue on the race to the bottom where all pictures will sell for 10 cents a download, or charge more for quality pictures, and pay a rate that covers the Photographers costs and makes a profit to the Agency and Photographer.

 

Just to play devil's advocate here, I wouldn't quite compare the farmer to the photographer.  Keeping a cow or a goat is still expensive, and wouldn't be cost effective to try and sell the milk from just one cow or goat.

 

With photography, the investment now is minimal, which opens up the market to more people, which in turn gives you more competition.  It is a simple fact of the digital age. It is cost effective to invest in one decent camera, a lens or two and some software, as once purchased, there basically are almost no operating costs except travel expenses.

 

Very frew photographer's would venture to take penquins at a prohibitive cost just for a sale.  It may be incorporated into a extended travel plan. Pretty silly business plan to spend all that money for one subject.  The travel photographer is probably one of the more hit in this new market, as vacationers and residents of all the great vacation spots can simply upload their photos.  But the real good ones will always do well.  

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I disagree it costs just as much if not more to keep up with Cameras, Computers, Software, if you started in 2002 and used Pro Cameras you would have had to upgraded two or three times.

The same with computers and Software, it depends what of Photography you do, as for the real good pictures doing well would depend on if it was available as a 25 cent download.

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I disagree it costs just as much if not more to keep up with Cameras, Computers, Software, if you started in 2002 and used Pro Cameras you would have had to upgraded two or three times.

The same with computers and Software, it depends what of Photography you do, as for the real good pictures doing well would depend on if it was available as a 25 cent download.

 

Not to get into a spitting match, but comparing the cost of farming to the cost of maintaining camera equipment is laughable. Even the one cow farmer. Oh, by the way, I do both.

 

Upgrade equipment every two or three years is very inexpensive, especially for a lot of the people who sell on microstock.  What does it cost to upgrade software - $200 every 3 or 4 years.  And even your equipment, a thousand maybe every 3 or 4 years. Everyone has computers, so upgrading those too these days is super cheap.  And the average stock photog does not carry 4 or 5 of the most expensive lenses. Even then, those are long term nvestments. Heck you'd have to replace your one cow every few years as well. And one vet bill could buy me that Canon f2.8 70-200 I want so much.

 

The photographer's eye is still the best selling point to anything that sells, regardless of the equipment. And if you are a hobbyist with a good eye, then if you are smart, you will try and sell your vacation pics in Africa. Stupid not too if the market is there.

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