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Commission change - James West comments

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33 minutes ago, Bill Brooks said:

I started in photography as an amateur, had 35 great years as a professional, and then retired to my roots as an amateur.

 

I am asking myself this question.

 

Is my clinging to stock photography interfering with my enjoyment of my amateur photographer lifestyle?

 

I meet amateur photographers, like myself, on my photo walks. They are not into stock photography or selling their work in any way, but appear to be having the photographic time of their lives.

 

Maybe I should do the same. There is a rich and full photographic lifestyle beyond stock photography.

^^^^ Exactly! This thought has been coming to me over and over recently. Measuring everything with money has taken some of the joy away. For example, drone photography appealed to me in the past, but I thought I couldn't recoup the costs. Take away that barrier and I find the prospect exciting again. Thinking of pulling the trigger on a drone ~2K, another $150 for the exam. Don't care about the numbers beyond that. Flying a camera over the Maine coast will be a blast. 

Edited by KevinS

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15 minutes ago, John Mitchell said:

 

Are any of those other big guys likely to be any more trustworthy? Just sayin'...

 

I have to wonder about some of the agencies still offering relatively high commission rates. I have images with an agency that gives 60% after you've uploaded 500 images. Problem is they don't make any sales. Another big agency in Europe that has been around for a long tine still gives 50%. However, from what I've heard, sales there have all but dried up in the past couple of years. Sometimes the high commission rates just indicate that the agency isn't doing well, and that they are afraid of losing contributors. As I said, Catch 22...

The answer is going to be different for every photographer - but in my case this other place is managing more sales from fewer images at better prices, and one or 2 others have found the same thing.  Now my volume is too small in everything to draw conclusions from, and while I know of one or 2 others who see the same pattern as me with said agency others see the opposite.

5 minutes ago, Cryptoprocta said:

They're not, the one Starsphinx references hasn 't got a great reputation: but once  you've been through the first four stages:

 

denial (Alamy is an warm-fuzzy, supplier-friendly company)

anger (how could they do this to us, we thought they loved us as much as we loved them)

bargaining (I won't upload for under 50% / for exclusive files / for high selling suppliers ...)

depression (this is awful, I never thought Alamy would kick us in the teeth like (most of) the others),

you're left with:

acceptance (I will quit altogether [and all that work has been for nought], I will just go ahead as usual [accepting the kick in the teeth and knowing more may well follow], I will try to follow the money [by spreading to the agencies which sell more, even for a smaller cut and a smaller rpd, as it will make more in the short term, and we have no idea what will happen in the long term], or some combination of the latter two)

Not being funny but are we still trying to judge by reputation? I mean how many people besides myself joined Alamy because of its reputation?  It has often been said it takes time to build trust/a reputation and moments to destroy it.  While Alamy is busy demonstrating the second part is it not possible others may have started the first part again?  OK 2 years ago the experience there was not good - up to 2 weeks for images to be checked and accepted, and technically good images refused on aesthetics.  They are now turning my images around in 12 hours or less.  They have sold more pictures for me at higher prices in the same time I have been with Alamy.  Again I am tiny - too small to provide any solid indications - but right now I am paying less attention to reputation and more attention to what any agency is actually doing right now this minute - right now Alamy are dropping prices and cutting commission while the other place does not seem to be doing so.  
If people are looking around are you going to tell them to look at reputation or give things a try and see how it works for them?

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5 minutes ago, Starsphinx said:

If people are looking around are you going to tell them to look at reputation or give things a try and see how it works for them?

I've cut the post, but just to say I wasn't suggesting that you don't do that.

 

My 'other place' has a nightmare reputation, but I still earn more per month, on a dormant portfolio on 30%, than I do with more files on Alamy (at 60%) (but way down on the Glory Days).

I was just stupid to let that one go dormant and put all my work into Alamy, thinking that was the better strategy for the long term.

We live and learn.

Edited by Cryptoprocta

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16 minutes ago, geogphotos said:

I agree with both Bill and Martin. Feeding the machine is one thing but when the machine starts eating you it is time to stop and think.

 

As with any ingrained, habitual behaviour this is hard and there seems to be a huge un-fillable void to face and even fear. ie) like stopping drinking I suppose but can imagine :)

 

Look I am very human and I make crazy irrational decisions at times based on gut feeling. I may change my mind. Even more likely I may we wrong ( but who is to judge).

 

What I feel  right now is that as a photographer I now have confidence. And that photography has the ability to elevate and to do important things. 

 

I tend to work in long cycles. I commit to something and stay committed. When that blows up in my face I feel both disappointed and stupid. Also passionate and yes irrational.

 

Right now I want to draw a line under over 50,000 stock images. They are all now in my mind just disposable. I want to start again and do something worthwhile in photography. 

 

I want to rip everything up and start from Year Zero...... and not with Alamy.

 

I too have essentially drawn a line under my 4.4Kimages here and the other 10s of thousand on my computer because I do not believe there is any value in promoting them (more effort than the rewards will justify).

 

Like Ian I want to start over with photography. If I find a model it will be in a high-value, relatively low-effort niche but above all something I will enjoy doing. Or it might just be my academic research.

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3 minutes ago, Cryptoprocta said:

I've cut the post, but just to say I wasn't suggesting that you don't do that.

 

My 'other place' has a nightmare reputation, but I still earn more per month, on a dormant portfolio on 30%, than I do with more files on Alamy (at 60%) (but way down on the Glory Days).

I was just stupid to let that one go dormant and put all my work into Alamy, thinking that was the better strategy for the long term.

We live and learn.

Unfortunately or fortunately depending on how you want to look at it dormancy has to be part of my long-term plan - there are going to be times I cannot shoot or process or upload - and it comes down to bottom line - its like a line in an old song "I don't care about your other girls just be good to me".  If somewhere is making me money I am not going to be unhappy - I may feel my share is unfair but then I am not the one doing the selling.

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As for reputation all businesses are amoral at best (with very few exceptions). My worst bad debts (fortunately very few) and experiences in my consultancy career were with what were expressly 'Christian' businesses; ones that would have been expected to take a moral and ethical approach.

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3 minutes ago, Martin P Wilson said:

As for reputation all businesses are amoral at best (with very few exceptions). My worst bad debts (fortunately very few) and experiences in my consultancy career were with what were expressly 'Christian' businesses; ones that would have been expected to take a moral and ethical approach.

 

The tobacco industry is a good example of this. If regulations were removed, they would probably start marketing cigarettes to teens -- I mean it's an emerging market. There are big bucks to be made.

 

What, me cynical? B)

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Some of the positive comments in this thread about other agencies are terribly misleading.

 

All agencies except microstock are in trouble, and are looking to squeeze their photographers.

 

I know because I talk to my photographer friends who are still with them.

 

Does not make it right

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33 minutes ago, Martin P Wilson said:

As for reputation all businesses are amoral at best (

bit of a bald statement,

I'm a business. I'm not "amoral".

You're a business. Are you?

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10 minutes ago, spacecadet said:

bit of a bald statement,

I'm a business. I'm not "amoral".

You're a business. Are you?

 

It is a bit of a bald statement. However, I think Martin (don't want to put words in his mouth, though) was referring to very large businesses / corporations, not the little guys like us (hopefully).

 

Once businesses reach a certain point in their growth, businesses have a bad habit of letting greed take over and cloud whatever positive values they originally had.

 

Good image here.

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35 minutes ago, Bill Brooks said:

Some of the positive comments in this thread about other agencies are terribly misleading.

 

All agencies except microstock are in trouble, and are looking to squeeze their photographers.

 

I know because I talk to my photographer friends who are still with them.

 

Does not make it right

Still it depends on whose squeeze is the gentlest.

I do not believe that the market for photographs is either going to completely disappear (media is more visual now than ever) or be reduced to free generic mass images (I have learned so much in 5 years - and I know the majority of people do not have the inclination for self-learning) so there will remain a market - it is up to me to decide how I interact with that market

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1 hour ago, Bill Brooks said:

Some of the positive comments in this thread about other agencies are terribly misleading.

 

All agencies except microstock are in trouble, and are looking to squeeze their photographers.

 

I know because I talk to my photographer friends who are still with them.

 

Does not make it right

 

That's right. I'd expect that microstock agencies won't be the exception for much longer either. Critical mass in image numbers has already been reached for a lot of subject areas covered by micros. Mind you, I'm no pundit on these matters...

Edited by John Mitchell

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1 hour ago, Martin P Wilson said:

As for reputation all businesses are amoral at best (with very few exceptions). My worst bad debts (fortunately very few) and experiences in my consultancy career were with what were expressly 'Christian' businesses; ones that would have been expected to take a moral and ethical approach.

 

I'm reminded of that old bumper sticker from the 60's/70's -- "Jesus is coming back, and he's mad as hell!"

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I too am very disappointed in Alamy's decision to cut our share of image licensing. I still get a 50% share through my main agency and that has always seemed fair. I have always felt that the main issue with Alamy is the lack of image curation. I realise that CTR is supposed to take care of this problem by relegating dross to the bottom of the pile but the diversity algorithm seems to counteract this to great extent. I have no problem giving everyone a chance but surely if a portfolio of images doesn't make a 'sale' in a 3 year period shouldn't the contributor be let go and their images removed. Image searchers don't want to see all that crap. There must be an affordable programmable way to search out and remove the excess. Invest in quality over quantity rather than encouraging the lower echelons who don't care how much they receive for an image. Their are a lot of great photographers here, amateur and professional. Treat them with respect. They chose Alamy for a reason. Live up to your previous reputation.

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36 minutes ago, JeffGreenberg said:

About 10 yrs ago, an agency wanted 50/50 ===> 40/60.

I refused to sign, they continued me at 50/50 but prohibited new submissions.

All other contribs except maybe one fatalistically caved in to 40/60.

A year later that agency asked me to start submitting again...

 

About 5 years ago a distributor wanted me to submit in a way

that would have given me about 20/80 from an "oil tycoon name" agency's licenses.

I said No No No.

About 3 years ago they came back to me with a much much more favorable arrangement.

I said Yes Yes Yes.

 

Patience & persistence pays.

Sometimes much more than fatalism & apathy...

 

Thanks for sharing your experiences.

Let's see what James says next.

I'd be surprised if there isn't some rethinking going on...

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27 minutes ago, John Mitchell said:

I'd be surprised if there isn't some rethinking going on...

 

If there isn't then there must be something very wrong at the management at Alamy. 48 pages of comments on the two threads now. 

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44 minutes ago, JeffGreenberg said:

Instead of suspending submissions,

am going to continue submitting to

show how I'm potentially helping to raise $$ for upgrades

BUT...

nothing new will go live until 40/60 threat is replaced

with win-win alternative...

Brothers & sisters, please.  Please.

 

This is a good way to show Alamy how we feel about PROPOSED commission cuts.

When we know exactly what they are going to do, we can decide on how to proceed

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5 hours ago, Starsphinx said:

OK from the promotion to photographers when Alamy first opened - so maybe the word Promise was never used - but it certainly seemed to be implied.

“We place our contributors at the centre of our service”
    “This is just the start of the new way forward for the creative mind.”
    “Only alamy.com will sell the images you supply us with.”
    "On every sale alamy take 10% commission + about 3% credit card fee. YOU GET around 87% of the sale!!!! YES! 87% !!!"
    “It’s not like you are entering an arrangement that ties your images up for a lengthy amount of time.”
    “We have no interest in making changes to the contract to the detriment of photographers now or in the future.”
    "How can we be assured that alamy.com will not increase the commission in their favor in the future? It would not be in alamy.com's interest to change terms to the detriment of our contributors, since our success depends on attracting large numbers of contributors.”

I have highlighted the relevant statement - is being assured the same as being promised?

 

In case they aren't monitoring this forum closely, send this to James:  james@alamy.com       I think they've forgotten something.

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4 hours ago, Cryptoprocta said:

They're not, the one Starsphinx references hasn 't got a great reputation: but once  you've been through the first four stages:

 

denial (Alamy is a warm-fuzzy, supplier-friendly company)

anger (how could they do this to us, we thought they loved us as much as we loved them)

bargaining (I won't upload for under 50% / for exclusive files / for high selling suppliers ...)

depression (this is awful, I never thought Alamy would kick us in the teeth like (most of) the others),

you're left with:

acceptance (I will quit altogether [and all that work has been for nought], I will just go ahead as usual [accepting the kick in the teeth and knowing more may well follow], I will try to follow the money [by spreading to the agencies which sell more, even for a smaller cut and a smaller rpd, as it will make more in the short term, and we have no idea what will happen in the long term], or some combination of the latter two)


The problem is: With 50/50 (or more) you are happy each time one of your images is licensed. With 40/60 your anger will come back with each license. Each time you will a sale in one line of your account balance and in the next line you will see that Alamy takes back more than half of that. So I will never come to the stage of acceptance.

Nobody of you would ever accept a 20% pay cut in a regular job, just because your boss wants to invest that money into "future growth". So none of us should accept those 40%. Just imagine for a moment that NO contributor would accepct those 40%! Than Alamy could not sell a single image unless they go back to 50%.


Those of you who accept that cut and continue uploading, are a part of the problem.

Only together we have the power to negotiate. That's why there are workers' unions for example. Without those unions only those people would get a job, who accept the lowest payment for the longest working hours.

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So how did all this come about? I've just seen this thread, but I've had no e-mail or anything?

 

I'm not familiar with Alamy's profit & loss, but James saying Alamy it's only up 2% after a period of "super high growth", but the growth has flattened off this year, therefore you all need to lose 10% of what seems to be an ever dwindling, of most peoples fees seems to be odd. Of course the dreaded PU fees, plus some of the image fees are less than this and after 50% won't get any if us a coffee in Gregg's, let alone Costa or Starbucks.

The fact the contributor i.e The Photographer is now being taxed for the Super Growth falling down, seems to be a bit of a mad panic and attacking the people who in effect give Alamy their income.

 

I haven't done much uploading lately and have been busy doing other work over the last few months, but my sales & revenue are up, but I've only got roughly 2,500 images, so the increase is hardly worth shouting about and nothing that would make me upload on a full time basis and the revenue is probably due to the fact I had one $150 sale this year, which is the highest I've had since May 2016, that was for $70. I finally have enough money to upgrade my PC, thanks to the other work I've done, but now wonder if this is worth being put to use, uploading to Alamy, as although, I can edit faster, it's still going to take a long time to edit, keyword, upload etc

 

The fact the commission was split fairly with Alamy, was my main reasons for joining as it felt fair, the new discount and reasons for it don't, its a Photographers Tax, if it was 2.5% or 5%, it'd feel better, but so would a minimum sale of even as low as $20 per image, as might give Alamy the extra it requires, surely revenues are falling because a lot of the rates are ridiculously low and Alamy has also added loads of other agency images?.

 

Or, perhaps new contributors from February could have the new percentage fee?

 

Talking about Shutterstock percentage and Getty's debt repayment isn't really helpful, all this smacks of a company wanting its profits before those of its staff, (contributors) and believing a company accountants believe growth on growth is always possible, no company can claim this.

 

I understand the Brexit worry and the need to cut costs, but it may be hard to do, but taxing the staff (photographer) and creating bad feeling is not a good way to do it and breed confidence, nor just use Alamy exclusively, which I do.

 

I haven't had time to look at everyone else's comments, but It'll be interesting to see what those who have big portfolios and earn more money think?

 

Also, maybe make the commission a sliding scale, less than 1,000 images 40% others 50% might be worth thinking of?

 

From the outside it looks Alamy has spent a lot of money seemingly, on promoting the fact everyone can take a photo and social media, I may be wrong, or I'm doing it wrong, but not much comes in via social media for me, if anything, or other Photographers I know.

 

Generally it's people who want things for nothing and Alamy's targeting all people with a camera & encouraging more people to upload doesn't seem to be good either, but I may be wrong.

 

Finally, targeting foreign markets may be good new sales for Alamy, but not at distributors rates for Photographers, but it may work and I don't see why if Alamy is targeting that as a way forward that fees need to be reduced.

 

Regards

Chris

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Skyscraperfan said:


The problem is: With 50/50 (or more) you are happy each time one of your images is licensed. With 40/60 your anger will come back with each license. Each time you will a sale in one line of your account balance and in the next line you will see that Alamy takes back more than half of that. So I will never come to the stage of acceptance.

Nobody of you would ever accept a 20% pay cut in a regular job, just because your boss wants to invest that money into "future growth". So none of us should accept those 40%. Just imagine for a moment that NO contributor would accepct those 40%! Than Alamy could not sell a single image unless they go back to 50%.


Those of you who accept that cut and continue uploading, are a part of the problem.

Only together we have the power to negotiate. That's why there are workers' unions for example. Without those unions only those people would get a job, who accept the lowest payment for the longest working hours.

 

I doubt that Alamy will be willing to negotiate in the classic labour union sense. They don't really have to in this crowdsourced business. However, they could change their mind and keep the 50/50 split, thereby taking the high ground and showing that they are on the side of photographers. That would be a real win, not only for us but also for them in terms of Alamy's reputation and attractiveness to future contributors.

Edited by John Mitchell
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37 minutes ago, ChrisC said:

So how did all this come about? I've just seen this thread, but I've had no e-mail or anything?

Apparently the technology company known as Alamy can't manage a simple email list. I've contacted CR and James W. CR sent an ambiguous auto-response, so I'm not sure if I'll get an answer about emails or not. James sent my concern about the auto-response on to CR without comment. Maybe he didn't think it was ambiguous. Things don't seem good at Alamy. 

Edited by KevinS
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40 minutes ago, ChrisC said:

therefore you all need to lose 10%

Its a 20% cut Chris. Its ten percentage points, but dropping from 50 to 40 is a drop of 20%. The percentage points trick is as old as they come but still very effective. Don't be fooled by it. Not just here, its a principal weapon in the politicians arsenal. 

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12 hours ago, John Mitchell said:

 

It is a bit of a bald statement. However, I think Martin (don't want to put words in his mouth, though) was referring to very large businesses / corporations, not the little guys like us (hopefully).

 

Once businesses reach a certain point in their growth, businesses have a bad habit of letting greed take over and cloud whatever positive values they originally had.

 

Good image here.

 

Indeed I was but businesses do no need to be that large before ammorality kicks in. Think the Abilene Paradox in psychology/ group behaviour.

 

Note that I said amoral, not immoral - very different things.

Edited by Martin P Wilson

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