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The Pros and Cons of Culling Our Collections


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I think it all comes down to "you can never tell what will sell".  So many times you read of people having sales of photographs they least expected - ones they very nearly did not upload.

As a newbie, I can appreciate the learning curve - and am definitely modifying what I upload but in the direction of similars rather than subjects.  If an image is individual in a collection - and possibly less common in the whole database I think culling would be a mistake.  The "rules" on what sells and how to take a sellable picture change (like everything in human fashion), what is rejected this season may be the in thing in a couple of years time. 

The best course I can see is possibly removing similars (if you have 10 near-identical photos of a lemon you only need one) then take all the images you don't like that you would cull and move them to their own pseudo.  This achieves 2 things - it helps CTR by separating images you don't think will be liked,  and offers a really clear indication of if they do sell - when they sell.

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I went through my port only recently and deleted the absolute dross, which was about 15 pics.  I'm loathe to delete anything else as there's always the possibility of sales...

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I see no dross in your collection, Andy, and I hope I have very little in mine. I'm trying to find reasons other than similars and guessing about sales as to why people think they will improve things by deleting images. 

 

Edo

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21 minutes ago, Ed Rooney said:

I see no dross in your collection, Andy, and I hope I have very little in mine. I'm trying to find reasons other than similars and guessing about sales as to why people think they will improve things by deleting images. 

 

Edo

 

The only reason I see to do it is if an image you hate is the one that always comes up first for in a search for a subject. Then maybe get rid of it? Otherwise, I'd say keep everything.

 

Paulette

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I'm very much in tune with those thoughts, Paulette.

 

Although I don't tend to upload images I hate. I shoot a lot of subjects that do not interest me personally, but that's general editorial stock shooting. I often return to subjects, but I don't post more than 2 similars from one shooting. 

 

Edo

 

 

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3 hours ago, Ed Rooney said:

I see no dross in your collection, Andy, and I hope I have very little in mine. I'm trying to find reasons other than similars and guessing about sales as to why people think they will improve things by deleting images. 

 

Edo

Thanks for the kind words, although your port is so much better than mine!  I can't see how more sales would come by deleting pics, other than getting rid of excess similars.   

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Different maybe, not better. I did a few years as a PJ, so I have a feel for what you do. 

 

I don't see the point of deleting images, but I await someone who will show me the error of my ways.  :wacko:

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I have some dross in my port, but since some of the dross has sold, I hesitate to remove.  I still remember Jeff's sale of the pic of the friend's futon for $150 so that is what keeps me from removing images.  Hoping to add a lot more this year. Hopefully no dross this time, but my PP skills are much better and that is the major flaw in a lot of my early port.

 

Jill

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For me the issue is trying to think what the customer may want or like; this is often very different from what I like.  I have often sold pictures that I do not like, but clearly someone does.  It is the same when out shooting.  I will photograph something although I do not like it very much.  Also when taking live news pictures I try to add a couple that will have a stock use/shelf life.  

Edited by IanDavidson
typo
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5 hours ago, NYCat said:

 

The only reason I see to do it is if an image you hate is the one that always comes up first for in a search for a subject. Then maybe get rid of it? Otherwise, I'd say keep everything.

 

Paulette

 

I can't find your email, Paulette. Could you please send one at edoruan@gmail.com? I have sometime I want to tell you. 

 

Edo

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I think that some it might come down to personality -- i.e. there are natural deleters and non-deleters. I seem to fall into the latter category.

 

I seldom do culls of my sock drawer either. B)

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24 minutes ago, Matt Ashmore said:

 

It's somehow reassuring to hear that I'm not the only one! :)

 

I'm sure that are lots of us out there. I think it would be possible to predict fairly accurately which forum members have well-pruned sock drawers.

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Not long ago, an older and badly processed image of mine licensed for $$$, so I decided to go back and redo it. The much-improved version has now been uploaded and is for sale on Alamy. However, I just can't bring myself to delete the old one, which looks a lot gloomier. Who knows, the washed-out version might have more appeal to some buyers. If it sold once, it could do so again. It's all very subjective.

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I know for a fact that if I had decided to delete the "worst" 10% of my images, I would have got rid of some that have sold. 

The only ones I tend to delete are similars where I have another better one of the same subject or old ones I upload a better version of.

I know I have hundreds of  images on here that stand absolutely no chance of selling.

I just don't know which they are.

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58 minutes ago, John Mitchell said:

Not long ago, an older and badly processed image of mine licensed for $$$, so I decided to go back and redo it. The much-improved version has now been uploaded and is for sale on Alamy. However, I just can't bring myself to delete the old one, which looks a lot gloomier. Who knows, the washed-out version might have more appeal to some buyers. If it sold once, it could do so again. It's all very subjective.

Last year at a local camera club there was a guest speaker - among the many things he covered was a shot he had taken that was, to say the least, gloomy (it was inside of a long-abandoned residence) - and it sold for a significant sum of money and was used as the cover art for a thriller/horror novel.  The publisher had been specifically looking for gloomy.  He warned against limiting to bright and happy, because there is always a market for sad and gloomy going on as well - so long as the photo catches the mood.

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1 hour ago, Starsphinx said:

Last year at a local camera club there was a guest speaker - among the many things he covered was a shot he had taken that was, to say the least, gloomy (it was inside of a long-abandoned residence) - and it sold for a significant sum of money and was used as the cover art for a thriller/horror novel.  The publisher had been specifically looking for gloomy.  He warned against limiting to bright and happy, because there is always a market for sad and gloomy going on as well - so long as the photo catches the mood.

 

You bet. Gloomy can be quite lucrative.

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I agree that one can never know what will sell.  I've been surprised many times.  But the reason for culling is to improve the customer's experience.  Customers will lose interest if search results produce too many similars, or too many images that are obviously poorly conceived, poorly focused, or poorly processed.  Customers will give up and turn elsewhere in their search.  All of us suffer if the customer gets the impression that searching Alamy is too time-consuming and results in too many undesirable hits.  In my opinion culling is a task Alamy management should undertake.  It doesn't take a lot of training to recognize similars.  It also doesn't take a lot of training to spot images which are poorly conceived, by which I mainly mean poorly framed.  There are a number of steps Alamy management should take to improve the overall quality of the collection, the objective being to enhance Alamy's reputation as a place to go to find quality images.  Eliminating ten to fifteen million images from the Alamy collection would be a good place to start.

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11 hours ago, Ollie said:

  In my opinion culling is a task Alamy management should undertake.  I

No.

Images were submitted in good faith on the premise that they would not be edited for content. After hours of processing and tagging, I would be furious if Alamy went back on the deal by removing material unilaterally.

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Would Alamy setting up an archive site work?  Say every image that was 3 or 5 years old that had never sold would be automatically moved to the archive - which would still be fully searchable with all images available for purchase - maybe being purchased there would move them back to Alamy main?

The advantages I see to this is it would immediately massively reduce the number of images prospective buyers are presented with to search through hopefully making it a better experience for them, and also it could create a selling point - "looking for something unique - our archive is a treasure trove of never before used images, reflecting the changes in style of photography over time" or something

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6 hours ago, Ed Rooney said:

Okay, gang 

 

You've convinced me to do no culling, even if that was not the intent of some. And I have no plans to go through my sock drawer. 

 

Edo

 

At least you have a sock drawer now. :D

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