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2 hours ago, KHA said:

 

To me this is not even a question, so if it is to you, I can't answer that for you. Selling an image for a dollar would not even cover the cost of the gas I might have had to pay to drive to the destination, let alone the years of photographic training, software, computers, gear, etc. And especially if it's one of the uses that seem common here, for rights in perpetuity, which would preclude you from ever being able to withdraw it for sale after the timeframe had expired and offer it as an exclusive to someone else who might later be willing to pay more for that right.

 

There are plenty of mass marketers who rely on quantity to make up for tiny profit margins. But licensing photographic rights has intricacies that selling a pair of Walmart flip-flops doesn't. And the Walmarts of the world drive plenty of other companies out of business in the process, which would mean an even more dire scenario for photographers as the stock world became even more monopolistic.

 

But we photographers who aren't chasing a mass market just need to learn what we need to do to differentiate ourselves from those who are, it seems, because ultimately we have to coexist with them. That's what I'm working on with my approach.

 

 

I'm dealing less with theoretical concepts of value right now, and more with the kind of value that keeps creatives fed in this material world of ours. Keep in mind that if creatives continually drive down the prices for their own work, that one dollar sale may fall still further, to the point where there may not be enough quantity in the world to make up for the minuscule markup.

 

There are so many people who don't value the work of creatives as it is, even many wealthy companies and individuals, who often expect artists to give away their time for nothing. They don't seem to realize a world without art would be bleak indeed, and represents as needed a contribution to society as any other vocation.

 

So we need to do what we need to do to keep our industry viable. And that might mean learning to tell some buyers "No". You want that image for a dollar? Then go pick up your camera, get into your time machine, go back into the past and shoot it, 'cause you're not getting it from me.

Perhaps it makes more sense if I take it slightly further - microstock states it will sell my image 100 times at $1  a time and make me $100 from that image.  Mid stock says it thinks my image is better than that and will sell it once at $100.  Now under that regime, I would stick with mid stock.  Then comes the actual performance - where microstock does what it says it would while mid stock does sell the image once - but for 75 cents, not $100.  Mid stock has tried to move into the micros business by undercutting them but does not have the ability to sell the numbers.  At which point if I want $100 for my image I am going to have to reassess how I am going to get it.

The whole "Walmart drives other companies out of business" line is nothing new and has occurred constantly as long as humans have been doing business.  The market and the techniques will change - the only option for providers is to consider those changes and how they can fit them.  So yes the digital camera and microstock have upended the stock photography market and changed all the rules.  The options are sitting and cry it's not fair, worry about one's art being devalued or look at the new rules and see whether it is still possible to play by them.  For some the answer will be no for some yes - this is not an absolute subject.

When you talk about people not valuing creatives I think you are focusing too much on measuring value in cash upfront terms - you think the company who gives you $100 values it more than the one who gives you $1 - even though the first one uses 1% of its budget and sticks it in a corner seen by no-one while the second uses 10% of its budget and makes it central to its whole campaign.

The whole "tell the customer no" is fantasy - because there are a thousand other photographers out there for whom $1 is a worthwhile bit of money.  The customer does not need to get in their time machine they just need to find the photographer from a poorer part of the world who wants the money.  The industry is in no danger of becoming unviable - image is in more demand than ever.  The price changes are due to supply having grown.  

For me at the end of the day it comes down to figures - if selling an image a $1 a time brings in $100 while selling it at $100 a time brings in $0 I take the $100.   I do not have the security to test the refuse to sell it at $1 and someone will pay $100 for it.  There is too much risk that refusing to sell for $1 will result in me being left with no money at all.

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2 hours ago, Starsphinx said:

The whole "tell the customer no" is fantasy - because there are a thousand other photographers out there for whom $1 is a worthwhile bit of money.

 

Not fantasy whatsoever. Surely as a photographer you are aware there are endless numbers of photographs in the world -- with more being snapped every second -- that can't be replicated no matter how much you throw at another photographer, and that would indeed require a time machine?

 

2 hours ago, Starsphinx said:

The industry is in no danger of becoming unviable - image is in more demand than ever.

 

And photographers offering their photography online for free or for pennies, including through social media that often claims commercial rights to what they post, is happening more than ever as well. By unviable, I don't mean photography is becoming less in demand; I mean it is in danger of becoming an industry that creatives will not be able to make a living off of.

 

You say I'm measuring things too much in cash upfront terms, yet you're the one who says you're willing to sell a photo to anyone with four quarters in their pocket. Doesn't that make me the one who places more of a theoretical value on art, preferring to keep it off the market completely rather than have it devalued, and you the one who's all about those dollar-dollar bills? 

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In several web sites photographers give photos for free. Take a look. The market is changing, it's better earn pennies that nothing. 

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7 hours ago, alexandersr said:

In several web sites photographers give photos for free. Take a look. The market is changing, it's better earn pennies that nothing. 

No I don’t think it is. Better to go and do something else that actually pays what it should.

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12 hours ago, KHA said:

 

Not fantasy whatsoever. Surely as a photographer you are aware there are endless numbers of photographs in the world -- with more being snapped every second -- that can't be replicated no matter how much you throw at another photographer, and that would indeed require a time machine?

 

 

And photographers offering their photography online for free or for pennies, including through social media that often claims commercial rights to what they post, is happening more than ever as well. By unviable, I don't mean photography is becoming less in demand; I mean it is in danger of becoming an industry that creatives will not be able to make a living off of.

 

You say I'm measuring things too much in cash upfront terms, yet you're the one who says you're willing to sell a photo to anyone with four quarters in their pocket. Doesn't that make me the one who places more of a theoretical value on art, preferring to keep it off the market completely rather than have it devalued, and you the one who's all about those dollar-dollar bills? 

The monetary value of one-off non-replicable photographs is very different from that of general stock photographs - I have yet to see such originals changing hands at penny prices.  What I do see (admittedly more often than I would like as I am the one with the DSLR) is higher quality more professional images turned down for lower quality smartphone images - because the smartphone owner just wants to see their name in print.  I might not like it - but if I want to survive financially I have to accept it.  Sure I can analyse it and wonder if there is a way to change it (unlikely - the lower quality images are used because research shows the end customer does not care about the quality of the image so long as they can see what it shows - I will further suggest this is related to education of art at school - "art appreciation" or the way to tell quality is no longer taught.  This is not just in visual arts.  If a discussion on it interests you I will open it elsewhere) but I have to accept it as denying it is pointless.

For all the other images "sunset at the beach" "famous building" "person doing something"  the chances are there is someone out there who has very different money requirements willing to undercut your because lower prices still meet their requirements.  

You talk about creatives no longer being able to make a living off of photography.   This is the same as the "cottage weavers will no longer be able to make a living weaving" when the spinning Jenny and the like came along.  What it actually meant was a larger number of people who had never woven anything were going to be able to make a living in factories - and the cottage weavers had the choice to go and join them in the factory and produce way more cloth of a different quality from that they produced in their cottage - or make sure their cottage cloth was of such different higher quality they could live as artisan weavers.  Both groups survived.  The group that did not survive is the one who complained about the new processes and did not change their process to adapt. 

I do not do theoretical values - I am very much in the total surprise that anyone anywhere is paying any money for any of my stuff.  I have not been actually seriously trying to sell for very long and all I know is so far it has gone better than I expected or predicted.

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1 hour ago, Starsphinx said:

The monetary value of one-off non-replicable photographs is very different from that of general stock photographs - I have yet to see such originals changing hands at penny prices.

 

Alamy and other stock sites are full of non-replicable photographs, and the fact that some are selling for penny prices is the whole point of this discussion. At any rate, the thrust of my point about market diffentiation is precisely that offering a more irreplaceable product is one of the tools purveyors of photography might leverage to hold out for higher-than-Walmart price points.

 

Maybe the time machine reference was too oblique. Until 99-cent time machines are a thing, any photo of yours a buyer really wants is not going to be available to them for a dollar or less without you providing it.

 

1 hour ago, Starsphinx said:

The group that did not survive is the one who complained about the new processes and did not change their process to adapt. 

 

Hence what I've been writing about the things those of us who aren't trying to position ourselves in the mass-market segment might do to preserve product value and differentiate our product.

 

2 hours ago, Starsphinx said:

I have not been actually seriously trying to sell for very long and all I know is so far it has gone better than I expected or predicted.

 

Congratulations on your individual success. But please understand that some of us are also interested in trying to preserve success for the industry as a whole.

 

Kill the golden goose and the eggs stop coming. For everyone.

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99% of the stuff I shoot (on here anyway) is replicable - when supplying a mass market product I take mass-market prices.

Maybe those of you worried about the golden eggs would get further if you realised that for many many people the silver eggs that are replacing them are untold riches.  Telling people who never believed they would achieve a silver egg to refuse it and hold out for a gold one is not effective.   Unless you get every single photographer on the planet to agree to minimum pricing it will not succeed - and if you did a bunch of non-photographers would spot the opportunity and pick up a camera to start making some fast but smaller bucks.

So I try to look at what is - can my photo be replicated fairly easily?  I must remember the effort something took me is not necessarily the effort it would take someone else.  In most cases the answer is yes - and so those photos are going to be of limited financial worth on each sale, and the earning potential of them is on the selling.  One the ones that are not replicable they may well be worth more financially but at the same time that may mean a different market and selling approach.  Obviously, the ideal is less of the former and more of the latter - which means working to improve my understanding of photography and develop my ability as a photographer which is what everyone is doing.

 

I will get the best I can manage for my work - but at the end of the day if a photograph sells 100 times for a dollar while another sells once for one hundred dollars both photographs have bought in one hundred dollars and I can assure you neither will have cost that much to produce and my books will show profit.
 

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I need to move on because the geese they need a-feeding!  I will just say that keep in mind that today's silver egg could become tomorrow's bronze egg; tomorrow's bronze egg could become the next day's chrome egg; and the next day's chrome egg could become the day after's tin egg. When it gets to the stage that clients expect all their photos for free, it'll be too late to turn back.

 

I personally like to try to produce work of lasting value. If buyers agree my work has the value I assign to it, I'll survive. If not, I'll find out soon enough.

 

There's room in the world for both fast food and gourmet meals. But I'm not McDonald's; that's not changing, and anyone who tries to offer me McDonald's prices isn't getting my food. Everyone else should do what's right for them. 

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For a long time I too held out for better prices with low volume versus high volume and low prices. (The low volume low price agents I drop) 

I now think that if there are a hundred holdouts like me, or a thousand or more, it wouldn't make a difference to prices.  So with Alamy's drop in contributor share, I dipped my toe in the MS waters.  Just the one agent I picked now produces the same monthly income as Alamy.  Yes, it's tough to see the low prices, but the volume is very high, and I've doubled my income. 

Am I contributing to the downfall of society?  I don't think so.  I'm adapting.

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9 hours ago, KHA said:

I personally like to try to produce work of lasting value. If buyers agree my work has the value I assign to it, I'll survive. If not, I'll find out soon enough.

Bear in mind that on Alamy, the price you get has nothing to do with the subjective 'quality' or objective rarity of your work, but purely rests on the discount the buyer has negotiated with Alamy.

 

In the contract, we all agreed, inter alia, to 6.4:@

" Alamy has full authority to negotiate all terms of commissions, licences and reproduction rights in the Images including the fee, duration and scope of any licence."

 

FWIW, I totally agree with what Reimar said above.

 

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1 hour ago, Cryptoprocta said:

Bear in mind that on Alamy, the price you get has nothing to do with the subjective 'quality' or objective rarity of your work, but purely rests on the discount the buyer has negotiated with Alamy.

 

In the contract, we all agreed, inter alia, to 6.4:@

" Alamy has full authority to negotiate all terms of commissions, licences and reproduction rights in the Images including the fee, duration and scope of any licence."

 

FWIW, I totally agree with what Reimar said above.

 

 

I fully understand that I currently have no control when it comes to negotiations. Hence my attempts to assert what control I can with regards to which pictures I post, opting out of all the lower-priced schemes, starting to limit exclusivity, and not offering my pictures as royalty-free.

 

It's still early in the game, so we'll see how things go. I hope to make Alamy a lot of money. So we'll see if I can put my money where my mouth is. And put my camera where the money is . . .

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12 hours ago, Starsphinx said:

..... are untold riches.......
 

 

 

That made me smile, glad someone is getting rich ;+)

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Posted (edited)

I have had 4 sales this month which is good in numbers for the size of my port but pretty pathetic prices, the highest being just under $8. Now can someone remind me again why Alamy is better than selling on  microstock, and why I should keep exclusive images here and not make them available at other sites ? It's a race to the bottom.

Edited by Marb

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Posted (edited)
15 hours ago, Marb said:

It's a race to the bottom.

 

 

I agree, its been a marathon we are now in the last home stretch.

 

Secondary editorial an Industry that only requires one to buy a camera (or phone in some cases) to take part - so its doom has always been inevitable. 

 

On another subject I wonder if the true artists (digital artists) are faring, any better than camera owner/operators. I suspect a little better but doomed ultimately also as software becomes more powerful and affordable.

Edited by Panthera tigris

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