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Ed Rooney

To Cull or Not to Cull?

Question

That is the question. Yes, I know it has been asked before. I thought an update of the thinking might be useful. 

 

Me? Many times I've decided to delete some images but before I do I lose the belief that it's a good idea and I'm unsure of which pics should disappear and why. Too many similes? I don't think that's the case with me. I do revisit subjects but I see that as a different thing from similars. Is it? 

 

Hmmm. My sales are good. and the prices are not bad for editorial RM digital stock . . . so should I leave things as they are???

 

Edo

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I'm all for competitors culling their portfolios, especially where they have images which compete directly with mine. ;)

 

In all honesty, apart from removing similars which pull down one's CTR, I can't see any downside in a competent photographer retaining images which may eventually sell. There is no obvious cost to doing so. 

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Ah, yet another example of your clear, logical thinking, Joseph. 😀

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I continue to be amazed how pictures I'm not sure about sell while pictures that I think are good with good sales potential don't.

 

I agree with Joseph.. unless you notice something terrible going on with your CTR, I'd just leave the images there.

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Posted (edited)

 

Good question. Edo,

 

I sometimes think I know what picture buyers should buy, but I honestly don't know what they are going to buy and when.

It's hard to gues what will sell but just as hard to guess what won't.

 

A 7 year old and a 10 year old picture returned their first licences last week, could I have culled them?

I think if you're happy with a picture when you submit it, then stick with it.

 

James

 

Edited by Mr Standfast
typo

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Posted (edited)

Unless there are some real 'stinkers' lurking in your collection, Edo, I'd say leave things as they are. I've recently licensed some of the earliest pix I uploaded here. Processing could have been better, but, hey... they sold... 😀

Edited by John Morrison

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How about moving the "rejects" into different pseudonyms?

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4 hours ago, Joseph Clemson said:

I'm all for competitors culling their portfolios, especially where they have images which compete directly with mine. ;)

 

In all honesty, apart from removing similars which pull down one's CTR, I can't see any downside in a competent photographer retaining images which may eventually sell. There is no obvious cost to doing so. 

I think this is about right. I know I have loads (thousands) of images that will never sell - the problem is knowing which ones they are.

I know for a fact that if I had decided a year ago to cull 10% of my images, I would have got rid of some that have since sold.

Culling similars is useful. I now have too many pics of some politicians and tennis players and I am trying to cut each individual to the best ten (maybe 15, possibly 20?) If I can't think of a reason why an image should be chosen rather than one one of the others, I will delete it. But I'm not doing it enough yet.

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There was an Alamy statement to the effect of: You are the photographer Alamy does not tell you what to shoot. In other words as photographers we have a responsibility to know what to shoot in order to make sales.

 

A photographer that is constantly surprised at what sells and is unwilling to edit their portfolio, is spending thousands of dollars to play a kind of lottery. An expensive lottery in which they have a one in 2,000 chance of winning $50.

 

That photographer is going down the rabbit hole of being unwilling to improve their portfolio and their subsequent shooting, in favour of quantity over quality. That photographer should know by now that this does not work.

 

Go into any small neighbourhood store in Ontario and you will see old people who badly need dental work, spending hundreds of $ a month on the Ontario lottery. Sad that a lottery is their only hope.

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My thinking, my path, will be that of the majority here: I'll stand pat. 

 

We know what's sold. We don't know what will sell. I try to produce good quality images and I think I'm getting better at tagging. 

 

Thank you all for your answers. 

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I often go back and re-shoot subjects because things are constantly changing -- buildings get new paint jobs, trees are cut down, skylines change, etc. -- plus I think it's beneficial to have images coming up in "New" searches. However, I always wonder if I should delete the old versions. As it is, I tend to just leave them alone in case someone actually prefers the way things used to look. I think this strategy has paid off in a few instances.

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3 hours ago, Bill Brooks said:

There was an Alamy statement to the effect of: You are the photographer Alamy does not tell you what to shoot. In other words as photographers we have a responsibility to know what to shoot in order to make sales.

 

A photographer that is constantly surprised at what sells and is unwilling to edit their portfolio, is spending thousands of dollars to play a kind of lottery. An expensive lottery in which they have a one in 2,000 chance of winning $50.

 

That photographer is going down the rabbit hole of being unwilling to improve their portfolio and their subsequent shooting, in favour of quantity over quality. That photographer should know by now that this does not work.

 

Go into any small neighbourhood store in Ontario and you will see old people who badly need dental work, spending hundreds of $ a month on the Ontario lottery. Sad that a lottery is their only hope.

 

Bill, dare I say that that is a "toothless" argument. 😛

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My first Alamy sale was an image that I had just included to fill up the CD. It probably won't sell again due to its age and the hugely increased competition, but while I've deleted a lot of my old stuff I've kept that one just in case (and simply because it was my 'first'). I'm pretty sure I deleted at least one image that should have remained, but can't be resubmitted as it wouldn't pass QC now. So if in doubt, it's probably best to leave things alone.

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Posted (edited)
10 hours ago, Bill Brooks said:

Go into any small neighbourhood store in Ontario and you will see old people who badly need dental work, spending hundreds of $ a month on the Ontario lottery. Sad that a lottery is their only hope.

 

How much does it cost you to shoot 200 images?   I think if you're going to have a camera and take photos anyway, this isn't really an issue.  The working professionals with clients will have cameras and lights already.  Those of us who have lights and cameras because we enjoy photography and are willing to spend some time keywording, aren't out that much for 800 photos we probably would have taken anyway.  I've been going over my earlier photographs and submitting small selections of those to Alamy.  I took them years ago.  One was of a tourist attraction near where i used to live and I thought that one would be saturated.  It wasn't.  Mine was portrait taken in March before leaves were out, full reflection in a pond and the building.  Yah never know.  

 

People who go out and buy cameras they wouldn't otherwise own, other gear they wouldn't have otherwise bought, to shoot stock are probably making a mistake.  Freelance work of any kind for people without day jobs or incomes from other sources is a fairly poor life choice.   What makes sense is for people who have a client based successful photography business to do stock as a side taking things that they wouldn't otherwise be photographing for pay.  Or for people who've been amateur photographers for decades to set up a portfolio for some supplemental income.  And a few people make a full time living from stock, but from all I've seen, that's not the best way to bet for people who are in dire straits and need to find a way to make a living fast.

 

I cringe at people who want to turn to any form of freelance work because they're financially strapped and even more when they don't have any experience taking photographs or writing or whatever they imagine will rescue them.   But I don't get the impression that's the bulk of people showing up here.

 

Edited by MizBrown
corrections.
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In common with many issues relating to this activity I don't think that there is a one size fits all answer. 

 

If you are shooting mainly editorial photos it is amazing what will sell, while you would have thought that the calendar market would require aesthetically pleasing shots - but I have licensed photos of industrial buildings for that purpose!

 

I've done some pretty tentative culling, and generally check to see if the photo has sold prior to getting rid, while the exit is via my dump pseudo. However if I take a remarkably similar shot in better light, or if I rework a previous image, I'll ask Alamy to delete the original, being careful to transfer the code number to the new one. While I don't make a habit of this, I've never been refused.

 

Maybe my brain is beginning to fade, but I recently saw a shot reported in the have you found thread, allegedly taken by me. I didn't recognise the photo and thought that there must have been an error, but on checking, it was indeed one of mine! Hence the need to look back in the annals before deleting anything!

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Some years ago I was on the Isle of Wight and photographed the RNLI boathouse and pier at Bembridge.

 

A few years later I returned and found that the pier had been replaced and the boathouse rebuilt, all in a nice modern style. Naturally I took more photos of the new setup.

 

But I will not be culling the old images from my port as they may be of interest to a buyer one day.

 

Allan

 

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10 minutes ago, Allan Bell said:

Some years ago I was on the Isle of Wight and photographed the RNLI boathouse and pier at Bembridge.

 

A few years later I returned and found that the pier had been replaced and the boathouse rebuilt, all in a nice modern style. Naturally I took more photos of the new setup.

 

But I will not be culling the old images from my port as they may be of interest to a buyer one day.

 

Allan

 

 

But would you change the caption to suggest that your pic is now of historical - rather than current - interest?

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8 minutes ago, John Morrison said:

 

But would you change the caption to suggest that your pic is now of historical - rather than current - interest?

 

Yup.

 

Allan

 

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