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I'd recommend having a good think about the image suppliers listed by BAPLA. 

 

Change will come, already happening I gather, when image buyers want more from an agency than cheap prices.

 

When they want service, knowledge, and images which are hard to find. And then when agencies communicate that and direct their photographers to provide what the buyers want.

 

The approach at Alamy, Shutterstock, Getty is more or less 'throw it at the wall' and see what sticks. Just turning out more and more of what already exists in such vast quantities seems just to be hoping for the best rather than a business plan.

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Just to be clear, Ian: I don't want anyone telling me what I should shoot. I would see that as an assignment and I would expect to be paid a day rate. 

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37 minutes ago, Ed Rooney said:

Just to be clear, Ian: I don't want anyone telling me what I should shoot. I would see that as an assignment and I would expect to be paid a day rate. 

 

I used the wrong word.

 

Suggest or advise rather than direct ie) feedback

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1 hour ago, Ed Rooney said:

The big dramatic change came when stock moved from film to digital; that's life on the Planet Earth now.

I totally agree - digital has been the birth and the death of photography as an art form and as a business. Whilst making it far more viable as a business for professionals ( remember the days of copying slides or sending your precious original to an editor?!!!) it has also meant that everyone has a camera, and it is relatively easy and cheap to produce images - even more so now that technological advances mean you need less skill to take a technically competent image. And that is what the low prices are reflecting - an oversaturated market. To be honest I don’t think there is much either we or agencies can do about it - there is just too much photography going on. But we have choices. 1/ Do something else. 2/ Do what we love doing and accept that it won’t make us rich  or 3/ (because not only will it not make us rich but probably won’t even feed us) some combination of 1&2. I really can’t see much changing in the future. Sorry if that sounds pessimistic and defeatist - I cal it realism.

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"2/ Do what we love doing and accept that it won’t make us rich."

 

I find shooting stock as interesting a thing to do as any of the assignment work I did in the 35 years when I was a full-time pro. I don't have the energy to do that much hard work anymore. Yes, digital has resulted in far too many people with cameras thinking they are photographers, but on the positive side it has also produced a wider interest in images and ways of using them. 

 

I don't play golf or watch daytime TV. Shooting digital stock is what I do. 

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On 21/12/2019 at 08:36, Camera Girl said:

 

I know this will come as no surprise to any of you and I'm sure we are all experiencing the same thing, so this is really just a moan to get off my chest.....but today the number of sales I have made this year exactly equals the number I made last year (249).

 

 

My experience this year has been somewhat different. Like you, I have sold exactly the same number as last year (after a steady year-on-year increase since 2012). But my total income is 77% higher than last year, in fact higher than any other year apart from 2015 which was boosted by a $$$$ sale.

 

Alan

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Alamy's revenue per sale is falling. But a major MS site shows the revenue per download rising from $2.6/download in 2014, to $3.4/download in 2018. It's hard to compare "Apples with Apples" as the MS site has added other types of imagery over the period, but their ongoing revenue and profit growth, compared to Alamy's relative stagnation (despite a major increase in the number of images in their portfolio) is sobering. The same MS site generates over 25x more revenue from a similar size image portfolio.

 

Sorry to be blunt, but I really wonder if Alamy will be here in 12 months time.

 

Mark

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1 hour ago, M.Chapman said:

Sorry to be blunt, but I really wonder if Alamy will be here in 12 months time.

 

Mark

 

I wonder?

When we first saw the news article in the Oxford Times about this innovative new photo library on our doorstep that was going to give photographers 90% of every sale we signed up immediately.  Having many, many catalogues of old images it seemed like a winner.  All our original submissions were scanned film images sent in on cd’s. But the payout was worth it.

Nowadays with digital it is so easy to submit but the returns are minimal. We only have a relatively small collection on Alamy because we soon realised we could make a much better living from our limited edition print website.

Sales on Alamy are now few and far between and payout times get longer because Alamy seem unable to make their customers pay up! 

I can’t see a future with them, sadly.

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3 hours ago, Camera Girl said:

I totally agree - digital has been the birth and the death of photography as an art form and as a business. Whilst making it far more viable as a business for professionals ( remember the days of copying slides or sending your precious original to an editor?!!!) it has also meant that everyone has a camera, and it is relatively easy and cheap to produce images - even more so now that technological advances mean you need less skill to take a technically competent image. And that is what the low prices are reflecting - an oversaturated market. To be honest I don’t think there is much either we or agencies can do about it - there is just too much photography going on. But we have choices. 1/ Do something else. 2/ Do what we love doing and accept that it won’t make us rich  or 3/ (because not only will it not make us rich but probably won’t even feed us) some combination of 1&2. I really can’t see much changing in the future. Sorry if that sounds pessimistic and defeatist - I cal it realism.

 

That sounds to me like an accurate assessment.

 

Fortunately, I have additional sources of income -- pensions and another part-time job in a different field -- so I guess I fall into option #3, which I imagine is the case with most Alamy contributors.

 

P.S. Yes, I remember having to mail off original slides to editors and getting them back (hopefully) covered in scratches.

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2 hours ago, Thyrsis said:

 

I wonder?

When we first saw the news article in the Oxford Times about this innovative new photo library on our doorstep that was going to give photographers 90% of every sale we signed up immediately.  Having many, many catalogues of old images it seemed like a winner.  All our original submissions were scanned film images sent in on cd’s. But the payout was worth it.

Nowadays with digital it is so easy to submit but the returns are minimal. We only have a relatively small collection on Alamy because we soon realised we could make a much better living from our limited edition print website.

Sales on Alamy are now few and far between and payout times get longer because Alamy seem unable to make their customers pay up! 

I can’t see a future with them, sadly.

I can’t comment on the key kernel of this as I am relatively new to stock, but it seems to me that Alamy has been doing much better of late get invoices cleared.

 

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We had joy, we had fun
We had seasons in the sun
But the hills that we climbed
Were just seasons out of time
 
We had joy, we had fun
We had seasons in the sun
But the wine and the song
Like the seasons have all gone
 
 
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It seems to me if Alamy priced the same but charged  more for higher resolution, we could all make more money.  The way it is now, for example, $14 for a 2MB image and $14 for a 120MB image doesn't make a lot of sense to me.

 

Rick Boden

 

 

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I've been with Alamy for 14 years now and business was slow until four years ago. Since then sales and revenue have, on average, increased quite significantly. This year to date my sales are up 29%, revenue up 152%, and average sale price per image has doubled over the previous year. This is my best year yet. Whether or not it will continue is another matter.

I do note in the various threads that there are other contributors who are experiencing increases in sales and revenue so all cannot be doom and gloom. And, yes, I too have had some of those 'won't buy a coffee' type sales which I don't like either, but conversely some good higher prices have crept in this year.

jim :)    

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Like Ed Rooney, I used to make many good sales with Tony Stone and sold a lot of stock from my archives directly to Publishers in the UK and abroad. I was just about able to win business although the trend was starting to move towards the bulk deals and favoured sources. Susan Griggs saw early that her style of agency was doomed and threw in the towel even though she was still selling well. She saw her chance and sold out. to an American agency. Many of her photographers didn't like the new set-up and de-camped.  That was before Alamy was born but it wasn't long before things moved on. And prices started to fall. Then along came microstock!

 

These days I find it difficult to muster enthusiasm to build my portfolio when returns are often so meagre. I can't just throw images willy-nilly into the pit in hopes of some return. I don't think we can really blame Alamy for the  state of the industry and the tiny sales. Not everybody is a photographer but just about anybody can produce images. I would like to retrieve my enthusiasm but for the time being I'm not getting there. Perhaps Father Christmas will wave a wand! That would be nice.

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My sales and revenue are the same as 2006 and have been stable virtually every year (with the odd outlier year). BUT I have had to put in an additional 2750 images (I had 250 in 2006) to keep it stable. I calculated that to stand still, I would have to add 18 images per month per 1000 currently in my collection, to keep my percentage share of the total images on Alamy static at the current rate of total image submission. I don't regard stock as part of my future but like most am going to ride the Alamy (my only outlet now) train until snow covers the tracks.

I so agree with Stephen (message above).
 

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7 hours ago, Panthera tigris said:

I calculated that to stand still, I would have to add 18 images per month per 1000 currently in my collection, to keep my percentage share of the total images on Alamy static at the current rate of total image submission. I don't regard stock as part of my future but like most am going to ride the Alamy (my only outlet now) train until snow covers the tracks.

 

That's an interesting bit of maths.  Though I suppose the 18 images per month will change (increase) since, if you do add that number, you will be changing the current rate of total image submission upon which that number was based?  So the actual situation is that we need to pedal increasingly faster in order to stand still!  Kind of what I thought.  I have also suspected that when I have a little bout of uploading, my zooms, CTR and sales all increase a bit.  Conversely, if I have not uploaded anything for a while it all goes down.  So much for my naive little idea when I first joined Alamy 15 years ago that I would get to 10,000 and sit back and retire on the constant flow of monthly income! Ha! 🤣

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About five years ago, one of the most successful stock photographers around told a group of us that he had to increase his collection by eight percent a year, just to stay even. Of course, that means that the amount he needs to add each year grows along with his collection. As for the people here that are seeing increases, they are from very low starting points and don't really impact the long-term trend. The disconnect is between those of us who were there in the film days and earned solid livings from stock and those who entered in the digital age and see it as a nice hobby. 

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"The disconnect is between those of us who were there in the film days and earned solid livings from stock and those who entered in the digital age and see it as a nice hobby. "

 

Spot on Brian. Started in 1991 and made a very good living from gardening and wildlife stock which increased through to 2000 as i developed direct selling to mags and book publishers. More than held my own by scanning about 20000 medium format trannies between 2000 and 2005 before finally moving to digital with the advent of the Canon 10D in 2006. then came the tsunami which was accelerated by the financial crash and never recovered. Gave up stock photography some 5 years ago but at least its all "profit" now -all be it at about 10% of what was expected. 

 

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On 22/12/2019 at 02:06, Brian Yarvin said:

Wow, some interesting comments! Many are so distant from my own experiences that I need some time to think them over.

 

Bob, what's different about this year? For me, it's just more steady decline in stock sales. And if things were different in the UK, the substantial percentage of my Alamy collection that was shot there would have lower numbers. I don't see any difference at all. 

 

And Chuck ... what can Alamy do about prices? There is no way they can really raise prices without competitors swooping in. 

 

This decline isn't new, it's been the industry trend for decades. And certainly, the old rule of thumb that less income equals more contributors has been proven true over and over again. I was dependent on stock for decades - I used to live a nice life in NYC from my stock income. What are you going to do? Shoot more of the same? Lots more of the same? 

 

What can photographers change?

 

For one thing we can think long and hard about where we send the material we have. The more often photographers supply microstock agencies such as Getty and SS with good breaking news material the more likely the subscription model is to win. To a certain extent photographers can influence the market. What photographers lack is a common strategy but how should freelancers get that without a union?  I would love Alamy to do better simply because they do make occasional satisfactory sales for me. However Alamy also make life hard for themselves and for us by turning down news stories which at first glance "are not what we are looking for". I had two submissions turned down for news this year which I was then forced to upload elsewhere - both sold!! I also find the exclusive / non exclusive situation a turn off as it entails more work and given the already ridiculously low amount we are earning it's a development we could have done without.Anyway, Merry Xmas and all the best for 2020!

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SS and Getty (and DT and ...) are not likely to implode. Because there are so many 'smartphone photographers' happy to license snapshots for pennies.  Nor will contributors 'unite' to influence market; they might complain endlessly in various forums about things like IS royalty disrespectful 15 percent and licenses sometimes fraction of a penny, but that is extent of it.  These 2 things are between  main reasons for overall decline of stock photo industry. 

 

I agree with concept of min price on Alamy, for rare images in particular.  But it is not likely to happen IMHO.  Only thing that is realistic in this time and age is to do stock photography because it is something you enjoy, not for financial reward.

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I agree with much of what you say Autumn Sky but it is becoming difficult to enjoy stock photography given the massive amount of work it increasingly involves.   We should all boycott companies offering disrespectful rates which is why I wouldn't submit to IS. The only way companies which pay a decent rate can continue to do so is if we submit to them - and their likes - only. For that reason it's also important that Alamy pushes photos which are exclusive rather than non-exclusive so that it is worth a photographer's while sticking with one firm.

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Right on. 15 percent swamp is best example how low (in more ways than one) micros can get.  I know there are ppl out there uploading, and publicly saying so, horrible photos from technical perspective that wouldn't pass even rudimentary QA, and they all get accepted. Only thing QA in these micros cares about is legal (property released). That is big reason why things are as they are.

 

I was somewhat encouraged by AS as they have at least some QA, and compensation is bit better than average micros subscription. If all micros would adopt even basic technical QA, and clean existing ports of say all images older than 12 months with 0 sales, things would be much better.  But instead they are now all switching to AI based QA, which makes things even more ridiculous.

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On 22/12/2019 at 02:48, Sally said:

Totally agree. I don’t bother with the weather shots as much as I used to unless I happen to be somewhere for another reason.

 

Same here - tempted to travel the four hour round trip to shoot some of the bush fires and the firefighters who are tackling them- but will i return a profit ? - doubt it so wet be travelling specifically for these shots

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3 hours ago, Foreign Export said:

 

Same here - tempted to travel the four hour round trip to shoot some of the bush fires and the firefighters who are tackling them- but will i return a profit ? - doubt it so wet be travelling specifically for these shots

If you make great images they will be licensed, either now or in the future.  This year and for the last several years Alamy as well as other agencies I've contributed to over the decades have licensed my fire pictures shot in 1989 in California, USA.

 

Chuck

 

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9 hours ago, Foreign Export said:

 

Same here - tempted to travel the four hour round trip to shoot some of the bush fires and the firefighters who are tackling them- but will i return a profit ? - doubt it so wet be travelling specifically for these shots

 

If I would need to travel for 4 hours I would only if I also had another purpose. For instance I normally visit my sister in Yorkshire twice a year, usually staying 4 - 7 days. I fit those visits in around events I plan to photograph, such as fracking or opposition to grouse shooting protests. Both of these have sold multiple images, but even with economical motorway driving would never have been anywhere likely economical on their own.

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