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Posted (edited)
23 hours ago, Autumn Sky said:

John, this whole thing is just a picture of overall state in stock industry.   Companies at the end need to be profitable & it is harder and harder to do so.  So they look how to squeeze more revenue, and contributor cuts are one of the ways.  IS with fixed 15% compensation,  DT with strict 100$ payment threshold (even if you are closing account as it seems),  SS now with resetting everyone to ground zero on Jan 1, etc etc.   (Adobe might be fundamentally different because stock photography is not main revenue stream, so it can afford to be "unprofitable" as long as it promotes Photoshop, Lightroom etc as flagship products). 

 

Real problem in my view is that nobody is managing skyrocketing content increase.   Libraries should be lean and mean.  No 100s of photos that show the same thing.  No keyword spamming. Technically 100%.  No low sale potential content.  Clean up existing content -- anything older than 12 months with 0 sales -- out.  But instead they are now more and more reverting to AI QC.   DT QC is 100% AI now, even for editorial submissions.  They boost about "xxx millions of images in library" as it is a good thing.     One of reasons that Adobe is now best micro is that their QC is 100% human & it has standards.   I am really surprised someone intelligent enough does not recognize this.   Let everyone else climb the ladder with quantity;  I will climb it with quality.  

 

 

 

I sometimes have an image that has been gathering dust for years suddenly license.  However, I do agree that agencies are now over-stuffed, but volume and crowdsourcing rule the roost now. I contributed to a small editorial stock agency for many years. Unfortunately, they couldn't compete when the online big guys came along, and they had to close. I miss them, but the fact is that I now make many more sales than I used to, even if prices are lower, and it's certainly much easier to submit images and get them on the market quickly.  Microstock is another story, though. The business model seems to be built on quicksand. I don't see how it's sustainable. I get dizzy just thinking about it.

 

Bored Over It GIF by jjjjjohn

Edited by John Mitchell
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Yes.  And problem is not easy to solve, mainly because of years and years of dumping of sub-par content  (I am talking micros).   I firmly believe 12 month and out if no sale is the right approach.  If contributor believes image is good and has potential,  they can always re-submit.  But now it would go through  strict QC rules - and not AI approval, now more and more gaining speed.  This is how you clean up.  

 

Then you can also start charging more, and give more to contributors as well.  Because you sell quality and one gets what he pays for

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Posted (edited)
34 minutes ago, Autumn Sky said:

I firmly believe 12 month and out if no sale is the right approach.  If contributor believes image is good and has potential,  they can always re-submit.  But now it would go through  strict QC rules - and not AI approval, now more and more gaining speed.  This is how you clean up.  

 

That might be an approach for MS (where sales can occur within days of upload) but it really doesn't work for Alamy where sales take longer and there are valuable "depths" to their collection including "archive" and unique imagery.

 

How about an alternative approach to start "optimising" Alamy's portfolio"?

 

Alamy do a sweep to identify any contributors with portfolios over 1,000 images*, but with a sales rate below 1 sale/1,000 images/year*. Those contributors are emailed, to alert them to the low performance of their portfolio and to inform them that any of their images which haven't been sold, downloaded or zoomed are going to be deleted in 30 days time and suggesting that they may want to download a copy of their metadata and then upload a more tightly edited selection of their images which they think might sell more frequently, whilst paying close attention to post processing, keywords and captions.

 

*Obviously depending on the results, sweeps could be repeated with tighter success criteria.

 

Just a thought.... FX<Runs for cover>

 

Mark

Edited by M.Chapman
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Mark, agreed -- there are different ways one can address the problem, and Alamy is different from micros.  But this thread started with "Meanwhile at Shutterstock" and ever declining compensations in micros so I was referring mostly to that.  

 

Another way to look at this -- agencies promote content in different ways.  From rotating pattern  (your port gets up front for few days then gets knocked back to end of queue, regardless of quality or # of sales),  to promoting content with more sales, to promoting fresh content, etc.   So you can have great image that never gets a chance because of bad timing;  now it is sinking lower and lower in the swamp and it will never be discovered.   But if deleted / resubmitted,  it will get fresh start.

 

This is huge problem & main reason why compensation is sinking across the board (including Alamy).   Yet nobody seems to be interested to address core issue behind the problem.

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If they got rid of images that were over 12 months and had never sold I would lose 70% of my sales this year. 😬

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36 minutes ago, M.Chapman said:

 

That might be an approach for MS (where sales can occur within days of upload) but it really doesn't work for Alamy where sales take longer and there are valuable "depths" to their collection including "archive" and unique imagery.

 

How about an alternative approach to start "optimising" Alamy's portfolio"?

 

Alamy do a sweep to identify any contributors with portfolios over 1,000 images*, but with a sales rate below 1 sale/1,000 images/year*. Those contributors are emailed, to alert them to the low performance of their portfolio and to inform them that any of their images which haven't been sold, downloaded or zoomed are going to be deleted in 30 days time and suggesting that they may want to download a copy of their metadata and then upload a more tightly edited selection of their images which they think might sell more frequently, whilst paying close attention to post processing, keywords and captions.

 

*Obviously depending on the results, sweeps could be repeated with tighter success criteria.

 

Just a thought.... FX<Runs for cover>

 

Mark

 

How about purging all of the collections imported from other agencies that have those same images on multiple agencies and instead promote the exclusive images that individual contributors have here  and nowhere else .... 

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For some time market analysts have been concerned that SS has run out of options for driving future profits. Whats next? Buy a rival? Raise prices? Sell software, music, or RM? Nothing seems to be available. This negative view of SS future prospects, could result in the value of investors SS shares being worth a lot less.

 

SS executives are big investors in SS. So if the value of the SS shares drop, then SS executives will see their net worth plummet.

 

The cut in photographers commission will drive profits next year, without a lot of collateral damage to the overall SS collection. The collection will still look the same, clients will not care.

 

So this lowering of photographer's commission only confirms stock market analysts negative view of SS prospects. There is not much else SS can do to drive profits, except lower the photographer's commission.

 

It would seem that a downward spiral is starting. Not because of photographer's ire, but because SS is a mature business and has run out of expansion options. The future SS prospects do not justify the higher price of the shares today.

 

I will be looking to see if, while preserving the price of shares in the short term through the commission cut, SS executives start to sell some of their overpriced shares.

 

This has nothing to do with SS photographers being happy, angry, or stupid. It is about the value of the SS shares.
 

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There was a time in the distant past when Alamy requested we not upload excessive similars. I can’t remember the most suggested, but it seems no more than 5 from the same shoot with obvious differences that were readily noticeable. It seems like I remember they said they would enforce it, but maybe not. I’m testing the cobwebs in my brain.

That may have fallen by the wayside with agencies dumping their content with excessive similars into Alamy. How can you enforce something to us regulars and allow “johnnie-come-latelies” to do as they please?

Maybe when they allowed agencies images here, the agencies should have been requested to cull them first, following the rules.
 

I do remember when I made searches, sometimes a whole page would be taken up with one persons similar images. I applaud the day when Alamy scrambled those up to appear on different pages. The downside to it was that if you submitted 3 similars with one being your best, Murphy’s Law deemed your best to be the one on the farthest page. What that did for me was make me go back into my 5 image sets and delete two, leaving 3 “best”.

That said, if I had occasional sets of five, say of a piece of cake, one would be horizontal, one vertical, one without a fork, one with, and a zoom out with more copy space, as a for instance. None looked identical and never had to be studied to tell the difference between them. When you have closeups and zoomed outs, verticals and horizontals, changes in placemat colors, etc, it’s easy to have 5 of the same subject.

Betty

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13 minutes ago, Martyn said:

 

How about purging all of the collections imported from other agencies that have those same images on multiple agencies and instead promote the exclusive images that individual contributors have here  and nowhere else .... 

Great idea  (and a green arrow :))

But this is for Alamy...  micros swamp problem, that is dragging down the industry as a whole, still remains

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Just now, Autumn Sky said:

Great idea  (and a green arrow :))

But this is for Alamy...  micros swamp problem, that is dragging down the industry as a whole, still remains

 

Agree with you on this ... but what can be done .. just have to hope that maybe the whole micro system will implode as clients start to show a preference towards unique instead of cheap ! Maybe wishful thinking but nothing surprises me anymore !

I absolutely do not agree with culling images that have not sold in the last twelve months though ... I and many others have been adding for a long time and that adds up to a lot of work ... I would not be happy if these started being removed on that basis alone !

As an example, this image has just been licensed for the first time and was shot in 1996 !!

old lightships await their fate in the old john pounds scrapyard in portsmouth england during the early 1990s Stock Photo

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19 minutes ago, Bill Brooks said:

 

SS executives are big investors in SS. So if the value of the SS shares drop, then SS executives will see their net worth plummet.

 

 

In this vein - there is an interesting comment in the ms group regarding SS new CEO's compensation package:

 

https://www.microstockgroup.com/general-stock-discussion/stan-pavlovsky-ceo-shutterstock-and-why-this-is-all-happening/

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12 minutes ago, Martyn said:

 

Agree with you on this ... but what can be done .. just have to hope that maybe the whole micro system will implode as clients start to show a preference towards unique instead of cheap ! Maybe wishful thinking but nothing surprises me anymore !

I absolutely do not agree with culling images that have not sold in the last twelve months though ... I and many others have been adding for a long time and that adds up to a lot of work ... I would not be happy if these started being removed on that basis alone !

As an example, this image has just been licensed for the first time and was shot in 1996 !!

old lightships await their fate in the old john pounds scrapyard in portsmouth england during the early 1990s Stock Photo

 

again, Alamy is different ... highly editorial ( and nowhere as spammed as micros) so  cleanup/promotion rules are different too.   This boat image (great one too) illustrates the issue well.

 

I don't think system will implode as a whole completely ... it will only keep sinking lower and lower.  At a time, IS was huge earner.  Then they slashed compensation to 15%.  Huge revolt and resentment.   Flock over to SS.  SS is king.  But someone said wisely "Just wait till SS turns on its contributors as well".   Nobody believed, but it just happened.  Tomorrow will be 1st day of 10cents/pop sales over there,  even for long time contributors.  Etc. 

 

Problem is that all this impacts Alamy.  There is reason why compensations here went from 60% to 50% to 40%.  

 

I repeat again, micros are, in large part, spammed swamp -- and until cleanup happens it will only get worse.  (And now I turn tail before I draw more ire of this forum on me :)  It shows it's raining over here lol)

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4 minutes ago, Autumn Sky said:

 

again, Alamy is different ... highly editorial ( and nowhere as spammed as micros) so  cleanup/promotion rules are different too.   This boat image (great one too) illustrates the issue well.

 

I don't think system will implode as a whole completely ... it will only keep sinking lower and lower.  At a time, IS was huge earner.  Then they slashed compensation to 15%.  Huge revolt and resentment.   Flock over to SS.  SS is king.  But someone said wisely "Just wait till SS turns on its contributors as well".   Nobody believed, but it just happened.  Tomorrow will be 1st day of 10cents/pop sales over there,  even for long time contributors.  Etc. 

 

Problem is that all this impacts Alamy.  There is reason why compensations here went from 60% to 50% to 40%.  

 

I repeat again, micros are, in large part, spammed swamp -- and until cleanup happens it will only get worse.  (And now I turn tail before I draw more ire of this forum on me :)  It shows it's raining over here lol)

 

It's an industry in turmoil for sure and changes are ongoing still ... hang on tight, the rough ride continues ... !

 

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1 hour ago, Martyn said:

 

Agree with you on this ... but what can be done ..

 

Frankly very little IMO except lowering your operating costs/time to produce images.   Signing petitions, dreaming about stock contrib unions, disabling/removing portfolios, etc are feel-good actions that have little if any long term meaningful effect on public and privately owned stock platforms..

 

My take is if individuals desire to go forward being stock contributors in any meaningful fashion that returns the best from their efforts from most stock platforms you will need to be a low-cost image supplier.  

 

Lower your investment in capital and time needed to produce acceptable images for stock.   Fewer new camera or computer hardware/software purchases/upgrades.  Fewer or no more shooting RAW images with their post production hardware/software and processing time requirements. Shoot and submit the best OOC JPGs.  More post processing is money spent that means lower return on investment.  Find faster and more effective keywording tools/methods, etc. 

 

 

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7 hours ago, Martyn said:

 

Unfortunately, that was the unique USP at Alamy until, for reasons best known to themselves, they started to import complete collections from other agencies ....

 

Fair point.

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2 hours ago, Phil said:

 

Frankly very little IMO except lowering your operating costs/time to produce images.   Signing petitions, dreaming about stock contrib unions, disabling/removing portfolios, etc are feel-good actions that have little if any long term meaningful effect on public and privately owned stock platforms..

 

My take is if individuals desire to go forward being stock contributors in any meaningful fashion that returns the best from their efforts from most stock platforms you will need to be a low-cost image supplier.  

 

Lower your investment in capital and time needed to produce acceptable images for stock.   Fewer new camera or computer hardware/software purchases/upgrades.  Fewer or no more shooting RAW images with their post production hardware/software and processing time requirements. Shoot and submit the best OOC JPGs.  More post processing is money spent that means lower return on investment.  Find faster and more effective keywording tools/methods, etc. 

 

 

Phil - I agree with most everything you said (specially about fruitless 'unions', stop uploading protests, etc). But this is from contributor perspective.  Problem is elsewhere.   Everyone agrees stock was place to be 10-12 yrs ago, right? Why isn't that now? Because of hyper inflated competition, largely sub-standard, that micros allowed to propagate and create bottomless pit.  We can't fight that, and we can't change way of thinking and lack of desire to turn the wheel in SS, IS etc.

 

But, even if this is academic, smart business philosophy would IMHO be to focus on quality. How to do it - cleanups, strict QC, etc - is separate discussion and maybe even different from company to company, based on specialization. But once you have that 'lean and mean' library free of duplicates, spammed low quality content etc etc  customers will flock over.  It is not coincidental Adobe is now best micro around by a margin, specially after this SS debacle.

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4 hours ago, Bill Brooks said:

<SNIP>

 

This has nothing to do with SS photographers being happy, angry, or stupid. It is about the value of the SS shares.
 

 

Well, yes, it is operating in the modern capitalist model that that says that if your business doesn't continue to grow, year on year (hopefully exponentially), then your business is a failed business. Which, frankly, to my mind, is a total nonsense. Businesses should of course adapt or change with time or where necessary and grow according to need or desire. But for business size to be the ultimate determinant of success?

 

But I'm treading on shaky ground here, I know. Talking economics (about which I know next to zero), which tends to be tied closely to politics...and veering off subject. I'll say no more.

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Posted (edited)
6 hours ago, Autumn Sky said:

Yes.  And problem is not easy to solve, mainly because of years and years of dumping of sub-par content  (I am talking micros).   I firmly believe 12 month and out if no sale is the right approach.  If contributor believes image is good and has potential,  they can always re-submit.  But now it would go through  strict QC rules - and not AI approval, now more and more gaining speed.  This is how you clean up.  

 

Then you can also start charging more, and give more to contributors as well.  Because you sell quality and one gets what he pays for

 

This reminds me too much of the people who argue that my books should be out of copyright now since I should have earned enough money from them in some shorter period of years than my life time plus whatever it is now.  I kinda like having that extra $100 to $200 a year from royalties on the ebooks.   

 

If you're selling everything you upload within a year, that's very nice, but some people are uploading fairly specialized things -- and my fish brought more money than anything else I've uploaded.  And some of what's been licensed for better than $ weren't brilliant photos, particularly, just something nobody else had.

 

Storage space isn't particularly a major expense these days.

Edited by MizBrown
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2 hours ago, Phil said:

 

Frankly very little IMO except lowering your operating costs/time to produce images.   Signing petitions, dreaming about stock contrib unions, disabling/removing portfolios, etc are feel-good actions that have little if any long term meaningful effect on public and privately owned stock platforms..

 

My take is if individuals desire to go forward being stock contributors in any meaningful fashion that returns the best from their efforts from most stock platforms you will need to be a low-cost image supplier.  

 

Lower your investment in capital and time needed to produce acceptable images for stock.   Fewer new camera or computer hardware/software purchases/upgrades.  Fewer or no more shooting RAW images with their post production hardware/software and processing time requirements. Shoot and submit the best OOC JPGs.  More post processing is money spent that means lower return on investment.  Find faster and more effective keywording tools/methods, etc. 

 

 

 

This has become my approach, spend as little as possible. For instance, I only buy used lenses and do very little travelling. I'm also using free RAW processing software and an ancient version of PS Elements. I recently bought a refurbished DELL tower to replace my Windows 7 machine. It cost so little that I'm embarrassed to say the amount. Of course being cheap by nature helps a lot...

 

 

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Posted (edited)
15 minutes ago, losdemas said:

 

Well, yes, it is operating in the modern capitalist model that that says that if your business doesn't continue to grow, year on year (hopefully exponentially), then your business is a failed business. Which, frankly, to my mind, is a total nonsense. Businesses should of course adapt or change with time or where necessary and grow according to need or desire. But for business size to be the ultimate determinant of success?

 

But I'm treading on shaky ground here, I know. Talking economics (about which I know next to zero), which tends to be tied closely to politics...and veering off subject. I'll say no more.

 

I have a feeling that the current pandemic could change a lot of prevailing attitudes in the business world. Capitalism may never be the same again, which is a good thing IMO. The "small [or at least smaller] is beautiful" philosophy may yet prove to be the way of the future.

Edited by John Mitchell
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5 hours ago, Betty LaRue said:

There was a time in the distant past when Alamy requested we not upload excessive similars. I can’t remember the most suggested, but it seems no more than 5 from the same shoot with obvious differences that were readily noticeable. It seems like I remember they said they would enforce it, but maybe not. I’m testing the cobwebs in my brain.

That may have fallen by the wayside with agencies dumping their content with excessive similars into Alamy. How can you enforce something to us regulars and allow “johnnie-come-latelies” to do as they please?

 

You're quite right, few similars definitely was a requirement in days gone by - I see nothing in the guidelines about it now. Though I always have - and will continue to abide by  the rule - if only in my self-interest! Another thing that was probably dropped because it was unenforceable: additional workload for the QC team and, as you say, the dumping of content by other agencies.

 

5 hours ago, Betty LaRue said:

Maybe when they allowed agencies images here, the agencies should have been requested to cull them first, following the rules.

 

Yup - too late now, I guess? Though rules can always be changed..

 

5 hours ago, Betty LaRue said:

I do remember when I made searches, sometimes a whole page would be taken up with one persons similar images. I applaud the day when Alamy scrambled those up to appear on different pages. The downside to it was that if you submitted 3 similars with one being your best, Murphy’s Law deemed your best to be the one on the farthest page. What that did for me was make me go back into my 5 image sets and delete two, leaving 3 “best”.

 

Yes, that was a good move. And unfortunately, there were (are?) drawbacks. Always possible (advisable?) though to upload the images in separate batches over a period of time?

5 hours ago, Betty LaRue said:

That said, <SNIP> it’s easy to have 5 of the same subject.

 

Indeed.

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Posted (edited)

One thing is chasing images that thousands of other people chase.  I found exteriors photos of every church in Nicaragua in all areas that get any tourism at all.  Pointless to shoot them, then, unless I can do something more dramatic, more unique than pro photographers who've already been through.   One Mexican photo out of dozens was licensed.  What has worked for me were plants and fish more than anything else.   Those were fish in my tanks and plants in my patio or plants I'd photographed years ago.  One license for a deaf kid signing in a home for the deaf a couple blocks away. 

 

A friend majored in photography and worked for a while doing wedding and bar mitzvas before turning to computer work.  He said that the money was in fashion, combat photography, and a few other things.  The things everyone finds fun to do are over-saturated.  I'm not going to buy a 600mm lens and do birds and wildlife because any number of other people who took earlier retirements than I did are happy to do that.  It's fun, so the category is way over saturated.  It's easy to take photos of churches, so that market is saturated unless you're considerably better than any other photographer out there.

 

Some of this is a question of how good does an image have to be.  Weekly newspaper writing doesn't have to be that good, and the expense of publishing is less flexible than wages for a novice reporter.  How good a photo does a site need and how inflexible are their other costs?  And a lot of them want to pay in ego strokes.  Most poetry publication these days is also in ego strokes and tenure trading stamps.

Edited by MizBrown

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5 hours ago, Phil said:

 

In this vein - there is an interesting comment in the ms group regarding SS new CEO's compensation package:

 

https://www.microstockgroup.com/general-stock-discussion/stan-pavlovsky-ceo-shutterstock-and-why-this-is-all-happening/

 

Working my way through this, but the first post pretty much says it all. Not entirely sure about the reference to Julius Caesar tho' (I'll review my history later)?!

 

Love this in the second post: "I suggest the CEO and the entire management team take their own medicine and every January first have their salaries reset to an absolute minimum monthly value." 😂

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5 hours ago, Martyn said:

 

<SNIP> just have to hope that maybe the whole micro system will implode as clients start to show a preference towards unique instead of cheap ! <SNIP>

I absolutely do not agree with culling images that have not sold in the last twelve months though ... I and many others have been adding for a long time and that adds up to a lot of work ... I would not be happy if these started being removed on that basis alone !

As an example, this image has just been licensed for the first time and was shot in 1996 !!

 

  1. Can't see this happening on enough of a large scale, especially given the dreadful state this world is currently in.
  2. Too true

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1 hour ago, John Mitchell said:

 The "small [or at least smaller] is beautiful" philosophy may yet prove to be the way of the future.

 

One can only hope....

 

The monopolistic consolidation and buyouts of smaller stock agencies/libraries by the big/bigger ones over past years seems mostly to have ground to a halt.  I suppose they've swallowed all they deemed worthy.    This leaves the big guys to do as they pretty well please with no significant alternative opportunities for image suppliers.  It's now mostly a choice of being an agency supplier with either low or lower image production investment returns.   

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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