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Interview with microstock photographer and videographer Paul Hardy


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Indeed. Thank you Robz for sharing it. 

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Thanks for sharing the interview, Robz. It was a bittersweet one to put together, nice stories but not too much hope for the future. 

 

I only managed to take advantage of the tail-end of the "good times" in late-2012. Kick myself quite often for not taking it more seriously around 2008/2009. 

Edited by Brasilnut
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Interesting interview. I'm surprised at how small his portfolio is. I always thought that microstock photographers needed tens of 1000's of images -- not just a few 100 -- to make decent money.

 

This statement caught my eye:

 

"I’d recommend that everyone stop submitting for a few years, then see if there is any change."

 

Hmmm...

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Thanks to Alexandre for creating the interview and to Robz for posting it.

 

My best years at Alamy by far were 2007 through 2010, with about half the portfolio as now.

 

Then from 2010 to 2011, my sales went down about 50% and my revenue by about 75%. I was pursuing other platforms at the time, and had stopped submitting to Alamy from Oct 2010 to Sep 2011. Apparently Alamy's ranking counted regularity of submissions rather highly at the time; before 2011 I was submitting consistently and often. Since then, sales have recovered and even exceeded 2007-2010, but revenue is tanking.

 

Last year, which included the Covid effect, had my lowest Alamy revenue since 2005.

 

Fortunately, I'm retired and can do without my current Alamy income. My termination has been in for weeks now, and I'm getting off the merry-go-round.

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I agree, Bill. The prices when I had enough images to start selling were three times what they are now. I remember if I got one for $60 I thought it was quite low. I had one one sale for $600-700. For a pie!! And those days, I got 60%. It felt like my work was valuable.

Just checked. $700 July 2012.

Edited by Betty LaRue
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1 hour ago, Betty LaRue said:

I agree, Bill. The prices when I had enough images to start selling were three times what they are now. I remember if I got one for $60 I thought it was quite low. I had one one sale for $600-700. For a pie!! And those days, I got 60%. It felt like my work was valuable.

Just checked. $700 July 2012.

 

Wow! That must have been some pie. Let me guess, good old American apple pie. Right? 🥧

 

My revenue has been surprisingly stable for the past few years. I'm not sure why. This year is shaping up OK as well (touch wood). However, the drop to 40% is going to hurt as most of my images are now exclusive. Fortunately, there still seems to be a market for boring editorial images. I had a photo of a storefront license for $$$ today, which was encouraging to see. Who knows what the gods have in store for us, though.

 

I think that Mr. Hardy's recommendation is probably a good one. There are far too many images out there. Perhaps if everyone took a break for a couple of years, things would start to stabilize. I doubt if that will happen, though.

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2 hours ago, John Mitchell said:

 

Wow! That must have been some pie. Let me guess, good old American apple pie. Right? 🥧

 

My revenue has been surprisingly stable for the past few years. I'm not sure why. This year is shaping up OK as well (touch wood). However, the drop to 40% is going to hurt as most of my images are now exclusive. Fortunately, there still seems to be a market for boring editorial images. I had a photo of a storefront license for $$$ today, which was encouraging to see. Who knows what the gods have in store for us, though.

 

I think that Mr. Hardy's recommendation is probably a good one. There are far too many images out there. Perhaps if everyone took a break for a couple of years, things would start to stabilize. I doubt if that will happen, though.

 

 

Maybe the answer is to keep shooting but pursue personal projects rather than thinking 'stock'.

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One thing that wasn't clear to me in the interview is why such a talented and hard-working photographer would embrace the microstock model. Wasn't that part of the problem?

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11 hours ago, geogphotos said:

 

 

Maybe the answer is to keep shooting but pursue personal projects rather than thinking 'stock'.

 

I like to think that it's still possible to combine the two to some extent, although the "stock" side of the equation gets increasingly more frustrating, that's for sure.

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49 minutes ago, John Mitchell said:

One thing that wasn't clear to me in the interview is why such a talented and hard-working photographer would embrace the microstock model. Wasn't that part of the problem?

 

It's a fair question, he explained that after Getty purchased Corbis in 2016 his images stopped selling as much and he quit the Getty exclusivity agreement in 2019 "with a heavy heart".  

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3 minutes ago, Brasilnut said:

 

It's a fair question, he explained that after Getty purchased Corbis in 2016 his images stopped selling as much and he quit the Getty exclusivity agreement in 2019 "with a heavy heart".  

 

There's probably more to this story. Fodder for another interview perhaps?

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Thanks for all your comments regarding my interview!

 

Regarding my portfolio being so small.

I wanted every image to be a winner.

Strong images that had a message.

My editor rarely kept a vertical and a horizontal.

If I went on a trip I did well if 20 were selected.

I had one image that took took 2 years to complete!

From original idea to final submission! I just kept going back to it as it just wasn't`t working. I was working on other ideas at the same time!

Whats better, 700 images and 50% selling well, or 7000 images with 5% selling well?

 

--

 

"

laying low for a few years is never going to work as there are too many people out there

willing to take your place"

 

Exactly!

 

--

 

"Maybe the answer is to keep shooting but pursue personal projects rather than thinking 'stock'."

 

I always think there was a big difference in what we like to shoot and what sells.

I always like to do ideas that would sell well, don't we all?

Personal projects may not sell as well.

To me, I loved shooting stock, I had great satisfaction from producing great images, but it was also a business.

For instance, you may like to travel and do landscapes of England, but London will sell more, so my thought was, best just to concentrate on London.

Although I know images of London would be so much more saturated now!

 

--

 

"One thing that wasn't clear to me in the interview is why such a talented and hard-working photographer would embrace the microstock model. Wasn't that part of the problem?"

 

When Corbis closed, I was offered the chance of either migrating my work across to Getty or doing my own thing.

It was Getty, I didn't think twice!

But after about a year after joining and things sort of settling down, I still felt that I should be selling more.

How come my best selling images barely sold? How am I selling so few images each month? Why such low prices?

Unfortunately things had changed a lot and even Getty prices were a lot lower than I`d thought and my images were locked into a exclusivity.

 

So it was with a heavy heart that I decided to leave, so that I was free to put my images into multiple agents, I think the only way forward now is with multiple agents.

As I`d mentioned I`d been stung once before being exclusive to one agent and then they closed down, so I don't think I ever want to be in that situation again!

 

I did look around at other agents then, but there wasn't much choice, which is when I started submitted to Microstock agents, having never submitted to them before.

 

I've had images since sell many times each month, which proved that there was still a demand for those images, although it was annoying that the prices are lower!

 

There is often talk about multiple income streams, I should have done more at the time, but when the going was good with Corbis, why look elsewhere for a couple of extra $100`s?

 

Strange, I distinctly remember when iStock started, about 2000, and being worried about their pricing, my worries were met at the time with don't worry, its a small sector, now it looks as though micro stock won.

 

I don't know what the answer is, we cannot go back in time, but its just unsustainable and its a shame that all the great photographers I know have all given up.

 

 

 

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This got me thinking, he mentioned the start of the end came with digital cameras. I have always been of the opinion that the start of the end came with the inevitable "crowd sourcing" take up. Its a bit of a chicken and egg thing though. 

I can't think of any crowd sourcing activity that has not seen the value of the produced item drop significantly in order to become/justify an attractive scaleable sales model. Art, music, photography, video clips, YouTubing, influencing, online teaching - if you are not in the top 1% of successful artists/technicans/creators in these industries you are left to crowd sourcing your activities. 

Even those businesses which are more recent and seem to be "well paid" on average such as online servicing (fiverr et al), YouTubing. etc are starting to reduce their payments to creators if various forums are read. 

Is any crowd sourcing activity just a moment in time that will eventually disappoint financially? 


P.S. Brazilnut, well done that man, good interview.

Edited by Panthera tigris
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On 18/06/2021 at 22:52, John Mitchell said:

 

Wow! That must have been some pie. Let me guess, good old American apple pie. Right? 🥧

 

My revenue has been surprisingly stable for the past few years. I'm not sure why. This year is shaping up OK as well (touch wood). However, the drop to 40% is going to hurt as most of my images are now exclusive. Fortunately, there still seems to be a market for boring editorial images. I had a photo of a storefront license for $$$ today, which was encouraging to see. Who knows what the gods have in store for us, though.

 

I think that Mr. Hardy's recommendation is probably a good one. There are far too many images out there. Perhaps if everyone took a break for a couple of years, things would start to stabilize. I doubt if that will happen, though.

It was coconut cream meringue, John. Sold for “packaging”. I meant to check items in the baking aisle at the markets, but kept forgetting.

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On 20/06/2021 at 20:06, Betty LaRue said:

It was coconut cream meringue, John. Sold for “packaging”. I meant to check items in the baking aisle at the markets, but kept forgetting.

 

Just about any kind of pie works for me. This is my one and only pie (apple) image on Alamy.

Have yet to sell a slice, and soon my slice will only be 40% if I do. 🙁

 

Close-up of a freshly baked homemade apple pie on a table - Stock Image

 

 

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2 hours ago, John Mitchell said:

 

Just about any kind of pie works for me. This is my one and only pie (apple) image on Alamy.

Have yet to sell a slice, and soon my slice will only be 40% if I do. 🙁

 

Close-up of a freshly baked homemade apple pie on a table - Stock Image

 

 

Yes, I have plenty of apple pie in my port.

 

HMGRRA.jpg

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