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KWheal

Have prices changed your thinking on what you shoot

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I was at a social meeting with some other alamy contributors the other week and this topic come up.

Have prices changed your thinking on what you shoot

With ever downward spiralling fees I for one can say that it has affected me

For those who shoot just for stock does anyone

a.   pay models for a shoot

b.  do complicated set ups (ones that need some lay out of cash) for that wow shot

c.   travel for the sole purpose of getting images (I don't mean taking photos of a place you were going to anyway)

d.  Sit and wait for hours (sometimes days) for that perfect lighting to make an amazing landscape shot

 

With returns as they are can you justify the expense? I for one cannot and as a result somewhat takes the enjoyment out of photography. To sit for hours for that one amazing shot only to see the daily Mail pay $5 makes me despair.

 

You may be able to justify some of a - d if you sell fine art prints or sell direct to someone but stock supply rules out all the above for me

 

Kevin

Edited by KWheal

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>> Have prices changed your thinking on what you shoot <<

 

 

Yes.  Instead of shooting photographs I am thinking of shooting my agencies.

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I was at a social meeting with some other alamy contributors

 

Ah, the high life...

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No, I don't hire models or do complicated set ups for stock. However, I do travel to do stock and on occasion will wait for the right light. This way of doing things works two ways for me as 'out of hours' another part of my shooting is for exhibition work which I keep entirely separate from stock - some of this stuff wouldn't pass QC anyway!

 

Jim.

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Kevin, I used to do all four things you mention and really loved doing them. Current pricing and earning means I no longer can. I actually daydream about doing model shoots again - but I couldn't imagine it today. I'm with you on this.

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^Philippe: how on earth do you fit in a Kangoo?!  :huh:  We need to see a picture of this!! :lol:

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^ Ahhh - clever.  I was imagining your feet sticking out the back door at nights!

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>> Have prices changed your thinking on what you shoot <<

 

 

Yes.  Instead of shooting photographs I am thinking of shooting my agencies.

 

 

I told you not to put that on a public forum ;-) Or maybe its just a good alibi.

 

As for me, what Arterra said, get other people do to the work whilst I go back to doing more commissioned work. With the returns from all agencies at the minute it makes no financial sense to shoot for stock.

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I was at a social meeting with some other alamy contributors the other week and this topic come up.

Have prices changed your thinking on what you shoot

With ever downward spiralling fees I for one can say that it has affected me

For those who shoot just for stock does anyone

a.   pay models for a shoot

b.  do complicated set ups (ones that need some lay out of cash) for that wow shot

c.   travel for the sole purpose of getting images (I don't mean taking photos of a place you were going to anyway)

d.  Sit and wait for hours (sometimes days) for that perfect lighting to make an amazing landscape shot

 

With returns as they are can you justify the expense? I for one cannot and as a result somewhat takes the enjoyment out of photography. To sit for hours for that one amazing shot only to see the daily Mail pay $5 makes me despair.

 

You may be able to justify some of a - d if you sell fine art prints or sell direct to someone but stock supply rules out all the above for me

 

Kevin

 

When I decided to answer this post I was thinking: back in film days, when I was with Tony Stone Images, I did most of these things. But now, actually looking back at each item, I've never done any of them, not specifically anyway.  Let me skip the nostalgia and cut to the present.  This is what I do (or don't do) now:

 

a.  As Yuri knows well, setups with attractive models doing everyday things sell well. I used to be good at this kind of shooting, because I have a theater background, but that was when I worked on assignment and there was a budget for models. To pay this expense myself,  I would have to have risk the financing and produce a very large volume of work . . . neither of which I'm able to do. So NO to item (a). 

b.  I do a limited amount of tabletop, mostly food, but I do not see that I can spend front money on this either. 

c.  This is much like item a.  Everybody likes to travel and everybody wants to think of themselves as a travel photographer, but so many people are simply fooling themselves -- travel is expensive and stock prices are too low . . . unless you are as indefatigable and productive as Jeff.  And we would have to have the financing to close the freelance circle, to get to the point where income would be more than travel costs.  I actually was a full-time travel marketing photographer working for airlines and travel companies. I was paid well, flew First Class and stayed at good hotels. Travel marketing is all stock now days.  And anyway I'm done with traveling.

d.  Sit and wait? Not really, but I do try to shoot only in good light . . . good stock photography light. Since NYC is my only area  of activity now, and I'm retired, I do get to pick and chose my shooting times . . . I can do that since I don't have to balance my schedule with a day job.  Of all the things on this list, shooting in good light is a must: if the light is poor leave the camera in the bag. 

 

Ed

Edited by Ed Rooney

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I would not spend much on shooting specifically for stock through Alamy or the like. I shoot "travel" but don't travel to shoot; after all in a digital world somewhere exotic for me is another  capable stock photographer's home neighbourhood.So, travel photography strilkes me as essentially a fool's errand these days.

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I travel less out of town specifically to shoot. Most of my money-making, educational images are found right in my own home or within a short distance of it. Have a look in school textbooks for ideas of what sells. IMHO, making money in stock photos these days has come down to severely reducing costs and getting the best ROI.

 

Dave

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Having had two sales on the trot within walking (well, cycling) distance, one of which would have paid for the curry and not just the beer,  I'm having another think too.

I've just got the studio flash out of the garage as well.

Edited by spacecadet

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BK972W.jpg

 

I only shoot for Alamy if it's local to me or if I happen to be in a place where I'm working for a client who has commissioned me anyway - after shooting the commission of course!

 

Just licenced this image which I took from the barstool in my local! $271.50 gross. Not bad for stopping off for a quick pint.... or two.

 

 

 

Regards

 

Richard

Edited by ManWay

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I shoot close to home a lot more than I used to, mainly walk-around photography, so no models necessary. However, my travel images (mostly from travels in Latin America) are the ones that sell consistently on Alamy, so I try to go on one fool's errand per year, combining it with some vacation time in the sun.  Fortunately, I have a part-time teaching job during the winter, which helps cover the basics. I couldn't imagine depending solely on stock photography to make a living. Also, I'm rapidly approaching "retirement" (it won't be happening) age, so I'm hoping to eventually be able to live in Mexico for part of the year and spend more time photographing in that part of the world. This should cut down on prohibitive travel expenses.

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Ah,  but it is it a photography trip first and foremost, or a vacation with photography? Anyway it is is not a pure photo trip, so not a fool's errand :) But presumably there are Mexican photographers out there.

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Ah,  but it is it a photography trip first and foremost, or a vacation with photography? Anyway it is is not a pure photo trip, so not a fool's errand :) But presumably there are Mexican photographers out there.

I suppose you could say that it is a fool's vacation during which the fool spends most of his time photographing. And, yes, there are plenty of Mexican photographers out there. But there are also no shortages of Canadian, British, Dutch, Polish, Japanese, Balinese, etc. photographers prowling around their backyards. It's a jungle out there wherever you are. Best just to carry on IMO.

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"..  a social meeting with some other alamy contributors the other week .."

 

Well everyone kept that quiet! 

 

Yes, gone are the days of jumping on a plane, any plane, to get there first and shoot a story for the end of that week (where the monthly film and processing costs were ridiculous). And like Ed, I never did hire models, assistants and wait all day for perfect light. But what does count more is local stuff that's cheap to get and obviously cheap to record and process. 

 

Having said that, my approach today isn't that different to what pictures I actually made instinctively then - the same exists on a Fujichrome/Kodachrome as a tiff. 

 

Richard

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What the buyers don't realise is that if you don't pay the photographers well they simply will not deliver their best work. The eco system as a whole will be effected. We've been asked to provide our best work, but when you feel very undervalued financially it's difficult to keep going and keeping up with buying better gear to produce better quality images. 

 

 

It's the wee extra in the license terms that bothers me. It's gone from 

 

"One use in a single editorial article used within the digital versions of a single publication. Digital usage includes archive rights for the lifetime of the article."

 

to

 

"One use in a single editorial or advertorial article used within print and /or web versions, with re-use of the article in other titles or web versions within the same newspaper group. Digital use includes archive rights for the lifetime of the article."

 

The bit in red is open to real abuse in an already confusing system. 

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I travel to do stock photography. My approach is to book things in advance and get the prices down.

 

Starting with this year, I started targeting cities more and filling out my work with more and more varied subjects. The net result is that I have started to see more and more sales.

 

Personally, Alamy is lagging way behind some of my other agencies that I am with. Yes, there are low prices being paid but on the other decent prices are still being paid out. My Getty statement last month nearly made me fall of of my chair!!! Had one very nice sale to a Japanese advertising agency for a TV spot. And a French company bought 2 of my photos for multiple uses for what looks like an advertising campaign.

 

2014 has a number of places pencilled in as I want to expand the diversity of what I have on sale.

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To misquote Kennedy: "Ask not what you can do for the agency, but what the agency can do for you"

 

I work hard, spend, and take risks for agencies that promote my work and/or distribute it effectively, that employ talented human editors/curators that communicate, advise (and share the odd joke), and either make a stand against collapsing prices, or have big budget clients.

 

I like Alamy for all sorts of reasons, but don't see them as an organisation for advancing anyone's career in photography. If they succeed with their their creative ambitions, then they might be.  A little bit.

 

Jools is perfectly correct about the majors:  they may do a lot of cheap, but they also do expensive.  In some cases they support careers.

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I have quit:

  • travelling to overseas destinations. Now I only visit places I can drive to in my own car (no accommodation expenses because I sleep and cook in my Kangoo micro-campervan)
  • no more time-consuming wildlife shots (can't afford waiting three days in a row in the freezing cold, sitting in a tiny hide with my head tucked between my knees and peering at a dead rabbit for a buzzard that doesn't show up :angry:)

My solution:

Delegate. Start a small agency with photographers who don't depend on photography for their income. They go to faraway destinations and track rare and difficult to shoot species or whatver interesting subject. For the moment, one of Arterra's photographers is cruising on her bike in China after cycling through the 'stan countries. It's a win-win situation offering me a very wide variety of subjects with a minimum of costs. And I believe that is key to every business: realising more profit than expenses ;)

 

  BENG3F.jpg    CCDEXN.jpg    CB8RK8.jpg    CCC1JP.jpg    CTRNEE.jpg      

 

Cheers,

Philippe

 

Like the one with the lady with the pizza in her bottom lip.

 

I only travel on holidays but use the opportunity to take images of what I have not seen yet.

 

Allan

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Travel and Photography are big hobbies for me and I am not going to change even the prices are going down, unfortunately that is the tendency. Of course I miss the old good years, till 2008, where both AdSense and selling images gave me for some pints of beer :-)

 

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"What the buyers don't realize is that if you don't pay the photographers well they simply will not deliver their best work." -- Paul

 

I disagree totally with this statement, Paul. I have only one level I strive for, and it has nothing whatsoever to do with the economics of the stock business. For me, it also has nothing to do with Alamy CQ.  Understand, I'm very interested in earning money from stock, but it's not a factor in my workflow. 

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I was at a social meeting with some other alamy contributors the other week and this topic come up.

Have prices changed your thinking on what you shoot

With ever downward spiralling fees I for one can say that it has affected me

For those who shoot just for stock does anyone

a.   pay models for a shoot

b.  do complicated set ups (ones that need some lay out of cash) for that wow shot

c.   travel for the sole purpose of getting images (I don't mean taking photos of a place you were going to anyway)

d.  Sit and wait for hours (sometimes days) for that perfect lighting to make an amazing landscape shot

 

With returns as they are can you justify the expense? I for one cannot and as a result somewhat takes the enjoyment out of photography. To sit for hours for that one amazing shot only to see the daily Mail pay $5 makes me despair.

 

You may be able to justify some of a - d if you sell fine art prints or sell direct to someone but stock supply rules out all the above for me

 

Kevin

a. Yes I do pay models for shoots (although it is nowhere as much as it used to be due to the low returns). The only way is to have a well planned 'story board' of images, plus props and styling also need to be planned and shoot hundreds of frames (actually, thousands!)

b. Not anymore!

c. Yes, I bought a Mazda Bongo for travelling specifically for doing shoots it also doubles up as a location vehicle for my commissioned fashion work ... I somehow doubt that it will ever pay for itself but it is early days as yet (I did sell one image this month that goes half way to paying 6 months road tax).

d. Yes, I sometimes do wait .. but can guarantee that the best shot is 5 mins after I have packed up and driving away!

 

Sadly the diminishing returns on stock photography make it very hard to justify the expense to 'produce' images anymore. Even with multiple agencies I don't think it will ever make a sustainable / living income on it's own anymore.

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What the buyers don't realise is that if you don't pay the photographers well they simply will not deliver their best work. The eco system as a whole will be effected. We've been asked to provide our best work, but when you feel very undervalued financially it's difficult to keep going and keeping up with buying better gear to produce better quality images. 

 

 

When Alamy ask you to deliver your best work I think what they have in mind is that you pay attention to their current direction of travel.  The successful, and sometimes lucrative bit of the industry, not lost to the micros, flickr, creative commons, iPhones etc is now all about art photography, professionally executed commercial photography, all releases in place, or high end specialist imagery, and work that is all of these.  This is what is determining the current direction of travel.  Look at the home page on most days.  Look who is the current editor's choice, look at the featured photographers.  Love it or hate it, this is where we are now.  In the past purely documentary photography could command a high price because much of what picture researchers were hunting for was hard to find and working with film was both hit-and-miss and expensive.  Now most things in most parts of the world have been covered by dslrs, soon everything everywhere will be captured on iPhones, many of which are already enabled for raw capture. 

 

http://blog.melchersystem.com/2013/11/06/why-mobile-stock-is-the-future-of-the-industry/

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