Jump to content
Alamy

Alamy blog - Why we love Microstock

Recommended Posts

.................

 

So, although people point price as the worst thing, the truth is that the greed and 3rd world exploitation mentality that rule the heads of many micro agencies is the worst to us. In that sense alamy, although not perfect and exempt of criticism has been until this moment the most correct agency toward photographers I know.

 

With a bigger presence in the stock business and a bigger share of the market, this attitude towards photographers could turn alamy in the most supported agency by contributors and help change some bad things that currently happen in this business. 

 

Without disagreeing with what you are saying here Jose, it needs to be pointed out that contributors have been willing partners in these greed schemes.  I doubt if anyone thought twice about the damage being inflicted on analogue agencies when they signed up with the cool-dude new crowd-sourcing bizzes 10 or 15 years ago, many (trad agencies) providing an irreplaceable service often involving in-depth- knowledge of particular subject areas.  Suppliers at that time, able to acquire internet technology and software, not lumbered with thousands of transparencies to scan, prepared to give amateurs a go, not too stressed about 6 mp output, were able to offer a more streamlined and cheaper service at the very point where analogue suppliers were really struggling, and Alamy was very much at the centre of the new culture, as they proudly claim.  From the providers point of view, the operations were entirely ethical:  amateurs were given opportunities to start careers, businesses got a cheaper, more efficient service.  Naturally, as thousands of part-time photographers started bundling images in like there was no tomorrow, and the gatekeepers were out to lunch, the chickens would come home to roost eventually (cliche overload, but what the heck).  Alamy have certainly had higher ethical standards in respect of photographers’ share of revenue, and attempting to stick to something resembling a traditional fee structure.  But as far as anyone remotely interested in professional photography  is concerned, this system is finished.  It’s now over to a new generation of microstockers, who will bring a different approach and fresh ideas to editorial photography.

 

Meanwhile ...I just got a kindly message from the firm saying they’d love to see some more work, since I don’t appear to have subbed for quite a while...

Edited by Robert Brook

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Is photography going the way of clip art? For many years there was a steady market for clip art transfers, CDs etc. Who buys clip art these days? That market has gone completely so artists, designers and illustrators (professional and skilled amateurs) who might once have made a useful income from drawing and selling clip art now need to look elsewhere. The best (at both design and marketing) may still be doing OK from commissioned work for clients, high end illustration, fine art and other such premium work.

 

Doesn't that sound familiar?

I suspect that basic photographic illustration, Alamy's (amongst many others') bread and butter, is essentially going the same way. People who want to make an income or a career from photography will need to look to wider possibilities and needs than generic stock (however accomplished). The photographer will have to bring something special to the table, perhaps access, a different vision or style or even new products and services. That said the special access gets smaller every day; the Himalyas were once the preserve of the specialist but anyone with the cash can get there now.  OK, the high mountains are still difficult but there are many more mountaineering photographers these days. With globalisation and the growing affluence of many developing nations everywhere has talented local photographers who can supply a global market - nowhere is truly exotic any more. Photographers will have to serve the needs of the premium markets, possibly more limited in size than before stock libraries and especially the digital revolution of image sales. It also means that the microstock and even the Alamy model is probably not sustainable for too much longer - where are the clip art libraries now? Most of the once staple work of the high street photographer has vanished; who shoots for estate agents, passports, etc and how many people these days have pictures from their local  high street professional of their children on their walls?

 

So just as there are illustrators making money despite the demise of clip art there will, for the foreseeable future, always be a few photographers making a good income. But the numbers that make a comfortable living will continue to get smaller.

 

So as a library owner (or a photographer for that matter) it might be a good time to be thinking whether the market is past its earning peak and it is a good time to cash in. Realise the value of the investment while you can?

  • Upvote 4
  • Downvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
When an industry is digitized it eliminates the middle class from that industry. Digitization shifts money to a few highly paid superstars, mainly in silicon valley, and eliminates everyone else.

 

The financial markets were digitized in the 1980's. The little guy with a few bucks can no longer invest directly in the stock market. He has to pay a fee to the banks who control the servers, in order to buy mutual funds or derivatives that no one understands. The banks control the servers and the markets, so we get the financial meltdown of 2008.

 

When music was digitized it eliminated the middle class workers in the record shops, the delivery trucks, the record factories, the bar bands, the songwriters. Digitization transferred the wealth in music to the people who run the internet servers, and a few music superstars who make their money by being famous and stealing the copyright to old songs.

 

Then photography was digitized. Kodak was worth $28 Billion and employed 140,000 people in middle class jobs, but it went bankrupt. When photo company Instagram was sold to Facebook it was worth 1 billion dollars and employed 12 people. The transfer of $1 billion out of the photography business over to 12 people is obscene. The middle class has been eliminated from photography. Get used to it.

 

What will be digitized next? How about eliminating the middle class in medicine, education, insurance. No need for a family doctor. Just enter your symptoms into a computer program and be referred to a superstar specialist. How about education? Record that lecture once and then no need for tenured professors, except for superstar Nobel prize winners.

 

The bigger the server, the bigger the disrupted industry, the bigger the transfer of wealth to the superstars who run the servers.

 

There is a solution to all of this. The digital information that middle class people create has great value. Companies like Google exploit that information without paying for it.

 

If you live a good life, you create valuable information that helps society. Why not agree to put that valuable information in the public domain in return for a micropayment every time it is accessed? The big servers have the ability to record and credit micro-payments, but they have no incentive to do so.

 

Photographers create valuable information. Why not put photographs in the public domain? In return, photographers would receive a micropayment every time their photograph is shown on a blog, or Google images, or pininterest, or Flickr, or in a banner advertisement, or a small newspaper. You get nothing right now. Anyone could use them, and the photographer would receive a micropayment for every use.

 

Why not put everything you do in addition to photography in the public domain? Micro-payments for an interesting life could restore a middle class life. Maybe posters should get 1/10 of a cent for every like on this forum.

 

If this sounds like microstock, consider that the leading microstock library paid US$84 million to it's contributors in 2014.

 

Stop complaining about low prices. Micro-payments could be the salvation of the photographic middle class.

  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

When an industry is digitized it eliminates the middle class from that industry. Digitization shifts money to a few highly paid superstars, mainly in silicon valley, and eliminates everyone else.
 
...
 
Why not put everything you do in addition to photography in the public domain? Micro-payments for an interesting life could restore a middle class life. Maybe posters should get 1/10 of a cent for every like on this forum.
 
If this sounds like microstock, consider that the leading microstock library paid US$84 million to it's contributors in 2014.
 
Stop complaining about low prices. Micro-payments could be the salvation of the photographic middle class.

 

 

You are tight it is not the low price; it is the low-price * volume equation which has got out of kilter. I would be happy to receive 0.1p every time, and I mean every time my words or photographs are used in anyway. It would quickly overtake my income from Alamy and might actually reach a worthwhile level.

 

A friend has the same image on both Alamy and micro stock; he receives as much each month from the microstock library for that picture as he does from Alamy once or twice a year.  The price-volume relationship there is much more rewarding and points in the direction you are suggesting.

  • Upvote 1
  • Downvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't help but wonder if photographers would be better off if Alamy lowered the image price in order to create volume.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bill and Martin are right.  It's not the size of the fees that images sell for, it's the sum of the combined fees per image that the photographer receives that actually matters.  This is the arena where Alamy is failing, and where some much smaller agencies are racing ahead.  One of my main agents is, compared with Alamy, pretty traditional, and has been in business since the 1980s - is a mere one hundredth the size of Alamy, although not that far behind revenue-wise.  It could have been a victim of the revolution that swept across the industry 15 years ago, but it adapted, and now the collection is in demand all over the world and is distributed to some of the best agencies including Getty, and RF also goes to Corbis.  Consequently any images I supply - editorial/commercial/a bit of both - get far more exposure than here, and in spite of some occasionally silly prices (as low as 19p net - thanks Getty) I get far more per image than I could ever hope to get here, even with sky high ranking.  

 

More small/medium sized agencies are going down this route.  And what is their big advantage?  Editing and compact size. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't help but wonder if photographers would be better off if Alamy lowered the image price in order to create volume.

 

Dangerous thought. How can you be sure that lowering prices would create volume? Perhaps raising prices would create volume. Sometimes it's all a matter of perception -- i.e. if something costs a bit more, it is often perceived as being better quality. 

  • Upvote 3
  • Downvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

I can't help but wonder if photographers would be better off if Alamy lowered the image price in order to create volume.

 

Dangerous thought. How can you be sure that lowering prices would create volume? Perhaps raising prices would create volume. Sometimes it's all a matter of perception -- i.e. if something costs a bit more, it is often perceived as being better quality. 

 

 

I believe that many, many times the best thoughts are the most dangerous . . . in other words, I would never dismiss an idea only because it appears dangerous.

 

For the more cautious though, here's another thought: this "dangerous" thought has, imo, a better-than-middling chance of ultimately being less dangerous than thoughts that lead to changing nothing accompanied by interminable whinging.

 

And as for perceptions of better quality leading to more tolerance of higher prices . . . in some scenarios that can indeed be the case, but when it comes to the licensing of Alamy images, I think not: countless posts here have bemoaned the great unwashed's non-critical acceptance of lower quality images to feed the desire for cheaper images--quality consistently plays bridesmaid to price.

 

dd

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

I can't help but wonder if photographers would be better off if Alamy lowered the image price in order to create volume.

 

Dangerous thought. How can you be sure that lowering prices would create volume? Perhaps raising prices would create volume. Sometimes it's all a matter of perception -- i.e. if something costs a bit more, it is often perceived as being better quality. 

 

 

Alamy has a different type of collection when compared to micro agencies, even if a large portion overlaps or is even the same. So that difference must be taken into consideration, when adopting a new strategy is considered.

 

But the problem is that alamy is not going in the right direction. At least looking at my income in the past years. From 2010, my best year in terms of income, to 2011 I saw a large increase in the number of licences sold (+45%), but at the same time a drop in the value of the commission received after alamy and distributors had their share (-59%). So in 2011 I ended up losing money regarding 2010.

 

In 2014 I lost 65% of my income when compared to 2010 due to the decrease of the value for which image is licensed and the drop of the volume in sales that put me below 2010. The curious thing is that in 2014 I received two mails congratulating me by being part of the top 500! So this really made me think about the state alamy must be.

 

There's a very important factor most people don't seem to account for here, which is the introduction of the RF Editorial in Micro agencies. Not only we must now compete with a larger number of images being uploaded every day by more photographers on alamy, the "uniqueness" of the alamy collection is being quickly eroded.

 

Micros don't accept only images from touristy places in their RF Editorial collection. They basically accept any image that meets their quality standards, even if of some obscure village lost somewhere. As long the image is good in visual terms and the photographer writes a good caption, it's accepted. So, very soon forget the sales of that "local hidden pub billboard" sales on alamy. They'll probably have some in Micro. And since it's a curated collection the average visual quality will be higher than alamy. And those images do, in fact, sell in micros.

Edited by Jose Elias
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can never discuss the subject of Microstock in an air of general positivity, even though this discussion area is  supposed to remain 'up, inspirational  and optimistic '   

 

As a regular contributor to this agency, over the last ten years,  I find this blog from Alamy very depressing,  particularly when the prices I receive for my work  have fallen dramatically over that time.  Like other photographers, it will soon reach a point where the hours spent creating a large and varied portfolio,  will not be worth the investment of  time and energy spent! What is Alamy's  reply to that! We love microstock, but hate photographers? Maybe I'm over reacting a tad?  If lower sales prices  corresponded with  larger sales volume it might be ok? But personally, I would rather be receiving  a fair price for my work!  Particularly when  descent SLR equipment and lenses do not come cheep! My be I'm just an old dinosaur and we all know what happened to them?

Edited by John Gaffen
  • Upvote 5

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

it will soon reach a point where the hours spent creating a large and varied portfolio,  will not be worth the investment of  time and energy spent!

 

When I get 5x more RPI in the type of images that alamy is supposed to be the expert in a single micro agency this tells me that alamy, with a great sorrow, will be the last to receive new material.

 

But it's not just the RPI, the actual income is greater with only a tiny fraction of the images I have here. I've made everything to keep these images only available on alamy. Yet, after 7 years with lower than expected results and the competition strongly building up on Micro after Editorial RF became available, I just gave up and start submitting this type of images to them since I believe that this content will be dead in a very short term on alamy.

 

At the moment I have over 700 images to be keyworded here and will do it only when I have some spare time.

 

I know that this isn't a very popular view or opinion, but with bills to pay, and the decrease of income from alamy and no visible strategy to counter-attack the RF Editorial in Micros I was left without a choice.

 

PS: I've mentioned in the past that alamy could create a simple personal page for each contributor similar to a personal website with basic functions, since we already have a "My Alamy Homepage". This would allow for photographers to promote their portfolios and drive the costumers to "their" website conquering clients to alamy.

 

But then we have another problem. The calculator is completely outdated in terms of prices. How can I direct a client to alamy, and then they see images quoted for $500 when similar ones are being sold by a fraction of that at other agencies? And since we cannot promise them a discount or a negotiation how can we help alamy grow, or at least, maintain the sales volume?

Edited by Jose Elias
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OK, so what types of images should those of us who still believe in the RM licensing model be submitting to Alamy if we want to see both us and the agency succeed? What can Alamy offer that "conventional" microstock (editorial RF and otherwise) can't?

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I agree 100% with Alan Capel's "Why we love Microstock". It also points out a philosophy and direction for Alamy that makes sense.

 

In the early 1970's pro photographers said they would not shoot RM stock because it was garbage. They would only shoot assignments. Then a tipping point arrived as assignments dried up due to better stock. Pros started to shoot stock under the table. I know, because as a photo editor at the time, I bought a lot of RM stock from the same people who were saying RM stock was garbage and they would never shoot stock.

 

Then in the early 1980's Corel corporation introduced cheap CDs full of cheap RF stock photos. Pro RM stock photographers claimed they would never shoot for RF, and anyway RF was garbage. Then RF cut into RM sales and another tipping point arrived around 1995. The Stock Artists Alliance was formed to fight RF. At the same time Pro stock photographers shot a lot of RF and made a lot of money. One RF studio of about 15 employees sold it's RF image collection for US$15 million.

 

Then istockphoto arrived on the scene, and pro RF stock photographers said microstock was garbage and would never catch on.

 

Microstock is not garbage. Industrywide Microstock on a total dollars spent basis outsold RF and RM combined in 2014. We have reached another tipping point in the stock photography business.

 

Full time stock Photographers have to either branch out to other areas of photography, or get into microstock.

 

Do not take comfort from some of the big name old full time photographers who still have their stock images present in the marketplace. Many of the 1990's RM and RF stock shooters are into retirement. They have sold their city house, sold their city studio building, and retired to their country homes. They have stopped stock production, but continue to collect royalties on their old shots that they leave in the marketplace. If they cling to the 1980s and talk about how to make big bucks from shooting RF and RM stock, don't listen to them.

 

It is the pro microstock photographers who run photo factories, and who came on stream in the early 2000's who are on top of the heap today.

 

Lowering stock photo prices in order to build volume is a calculated risk. We have the example of successful microstock photographers to guide us. Risk is what any business is all about.

 

I think Alamy is positioned to lead both photographers and clients into a more friendly version of microstock.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"I think Alamy is positioned to lead both photographers and clients into a more friendly version of microstock."

 

Interesting comment, Bill. Care to elaborate. Do you think that there could there be such a thing as "RM microstock"? That seems to be what Alamy's post is hinting at, amongst other things.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OK, so what types of images should those of us who still believe in the RM licensing model be submitting to Alamy

 

 

John I think RM is dead. The only reason I have RM images is because Alamy forces me to have RM when a model release is impossible.
 
And it drives me bananas!! I would prefer to shoot exclusively RF so it could be transitioned to microstock.
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Bill and Geoff K have got it right.  Microstock has grown up, traditional generalist stock is on its last legs.  The microstock agencies were smart enough to realise the importance of editing, even on a mass scale. 

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

OK, so what types of images should those of us who still believe in the RM licensing model be submitting to Alamy

 

 

John I think RM is dead. The only reason I have RM images is because Alamy forces me to have RM when a model release is impossible.
 
And it drives me bananas!! I would prefer to shoot exclusively RF so it could be transitioned to microstock.

 

 

Shouldn't a lot of microstock agencies be demanding model releases as well -- e.g. for buildings, miscellaneous people, etc.? Perhaps Alamy is doing the correct thing. I see all kinds of images on microstock sites that should have releases and most likely don't.

 

P.S. Also, is there any evidence that RF images are selling better than RM ones on Alamy?

Edited by John Mitchell

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

OK, so what types of images should those of us who still believe in the RM licensing model be submitting to Alamy if we want to see both us and the agency succeed? What can Alamy offer that "conventional" microstock (editorial RF and otherwise) can't?

 

My honest opinion? At this moment alamy cannot offer almost anything that Micro won't be able to offer currently, or at least in the near future. SS alone added almost 400 thousand images this last week and tenths of thousands of videos.

 

Plus, Micro offers vectors, footage, sound clips, etc. So it gives more choices for clients to shop anything it needs, most of the times in one single place in a very effective manner. 

 

With the introduction of RF Editorial in 2007 the last barrier has been broken because it competes with RM. Sure, clients wanting an exclusive use of an image may need to resort to RM specifically if they want to know the history of that image but how common is that? RM may still be around but the prices won't be far from Micro but my guess is that RM may very well be replaced by commissioned work when a client needs something specific.

 

As I said I resisted to submit RF Editorial to not undermine my portfolio at alamy. Yet, I uploaded a handful of images in 2007 just to see how successful they were. And they were the only ones I had until the beginning of the last year. One particular image of that initial batch have given me, on SS alone, over $400. If I sum what other Micros have given me I can add several hundreds more. And it's only a seasonal image.

 

As soon as I saw that Micro started to offer good quality images of the same themes I had on alamy, I felt forced to compete in that front even keeping the best ones on alamy. But now I think that even that may have been a mistake. Others submit high-quality images to Micro as their primary agencies for Editorial content. 

 

Once alamy started to make 90% discounts I said on the forums that they needed to compensate that with volume. I don't know if alamy succeed that for themselves, but for me as a single contributor it didn't happen. I probably have a big responsibility in that, but I never felt alamy was adapting to the more aggressive actions of other agencies.

 

Hope that what I wrote makes sense as I'm felling very tired. Sorry for not being more profound in the analysis.

Edited by Jose Elias

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"Hope that what I wrote makes sense as I'm felling very tired. Sorry for not being more profound in the analysis."

 

It's profound enough for me. Probably best not to mention other agencies by name, though, if we want this conversation to continue. Nevertheless, it's interesting to hear about your experiences. Hope you have a good rest.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

John I think RM is dead. The only reason I have RM images is because Alamy forces me to have RM when a model release is impossible.

 
And it drives me bananas!! I would prefer to shoot exclusively RF so it could be transitioned to microstock.

 

 

Exactly. I also think that RF Editorial should be an option for every image if the photographer wanted.

 

RM could be an option for extremely high-quality content with high costs of production, for images resulting of some sort of exclusive access to a place or event, or had Model or Property releases hard to get for others, if the creator decided so. 

 

I would add that RF should be licensed with limitations of use if it was to be supplied in the Micro / Low Cost style just as it happens in Micro, contrary to the traditional RF license. For more uses Extended Licenses would be required. That is standard in micro.

 

John Mitchell

 

I don't see the need for RF to require releases. RF doesn't automatically mean that an image is commercially viable. If in the terms of use it's stated (very clearly in all agencies I've seen) that commercial use is forbidden than it's no different than RM in that matter.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

"I think Alamy is positioned to lead both photographers and clients into a more friendly version of microstock."

 

Interesting comment, Bill. Care to elaborate. Do you think that there could there be such a thing as "RM microstock"? That seems to be what Alamy's post is hinting at, amongst other things.

John, 
 
Microstock volume is based on selling many RF images per second automatically and worldwide on a 24/7 basis. The website cannot do the volume, if you have to stop everything and involve a person to negotiate every RM license.
 
Many clients also do not understand RM terms and conditions, and do not want to learn.
 
Friendly for clients:
 
Alamy has a wider subject selection. 
Alamy does not have to sell credits that expire before they are used by clients.
Alamy has the technical infrastructure to handle the increase in volume.
Alamy has a sales staff to sell subscriptions to clients.
Alamy image collection is to a high technical standard.
Quick auto download in seconds on a 24/7 basis, no need to negotiate.
Low competitive prices
 
Friendly for Photographers:
 
Alamy pays a higher royalty percentage than microstock libraries.
Potential higher sales volume
 
Friendly for everyone:
 
Microstock is stuck in Microstock stage 2. The brain trust at Alamy can put on their thinking caps and gain a market advantage by launching Microstock stage 3.
  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't have any experience of micros....

 

....but I've just spent a while searching various subjects (editorial - that Alamy have recently licensed of mine) on two of the big micro sites (SS, and IS).

I was surprised at the unexpected,unwanted and rubbish results !  

 

The other images are ok, but often totally irrelevant. And limited choice. And I think, 'well...., that was a waste of time'. Not so here.

 

I'm not a customer, but if I was, I wouldn't love microstock.

  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

"I think Alamy is positioned to lead both photographers and clients into a more friendly version of microstock."

 

Interesting comment, Bill. Care to elaborate. Do you think that there could there be such a thing as "RM microstock"? That seems to be what Alamy's post is hinting at, amongst other things.

John, 
 
Microstock volume is based on selling many RF images per second automatically and worldwide on a 24/7 basis. The website cannot do the volume, if you have to stop everything and involve a person to negotiate every RM license.
 
Many clients also do not understand RM terms and conditions, and do not want to learn.
 
Friendly for clients:
 
Alamy has a wider subject selection. 
Alamy does not have to sell credits that expire before they are used by clients.
Alamy has the technical infrastructure to handle the increase in volume.
Alamy has a sales staff to sell subscriptions to clients.
Alamy image collection is to a high technical standard.
Quick auto download in seconds on a 24/7 basis, no need to negotiate.
Low competitive prices
 
Friendly for Photographers:
 
Alamy pays a higher royalty percentage than microstock libraries.
Potential higher sales volume
 
Friendly for everyone:
 
Microstock is stuck in Microstock stage 2. The brain trust at Alamy can put on their thinking caps and gain a market advantage by launching Microstock stage 3.

 

 

It's worth noting that Alamy already has made licensing both RM and RF images somewhat friendlier with fixed prices for five-year licenses (presentation, web, magazine, etc.) and flexible "hybrid" RM/RF sales. Whether or not that is/was the beginning of Microstock stage 3, only Alamy knows for sure (I guess).

 

Whatever the case, change appears to be in the wind.

Edited by John Mitchell
  • Upvote 2

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I don't have any experience of micros....

 

....but I've just spent a while searching various subjects (editorial - that Alamy have recently licensed of mine) on two of the big micro sites (SS, and IS).

I was surprised at the unexpected,unwanted and rubbish results !  

 

The other images are ok, but often totally irrelevant. And limited choice. And I think, 'well...., that was a waste of time'. Not so here.

 

I'm not a customer, but if I was, I wouldn't love microstock.

 

The question is, how long will you be safe on the themes you sold recently on alamy and didn't find competition on Micro?

 

It's becoming more and more common on the MSG Forum for people to complain about falling income, over-saturation of the market, low income not justifying expensive productions, etc. So, what are stock photographers doing to keep their income? Besides submitting to new and very dubious agencies, they are moving into new types of subjects that weren't their initial focus like travel and themes editorial in nature. And I think this trend will grow. We are already seeing many people entering the footage production too.

 

I have an easy way to monitor this, which is to occasionally take a look at what images are appearing from Portugal outside the main tourist destinations (Algarve, Lisbon, Porto). And they are appearing, slowly but they are. There are cities from the interior of Portugal, already represented in Micro. And Portugal is a small country with only a handful of stock photographers and the occasional tourist going of the beaten path. 

 

So, in Portugal there isn't a multitude of people photographing the country from top to bottom. Yet, despite the demand being certainly low for most images they are getting into Micro. What will happen to countries like UK, France, Germany, etc, which have thousands of stock photographers, most of them seeing their income shrink day by day?

Edited by Jose Elias
  • Upvote 1

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

 

I don't have any experience of micros....

 

....but I've just spent a while searching various subjects (editorial - that Alamy have recently licensed of mine) on two of the big micro sites (SS, and IS).

I was surprised at the unexpected,unwanted and rubbish results !  

 

The other images are ok, but often totally irrelevant. And limited choice. And I think, 'well...., that was a waste of time'. Not so here.

 

I'm not a customer, but if I was, I wouldn't love microstock.

 

The question is, how long will you be safe on the themes you sold recently on alamy and didn't find competition on Micro?

 

It's becoming more and more common on the MSG Forum for people to complain about falling income, over-saturation of the market, low income not justifying expensive productions, etc. So, what are stock photographers doing to keep their income? Besides submitting to new and very dubious agencies, they are moving into new types of subjects that weren't their initial focus like travel and themes editorial in nature. And I think this trend will grow. We are already seeing many people entering the footage production too.

 

I have an easy way to monitor this, which is to occasionally take a look at what images are appearing from Portugal outside the main tourist destinations (Algarve, Lisbon, Porto). And they are appearing, slowly but they are. There are cities from the interior of Portugal, already represented in Micro. And Portugal is a small country with only a handful of stock photographers and the occasional tourist going of the beaten path. 

 

So, in Portugal there isn't a multitude of people photographing the country from top to bottom. Yet, despite the demand being certainly low for most images they are getting into Micro. What will happen to countries like UK, France, Germany, etc, which have thousands of stock photographers, most of them seeing their income shrink day by day?

 

I think that Jose is right, that as far as generalist stock is concerned, the leading micros now dominate.  There is a much smaller market (in terms of numbers of sales, but fees can still be very high) for high end work.  Interestingly, the two most successful pioneers of microstock also run high end agencies, where photographers appear to be properly represented and promoted, and (quoted) reproduction fees are high.  The majors have broken their collections up into low/mid stock and high end.  There are a number of niche agencies providing good returns and relatively decent fees for photographers who can provide original material.  But the middle ground is disappearing fast, and maybe Alamy feel they have to jump one way or the other.  A while back they were aiming to attract more commercial buyers.  That doesn't appear to have been a great success, so now it appears they are moving downwards.

 

Perhaps a much more radical alternative would be to open up pricing to contributors.  We do everything else, so why not set prices?  Drop all the haggling and messing up the existing priceing scheme.  It would be chaos for a while, but most would soon wise up, find that they had to drop some prices (a lot), but occasionally could demand much higher fees.  Buyers would be able to buy at a range of price points, from micro level to expensive.  Basically that's what they get at the majors, including the one with two names (iStock/Getty). Also give contributors more promotional tools.  If they did this, some pros might return.  I haven't contributed for a while now, but would certainly give it a go.  It would be like Photoshelter, but with a huge client base.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.