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Guest Mark Pedley

Global Stock Survey 2012

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Guest Mark Pedley

Perhaps you may not have seen/read this.

 

Good for the grey matter.

 

(ps at the time of posting, the link to my images, 3405 in total, points to someone else's images).

Edited by Mark Pedley
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Interesting information in that survey, but as I read it there isn't much good news for original image creators. It seems to me that the sector of the industry represented by the agencies and intermediaries is becomingly increasingly concentrated and interdependent. To maintain  or to increase profits they have to charge more for images in a shrinking/stagnant market or squeeze the photographers harder. What does everyone else think of this data?

Edited by Ray

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Thanks for posting Mark. It was a heavy read but if you could tease out some findings it was interesting. The bits that stood out to me were:

Trend for downward image prices ( evidenced by my lowest sale ever yesterday $1. 50 cents to me!)

Potential for movie clip sales growth

Alamy was classified as a medium sized stock library. Sometimes the progression for markets is that the big companies end up taking over the medium ones leaving a few big ones and some small ones.......I wonder if alamy will eventually merge with a bigger library?

Current concentration of business in Europe and USA. Asia growing, particularly with distributors (companies who mainly buy images from other libraries rather than creators).

Industry concerns over image theft and intellectual property issues

There was still a big market for images.

 

Am still wondering the best way to respond and try and get more sales and income from stock photography. If photographers are squeezed too much and stop supplying then the whole game changes again.

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In some respects the reports are depressing information. But being a pragmatist, the world has undergone continual change since before time. The only difference now is that change has accelerated to such an extent that it is so very difficult to keep up. And as far as change facilitated by technology, environmental and regional considerations is concerned, my feeling is that we are still at the Model T Ford stage of this new "Industrial Revolution". To put it bluntly, we ain't seen nothin yet.

 

Answers - I don't have any, nor from what I can gather, does anybody else. All we can do is run with it and adapt as best we can at an individual level. Find new markets for our work, become more creative in what we do, seek out new opportunities as they arise whatever they may be. That's the way I approach this problem, others will approach it differently of course. But whatever path we take, there's not much we can do at an individual or even collective level to change much in the way we would like the world to be.

 

No amount of whinging, finger pointing or living in hope will do much to influence an outcome. My bet is on leaving the market to sort itself out. It's far from a perfect approach but it usually does. After chaos usually comes some sorting out of problems and a return to a form of stability in whatever those changes have wrought. Until the next paradigm shift, that is.

 

My rant for the day is concluded.

 

Ken

Edited by Bizair
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Guest geogphotos

My view is that there is plenty that we can do. And the best thing is not to follow the herd all bleating that we are powerless and that we have no influence. I would also avoid the dead-end of social Darwinsim and overly simplistic, anecdotal comparisons about 'inevitability'.

 

One very simple step is not to supply those agencies leading the dive to the bottom but to work with those which we feel are doing their best for photographers ( I would include Alamy in that category).

 

It is a choice. It is the combined effect of such individual choices that shapes the future rather than some mysterious, 'inevitable' external force over which we have no influence on the outcome.

 

This means regarding ourselves as actors, as decision-makers, and not as victims trapped in the headlights unable to avoid being run-over.

Edited by geogphotos
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Guest Mark Pedley

I am still thinking about that data, but one point stood out for me as Jules (above) mentioned. It is the concentration on (re-)distribution of EXISTING stock, and less emphasis on acquiring NEW stock from creators. My from-the-hip thought on this is that managing individual creators, editing images, quality control etc is an overhead that many smaller outlets do not want to (cannot) carry. I see a scenario where acquisition of NEW stock gravitates to a very small number of BIG players, with the only feasible business model for smaller outlets being redistribution.

 

Message for me? Smaller outlets will become less and less able to uphold and market an independent (specialized?) collection. At some point, they will have to take on big collections from the dominant players, and shift to redistribution to survive.

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Guest Mark Pedley

And to add to Ian's comment, perhaps the struggle of those "diving to the bottom" reflects the polarization of distribution vs acquisition. I would expect that once the struggle is over, the "divers" are gone (already happening!), having failed to become good at acquisition (of good stock) or capture a local market as a distributor.

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Guest Mark Pedley

In none of this do I see doom and gloom. Only the need to understand how to respond.

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Guest geogphotos

One thought based on limited experience of mine with a small educational publisher.

 

How about actual royalties?

 

It might give smaller agencies and individual photographers an edge. It might give Alamy an advantage because it is so encyclopaedic in coverage.

 

No upfront fee for the buyer but a share of royalties at an agreed percentage rate based on actual sale price (of a book for example). 

 

In my example the product sells for £20, the photography element earns 5% ( as an example). If I have supplied all the images I get £1 per product sale.

 

This may make the small publisher more likely to take a risk and use pictures rather than having to pay a large overall fee up-front? If the product is successful and gets taken on by big retailers we all win.

Edited by geogphotos
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My view is that there is plenty that we can do. And the best thing is not to follow the herd all bleating that we are powerless and that we have no influence. I would also avoid the dead-end of social Darwinsim and overly simplistic, anecdotal comparisons about 'inevitability'.

 

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

The courage to change the things I can,

And wisdom to know the difference...

Edited by John Morrison
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How about actual royalties?

 

Speaking with my writer's hat on, I trust Alamy's transparency and book-keeping a lot more than I trust publishers to pay the royalties that are due.

 

The best agreements I've had with publishers, over the years, have been cash deals: typically 1/3 on signing contract, 1/3 on completion, 1/3 on publication. Chasing royalties is like trying to catch the wind...

Edited by John Morrison
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Guest geogphotos

 

How about actual royalties?

 

Speaking with my writer's hat on, I trust Alamy's transparency and book-keeping a lot more than I trust publishers to pay the ropyaltiers that are due.

 

The best agreements I've had with publishers, over the years, have been cash deals: typically 1/3 on signing contract, 1/3 on completion, 1/3 on publication. Chasing royalties is like trying to catch the wind...

 

If you can't trust publishers with Royalties I wouldn't be too confident that you can trust them when they license images either. There is also an obvious difference between a commission and a stock image licence.

 

In my case most of the other costs - design, printing, writing - is done in house. Photography is a crucial element but is expensive unless they go to the bucket shops where there is limited choice and lack of specialist coverage. Given the state of the economy anything that reduces risk and encourages some enterprise is worth considering.

 

It's just a thought thrown into the discussion. I can see pitfalls.

Edited by geogphotos
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The concerning thing I see in these figures is that the continued corporatisation and concentration of the industry seems to indicate a preference to either acquire other stock libraries or represent them. They are just finding new ways to divide up the income that can be made from existing stock images rather than encouraging the creation of new material. The photographers seem to be, at the very least, taken for granted in these business models. We've seen the upheaval at the big agencies where contributors have staged rebellions of sorts to protest their unfair treatment. While I too believe that Alamy treats its contributors with more respect it does concern me that the big players in this industry seem to be getting more ruthless as they strive for bigger profits and larger market share..

Having said all that, I have no idea what we as contributors can do about that other than be aware and try to protect our interests.

Thank you all for your views. I find them enlightening.

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Guest geogphotos

Taking Ray's point a bit further. This corporate concentration is not confined to image suppliers but even more importantly to users ( publishers). I've often noticed how small publishers with modest print runs end up paying far higher fees on Alamy than those with special status ie) huge trans-national publishers. But when this leads to the demise of the small publishers - as well as the small specialist agencies - we are all on a downward spiral.

Edited by geogphotos
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Mmmm, interesting read, I don't pretend to follow all of it but we are certainly not powerless. Our collective decisions are important. These para stood out for me:

 

The duplication of collections accounts for 82 per cent of the
total increase of 49.8 million images
Only 18 per cent of image growth can be attributed to original material

The growth of image stocks is driven generally by
non-original content from sales partners rather than by
original content.

 

So if we duplicate our own images are we not competing against ourselves in a bidding war? If we supply same (non-exclusive) images to alamy and then elect to join an alamy distribution scheme or supply the same images elsewhere either directly or through another agency is that in our own best interests?

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