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Betty LaRue

I almost hijacked another thread

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I almost posted this in the thread about a long-time contributor talking about a couple of fails. That would have been a digression and a hijack. Caught myself, slapped my hand. So here it is, below.

 

I also have understood the "why" of most of my fails.

You note the word "most." The reason being, if you take a picture of your big toe, and it meets all the criteria for sharpness, no CA, no dust bunnies or noise, etc., you are good to go. Not that it will ever have a market.

 

But if you dare step off the path of reality..after all, that unvarnished toe is real, you are in trouble. Let's leave the you out of it, I'm in trouble. I am a creative person, and once in a while I come up with a good idea. One where I take a photo and do creative things to it. No, no, not POD wall art, but something that could be used for advertising or products.

My most recent fail was a floral, sharp, but I took an expensive software and went creative with it. I've seen images like this used on tissue boxes, or school folders, you get the picture. Artistic work that could have a market but one needs to throw the usual QC criteria out of the window. Some of these works are deliberately made soft, and are a beautiful blend of color but the subject, ie flowers, are still identifiable. Keyworded "background"

QC cannot, or won't see the potential in these kinds of images. By golly, if it's not sharp, it fails, or it fails for too much manipulation or something similar.

So while I think QC does a good job most of the time, I wish they would develop a creative section so that when these creative images come in, they would be kicked to someone who has a creative background and a dose of imagination to evaluate.

The other image, also creative, I added a two-toned wash of color to the BG and added grain. The image gave off a Victorian feel to it. I actually "saw" this image in a glossy, in my mind. Oh, well. That one failed for noise. Darn that added grain. And no, I won't post them. They should be judged only by another Creative.

I love Alamy. I just think they need to expand a narrow way of thinking. This has to start at the top. I think Alamy could make some money from these kinds of images.

Yes, I know you are thinking Stockimo. Sure. But why not taken with a higher end camera, developed with higher end software, and offered in the regular collection? Or...a wild and crazy idea, let these images be in ....drumroll...Creative! Oh, boy, that would thrill me to no end.

Does this classify as a rant? ;)

Betty

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Yet there is no shortage of deliberately fuzzy (impressionistic sounds better) "creative" images on Alamy. Makes one wonder sometimes how they got there, doesn't it?

 

Personally, I just submit images to Alamy that fit their technical requirements. Others go elsewhere, but then I'm basically a point-and-shoot kind of person. It must be frustrating for someone like you with a more artistic bent. There must be other outlets for the types of images that you mention.

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It seems that Stockimo is much more tolorent or welcoming to the artsy filters and treatments to photos.

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It seems that Stockimo is much more tolorent or welcoming to the artsy filters and treatments to photos.

 

Yes, we're I more artsy, I would probably go that route. Still don't understand why these types of images aren't acceptable from a "real" camera, though, as Betty laments.

Edited by John Mitchell
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Let me first state that I do not wish to comment on Almay's QC. I wish only to comment about what I perceive is a wide lack of creativity. In the short time that I have been an Almay contributor I have examined the libraries of hundreds of contributors and I think their creative process goes something like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=m1g52eRqJjc. Is that all there is?

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Betty,

 

I liked you post and found it interesting. 

 

I am in danger: I'm drinking Whiskey (American) and it is often not a

good idea to post whilst (English?) drinking.

 

In my opinion, great images are not often made within the norms and

I do believe that Alamy is trying is keep that in mind.  May I suggest that

a QC fail means that you did not execute what you were trying to do in a

successful way, but at least you tried.

 

As I have written before, I am now taking commissions.  I make more on

one portrait session than I do on a good month on Alamy.  I must also say

that it is Alamy that made me learn the proper way to prepare an image.

There is no QC fail with a paying client.

 

Chuck ( Still the original Chuck)

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This is probably an unrealistic concept, but I would welcome a submission route for dodgy images, those that I know might struggle with conventional QC, but that I feel might sell. They could go into a slow track, waiting for a review in a quiet period, but failure would not incur a spell in jail.

 

I wish that I could do manipulated Arty, but rather my marginal images would include shots taken under demanding circumstances, e.g. on public transport where the combination of low light levels, contrasty light, and vibration present a challenge. I typically end up with a shot that has a narrow plane of focus and is a tad grainy. I suspect that the red top websites would use this kind of thing, but remain unsure whether or not it would pass QC.

 

I'm pretty sure that the QC inspectors have a degree of tolerance for such circumstances, but being pretty sure is not the same as being certain, and, as a result, I am reluctant to upload this type of image.

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I've also been taking rather more pics in challenging lighting conditions over the last couple of years. Most would fail QC (though they might make good prints on my wall). A very few are good enough for Alamy. That proves to me one thing: it's my technique that's failing, not the conditions.

 

Alan

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 I would welcome a submission route for dodgy images,

 

The bin?

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Let me first state that I do not wish to comment on Almay's QC. I wish only to comment about what I perceive is a wide lack of creativity. In the short time that I have been an Almay contributor I have examined the libraries of hundreds of contributors and I think their creative process goes something like this:

. Is that all there is?

I agree that there are a high number of images displaying a lack of creativity on Alamy, and in stock in general; I know I'm guilty of this charge.

The fact is, though, that these ordinary "bog standard" images do sell. They always have done. I see these photos all the time, some bylined to Alamy, and some to other agencies and photographers. You just need to look at the 'Have you found any Alamy images' thread to see plenty of examples.

I found my way to Alamy by way of a photo of the inside of a washing machine drum which was credited to Alamy. That was a year ago. I'm still here, and despite my meagre portfolio have sold a couple of images. I don't consider myself to be particularly creative, but then I guess we're all derivative in some way, aren't we?

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Some pictures seem to have only one viable market: photographic magazines, trying to convince photographers that moving the camera up and down while shooting in woodland is being 'creative'.

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I have produced and submitted some heavily manipulated images that have passed QC but are clearly blurred or 'out of focus'. The one that didn't get through was not as manipulated as the others, so not as deliberate.

I think part of the problem is that images are viewed as thumbnails or slightly larger when zoomed. It's important that clients know what they are getting from a very small image. If it is clear from a thumbnail that it's 'creative' then there's no problem. If a buyer thinks it might be sharp but it isn't, that could be a reason for a fail?

I honestly don't know if Alamy QC even look at captions, but I always start mine with 'Digitally manipulated image of...' if relevant. It might help

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I honestly don't know if Alamy QC even look at captions, but I always start mine with 'Digitally manipulated image of...' if relevant. It might help

 

They don't look at captions, apparently...

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I agree that there are a high number of images displaying a lack of creativity on Alamy, and in stock in general; I know I'm guilty of this charge.

The fact is, though, that these ordinary "bog standard" images do sell. They always have done. I see these photos all the time, some bylined to Alamy, and some to other agencies and photographers. You just need to look at the 'Have you found any Alamy images' thread to see plenty of examples.

I found my way to Alamy by way of a photo of the inside of a washing machine drum which was credited to Alamy. That was a year ago. I'm still here, and despite my meagre portfolio have sold a couple of images. I don't consider myself to be particularly creative, but then I guess we're all derivative in some way, aren't we?

 

Don't misunderstand me: Stock photography has NEVER been about originality. 20 years ago just about every agency had a plethora (always wanted to use that word) of images depicting business executives running around a track in business suits, either jumping hurdles with their brief cases in hand, or passing the baton as if in a relay race. But even as creatively bankrupt as that concepts is it took quite a bit of skill and planning to pull off the shot. There are even a few such shots in Alamy's library. See ACB212.

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Not a rant at all, Betty. In fact I think you have hit on one of the weaknesses in the Alamy business model.

 

But Alamy does not keep it's business model a secrete. It's all spelled out in their instructions to contributors. And there are other agencies, some that you contribute to now, I think, where that type of "creative" work is accepted. For big money ads? Maybe not. 

 

It seems to me that what you're suggesting would require a lot more back and forth at Alamy and a larger staff. This is a stock agency with over 60 million images; they cannot be all things to all people on all matters.

 

"Stock photography has NEVER been about originality." - SS

 

True, in fact the definition of a good stock image used to be: "A cliche done perfectly." Yes, I'm quoting someone who is a well-known expert.

 

I don't want to use the so often misused term "creative," so I'll say that there are certain types of unorthodox images that Alamy's QC editors understand well -- blur for action, selective focus. 

 

As I was about to say, the down side of Alamy's business model Betty has pointed out makes us more conservative. Is that a good thing or a bad? We all have to decide that for ourselves. 

 

Edo

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Good posts, all. Ed, I particularly like yours.

Yes, I do have a creative outlet. Wall art, and they've gotten into selling the art on different products. I regularly sell there. Alamy has accepted some of my creative works, so I can't knock that. Several years ago though, not recently, and so I'm not sure if acceptance has changed since then.

I have a feeling a lot of it depends on the QC person who gets the batch, which would address the inconsistency.

 

There are outlets for this type of work. As I said before, packaging. Covers for products. Greeting cards. Artsy calendars.

And yes, this is a stock site that pays for its steak dinner mostly with editorial. I have blonde hair. (Today;) ) Doesn't mean I can't be brunette if I choose.

I guess what I am trying to say is that this is a fluid society, so very much more so in the last 20 years than any time in history. My son is a mechanical engineer with a masters in business. Through discussions with him, I realize a company with a good product, selling like hotcakes, can't just sit back and expect the dough to keep rolling in for years. Because somebody else is at the drawing board designing a similar product that does the job better than yours. And it'll be out in a matter of months, not years.

 

Perhaps editorial will always be the meat of Alamy. I just can't understand why they can't solicit and promote a cookie division. Why does Alamy sell editorial so well? Because that's what they're known for. If they actively promote a truly creative division, it'll take awhile, but eventually the buyers for that will come. And might just become "the place" to think of first when Hallmark wants a card design. Or Kleenex wants a new box design.

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I agree Betty, but in the meantime perhaps rather than waiting for Alamy to change course it is time to move to someone who is aready following that course. As photographers monogamy is not required, or expected. Even KM puts his work into the most appropriate channel for the different genre and subjects he shoots.

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I agree Betty, but in the meantime perhaps rather than waiting for Alamy to change course it is time to move to someone who is aready following that course. As photographers monogamy is not required, or expected. Even KM puts his work into the most appropriate channel for the different genre and subjects he shoots.

Of course, if one knew a spot that sells creative images with licenses like regular stock. I'm already doing the POD, I'd like a creative stock outlet. Maybe I'm just not good at ferreting.

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I agree Betty, but in the meantime perhaps rather than waiting for Alamy to change course it is time to move to someone who is aready following that course. As photographers monogamy is not required, or expected. Even KM puts his work into the most appropriate channel for the different genre and subjects he shoots.

 

I agree with looking elsewhere.

 

I posted often in the early days of StockIMO, asking what the difference was between an "arty" image taken on a phone (that wouldn't otherwise pass the "normal" QC requirements) and the exact same image taken on a DSLR. Alamy have answered that question several times, so I'm not asking it again. Instead, I'm accepting that we are where we are as far as Alamy is concerned: we all know what Alamy is, and what its main target audience is. It would be silly of me to expect my local bakery to sell soap.

 

I have a portfolio elsewhere--no images there are here, and vice versa. Every one of my top sellers there (I'm talking four-figure sums . . . NETT) would have passed Alamy QC. But most of those big earners are not what I'd call editorial, hence their more appropriate placement elsewhere . . . but I repeat, every one of them would have passed Alamy QC if I had decided to run counter to the prevailing current and my own common-sense and placed them amongst millions of editorial and secondary-editorial images.

 

dd

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Good for you, dd. I did spend some time after my last post looking elsewhere. I'll see how it goes.

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Good for you, dd. I did spend some time after my last post looking elsewhere. I'll see how it goes.

 

Not at my own computer at the mo, will PM you later today re: elsewhere.

 

dd

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Betty you put into words, what many of us have been feeling.

 
Stockimoto for creative people who use conventional cameras, and not cell phones.
 
Rejection is part of being creative. Photographers, artists, designers, architects, writers, illustrators, publishers, dancers, lawyers, accountants, when they try to be innovative will usually be faced with a “what the hell are you trying to do”.
 
Creative people have to be brave.
 
A good example is Margaret Mitchell’s book “Gone with the Wind”.
 
 
It was a groundbreaking book for it’s time in 1936, and in the USA just behind the Bible in popularity. The book was initially rejected by 14 different publishers, until it found a home at the publisher MacMillan.
 
The groundbreaking film made from the book had similiar troubles.
 
 
I think stock photographers have to find a sweet spot that includes both creative and technical excellence. We should not produce technically excellent work that is boring, nor should we produce creative work that is technically bad.
 
Stockimoto for the rest of us, but it should be both creative and technically excellent.

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Betty you put into words, what many of us have been feeling.

 

Stockimoto for creative people who use conventional cameras, and not cell phones.

 

Rejection is part of being creative. Photographers, artists, designers, architects, writers, illustrators, publishers, dancers, lawyers, accountants, when they try to be innovative will usually be faced with a “what the hell are you trying to do”.

 

Creative people have to be brave.

 

A good example is Margaret Mitchell’s book “Gone with the Wind”.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gone_with_the_Wind

 

It was a groundbreaking book for it’s time in 1936, and in the USA just behind the Bible in popularity. The book was initially rejected by 14 different publishers, until it found a home at the publisher MacMillan.

 

The groundbreaking film made from the book had similiar troubles.

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gone_with_the_Wind_(film)

 

I think stock photographers have to find a sweet spot that includes both creative and technical excellence. We should not produce technically excellent work that is boring, nor should we produce creative work that is technically bad.

 

Stockimoto for the rest of us, but it should be both creative and technically excellent.

Right on. I agree with everything you say. GWTW is my all time favorite book, which I've read numerous times. I'm glad it found a home. If only Rhett had given a damn, though. Every time I read it, he still didn't give a damn. :(

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It might be pointed out that stock photography has moved away from its literalist beginnings.  Bog standard images sell, but not for much and in relation to numbers, not very often.  I would guess that most sticking to the bog standard agenda are earning around $1 per image, many much less.  Divide Alamy's  annual revenue by number of images and see what you get.  Allow an image an average shelf life of 10 years, then you would have to be producing about 100 images a week in order to be scratching a living.  Some say it was all different in the days Tony Stone used to send his chauffer round delivering the weekly cheque along with the usual bottle of Bolliger La Grande.  Well it was: there was actually a world shortage of bog standard images depicting all sorts of things: buildings, places, people, events.  Things moved on.  The shortage then became one of concepts and issues.  Then it became one of concepts and issues for a much more visually intelligent generation.  It doesn’t mean there isn’t a huge demand for all the usual stock material, but you have to be producing it by the silo load.

 

This is a long way from saying that ‘artsy’ or ‘arty’ (whatever that is) will sell, or there is a market demand for such stuff, other than PoD.  It is the case, however, that all the best agencies offering the best routes to serious earnings are either very open to experimentation, or actually demand it.  However, you do need to work with editors/CDs who understand the market and your possible relation to the it.  This is one big stumbling block to using Alamy as a ‘creative’ outlet (for want of a better word), other than slightly edgy editorial production.  And iPhone photography, of course.

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