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Philippe, I won't forget you, but Ian's idealism goes back a very long way. His has been a very extreme and rock solid position - a reference point if you will. You seem equally sincere, but a bit late to the game. 

 

Gordon, there are so many things that we serious stock photographers have to address before we even pick up our cameras. It's a shame that this even has to come up.

 

And with that, I'll get back to actual work.

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Ian, I'm delighted to hear this. We need at least a few more laughs in this mad world.

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In the days of RM, a license for 5 years national advertising world wide use exclusive to the travel industry $10,000 was common. To guarantee image exclusivity, stock agencies had RM rights clearance staff on hand 24/7. If a sub agency anywhere in the world, wanted to sell any RM image for any use the subagent would immediately phone in and clear the rights for the subagents sale. In the case of the example above they would get a “no” if the subagents client was in the travel business such as car rental or airline. There were no conflicting simultaneous RM sales.

 

I think today, when a RM $10,000 price has become a $1000 price, it becomes financially impossible to maintain an effective 24/7 rights clearance. So where is the Rights Management?

 

The other problem with RM exclusivity is there are too many similar images in the stock photo system, because there are too many photographers shooting the same thing at the same location.

 

There is a ideal place on the Toronto Islands to shoot the Toronto skyline reflected in Lake Ontario. During the 1980’s and 1990’s I would update my skyline images every 5 years. There was only a few days a year without smog, and when the skydome stadium was open radiating light. I would always be in position during the blue period on those days, and most importantly, shooting alone. You can maintain exclusivity under these conditions. The last time I was in place around 2004 there were 14 photographers taking the same shot. They were from every major stock photo library in the world including some from the UK Europe and Asia. When the blue period descended, the shutters of 14 tightly packed cameras went off within a few minutes of each other. How do you maintain Rights Management RM under those conditions, when 14 people from 10 different stock libraries shoot 14 identical images?

 

I now often find good shooting positions by simply following photographers trails through the underbrush. Kind of like hunting deer.

 

Another thing that happens is that todays stock photographers are a friendly group that often travel together and shoot the same RM images for different stock libraries. My RM stock agent in the 1980’s had blanket instructions for photographers to shoot alone.

 

Advertising, formally the biggest user of RM images, has changed. Today they target their marketing based on consumer profile. So where they once paid $1,000 for one RM image, they now pay $1,000 for 100 targeted RF images for a single campaign. An advertising campaign has the same budget for photography, but spread out over many images. For most uses, advertisers no longer renew image licenses, or extend image licenses into other uses. They just klick over to Alamy and get new images.

 

RM is a complication most clients do not want to deal with. Therefore photo buyers get blanket instructions to buy RF only. This has been exacerbated by some stock libraries aggressively going after unlicensed reuse of RM images. When a fortune 500 company gets a collection letter for $4,000 for an RM reuse image they could have purchased for $40, then the future policy becomes RF only. The RM creative chain, fortune 500 company, advertising agency, art service bureau that does the image buying, is just too long and complicated for the fortune 500 company to RM police.

 

Price is important to volume buyers, but today there is no price difference between RM or RF. Terms and conditions for RM resemble RF.

 

Finally the holy grail of the stock image industry is to remove expensive employees from an ecommerce sale. With RM there is usually client/library haggling. It is easier to do no human ecommerce with RF.

 

In study after study in the last 20 years clients have said they want RF and low prices. They can find, good, RF, low priced, images anywhere. Why would they buy RM?

If you think that you have an image that is so unique that it should sell for RM, do a RF only search on Alamy by keyword for similar images. How do the RF images compare to your RM image? Now do the same search on other stock libraries. How do the RF images compare to your RM image?

 

The RF genie is out of the bottle. No amount of RM holding out, will get it back in.

 

If you shoot super unique images, then keep them out of stock photography and POD sites. Spend the bulk of your time promoting your brand. Become a superstar photographer. Get yourself representation in High Street fine arts galleries in major world centres. Photograph an entire book with a real publisher, (not self publish). Become a equipment promoter for a major photo manufacturer. Be like the Rolling Stones and go on a world photographic seminar tour. Give one on one photo lessons to the children of the super rich.

If you think this is nuts, there are photographers doing this.

 

As for me I am just a former RM stock photographer happily shooting useful, but not unique images, that sell today as RF.

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You make a compelling argument, Bill.

 

Are most of your sales (RF of course) now advertising or editorial?

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Hard to tell John.

Some RF have no usage details, only file size.

Some RF have usage details

I would guess, and it is only a guess, about 10% are advertising. 

Then what is advertising in stock photo world? Here is a line from usage details.

“UNLIMTED use of image in brochures, direct mail, promotional emails and corporate website use (does not include advertising).”

In my mind a brochure is advertising. I am not complaining because the price was OK for this day and age. Would have been 10 times higher in 1997, but that was 20 years ago, and so it goes.

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Hi Bill, I agree with John, you make a compelling argument, and (unless a new form of licence appears) is the way the market is going (or would like to go anyway). If RF and RM licences cost similar amounts, it's a "no brainer" for customers.

 

My question is where are we today? I wonder if I would make more money at the moment if I was selling all my images as RF instead of RM? Also if I switched to RF, I might lose some repeat sales revenue in the future, (although this is tiny as it seems to be largely newspapers that do this). I can easily swap my Alamy images from RM to RF but I wonder whether it would be beneficial at the moment? I could just convert a random 10% of my collection from RM to RF and see what happens, but is it permitted to swap them back later?

 

Mark

 

Edited by M.Chapman

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17 minutes ago, arterra said:
Nice theory ......... but all the gloom and doom about RM licenses doesn't show in my sales graph though.
B.t.w. ALL my images are RM.
 
-mvC8jmvVYcBgXeC3G_vObJllAekDZPtL0hn4RrM6v32uPGE9v4rN2z5bNRcfzy0gWofzT79RoZNjkxYajyrky7LuQPDh_i4UTYwU16KQwE5yS0HWDkHtlYvXcwWNUsMjVAY7FL95tp-nhph30X8p6UZ9rHRB_ZtZPvi4LeORmvMeqH-6L_cs_OrPK1Z92vlqyo_seN5tYkYE1mxyv2gEKGBwhFtG_lNr9ijC2S7DGZ8SWrRsMC7P_029WTqQR5xOUvv1NkEf3WEfkN91g_y3gsECbVYi8-b86KY8zz5TZZrvJEgZJX8bPsFobVrao4DXUAIBIoWFzQKTkcZ3yg9AUtJ1g1sSFbKrDRPBpHMDycXMR93Re34EshDKloZTaRcQev1PIV4V1gKy-J5dXTkngSZxXeBC-r3Zxf4U58WVP4FVdeZmc-AqefsRKImz3LmJuzKgk9tLw1K_gDvrfzalTN0Vepb-RqB2x0aDxmag1dh2t-RxBWhpxi8SHcoWJA_yS0E6PGXE8ULs6Z22WCB47ke90xBWOGwsl63nJ7iQ3vkA5S2wyB4MBS0zjTTPbcarioj7scYx9Kv5s96rdkB5SM8sKJIa4pwLHuAYrUbXN6W35cEgdqIPKhM=w363-h278-no
 
Cheers,
Philippe

 

Thinking out loud...

1) I would be surprised if your graph didn't look like that when you on average have added 6500 images per year! 

2) Certain areas are probably less exposed to the migration than others. Specialized/unique being the most resilient, whilst "general stock" such as lifestyle and conceptual will be the most susceptible - everyone's reality will be different.

Edited by Martin Carlsson
speling miztache
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16 minutes ago, M.Chapman said:

Hi Bill, I agree with John, you make a compelling argument, and (unless a new form of licence appears) is the way the market is going (or would like to go anyway). If RF and RM licences cost similar amounts, it's a "no brainer" for customers.

 

My question is where are we today? I wonder if I would make more money at the moment if I was selling all my images as RF instead of RM? Also if I switched to RF, I might lose some repeat sales revenue in the future, (although this is tiny as it seems to be largely newspapers that do this). I can easily swap my Alamy images from RM to RF but I wonder whether it would be beneficial at the moment? I could just convert a random 10% of my collection from RM to RF and see what happens, (*) but is it permitted to swap them back later?

 

Mark

 

 

* yes. Obviously you can't sell a sold RF as an exclusive RM (without declaring it's past RF history), but that's pretty much it.

Edited by Martin Carlsson
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25 minutes ago, arterra said:
B.t.w. what is forgotten to mention is that many photographers have loads of sales from the same images also offered to specialist agencies, which (in my case) are all RM. As we all know, you can't offer RF here and the same images as RM elsewhere. 
 
Cheers,
Philippe

 

Why not? (Other than if the agency  stipulate that in their contract).

 

It seems to me that Alamy have finally taken out a lot of the confusion about RF/RM that was tied in with Releases and the workflow within the previous Image Manager. Now the photographer can decide on an image by image basis whether they want payment for each use (RM) or a one off payment for any use (RF).

 

There's nothing to stop me offering an image RM this week, RF next week, and back to RM the following week. And why shouldn't I? It's only at the point of sale that the customer is locked in to the licence type that applied at the time, and presumably something that they are willing to go with.

 

What if the customer likes my image this week, would really like to buy it RF, but can only buy it RM - then they find out that next week it's available RF? Is that any different to me going into a store and buying a product only to find that if I'd waited a week I could have got it cheaper/with extra loyalty points/ with free insurance etc. ? And then I wait another week and find that the offers have gone.

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11 minutes ago, geogphotos said:

As Philiipe points out many of us can't convert RM to RF because they are RM elsewhere - and the same would be true for incoming RF images to Alamy, they can't go RM.

 

A Standard Editorial licence would simply combine all images with no RF and RM tag and probably cover 90% + of Alamy sales.

 

I'm not advocating either way and what you say is your reality, but many agencies, including G offer RF Editorial (and they seem awfully keen on RF and do migrate RM to RF (as you well know)). So in theory, if one wanted to, one could make a mass-migration. Whether it is worth the effort or not I can't say, highly individual as well. All I can say with certainty is that agencies and buyers are pushing as much as they can for RF. Individual "stances" won't matter, we're all replaceable and so are 99% of even the best photographer's images. 

 

Old note to self...embrace change or do something about it - whining or reminiscing of the "good old days" gets you nowhere.

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8 minutes ago, arterra said:

 

The point is you can't offer the SAME (and sister images) at the SAME time as RF in one agency and as RM in another.

 

Cheers,

Philippe

 

That is really the only clause (2.2) in the contract now restricting the type of licences that can be specified. Up until a couple of years ago the application of licence types was much more restrictive - it would have prevented the type of switching that I described.

 

I think that the recent changes that were made to the contracts, and Alamy indicating in the Image Manager that RF is preferred, are the strongest indicators of where the market is heading. Yes, there will still be niches where RM is more appropriate, both for the customer and the photographers. For most of what I have it probably isn't, so I think I'll give RF a go across some of my portfolio. 

 

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3 minutes ago, arterra said:

I predict a hybrid in the future.

B.t.w. is there a law about RM / RF? Thought it was more like a gentlemen's agreement.

 

Cheers,

Philippe 

 

No law (besides the governing of entered contracts), only licensing agreements and agency rules/contracts - and they are not consistent across the board. 

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2 minutes ago, arterra said:

 

See my graph above.

Living solely on stock and income improving year after year (including 2017). And that's a fact.

 

Cheers,

Philippe

 

Another fact - not all eggs exclusively in the stock basket, but photography full time since 2003.

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3 hours ago, Martin Carlsson said:

not all eggs exclusively in the stock basket

 

Same here, I teach beginner photography as well, plenty of ways to still earn money in photography but stock is becoming increasingly difficult with the shear volumne of images available.

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I agree that Bill's theory is well thought out and well stated. Also impressive is that he's walking the walk, not just talking the talk, since he's converted all his images to RF. I wish him luck. 

 

That said, however, I'm not convinced. I've checked the collections of a dozen major Alamy contributors, and they are all still submitting their work as RM. 

 

Six months ago, I made all my tabletop food pics RF. Has the change made a difference? Has it proved to be a good move? Nope. RF/RM is only one factor, of course, but I will not be jumping into the pool with Bill at this time. 

 

Edo

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I've listened to Bill since we got the new AIM, and believe he makes valid points.  I guess I'm easily influenced! :P

As a result, I've converted quite a few of my images to RF.  Mostly ones such as my birds, butterflies, etc.  Some that are travel....as long as there are no people/property involved.  And yes, I realize I can do RF/editorial, and have done some of those.

I'm testing the waters.

So far, I'm not seeing RF sales. I had expected to by now.  I realize it is early days, and fact is, my sales have tanked the past couple of months so I can't really judge yet.  If I could just sell my usual monthly average again, I might actually have something to judge.

 

I did get a 3 figure sale a couple of days ago and it was RM. -_-

Betty

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A couple of observations...

 

My default license is RF ... I just never bothered to change it when new AIM arrived.

I occasionally submit images to Alamy Live News if I happen to be in the right place at the right time with my camera. When they eventually get transferred to general stock, they arrive with an RM license (even though my default is RF).

 

I was lucky enough to have two photos featured in this newspaper article online: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/04/13/playgrounds-closures-threaten-childrens-health/

One of the images, I chose an RM license for and the other I chose an RF license. But when these images got reported as sales, the same fee was charged for each.. so the RM or RF license made no difference.

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8 hours ago, geogphotos said:

As Philiipe points out many of us can't convert RM to RF because they are RM elsewhere - and the same would be true for incoming RF images to Alamy, they can't go RM.

 

A Standard Editorial licence would simply combine all images with no RF and RM tag and probably cover 90% + of Alamy sales.

 

A Standard Editorial license with "add-ons" sounds like a good solution to the current RF/RM schizophrenia. Question is could Alamy actually introduce something like this (assuming they might be interested) at this point? Would existing clients go for it? A big gamble. No?

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41 minutes ago, geogphotos said:

The Standard editorial rights licence offers:

 

* worldwide editorial use for15 years

* unlimited seats

* no limits on impressions or print runs

* no monetary limits on indemnification

 

It is something like this Standard editorial licence that I was suggesting Alamy could offer and effectively merge RF and RM unless a buyer wanted to customise.

 

These terms sound a lot like those in current iQ licenses.

Edited by John Mitchell

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1 hour ago, geogphotos said:

 

I think and hope that we are moving towards some sort of convergence.

 

I think that is happening, and I agree if you are saying we need to converge to a single standard. 

 

Some photographers are calling images RM, but they are being sold with RF terms. 

Some photographers are calling images RF, but they are being sold with RM terms.

 

Maybe Alamy is on to something.

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22 hours ago, Ed Rooney said:

I agree that Bill's theory is well thought out and well stated. Also impressive is that he's walking the walk, not just talking the talk, since he's converted all his images to RF. I wish him luck. 

 

That said, however, I'm not convinced. I've checked the collections of a dozen major Alamy contributors, and they are all still submitting their work as RM. 

 

Six months ago, I made all my tabletop food pics RF. Has the change made a difference? Has it proved to be a good move? Nope. RF/RM is only one factor, of course, but I will not be jumping into the pool with Bill at this time. 

 

Edo

 

I'm quoting myself here so I don't have to type out one or two thoughts again.

 

I'd like the thank Gordon Wood for starting this post, which has been very useful to me. 

 

I agree with Ian that what we get in the forum is mostly opinion, but I've always thought that. I'm not looking for a guru, and I'm not looking to become a guru. 

 

Here's some comparative RF/RM numbers from my 7 month test period. I meant to switch all my tabletop food images to RF, but I missed a few. Those few now provide something of a comparison. I've had two RF tabletop food sales: $5.42 and $6.03 = $11.45. And I've had two RM sales in the same period: $15.27 and $25 = $40.27. My emotional reaction to sales that put less than $5 in my pocket is not good. I get upset. 

 

For the most part, I see my role as a shooter who focuses on planning, snapping, PP, and tagging: image production. I leave sales matters to Alamy. This is, after all, not a co-op agency. 

 

Will I be switching all those food RF images back to RM? That's likely. In the future might I switch everything from RM to RF? As always, the future is an unknown.

 

Edo

 

 

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Well we have talked about reaching a middle ground between RF and RM. I agree with Edo the discussion has been very useful.

 

Maybe one way to reach the middle ground, at this point in time, would be to make 50% of our images RF, and 50% RM.

 

That way you could be in a position to pivot. If it becomes obvious that RF is the future then you are already half way there. If it is RM then change your RF back to RM.

The most important thing is to be in the right position at the right time, and not ignore a big part of the marketplace.

 

I once was studio manager and junior photographer at the most expensive wedding and portrait studio in Toronto.

 

Some Clients would flatly tell our sales person they could not afford our high prices. Then we passed on the phone number of one of our photographers, John Kingsley Enright, who was just now setting himself up in a separate business and had very reasonable prices. The phone call to John Kingsley Enright came back into the studio and was answered by a different sales person. As junior photographer either I shot a entire John Kingsley Enright wedding on my own, or I assisted a master photographer at the more expensive wedding. We did the same thing with shooting portraits on location.

 

The studio never lost a wedding or portrait sitting because of high prices.

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2 hours ago, Ed Rooney said:

 

I'm quoting myself here so I don't have to type out one or two thoughts again.

 

I'd like the thank Gordon Wood for starting this post, which has been very useful to me. 

 

I agree with Ian that what we get in the forum is mostly opinion, but I've always thought that. I'm not looking for a guru, and I'm not looking to become a guru. 

 

Here's some comparative RF/RM numbers from my 7 month test period. I meant to switch all my tabletop food images to RF, but I missed a few. Those few now provide something of a comparison. I've had two RF tabletop food sales: $5.42 and $6.03 = $11.45. And I've had two RM sales in the same period: $15.27 and $25 = $40.27. My emotional reaction to sales that put less than $5 in my pocket is not good. I get upset. 

 

For the most part, I see my role as a shooter who focuses on planning, snapping, PP, and tagging: image production. I leave sales matters to Alamy. This is, after all, not a co-op agency. 

 

Will I be switching all those food RF images back to RM? That's likely. In the future might I switch everything from RM to RF? As always, the future is an unknown.

 

Edo

 

 

 

Tough question, I know, but do you think that the two RF images sold because you changed them to RF -- i.e. might they not have licensed if left as RM?

 

What I've been doing is changing a number of images that have never licensed to RF to see if it makes any difference (a deeply flawed strategy no doubt as there are many factors at work). One of them has been zoomed but so far no RF sales to report.

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59 minutes ago, John Mitchell said:

 

Tough question, I know, but do you think that the two RF images sold because you changed them to RF -- i.e. might they not have licensed if left as RM?

 

What I've been doing is changing a number of images that have never licensed to RF to see if it makes any difference (a deeply flawed strategy no doubt as there are many factors at work). One of them has been zoomed but so far no RF sales to report.

 

No, I make no such assumption. I did a test of RF for 7 months. The results are as I said. 

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7 minutes ago, Ed Rooney said:

 

No, I make no such assumption. I did a test of RF for 7 months. The results are as I said. 

 

Right. Thanks for sharing your RF/RM experiences. I plan to do more experimenting with RF. However, I still think that RM is the best way for me to go for most of my images. That said, things are starting to look interesting on the licensing front. "Convergence" might be just around the corner...

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