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Are we, as a profession, the only ones where we do not have control over the pricing of our product?  This is not aimed at Alamy but all stock libraries.  Do writers and actors have some sort of control over the pricing of their books/services via their agents?  If one takes an expensive car into an automobile dealer and asks to sell it on consignment, does the dealer not allow the owner to know what price they are putting on the vehicle?  Does a real estate agent not divulge to the vendor the price the agent is asking to sell the house and only tells them after the contract has been signed?  

 

When many of us signed up to stock libraries many years ago, the license fees were reasonable and we accepted and trusted the agencies' ability to license our work for a fair and reasonable fee.  This is no longer the case.  I started to think about this again when I was recently asked to remove a restriction on one of my images and when I suggested that I would do so if the calculator price was used or at least advise me what the buyer was willing to pay, I was advised of "discounts with clients" and they "cannot disclose how much their client would be paying for this particular use".  The restriction was not lifted and the sale did not proceed.

 

Sheila

 

 

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We are in control....and give the agent that control when we agree to the terms of our contract.  The alternative is we remove our images from the agent's website and we license/market those image on our own with our own prices.

 

The thing is, any economist out there will tell you that you still don't have control over the pricing - the market has the control for the most part.  Sure, you can choose which markets you will target, but the market still dictates prices through supply and demand.

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True, we are all -- contributors and stock agencies -- at the mercy of this highly competitive buyers' market. But Sheila makes some valid points. When I started selling my photos over 20 years ago, I assumed stock agencies/ photo libraries would stick to their established prices; and they did for the most part because they were able to. However, it's a very different story now. Granted, stock agencies are often backed against the wall these days when it comes to negotiating decent prices. But, still, shouldn't they be upfront as possible with contributors -- especially new ones -- about the discounts that they are forced to offer?

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No one in any business is forced to offer discounts, I always work on the principle that the price is what the price is, if they want it, that's the price.

 

The thing with any photography, is that if they want it, but won't pay the asking price, buy something else, it won't be what you wanted, but you'll have saved a few quid!

 

This argument doesn't work so well if its pictures of, test tubes, pills, money, etc etc as there are lots of these subject, but when its a specialist picture of a specialist subject, you can afford to stick to your pricing.

 

I mentioned it before, in another thread, that the pricing could be inversely proportional to the number of search results. If there is 1000's of pictures returned, then its not a specialist shot. If there is only 10's or 100's returned, it is specialist and a premium applied.

 

You could still have bulk discounts (which are valid for good customers) applied for volume, after a rarity multiplier has been applied.

 

Some of the sales (not all) are so low, I'd really rather not sell them for that price for that use. Whilst I could opt out of some of the schemes, I'd be missing out on plenty of reasonable sales for generic images.

 

How about having a maximum discount percentage per pseudonym or contributor?

Edited by York Photographer
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A lot of it comes down to the advent of digital photography. It is now a lot easier to get decent images than it was in the past.

 

When we used film, you had to think very hard before you pressed that shutter. Now, you can click away and very easily edit down what you've done during the day.

 

Using slide film shows you how unforgiving film can be. get it wrong and you really turn out some crap. But with digital, you can bracket a couple of shots to get the exposure you need. A bit of blending and then hey presto.

 

Supply and demand abviously comes into this. The supply has increased exponentially because digital makes it easier for everyone to get something.

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Maybe there could be a 'reserve' which photographers could put on their rarer photos, i.e. 'this photo can not be sold below $xx'. At the moment, even if you had a genuinely one-off photo (and had chosen to put it on Alamy), it is not the rarity, or even the quality of the photos which determines the price, but the negotiating clout of the buyer. Negotiating clout might be all right for generic images, as said above, but not for rare content, where they have no oe very little choice here or elsewhere.

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Sheila, in answer to the general part of your question, yes—all "creatives," as advertising people sometimes call us, are in trouble in the digital age. Writers, actors, musicians and photographers find themselves mostly powerless. The present business models are pushing us all back into a bohemian life: eat dog food and live in a garret. 

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Sheila, in answer to the general part of your question, yes—all "creatives," as advertising people sometimes call us, are in trouble in the digital age. Writers, actors, musicians and photographers find themselves mostly powerless. The present business models are pushing us all back into a bohemian life: eat dog food and live in a garret. 

 

I would say that things are much worse in the freelance writing world than in stock photography. I used to do a lot of travel writing (which pairs well with photography), but I've basically given up on that pursuit out of total frustration with rights-grabbing contracts, little or no pay, and over-competition for diminishing markets. Sound familiar? To paraphrase the late Rodney Dangerfield, we don't get no respect.

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Sheila, I can see Alamy not divulging the client, but to not give an amount of what would be paid to remove a restriction on a image for them to use? That just makes no sense to me... I wouldn't have removed it either.

 

Ed, I would concur with you and others for that matter. Everyone is a "photog" nowadays with digital which devalues work and microstock isn't helping matters. I realized just how bad micro sites are and what they're doing the to industry, but so many don't care. I've gotten all my images off a couple sites now with one that is being extremely stubborn about taking down my images. I haven't uploaded with them in months after being told to submit an Editorial image (they rejected) with intellectual property in it as a regular RF. I don't want their name on any of my images, especially after that, but cannot get them to delete my account. :(

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Sheila, I can see Alamy not divulging the client, but to not give an amount of what would be paid to remove a restriction on a image for them to use? That just makes no sense to me... I wouldn't have removed it either.

 

Yes, it's odd that they couldn't have at least given a ballpark figure. Perhaps it was too embarrassing to mention. It doesn't sound like Sheila was left with much choice but to keep the restriction.

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Sheila, I can see Alamy not divulging the client, but to not give an amount of what would be paid to remove a restriction on a image for them to use? That just makes no sense to me... I wouldn't have removed it either.

 

Ed, I would concur with you and others for that matter. Everyone is a "photog" nowadays with digital which devalues work and microstock isn't helping matters. I realized just how bad micro sites are and what they're doing the to industry, but so many don't care. I've gotten all my images off a couple sites now with one that is being extremely stubborn about taking down my images. I haven't uploaded with them in months after being told to submit an Editorial image (they rejected) with intellectual property in it as a regular RF. I don't want their name on any of my images, especially after that, but cannot get them to delete my account. :(

Not just micro stock sites are killing the business. Some of our fellow Alamy contributors are doing the same by signing up for NU and Newspaper scheme. Like we say here, cut your nose off to spit on your face. If that's way you want to go, don't complain low sale price.

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One of the things I've learnt doing stock is that the area of photography I love just isn't the big seller. Landscape photography is worth doing but only in small doses. Everyone and their uncle; aunt; nieces; nephews and the whole world does it thereby creating a massive overload of imagery.

 

For those out there reading this and think that pretty landscapes are going to get you the dollars then think again. You may get an occasional high sale but only if it is something very special.

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One of the things I've learnt doing stock is that the area of photography I love just isn't the big seller. Landscape photography is worth doing but only in small doses. Everyone and their uncle; aunt; nieces; nephews and the whole world does it thereby creating a massive overload of imagery.

 

For those out there reading this and think that pretty landscapes are going to get you the dollars then think again. You may get an occasional high sale but only if it is something very special.

I think that's the whole point. If you have something you think is special, you can't upload it anywhere, as far as I know, without risk of it selling for peanuts. We have many images that we don't mind selling cheap, but others that we want more for. No agency gives you the option to set a minimum price. I would love to be able to do that for certain images, even if it's only 10% of the portfolio.

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Thanks for the comments.  The restriction is Worldwide, editorial, editorial website and we all know how little this type of license elicits and that is why they were not forthcoming with the fee.

 

Sheila

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Thanks for the comments.  The restriction is Worldwide, editorial, editorial website and we all know how little this type of license elicits and that is why they were not forthcoming with the fee.

 

Sheila

 

I've never understood how any license for the WWW could be anything but worldwide. After all, the Web is accessible just about everywhere on the planet except in places like North Korea and China. And, yes, the going rate for this type of sale is low, low, low...

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One of the things I've learnt doing stock is that the area of photography I love just isn't the big seller. Landscape photography is worth doing but only in small doses. Everyone and their uncle; aunt; nieces; nephews and the whole world does it thereby creating a massive overload of imagery.

 

For those out there reading this and think that pretty landscapes are going to get you the dollars then think again. You may get an occasional high sale but only if it is something very special.

I think that's the whole point. If you have something you think is special, you can't upload it anywhere, as far as I know, without risk of it selling for peanuts. We have many images that we don't mind selling cheap, but others that we want more for. No agency gives you the option to set a minimum price. I would love to be able to do that for certain images, even if it's only 10% of the portfolio.

 

It's strange you say that about pricing. If you take a look at the calculator on Getty you will see that different collections have different prices.

 

If your work is within the sought after Stone collection then it commands a higher price than say The Image Bank.

 

It's a shame something like that couldn't be implemented as it would at least put some kind of worth on an image. Customers could see that if an image is held within a particular collection then it is something worth looking for.

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I liked how Alamy put out a 20% discount code till the end of August. Will that 20% be coming off their end of the cut? 

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One of the things I've learnt doing stock is that the area of photography I love just isn't the big seller. Landscape photography is worth doing but only in small doses. Everyone and their uncle; aunt; nieces; nephews and the whole world does it thereby creating a massive overload of imagery.

 

For those out there reading this and think that pretty landscapes are going to get you the dollars then think again. You may get an occasional high sale but only if it is something very special.

 

I think that's the whole point. If you have something you think is special, you can't upload it anywhere, as far as I know, without risk of it selling for peanuts. We have many images that we don't mind selling cheap, but others that we want more for. No agency gives you the option to set a minimum price. I would love to be able to do that for certain images, even if it's only 10% of the portfolio.
 

It's strange you say that about pricing. If you take a look at the calculator on Getty you will see that different collections have different prices.

 

If your work is within the sought after Stone collection then it commands a higher price than say The Image Bank.

 

It's a shame something like that couldn't be implemented as it would at least put some kind of worth on an image. Customers could see that if an image is held within a particular collection then it is something worth looking for.

And that's the crux of the problem IMO. I expect that it would be an enormous exercise at this stage to review some 35m plus images and start placing them into various pricing categories. And I'm not convinced that Alamy management feels that they are in the outstanding-images business. Although I do acknowledge that this is a very subjective issue. What is an outstanding image for one application may not be for another.

 

There are no correct answers for our dilemma other than to put appropriate restrictions in place, or to only upload our "outstanding images" to niche agencies. Again though, who are we to judge the meaning of "outstanding" in the context of buyer expectation.

 

In the engineering world there is a term: "fit for purpose". It's another way of saying that any expenditure over and above a requirement for something to do its job is wasting resources, which is a real issue in that hight tech, high cost world. I think there are similarities we in the stock photography world are just now trying to come to terms with. Why are we only now coming to terms with this? Because technology has facilitated this move over recent times - digital imaging, Internet, off line media decline etc. We cannot blame others for getting on the bandwagon and taking our "pro" jobs, the Luddites tried that about two hundred years ago. I suspect that portrait painters in the mid-late 1800's felt the same about this new fangled photography that was just rearing its head. Technological advances have always facilitated change. The unfortunate thing has always been that some adapt, move on and prosper and some don't, and lose. 'Tis the way of the world, but change is now accelerating at an awesome pace that many of us find hard to keep up with. (Including me BTW, and I worked my whole life in those high tech industries).

 

Ken

 

But I still love Alamy.

 

Ken

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I try to take the rough with the smooth: not getting too elated by a good fee (like yesterday...) or depressed by a low fee (like today...). I average things out.

 

Alamy haven't changed the goal-posts. I knew, before I uploaded my first pic here, that a shot that was hard to take would not attract any price premium over a shot that was easy to take (though it might prove to be a regular seller).

 

The internet has made it possible for me to sell my pix to buyers around the world: something it would be difficult to do myself. The irony, of course, is that thousands of other photographers can do the same, with the over-supply of imagery driving down prices.

 

A lot of people seem happy to write for nothing, sell their pix for nothing, edit for nothing (ie Wikipedia). I don't feel obliged to criticise them, for not attempting to monetise these activities.

 

When the Huffington Post was sold, the writers, opinion formers and image-makers who supplied most of the content (for nothing, or next to nothing) were overlooked, receiving no share of the site's selling price. My conclusion is that the big money is mostly made by the people who set up the publishing infrastructures, who can persuaded other people to write and take pictures for peanuts.

 

Apart from a few players at the top of the pyramid, creative people are poorly rewarded. If we have 'special' pix, that deserve better prices, then maybe we shouldn't add them to the great Alamy bran-tub. But we'd have to spend time and energy marketing these pix to particular clients... and that ain't so easy either...

Edited by John Morrison
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It's called supply and demand, economics 101.

 

We all exercise ultimate control choosing where and how to sell our images. We have chosen to put the images on Alamy that are best suited to selling on Alamy in the markets in which they operate.

 

I sometimes get the feeling that this forum is very insulated, not taking into account fees and prices happening elsewhere.

 

The lowest fees I have obtained this year so far has not been alamy by a long shot....

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Hi Shiela - you have raised a really good point which touches on the fundamentals of business and economics. Prices are determined by supply and demand. In this digital age supply has exploded while during this recession demand has imploded. It is too simplistic to blame Alamy or the stock library industry. If we want to prosper in the future we need to find more remunerative ways to sell and market our images. If we have a unique subject or skill or presentation we may get the edge with stock libraries until someone else sees the opportunity and exploits it. I believe that they say that those that can do, those that can't teach. In this technological age everything is evolving very quickly and IMO we have no alternative than to respond to these challenges or face declining fortunes. Note that the Alamy owners are diversifying into other activities. It was ever so since King Canute.

 

dov

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We're not the only ones facing diminishing returns for our work. For example, the farmers who supply the supermarkets are having their margins squeezed, and squeezed again. The supermarkets screw the last penny out of their suppliers. That generous 'two for the price of one' offer is more likely to be coming out of the supplies' pockets. Cheap food comes at quite a price...

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It's called supply and demand, economics 101.

 

We all exercise ultimate control choosing where and how to sell our images. We have chosen to put the images on Alamy that are best suited to selling on Alamy in the markets in which they operate.

 

I sometimes get the feeling that this forum is very insulated, not taking into account fees and prices happening elsewhere.

 

The lowest fees I have obtained this year so far has not been alamy by a long shot....

 

For some people though Alamy is their only agent and so they can't make the comparison. Of course, they are not the only ones out there and at the end of the day it is up to the individual to search out other options. Again, something you should do in business. 

 

I remember when I was an "employee". One of the most coined phrases you would hear was "you don't like it here, there's the door. No is stopping you." 

 

When I first tried my hand at stock a few years ago, I started here and got very fed up. I could never get anything through QC and lashed out a lot. Things got left for a while and then when the time came to leave the UK for France options were weighed up.

 

One of them was to try my hand at doing photography as a source of income. I looked at people I admired and tried to find where they placed their work. 

 

Joe Cornish, Charlie Waite, David Ward, David Noton etc were all people whose work I loved as a landscaper. They had varying degrees of work in a library called PhotoLibrary. So, I made the choice to try and get in there. It wasn't easy because unlike Alamy, they edited your work down and before I could be given a contract I had to get to around 200 or so images they liked. That took around 6 months!

 

The next choice was when Getty bought PhotoLibrary. There was an almighty outcry at the terms etc but after careful thought I personally accepted that contract. Was it a good choice? Yes! Why? Because they have had some excellent prices on some of my work.

 

Not content with just Getty I wanted to expand further and sought out other outlets. One of these is fareing OK'ish and the other is starting to bring similar returns to Getty.

 

With Alamy, I have been very lucky in that the few sames I've had here haven't been stupidly low prices. Only one in fact was poor and that was a novel use for $0.99.

 

Will I stick with Alamy? Absolutely! Would I come out of something like the distribution scheme? Nope because although you are only getting 30% you are also cutting off a potential income stream.

 

And that is my ethos. Try to find as many workable incomes streams that I can to avoid going back to a crappy desk job staring out the window.

 

Off to Paris tomorrow where I know I will get some saleable images :D

 

PS It's like my wife's uncle says "everyday YOU have to a CHOICE".

Edited by Jools Elliott

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We're not the only ones facing diminishing returns for our work. For example, the farmers who supply the supermarkets are having their margins squeezed, and squeezed again. The supermarkets screw the last penny out of their suppliers. That generous 'two for the price of one' offer is more likely to be coming out of the supplies' pockets. Cheap food comes at quite a price...

 

But of course unlike farmers photographers (and writers) no longer have huge input costs and the entry cost for photography is pretty minimal. Where we do have costs, travel etc, we have control - do we really need to go South America or the Far East from Europe to get saleable pictures? For a South American or a Japanese my Nottinghamn home is exotic; indeed a Canadian friend gave me new eyes for my home town by being bowled over by the visible history that I took for granted (and she spends several months a year in the UK).

 

Digital has reduced the input costs of photography. I was recently rereading some 1980s magazines (Camera/Creative Camera) and was reminded how expensive equipment, film and processing was. Each 35mm transparency frame cost around 30p/50cents whether good, bad or even unexposed at the end of a roll; Medium fiornmat (often required by libraries) was more like £1/$1.5 No wonder there is so much more competition - once the equipment is bought there are no such out of pocket cash expenditures per exposure.Similars were not a problem in those days! Last night I took 300 frames at an event for another agency - I would not have spent £100/$150+ on a speculative shoot (i will use about 50 of the 300 images)

 

Like many industries where supply outstrips demand prices fall. In fact most photographjy has become a commodity - need a picture of the Eiffel Tower or the Grand Canyon,  choose from thousands. In such a market microstock was inevitable whatever you call it. But think about it, a watch is a commodity product these days. There is no need to spend more than about £$€5 to get a workmanlike timepiece yet people still spend £1,000s on watches. The same is true in photography, most images sell for a few £$€s but some photographers still get rich with prices that few of us can even dream about..

 

The world has changed. Need to work in it as it is not how it once was or how we would like it to be. Let's face it photography killed the miniaturist business and newspapers the wandering ministrel's career prospects.

 

There is one hope. A solar flare that destroys all electronic equipment then we will have to go back to manual cameras and film! Might cause other problems as well though ;)

Edited by Martin P Wilson

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We're not the only ones facing diminishing returns for our work. For example, the farmers who supply the supermarkets are having their margins squeezed, and squeezed again. The supermarkets screw the last penny out of their suppliers.

I was recently rereading some 1980s magazines (Camera/Creative Camera)

 

Look at the contents page... and see who was on the staff... ;)

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