All of you should read the following post in the CEPIC Blog which debates the recent Dreamstime Microstock offer of over a million images for free use, based on the pedestrian thinking that people that get images for free will eventually pay for them sometime in the future...

CLICK to read the article in the Cepic Blog 

Our photographers' chatroom has been humming with backlash. Here's just a few of the photographers' reactions:

"I'm not allowed to talk about the "old" days but back then the bosses of the agencies cared passionately about the business and often were artists as well, now it's all about money for them and lack of it for us.It won't be too long before photographers have to pay to sell their photos that are being given away free."

"I'm rapidly coming to the conclusion that shooting stock in this type of environment is rather pointless and perhaps not worth the effort for the 99%. Luckily I have other more marketable skills."

"I might be the eternal optimist, but I think there is still a decent paying place for high quality niche images. One that a micro shooter could not produce and one any jackass can't take with their iPhone. I try and produce them all the time."

"There is certainly no NEED for FREE content in today's ADVERTISING market. If you want to advertise, PAY the creator of the content you'd like to use! When one person (or business) WANTS to use free content - that doesn't mean another person has to deliver it at his own expenses."

It is clear that digital technology and the Internet has opened the door for new business models that favor the distribution process that balances the lowering of selling prices with the generation of volume. While this may initially sound logical, the ugly side is that photographers in general and the stock photography industry in particular will fall into decline because photographers cannot generate enough revenue to continue producing great images.

Cheap prices have devaluated photography to unimaginable levels in just a few years and have demoralized professional photographers. I believe that the only way to maintain the value of photography is to produce high quality content that attract clients attention because it is unique, innovative, creative and experimental and which maintains a more than decent price. age fotostock maintains the same principles, shooting the best images we can and trying to sell them for the best possible price.

We have entered into a vicious circle that we can only break out of if photographers and stock agencies demolish the fence that separates them and openly discuss certain pricing logic - otherwise the future will be uncertain for both of us.


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For those who work in the stock industry in France, Pixday is one of the highlights of the year. Organized every year by Pixways, the company who created Pixpalace, a distribution portal for agencies in France, it is the only event in Paris where stock photo and video buyers and photography agencies can meet together.

Along with 30 other press, stock and specialized agencies, the age fotostock Paris team attended Pixday on the 11th of April. The day was extremely busy and rewarding, filled with meetings with clients both old and new.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few words from Magali Tribalet, our Head of Sales at age fotostock France;

"Our visitors were mainly from the editorial and publishing market but a nice surprise this year was the growing number of visits from the advertising and communication industry.

We can confirm that microstock is very powerful in the market but buyers are also increasingly committed to agencies that offer alternatives - a different look, legal insurance and more variety.

The overall impression was that in spite of a very tough market, the vibe was positive, and clients were pleased to notice that traditional agencies such as age fotostock are offering new and high quality images."


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Last week’s article on ways that stock photographers are missing out on sales mentioned “Imagery that is not relevant” among the top 5 reasons for low sales results.  What imagery is that?  And the moment of truth…Is your photography relevant? 

Frequently, we publish 10x10 portfolios of photographers who know how to shoot relevant images and have a clear and well defined style of shooting.   Surely those photographers that still haven’t reached those shooting levels must be analyzing what differentiates their not relevant photography to those 10x10´s in order to improve their photography, right? Wrong!

Editing today is sometimes frustrating when the “point & shoot” without the backing of relevancy is repeated time after time. If there is no idea, no intention and no reason for clients to use your images, shooting is playing lottery: you’ll shoot a lot and fortune may smile once in a while.  If there is an idea, an intention and a reason for clients to use your images, shooting is making an investment:  you’ll shoot a lot and will earn more interest the more images you have in the bank.

Admittedly, many shooters today are not trying to run a business, but even if just shooting images in your free time and placing them with a stock agency one would expect some regular sales… otherwise, why shoot images anyway?  However, if you regularly shoot images with little relevancy like these below, it is clear that your photography has room for improvement.


 
Here are some solutions though, because relevancy doesn’t have to be the lost grail!

5 Steps to Relevancy

  1. Think about what your images can illustrate.

  2. Consider whether you have seen better images of the same or similar situations.

  3. Try to analyze what your images are missing compared with other, better ones, of the same subject.

  4. Find one that you like and that is clearly better than anything you have done and decide if your photography is weakened by use of the wrong lens, poor lighting of the zone you are photographing, lack of a clear point of interest, a bad camera angle in relation to the subject or bad cropping.   Now try to take your next shot “marinating in your mind” the image you like.

  5. Try not to be a combination of Ansel Adams, Henry Cartier Bresson and Richard Avedon together in one image.  Instead, focus on analyzing and practicing one distinctive style.

The lack of a purposely practiced shooting style directly impacts the quality of the images that I see daily. I know that in the end, it triggers certain shooters to take their photos on these non-exclusive pilgrimages, from RM to RF and LBRF and then finally ending at microstock, because at 14 cents, almost everything can be sold, eventually.

Now, leaving aside the question of relevancy, image editors sometimes find another problem. Indecisive individuals with good photographic practices that use their imagination, have good technique, know what can interest clients and resolve well many photographic themes, but, ooh la la, at the last moment the photographer’s dilemma appears: which one of the 20 shots below is the good one?  Maybe my agency can resolve the dilemma for me, the photographer might think.


And there is a reason for that though, because for some portals with a few more millions of images than age fotostock (and less sophisticated searching software), the good trick is to send 5 or 6 equals because among so many millions with basically the same keywords (Italy, Venetia, dusk, blue, etc., etc.) how else will the images be seen if no miracle occurs and the photographer isn’t one sending images every week?  Quantity of equals is the key.

However, at age fotostock, 20 equal images will be returned with a note saying: “edit your work tightly…”  Therefore, it becomes just another way of delaying your images appearance on the web… which is another way of losing income. Because the faster the images go live on the web, the more sale possibilities you have.


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Most photographers believe that shooting images, any images, of any subject, is enough to earn money. Many know that stock photography today is not what they knew years ago and have left the industry or will do soon, others are shooting microstock where the individual prices may not be great, but multiple 14 cents can make, if you are lucky, some money worth handling.

However, not all is as it seems and many photographers should pay attention to a number of details to see their results improve. Here are the Top 5 reasons for low sales results worth considering and putting into practice:

  1. Imagery that is not relevant is the most important reason that photographers lose business. Relevance describes how pertinent, connected, or applicable something is to a given matter.  Therefore if you go to the street and shoot images without thinking how they will be used, you are in fact wasting most of the time you are shooting. A thing is relevant if it serves a given purpose, being advertising, decorative or even editorial, but boring street scenes with little more acumen than point and shoot are for the most part a waste of digital technology and sadly many photographers shoot this way today. Who wants to spend time looking at boring, predictive, point and shoot images taken with a digital camera kit?

  2. Lack of MR/PR´s: No matter how many times it is repeated, photographers still don’t realize that shooting “editorial” (or “No MR available” in the industry terminology) is not a good idea now that stock agency websites sell images worldwide.  It’s a bad idea because (1) the editorial concept is not universal, but varies by country, so anyone can have a legal entanglement in a country where images could be published, but no “editorial protection” exists and (2) images of people without MR/PR´s can never be sold for commercial uses. In spite of all odds, there are still some lucrative advertising sales that “editorial photographers” will never see and in these moments of low prices, commercial uses supply a bit of oxygen to suffocated shooters.

  3. Bad captions and lack of good keywords is another pending matter that photographers who submit images need to overcome. It doesn’t even matter if keywords are added by the agency, because if an image of a beach only specifies in the caption “Cambodia” or “Vietnam,”  that image will have a little chance of sale or appearing on the web provided it is not uploaded to Flicker and even there the possibilities of selling it are, at best, slim. 

  4. Too few images and a lack of persistency is another revenue-eroding factor; nowadays, shooting constantly and submitting regularly to the stock agency of your choice is a must. Otherwise, you will get sporadic, lucky sales but not solid, persistent sales month after month. 

  5. Ranking, the capacity of your images of being seen in the first pages of the search results, affects those that don’t supply images regularly. Nobody wants to promote photographers who don’t submit frequently in these days when the offer of images is so vast that it makes the editing process difficult (and if the images are irrelevant, pretty tedious as well).

Take it or leave it, being a stock photographer today is hard and if on top of that, you miss the obvious, then you are severely limiting your own possibilities.


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In case we have any faithful readers out there, we apologize to you for the delay since the last post.  Age fotostock has been seeing the world, specifically travelling to Istanbul to participate in the annual Cepic conference from May 17 till 22.  This conference generates a lot of work for us, both before and after the conference, so we haven´t been able to write in the blog.

We are pleased to report that one of the reasons that Cepic creates a growing workload for age fotostock is because age fotostock director, Alfonso Gutierrez, has been serving on the Cepic Committee and was in fact, re-elected this year to continue serving on the committee.  Alfonso is the chosen representative from the Spanish Association of Stock Agencies to represent them at European level.

Although you might not know of Cepic, it is important for stock photographers and videographers.  CEPIC stands for the Coordination of European Picture Agencies Stock, Press and Heritage, or more commonly, Center of the Picture Industry.  The goal of CEPIC is to be a united voice for the press, stock & heritage organizations of Europe in all matters pertaining to the photographic industry.  As such, CEPIC is involved in attempting to influence the decisions of the European Union in matters such as piracy, Google books, Orphan works, and collective rights management (see more here).  Policy for these matters and others is being decided at the level of the European Union, and those decisions will affect all photographers whose photography is being licensed at some place in the European Union.  That’s why age fotostock feels it is important to be involved and is glad to have a key person close to the events. 

If you are interested in learning more about the photo industry environment in this year’s Cepic conference, take a look at this reflection on the state of the photography industry by conference attendee Liz Pepper.


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The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in anyway.

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