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why dont ePHOTOzine become a stock libarary?

GlennH 16 1.9k 1 France
21 Aug 2005 3:29AM
I think your arguments are largely flawed.

It doesn't matter what the market is, if people want to use pictures they should be prepared to pay a reasonable fee for them. Where would these people go if they weren't being gifted? The value of images is determined by you in this case (next to nothing in other words).

License fees are determined by the type of usage, and in many cases those buying the pictures are profiting directly from your work. The more they are profiting, generally the higher the fee for the picture. A newsletter wanting use of an image would typically pay far less than 300.

Of course microstock companies accept images from lower spec cameras - because they're targeting naive amateurs that might not possess DSLR's. Aside from that, for a lot of uses a lower megapixel count would be irrelevant. They're onto a winner any way you look at it.

The amount of commission you get is not the issue. I'm talking about the fact that your sole preoccupation seems to be to make a quick buck, whereas if you invested time and effort in a decent agency your rewards would undoubtedly be just as great. Furthermore, a decent collection with an agency has an indefinite lifespan. What happens when every man and his dog owns rights to your pictures and can do whatever they please with them? Do you care about having control over your own work?

You say you've experienced both types of agency - I don't think you have. I suspect that you haven't put enough work into supplying Alamy, and in your frustration have resorted to something cheaper in every respect.

goatster 17 399
21 Aug 2005 5:13AM

As it was me thats asking for a pointer here I think you are presuming alot on my behalf. What if I am not interested in making large amounts of money, not interested in getting rich quick, not interested in spending the time and energy you refer to in Alamy.

Maybe I am interested in seeing my pictures published at any cost up to and including for free?

I have been published and paid, I have also been published and thanked the end result to me was the same - my pictures are there for people to see. I have also had them printed and sold them myself (probably the most profitable way for me).

If I choose to give my pictures away for free how does that devalue them? In my opinion the only way a picture can be devalued to point of worthless is if no-one ever sees it. My personal goal is to see my work published - not get rich from it.


John, thanks I'll take a look.
agoreira 17 6.0k Wales
21 Aug 2005 5:37AM
"What if I am not interested in making large amounts of money, not interested in getting rich quick, not interested in spending the time and energy you refer to in Alamy."

You sound like me! Wink I have managed to sell about 18 photos privately this last few weeks,(well, my wife has!) and at 25 each, mounted, most here will tell me I'm selling far too cheaply. However, I'm more than happy with that, there's a good few hundred percent mark up there, that'll do me. I know for a fact, that had I priced them at 40-50 each, I would not have sold nearly as many, if any. I don't have to make a living out of it, so can afford to sell at lower prices, and am not really bothered whether they sell or not. I registered with Alamy a few years ago, did the CD bit, but have never bothered with it since. Too much hassle, considering there is no guarantee that you'll ever sell anything.
joolsb 16 27.1k 38 Switzerland
21 Aug 2005 5:57AM
There's a lot of antipathy towards microstock and I just fail to see why.

Let's play with a couple of scenarios:

Say you're a pro with a studio (or an amateur with a coffee-table setup). You don't have any real work on at the moment (or it's a wet Sunday and you're bored) so you take a bunch of fruit and veg (say) into your studio, set up some generic lighting and snap away. After half an hour you have a bunch of good, well-exposed, yet rather bland, shots of vegetables. Net cost: the price of the veg and the electricity to run your lights.

Let's take another scenario: you've spent a month in, say, Tibet. You've got to know the locals, found some really special places that no-one else knows about and you've waited a good few days until the lighting is absolutely perfect. Then you take a single magnificent photograph.

Question. Would you go to the nearest microstock site with photo 2 and sell it at a buck a throw? Of course not. You'd be a fool. It's a unique photo that cost an enormous amount of time and energy to obtain. You'd take it to Corbis or Getty.

Now, could you, in all fairness, expect to get $100 for a single use of one of the vegetable shots in scenario 1? I very much doubt it. But you might very well get 100 individual sales at a dollar a throw.

Now do you see? Of course it's all about how you value an image. But it's also about how much other people are prepared to pay for what you are offering.
User_Removed 16 279
21 Aug 2005 6:33AM
Quite right Julian. A good business plan. It's all about the market value of the image and the two examples are very good ones.

As a business; my advice would be to use all available means of generating income without underselling. The two scenarios are ideal. It's the principle of adding value to investment and generating a cash cow.

The two scenarios run side by side. Investment of time, equipment and effort should be rewarded accordingly. There are top of the range products and economy versions in all business; including photography and related services. If one considers each individual image as a unit product, the time and skill required to produce it would be taken into account when pricing.

Personally, I would prefer scenario two and sell 100 image uses worldwide for 200-300 each. But a good buisness recognises the need for soft-turnover too and cash flow is everything. It's no good planning a business only on percieved sales. 'Actual sales' will be what the bank manager is interested in.

I draw the line at vanity publishing though and would remind that this section of the forum is related to freelance. To me, a photograph is worthless if it doesn't generate income; I could care less how many people see it. But, I do this for a living and I would think that anyone reading this who had someone offering to do their job for less than half their wage or even worse, for free, would soon be complaining.

I've said it before, and I'll keep saying it. Would anyone seriously consider offering their professional services for free simply because it gives them a warm glow? That, to me, is voluntary work and best offered to charities not corporate businesses, clients, customers or publications.
Ade_Osman 18 4.5k 36 England
21 Aug 2005 6:45AM
In answer to the original question.......I don't believe the actual photographic quality is anywhere good enough even if EPZ did, and I hope it won't ever become a stock library

Now I know this is going to be controversial and probably open a very large can of worms. But I've just spent nigh on two hours looking through the galleries at various different kinds of work and I have to say, and I don't know if others will agree with me, but the standard of work being posted lately is truly dire!

Of course this does'nt apply to everything being posted, but a lot of the work being shown is awlful, with it seems no real thought being put into peoples work......I know it's a site that helps learners and novices and thats really good, I for one certainly don't mind helping these people along if they are really interested....And don't mind taking criticism on the chin as a lot of people do.

Perhaps this is why there has been a lot of moaning recently about the amount of clicks and about the cliques that exist on EPZ....I've no real idea, but someone asked me only the other day whether or not I thought the standard of work being posted was as good as it was say 6 months ago.......I had to say that I don't think it was!

I love the gallery section of the site and always have done and I'll continue to comment as best I can on work posted.....But sometimes it seems to me that some folks are posting, expecting to get clicks, when it really is the simplest of mistakes being overlooked ie. Composition, over-sharpening, rule of two thirds, etc etc. And before anyone say's anything I know rules are made to be broken, but I'm talking about basic fundamentals here!

Another thing I find annoying and this is usually from the very same people complaining about not getting clicks etc. Is the lack of description on a shot.....How the hell can I possibly comment on a shot when sometimes I don't even know what I'm looking at?

It really is no wonder cliques exist, I'm more inclined to think that its people of the same ability kinda sticking with each other.....And why not!

Come on guys, I'm more than happy to comment on all your work if it's halfway worth looking at in the first place! Which is probably why I don't bother looking at the rubbish, I don't like wasting my time! That and the fact I'll end up getting personally attacked if I say something you might not want to hear!

Am I being bigoted and egotistic about my own work, I don't like to think so, my attitude being if it's not liked or halfway decent my work won't get commented on.

I'm now waiting for the inpending fallout and backlash from this message, but hell I think it needed to be said......And I have a chin that can take it.....LOL

JJGEE 16 7.9k 18 England
21 Aug 2005 7:38AM

Obviously the quality of the images is subjective but I think you are right that perhaps the standard is not quite as good as it could be.

In partial defence, I have also noticed that quite a few members acknowledge this and are asking for advice as they cannot understand why things are going wrong.

Problems with, for example,

RAW processing
Colour Working Space
Monitor Calibration
Images look darker on the website than they do on my monitor.
and so on.

It therefore appears it is the digital preparation of the images and nothing to do with photographic skills as such.

So many more variables and concepts to master these days.
philwig 16 817 1
21 Aug 2005 7:51AM
Well if you did run it as a stock library it would soon put the lie to the whole click deal... you could just rank images by sales, rather than by "social status" Wink

On the stock thing... well the good thing is that it's a free market, although some people seem to think otherwise. It's entirely up to each of us how we choose to sell our stuff. There's no threat, just lots of different opportunities. Bring it on.
GlennH 16 1.9k 1 France
21 Aug 2005 8:15AM

Quote:There's a lot of antipathy towards microstock and I just fail to see why.

Your argument is logical, but it doesn't reflect real life Julian. Even on this site, I think Lee Frost comments on the amount of food images which are used, so the fruit and veg set-up on the coffee table might well make more money than an exotic travel picture. There's no point in having unique pictures if nobody uses them, and uniqueness is not neccessarily a reliable indicator of worth.

Nobody should be reducing images to junk value, regardless of the subject matter. Anyone doing so contributes towards making microstock a trend, and in turn that threatens the livelihoods of many good photographers, whose best work we often see and enjoy in books and magazines. Most of them won't be vain enough to seek publication for nowt - so then photography in general suffers.

My personal experience of Alamy are that they're very reliable sellers. For sure, most mere mortals will need to put some initial effort in to create a regular income, but photographers take pictures. Once you've done that, the income is likely to grow, and unlike microstock the earnings potential from any given image doesn't neccessarily diminish with time.

As for the quality of pictures on this site - astonishing at the top end. Mediocre pictures often make money, but they have to be useful mediocre pictures. An anonymous looking poor landscape would be unlikely to make sales, and that's really the problem. Amateur photography and professional photography overlap, the former often being more exciting,but they don't amount to the same thing.
pj.morley 18 947 United Kingdom
21 Aug 2005 4:49PM

Quote:I think your arguments are largely flawed.

My arguments maybe flawed but no more than yours. I am prepared to accept that compared to the traditional stock library business model it may seem ridiculous to sell at such low prices. But you have to accept that we are talking about different markets and in the 'real world' that you keep mentioning, royalty free stock photography can't sustain its high price.


When stock started to become a popular option around the early 80's I think it was. It meant the photographers of the day had to cope with a new and different kind of competition. Ready made images that were close enough to an advertisers brief to be useful and at a much lower price than hiring a photographer, art director etc. Of course, before that, photographers could demand high prices but the emnergence of stock was a paradigm shift in market forces.

Move on a few years and royalty free becomes popular. Not only can you now buy an image but there are no restrictions on its use... Great news for buyers, not so good for photographers.

Later still and the digital camera revolutionises the world of photography... And so we have another paradigm shift. Millions of images, readily available and many of them at a high enough quality to be useful for many applications as long as you don't require the image to be exclusive... and let's be honest. How many people actually do require exclusivity? There will always be a market for exclusive images and thos will retain high prices.

A few years later and another paradigm shift. Some entrepeneurs cotton on to the idea that there is a real market for cheap royalty free images, there is no shortage of images available (remember all those digicams) and there is an ever growing demand for images (home publishing and web sites).

So the microstock industry is born. Now of course there are going to be lots of people upset by this new market force because it threatens their chance of selling at a higher price. You really cannot expect to sit back and whinge about how microstock is damaging the market for everyone else with any real justification.

The reality is that this is just the next step in the evolution of stock photography. Maybe it will live quite happily side by side (with some adjustments in expectations) with the traditional stock library business model but you can compare the microstock royalty free impact in a similar way in which royalty free impacted the rights managed stock market.

The bottom line is that there are many factors that have affected the stock photography market over the years, technolgy advances being a major factor in terms of numbers of images available and the demand for them. More importantly, it has opened up new opportunities for thousands if not millions of new photographers to have an easy way to sell their images without having to be part of an exclusive club, knowing the right people, or having access to the right equipment before they can get accepted into a stock library.

The emergence of microstock is a result of all of these changes that led us here. It is not the cause of it. You can choose to be part of it or you can choose not to be. Either way you cannot ignore it or complain about how unfair it is.
joolsb 16 27.1k 38 Switzerland
22 Aug 2005 1:52AM
Thanks John. This is my argument entirely but you expressed it much more eloquently. Smile
GlennH 16 1.9k 1 France
22 Aug 2005 2:37AM
When people buy pictures, they usually use them to some extent or another to generate a profit. Sometimes they will profit enormously. Is it then appropriate to accept a quid by way of remuneration for relinquishing all rights to a picture? If people can't see what's wrong with that I'm astounded.

Does it make it more attractive that many vultures are inevitably waiting? They must laugh all the way to the bank.

If you are right, John, in saying that this is part of {stock} photography's natural evolution, what happens when the bar is lowered to the ground? What's next?

It'll be a sad day if photography becomes so cheap that it's not really worth bothering (some would say that's the case already). Then you really would have an exclusive few at the top, whereas for the time being anyone with a bit of dedication can enjoy being published regularly.

You doubtless think that my opinions are naive and vice versa, so this is a stalemate. I still think your jug picture is pretty good though (worth much more than a quid a throw).

strawman 17 22.2k 16 United Kingdom
22 Aug 2005 3:13AM
Ade I can understand your outburst, but I am not certain what you do about it now. Is the issue the quality of the work or the quality of the critique? Does the gallery encourage beginers in and retain value for those of better abilities? Is there a need for a different culture? What causes people to act as you describe? How does the gallery look to a competent photographer that comes across it for the first time? How does EPZ want to market itself?

I hope you do not get the backlash. This is not meant as a backlash against you rather as a desire for you to look a bit deeper into the issue. As you are a mod I would ask you to use your influence to address the above.


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