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01/09/2006 01:48:13 PM · #26
Originally posted by livitup:


Alan, I think that the reason that macro photogs complain so much about the micro sites is that they are afraid that the micro sites are going to put the macro sites and the macro photog out of business. There mere existence frightens the macro photog. So they blame you, who will sell your image for $1 for the fact that the paper didn't buy a $200 photo from them.

Wether this is true or not, is another issue. But it at least explains why they are so vocal... your actions (supposedly) directly impact their revenue stream.


Actually, the motivation for me is mostly that I hate seeing people that I care about not realizing their potential. For the most part, I care a lot about my fellow photographers and about photography, both as a commercial enterprise and as an art. It's like seeing your brother with an MD degree excited because he got a job running the deep fryer at the local diner.
01/09/2006 01:48:15 PM · #27
What most people lamenting the micro stock sites seem to deliberately ignore again and again and again when this argument comes up is that a huge number of the images sold on micro sites simply would not be accepted by macro sites.

It's easy to say "I looked through the images on sale on <insertmicrostocksitenamehere> and there were loads that should be on macro sites instead" but it's impossible to tell from those previews whether those images were shot at sufficient initial resolution and quality to be submitted to macro sites.

One can upsize to an extent but one HAS to have a certain resolution to begin with and a certain quality too.

Any images of ours (Ganders and myself) that are good enough for Alamy (content and quality wise) certainly get submitted there but the rest, and that leaves a huge proportion of our existing portfolios, gets sent to the micro sites. We've only made a little over $100 so far but that's off a fairly small portfolio, ALL images that would NOT be accepted by Alamy and it's still $100 closer to a new lens than we would have been had those images sat unused on the hard drive!

Message edited by author 2006-01-09 13:48:24.
01/09/2006 01:58:01 PM · #28
Originally posted by alanfreed:

Originally posted by livitup:

Alan, I think that the reason that macro photogs complain so much about the micro sites is that they are afraid that the micro sites are going to put the macro sites and the macro photog out of business.


Welcome to the current day and age.

This is the same complaint people make about Wal-Mart, and how they're putting the mom & pop shops out of business. Sure, there are plenty of people who don't like the idea of Wal-Marts taking away business from the little guy; I do wish the small businesses had the same opportunities to have their buying power. But they don't. That's reality.

The fact of the matter is that many people shop there because that's where they're going to get the most bang for their buck. If I decide to boycott Wal-Mart, I'm only costing myself money. Wal-Mart is far from from going out of business because of people boycotting them.

Same deal with stock photos. The landscape of stock photography is changing, like it or not. I wouldn't anticipate a mass exodus of people fleeing from these sites out of principle. Those who are making a living off of stock photos either need to learn how to creatively deal with the issue, or they can simply die off. Complaining ain't gonna make it go away...


If you don't realize that wal-mart is cheaper because they force the brands they sale to reduce their quality, then you will never begin to understand the whole Micro- VS -Macro debate.

I just checked your profile. Your a designer first, now I totally understand your take on things. Design firms love microstock, they get an image on the cheap & can still charge the going rate to the client...

Message edited by author 2006-01-09 14:01:44.
01/09/2006 02:05:52 PM · #29
Originally posted by Kavey:

What most people lamenting the micro stock sites seem to deliberately ignore again and again and again when this argument comes up is that a huge number of the images sold on micro sites simply would not be accepted by macro sites.

It's easy to say "I looked through the images on sale on <insertmicrostocksitenamehere> and there were loads that should be on macro sites instead" but it's impossible to tell from those previews whether those images were shot at sufficient initial resolution and quality to be submitted to macro sites.

One can upsize to an extent but one HAS to have a certain resolution to begin with and a certain quality too.

Any images of ours (Ganders and myself) that are good enough for Alamy (content and quality wise) certainly get submitted there but the rest, and that leaves a huge proportion of our existing portfolios, gets sent to the micro sites. We've only made a little over $100 so far but that's off a fairly small portfolio, ALL images that would NOT be accepted by Alamy and it's still $100 closer to a new lens than we would have been had those images sat unused on the hard drive!


Yes, but so many people submit ONLY to microstock sites.
01/09/2006 02:16:04 PM · #30
I am NOT defending the micro-stock sites in ANY way because I don't think they are giving the photographer a fair deal at the current rates (I don't currently put up any images with them, although I am registered at one of the macro sites mentioned above) but....

The bottom line is the buyers of this stuff do not have a reason to spend more money for the same thing. I have no doubt there are buyers that only go to their preferred macro agency but these are less and less in number as the micro sites get better images and publicity.

I see this in my worklife in IT, a widget is a widget to these corporate buyers even if that is clearly not the case to the widget's themselves. In some cases the widgets are wrong and in other cases they are right.

It does not matter what the widgets think, a decent image at a much cheaper price is close enough for a lot of buyers. While there will always be some where it does matter (I doubt Coke scan micro sites when releasing a new product), it will be a bell shaped curve in the long run and the influx of cheap professional quality cameras made the available number of choices huge from where it was in the past.

Part of the problem is that it's not an exact science but a range of images can usually solve the problem at hand and stock subjects that are common give the buyers the choice and therefore the power.

I would hate to be in the stock business (IT is not a lot of fun either:) but if I was then I would try and provide something that the micro sites do not - subject matter or something/anything.

On the flip side there are no doubt some buyers that were not in the market before micro sites, so the pie is larger so to speak. I don't think this props the prices up much but it is there and MIGHT allow somebody to do a little of both - better images to macro, junk to micro rather than deleting them; dunno.
01/09/2006 02:31:45 PM · #31
Originally posted by Brent_Ward:

If you don't realize that wal-mart is cheaper because they force the brands they sale to reduce their quality, then you will never begin to understand the whole Micro- VS -Macro debate.


Ah. That must be it. So if I go out and buy a toothbrush at Wal-Mart instead of somewhere else, the same brand toothbrush is going to fall apart because it was built at a lower standard for sales at Wal-Mart. Puh-leeez.

Originally posted by Brent_Ward:

I just checked your profile. Your a designer first, now I totally understand your take on things. Design firms love microstock, they get an image on the cheap & can still charge the going rate to the client...


Um, no, I have NEVER bought a single item of stock art for any site I've ever designed in 10 years of doing it. If I need art, I MAKE it...
01/09/2006 02:47:54 PM · #32
Originally posted by alanfreed:

Originally posted by Brent_Ward:

If you don't realize that wal-mart is cheaper because they force the brands they sale to reduce their quality, then you will never begin to understand the whole Micro- VS -Macro debate.


Ah. That must be it. So if I go out and buy a toothbrush at Wal-Mart instead of somewhere else, the same brand toothbrush is going to fall apart because it was built at a lower standard for sales at Wal-Mart. Puh-leeez.



A toothbrush is basically a commodity. A photograph is not.

Directly comparing the two in that way is not a valid comparison.



Message edited by author 2006-01-09 14:49:34.
01/09/2006 03:10:50 PM · #33
Originally posted by Spazmo99:


A toothbrush is basically a commodity. A photograph is not.

Directly comparing the two in that way is not a valid comparison.


I think for a lot of people it IS a valid comparison. A lot of the buyers have a specific goal in mind (web-site, flyer e.t.c.) but are not tied to a specific image - just a rough idea/subject/colour/theme - and anything close is good enough.
01/09/2006 03:13:41 PM · #34
Originally posted by alanfreed:


Ah. That must be it. So if I go out and buy a toothbrush at Wal-Mart instead of somewhere else, the same brand toothbrush is going to fall apart because it was built at a lower standard for sales at Wal-Mart. Puh-leeez.


Not necessarily, but Cannon-Fieldcrest, the largest textile company in the US was put out of business by walmart wanting a lower price than they could provide, so walmart went elswher (china likely) and in less than 2 years FC was gone.

So what happens when/if the micros take the majority of the market? Several things: the lower prices will filter down and we'll all save some money someplace. The newspaper saved $149.80 or something, and hat will postpone add rate increases, etc.

The problem is - WE are the photographers - we get paid for producing it. Once the Alamys etc are gone or relegated to the small end of the bell curve, it will be very hard to get more than 20c an image for your work.

Look at it this way - Alan, you are IT/web designer. What if i went to your boss and said i could do you job 90% as well for 30% of your paycheck? He'd be skecptical at first, but might try it...and before long you're outta work, UNLESS you want to work for a lot less money.

Do you want that? Neither do the photographers that know what can be made.

The next thing you know, the chinese will have a 'stock photography' factory and we'll all be outta work.


01/09/2006 03:25:51 PM · #35
Originally posted by Prof_Fate:

Look at it this way - Alan, you are IT/web designer. What if i went to your boss and said i could do you job 90% as well for 30% of your paycheck? He'd be skecptical at first, but might try it...and before long you're outta work, UNLESS you want to work for a lot less money.


And what makes you think this isn't happening? This is precisely the kind of thing I've been dealing with over the course of the last 5 years or so on a personal level, on several fronts.

How many places are there nowadays where someone can buy a full web site, hosting included, for just a few dollars a year? Plenty of them. How many high school kids can happily sell a web site to their aunt's business for pizza money? Believe me, these are not new issues to me.

So what did I have to do? I have had to adapt and figure out how to combat these issues. I've had to earn a reputation as someone who can not only design a functional site based on my years of experience, but I go above and beyond to be responsive to my customers' needs. Those are things you don't typically get at the big, cookie-cutter web site companies, which I CAN offer.

I've had to adapt how I deal with getting and retaining customers due to the same kinds of issues that the stock photography people are dealing with now. If they are too stubborn to adapt their thinking to what is inevitably happening in the field, they're setting themselves up for failure.
01/09/2006 03:27:49 PM · #36
Originally posted by livitup:

But it at least explains why they are so vocal... your actions (supposedly) directly impact their revenue stream.


Nice guess, but you were wrong. Please do not assume to know my intentions.

I was taken advantage of - I hated the way it made me feel. In the spirit of community here on DPC I want to help others steer clear of a bad situation.

I made the wrong choice, corrected, and now can buy top of the line lenses after 4 sales. If your images are the same quality as mine (not hard to do) - why would you continue to sell yourself short?

I want to help others choose prosperity over scarcity. THAT is the reason I am so vocal.


01/09/2006 04:05:54 PM · #37
Originally posted by robs:

Originally posted by Spazmo99:


A toothbrush is basically a commodity. A photograph is not.

Directly comparing the two in that way is not a valid comparison.


I think for a lot of people it IS a valid comparison. A lot of the buyers have a specific goal in mind (web-site, flyer e.t.c.) but are not tied to a specific image - just a rough idea/subject/colour/theme - and anything close is good enough.


That's the demand side of the argument.

If you were in the toothbrush business, would you rather sell fewer at a profit or a huge amount at a loss just so that you can have a little bit more market share? That's Wally Mart's strategy. Customers love it because prices are low.

What I find sadly hilarious is all the American flags in the Wally Mart parking lot while Wally Mart drives US companies out of business. We Americans love America and our freedom, but we fund the economies of slave labor with our buying while killing our own businesses. Then we wonder where our job went. But that's another argument that probably belongs in a rant thread.

If you knew the risk to the supply side from commoditization, you'd run like hell.

Message edited by author 2006-01-09 16:21:44.
01/09/2006 04:13:37 PM · #38
Originally posted by alanfreed:

Originally posted by Brent_Ward:

If you don't realize that wal-mart is cheaper because they force the brands they sale to reduce their quality, then you will never begin to understand the whole Micro- VS -Macro debate.


Ah. That must be it. So if I go out and buy a toothbrush at Wal-Mart instead of somewhere else, the same brand toothbrush is going to fall apart because it was built at a lower standard for sales at Wal-Mart. Puh-leeez.


Go buy a hotwheels car, then go by the same car at a toys-r-us. The second will have more decals, details, etc.

I worked with a major brand and with the product managers that sold to wal-mart. When wal-mart goes to a product company and says they want to roll back prices next year so they are going to pay you 10% less. Do you think the company takes it in the shorts with that 10%? Hell know, they reduce the product cost by 10% (or more) by deleting quality and features.

I'm pretty sure by the sound of things that I know a little more about this business practice than you do.
01/09/2006 04:24:17 PM · #39
Originally posted by Spazmo99:

Originally posted by robs:

Originally posted by Spazmo99:


A toothbrush is basically a commodity. A photograph is not.

Directly comparing the two in that way is not a valid comparison.


I think for a lot of people it IS a valid comparison. A lot of the buyers have a specific goal in mind (web-site, flyer e.t.c.) but are not tied to a specific image - just a rough idea/subject/colour/theme - and anything close is good enough.


If you knew the risk to the supply side of commoditization, you'd run like hell.


Like Alan above, I have been in IT for a long time (18 years in my case), so yeah, I have seen a little of this and the effect it can have on trying to make a living :-) You need to find a way to differentate or find something else to do (probably both in the longer-term).

If I was ONLY a stock photographer, then I would try to get somewhat into other areas (wedding, sports e.t.c.) as a way to protect the revenue stream and also try to offer something out of the ordinary via subjects, themes, locations, whatever I could think of - something that was harder for the part-timers to replicate in bulk. Stock probably lends it's self to been replaced more so then some other areas in photography.
01/09/2006 04:33:07 PM · #40
I hear ya, I'm tired of fighting with you guys about this.

I should just start my own micro-stock site so I can get all the cash and pay you guys in McDonalds Gift certificates. Why fight 'em when you can profit from them!!

:D
01/09/2006 04:38:11 PM · #41
Actors' unions exist for the very reasons discussed in this thread...without them people would act for free to be in a movie or TV show..and there wouldn't be a lot of people making money, only a few name players. Since there isn't a photographers' union, I don't think any amount of discussion will stop some people from giving away their work for the 'fame'. Anyone who thinks getting paid pennies makes them professional is kidding themselves..but this is the new unfortunate reality, as is Wal-Mart.
01/09/2006 04:42:23 PM · #42
Originally posted by Brent_Ward:

I hear ya, I'm tired of fighting with you guys about this.


Amen to that :) I shall agree to disagree on this one.

BTW, congrats on your recent Canyon shot... I'm really itching to get to your area of the country!
01/09/2006 04:45:10 PM · #43
Originally posted by bucket:

Actors' unions exist for the very reasons discussed in this thread...without them people would act for free to be in a movie or TV show..and there wouldn't be a lot of people making money, only a few name players. Since there isn't a photographers' union, I don't think any amount of discussion will stop some people from giving away their work for the 'fame'. Anyone who thinks getting paid pennies makes them professional is kidding themselves..but this is the new unfortunate reality, as is Wal-Mart.


Yeah until all that's left is a nation of consumers without any means to actually produce anything. The short-sightedness of some people is apalling...
01/09/2006 04:48:24 PM · #44
Originally posted by alanfreed:

Originally posted by Brent_Ward:

I hear ya, I'm tired of fighting with you guys about this.


Amen to that :) I shall agree to disagree on this one.

BTW, congrats on your recent Canyon shot... I'm really itching to get to your area of the country!


Definitely let me know if you come out this way. Always willing to show the fellow DPCers around. In 5 hours you can go from shooting Mountain Goats and big horns to shooting red rock canyons in the desert.


01/09/2006 04:52:56 PM · #45
Originally posted by Brent_Ward:

Definitely let me know if you come out this way. Always willing to show the fellow DPCers around. In 5 hours you can go from shooting Mountain Goats and big horns to shooting red rock canyons in the desert.


Utah is way at the top of my list of places I want to get back to sometime. I think the Grand Escalade (sp?) and Arches National Park just look amazing.
01/09/2006 04:55:39 PM · #46
Originally posted by alanfreed:

Originally posted by Brent_Ward:

Definitely let me know if you come out this way. Always willing to show the fellow DPCers around. In 5 hours you can go from shooting Mountain Goats and big horns to shooting red rock canyons in the desert.


Utah is way at the top of my list of places I want to get back to sometime. I think the Grand Escalade (sp?) and Arches National Park just look amazing.


I'm hoping this spring to spend a couple of weeks going down through 6 or 7 parks on the way to the Grand Canyon.
01/09/2006 04:59:59 PM · #47
While we're on the stock subject

Photo Direct WOW! page

I have 4 images I just uploaded that made it the WOW! page. My most recent is the Golden eagle in flight, Pug, Green Tree Python, and GoldenGate.
01/09/2006 05:15:52 PM · #48
Brent, your mentor and friend.

Was he featured in "American Photo" a couple issues back?

Amazing work he does.
01/09/2006 05:20:34 PM · #49
Originally posted by Damian:

Brent, your mentor and friend.

Was he featured in "American Photo" a couple issues back?

Amazing work he does.


Yeah. I haven't talked to him in a few years. But he is the main reason I've made it as far as I have, which isn't very far :P But it's farther than when I started 10 years ago.
01/09/2006 05:34:58 PM · #50
Nice, well I wish you luck because I plan on getting somewhere
with my photography eventually.

And your work is very good, you will, I have no doubt.
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