Wednesday, 10 February 2010

Dealing with a day's stock shoot (and a pricing diversion)

Yesterday I went to Fulham to cover an area of London for which I have no stock photos - I finished up choosing 95 images which I've processed today and set up a Fulham stock photo collection on photoconnect which I'll be adding more photos to as I get time to upload them. The 95 images include some nice ones from Earls Court and a few from neighbouring Chelsea and I'll be dealing with those separately.

But beyond photoconnect - my own website which does really well on the search engines - what happens to the images? Firstly, I'll put them all on Flickr at high resolution as an online backup - that will be a long upload happening overnight. (Remember that these high resolution images cannot be accessed by Flickr pilferers!)

Next, I'll be selecting perhaps about 30, maybe 40, to go on Alamy. Why not all the images?

Well, some I know will not pass Alamy QC even though I can see they are perfectly good for most uses. If you supply images directly yourself then you don't have to be quite so anal about QC - if someone tells me that an image is wanted quarter page for a newsletter then almost anything will do and if I've got what somebody needs then I'm not going to withhold it because it would not make some external entity's QC test. If the client's happy that's fine by me.

Other images will be of marginal sales potential, even on Alamy. They are very quick to get onto Photoconnect but Alamy, well I judge they are just not worth the effort.

Finally there may be 4 or 5 suitable for iStock. I've been running a little experiment to really understand what microstock is about and one thing it's taught me is that it's really quite difficult to get suitable images for microstock in cities because of their rigid criteria for the absence of people, logos etc. And also quality control is rather tighter than Alamy and image loading is a pain, so although I'm now pretty confident on the what makes £'s on micros front it's not many images that makes the extra effort worthwhile.

[A stock photo pricing diversion - the fact that 90% of the images I get could never be acceptable to microstock agencies underlines the value of regular RM imagery. I'll return to this theme again and again in future posts but to just hint at what is happening in the market I'll run a search on 'Fulham' on iStock and on Alamy....

iStock - 5 results
Alamy - 1160 results (without mine!)

This effect can be seen in many, many subject areas. It's the total oversupply of RM images which pushes down the value of RM images, not microstock prices. Of course this does not apply in the case of the RF photo of the nice, smiling girl wearing a headset against a white background, but that's a nasty commercial image. For regular editorial stock it's the RM editorial agencies competing against each other that are to blame. Not microstock.

And so to return to Alamy. Because no other Agency has the range of images that Alamy has, it should not have to have its RM prices sucked down endlessly by microstock (for sure) or even by the RM collections of the Gettys of this world. Or at least this should not happen to the truly rare images that are in the collection. But Alamy is an an automated selling machine that cannot differentiate the one off from the mass. If as a photographer you know you've hit gold with an image then you don't take it to an agency with standardised pricing models. You deal with it some other way - if you can find the buyer..... ]

Anyway, no gold in yesterday's shoot, but hopefully enough to make the day worthwhile!

The image above is a random one I like (but will probably never sell) from Earls Court at the end of the day.

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