Deal 7: How to make money through your photography
I’ve never liked Getty. I’ve gotten through about 80% of the submission process on multiple occasions but could never convince myself to pull the trigger. Sure there are a select and very elite few that make their livings to this day on stock photography. But those photographers have been at this stock game a LOT longer than most of us. Every time I started to submit my work to Getty, I always stopped just short of hitting send. I couldn’t get past the thought of the 20% commission that I would receive for my work. This goes right along with the frustration of getting emails from companies, magazines and the like wanting to use my images for free in exchange for “credit and a link to my website.” But that’s a whole other article…
We as photographers spend an ungodly amount of money and time on our craft. We spend thousands upon thousands of dollars on camera bodies, lenses, CF cards, SD cards, camera backpacks, camera shoulder bags, straps, extra batteries, laptops, desktops, software, websites, hosting, training, workshops….the list goes on and on and on. We put in all this time and effort and then a company like Getty wants to pay us some slave labor wage of 20%. It’s nothing short of ridiculous. It’s insulting to photographers.
Thomas Hawk is a very well known photographer in the photo community. He’s one of the most followed photographers on Flickr, Google+ and Facebook. He’s also a very established stock photographer and has had his images licensed/represented by Getty for years now. Well, on Monday Thomas announced (very publicly) that he is quitting Getty and moving to Stocksy. You can read Thomas’ post at his website or over at PitaPixel.
In his article, Thomas goes over in detail much of what I talked about above. About how absurd it is that Getty is undercutting photographers so drastically. He then goes on to describe the culture behind Getty; how they excommunicate photographers who speak up and express their distaste for what it has become. One photographer who made much of his entire living from Getty recently got ‘fired’ and banned for voicing his opinion. Thomas points out that “At Stocksy; editors and management do Google+ hangouts with photographers. While at Getty all they seem to do is fight.”
Stocksy could very well be the future of stock photography. Instead of a lousy and insulting 20% for all the hard work that goes in to making stock photographs, Stocksy is going to pay 50%. Right down the middle. You provide the work, they put it in front of buyers. This is fair. Would I like more than 50%? Um, yes. Who wouldn’t? But would I be happy with 50%? Yes.
Stocksy is also different in the way it’s run. The founder is none other than Bruce Livingstone, the founder of iStockPhoto who sold the company to Getty for $50 million (you can read more about that from this article on CNET). According to that article, Stocksy won’t be selling out to large companies like Getty. It doesn’t have a master plan of growing and selling. Livingstone says that Stocksy will be “more like a nonprofit. At the end of the year, we take all the profits and distribute them. We’re not lining our pockets with cash.” It will essentially be a stock agency run by photographers, for photographers.
Another way that Stocksy is different is the quality control aspect of it. Let’s face it, Getty pretty much opened the flood gates on Flickr and just about anyone with a camera and some decent images could begin touting that they’re “Represented By Getty.” Stocksy is, at least for now, taking a much different approach. Only letting in very high quality portfolios that meet the level of excellence that Stocksy wants to be known for. I think that’s awesome.
Like I said, Stocksy could very well be the future of stock photography. But it’s up to us, the photographers, to make sure that happens. Tell your friends, tell your parents, tell your web designer, your graphic designer, write a blog post, tell everyone. And for the record, I am not part of Stocksy. I submitted my portfolio to them yesterday and am crossing my fingers to make it through. I just think this is a great idea and would love nothing more than to see quality photographers flock from Getty and start getting what they deserve. I think this has been a long time coming.
Let me know what you think in the comments below or on Twitter. Follow me @jamesdbrandon.
July 6, 2013 12:31 am
You are quite right to be anti Getty as well as any other stock/micro stock agency. They have all had a part in ruining the market. The people at the top of these agencies are the only ones who are making real profits these days, and that is why % ratios get smaller and smaller, they need to keep their profits up, no matter if it is at the cost of the original creators.
I tried stock photography for a couple of years a while back and found it very frustrating to see the returns on images and it disheartened me so much that I just couldn't bring myself produce another image for these sharks.
This model, although sounding ideal, is just another model and nothing else. The proof is in the pudding. If you sell images for peanuts, 50% of that is still peanuts, how many peanuts do you need before you have a happy monkey?
Talking of monkeys, how many monkeys are there going to be? You mentioned hundreds instead of thousands. Isn't that self limiting? Does that not mean that Stocksy will reach a peak where it cannot grow any more? As a business man I know that to make a profit you need to add fresh and new products to your range to keep afloat. If you are not adding new photographers to your business you are not adding new and fresh ideas and this will eventually equate to a stale business.
I would be very sceptical of someone who has already sold out once, after saying they wouldn't. Money is the root of all evil and if Bruce Livingstone is offered the right deal he would sell it in an instant, and it doesn't matter to who either. That's just business.
Yes the profit sharing sounds good and if the company is sold the photographers each get a piece of the pie. But how much do they get? Remember this is more likely to be a "severance" payment and not a share of the profits. The company who buys it is unlikely to keep the business model the same if they actually keep it at all.
I wish anyone going into this all the success in the world and hope you make a nice little business out of it, just don't put all your eggs in this "peanut" bag and plan for it not being a lifelong career move, at least that way you wont be too disappointed when some big gorilla comes along and snaffles your stash.
April 21, 2013 07:06 am
It is good that Bruce is back, But back in the day when I lived in Calgary and he was starting out, say 2 years old, the newspaper did an article on his site and it was impressive, I had friends that submitted and were accepted. In the article he said he would not sell out, well lo and behold he did. Will this happen once again.
I do not as yet participate in stock photography and not sure if I ever will, but I do wish all those who do the best of luck and to Bruce as well.
April 7, 2013 02:57 am
Interesting article, Daren, but is it relevant? Stock isn't sold as product, but licensed for use. First sale doctrine would not apply in that case, but copyright law would.
April 3, 2013 09:30 am
Even with the supposedly fair 50/50 cut like Stocksy, Royalty-Free / Micro-stock images will continue its downward spiral where it will be an unsustainable profit model for photographers . Here's a great article regarding the legal battle in the courts where "Photographs could find their way in huge second hand markets with the photographer, or the agency, never seeing a penny." Basically, once a photographer sells a RF digital photograph, it can be resold as "used" digital goods by the buyer. That means new potential buyers may go to the first buyer to purchase that photograph instead of the original photographer at an even lower price point. http://blog.melchersystem.com/2013/04/02/full-eclipse-of-the-moon/
April 2, 2013 01:45 pm
Thanks QT for your perspective and experience. I have a great passion for photography. I do not understand some of the passion stated for a company by previous entries. Oh well, I guess everything doesnt have to make sense.
April 2, 2013 01:14 pm
Thomas Hawk is certainly a talented, prolific, and popular photographer, but I don't think it is accurate to describe him as a "very established stock photographer". This is pretty clear from the lack of perspective and approximations in his piece.
The only thing which is potentially interesting is the idea of "equity", but without looking at the contracts, it is difficult to see if it is as good as it looks.
Regarding royalties. Getty used to provide a split much closer to 50/50 for everybody. They still do so for premium contributors. Flickr users such as Thomas Hawk are not considered premium contributors, maybe since their images are available for free download on Flickr). What really started the slide in royalty splits was micro-stock. Of course everybody knows the role of Livingstone in that. Getty only reduced royalties because istock paved the way. There are other portals that provide a better split than 50/50, the most well-known being Alamy.
April 1, 2013 08:29 am
Since this article is only a few days old and stirring up the controversy that it is - tells a whole tale right there. While I understand some of the ire against previous companies and owners, it is also obvious that some individuals were not accepted into Stocksy from their vitriol tone. I feel a company should be run this way - not every Tom, Dick and Harry - but the best. We use stock photos for our day job and have found that the quality, and pricing of the photos is very reasonable. The ethics of buying from a company that gives 50% to the photographer, based upon our passion - photography, is very pleasing. So enough of the ranting and raving. There are those folks OK with making 20% from their photographs, and others that would prefer to live in a world where their photographs receive the money they deserve. Neither is right, neither is wrong. I just prefer to buy my stock photography from a company willing to share in its profits with the people that are doing the work.
April 1, 2013 04:51 am
Thank you all for a great discussion. Very informative and insightful.
March 31, 2013 03:44 am
Yeah. It's not for me, nor is stock. What I find many times is that the process just takes the photography out of photography and it's not fun to do. Kudos to those it works well for and all, but I just turned down a contract job because I had filled out seven packets of information, they sent me a ridiculous thirteen page contract, ran a background check from a company that turned up a 'theft of under $100' charge in a state I had never been to that I had to dispute (not their fault, but it added to the process). And this was so I could be registered and shoot a few times a year. I called them up and said, thanks, but I'm out. I have enough administrative stuff to do as it is. I'll go and find my own work.
March 30, 2013 08:04 am
I'd definitely like to see the co-op model flourish, and will be interested to see Stocky's development over the year. Certainly good to have higher payouts returning to the photographer. If it proves to be profitable, what sector of the market it finds a niche within (appears microstock) and how it expands will be something to watch closely. Best of luck and hopefully it helps to raise the price of microstock from the abysmal lows of companies like iStock.
March 30, 2013 05:42 am
I think that there are many different pricing/rights models out there. What the right mix is to maximize sales is open to debate. Is it better to have 100 sales of a $10 image or 1 sale of $500 image? Rights managed vs. Royalty Free, pricing and markets, are all subjective topics. Different companies do different things. Certainly there are microstock photographers making six figure incomes.
However, where Stocksy is very different than most other companies pursuing stock, is in it's formation as a coop where the *photographers* share the profits. Stocksy's payout is nice, but the nicer thing is the dividend and equity interest that photographers hold in the business.
It's pretty simple actually, would you rather Getty get 80% (or some other cut depending on a better deal/channel with Getty) or would you rather profits from a business go back to the creators of the imagery.
The fact that Getty prices some channels at 20% is ridiculously low. Very few stock agencies pay this low. Part of the reason why the tone for my original article may feel abrasive is because I think that Getty needs to reconsider an 80/20 split against the photographer and think long and hard about if it's a fair split.
Stocksy's generosity with photographers is a stark contrast.
As far as other stock opportunities, they are certainly out there. My original blog post was on my own very personal experience with selling stock through an agency. I hope more companies pursue the coop model, and I hope the company's that compete with these coops find that retaining the talent will take more than 20$ payouts.
March 30, 2013 04:38 am
Thanks for all the comments folks! With a title like this article has, you better believe I was expecting criticism! For the record, I don't have much experience with stock photography. Because of that, you won't see me posting an article on DPS about how to get into stock photography, how to succeed in it or anything like that. That's the type of article that you need a stock expert for.
This article was meant only to be news. I don't know anyone at Stocksy. I haven't talked to anyone at Stocksy. I did talk to Thomas Hawk in the wake of his very public move from Getty to Stocksy and I decided to cover it as news. You can say what you want about me and about Stocksy, but there are BIG name photographers joining Stocksy like Thomas, Trey Ratcliff and plenty of others.
Some of the comments here are trying to suggest that I'm inexperienced and foolish for saying Stocksy is a good business model and Getty is a bad one. Well I guess you should be saying the same thing about all the photographers flocking to it who make a LOT of money at stock and other places online. It's not like I am out here on my own saying that Getty is a farce and that Stocksy is offering a fair business model.
Again, I was simply covering an event that happened the day I wrote the article. I also injected the article with my opinion and distaste for what Getty has done to photographers. I don't regret that and I'd do it again in a heartbeat. The moment I have to keep my opinion to myself and be silenced in an effort to be politically correct and please everyone is the moment I will no longer be interested in writing.
I think in our culture we have this mindset that everyone has to agree with us. It's ok to disagree! Embrace it! But don't go about it in a way that you need to attack the other person and bring them down. That method will never produce fruit and only seeks to destroy others in an effort to elevate ourselves and our egos.
So let's all just settle down and stop taking ourselves so seriously. It's a beautiful day...I'm going to go take some pictures :-)
March 30, 2013 04:18 am
As a follow-up, I do agree my previous comments crossed a line and want to note again that I find it to have no baring on Jame's character. He seems like a good guy. I tend to get a bit jumpy on opinion pieces and don't really think they fit the dPS forum (former graduate of the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and tend to think in the old school manner of reporting/writing). But that's just me.
What I would still urge is for everyone to do their research and check out all the variety of stock companies and business models they offer. Percentages are only a portion of the equation. Much like megapixel count only makes up a part of a camera. Other huge factors include distribution network, support from staff and art directors, price point on micro or premium imagery, and the list goes on.
March 30, 2013 03:05 am
I've just spent a couple of hours reading on stock photos and must admit ..it's been a long time since I've ever been this interested in fellow photographers, I think it's great that they take the time to advice and help each other .. Long over due
March 29, 2013 05:23 pm
Boy I hate to write this because you sound like a pretty decent dude James butttttttt
The business model details you give us are really minimal and just on the supply side of the equation.
There is way more to the business than what percent cut a photographer gets on licensing as Matt
pointed out for us.
It just sounds like you do not have very much experience in the stock marketplace and you really do not know all the ins and outs of that business. I am not sure why you wrote an article about what another stock photographer is doing.
You do not have to be in the stock buis to have an opinion about it but if you want other photographers to listen to you, you should have worked in that specialty. In fact, quite a few of us assume you are an expert
because it is published here at DPS.
March 29, 2013 11:28 am
With out regard to Getty putting up a blue photo of Bad Water and then getting upset when it is rejected is amazing. If you had submitted that to me when I was the editor of a travel sheet would have brought the same response.
March 29, 2013 11:28 am
Matt, I agree that the piece sounds like an advertisement for Stocksy and that a presentation of the wider issues would have been more helpful. Does dps have.an editor or a small group of contributors who can overview the piece before final submission? I was surprised to see this kind of opinion piece on dps and even more surprised to see the arguments that followed between you and James. This should've been handled more professionally behind the scenes in my view. I would also suggest that articles be screened before being published.
March 29, 2013 10:19 am
This piece was clearly marked as opinion so I read the article accordingly. Though Matt may have overstepped the bounds in his comments about the "integrity" of an opinion article, he does bring up some important points about getting commissions from stock photo agencies and the things you have to consider. A 50% cut would be great but sale price per image and volume sales are also valid points and Matt was justified in raising these issues in the comments section.
Also, on paper the stocksy deal sounds good especially with "profits" returned to the contributers but lets hope that when they say "profits" it's not in the style of hollywood accounting.
(from Wikipedia: "Hollywood accounting (also known as Hollywood bookkeeping) refers to the opaque accounting methods used by the film, video and television industry to budget and record profits for film projects. Expenditures can be inflated to reduce or eliminate the reported profit of the project thereby reducing the amount which the corporation must pay in royalties or other profit-sharing agreements, as these are based on the net profit.")
March 29, 2013 10:03 am
@Matt. Email James rather than post. James has provided links to what he is giving his opinion. We will make up our own mind in the end. James put forward his opinion and you hammered him. If your going to critize someone's work. Do it via email directly to them. Show some professionalism and choose your words as they reflect who you are.
March 29, 2013 09:32 am
The only ones making money out of stock photography are stock agencies. This model is imploding, so how they survive? Easy; going after mom and pop shops with the infamous extortion letters (just google that). Once somebody give them money, do you really think photographers get a cent? I take my own photos or when I have little time available, I buy from microstock companies. Just be sure to have all your papertrail in order or if you get caught in their spiderweb you cannot defend yourself in federal court (and even so it might be too expensive).
March 29, 2013 07:02 am
@Matt, While I enjoy reading all the comments here, I find that I must agree with James on this matter. He is expressing an OPINION. I also feel that your attack of his opinion would be better suited to a presonal email rather than here in this forum. Sorry man but your wrong! This is just my OPNION!
March 29, 2013 06:41 am
If your site intends to be informative and credible, which is what you want if you are encouraging both readership and respect in the industry, then even your opinions should be well balanced. This read like an advertisement for Stocksy rather than a good opinion article. Writers are writers. Photographers are photographers. If you are going to be both you need to go back to Freshman Composition and review the guidelines for persuasive essays. You give your opinions, also including and addressing opposing data and opinions as well. It shows your reader that you looked at all the facts before coming to the conclusion that you did. Discovering in the comments that you didn't do this makes you look bad. 20% of $500 with a higher exposure and close rate versus a new company with 50% of $100 - well you can see how it looks.
March 29, 2013 06:31 am
This issue is a matter of trust for me.
I trusted WorkbookStock.com when they said they would never go RF, or when Getty and Alamy started at acceptable percentage rates for photographers, only to lower them, in some cases ridiculously so. When these organizations sell out to larger entities, do we really think they have any interest in photographers livelihoods? No, they are responsible to their shareholders or to their own varying degrees of greed.
On our side of the fence, photographers are horrible businessmen by enlarge, fueled by ego to see their work sold, at whatever price, no matter the long term consequence. Add to that the democratization of photography, prompted by technological innovations, reduced barriers to entry and the flood of amateurs willing to take any price for their artwork. Disruption abounds everywhere, there is no escape, if it can be digitized it will be a commodity race to the bottom.
Pro photographers are competing with consumers now, there is no turning back, no matter what the business model is. Do you really think that this new agency can swing the art buying world to it doors based on a fairer contract to photographers? Incomplete. What about the marketplace, unless they are prepared to spend millions in advertising, they will be just another microstock, amongst the myriad of faceless individuals making decisions to undercut the photography industry, whatever industry is left.
Is there any legitimate reason to trust this industry again? Should we trust the same people who ruined it?
We cannot control behavior, we can only make better choices.
30 years in the biz, 20 in stock, Getty, Alamy, never entered micro stock.
March 29, 2013 04:54 am
People are so gullible nowadays, they will believe anything "new" that comes along.
March 29, 2013 04:44 am
Would I love more money from Getty? Hell yes. Is it a living wage? Nope. However the couple of bucks I get a month from them occasionally buys me pizza. I shoot for myself, and if I happen to pay for a roll of film - bonus!
March 29, 2013 04:39 am
If you can't take criticism James, then I suggest you not post inflammatory subjects. And as a fellow content provider for this site (for four years now), my opinion on this matter should carry some weight. It's not a personal attack, but a strong observation with some suggestions on how to create better content. Take a step back and a deep breath to cool down. I can tell the royalty rate at Getty has bothered you for some time and you're letting your emotions overrun any neutrality to the issue. You've determined at this point that "Getty must pay for their sins!" Well, make that argument, but do it without the incendiary language.
March 29, 2013 04:34 am
One of the first columns I wrote for dPs was a discussion on Amateur versus Pro. As I read the thread above, the discussion comes to the very core of what I was asking in that article. Now we are discussing stock, and I will say upfront that I have been a full time stock shooter for more than 20 years.
With that being said, there is one primary topic missing from this conversation: Stock photography, just like wedding photography is a business, a business that has to be professionally managed. When photography is approached as an avocation it really does do a disservice to the industry as a whole. This is not a business for the meek or hobbiest.
Here's why: First, I know nothing about Stocksy but we are being told it is established as a cooperative. It sounds great that the photographer receives 50% of the license fee and share the dividends at the end of each year. Does the cooperative also mean those same photographer/owners share in the liabilities? What about the potential of lawsuits, is the photographer accountable for the actions of staff?
This goes back to my original post when I said all of these questions require answers before a photographer should consider themselves a professional. If you don't cover your as*, you are leaving yourself vulnerable. That coverage costs money.
Regardless of the agency you might be considering, due diligence is the phrase you should live and die by.
Micro stock and RF libraries basically thrive because of amateur photographer vanity and in the process have assisted in driving the average stock price from hundreds-of-dollars per average license fee to ten-of-dollars, and in many cases mere pennies. As a side bar, my record all-time low value license fee came from a preferred access RM sale ... my net was 7 cents!
Stocksy, and other similar minded companies may be great. But for the life of me I can't see how they can raise the value that is currently flooding and eroding the industry. I hope I'm wrong, and I hope they are the Messiah for the stock industry.
March 29, 2013 04:24 am
Thanks for your unsolicited advice Matt. Good day.
Rob - There is a section at the bottom of the site that says, "Call To Artists." That's where you can fill out a form to submit your work. If you take a look at their site you can see the kind of work already up. Not sure how much that will change over time. Again, the site is brand new.
March 29, 2013 04:14 am
Well, my original question still remains: How does one get onto Stocksy? It looks to me as though someone at Stocksy just has to stumble across your portfolio and send you an invitation. Is that really the way it works? If not, how do you submit your portfolio to them, and what do they want to see in your portfolio?
And: I just got an error message saying I'm posting comments too quickly. How fast is too fast on this page?
March 29, 2013 04:14 am
James you're definitely entitled to an opinion and to voice it - but I think the way this particular one was written was in poor taste. It's a bit too much rant and not enough logical argument. I'd look for a better way to frame your point in future articles and I think you'll find you make a much stronger case that way.
I get your frustration - I don't like a 20% royalty at all - but I think it also requires some time to be signed with an agency (or better several) to see what the real world cash flows of those percentages are. I receive 40, 50 or 60% royalties with my stock agency (various rates depending on the nature of the content and location it was produced as well as what collection it goes into). So the novelty of a higher percent is certainly nothing new.
As a comparison if I were looking at Getty and Stocksy to sign between, not only would I want to know about the royalty but what volume am I going to generate from each. If I'm making a nice 50% cut at Stocksy with only $500 in sales each month, but am selling $5000 on Getty at my lowering 20% cut... it's still more healthy for my cash flow to leverage Getty's higher volume, despite the fact that I don't like the percentage I'm receiving from them.
For future articles I'd consider breaking this subject up. Perhaps a post on why you think 20% is damaging to photographers - what the rates they used to receive were - and a monetary comparison of how that affects their underlying profit margin. Then another article highlighting Stocky's launch and what they're offering would be perfectly acceptable. But the way it's framed here is just not appropriate.
When you're a content provider for a major platform like dPS there's no excuse for "if you don't like my article, then don't read it." Sorry man that just doesn't cut it. You're supposed to be providing a service to the readers here that will help them make informed decisions, not blowing steam.
March 29, 2013 03:59 am
Hahah Rob, nice.
I think the thing people need to remember is that for 99% of people involved with stock agencies, the money coming from them is just a BONUS. It's side money. A nice little treat whenever the check comes in. Most people with stock portfolios don't count on the money for living expenses. So it really comes down to what type of business you want to work with. A business that takes advantage of the very people that provide them with a product to sell.....or a new business that pays half to their photographers and then shares in the profits with them at the end of the year.
Again Matt...the choice is yours. I have my opinion and you are entitled to yours....I still think Stocksy is the way to go.
March 29, 2013 03:55 am
So, I can submit my images to Fotalia, and get paid 23% of 74 cents whenever my picture sells? That doesn't sound like such a good deal. Also, there was nothing that I saw on the web site that was geared toward people who wanted to offer their images for sale on Fotalia. All the website talked about, other than a single 2-sentence FAQ entry, was buying photographs. I am significantly not impressed.
But then, I'm just a plain ordinary guy with a decent digital SLR outfit trying to make good photographs. I have never dealt with the stock photography market. I have no way of knowing what's good, what's bad, what to expect, or what I should do to try to get into that market. Is there a web page on this site, or anywhere else for that matter, that provides a good introduction to the stock photography market for newbies?
March 29, 2013 03:54 am
Mike, that is the way it appears. You can read more about it over on the Stocksy website. Pretty cool business model!
March 29, 2013 03:52 am
Pretty strong words there Matt. Interesting. Not sure what is lacking in integrity with an opinion article on my views toward Getty. And your calling it a puff piece is certainly interesting considering I have no reason to puff Stocksy. They didn't ask me to write the article and I'm not affiliated with them in any way. I was just covering an event that occurred online between Thomas and Getty. You know...news.
Yes there are dozens of other stock agencies online...awesome. This article is about the difference between Getty and Stocksy. I didn't feel compelled to include a detailed break down of the others...
As far as the percentages go, I'd rather have 50% of $500, not 20%. If you want to defend the absurdity of Getty only giving the photographers that create the images 20%, then go right ahead. I don't care what the final number comes out to, it's an insult. Yes, Stocksy is a slightly different setup from Getty....for now. It's a new website for crying out loud, that just launched a few days ago. Getty has been around for years and controls most of the industry. Does that mean I'm not allowed to compare the two? Come on...
The fact that some of Getty's biggest contributors as well as some of the photo industry's biggest names are moving to Stocksy was and is worth covering. I then included my opinion on the matter in the article. If you don't like reading other peoples opinions, then don't read an article that says (OPINION) in the title.
March 29, 2013 03:39 am
Try Fotalia, they are much easier to get accepted and, let's face it, they know what sells and what doesn't.
March 29, 2013 03:38 am
So, am I understanding this right… a photographer whose image is accepted by Stocksy, becomes one of the "artists" that participates in the "sharing of profits" as part of the cooperative? Kind of like how REI or some food cooperatives in California are currently or used to be set up? I know thats a pretty fair business model.
Are any other stock photography agencies running with this business model as well or is Stocksy the first?
It will be interesting to see how this develops and what changes may be in store related to stock sales. As I improve my photography skills, I don't want to become a "wedding photographer" or the traditional photo business, but generating some income from stock photography would be nice to help fund this hobby of ours.
March 29, 2013 03:29 am
Thanks for your comment Matt, you saved me some typing. You are exactly right about the percentages. A sale of a 9x12 image on Stocksy will net you $50 while the same sale on Getty will get you $100 or more. Stocksy just looks like another way to sell your photography to cheap to me. I license my own images through my website. Initially they were Royalty Free but I soon realized that RF grants too much too cheap. I now only offer them as Rights Managed images and they are priced similar to Getty. I don't make lots of sales but when I do I keep it all. DO THE MATH PEOPLE!
March 29, 2013 02:38 am
I've got to say I can't really get behind an article like this, nor do I find it appropriate for the readership. It's mainly a puff piece for Stocksy without any attempt at an unbiased look at the industry. (Disclosure I'm signed with an agency not listed in this article). Instead I think if you're going to have a conversation on stock and Stocksy's position in the marketplace you need to include a reference to a variety of different stock agencies besides just Getty and Stocksy.
There are dozens of reputable agencies aside from these two including Corbis, Image Source, Cultura Creative, Masterfile, Alamy, Trunk, etc, etc, etc. Each of these operate with different percentages and distribution models.
Also I find this to be a very faulty comparison based simply on percentage rates when the two aren't even competing in the same market. Getty is a premier image supplier, whereas Stocksy appears to be far more microstock - or perhaps something in between. I'm basing that just off a casual look at Stocksy's home page where an XL image size is priced at $100. Getty and other premier stock agencies often price RF images of this size in the $500-700 range. So would I rather have 20% of $500 or 50% of $100? I'll let you do the math. Also, is Stocksy competing in the RM marketplace at all? Because l can list images through Getty, Corbis, Image Source etc for an RM collection and receive much, much higher returns out of that percentage than simply RF sales.
My end argument guys is that if you're going to put together a post like this, please take the time to research the industry and bring back a balanced comparison and argument for your case, instead of just some shill publicity. Sorry to be so brash about it... but let's keep some amount of journalistic integrity intact.
March 29, 2013 02:38 am
Business is business, as the saying goes. Perhaps a Co-operative site is needed with a small sales force who are in the industry and save a small percentage of image sales for salaries and expenses.
If it's all going to be on the internet, overhead might be minimal and this way the photographer has a larger monetary return.
If it's a co-op, by laws can be set up co-operatively and have benefits for the majority of members. It may not be perfect, but it's better than corporate ownership.
March 28, 2013 04:22 am
Jason, great input, thanks for that!
I agree, it totally depends on whether or not Stocksy can get photographers in front of buyers. It doesn't matter if you are making 100% commission if there are no buyers to be found.
What Stocksy also has going for it is their quality control. If they can get buyers flocking to their site because of the quality of photos there, photographers will make good money because there will likely only be hundreds of fellow photographers, not hundreds of thousands (or however many Getty/iStock had, maybe millions even).
50% profit plus few competitors plus high traffic to your images is very, VERY promising. Not sure why people can't see that and automatically throw up their defenses.
March 28, 2013 03:49 am
I think everyone should support ethical agencies like Stocksy and Stockfresh. I seriously doubt that Bruce's intentions were to wreck iStock by selling it. He might have been a bit naive about Getty though.
March 28, 2013 12:59 am
I do agree with Ethan. I am not getting Stocksy right now... Go for Alamy or something like that. But not supporting the guy who created Istock. No,no... (-:
Any way interesting article(specially the part getty.
March 27, 2013 04:29 pm
What we really need is a totally new way to monetize our images. Sorry, I don't have any answers, just a bunch of hard questions.
Full disclosure: I'm a Getty contributor, but not at all a Getty fan. I was just as annoyed as everyone else about the Google Drive deal. I've thought about leaving Getty several times, but I haven't pulled the trigger because I think this is a race to the bottom no matter what agency I do with. I just don't think there's much money left to be made from stock sales, so instead of competing for a larger slice of a shrinking pie, I'm looking at other ways to grow my business.
Aren't Getty (and iStock, and Shutterstock, and Big Stock, and 123RF, etc, etc) just a symptom of the larger problems facing the stock industry? Stock photography as a business model just isn't as profitable as it used to be (for individual contributors).
It's the classic problem of disruptive technology lowering barriers to entry and making traditional business models obsolete. Globalization + digital photography + cheap storage + ubiquitous broadband have totally changed the landscape. How much longer will individual photographers be able to make enough money from stock to make it even worthwhile? I mean, Shutterstock pays photographers $0.25 per image and has millions of photos for sale already. I think the damage is irreparable.
Regarding the 20% vs 50% question, that's an apples to oranges comparison. It makes a nice sound bite, but all that really matters is how much total income you're able to generate from stock sales. The commission percentage is only a small part of that equation. You also have to look at the total sale price and the total number of sales. My images sell because they are on the Getty site, plain and simple. I've always thought of this as an 80% tax for access to Getty's customer base and brand identity.
If you have another means to access the marketplace, and another brand that brings more value than the Getty brand, then it would not make business sense to pay that 80% Getty tax. If you don't have access to a marketplace and a strong brand, then "giving" 80% to Getty is a sound business decision because you're only really giving away 80% of something you didn't have in the first place.
I love the Stocksy idea of returning the profits to the photographers after operating costs are covered. That's an ethical and equitable model.
While I love the idea behind Stocksy, and I'd prefer working with them over Getty, I can't help but feel that this is just a nicer, more honest, more equitable version of an already obsolete business model. The big agencies are going to continue structuring bigger and bigger volume deals until the value of an image is driven pretty much to zero.
March 27, 2013 04:12 pm
Hmmm....sounds promising, but, does Stocksy allow post-processing of images?
March 27, 2013 02:36 pm
I am an amateur and of course, I'd love to make money with my photography skills. I was introduced to Getty via Flickr and immediately disliked the company. Apparently, one of their clients wanted to buy three of my shots. The process to register with Getty was very obscure and so was the financial aspect of selling my shots. I declined and never looked back. I'd rather license my (once again, amateur) shots though a common creative - none commercial attribution than to deal with Getty.
March 27, 2013 11:29 am
How does one get an invitation to send a portfolio to Stocksy? Do you just have to hope that somebody randomly notices your work? Or is there a way to send a message to them saying, "Hey! I think my work is good enough for you! Please take a look!" From the little I saw on their web page, it seems to be the former.
RobR, mainly curious since I don't think my work really matches the samples I saw there
March 27, 2013 10:51 am
Derek that's a bunch of nonsense. A business model is a business model. It's neither good nor bad. It just is. It's the people behind the business model that makes a difference. In this case, it's a person with a chip on his shoulder over what iStock became and wants to do the right thing now for photographers....and the photographers that are part of Stocksy are largely behind the business model as well.
And seriously, what's the worst that could happen? You switch to Stocksy and make 50% instead of 20%?
Have fun with your pessimism and the Stocksy photographers will have fun with their extra cash. ;-)
March 27, 2013 09:52 am
A business model is a spinning buzzing handwaving smokescreen - it's not a commandment graven in stone and forever unchanging. When people insist I trust because of "the business model"... well, that's a sure and certain sign that skepticism is the order of the day.
March 27, 2013 07:17 am
Yes Ethan, I had the same initial thoughts..."why should we trust a company from the guy that founded iStock?" Like Thomas said above though, you just don't understand the business model. This looks really solid. The photographers split profits each year...that alone makes this business model incredible. The 50/50 split puts it over the top. I haven't talked to Livingstone in person, but something makes me think he feels bad the way iStock has gone since Getty and wants to help get money back in the photographers pocket, where it really belongs.
March 27, 2013 07:08 am
ethan, you obviously don't understand the business model here. Equity belongs to the contributing photographers. Even if it were sold (which is not the plan) the PHOTOGRAPHERS would benefit from it. This is far different than iStockphoto or other companies that are sold.
Furthermore, the value of any buyer would be the catalog of images and so if it was, photographers would likely be well compensated to go along with any sort of transaction.
All of us serve at will in the coop. If the agency *were* ever sold (because this is what the photographers decided to do to maximize value) if a member didn't want to go along they could easily resign.
I'm not worried about Stocksy being sold in the least.
The major difference between iStockphoto and Stocksy is the ownership retained by the artists/coop.
March 27, 2013 05:53 am
I left Istockphoto because they are incredible rude people. Why this is going to be different?
March 27, 2013 04:09 am
The fact that this agency is being started by the founder of iStockPhoto is all you need to know. This is an individual who cannibalized the photography industry with nearly free photos only to sell out to Getty for $50mm. Do you think he isn't simply trying to sell yet another company? As the saying goes, the first time shame on you, the second time, shame on me.
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