Why Corbis’ New SnapVillage Stock Photography Agency is a Bad Deal for Photographers

Photos of Sunflowers Ranked by Awesomeness on Zooomr

It’ll Be Photographer’s Choice on a Web Site From Corbis – New York Times:

[I'm CEO of Zooomr]

“By starting SnapVillage, Gary Shenk, the president of Corbis, said, the company is not just acknowledging the growing importance of microstock sites, but also recognizing the threat to its higher-price images. “Cannibalization is going to happen in our industry,” Mr. Shenk said. “We can either let it consume us or be part of it.””

The New York Times on Monday published an article on Corbis’ newly launched microstock site for photographers called SnapVillage.

SnapVillage works like this. You, as a photographer, submit your images to SnapVillage. SnapVillage allows you to set the price on your image between $1 and $50. Then they pay you 30% of the proceeds from the sale of your images. If you allow your images to be used on a subscription basis you are paid 30 cents per download.

Now at surface this sounds pretty good. Especially when compared to Corbis’ main rival Getty Images. Getty Images runs the iStockphoto site where they only pay you 20% for images (you can get higher by signing exclusivity agreements) and only sell your photos for $1 – $5.

But in reality, both are rips offs. And both represent too late efforts by giants in the stock photography business to try and preserve the bulk of the $2.5 billion that they harvest from photographers today.

First lets talk about the price controls. Getty’s iStockphoto limits the upper price for a basic image to $5. Corbis’ now $50. Why are these limits in place? These limits are in place to prevent photographers from accessing the closed markets that they control where they make, far, far more money. That is the world where images sell on the cheap royalty free side for about an average of $285 each. Rights Managed photos sell for much, much more and individual images can sell for thousands of dollars.

Now. Most free market thinkers would tell you that the market ought to control price, not the major corporations running a $2.5 billion industry. But this is exactly what Corbis and Getty are trying to do. By creating a distinction between their “professional” grade work and their “amateur” grade work. They can set a wide divide between the prices that each charge.

Corbis and Getty would have you believe that there *is* in fact a wide disparity between the images that their professionals create and the images that us weekend warrior amateurs create with our Canon 5Ds and Nikon D200s. Between the images that they want us to sell for $1 to $50 vs. images that they sell for between $200 and $2,000.

Well this is pretty plain talk, but the fact of the matter is that there is not a hell of a lot of difference anymore.

By way of example, check out this search on Zooomr for sunflower ranked by awesomeness (our proprietary algorithm for determining rank and relevancy) vs. a current search for sunflowers on Getty images.

Zooomr sunflower search
Getty Images sunflower search

Now when you look at these two seaches. Ask yourself this. Are the images on Getty that much better? Is this image worth $370 for a half page photo in a magazine for a single month?

My own view is that there is artificial price control going on between Getty and Corbis’ microstock offerings and their far more lucrative traditional stock photography business. While I applaud Corbis for letting photographers set a price between $1 and $50. Why not let the photographer set the price between $1 and $1,000? If there really is no market for these images at higher than $50, the market is efficient and these photos would quickly price downward. If Corbis President Gary Shenk is *really* serious about being willing to cannibalize Corbis’ business as he is quoted in the New York Times above, why set the $50 upper price limit?

You won’t see Corbis and Getty allowing images by you and I to be priced greater than $50 for one simple reason. They understand that our images are just as good as their Pro images and they do not want to cannibalize this far more lucrative business. They want to keep the myth alive that their images are so much better than our images and to create a wide valley between the two to continue reaping in the millions that they do each year.

Restricting photographers to $50 is a bad deal for the photographer. Corbis and Getty will come back with a “we make it up in volume” argument. But this is simply not the case.

Now on to the next point. Getty pays photographers on their iStockphoto site 20% and Corbis is going to pay their photographers on SnapVillage 30%.

This is pathetic.

*You* are the creator of these images. Not Corbis. Not Getty. It is simply absurd that you would give 70-80% of the proceeds from your work away to big corporate interests.

What’s fair?

Well at Zooomr we are in the process of building what will soon be the world’s largest stock photography agency. We think we can pay photographers out 90% and still operate our business. We also are going to let photographers set their price on their images between $5 and $1,000 for royalty free images.

We are allowing photographers to price images now and hope to very shortly actually open up the library for marketers to purchase images. We are very close.

This new model will be more like eBay and less like Getty and Corbis. We will also implement some “make an offer” type features for stock photography.

What is the real and right price for a photo of a sunflower in a magazine? I’m not sure actually. But what I am sure is that an efficient market where photographers have flexibility to price will figure it out. I think it’s probably more than the $50 max that Coribs is allowing at present but probably less than the $370 that Getty is trying to sell their image for.

But whatever the price ends up being, photographers deserve more than just 20 or 30%. You are the creator of the image. It is your work that made it.

Kristopher Tate and I started Zooomr because we are both photographers. I don’t mean to sound cocky or brag, but I would hold my library of images up against what the Pros at Corbis and Getty are shooting any day of the week. And I ought to be paid the same prices that they are. And I ought to get to keep almost all the money from the transaction. And not just me. You, and you and you and you and you and you and you and you. My friends on Flickr. My friends on Zooomr. Sam and Eddy and Lane and John and Raoul and Jeff and on and on and on. Your work is every bit as good as the so called Pro work being shot at Corbis and Getty.

So if you want to change the world of stock photography and if want to redefine the economic balance between creators of images and buyers of images, then skip iStockphoto at Getty and skip this new offering by Corbis and come join us at Zooomr. Together we can the change the world and make it a better place for photographers.

Oh, and if
you are already a Pro at Getty or Corbis? Come and join us too. You only have to sell half as many images at a 90% payout to make up for the 40% or so that Getty and Corbis pay you today.

Power to the people. The best photographs in the world have yet to be taken.

Loading Facebook Comments ...
40 comments on “Why Corbis’ New SnapVillage Stock Photography Agency is a Bad Deal for Photographers
  1. Daniel says:

    I didn’t even read this but I can tell you that I agree with it because it was written by THOMAS HAWK! (someday we’ll be saying “for president” after that).

  2. Thomas, thank you for providing the insights into how these companies “actually” make money. Worth reading twice.

  3. Karen says:

    Well said, indeed.

  4. blaine says:

    Thanks Thomas, I couldn’t agree more with the “amateur vs pro” point you brought up. Very well said.

  5. I agree that the amatuer v. pro images in the microstock arena are dead equal. I just had a friend tell me he wants to decorate his house with my photos and I’ve only had my camera for 2 months!

    As far as efficient markets go, KEEP PUSHING. This is what the internet is all about. People have profitted off of high margin “old school” business for a long time. Now it’s time for someone else to profit on making the business more efficient.

  6. famdamily says:

    While I agree with some of this, and would certainly like to sell my photos at prices that benefit me more, I don’t think that the advent of high end DSLR use has eliminated the divide between Pro photographers and a really famous Flickr or Zooomr photographer. Certainly there has been some erosion, but the difference between some good Pros and some of the people you mentioned can still be quite striking. I think that really skilled experienced photographers should make more money than me and some of my photo friends. I’ve looked at some of the work out there on Getty and Corbis. I’ve also looked at some of the work on private sites for Pro photographers who sell stock. Some of their stock stuff is amazing and it isn’t necessarily the best work they do. The world of people who wander around and take pretty pictures of things with their expensive DSLRs is not equal to the world of some of the people who have worked for years honing their skills with light and camera and film and who have received expert instruction from schools of prestige in the field. I see a lot of pictures that are truly amazing on Flickr and Zooomr. I just think that there are many more talented photographers that are working hard to make a living and are much better than most of what you see on photo sharing websites. I don’t begrudge them making more money than me for my nice sunset shot or whatever.

  7. CJPhoto says:

    I agree with some of your comments but not all.

    1. The distinction between microstock and macrostock in no longer a amateur/pro divide. One just has to look at the portfolios and income earned from the likes of Lise G, Andre R annd Yuri who all contribute to the micro sites to see that they are as professional as any of the pros.

    2. Microstock is an alternative business model which, unlike Macrostock, just happens to be open to amateurs. Many pros are starting to move across.

    3. It is also incorrect to say that by limiting the price to $5 (or $50) they are stopping microstockers from cannibalising the Pros sales. If anything it increases it. As you point out, if a designer can find a better photo on iStock (or Zooomr) than on Getty, they will buy the photo from iStock. By limiting the price to $5, the are actually encouraging cannibalising as everyone would prefer to pay less for something better. If the microstocks allowed higher prices, the risk of cannibalising would be less as the price differential would be less and designers would be more likely to stay with the comfort of Getty etc.

    [A small correction, Getty is not getting in late to the microstock game with iStock. They bought up the market leader (effectively the company that started microstock) as Getty seems to do with any competitors.]

    However, on my own blog, I have recommended that people dont join up to Snapvillage (at this stage at least) as they are not offering a good deal. 30% commission is too low for a new competitor (iStock gets away with 20% as due to its market reach, it brings in the sales to compensate), it doesn’t offer the features microstockers use (FTP and IPTC reading) and in my opinion (and many others) the use of the word “Snap” is demeaning to our photos, especially to the pro’s that contribute.

    I am sure when Zooomr becomes fully operation (I have sent you an zmail re this), microstocks will flock to Zooomr with their highly marketable photos. So you and Kris keep working hard. You are doing a great job and may start a new era in stock photography.

  8. Thomas Hawk says:

    [A small correction, Getty is not getting in late to the microstock game with iStock. They bought up the market leader (effectively the company that started microstock) as Getty seems to do with any competitors.]

    CJ. They bought iStockphoto just last year. For $50 million. While I’m enormously pleased that Bruce Livingstone (one of iStockphoto’s founder and CEO), who I met last year and who is a hell of a nice guy, were able to sell to Getty, to me this was far more of a too late defensive play on Getty’s part.

    iStockphoto represented the first wave of innovation in stock photography. But at this point their wings have been clipped. They can’t run and compete with Getty like they might have otherwise. Getty was smart to buy their most likely market disrupter and that probably bought them a few years more on top. But it’s a bandaid. The stock photography market is far too big and lucrative for market economics to leave it alone.

    It will be redefined. It’s only a matter of time.

    Certainly there has been some erosion, but the difference between some good Pros and some of the people you mentioned can still be quite striking.

    famdamily. You pick the search term and lets compare. Las Vegas, squirrel, cake, Christmas, whatever. Pick the search term and lets compare what comes up on Getty/Corbis vs. what comes up on Flickr/Zooomr.

    The one area that Getty/Corbis (and Getty is smart here for recently buying Wired Images) will probably still own is the celebrity photo stuff. And this represents a large and growing chunk of the $2.5 billion market. But basic creative stuff — flowers, man talking on cell phone, baseball, baby, cat, feather, telephone and wine glass, all belong to a new market going forward.

  9. You are so right! Thanks for this article, Tom! Regards, Kwiat

  10. RTS says:

    Really good and insightful Article Thomas!I agree with the philosophy 100%. It will be interesting to test the market when Zooomr is ready to sell.

  11. Tom Quinn says:

    Thomas

    It’s a good point you make. But if you follow it through, why set a limit at all on Zooomr? Surely that is also restricting your audience, albeit in a slightly less draconian manner? For example, if I think I can sell a photo for $5000 (realistic or not), why should anyone stop me doing that?

  12. Don says:

    Why are you capping the potential at a $1000? If it is unreasonable to have a cap at $50, why is it reasonable to have a cap at a $1000? Just because it is more?

    Remove the cap. Allow, us, the content creators to decide what we want to sell our work for. Not some artificial cap that you impose upon us.

  13. Raoul says:

    Thank you Tom!

  14. David Smithe says:

    You say iStock only charges $1 – $5 this is incorrect. Prices range from $1 to $15 for basic licenses. There are also extended licenses that can sell an image for hundreds of dollars.

  15. Thomas Hawk says:

    Why are you capping the potential at a $1000? If it is unreasonable to have a cap at $50, why is it reasonable to have a cap at a $1000? Just because it is more?

    Don, good point. Maybe we’ll change this. I think initially because Zooomr will be selling royalty free photos that the thought was that $1,000 would be the wildly high side of this market. Getty averages about $285 per royalty free image, Corbis slightly less. I think in part the idea was also to try and at least frame even a tad the overall market for new photographers selling into it.

    The idea of limits of course to a degree would be to keep the marketplace somewhat real. And if you limited photos to $100,000 why there? Why not $1,000,000 or $10,000,000 or $1 billion?

    We will also likely be introducing a “make me an offer” sort of pricing thing to. So I suppose someone could offer $150 for a photo and then the owner could turn around and say $10,000 or something back.

    We build a slider for pricing to make it easier for photographers between $5 and $1,000 which is where we kind of see the market, but maybe you are right and the market can be higher and we can rethink that.

  16. Thomas Hawk says:

    You say iStock only charges $1 – $5 this is incorrect. Prices range from $1 to $15 for basic licenses.

    David, I stand corrected. Previously they were largely marketing images at $1, $3 and $5. But $1 to $15 doesn’t make it any more palatable to me.

    By using this fixed pricing model they prevent many quality photographers from selling there because these prices are too low. I would never sell my images for $1 to $15.

  17. David Smithe says:

    I suggest next time you decide to write an article you do some research first. Royalty rates vary between 20 and 40% I believe.

    Their system works for me, I’m selling hundreds of images per week and making a nice side income.

    Also, your comparative search for ‘sunflower’ is meaningless. Try a search for ‘sunflower woman’ – just because you only have images of sunflowers, and not ‘stock themed shots’ doesn’t make your search more accurate !

  18. You get em Hawk. SnapVillage isn’t about making money for photographers, it’s a red herring that they can point to, in order to make their investors think that they are being innovative in the space. The large stock agencies have far too much at stake in their legacy products, for me to expect much from them.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Now when you look at these two seaches. Ask yourself this. Are the images on Getty that much better?

    There’s far more of them on Getty 2500 compared to 80 or so

    The photographers on Getty have a varied professional style and they have models, makeup, locations, props and so on. Don’t see much of that on the Zoomr search.

    Just being devils advocate but there is a huge difference showing between the two searches…

  20. Thomas Hawk says:

    There’s far more of them on Getty 2500 compared to 80 or so

    Anonymous. You don’t get it. This is only because Zooomr has only just started. Over time community based photosharing sites can produce far, far, more results (and in fact due to the law of large numbers far better imagagery). Zooomr is in it’s infancy.

    Do a search for a more mature social photo sharing site like Flickr and you will find *vastly* more images than Corbis and Getty combined.

    At Zooomr we are presently readying a flickr to zooomr importer. Once this importer is complete, the number of photos on Zooomr for sale will skyrocket and far eclipse Getty and Corbis.

    This is in fact the market of the future. Removing price barriers and paying out as much of the money generated as possible to the photographers. Both Corbis and Getty’s offerings are only stop gap measures. They are waypoints along the way to the future of stock photography.

    Photographers deserve to price their photos higher than $1, $5, $15 $50. And they deserve more of the money.

    This message will resonate with photographers far, far, more than the Getty/Corbis line. People are not stupid. When a viable alternative exists that enriches actual creators of images and not the billion dollar companies making riches off the sweat of our backs it will be embraced and produce, far, far, more viable saleable images than Corbis and Getty do today.

    The alternative today just isn’t quite here yet. But it’s almost here and Kristopher and I are working hard to build it and get it here sooner rather than later.

    Corbis is 100% owned by Bill Gates. The richest man in the world. Now I don’t begrudge Bill Gates this. I actually admire the man and think he’s one of the world’s greatest philanthropists. But ask yourself this. Would you rather Bill Gates get 70% and you get 30% or would you rather Zooomr get 10% and you get 90%.

    This is in fact the future.

    There will still be a place for Getty and Corbis. But it will not be the core of the creative and editorial stock photography business which represents the lions share of their income now.

    Instead there place will sit more around neogitated type photography like celebrity stuff and in buying the rights to the most valuable historical sort of collections. This is there future. The rest of the stock photography market belongs to all of us.

  21. Anonymous says:

    I think you are pointing the finger in the wrong direction. Neither Corbis or Getty Images started microstock, in fact I would tend to imagine it was the last thing they wanted to happen. Stock imagery is a business to business model. The Ad agencies, corporations and media companies have bought into this model, which was not created by Getty Images. Many of them use microstock as well as traditional stock images daily. It’s what is acceptable to them as the creative professionals. If you really research this topic I think you’d find that you are more or less just pushing your own business and not true facts.

  22. beebo says:

    The reason I bring this up is that some photos I have an attachment to. I might not want to give up certain rights for say $500. I might want to test the waters and put some ridiculous price tag on a photo. If I don’t sell it, no sweat. But if I do, then I got what it was worth to me to give up those rights to that image.

    We’ve discussed this before, and I think we are in agreement, that we’re not photographing with our eye on the bottom line. It is something that we enjoy, and something we enjoy creating. When that is the case, I see a higher price tag / image.

    Thanks for your response …

  23. Thomas Hawk says:

    The Ad agencies, corporations and media companies have bought into this model, which was not created by Getty Images. Many of them use microstock as well as traditional stock images daily. It’s what is acceptable to them as the creative professionals. If you really research this topic I think you’d find that you are more or less just pushing your own business and not true facts.

    Anonymous. It’s not necessarily about what’s “acceptable” to the ad agencies, corporations and media companies. They largely don’t care if Getty/Corbis keep the lionshare of the money or not.

    It will be just as acceptable for them to pay $150 for an image on Zooomr as it will for an image from Getty or Corbis. To a certain degree there is price sensitivity in this market but not always. Many marketers will happily pay $200 or more for the *right* image. The key is helping them find the *right* image.

    By building something that is more attractive to those producing the images, Zooomr will have the better image library. Marketers will follow wherever the best images are.

    As this movement gains momentum you will see this happen very quickly. What we are trying to do here is to fundamentally change the economic relationship between producers of imagery and buyers of imagery. We are largely about eliminating the middle man. This is something that the internet does very, very, very well.

    Getty and Corbis certainly can and will still compete in these markets. But photographers will quickly learn that getting paid 20 to 30% on lower price controlled versions of their work in fact is a bad deal for them.

    Compelling alternatives just need to surface. And that’s what we are building at Zooomr.

    Now, you take a potshot at me and say that this post is just about me building my business. But you don’t know me very well at all. I have been calling for this for a long time. Well before I ever even went to work for Zooomr. In fact, I actually came to work at Zooomr *because* this needs to happen.

    First and foremost I am photographer. A passionate photographer who is trying to build a library of 500,000 images before I die. Along the way a natural by product of my artistic pursuit will be an enormous number of images very suitable for the stock photography market.

    So I want to redefine this market in favor of the producers of imagery.

    Now I’m not saying that I’m simply Robin Hood here. I am also trying to build a business around this. I’m doing this because although I’m first and foremost an artist, I’m also a business man as well. And it’s just smart business to be the first person to build this platform. And I think that Zooomr can operate profitably off of a 10% cut and that we can turn Zooomr into the largest stock photography agency in the world.

    Well before I ever joined Zooomr I used to badger Flickr Chief Stewart Butterfield about this all the time. I’ve written posts about it. Blogged about it. Etc.

    Zooomr will benefit from this. And rightly so. But that’s not *why* I’m doing this.

    I’m doing this first and foremost as a photographer because it needs to be done.

  24. Thomas Hawk says:

    The reason I bring this up is that some photos I have an attachment to. I might not want to give up certain rights for say $500. I might want to test the waters and put some ridiculous price tag on a photo. If I don’t sell it, no sweat. But if I do, then I got what it was worth to me to give up those rights to that image.

    A point well taken Beebo and I agree with you 100%. For so many of us our photography is not about stock per se. Stock is rather a by product of something that is far more emotional to us. While you or I may not have a problem selling a flower shot that means less to us for $90. We might have a more personal attachment to a certain photo and in some cases prices ought to reflect this fact.

    To start with we will likely stick with the $100 to $1000 slider. But I’ll check with Kristopher to see if there isn’t any way we can also code in a “custom” price sort of input on a photo where an artist could put any number that they wanted.

  25. JeffH says:

    One point that some of those posting here are completely missing is that there is still a very large market for rights managed stock photographs. This is a totally different animal from the royalty free model that iStock Photo, SnapVillage, Zooomr and the dozens of other micro-stock photo companies operate under. Corporations buying photos for national or international advertising campaigns and other high profile uses would be down right foolish to buy royalty free images, regardless of their quality. They require the protection of a rights managed contract, which among other things assures that none of their competitors will be able to use the image for a set period of time, and are willing to pay for this feature. In fact, two very large competing banks got bitten by this very issue a year or two ago when they both chose the same royalty free image for their respective advertising campaigns. The embarrassment and damage to their brands cost significantly more than the thousand or so dollars they saved by buying RF instead of RM. There are many more examples of this on the web.

    I think it is great that Zooomr will soon be getting into the stock photography business with their royalty free model. But. I for one would like to see Zooomr come up with a rights managed model (in addition to their RF model) that is open to all contributors, (inclusion based solely on the technical merits of the photographs) and shares a higher percentage of the take than what is being offered by Getty, Corbis, etc. If you could do this you would really have a ‘killer app’ that would compete head to head with the big boys, and give them a serious run for their money.

    One other point is that people need to understand what they are actually selling when they sell RF vs RM. It seems odd to me that a photographers would be willing to basically give away potential revenue when selling RF with few restrictions. An example of this is a photographer I came across who was selling his work on iStockpoto. A customer bought one of his images for 1 buck or so. Turns out the customer was Wal-Mart and they used his photo for in store advertising banners all over the country. Certainly this type of usage should cost more than a dollar and the photographer should have certainly been entitled to more than the ~20 or 30 cents he was paid for this. Under a RM license, the photographer and the agency would have made significantly more money, and the buyer would have received the necessary rights for his intended use as well as protection from competitive usage among other things as mentioned above.

  26. I appreciate what you’re trying to do with stock photography, but you might want to pick a different example. From the two sunflower links, the Getty images, overall, are dramatically better, and the difference would be well worth it to most ad managers. It’s not that there aren’t amateurs getting high-quality work, which is why I say your example was flawed, not the premise.

  27. Todd says:

    I looked at the two links you gave comparing sunflower shots on Zooomr with that of Getty. I don’t agree that most of the shots are comparable. Almost all the shots on Getty are more than just a sunflower sitting there, they tell more story than all the standard sunflower shots in a field. A lot have models — who need to get paid, too. While those shots on the first page of the zooomr album are nice, technically good and pretty to look at, they have limited use for the people who purchase these type of shots — a designer producing a company brochure — compared to the shots on the Getty page which have context and story and convey message, and offer more than just a flower staring there.
    Now, I know this is just a sunflower example, but if you peruse long enough, the argument will hold up with most other examples.

  28. Peter Read says:

    re: the conversation between Anonymous and Thomas about quality and quantity.

    How are you going to make using Zooomr an enjoyable and effective experience, that is, how are you going to avoid a buyer having to sift through conceivably hundreds of thousands of photos before finding a reasonable one?

    To beat the sunflower example to death: Getty has 2500 sunflower shots, all of them arguably great. Zooomr has 80, some of them great. So when everyone on Flickr gets dollar signs in their eyes and uploads their pics to your site, what then? A good sunflower pic with a “sunflower” tag and a bad one are the same in the eyes of the search engine, and then the poor buyer (this is the guy who actually has to find something he wants to pay for before you can give 90% of his money to the photographer) has to dig through pages upon pages of pics and may in fact give up before spending any money.

    Will there be no filters at all?

  29. Anonymous says:

    There is one fundamental piece to the stock photography business model missing from your version of the story.

    Value.

    In your comparison of sunflowers the value to some buyers (high end) lifestyle photographs with model released people. Your micro example had none.

    Another value piece that is worth paying more for is rights management. Higher profile branding requires CONTROL and individual image sales history data to ensure uniqueness among competitors. Neither of which the micro model can offer.

    And yet another value piece is speed to SEARCH. Buyers paying top dollar are typically under hard deadlines. I’m not a supporter of the big G, but one has to admit that their search functionality is first in class.

    Essentially this blog is a marketing piece rallying the troops against the big guy, and lacks any sound business acumen.

  30. The distinction amateur/pro is largely irrelevant when it comes to stock, and certainly based on the esthetic quality of images alone. Getty doesn’t care whether you are a part-timer (ie an “amateur”) as long as you deliver what they are after. However, it could be that if you are not shooting professionally, you would have little interest in setting up lifestyle shots using paid models and sophisticated lighting.

    Many professionals prefer for a number of reasons the RM model of licensing. Even though zoomr is a compelling idea, because it uses the RF model, those professionals will stick with Getty and Corbis, even if they are not enthusiastic about those agencies.

  31. Mark says:

    While there are some good photos on Zoomer, there are also a lot of not so good photos. Consistency is the key to successful stock photography. If I can go to Getty and consistently find high quality without paging through hundreds or thousands of crappy images, then I’ve probably saved myself money. My time is worth upwards of $100/hr to my employer. She would much rather I spend one hour looking for an image and pay $500 than have me spend five hours looking for $50 image. The four hours saved can be used to generate revenue for the company.

  32. Anonymous says:

    I’ve been discussing this idea with my friend who has worked as an advertising director for many years. The reason they use Getty/Corbis is because they can find appropriate images quickly. That is the biggest single reason. If they have to browse through 100 pages then are very put off. If you want to succeed with this idea, and I hope you do because I’m an interested photographer, then you will have to find a way to reliably put the right images at the top of the list. You need a search engine not simply based on keywords but tuned to the needs a buyer can define for their sought after image.

    I also would very much like to see a RM version of a system like this. I’m not at all thrilled about selling RF. I may never do that but I would certainly jump on board a RM way to offer my images with more control and better returns. The choices available to most of us “unknown” photographers are not that good right now. I look at a site like photographersdirect.com and it’s a good idea, but they are dismal in their search technology and buyers will not come back there after dealing with the poor focus of result sets for any particular search. It has to be better than that. Buyers are drowning in a sea of inappropriate images.

  33. [I'm Chief Instigator of LuckyOliver]

    Thomas, I love your energy. Bravo.

    LuckyOliver is a new company in the space that already offers photographer the ability to price their photos (with no limit)- I think you have the right idea. The challenge is less about allowing people to price their work- and more about finding solutions for buyers. Midstock really is the future of the industry.

  34. I am new into the field of still photography, just two years. I worked very hard and got a coffee table book, which is due for release on the 26th of Sep by the Defence Minister of India. I mean to say that your quality of work will attract people and can get you any price. I have been able to sell images for US $ 650, which thought may never sell, as these were simple portraits and were on Flickr for display. I negotiated hard. I knew the buyer is desperate and needs it for a campaign. I pity those who have no idea about how to negotiate and have sold similar images for one tenth of the price I got. Getty and Corbis are a rip off. They pay about US $ 13 per image to the young photographers, through agencies though, and sell each image for US$ 500, most of the times. I am starting a small co-operative to display images of quality of friends and sell at higher price.

    Getty Images has its rep in India, named as Visage Images, they told me that I will be paid just 30% for each image sold, a rip off. I refused to go with them. They were pushing that they sell more numbers. I give a damn shit to numbers, how do I know.

    Friends, each of your image is of high value, do not put a price cap on it, negotiate hard as per the price calculator, which is quite well known to all pros.

    In the business of stock, no one knows the brand name of photographers, its the image and type of usage of the image, which determines the price. So, assess the situation and price your image accordingly. There is no fixed price for the next time, for the same image even. Its the market usage and your image quality which leads the price.

  35. Anonymous says:

    I totally agree with you, Tom.

    I run a small stock site and we will be changing our site to allow photographers to change set price on each picture!

    Constantin Moisei
    http://www.goodstockimages.com

  36. Automatt says:

    Andrew, when will this market for stock photos launch?

  37. Anonymous says:

    Hi Thomas,

    While I wholeheartedly agree with what you’re saying here I do have another beef with all of the photo sites (and that would include Zooomr) and that is that the legalese regarding rights seems to indicate that in some manner I am giving my rights to my work up to the site that hosts my photos for sale, and in perpetuity. Thanks but no thanks. I’ll sell my own stuff.

    Morgan

  38. Your site is great and I really appreciate it! I have always enjoyed reading your site.

  39. Credit says:

    Your site has very much liked me. I really appreciate it!