Tag Archive for stock photography

@500px cutting their payments to photographers is selfish

This is a unilateral decision. A couple of years ago, 500px.com launched their “Market Place”, where photographers could earn money from selling their photos. However, there were two immediate problems. First, they let Pinterest members get and use the photos for free anyway. Subsequently, I have almost stopped uploading photos to 500px, and restarted using Flickr. Secondly, they offered a measly 30% of the sale price. The cost of employing a model, makeup artist, maintenance of photographic equipment, and photographic software cannot be covered by such a payment scheme. Understandably, photographers complained and boycotted. So, 500px bumped up the pay to 70% commission, which is better, but their prices were still kind of low. So, I never joined their market place.

Screen shot of the JapanesePhotos.Asia 500px portfolio.

Screen shot of the JapanesePhotos.Asia 500px portfolio.

 

Now, PetaPixel reports that 500px is again unilaterally readjusting the price. All non-exclusive market place members will have their commissions cut to 30% (again). 500px claims that in order to be competitive, they need to ‘restructure’. For photographers to be competitive, and to create photographs, we need money, and cutting the amount paid is is utterly ridiculous. The quality of product will suffer, and so will 500px’s sales. In any case, it doesn’t affect me, as I don’t take 500px seriously, as they don’t seem to take the whole thing and photographers seriously.

State of the Stock

Well, State of the Art didn’t seem appropriate, so I opted for the title above. I’ll admit, I first started to meddle with photo sales via iStock, and it was a good way (easy) way to start, but not a good way to stay. A camera costs about USD$2,000 to $5,000 and it needs to be replaced every three years, just to keep up. Then, there’s the cost of a computer and all its software that needs to be upgraded and maintained, and eventually replaced, too; usually on three to five year cycles. You can see a summary of my costs and how you can get free photos from me on this info page. So basically, it’s expensive to do professional (or semi-pro) photography. So, iStock generously pays about 20 cents per sale. Consequently I decided to leave that, once they offered me a certain level of rank after achieving some acceptable level of downloads or sales. I looked around and found that that Rights Managed licensing was still common, and still earning. Everything I saw about iStock just looked like it was all about making the company owners rich, and nothing for the “contributors” (aka photographers).

Recently, Google bought a whole stash of photos for use as clip art like images for their Google Drive / Google Docs applications. The earnings photographers got was a grand total of $12, despite the fact that the photos could have sold multiple times, but are now freely available via Google Drive. Effectively, the products of hard working photographers was given away for free in perpetuity. A single photo shoot with models, make up artists, site costs, post production can cost anywhere between $500 and can at times go beyond $5,000. And in return photographers in iStock were paid $12 (PhotoShelter blog post). In short, the cost to benefit of remaining at iStock is stupidly in their favour.

A store keeper replenishing his snack displays in Gion, Kyoto.

A store keeper replenishing his snack displays in Gion, Kyoto.

Consequently, again the iStock community got angry and organised themselves an internet equivalent to industrial action. Thanks to Image Brief on Twitter for sharing this PhotoShelter blog post which describes how iStock seems to have had no qualms in dumping one of their best and top ‘contributors’. It’s absolutely shameful how iStock has treated its members, and I’m glad I quit ‘contributing’ years ago. In contrast, I have to say that my agent Henry Westheim, PhotoShelter, and Image Brief aren’t bad at all.

In case you’re wondering, this is a photography blog, so most blog posts should contain at least one photo. Even if it is randomly selected. 🙂