A few days ago Strobist published an article about how it’s harder for professional photographers to sell their wares online because of the burgeoning business of the royalty free stock photography market.
I have some sympathy for him, and I even feel slightly guilty because I received a cheque for over $120 from Shutterstock a while back from the sale of my photos and referrals. It’s not much, but I haven’t tried very hard to upload images there and it does ease the pain of being payed in US Dollars. The difference in Euro and Dollars must be killing European exporters, never mind that imported goods have to become more expensive in the United States.
The article is very convincing and compelling but it’s up to each of us to decide for ourselves. Read the following posts by two bloggers before you make up your mind:
- Jason Dunsmore summarised some of the key ideas but he’s obviously in favour of people selling their images whichever way they like.
- Chris Garret makes a great rebuttal on several points.
You have to decide what the difference is between your photograph and some kids $1 stock photo. If there is no difference who’s fault is that? Not the kid and not the customer, that’s for sure.
The commoditisation of industries happens all the time and I’ve covered the argument between the professional and amateur sites before. I’ll even give away photos too. I’m glad whenever someone tells me they’re using the image, there’s nothing stopping them downloading them without so much as a nod in my direction. Did I mention I sell prints too through Deviant Art? More images will be uploaded there as I get the time to do so.
The real winners? They people running the stock photography sites.
A timely post by Stock Photo Talk – Some people do make money from microstock photography. I suspect they’re in the minority but where there’s a will..
2 replies on “Selling Out, Selling Cheap”
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I have had a similar debate on the issue but in the end I came down to the conclusion that the RF market is also opening up a new market, not only changing the old one (though it is doing that). And I like that the RF market is closer to an “open-source” model in that it becomes accessible to everyone–including small non-profits, churches, etc.
And you’re absolutely right, it’s the site owners that are making a killing on this. It’s a shame they pay such a low percentage to the photographers.