Back in the Seventies and Eighties I founded and ran several Fleet Street photo agencies specialising in stock images of celebrities from pop stars to politicians. These were syndicated to the National and International press and Television. These days I am active in the Microstock world and this blog charts my journey as well as, hopefully, providing inspiration and ideas to others. Image buyers should also find this blog useful with links to my portfolios and regular updates on new uploads. Unless otherwise stated all images are my copyright and may not be reproduced or copied. Comments are very welcome but will be reviewed before publication. Enjoy your visit. Regards, David.

Wednesday, 23 September 2020

August Sales Updates:

The Flying Saucers, sold and unsold on Alamy
Apologies for the late posting. Regular readers will know this is often because nothing especially exciting happened and, yes, here we are in the Summer Slowdown with a Pandemic thrown in for good measure. 
That said there were a few highlights in a rather turgid month. 

 Straight to first place we had Redbubble with 4 product sales ranging from stickers to mug and best of all a framed print of the Greek island of Agistri. 

 Shutterstock took second place in what was my first full month back with them since re-activating my portfolio after a seven week protest shutdown. Still plenty of the pathetic 10-17 cent subscription sales but a number at higher rates such as 44, 59, 66 76 cents (all of which obviously better than my old fixed 36cent rate. On Demand sales have varied from lower to higher than my former $2.70 rate (from $2.25 up to $3.25). Note that this is for level 3 at 25% commission. I anticipate reaching level 4 (30% commission) in October before, of course, being plunged along with everyone else to level 1 on January 1st. 

 Third place went to Istock with 23 downloads. A low RPD dragged them down this month. 

 In fourth place were Alamy, not with sales but an unexpected small amount from ASCRL (American
El Salvador church, Seville

Society for Collecting Rights Licensing). It's the US version of a DACS payment and not one I had seen before. There should have been sales at Alamy as I had two personal use sales of the 1976 Rock and Roll Radio campaign march in London. Guess what's coming next! Both refunded the following day presumably once the "buyer" had downloaded the unwatermarked image. Pretty annoying but not a lot to be done about it as RF (Royalty Free) images on Alamy do not have an opt out for personal use sales. Rights Managed images do but as my images are RF on other sites they have to be RF on Alamy too.

 Moving to the lower end we had Dreamstime in fifth place with 4 downloads. These included a couple of my archive b/w images of actors Jeremy Sinden and Michael Gough.

 Bigstock only managed sixth place with just 2 downloads. Never a big seller but they have really slowed in recent months. 

Agistri island, framed print sale on Redbubble

 Seventh place went to Adobe with just a single small subsciption sale. As mentioned many many times before I will never make much at Adobe unless they start taking regular Editorial. 

 No sales as yet at Pond 5, but I am continuing to upload to them and now have several hundred images online. They have said publicly that they intend to give more of a marketing push on images if we supply the content. Well, who knows but I am certainly willing to give them a chance. 

 Recent uploads have been curtailed whilst I put my effort into Pond 5 uploading but I did add one of the El Salvador church in central Seville. September is showing signs of improvement so more to come next month. Regards, David.

Wednesday, 12 August 2020

July Sales Updates:

Plaza Virgen de Los Reyes, Seville
 An overall unexciting month in July with one main highlight sales wise. First off, though, I need to address the Shutterstock issue. Having deactivated my images on June 6 to support the boycott against their commission cuts it became clear to me that not nearly enough contributors were joining in with this to make an effective protest. It was with no great sense of joy that I decided to reactivate my portfolio on July 22. I held out for over six weeks which is a lot more than some that just deactivated for a week or so. I had really hoped that enough people would join in to force a reversal of the cuts. I had also hoped that I would see an increase in sales at other sites (especially on editorial images which were no longer available at SS). That didn't happen so, for now, I'm back. I'll make a longer term decision once I get a few months actual sales figures in. Difficult, but everyone has to make their own decision on this.

So to the actual monthly sales: First up were Redbubble with 5 product sales. Several T shirts and other merchandise were topped by a framed print sale of the Greek island of Skiathos pushing RB into a well deserved first place.

Alamy took second place with 4 downloads. A couple of low paying distributor sales from Russia and a

MetroCentro tram, Seville
couple of reasonable $$ direct sales. Three of these were from my b/w archives but the best selling one was a modern image of the St.Leonards Festival.

Third place went to Istock with a disappointing 15 downloads. Only a reasonable RPD pulled them up a bit.

Despite not been switched on till near the end of the month, Shutterstock still managed to make fourth place. Varied amounts - rubbish 10-17 cent subscription sales but then one paying $0.73. Overall, I still expect to make less but, as I said above, I want to see some actual results for this.

Dreamstime made fifth place with 4 subscription sales. DT were one of my big hopes for an uptick in sales whilst not on SS but, sadly, it wasn't to be.

Sixth place saw Bigstock with just 2 downloads.

New products for my art sites with added text
And, finally, we had Adobe with just a single sale during July.

One good thing to come out of the Shutterstock debacle was that it pushed me to finally start uploading to Pond 5. No sales yet but I now have over 200 images online (and rising). The contributor interface takes a bit of getting used to but once you find your way around it gets easier. Just a reminder - they pay 50% royalties (for images) and you can set your own pricing so they are certainly worth a try. They are known as a footage agency but recently said (roughly) give us your image content and we'll do our best to build up sales. I'm happy to support them on that.

Recent uploading saw some more of my 2019 Seville trip going up. For my art product sites I have been mucking around with adding captions to a bored looking (yawning) cat image. I hope they might appeal to someone as a T shirt or whatever. Adding the text was done in Photoshop and doesn't take long -so worth a try I thought. More next month. Regards, David.

Wednesday, 1 July 2020

June Sales Updates:

Symi island - sold on Fine Art America
A strong month in June with a few exceptionally good sales and a marked changing in my results line up.

Alamy took a commanding lead in first place with 3 downloads (all from my b/w archives). A couple of very modest sales of politicians Richard Tracey and Ken Clarke were topped off on the last day of the month by an excellent $$$ sale of Seventies band The Fabulous Poodles (specifically violinist Bobby Valentino playing live on stage in 1978). A great end to the month!

Second place went to FineArtAmerica with a substantial canvas print sale of Yialos harbour on the Greek island of Symi. I am certainly seeing an upturn at FAA in recent months.

Third place place was taken by another print site Redbubble with 3 product sales. Two posters of Majorca and a sticker of Tony Blair.

Istock made fourth place with a disappointing 18 downloads. Only a reasonable RPD held things up
Fabulous Poodles - sold on Alamy

Fifth place went to Dreamstime with 5 downloads. Three of these paid out the 10% bonus commission offered from new sales after June 1. Thus a $0.35 sub sale rises to $0.38 and the $2.00 sales are now $2.20. Note, the bonus does not apply to plans purchased before that date. It's a nice touch in these times.

Making their final appearance (for now at least) in Sixth place were Shutterstock with 11 downloads. As previously posted, I deactivated my port on June 6 in protest at the new commission structure so this just represents sales for the first week of June - many of which were for paltry $0.10 amounts. My withheld portfolio may be small (compared to some) at 2600 files but I am certainly leaving them some gaps in their coverage. Margaret Thatcher anyone? I even had an email from them saying a buyer wanted to purchase one of my archive images and the fee would be $5.00. Would I consider re-activating to allow this sale? Politely declined with my reasons. The #boycottshutterstock goes on. Check out the newly formed for news of action here.

Bigstock made seventh place with 4 downloads. As mentioned before, my portfolio here will not get bigger as my SS uploads were mirrored to them. Cannot see it would be worth uploading directly for those sort of sales. That said, they did get another sale of my Coronavirus letter image -the only place to have sold it so far.

Plaza de Espana in Seville
Bringing up the rear in eighth place were Adobe with just a single small sub sale. If I had hoped they would be announcing a full editorial image offering to capitalise on the Shutterstock carnage I was to be disappointed (so far).

Recent uploading saw me returning to my 2019 trip to Seville for a number of images including one of the rowing boats you can hire at the stunning Plaza de Espana. I look forward to the day when I can actually return for real.

Looking for other outlets for my images I decided to sign up to Pond5 My portfolio page . They are mainly known as a video agency but do take other media including stock photographs. They quite often supply archive footage for television documentaries and the like so I thought my archive images (at least) might make a good fit. I wasn't at all sure if my b/w scans would get accepted but my initial test batch of 11 images all passed. You can set your own prices or let them do it and they pay 50% commission on photo sales. I've set my own for now but really have no idea how Pond5 will work out for me. Obviously, I will report any sales if they happen.

Stay safe. Regards, David.

Monday, 8 June 2020

May Sales Updates:

Tom Robinson Band in 1978 -Sold on Alamy
Putting aside the shock Shutterstock announcement at the end of May it was overall a steady month with some good results from Print On Demand sites.

In first place were the excellent Redbubble with 6 product sales. A framed print sale led the way here with the rest a mix of T shirts, posters, stickers. I am also pleased, that in the light of recent events, I didn't have to give Shutterstock their usual top place :)

Shutterstock did manage second place with 60 downloads. A fair number of On Demand and three modest Single sales boosting up the income here. How good all those 36c subscription and $2.70 On demand sales look now.

Third place went to Alamy with 3 downloads. These were all from my B/W archives. We had the Tom Robinson Band and Steel Pulse - both performing at the Rock Against Racism festival held in Hackney, London in 1978. Also sold was the former Conservative Minister Richard Tracey (I spotted this one in the obituary page of the Daily Telegraph newspaper -complete with credit line to myself). I am hoping I might see more of these uses now my images are not available at Shutterstock.

Fourth place went to my other POD site FineArtAmerica with 3 product sales. The same customer
St. Mildred's church in Tenterden
purchased a Tote bag and two carry pouches all featuring the same image. I was a bit surprised that they chose a portrait format image which didn't really work on the products when there was a similar landscape version available. However, as long as they are happy that's fine by me.

Istock made fifth place with a less than stellar 24 downloads. A lower RPD than recently made this a disappointing month from them. Acceptance rate continues to be high with lightening fast approvals of editorials and a few days wait for the rest.

Sixth place went to Dreamstime with 3 downloads. They also announced that from June 1 they were increasing commission by 10%  on new image sales for a time during the pandemic as a help to contributors. Clearly intended as a poke against Shutterstock who slashed their commission on the same date but a very welcome gesture all the same.

Tourists in London before Coronavirus
Bigstock took seventh place with 4 downloads. Not sure what to do about them as my portfolio there is mirrored (via the closed Bridge to Bigstock program) from my Shutterstock uploads (now halted) so there will be no new images on Bigstock either.  Sales at BS certainly wouldn't warrant the time to upload directly. Wait and see on that one.

Finally in eighth place were Adobe with just a single download. A lot of angry Shutterstock contributors are talking of directing buyers towards Adobe but until they open up to general editorial uploads this is not any help to me.

Not much shooting recently due to Coronavirus restrictions ( I should have been on a Greek island as I write this) but I have been out capturing a few images where I live in Tenterden including the 12th century St.Mildred's church. I also uploaded an old image of women tourists in London which I thought might be useful for articles on travel/tourism restrictions.

Stay safe. Regards, David.

Sunday, 7 June 2020

Stepping Away From Shutterstock:

Lech Walesa #nolongeronshutterstock
Back in June 2009 I was delighted and proud to be accepted as a contributor to Shutterstock. Then you had to submit a batch of ten sample images of which seven had to pass their stringent quality tests before you were cleared to start submitting. My first attempt failed (mainly on poor lighting issues if I recall correctly). For my second attempt I took a different approach. Nothing in the application rules said you couldn't include editorial images and as my archive B/W scans were getting some sales on the (now defunct) British agency Picture Nation I decided to make those the bulk of my second attempt. A day or two later I received a personal email from Anthony Correia (Head of Editorial Content or something along those lines). Obviously he wanted to say do not bother sending these old grainy B/W images again. Well, not exactly - he actually complimented me on my submission, described them as historically relevant and asked me to please keep them coming! What I had got wrong was the format of the Editorial caption. Not only did he edit my submitted images into the correct format but took the time to write out the captions I had sent along with the version they wanted. I was in!

The one thing nobody can say about Shutterstock is that they don't get sales. Even today in my
Phil Lynott #nolongeronshutterstock
regular monthly updates they come out top of my sales rankings time and time again -for both dollar value earned and quantity of downloads and usually by a big margin at that. As time went by it was great to see my tally of downloads building up through each month, sometimes with the added excitement of an Enhanced Download or a high paying Single sale. And as my lifetime earnings grew I passed the levels barriers eventually reaching the second highest 36c point and pushing towards the top 38c mark. Each of these points served to not only increase the value of subscription downloads but also boosted the higher paying On Demand sales.

Another thing I always liked about Shutterstock was their prompt and friendly communications from that initial email from Anthony through to when I had a problem with airshow images. I suddenly started getting rejections for these saying they needed (press) credentials to submit. I emailed pointing out that my local annual airshow at Eastbourne and many others in the UK were not closed ticketed events but public shows held on the seafront that anybody could attend and, therefore, no credentials were required (or even issued). Within a day I had a reply saying they would change their policy and make it on an event by event basis and that Eastbourne images were fine for the reasons I had explained.

This helpful approach took a downturn in recent years when much of the initial support queries were outsourced to fellow contributors who, by all accounts, had no inside knowledge or the ability to actually do anything. My one experience was regarding an uploading issue I was having when all the respondent could do was ask for a screenshot even though I had already explained clearly what the error message was telling me. I suppose that this diminishing of support should have been a clue to the way things were changing between Shutterstock and its contributors -the people supplying the product they sell.

And so to May 2020 when everything changed with the arrival of that email. With just six days notice (can you even call that notice?) the lifetime earnings levels which I had worked hard to achieve were being scrapped to be replaced by % of sale price system. I started from level 3 paying 25% though would have climbed to level 4 (30%) fairly soon. But 25% of what? The price per image that the customer actually pays right? That is how Istock calculate it by waiting to see how many images in a subscription pack the customer uses and paying a percentage based on that (which is why Istock no longer have real time reporting of earnings as they wait for the subscription to end).

Poll tax riots #nolongeronshutterstock
Shutterstock have a much better (for them) money grabbing scheme. They simply assume that a customer will download the full amount of images in the pack and pay a percentage to contributors based on that. Put simply for clarity if a customer pays $100 for a pack allowing them 100 downloads then any image downloaded is valued at $1.00 and the contributor gets their percentage of that. In reality we all know that most customers only download a proportion of what is available (that's how the subscription model works). In an extreme example if the customer only downloads a single image from that pack they have paid $100 for that image and under a fair system the contributor would get their percentage of that amount. Shutterstocks scheme still has the contributor getting a share of $1.00 while they pocket the other $99 odd.

And, of course, let us not forget the second sting in the tail that Shutterstock have in store for us. When you have worked hard all year rising through the percentage levels based on the number of your images downloaded it's Happy Christmas because every January every contributor gets trashed back down to the lowest 15% level and has to start all over again.

How did an agency that I was proud to work with descend to this? God only knows but I want no part of these new terms. Yesterday I disabled all my 2610 images on Shutterstock (the opt out is in Account Settings) and within a day or two my images will no longer be available to license there. Worth noting that this does not delete your images and you can re-enable sales in the future should terms change for the better. Don't hold your breath waiting though.

Good luck to you all. Stay safe. Regards, David.