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Thread: "professionals are outraged at sites like iStockphoto"

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    Ausphotography Regular JimD's Avatar
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    "professionals are outraged at sites like iStockphoto"

    "professionals are outraged at sites like iStockphoto"



    http://www.washingtonpost.com/todays...4-24&bk=G&pg=3

    "To get a sense of just how bad things are for professional photographers, the story of Robert Lam is instructive. When Time needed a photo to illustrate its “New Frugality” cover story in late 2009, it bought Lam’s image of a jar of change from stock-photo agency iStockphoto. The going rate for a Time cover had typically been $3,000 to $10,000. Lam was paid $31.50. Nevertheless, Lam declared, “I am happy” — the payment was more than he’d expected the photo to generate, and he was delighted to have a Time cover in his portfolio. Veteran professional photographers were livid, calling Lam an idiot, among other unkind words.Lam told me that he’s only a part-time photographer — he makes most of his income through a furniture store he owns. Last year, he earned $4,000 from stock photography. Because it’s his passion and hobby, not his job, that’s fine by him. Most of what Lam has learned about lighting has come from reading online, on Strobist and similar blogs. Typical of the DIY approach of this set, Lam’s Time cover was shot using materials Lam found at a local sign store.
    Professionals, naturally, are upset with amateurs like Lam for diluting the market for their work. IStockphoto is littered with high-quality photographs, the type of shots that used to come out of studio shoots that cost four or five figures to produce. You can buy the rights to iStockphoto images for a few bucks if you want to hang them on your wall; for a few bucks more, you can run them in your widely read publication. When the photo agency Getty Images bought iStockphoto for $50 million in 2006, Getty probably didn’t predict the change that would be wrought by this new era of cheap photographs. A photo that sells for $10 on the iStockphoto site goes for $340 on the Getty site. (Getty’s main site relies on a kind of high-class client the agency seems to hope would never visit iStockphoto.)
    But professionals who are outraged at photographers like Lam or at sites like iStockphoto miss the point. Neither Lam nor iStock would have had such an impact if their photography didn’t meet the market’s demand for quality. What’s diluting the market for elite photography is the transfer of professional skill to amateurs — the work Hobby is doing. Although his blog is entirely about how to light photographs at a professional level, his reader surveys reveal that 86 percent of his readers are amateurs."
    It must be a huge and ongoing shake up for the photography industry.
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    It certainly must! But I have always been bemused by the pro's approach, even in film days, where the pro label seemed to go with taking rolls and rolls of film to get "the shot". And now it's a case of filling multiple memory cards for the same result. The pros certainly have a vastly superior technical knowledge to most amateurs, but they don't necessarily also have a superior aesthetic appreciation, as we see regularly on this site. And with digital, the amateurs can also afford to fill many cards, if that's really what it takes - which I doubt.

    As in the art world, getting a "name" seems to be the all important key for success - often posthumous!

    Well, there's my two bob's worth.
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    The money seems (by that article at least) to be evaporating.

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    I created a thread a while back suggesting that Photography is a Commodity. I really can't say that I've changed my opinion, and definitely not in relation to this sort of thing.

    What the professionals have to accept, whether they like it or not, is that the industry is changing and photography is far more accessible than it was in the days of film because as with any technological advances, improvements happen more frequently and the tools themselves become commoditised and available to the "masses" - just like cars, for example.

    Pure photographers are a dying breed and they have to adapt or "die". After all, there isn't much demand for an ostler these days - Henry Ford was the person responsible for the decline in that trade!
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    Yes, good points Cheryl.

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    Why does poor old Henry Ford get all the time?

    Why do people shop at IKEA, rather than buying from a quality furniture maker? Why is it that in the Eastern States have the "$2.00 Buck Shop"

    Simple answer, It's CHEAP and it works.

    People with the capital, don't shop at IKEA, they buy from the single person owner furniture shop.

    Moral of the story, people will always shop for a bargin, "Istockphoto" where obviously onto something for GETTY to pay 50 Million for it. Good on them.
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    ...IStockphoto is littered with high-quality photographs, the type of shots that used to come out of studio shoots that cost four or five figures to produce...
    Obviously, the istockphotos don't cost 4 or 5 figures to produce, and so the pro is being undercut by more efficient photographers. Its called competition, and we are all meant to love it.

    (unfortunately, it also results in a reduction of skill in the industry to get the shots that *need* the expensive shoots, and we will all lose at that point.)
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    Are these Pro's the same ones that try and get discounts when they buy new gear from their suppliers? Maybe try and get a new Canon Lens a bit cheaper by asking if 'that is the best price you can do'. Or do they shop around and get a few quotes when they want to upgrade their studio lighting?

    Funny how them getting something cheaper is OK, but if someone else does, it isn't. As they say, it is only called a Rort, if you are not in on it!

    As for it being a huge shake-up for the industry, I agree, but I think the industry has always been that way. I am sure your photographers of the 1840's and 1850's would lament how easy it was for those of the 1880's and 1890's. As photography has developed (pun intended) since 1826, every generation of photographers has had to deal with the next generation doing it a different (and often easier) way. The same can be said of most things in life. People have to change and evolve or they stagnate, and that is what these photographers are doing. They happily charged what they could, when they could, now that has changed, they don't want to adapt, but would rather sit back and whinge about it.
    Last edited by ricktas; 26-04-2011 at 6:41am.
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    The internet has spawned a lot in its short time on Earth. Some good and some not. It is here to stay and that is that. How people or giant corporations choose to use it is up to them, and their principles. Sad fact of current life.

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    Photography is no different to any other industry that can be improved by modern techniques. The printing indiustry is another example. Once you had to go to a printer for fancy stationary, invitations, certificates etc. Now anyone can do it on their computer. Professional photographers and printers just have to suck it up and adapt.

    On the one hand the true pros have deeper knowledge and fundamental skills, but at the end of the day if people can achieve similar results by themselves then that's just plain liberating. Eventually, the "old" skills become rare esoteric areas of special interest, and you have niche markets for those who still have those old skills. Try finding a blacksmith who can shoe your horse ..... not too many farriers in your local shopping centre!

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    It's both evolution and revolution. Photographers last century earned very little until they died. We've gone full circle. But like any industry there is always opportunity and a photographer with good business sense will find that. (Much like finding the farrier when you need one). For instance, last week I did a series of engineering photographs for HP. Really good money and no way you would find them on the web. They need to do stuff every month and there is a mountain of work out there in similar industries.
    By the way, they tried doing it internally but could never get the lighting right for printing.
    And why shouldn't pro's get discounts on photographic gear like everyone else? That's really got little to do with the skill levels required to take good photos. Just makes good business sense and I haven't heard any pro complain about an amateur getting a discount.
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    Even tho this is an old story, and the topic itself has been going round in circles for what seems like a century now, I can never seem to understand why there seems to be so much of a beat up over it!

    Quote Originally Posted by Redgum View Post
    .....
    And why shouldn't pro's get discounts on photographic gear like everyone else? .....
    Sorry William, but this doesn't really make any sense, when taken in context to the topic at hand.

    No one has ever denied any pro the right to a discount on gear. But judging from the outcry from the veteran professionals photographers that labelled Lam "an idiot", it seems that the only sector of society that is not entitled to any photography related discounts seem to be the groups that these pro photographers rely on for their bread and butter, like Time or any organisation that uses the microstock photography route.

    If Time(a large multi billion dollar organisation) are entitled to any form of photography related discounting(as they should be allowed to be) and there are 'photographers' out there willing to cater to that market ... is there any issue?
    If not, then is this story a beat up.. storm in a teacup.. not worth getting bothered over.. etc.


    Isn't the professional photographer better off looking at other avenues that will provide them with a higher return rather than wasting their time, effort and energy at futile whinging and whining.

    As you said, you found alternative opportunities that are also equally there for other pro photographers to discover. So all I see and read in stories like this istock/Time beat up, is that there are some pro photographers that simply don't want to change, or work for their income.
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    Well we all know the media line - if it bleeds it leads. You wont see a story about a canny photographer finding a new niche market.
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    Quote Originally Posted by arthurking83 View Post



    Sorry William, but this doesn't really make any sense, when taken in context to the topic at hand.
    Just for the record - William is not Redgum.
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    "Yuri Arcurs" is a name that's cane into my head when reading this, it's the way photography is going and this man has evolved with this change. He is earning a small fortune via stock photography sites. Anyway if an amateur can take a better photo than this so called "pro" then maybe he should have a good look at himself.

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    These cries and frustrations from the photography industry are being echoed by many other industries at the moment - graphic design, IT, writing, advertising etc... They are crying out that they are being underbid by newcomers, work is being outsourced, their work is undervalued etc...

    Time used to be known for their cover shots. Going to stock photos shows a change in vision for the magazine which is reflected in other areas such as writing. That's their response to the challenges publishing faces in the 21st century. They've adapted their standards to what people are willing to pay.

    My favourite stock photo related story was the one I read yesterday where a Vegan magazine was caught buying stock photos with meat and then photoshopping out the bones: http://www.aphotoeditor.com/2011/04/...too-expensive/

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