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.

Friday, 1 April 2016

March Sales Updates:

Tony Blair -notebook sale on Redbubble
March proved a mixed month with strong sales from one agency (guess) and a slow performance elsewhere.

As always, in first place were Shutterstock with above average subscription sales. An Enhanced Download (this time down to just $16 compared to the old $28 rate) and a couple of Single Downloads added to the mix. The month saw a big fall in On Demand Downloads which often make up to 50% or more of my monthly totals. Hopefully, April will see a come back for these. Uploading continued to be a pleasure here with quick review times and high acceptance rates (what happened to all those poor lighting/wrong colour balance/out of focus rejections?) Obviously, I must suddenly have become a brilliant photographer in the last few weeks :)

Stunning volcano crater on Nisyros island, Greece
Second place went to Istock with (sadly) just 2 credit sales but 35 sub/pp downloads.

Dreamstime was in third place with 6 downloads. Back to business as usual then with no repeat of my
record month in February.

123rf took fourth place with 14 downloads. There are still some issues with slow reviews but I have, at least, had some looked at without having to send them a begging email -so some improvement there.

Fifth place went to Bigstock with 10 downloads.

Redbubble were in sixth place with 3 products sales. Two stickers of a Greek goat and a notebook with my 1991 image of Tony Blair (former Prime Minister) on the cover.
Tarpon Springs Boulevard, Halki island

Bringing up the rear in seventh place were Fotolia with just one small sale. That Adobe effect really is slow in kicking in for me though others have reported a big jump in sales this year.

Uploading of new images was concentrated on my trip to the Greek island of Halki last year. Among my favourites were an image of the surprisingly named Tarpon Springs Boulevard. So named because it was funded by the Greek community of Tarpon Springs in Florida -which has close ties with the island (when the sponge fishing industry died out on Halki many citizens moved to Florida). I also uploaded the first image of one of my favourite places - the still active volcano on the island of Nisyros. It truly is a spectacular place and not to be missed if you are ever in the Dodecanese region of Greece. Regards, David.

Thursday, 31 March 2016

Exciting news -RF Editorial coming to Alamy:

Alamy -getting a heart from me for their license changes
Since first writing about Alamy some while ago I have steadily continued to add a few images to my small portfolio there though, as yet, I have had no sales. That's not a surprise - my port is very small (less than 50 images) and most contributors will point out that it takes a long time to get established there and start gathering sales.

As I wrote before, one of the big limitations of Alamy is that I cannot upload my Editorial images (the majority of my portfolio) because of their licensing system. Editorial on Alamy needs to be set as RM (Rights Managed) whereas the microstock sites use an RF (Royalty Free) license and Alamy will not allow you to upload images that are available under different license types. This has meant that I have been restricted to only uploading my non editorials.

This is changing! New contributor uploading and licensing tools at Alamy are in development and, hopefully, will be available soon. One of these changes will allow for Editorial to be set under a RF license -thus making it possible to upload my whole port including those images on micro sites (with no conflict of license type).

Big news indeed and you might be forgiven for thinking this would have been a major announcement from the agency. Well, not quite. It was mentioned yesterday (in passing) in a post on in relation to something totally unrelated. I spotted it and wasn't quite sure I was actually reading and understanding what had been posted. To make sure, I posted back highlighting the comment and asking if this really meant we would be able to upload the same editorials we have on micro using the new RF license. The Alamy rep (thank you James!) replied that yes it did mean just that.

I soon realised that not many members at MSG were noticing this news because of where it was posted so I started a new thread there highlighting this big change. Link here: Microstockgroup (there's a link in that to the original post from Alamy). 

There is certainly a case to be made for having a different port at Alamy than what you put on micro sites and if you are just starting out this should be given careful consideration. However, if like me, you have long established ports on the microstock sites then this will just open up a whole new set of buyers to our images. Won't Alamy buyers just look for your images on cheaper sites? Truthfully, some might but experience suggests that professional image buyers do not have the time or inclination to "shop around" to save a few pounds of somebody else's money. Alamy buyers include National newspapers and other media outlets who are more likely to stick to them. My experience with the much missed agency PictureNation was that I still got higher priced sales through them despite my images being available on cheaper micro sites. That's my opinion but, obviously, everyone has to use their own judgement on what's best for their portfolio.

There's no fixed time yet for the implementation of this change -other than soon. I'll be watching and getting ready to upload my Editorial content. Regards, David.

Tuesday, 22 March 2016

Veer's marathon Dash for Cash runs out of puff:

End of an era as Veer closes and makes final payments
That's it then. I've finally received my Dash For Cash uploading bonus from Veer which I earned way back in 2010.

New readers can be forgiven for not knowing what I'm talking about so backtracking to 2008 or so we had the launch of microstock photo agency Snap Village. SV was the first attempt at microstock from long established traditional photo agency Corbis (owned by Bill Gates -founder of Microsoft). Corbis was well known for editorial imagery and very much in a battle with Getty Images for dominance in that market.

Snapvillage (the very first online agency I signed up to) was never a great success -for them or me -and in 2009 its closure was announced with key portfolios being moved over to the Veer agency (another Corbis brand). Not surprisingly, my portfolio did not make the grade for transfer but they did allow photographers to sign up to the new Veer Marketplace (the budget part of the Veer site) and upload there. Most of my uploads got rejected -usually with snooty notes about being too journalistic or not meeting the aesthetic qualities their clients expected. It was very much an old school, traditional agency not having a clue about microstock and what sells. Worse, they never accepted editorial images -surprising given the background of Corbis (or maybe avoiding a conflict of interest?).

In 2010, Veer wanted to boost their image library so announced their Dash for Cash scheme. Essentially, for a limited period, they paid a fee for each image uploaded and accepted. I actually did quite well out of that and earned around $75 in bonus money. The problem with that was that Veer has a payout level of $100 (way too high for a slow selling site). Over the six years since I have had one Extended License paying out around $20 and a handful of minor sales -bringing me to just over $98. Close, but so far, from payout!

Acceptance actually got a lot better in the last year or so with virtually all my uploads making it into their library. The trouble is Veer was and remained a very low selling site. Over at Microstockgroup they never made it beyond the Low Earners section of the monthly polls. I did start to wonder if I would ever make this payout and considered closing my account just to get the money.

However, 2016 brought the news that the Corbis empire had been purchased by Visual China Group which would distribute Corbis images to the Chinese market and to the rest of the World through a partnership deal with Getty Images. Shortly afterwards is was announced that the Veer brand was being closed down altogether and that all contributors would be paid out (regardless of amount).

So, there we are then. The end of the second attempt by Corbis to crack the microstock market. I'm sorry for anyone at Veer who will no longer have a job and I will say that when I have needed to contact them they have never been less than friendly and helpful. The end of an era -with a direct link back to my start in microstock. Regards, David.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

Hastings pier rises again:

Hastings pier in 2009, before the fire
I have written before about our historic Victorian pier here in Hastings in East Sussex, England. Opened in 1872, the pier was closed some years ago due to safety concerns and later devasted by fire in October 2010.

The sense of loss that I and many others felt on the day was profound as this elegant landmark was feared gone forever. The fire received major news coverage from both the press and television -both in the UK and around the World.
Hastings pier in October 2010 -devastated by fire

However, with funding from the Lottery Heritage Fund and money raised from the public, rebuilding work has been taking place over the last few years with the grand re-opening now hopefully taking place in April 2016.

Much work has been carried out to strengthen the iron sub structure. Wooden decking has been replaced. The burnt out ballroom has been demolished and a new visitor centre built. The fire ravaged pavilion at the entrance to the pier has been restored and turned into a new restaurant.

Hastings pier taking shape in July 2015 
The pier intends to be a hub for all sorts of activities once re-opened with a range of live performances and
events being planned and even an open air cinema in good weather.

Above all, of course, it will be great to simply walk along the pier and enjoy (and photograph) the view back to Hastings -a perspective that I have never experienced as the pier was already closed when I first moved here in 2009.

Seaside piers hold a great place in my heart and for many others and I am excited to see the work nearing completion. Regards, David.

Saturday, 5 March 2016

February Sales Updates:

Margaret Thatcher - Shutterstock E.D.
A pleasing strong month in February with a few nice surprises.

A powerful month on Shutterstock as it maintained its usual place at the top. On Demand sales were strong, producing more revenue than standard subs. An Enhanced Download (Extended License) of Margaret Thatcher helped boost things further. The controversial change to the ED payout (from flat $28 to a varied % amount based on your sales tier) didn't make a lot of difference here. Under $3 less than previously -certainly not enough to make me consider opting out of these sales as some have done.

Istock took a decisive second place with a worthwhile 10 credit sales and a further 27 sub/PP downloads. This was one of the strongest months for credit sales in a long time.

In third place came Dreamstime who, as previously posted, had a record sales day for me with 54 subscription sales of my archive rock band images. A further 10 subscription sales during the month helped reverse the poor showing for DT of late. It was interesting to see the flurry of unrelated downloads after having that big day. It may be that my images got pushed up in the search rankings because of that. Or just a co-incidence :) If you are on Dreamstime never miss the chance to post good news using the sites Blog facility. New blogs get listed on DT front page and can help to draw a lot of attention to your portfolio. Also, do not forget to make use of the social media sharing buttons on your blog posts to draw in Twitter, Facebook and Google+ readers. To date my post has had over 1600 viewings and gained a place in the "hot" topics listing -again bringing in more attention to my work. DT also rewards popular/useful posts with a free credit which can be put towards image purchases there. Several of the images on my Greek Islands blog have been obtained in this way.
Vintage car - Laptop sleeve sale on Redbubble

Fourth place went to Redbubble who pleased with a further two product sales. Margaret Thatcher on a baby outfit (lucky baby!) and my vintage American car image on a laptop sleeve. It's taken a while, but my images seem to be gaining some traction at Redbubble of late. My only disappointment so far is not selling any of my range of calendars. I had felt sure that Christmas would have seen a few sales of these.

123RF took fifth place with 14 downloads. Editorial images making a strong showing here. It's a shame then that, once again, I have a backlog of over twenty editorial images awaiting review -some for weeks now. Seems I keep going down the same road of waiting forever for reviews and then having to email support to get something to happen (sigh).
Lech Walesa - multiple sales in February

Bigstock made sixth place with 7 downloads. Steady tick over site this. Never really excites or surprises and I have never had an extended license there in all the years I have been with them. Maybe one day?

Finally in seventh place were Fotolia with just a single download. I am prepared to be patient with this one as I still only have a small portfolio and there is everything to play for in the future -especially with all images being mirrored on Adobe Stock and available directly within Photoshop. They just need to start taking Editorial images and I'll be really happy.

Images used this time show the Enhanced sale on Margaret Thatcher at SS and the vintage American car sold at Redbubble. Lech Walesa, former President of Poland, makes an appearance after a flurry of sales on Shutterstock, Dreamstime, Bigstock and 123rf. A good example of how archive images can sell when the subject is in the current news. Regards, David.