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.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

February sales updates:

An average month in February with, as usual, Shutterstock way out in front. A good number of On Demand downloads and a high paying Single download pushed the income up nicely. Meanwhile, the Shutterstock app for Facebook continues to hiccup with just the odd sales update now and again. Forget about the Twitter app -it stopped last June for me and shows no sign of ever being reactivated again! Whether or not either of these helps sales I can't know, but they certainly do not hinder.

Dreamstime did well with 15 downloads but these were mostly subs sales thus only $6.90 in earnings. It's been noted many times how DT sales come in Subs waves and then Credit sale waves (without anyone ever really fathoming why). Think I'm now due my Credit sales period!

Istock perked up with 14 downloads ($10.18) and a further 5 PP sales ($1.40). The big news from Istock is that they are introducing subscription packages from April. Commission will be at $0.28 for non exclusives (in line with the current PP rate at Thinkstock and Photos.com). How this will affect sales remains to be seen. On balance, I expect to see an increase in sales and revenue from this. Parent company Getty Images also announced a plan to make millions of images free to use in "non commercial" blogs and the like. Obviously this produced predictable outrage amongst contributors with suggestions they were trying to drive competing agencies out of business. I take heart in the fact that Shutterstock seem unconcerned about the move and do not see it as a major threat. In reality how many bloggers are going to want to embed Getty images into their blog -complete with links to Getty and (potentially) some sort of advertising stream? I know I would rather just pay for an image for either of my blogs when I need to -without the Getty clutter around it.

123rf produced 12 downloads ($3.97) -again mainly subs sales. As mentioned before reviews of my (non editorial) images have ground to a halt -I still have an images from January/February in pending. A recent thread at microstockgroup.com suggested that they review large batches promptly but smaller batches or single images are left waiting.

Bigstock saw 9 downloads ($4.90). I'm still seeing an increasing number of subsciption sales here which, thankfully, are still being paid (for now) at the enhanced $0.38 rate for Bridge to Bigstock contributors.

Fotolia managed 5 downloads (1.25 credits). I still have a tiny portfolio there, but what does get accepted seems to sell.

Yay surprised with a single download paying 0.75 euros. Just what caused Yay sales to drop off a cliff after last April remains unknown. Google changed their search results at that time and some other agencies reported a fall in traffic after that -so that may be the reason. Even their multitude of partner sites seem to produce little or no sales.

Finally, having posted recently about no sales at Mostphotos for a long time, I had a sub sale in February for 0.27euros. Hopefully, that isn't it for another nine months.

Uploading in February included an archive image of British architect Sir Richard Rogers as well as images of the Krka waterfalls in Croatia and my local event -the annual Jack In The Green festival in Hastings. Regards, David.
 

Thursday, 13 February 2014

January sales updates:

It seems like only yesterday that I was writing my December updates post. Hang on, it was! Anyway, here we go straight on to my January updates.

In what turned out to be, in general, a rather slow month the leader of the pack (by a big margin) was, as ever, Shutterstock. Even here though there was a marked lack of higher paying On Demand sales which usually boost the income up.

Dreamstime produced 13 downloads ($13.82) with a mix of credit and sub sales.

Bigstock proved lively with 19 downloads ($8.67) with $0.38 subs well to the fore. Interestingly,one
of their partner sites added two "single merchandise" sales. T shirts? Mugs? Who knows.

Istock saw just 4 downloads ($3.19) with a further $1.68 from 6 PP sales.

123rf managed 8 downloads ($4.08) -virtually all subs.

Fotolia produced 2 sub downloads (0.50 credits).

And finally two sites I do not see much action with: Canstock had 2 downloads ($1.00) and a sale at Cutcaster produced $1.84 in commission.

Recent uploads followed a flight theme with a reworked b/w version of a Herring Gull and some more images from the 2012 and 2013 Eastbourne International Airshow (Airbourne) -a Chinook helicopter and the Breitling wing walking team. The airshow images were accepted everywhere except my best agent Shutterstock who insisted I needed "credentials" (i.e. a press pass/permit or similar). A prompt and friendly email came back from them when I queried this. It seems that ALL airshow images now need credentials. Even the ones that are free and open to the public like Eastbourne. That's certainly a big blow as there aren't any credentials issued for this event -they are not needed as it's held on the seafront for all to see (and photograph). I have sent them another email pointing this out and asking if there is any way forward for airshow images. I'll update this post with any developments. Regards, David.

Edit: Got a fantastically helpful response from Shutterstock. They took a look at the Eastbourne images and agreed they were OK to upload. Now all accepted. Going forward, should I cover other airshows, I will contact Credentials at Shutterstock with details of the show so they can make a decision on it. As they (rightly) said their inspectors wouldn't know the circumstances of each airshow when images are uploaded. So contact Credentials first before uploading. Great response from Shutterstock I thought!

Wednesday, 12 February 2014

December sales updates:

Catching up with my monthly updates my December report is rather overdue.

As ever, Shutterstock outperformed all other sites with the highlight being a further three Single and Other Downloads (SOD) contributing $27.58 to the total. These are starting to prove rather interesting and for very worthwhile amounts.

Dreamstime followed up with 10 downloads ($8.06) and a further $0.04 in referral income as one of my referred photographers had their first sale.

Bigstock produced 11 downloads ($5.04) with most of these being subs.

Istock ticked over with 6 downloads ($4.52) and a further $1.96 from 7 PP sales. Sales certainly seem to have declined at Istock over recent months.

123rf managed 11 downloads ($4.73). Again, mainly $0.25 sub sales.

Fotolia saw 6 sub downloads ( 1.50 credits).

Yay pleasantly surprised with one editorial sale of Robert Maxwell giving a worthwhile 3.75 euros in commission.

Nothing from my other sites during December. Picfair has proved rather dissapointing after my first sale only days after joining. Several hundred images uploaded since haven't seen any action. Still it is early days and I think the site has lots of potential. Hard not to like setting your own prices and getting 100% of that. Over at Mostphotos I hit the nine month mark without a single sale. I'm guessing that my mainly editorial images just aren't what their buyers are looking for.

Recent uploading included images of the Tilos Sea Star ferry (top) moored on the Greek island of Symi. Greek islands also featured with a set of images of the Express Pegasus ferry visiting Skopelos island. Regards, David.
 

Thursday, 19 December 2013

Creating captions for Editorial images:

For some photographers, especially those unused to editorial, creating captions seems to prove a real problem. This is made much harder by four of the sites (that take editorial) having specific formats that the captions must be in. Posts on the sites own forums (where they have one) and sometimes over at microstockgroup frequently lament a recent rejection for captioning and then go on to give the caption they used -usually incorrect. One poster on MSG recently treated us to a thread where he kept getting the same image rejected at Istock for captioning. Each time his caption was in the wrong format as others were quick to point out. His initial response was Why does it matter if all the correct information is in there? He was, of course, quite right -it doesn't matter at all (providing you don't mind getting the image rejected).

So, I thought I would give a summary here to the three formats you will need (there may be others for sites I do not submit to). This information can also be found on the specific sites as well. To keep things simple I'll use the same image for all three -my recent upload of fishing boats in Folkestone harbour.
Shutterstock and Bigstock: (New guidelines from December 2013)

FOLKESTONE, ENGLAND - JULY 6, 2008: Fishing boats moored in the sheltered harbour. In 2012, major plans were announced for the regeneration of the harbour and seafront.

Notes: The first part (date and location) is in CAPITAL letters. Put a dash between the Country and the date. Put the date in full including the year. Finish with a semi colon (:) then continue -starting with a capital letter. Do NOT repeat date and location later in the caption. Caption must still be within 200 characters including spaces and punctuation.


Shutterstock and Bigstock:  (Pre December 2013 -for reference only)

FOLKESTONE, ENGLAND - JULY 6: Fishing boats moored in the sheltered harbour on July 6, 2008 at Folkestone, Kent. In 2012, major plans were announced for the regeneration of the harbour and seafront.

Notes: The first part is in CAPITAL LETTERS. Put a dash between the Country and the date. Do not put the Year in the date for this bit. Finish with a semi colon (:) then continue -starting with a Capital letter. Describe the image then repeat the date, this time including the year and the location. In my example I haven't repeated the Country (England) but added more information by saying that Folkestone is in the county of Kent. Next, follow up with a second sentence giving the image some "newsworthy" angle. The internet is your friend here unless the subject is something you have specialist knowledge of. Remember, the second sentence isn't aimed at the buyers (they're not usually interested in your caption) it's aimed at the reviewer to convince them to accept this image because it has some relevance. Your caption must not exceed 200 characters (including punctuation and spaces) or you will not be able to submit it (there is a counter provided, so you know where you are).

EDIT: Amazing! Less than a day after I posted this they have revised their caption requirements. Main change is to include the Year in the opening dateline and that you do not have to repeat the date and location later in the description. Full details here: http://www.shutterstock.com/buzz/announcing-shutterstocks-new-editorial-guidelines. I'll update the post properly later. Edit: OK, now updated with the new version (I have left the old version in for reference only).

Istock:

Folkestone, England - July 6, 2008: Fishing boats moored in the sheltered harbour. In 2012, major plans were announced for the regeneration of the harbour and seafront.

Notes: Only use Capital letters as you would in correct writing e.g. to start a sentence and for place names.
Include the year in your initial date and do not repeat this information later. Place a dash after the Country and a semi colon (:) after the date. IMPORTANT -if there people visible anywhere in the image Istock require you to mention them. In this example, if there were people on the boats, your caption would read People stand (etc) on fishing boats moored in the sheltered harbour. Try not to make assumptions about the people if you do not know who they are (i.e. avoid Folkestone fishermen stand on boats.... if you do not know who they are or where they are from).
That's your Istock caption done but you still have the description box to complete. Luckily there are no firm rules about completing this. I would put: Fishing boats moored in the harbour at Folkestone in Kent, England on July 6, 2008. That's it. No rules about the number of characters to use but keep it brief and relevant - do not write a Wikipedia style page as your caption. I once saw an example on the Istock editorial forum where the caption contained the entire history of an airline (including annual profits) on a rejected aircraft image.

123RF:

Folkestone, England - July 6, 2008 - Fishing boats moored in the sheltered harbour. In 2012, major plans were announced for the regeneration of the harbour and seafront.

Notes: Put a dash before and after the date (no semi colon). Use Capital letters for the start of sentences and place names.

The following sites that take editorial images do not (currently) require a specific format: Dreamstime, Yaymicro, Cutcaster, Mostphotos, Picfair. You should, of course, still provide relevant information about the image and always include a date and location.

There you have it then, my summary of how to create editorial captions. The hardest part for some (and I don't always get it right) is that second sentence of information. What facts can you add about the image?
When was that boat built and where? (Tip: if you can see the registration number on the boat/plane etc search on that number). When was this annual festival first held? How tall is that lighthouse? What's the population of that small Greek island? There's always something on the internet to help. Regards, David.

Wednesday, 4 December 2013

November sales updates:

A mixed result for November with (of course) Shutterstock leading the rest with a BME fuelled by one Enhanced Download and a Single sale netting a very pleasing $56.25 in commission. This was my largest ever sale in Microstock and the image in question of British physicist Professor Stephen Hawking (pictured) is a regular seller for me. Also continuing to do well are my various images of the Tentertainment music festival at Tenterden in Kent.

Dreamstime produced some good results with 9 downloads netting $18.34. A few higher level images helping to push the amount up here.

Bigstock saw 10 downloads ($5.10) with a number of $0.38 subs included. It remains to be seen how much longer Bridge to Bigstock contributors continue to get this premium subs rate.

Istock disappointed with 9 downloads but only $5.10 in commission (plus a further $1.40 from 5 PP sales). Still no news of when/if non exclusive contributors are going to have good
selling files moved into a higher price band. The Photo+ facility is really missed here.

123rf achieved a good 14 downloads but just $6.28 in commission.

Fotolia saw 3 downloads (0.75 credits).

Yaymicro finally saw some Third Party commission added but was only 1.57 euros.

Veer surprised again with just one download but making a respectable $3.50 in commission - now only a couple of dollars short of my long awaited payout.

Finally, as previously posted, I had my first sale at Picfair netting me £10 (my own set rate there of which I get 100%). A bit of a set back, however, when it turned out that they currently have (all time) upload limits imposed on contributors. To be fair, they are still in Beta and are refining and tweaking the site to get the best results. Long term, I would hope these limits won't carry forward but short term it has affected my plans to upload as much of my portfolio as possible, as soon as possible. I am now just uploading a few new images a week to avoid running out of further upload slots.

There are currently a number of stock photographers looking to start their own direct selling sites (many using the free Symbiostock  theme -details at symbiostock.com ). Certainly I am not the only photographer that considered that Picfair could be an viable alternative to this with no reviews (you choose which images are online), setting your own price/s and receiving 100% of that price. All just like having your own site. Image upload limits, however, change things. I'll see how this goes as the site develops.

Uploading (generally) in November was restricted whilst I concentrated on building my Picfair portfolio but among new images online was one of boats at Folkestone harbour in Kent (pictured). Folkestone images seem to do quite well -possibly due to the plans for a major re-development of the harbour and seafront. Regards, David.