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Damn microstock

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Chris Barton, the “Fair Trade Photographer” joins the well known anti-microstock apologist Dan Heller in blaming microstock. The article is very nice, but I guess if Chris would be the author of that group image, he proudly would show all these usage examples to his prospective customers. Anyway, welcome to the club, Chris, you are in the good company.

Back to 2007 Dan Heller was absolutely sure that microstock is a transitional business model and that the microstock agencies are hurting themselves. Explaining why the microstocks can not survive Dan says:

And all this gets back to the discussion about how they are “hurting themselves.” To understand this, we look at the factors involved with repeat buyers vs. new buyers. Lower prices may get some ratio of new buyers, but it’s the unintended effects associated with the retention of those buyers. And here’s the catch-22: if they stay, you’re selling more and more product at severely discounted prices to a customer that should be paying more. If they don’t stay, you’ve lost the entire benefit of the lower prices. So, not only do lower prices not guarantee buyer retention, or that they’ll even start there over competition, but the perilous effects of their remaining loyal is almost worse. The entire objective of “low-balling” is to rope the user in so you can upcharge them later. Otherwise, there’s no point in doing it. What most companies do is offer the big discounts at sign up, but once in, prices go back to normal. Microstock agencies don’t do this, but should. This leaves microstocks in the worst of all worlds.

Now in 2010 we can see that the microstock business did not collapse, being a growing industry even in the recession period, while most traditional stock photography agencies experience a sharp decline in sales. Surprisingly for Mr.Heller, the microstock continues to rapidly expand and keeps threatening traditional royalty free and right managed stock photography business models.

Surprisingly enough, Dan Heller was served  for some time as the Vice President of Marketing at Picscout, a company which proudly displays Dreamstime logo at the top line of their list of customers. If you can not beat them, join them.

Canon 5D Make II Firmware update 2.0.4 adds new Av/Tv auto modes for video shooting

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Canon has released a new free firmware version for 5D MKII, making shooting video faster and easier. In addition to two new auto-shooting programs in Av and TV mode, this free firmware update adds new 24 fps (movie-like) and 25 fps (PAL) frame rates, and manual sound tuning.

BigStock, 123rf, Dreamstime, Fotolia improvements in v1.7.3

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This release fixes login and upload of stock photos to Bigstock and 123rf . It also fixes  Dreamstime and Fotloia microstock sales statistics. We took off Stockxpert microstock site due to their merge with iStockphoto.

CanStockPhoto – sales stats for every stock image at your fingertips, better security and reliability

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ProStockMaster microstock software v1.7.2 now works with CanStockPhoto via our proprietary PSM API. From now on all microstock contributors can track their microstock sales and download stats for every stock photograph or an illustration submitted to CanStockPhoto with ProStockmaster microstock tool.
All data is transferred over HTTPS, which significantly improves the communication security between the microstock photography agency and the stock photographer’s computer.

Many thanks to Duncan Enman, CEO of CanStockPhoto and his great team for making this possible.

Nikon introduces S1000pj P&S with built-in projector

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I am a Canon guy and I always was. However, when Nikon comes with an in-camera projector creating up to 40″ on-the-wall images & movies straight out of the camera, I applaud to Nikon engineers and their drive for innovation. Truly amazing idea and must be a state-of-the art technology, which packs all the great features in a pocket size P&S box.

ProStockMaster celebrates 3 years, special discount available

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>>> July 27 2009 – UPDATE: Hurry, just a few days left! <<<

We have started in June 2006 and this month ProStockMaster celebrates 3 years online.
We invite you to celebrate with us and we are happy to offer you a special limited-time discount: 15% off for PRO license. Hurry, this offer ends on July 31.
Redeem coupon 3YEARS here

FTP uploads to any microstock and stock photography agency by replacing Shutterstock

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Did you know that if you do not work with Shutterstock microsotck agency you can use “Shutterstock FTP” credentials uploading to any FTP-enabled stock photography agency instead?

Just keep in mind that what is shown as “Shutterstock” in PSM microstock software is in fact your trusted “ABC” stock photos agency.

Doing that is simple: go to “Upload->Stock Agencies->Shutterstock” and replace Shutterstock FTP server name with the name of the FTP server for “ABC” stock photography site, adding your FTP credentials for that stock imagery agency or stock content distributor.

From now on, each time you upload to “Shutterstock” the file actually goes to “ABC-stock”.

Yuri Arcurs, the best-selling microstock photographer shows up his studio

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If you did not see it yet somewhere else, worth watching:
a virtual tour in Yuri Arcurs photography studio, guided by Yuri – the famous professional microstock photographer, who runs now a stock photography production company.
Impressive.

Expect some Crestock promotion inside 🙂

iStockphoto requires you to delete images in your portfolio. Otherwise…

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Here is the email I just have received from iStockphoto.com:

Dear David ([iStock-username]),

Standards at iStockphoto are always evolving. Our team of editors has been examining the collection and have decided that your image no longer meets our current standards. We understand that no one wants to lose an image from their portfolio, but we think that the rest of your work is much better.

You have two options. You may deactivate the image now. Or you may leave it in our Dollar Bin. The Dollar Bin is a collection of images with similar legacy quality issues. Every file in the Bin is available for one credit at any size. Images remain in the bin for four weeks after their last download, at which point they are automatically deactivated. It’s a way of giving the image a last chance before finally removing it.

If you have any questions regarding this matter, please address them to [email protected]

Go here if you like to deactivate your image:
http://www.istockphoto.com//file_closeup.php?id=XXXXXX
http://www.istockphoto.com//file_closeup.php?id=YYYYYY

Best Regards,
iStockphoto.com

Let me read you what is written in this message.

David, we do not like your images anymore. We liked them sometime ago, but not any more, sorry.
iStockphoto is just too good for your images. You either remove them or you remove them. If you do not like this choice we will remove them on our own.

Now, please tell me who was the marketing genius behind this correspondence. I just want to shake his (her?) hand. I am sure that anyone who got such a message feels upset after reading it.

So, iStockphoto wants to keep their microstock collection ‘clean’, containing only brilliant images. I see. No doubt this is a good target iStock should aim to. I just wonder why this stock photography agency prefer to lose money instead of making it, sending messages like this one above to tens thousands microstock contributors. Any iStocker will be shocked reading this text exactly like I was.

How much did you guys cost to bring in a new contributor who generates some sales? Now take this cost and multiply it by the number of photographers that will leave you now – this is the cost of such a marketing communication. I will not be surprised if many microstock shooters will just stop submitting their stock photos to iStock, which appears to be too good for their artwork, preferring submitting stock images to other microstock agencies that treat their contributing stock photographers differently.
Bravo iStock! – good work, great marketing, refreshing approach to the customers relationship. Thumbs up!

I especially loved “You have two options.” quote. I see it this way:
One dark night you meet a robber. He points his gun on you and says:
You have two options. You either give me your money and then I kill you or I first kill you and then I take your money.”
Being a good iStockphoto marketing person, the robber continues: “Do not you worry, my friend. The choice is yours!”.
And being polite the robber adds what iStock completely missed: “Oh, and thank you for doing business with us!”.


UPDATE

In a short time after this post has been published I got a personal message from iStockphoto staff, saying that the email discussed in this post was sent out by a mistake and they apologize for the misunderstanding.

According to iStock, what should be sent out was this message:

Dear Name (username),

An image of yours has been moved to the iStockphoto Dollar Bin.

You have two options:
1. Deactivate the image
or
2. Leave it in the Dollar Bin

The Dollar Bin is a collection of images available to our clients from one to seven credits, depending on size. We feel the Dollar Bin provides another chance for the file to be downloaded… at a lower price.

If you have any questions regarding this matter, please address them to [email protected]

Click here to deactivate your image: http://www.istockphoto.com//file_closeup.php?id=xxxxxxx
Best Regards,
iStockphoto.com

Well, first I appreciate iStockphoto ability to react extremely fast. They understood their mistake and tried to fix it.

Obviously, this is a very different message to a contributor. There is no single word about image removals!

Mark Dennis, iStock commented out what happened with their Dollar Bin initiative at last: So the gremlins got into the auto email system again, and some people got an email saying that the files will be deleted after 30 days if they’re not selling.

Well, it seems that these gremlins, goblins and trolls were quite human and very intelligent, and really enjoyed what they did to the company, these cute little pets of iStockphoto.

I would suggest iStock to take the entire gremlins family out of the iStock email system once and forever. And please deduct the damages costs from the gremlins salary, just as a “lessons learned” action. Typically, it works at its best avoiding further similar communication with the customers. 😉

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