Stock images: is it time now for a drastic change?

Mishmash objects with statue by Luisa Fumi.

The state of the art

Just to feel the pulse and the vibe of the moment, I visit pretty often the wailing wall, a site well known to the photographers that sell images through the microstock agencies. Most of what I read there is mournful whining about the professional degradation and the brutal royalty cuts. Nothing constructive.

Due mostly to the steadily improving quality of cameras and smartphones, the images market is flooded by offers ranging from fair to excellent, a flood swelling like wildfire. The stock agencies, no fools, take full advantage of the situation by constantly shrinking the royalies – offer and demand, inevitably. A tough competition is going on too among the agencies themselves, and not surprisingly the smallest ones succumb.

What’s the use of 100 millions of images?

One microstock agency can count on tens of millions of images (at least). But how could a customer find his way through them all?
How will customers get to the “right” image they are looking for? According to statistics, most of the users while searching give up after the first page, and very few clench their teeth and hold out up to page three.
Rumors have it that the stock agencies, in order to offer a different image variety for the same search, sort them part random, part according to other criteria adjusted and twitched from time to time

I’ve been wondering long if it was worth wasting so much time and effort on the keywording ordeal, by far the most boring and time consuming task of image processing, if the agencies use just a small part of it. And above all: what’s the point for an agency to collect zillions of images when people give up searching after a few of them?
I’m smelling here another crisis looming in the air.

A possible way out?

Now it could be really the right time to reinvent the personal website where one can sell images without the support (?) of an agency.
I am not talking about a website meant to sell generic images the way small agencies do – and are now going through difficult times.
No, I’m thinking of a monographic website to offer many thousands of images focused on a theme of general interest or social relevance.
A well designed site, cleverly divided in sub-galleries, with an own shop. Something very user-friendly that a visitor looking for a picture of sport, touristic European regions, vegan lifestyle, sustainable energies, rock concerts, steampunk art, you name it… could easily navigate almost instinctively.
Perhaps also supported by a blog to make it more lively and interesting.

Think of your passions, of what you mostly love to shoot: in your (digital) drawer you’ll certainly find many thousands of images on the subject. 2000 to 4000 of them could be a good start for such a website.

Like this the awfully boring and demanding work of keywording them all would not go wasted: extracted as page tags, the keywords would be used by Google or duckduckgo to locate exactly your pictures. Take my word for it, I tried it on my own skin and it works 😀

Upon a second thought, why just one website? Along the same lines you could create several others centered on different themes – as many as your interests.
Cheer up: we don’t need million of visitors, nor to spend a fortune on online ads, while we can afford a better alternative and thus pocket the whole loot rather than just a minuscule slice of it.

stock by .

Microstock: cosa fotografare

Cosa fotografare che possa interessare un acquirente?

Non c’è limite al brutto.

Posso scioccarvi? Non sempre le vostre foto più belle coincidono con le più vendute.
guardate alcune mie immagini, vendute e rivendute attraverso gli anni :

una camicia scozzese isolata su bianco

red winter shirt with tartan pattern


una grata metallica per terra

grunge and dirty iron floor plate with diamond motives
un cartello di lavori in corso

road in maintenance signal on a urban pavement


una pianta di pomodori…

Gardening on the balcony, potted tomato plant with ripe cherry tomatoes to be harvested

… questa cornice vuota è il mio best-seller da Shutterstock è ha totalizzato finora solo lì la bellezza di 616,28 dollari di royalties!

non dico proprio che non c’è limite al brutto e banale, ma spesso guardando una foto ho pensato: mah, mettiamola pure anche se non si venderà. E invece…

Per compensare fra i miei best sellers ci sono alcune foto iconiche di edifici tipo il palazzo reale a Genova

Royal Palace (Palazzo Reale or Palazzo Stefano Balbi)) in Genoa, Italy is  beautiful example of monumental architecture. Building begun on 1618 for the Balbi family

o luoghi fotogratissimi come L’Englischer Garten a Monaco, qui in una calda giornata di Ferragosto,

MUNICH, GERMANY-AUGUST 15, 2013. People enjoy the sun on the green of the Englischer Garten in Munich on a summer holiday day

che comunque da anni vendono sempre molto bene.

Per contro alcune immagini che mi sembrano bellissime, sembra che piacciano solo a me.

La nicchia, un mito da sfatare.

Molti vi diranno: trovate la vostra nicchia, trovate un campo nuovo dove c’è poca concorrenza.
A me sembra importante invece come vi guardate attorno. Vi direi piuttosto di rivisitare le strade già battute senza paura: più che la tecnica è importante il contenuto e il vostro punto di vista.
Fatevi pure ispirare dalle foto più popolari nelle agenzie di microstock , ma riproponetele in maniera nuova: pensate al concetto che volete esprimere e a una prospettiva un po’ inusuale. Se si tratta di un paesaggio focalizzatevi su un particolare significativo, quello che della scena vi colpisce di più.

Venice, Arsenal dockyard built in 1104 with ancient docks, the powder house and a piece of modern art presented at the Biennale di Venezia

Siate creativi, è la parte più divertente di tutta la faccenda microstock

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