Crowd sourcing is on the rampage.
Micro stock seems to be taking over the world of stock. Not just in still photography either. In the last year more video content has been made available over You Tube than in the previous sixty years of material created by the big three television channels. Now it seems as if every stock agency is announcing new video collections. If you read the forums you’ll find out that a lot of the new “creators” of stock don’t even care that much about money! Many of them, and perhaps rightfully so, spurn the pressure associated with making money and would rather just enjoy seeing their images being used. Many more are quite content just earning enough to buy that new lens.
Many of those that see the potential of earnings are mobilizing to maximize that potential. Yuri Arcurs, for example, is a machine churning out literally more images than the Micro sites are willing to digest. I heard him say he puts out 600 selects a month…and that he could do more if the agencies would take them! The scary thing is that he does them so well!
Large producers and declining RPI
Most of the producers of Royalty Free photography, the larger producers who have made very high levels of income form their stock, have reacted to declining RPI (return per image) by ramping up their own production and streamlining their operations. It becomes a vicious cycle of over supply lowering prices and creating the need for said producers to create yet more images. Now they are eyeing Rights Managed images. I can’t tell you how many times I have heard big RF producers now saying that RM is the place to be. Oh boy, here we go again!
What’s a little stock producer like me to do?
The answer is to do what most of the others are not doing. The answer, or at least a big part of it, is to differentiate your self from the masses. Develop a new skill or vision, add a new dimension to your work, or find an entirely new market. Here are three examples of such strategies as seen in the first three photographers in the interview section of my web site.
In the case of Jack Hollingsworth, he has found a whole new direction. Jack is now helping other photographers deal with the new realities of the market place. He is utilizing his tremendous amount of experience and success in travel and stock photography to help others enter that market, and is also offering workshops for photographers to “re-invent” themselves for this new Internet age.
Marc Romanelli has successfully incorporated video into his stock photography business. He began that process a few years ago. Now that crowd-sourcing is entering this arena too, Marc is going to ramp up the quality of his video by moving to a higher end camera, such as a Red One or Scarlet, and shooting more RM video and less RF. I am taking a cue from Marc and have become dipping my toe into motion (though with an entry level Panasonic HVX-200). I now have my first clips up on Getty and they are selling well.
Colin Anderson already has a unique vision that sets him apart. He is further developing and enhancing this vision by learning 3D. He is incorporating 3D into his already formidable arsenal of Photoshop and photography skills. Colin, in a sense, is competing with few, if any, other photographers. His images are like those of nobody else!
Enjoy the challenge
The question to ask yourself is how can you differentiate yourself? I sincerely believe that to be successful at such an undertaking, you have to also enjoy the challenge of that new approach. I’m not ready to learn 3D, but I have enjoyed “playing” with motion. I have shot my motion in conjunction with others, teaming up with David Fischer, Shalom Ormsby, Drew Kelly and Sam Diephuis to produce footage. Find a way to differentiate yourself that you can approach enthusiastically and you will be on your way to securing your future in this incredibly exiting world of commercial visuals!