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Thomas J. Sebourn

The Cold Hard Truth About Low Sales

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I agree it is not as pleasant as yours but real.

Great shot. 

I assume it's an editorial since there's many identifiable people.

I have to ask this though since I'm also curious. What story does this shot support? 

Caption: City, Country - Date: Woman with dyed hair and glasses (60-65), looks in disgust as she eats a burger at a busy food court in XX

I don't see the story for stock purposes, but for street photography (non-commercial/editorial usage), it's great. 

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This was just a random example of snapshot with unusual face expression. Some agencies even have a category for that (in case you didn't know),

I never uploaded this image anywhere, it was just for the sake of the argument, it is no need to be ironic.

 

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I never uploaded this image anywhere, it was just for the sake of the argument, it is no need to be ironic.

We're talking about stock here. I wasn't being ironic, was a question. :) 

I do see your point about candid. I have another example, also unpleasant which is a candid editorial shot.

 

stock-photo-milan-italy-july-th-shoppers-on-via-montenapoleone-one-of-milan-s-high-end-shopping-678039958.jpg

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On 07/10/2017 at 3:25 PM, John Williams RUS said:

TBH I agree with the OP - we need to face reality, not live in a dream world - however I disagree about his want for gear - that's BS - gear doesn't make you good, only YOU do...

When I got in here a few years back (7 out of 10) it took me two goes, I felt like I had passed a milestone - like I was a professional - other agencies were not as strict... now I am not sure what is happening here, massive images being submitted, lacking QC, LOADS of duplicates, Keyword spamming, diminishing royalties (mine have dropped 50% since last year), theft, etc, etc, etc, - farming third world countries (and the factories)  kind of works for the SS system but not for the PROS... times change I guess, and so does the Internet

....look at what's happening across the other agencies and you can see how the business model is shifting....

The ultimate question is though - HOW do we as photographers value our OWN work? What's it worth to you?? No one else took that image only YOU - you want to play with corporations, then you will get what you deserve!

Moaning about falling sales here doesn't really get much empathy, and rightly so... and for those making a few 0.25/0.33 for selling crap - what do they care? One old fart once told me whats better 1% of $100 dollars or 20% of F*!K all???

Welcome to the land of Digital Photography!

 

When I 'joined' in 2012, I also thought I'd passed a milestone too. I'd been exclusive with FT since 2008 and I didn't think my work was good enough to get into SS. When my sales there went down the toilet due to a search change, I decided to try here and got in first time with 10/10. Lowering the entrance bar to 1/3 is simply business expediency for SS. There are a lot of camera owners out there that have one great shot to their name; a shot that will sell loads. SS just doesn't want to miss out on those opportunities and so you can now get in with only one good shot. For them, every 'one shot wonder' adds up because that's the way 'crowdfunding' works.

The newly accepted contributor might turn out to be a great photographer contributing many HCV works or they may just submit piles of technically OK photo's that are good enough to pass review. I'd bet that the majority of new contributors fall into the latter category and that much of their work tends to 'gum' up the system for the others who are proficient photographers making relatively HCV work. Of course there will always remain the small group of stock stars who just have that certain something that everyone else would love to have and who produce far more best sellers than anyone else! This select group may not be suffering the slings and arrows of outrageous lack of fortune that the middle group is presently suffering.

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Good comments! Like others have said, I also think it's about quality and quantity!  What surprises me are those people that are submitting IDENTICAL images. I'm not talking about images that are slightly different. That's OK -  a subtle composition change makes a different image even though it may "look" similar. I'm talking about the exact same image that has been uploaded twice! How do these images get approved? It's surprising! 

 

On 10/6/2017 at 0:00 PM, Thomas J. Sebourn said:

I’m probably going to catch some flak for this post, but whatever, the truth should be heard: THE REASON YOUR IMAGES AREN'T SELLING IS BECAUSE THEY SUCK. 

 

I’ve been checking out a lot of newer profiles, and I am shocked at how low quality the images are. I wouldn’t even upload most of the images I’m seeing to my Flckr page. In no way, shape, or form am I claiming to be a great photographer; there are some real clunkers in my port that I somehow snuck by the submissions people, BUT WOW, some of these recent images are total trash. I literally can’t understand why SS wastes their bandwidth on this garbage.

 

30% of the posts in this forum are about low sales or how to increase sales. The reason your stuff isn’t selling is because it is a worthless snap shot of some random plant that you poorly keyworded.  You want to increase sales? Make a high quality image that an actual buyer would want to use on their website or in a publication.  You have to take some pride in what you are putting out to the world.

 

I’m sure someone felt this way about my images in 2010, so I guess its come full circle.  

 

Troll away!!!

 

 

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23 hours ago, kbimage said:

I in no way think that if my photo is accepted here that its actually good photography, but its a nice beginning. 

But I guess that's the point I was trying to make about the old standards: not all that long ago, getting a photo accepted here meant that it was a good photo, and being a good photo meant it had a decent chance of selling. I've seen shots from other new ports that would've easily been rejected just a couple of years ago. And, for the sake of the people that submitted them, probably should've been rejected even now. Shutterstock is doing neither itself nor contributors any favors by accepting anything thrown their way. And if I were still buying media, I wouldn't waste my time going through some of the stuff I see here. I would look elsewhere or just take my own photos. IMHO.

And I write the above knowing full well I have a few less-than stellar images in my own port, which - when I have the time - I will delete.

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What I understand is that old timers with photography experience and a good sales record were complaining about low sales also. In my understanding, some were bitter about the flood of poor images in the database, which could potentially affect the discoverability of their images, some of which had been selling consistently.

I landed here right when the big change happened and SS's test dropped their standards from 7 (or 8?) images to one. Lots of complaints in the forums, newer people like me didn't feel particularly welcome and were partly blamed for others' poor sales.

I am a little puzzled by the acceptance of poorly composed photographs of ducks, flowers without the species name in the keywords, electricity poles with a dove on it etc and I wonder if those ever sell. However, a consistent output of great images comes to the expense of quantity and it is possible that great shots will be missed also in view of competition in numbers. Regardless it is possible that developing a strong commercially viable portfolio that is somewhat unique will help, the problem is, how to get noticed. And it never happens overnight. How to know you are in the right track?

Those who have just come aboard, try to learn about the industry as much as you can. Its not easy and it takes time to start building up.  

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On ‎10‎/‎9‎/‎2017 at 2:55 PM, Alexandre Rotenberg said:

I do see your point about candid. I have another example, also unpleasant which is a candid editorial shot.

 

I have a bunch of candid editorials...but in order to sell they need to tell a story... The barbershop probably sells the best. 

stock-photo-seattle-wa-july-unidentified

stock-photo-sousse-oct-since-the-revolut

stock-photo-el-djem-oct-a-traditional-be

stock-photo-seattle-wa-june-people-celeb

stock-photo-seattle-july-legal-in-washin

stock-photo-london-oct-since-the-london-

stock-photo-brighton-october-master-whee

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4 minutes ago, Alexandre Rotenberg said:

I'm curious to know why. Perhaps it's to give it a more "timeless" look? 

Do you think that going B&W on street photography editorials potentially harms sales? 

I think it is just a personal preference...no other particular reason. If color does not lend to the image like the ones I posted above, then it will be B&W.

As for sales, I honestly don't care about the sales, it's what makes me feel good that counts. If someone wants to buy it then so be it, if not, then that is fine with me too.

Stock is soulless enough without me having to worry about sales. I think if the image speaks for itself, then it will probably sell...

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I think it is just a personal preference...no other particular reason. If color does not lend to the image like the ones I posted above, then it will be B&W.

As for sales, I honestly don't care about the sales, it's what makes me feel good that counts. If someone wants to buy it then so be it, if not, then that is fine with me too.

Stock is soulless enough without me having to worry about sales. I think if the image speaks for itself, then it will probably sell...

Fair enough. :)

Here's one I will submit as B&W. I think it's more powerful without colour. 

stock-photo-old-jewish-man-in-narrow-streets-in-jerusalem-israel-692024275.jpg

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Ive got a set of images that suffer from really severe chromatic aberration. So severe that you don't even need to zoom in to see the colour fringing. I actually used a decent quality lens but I was shooting into the light (can't be helped.) Although I can reduce the CA a little bit in Lightroom, I can't get rid of all of it so I think the only way I can submit these images as stock will be to convert them to B & W. 

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3 hours ago, AlessandraRC said:

What I understand is that old timers with photography experience and a good sales record were complaining about low sales also. In my understanding, some were bitter about the flood of poor images in the database, which could potentially affect the discoverability of their images, some of which had been selling consistently.

I landed here right when the big change happened and SS's test dropped their standards from 7 (or 8?) images to one. Lots of complaints in the forums, newer people like me didn't feel particularly welcome and were partly blamed for others' poor sales.

I am a little puzzled by the acceptance of poorly composed photographs of ducks, flowers without the species name in the keywords, electricity poles with a dove on it etc and I wonder if those ever sell. However, a consistent output of great images comes to the expense of quantity and it is possible that great shots will be missed also in view of competition in numbers. Regardless it is possible that developing a strong commercially viable portfolio that is somewhat unique will help, the problem is, how to get noticed. And it never happens overnight. How to know you are in the right track?

Those who have just come aboard, try to learn about the industry as much as you can. Its not easy and it takes time to start building up.  

It doesn't matter when you join IMO, the new kid on the block is ALWAYS going to be looked down on by a lot of the people who have been here since the dawn of time. It's not a new phenomenon. I joined when the requirements were 7 out of 10 as well. I'm an abberetion though. I submitted my first ten to prove to my husband I wasn't good enough to sell photos, but I passed, so what do I know anyway. My skills have definitely improved 10 fold (if not more) since starting here too (my first images really were not all that good IMO, but some of them just started selling this week). But anyway, it's not unusual for people to not want to help new people. Why should they get all the answers without any of the work. Not saying it's right or wrong. Just human nature.

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4 hours ago, Sheila Fitzgerald said:

it's not unusual for people to not want to help new people. Why should they get all the answers without any of the work. Not saying it's right or wrong. Just human nature.

I don't mind helping, but looking at some of the ports posted here recently, it's hard not to notice an almost complete lack of any photographic skill at all. Most such work would've been stopped at the gate not all that long ago. It's almost as if SS is accepting some of these contributors and expecting old timers to teach them the basics of lighting, focus, exposure, and composition! All it would take is for someone at SS in upper management to read some of these new "why are my sales bad" threads to realize that a "one and done" acceptance standard isn't working, either for some of these new contributors or the SS brand. 

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14 hours ago, Phil Lowe said:

But I guess that's the point I was trying to make about the old standards: not all that long ago, getting a photo accepted here meant that it was a good photo, and being a good photo meant it had a decent chance of selling. I've seen shots from other new ports that would've easily been rejected just a couple of years ago. And, for the sake of the people that submitted them, probably should've been rejected even now. Shutterstock is doing neither itself nor contributors any favors by accepting anything thrown their way. And if I were still buying media, I wouldn't waste my time going through some of the stuff I see here. I would look elsewhere or just take my own photos. IMHO.

And I write the above knowing full well I have a few less-than stellar images in my own port, which - when I have the time - I will delete.

We all have some less than stellar images in our ports, but I don't think you or anyone needs to delete them. But don't be disappointed when nobody downloads it! I have several images with zero downloads, and they have been on here for close to a decade. 

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I am happy to life in a country where rules are ignored ;)   creating me below image.... just a pity that the woman on the photo is just to far away. No way for me to call her back. Send it as editorial and waiting to be approved. With this i only want to say that with editorial a lot can be done conceptual. Disadvantage is that you will not reach commercial customers BUT advantage no worries about releases.

Actually i was doubting if to submit it as commercial but for Shutterstock level i believe the woman is not blurry enough. On the other hand blurring the woman more will take the sense of the image away. Still i wished the woman would have been closer to the fence. 

Capture.JPG

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