Sassy Tulip

Stock Photography: No Longer Fun For Everyone Pt.2

Will it Get Worse?

As we discussed in part one of our investigation into stock photography, The situation in the stock photo world shows the market is full, prices are dropping, and art quality is arguably getting lower. How does it possibly get worse?

It was just announced that Dreamstime is now the stock photo provider for Google Ads.   Dreamstime is a stock photo service that has announced a new deal where the buyer, Google Ads, will be able to buy pictures for a huge discount.   Remember that lucky photographer in our earlier example that sold a $2 picture for 10,000 copies? He made a nice $20,000. Well, the new deal allows all 10,000 copies of a picture to be sold for $2.

Granted, this is only one deal between a photo service and a major corporation. Alone it will hardly affect the entire industry. But a deal like this between Getty Images and Google has already happened. So this makes the second brokered deal with similar characteristics.   Cheap prices for a lot of pictures. Remember the old saying.  “Once is chance, twice is coincidence and three times is a trend.”

 The Effect:

No photographer can hope to make a living under these kinds of corporation take all deals. Now, it’s true many are saying, “Well it’s still $2 more than what you have.” However, a photographer would have to produce and sell 10,000 separate licenses under those requirements before they could break even with our earlier example.

In the end, how this will adversely affect the market is still unclear. Mainly, the market should expect to lose even more of the artists that produced high quality images for licensing. The reason is simple. There is no logical way to turn a profit large enough to make a living producing those quality pictures.

How can I say this?   Aren’t I just being overly negative?  I hate plain negativity, but the numbers just are not helpful in my critical analysis of the situation.

Using the $2 a picture deal, let’s look at an example:

There is a garden nearby that charges photographers $70 for photographers to take pictures in that garden. That means you have to sell 35 photograph licenses from that trip just to break even. But wait, I’m not counting the cost of equipment, transportation, insurance, meals, computers, software, picture processing time, and any assistants or models you might need.

Assuming you get 35 top quality pictures, how long would it take you to sell the 35 separate licenses needed to break even? Or sell one picture 35 times.  How about if you needed 50? Or 150?

What would the effect on your business be? Do you have the pockets deep enough to be able to afford waiting weeks, months or even the years it takes to break even for a single afternoon’s work?

Could you afford to only be a stock photographer and offer the quality necessary to make a name for yourself?

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