Agencies cutting commissions

Aug 7, 2018
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I don't know how many of you use stock agencies to earn some money, but the recent commission cuts are really worrying me more and more. Last year Shutterstock started a new commission structure, which means that photographers will now only receive 15% commissions until they have reached a certian number of sales. In several steps those commissions get higher, but not really high. At the end of each year, your counter is reset and you will start with 15% again.

Alamy once started with paying 65% to photosgraphers and they promised us that it would always be 65%. In several steps they already lowered it to 50% for exclusive and 40% to non-exclusive photos. Now it will get even harder. You will now only reach 50% if your images generated at least $25,000 in the past year and for 40% you need at least $250. If you stayed below $250, your commission will drop to 20%. At the same time they changed several other clauses and now photographers for example have to pay all legal costs for legal disputes around their images.

Those two examples show that it gets much harder for photographers to earn money with stock photography. Do you still know places that pay photographers fairly and at the same time generate a good amount of money for them? Is it too much to ask that a photographer gets at least 50% commission for his work, as he has to pay for all that camera gear and all the travelling?

If I do not find a new "home", I might even just give my photos away for free. For example to Wikimedia Commons, where they will survive forever. That would be more important for me than earning money.
 

privatebydesign

I post too Much on Here!!
CR Pro
Jan 29, 2011
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The ‘photography stock’ market collapsed years ago. I can’t imagine anybody is still using it as a viable business model.

Video stock still gets good returns, apparently.
 
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Aug 7, 2018
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Video stock sounds intersting. Until now I only shot some videos because my camera has some video capabilities built in and the blue I already took all photos I need. Maybe I should try and upload some of them to Pond5 or another video stock agency. I never thought that people would buy short video clips.
 

StoicalEtcher

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Jan 3, 2018
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I think the bottom fell out of the stock market many years ago (as PDB says) - as the rise of ever technically better photos came with the digital revolution, so stock agencies not only had many more photos sent to them, but also merged to form larger organisations with more power. At the same time, the value paid for stock photos (to the agencies themselves) has plummeted too - so they need a bigger cut of the sale to remain viable.

I'm no fan of the stock agencies these days, but look at it like this - when a stock shot went for $50-100, they took $25-50 per shot sold (assuming a 50% commission, for example). Now, when stock photos go for $5 (or much less for many), the agencies' 'cut' needs to be much larger to make the numbers stack up for them.

I don't think the agencies come out of this covered in any glory, but it is the proliferation of "ok" photos now available, many submitted by photographers not trying to make an actual living out of it, that have really led to the demise.

Just one man's view, not bitter about it or anything.... :)
 
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Aug 7, 2018
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Of course agencies are struggeling because prices have dropped, but photographers have the same problem. Why should one side get an even smaller share from a smaller amount?
 
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