Devaluation of Photography

Thursday, October 27th, 2005 at 1638

I stumbled across another stock photography site today called Dreamstime or something. Didn’t give it a thorough workout but I noticed that they’re flogging high-res stock images for 77 US Cents.

77 US Cents.

Gah. You know the issue is so tired with me I can’t even find the energy to rant about it. People say “You may as well put photos up on a site and get 30 cents per download off it” using the arguement that “You wouldn’t make money off it anyway, so why not?”
The “Why not” to me is painfully simple. Good images are simply worth more than that. Equipment, time, travel, expenses and gosh-darn, bloody **experience**. To see people throwing good images that have cost them to produce onto sites like this just makes me sad. Will there come a point in the future where there won’t be any such thing as a professionally produced image, because people have become too accustomed to paying $0.77 for a photo? I’ve had experiences in the past of people asking “How much?” and when they’re told they go crazy with things like “Why should you charge that when I can get photo’s off the ‘net for a dollar?” (Or worse, steal them from Google images…)

It seems to me as if there’s 3 broad categories of people who upload stock to these sites. Either they were never going to make a penny off their casual shots, so they’re giving it a go to see what they can make. Then you have the people who don’t value their work and think that $1 per copy is “all they can hope for” because they’ve been beaten into submission by a market demanding stupid cheap prices for quality work. Finally you have the people who treat it like a full-on enterprise. They’re Pumping thousands of images into the database using napalm tactics to ensure that they get a reasnoble financial reward, even if they’ve put in far more work than the cash value they’re getting out.

Why should I even care? I’m trapped in a moral (?) dilemma of sorts. I’m broke, I could use the money, but do I really want to sell out my artwork for a lousy 50p a shot? I could literally make far more working in McDonalds and wouldn’t have to stress about technique, location, new material, ideas, equipment, insurance… The list goes on.

Maybe I’ve just got the wrong mindset, perhaps it is all well and good, it’s a sensible way for photographers to make money etc etc yadda yadda. I just can’t feel it though, giving away your creativity for 50p a time. ..

People pay more for a king-size Snikers bar.

5 Comment for “Devaluation of Photography”

  1. Andrew Said this on

    77 cents for a photo appeals to the home consumer user, or the cheap-ass (ie, learning) student web developer.

    Businesses on the other hand wouldn’t waste their time searching a database of 77 cent photos; They want quality and they’re willing to pay for it.

    The way to go (in my experience) is to have a yearly subscription; As many pictures as you want (or xxx hi-res pics per month).

  2. Martiankeeper Said this on

    It might also be worth pointing out that these websites go in for the “mass market” appeal .. you aren’t selling your creativity for 77 cents … you are hoping 100 people buy them .. that way you are selling it for over $70 .. which can’t be that bad can it??

    Also agree with Andrew.. you target “mass market” at consumers. They are happy to steal from Google / surf the web .. cos’ it’s just for themselves so they don’t care. Businesses have to go for quality, and need to worry about pesky things like Copyright theft.

    The other way to go is “on hire” photography, where people pay you for your services direct (classic example is the cliché portrait or wedding photographer)

    I suppose it depends on your scruples .. if you feel your work is being degraded by selling it online cheap, then don’t do it .. it’s your work, you can do whatever you like with it.

  3. Denyerec Said this on

    The main problem is that there feels like there’s a “If you can’t beat them join them” mentality applied to the industry. I don’t WANT to sell out for .77 a pop, but the chances of getting proper purchases feel slimmer everyday.

    I think for the bulk of photogs the most money can be got from exploiting people’s vanities; weddings, portraits etc. They can’t necessarily buy a photo of themselves off the ‘net for a quid 😉

  4. Tom BBKVale Said this on

    I see this more and more and its worrying. Photography costs for a reason, your paying for time, skill, expensive gear. None of that can be recouped at .77

  5. zimmer Said this on

    Some people are recouping it like this:
    Lifestyle Phtography, Opening Offer. Free 7×5″ Portrait worth £50 with every order taken…

    hmmm….Tel: o776 7732 241…I won’t be wasting the call…

    and this on 4×3″ glossy cards pushed through the door….

    oh, and Anthony Baker’s has ceased to be on the Nantwich Road (retirement, I assume), so an opening there for a budding studio photographer, maybe? 😉

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