Thursday, September 15, 2011

Photography: In The Path Of Change

A businessman gazes intently into a fortune teller's crystal ball in this concept stock photo.
Dealing with change is always difficult, especially when your crystal ball isn't clear!

A Monochromatic Experience
I am going to age myself here. Way back in the summer of 1969, when I was seventeen years old, I spent almost three months on a student tour of Europe. As part of that tour se spent several weeks behind the Iron Curtain, including two weeks in the Soviet Union. Towards the end all of us were depressed. When we crossed the border into Finland we suddenly knew why. In the Soviet Union all the cars were black. There was very little of anything in the way of consumer goods, at least compared to what we were used to. But as soon as we crossed that border there was color, there was choice, and there was vibrancy. The people we met in Russia were wonderful, but compared to the West our experience, at that time, was monochromatic.
Microstock And A Lack Of Variety
I am reminded of that Iron Curtain experience when searching on microstock sites. There are some amazing microstock photographers...and there are some truly awesome photos. But on the whole there is sameness, a lack of variety…and if you don’t believe me search “Business Concepts” on, then do the same on

Image Buyers, Microstock And Potential
I am unhappy that the image buyers who frequent microstock sites are not seeing my images. I have just a taste of the potential of that market in the returns I am seeing with images I have in The Agency Collection. The Agency Collection is a collection of images that appear on both the Getty sites and on, but at RF prices. My early returns are encouraging to say the least, and it whets my appetite to tap into that huge microstock market.

Microstock Prices, Huge Amounts of Money, And The Agency Collection
Even at microstock prices some of the better selling microstock images are making huge amounts of money, and the success of The Agency Collection indicates that a significant number of buyers are willing to spend more money on images that really meet their needs…something also borne out by the success of the higher-priced (than traditional stock) Vetta collection. Yes, I know that has lost a lot of traffic due to their higher prices, but again, the anecdotal evidence I have from the shooters I actually know is that their income has gone up.

All Of The Buyers And All Of The Imagery
I am really looking forward to when we can reach all the buyers with all of the imagery at all of the price points. I desperately want that microstock audience to have the option of seeing and licensing my RM imagery as well as all of my RF imagery. I also think that it would behoove microstock shooters to be participating in traditional stock photography models.

Photography In The Path Of Change
Change, as they say, is constant, and resisting change is a good way to go down in flames. The stock photography market has changed and is changing. Microstock, which was the change is now in the path of change. Both traditional and microstock shooters need to stay open to change.  How to stay open to change and to deal with that change is certainly a challenge for me, and I am doing my best to deal with it. I hope my best is good enough!


G. Randolph Mayes said...

John, like your work a lot. I grabbed your picture of the elephant thinker and put it on a page of the Sacramento State Philosophy Department website with a link to your store. If you would prefer that I did not do that, please just e-mail me at and I will take it down right away. Thanks. Randy Mayes, Professor, Department of Philosophy, Sacramento State University.

Anonymous said...

^ If you licensed it correctly from, then he wouldn't have an issue with it. If you "grabbed" it within proper licensing, then he probably would.

Anonymous said...

"without", not "within".

John Lund said...


I am flattered that you like my work...but Sean Locke has a point. Technically you are stealing the image and could be invoiced by Corbis....

Me...I like getting the link!