Cheap Photographs

April 24th, 2009
Gwyn Headley

by Gwyn Headley

Managing Director

Anyone who’s read more than two or three of my posts will know what I think of the microstock system. There always has to be a loser, and in the case of microstock the loser is the creator, the artist — that is to say, the photographer. But as a responsible company we have to evaluate the business model and see if it could work for us. It could only work if the photographers knew EXACTLY what they were letting themselves in for. fotoLibra would have been a lot richer a lot quicker if we’d promised untold riches to our members from day one. And who knows, maybe that’s the right way to untold riches, riches beyond the dreams of aviaries, as Jimmy Edwards memorably said.

At the London Book Fair I stopped by a stand where they were displaying lots of illustrated books. The conversation went something like this:

“Hello, I’m from fotoLibra, we’ve got hundreds of thousands of just the images you need for your books.”
“What price?”
“Well, it rather depends on the usage. You see …”
“What cheapest price?”
“Ah, if you buy lots of images I’m sure we can offer a most attractive deal …”
“You tell cheapest price!”
A figure was mentioned. A laugh was heard.
“You see dat book?” An encyclopaedia was indicated. “Dat book, I buy all picture in dat book ten pound. Not one, all picture in book.”

WHAT I SAID
“Oh, well done you. Jolly good show! Very clever.”

WHAT I SHOULD HAVE SAID
“Well, you certainly get what you pay for, don’t you? I’ve never seen such unadulterated, badly printed crap. You should be prosecuted for first degree murder to trees. And if that’s the care and attention you devote to your images, I hate to think where the text originated, or what awful, erroneous message it’s getting across.”

But I’m British.

So I didn’t.

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3 Responses to “Cheap Photographs”

  1. ben shipley says:

    So what do you see in fotolibra crystal ball as far as microstock business model is concerned? It seems to be the way alamy is headed with their 6 billion images. Personally, I would rather be a photographer than a walking image factory, but in the current economic endurance test, a lot of libraries seem to be flagging, and I would hate to see fotolibra go either extreme.

  2. Gwyn Headley says:

    Tomorrow (Wednesday and Thursday) is the Picture Buyer’s Fair, and already we have a larger stand because the picture library exhibiting next to us has fallen out. We will know more next week. And I’ll respond.

  3. Gwyn Headley says:

    If we do incorporate a microstock business model, it will be for a brand other than fotoLibra, it will hold different photographs and I guess they’ll be from different photographers. I don’t particularly like the concept, but if it makes money we’ve got to look at it. After all, it’s not opium or crack cocaine.
    The Picture Buyers Fair had the same number of visitors but half the number of exhibitors as last year. So we were twice as busy. Will that be good or bad? Who knows?