Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Current State of Microstock

It has been many years since I last wrote about the microstock 'industry', so today let's take a look at how it looks like today.

In the past decade, almost all the microstock agencies had seen a change of hands.  iStockPhoto had been acquired by Getty Images, 123RF as well?  Fotolia had been bought over by Adobe, while BigStockPhoto had been bought by rival ShutterStock.

For the only two great survivors, namely ShutterStock and Dreamstime, ShutterStock went public in 2012.  Its share price went from US$25 at IPO to over  US$100, and then it is back down to below US$30 now.  Even so, its Price to Earning ratio is still at 51, high by every standard.

Dreamstime is dying a slow death.  My sales there went down to almost 0.  Just when I thought it is because I don't have a good portfolio, I check the sales of another photographer, who has 2233 photos in his portfolio, and plenty of models.  He only manages to have 3 sales in a week!

Dreamstime used to have this practice of removing photos that don't sell in the past x number of years, but now they don't do that anymore.  I suspect many contributors removed their photos in large numbers in their portfolio at some particular time when Dreamstime was in some difficulty.

The competition in microstock is simply fierce.  I met one professional photographer the other day.  He told me that when he shot for stocks, he did 3200 photos in a day.  You see, 1) the pros are doing this as well, competing with hobbyists and amateurs; 2) they produce a huge volume in a very short time.  How can people like me compete with them?   At the same time, I feel sorry for the pros.  They have to come so low.

I think microstock had already seen its best time, and in the future, we will only see more and more fierce competition, and thinner and thinner profits for photographers.  It is ok to keep it as a hobby, but as a means for making a living?  I don't think so.  

No comments:

Post a Comment