Thursday, March 5, 2009

Boo Hoo, and Buh-Bye

Our colleagues over at StockPhotoTalk make a humorous jab at Getty/JupiterImages where they link to Oprah Winfrey's Layoff Survival Guide where there is an image of a laid-off worker, with the photo credit attributed to Jupiter Images.

Oh, the irony!

Back in October, I wrote - The Road To Hell Is Paved With Good Intentions: Getty Images Buys JupiterImages - " Make no mistake here, this is a consolidation of the deep-and-cheap portals...I see these two companies that have devastated the industry rate structures under the "let's sell 100 for $1 instead of $1 for $200", are two silly little delusional peas in a pod. All their private owners are trying to do is further solidify the market. Boo Hoo."

StockPhotoTalk quoted a Getty representative as saying "It is our intention is to bring together the best of each company's assets and people to better serve our customers. As with any acquisition, there will be areas of work duplication and overlap between the two organizations being brought together, creating redundancies. As a result, some Jupiterimages employees in the US will be leaving within the next 60 days."

So, let me get this straight:

(Continued after the Jump)


Images there used to sell for several hundred dollars per license. Then there were people brought on with new business models and grand ideas of selling them for a fraction of that. These people sold photographers' images for that fraction of the former sales figures. These people processed incoming images knowing that all the new images were going to be sold at the lower rates. These people talked to photographers and told them they couldn't get any more for their images than a dollar or two. These people signed contracts with photographers and then tried to call a do-over on them citing a typo ( Getty Uses A Nefarious Tactic To Raise Rates and Getty Bullies Photographers After Buying Agency), these people forced, by their own collective actions of acceptance and so on, a downward spiral in stock licensing rates, and now that 400 people are losing their jobs we are supposed to feel sorry for them? What about the countless photographers who can no longer earn a living at stock thanks to these people - where are the people feeling sorry for them? "I was just doing my job" is the reponse of the Getty/Jupiter people who would defend their devastation of this industry. No, sorry, that's just not going to cut it. When you are doing your job and you know what you're doing is harming the industry and harming people who's creative talents built the industry, "I was just doing my job" is not a defensible position.

I don't feel one iota of sadness for the collective lot of them. As this mainstream video news report shows, the subject in the interview - one former employee - recounts her picnics and halloween parties with co-workers, and her snapshots of her co-workers are shown. "The wonderful camaraderie - that is what I will miss more than anything" she says. She can move on to some other business in Peoria, and "just do her job", but the growing lot of former employees at Getty/Jupiter (and make no mistake about it - that pool of people will become a lake, then a sea, then an ocean, as automation increases) can file their way to the unemployment line. Buh-Bye.

What's next? You can bet that as the now private Getty gets chopped up into little pieces, a company like Google will snap up the whole thing for what amounts to pocket change (relative to Google's billions in cash they have just sitting around) and make those images available for a penny or so, or heck, for all of Getty's wholey-owned content, the images will be free for screen resolution, and Google will make money running ads next to the photos, or licensing for a few dollars each higher resolution images, and Google will be smart enough to automatically embed tracking information to ensure you're not using the photo beyond when the license stipulates, or more than you're supposed to. Think I'm kidding? Right now, go to Google and type in "Grand Canyon" in the Google Images tab (or click here) and ABOVE the images, are three sponsored links. So too San Francisco, and countless other IMAGE searches!

Nope, not a tear shed here for the people who sat back, collected a paycheck, and convinced photographers that didn't know any better that the Getty/Jupiter pricing model was the best they could hope for. Thanks for screwing things up for the rest of us.



(Update: See screen grab below in response to comments about not seeing the ads in Google's Image Search results)


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15 comments:

Edward said...

Hmm...Not sure what Google you're using but where I am all I see are a couple of 'related searches' links that merely change the search keywords to something else...no ads from where I sit.

Having said that, it's a shame that there is an entire department of photography that has been decimated. I watched on the sidelines, was tempted with jumping on the bandwagon then realised $10 a month wouldn't pay the mortgage.

Thank God wedding and portrait photography isn't populated by people willing to sell for peanuts.....oh wait :(

Steve said...

First and foremost, thank you for once again for having the fortitude to be honest in your opinions and attitudes.

I was surprised to see that no one had yet posted comments criticizing you for being unduly harsh and overly judgmental. For all of those who will undoubtedly chime in with such comments, please don't bother. Your unwillingness to face the harsh realities of this industry (and our current global economy) will do nothing to fix it. Business is about survival of the fittest period.

Andre Friedmann said...

Hmm, it's not a new day if someone doesn't write that John's uh, um, uh, what's the word? Oh, yeah, *negative*, yeah, *negative*, that's the word. John, you're negative. Every photographer knows that *negative* is out-of-step, old-fashioned, so *analog* in our digital world. John, chew more happy pills.

Gregg said...

@ Steve
"I was surprised to see that no one had yet posted comments criticizing you for being unduly harsh and overly judgmental. "

Because there are fewer people that continue to read John's blog.
As expected most of John's readers come from the U.S - 48.3%
His second highest readership comes from .....Nepal . Yep, Nepal - 15.7%
http://www.alexa.com/data/details/traffic_details/photobusinessforum.blogspot.com/2009/03/boo-hoo-and-buh-bye.html

Once in a great while John writes an interesting post. Other times... not so much.
I think most agree that Getty is a f_cked-up company. We get it.
We know that Getty makes some incredibly bad choices. We get it.
We know that Getty has effected the industry in a negative way. We get it.
I read blogs to inform me about the gazillion things I don't know.
Grinding on Getty is like picking on a retarded child, it's easy to do, but it makes you look like a schmuck.

The news in this post was not that Getty screwed-up again. The news was that John told you this was going to happen and he wants to do a little chest pounding. That may make John feel better, but it makes me want to read him less.

Steve, you know a blog/forum is on the downside of the readership curve when readers, like you and me, spend time discussing each others comments rather than discussing the actual post.

I'll continue to keep John on my read list because he occasionally offers some gems when he's not on a rant. But those gems are getting farther and farther apart.

Darrell said...

I haven't shot stock for an agency in nearly 20 years, seeing the way the industry was going even back in the early 1990s. I've often wondered how photographers were able to hang on as the stock "agencies" imposed ever more onerous terms and lower prices in their headlong rush to the bottom. The agencies I used to deal with, consisting of real people who interacted with their photographers and worked at representing their interests, are long gone, their businesses bought out several times over by larger and larger conglomerates. I have no sympathy for the people now losing their jobs. These are not the people who built their businesses and represented the interests of their clients. They brought the industry down and are paying the price for doing that.

Oddly enough, I still shoot stock, but only for my established clients. That is, I have learned what my clients need but neglected to plan for. To me it's stock, but to them it's assignment. This strikes me as the way that stock photography must have got its start in the early days, not the way it has devolved now.

Anonymous said...

Andre Friedmann spewed:
"John, you're negative." blah, blah blah.

Okay Mr. Positive how's your numbers this year? Your stock sales doing better now than ever......right?

Listen just because you have a working keyboard doesn't mean those who read this care about anything you spew, except of course if you are a working photographer and have information we can use to make our businesses stronger. John in the meantime has put up invaluable advise; free for us to use to help our businesses.

What have you done?

Well, you got anything for us?


Gregg spewed...

"Because there are fewer people that continue to read John's blog."

"Once in a great while John writes an interesting post. Other times... not so much.
I think most agree that Getty is a f_cked-up company. We get it.
We know that Getty makes some incredibly bad choices. We get it.
We know that Getty has effected the industry in a negative way. We get it.I read blogs to inform me about the gazillion things I don't know.
Grinding on Getty is like picking on a retarded child, it's easy to do, but it makes you look like a schmuck."

WOW, that some pretty highbrow preaching there pal.

To be quite frank Mr. Gregg; I don't really care about your opinion.

I could give two shits that you even claim to read a blog for working photographers because of the occasional gem that might be gifted to you.

Just remember this you dick; it's because of those gems of information that John has given to you for free, your business has gotten stronger.

So to the two of you.........if you have something to share bring it to this party; if not.......well, I'm sure you can figure out what I'd like you to do with your keyboards.

Gregg said...

@ annonymous said..

"... picking on a retarded child, it's easy to do, but it makes you look like a schmuck."
I'll take my own advice and leave you alone. You make it too easy.

Steve said...

A blog has no predetermined function or purpose. They serve whatever purpose their authors choose. Likewise, people read/follow blogs for all sorts of reasons. Some blogs I read for helpful technical information, some I read for the opinions expressed, and other simply for entertainment.

Obviously some strongly disagree with John's opinions or at least the manner in which he chooses to express them. So be it. I suppose that anyone who feels John's blog is lacking the insightful, technical information they seek is more than free to start their own blog and pass along their own business insight.

As for Getty, good riddance. Hopefully we're seeing a much needed cleansing of our industry.

Fabian Gonzales said...

"Nope, not a tear shed here for the people who sat back, collected a paycheck, and convinced photographers that didn't know any better that the Getty/Jupiter pricing model was the best they could hope for. Thanks for screwing things up for the rest of us."

I don't buy it. The photographers who jumped on RF when it became available were for the most part experienced, successful full-time stock photographers. They saw the opportunity for a quick buck and they took it.

But I also believe this line of thinking is flawed. In a free, capitalist society, if there is a quick buck to be made, someone will make it. The deterioration of the old rights-managed licensing model was inevitable once technology progressed (first compact disks, then the internet, then digital cameras).

In fact, given the current state of the stock photography market, I think Getty has done a good job of holding prices steady and maximizing revenue.

John Harrington said...

Gregg -

I tagged that post with the label "rant", on purpose, but within it was the prediction about where Getty's assets might end up. Feel free to refer to Alexa for skewed data. My readership in the over two years I have been writing has increased. You need look only as far as the Feedburner statistic - hovering between 1600 and 1700 RSS readers (which continues to grow each month), on top of the 60,000+ pageviews in the last 30 days. Nepal doesn't even make the top 10. In the last year, the readership has been US/Canada/UK/Austraila/Germany/Netherlands/France/Italy/Spain/Finland, in that order, with the US at 67%, Canada at 7%, UK at 6%, and then they get much smaller. This data comes from Google Analytics, so it's much more trustworthy than Alexa. Oh, and it's been over 1.5million page views, and continues to grow, so nothing is on the downward spiral here.

You are free to read, or not, but continuing to suggest my blog is headed downward is misinformed, at best.

-- John

Anonymous said...

Bitter and twisted much? Dancing on the soon-to-be-lost jobs of photo agency professionals who have been laid off, bought out and shoved around and are still trying to be part of a dying industry get shat on by you? The 400 Jupiter employees are not all the people guiding prices, they work in imaging departments, they edit, they work hard and care about what they do. So don't go painting everyone in the industry with your miserable brush. Your post is cruel, there are good people at Jupiter and at Getty - you should only get to work with the arseholes, you reap what you sow.
Damn. Last time I ever read your blog.

Andre Friedmann said...

I deserve everything I get for trying for irony -- and sometimes failing -- in a blog directed at photographers. Mea maxima culpa.

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D. Prill said...

Getty, Corbis and the like have been more than a little responsible for the systematic undoing of the Stock industry but the beautiful irony is their own greed will ultimately be the undoing of them. I have been on both side of the fence, both as a Stock Provider and a Stock Purchaser. For years these companies have been charging exorbitant amounts for product, and then arrogantly gnawing off the hands of those providing them with that product. It doesn’t take brain surgeon to see that it’s just a matter of time before kicking and screaming starts as these companies breath their last breathe. A couple years ago I started changing my production model to when possible, work more with a handful of freelance photographers, pay them well for their services and eliminating the need for “middle man” companies. The process was a little slow at first but I sleep better at night and I think overall I my Stock expenses have lowered by about 30% but not at the expense of the photographers. Getty Images latest ploy of utilizing Flickr sourced imagery in their catalog is yet one more example of how they are slowly cutting their own head off.

As a side note Ads that are showing up on your Google example only seem to do so if you have safe filtering activated.

Anonymous said...

As the previous Anonymous stated, most of the people at these companies have absolutely no control or say in how things are priced.

If you want to point fingers at those steering the ship, fair enough. The way that the stock industry has shifted is certainly hurting many, from the companies to the photographers. For the time being it may appear that only the customers win for now, but how long will it be until everything is just user generated content and top-notch quality is discarded?

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