Elderly Woman Voting

© Photographer: Komar | Agency: Dreamstime.com

Another editorial post, but the last one for  a while. There has been a lot happening here recently and I’ve enjoyed getting out on the streets and taking spontaneous shots, and not having to worry about model releases.

I’m sure a lot of photographers have goals they wish to achieve. I have wanted to get photos in the News section on Dreamstime for a while. This section is a great resource for anyone looking for editorial pictures of major world events. I have previously been disappointed that images I’ve sent have not made the News section, only consoling myself with the fact that Dreamstime seems to be quite selective, with the events and images they choose for this section. Well the event I covered was a major one, only the second direct election in Indonesia’s history. So I just had to make sure I got the shots right.

Voting started at 7am and continued till Midday.The early bird catches the worm‘, so I arrived at the polling stations at around 9am and missed out on all the savoury bird food. I was surprised to see voters dressed up in traditional or at least partially traditional outfits. Can you remember the last time you got dressed up to go and vote? Another thing that struck me was how patient people were in waiting for their turn. The electoral process is not exactly efficient, with dozens of parties to choose from and this being national and local elections, each voter has to make ticks on 4 huge ballot papers. Often voters were in voting booths for up to half an hour. Despite the long process the turn out was quite high, it seemed that people realised the importance of taking part. Just over a decade ago people would have been too fearful to voice a political opinion, other than a pro government opinion. The transgression to a genuine democracy after centuries of colonial rule and more recently a brutal dictator, is quite an achievement.

Waiting to vote

© Photographer: Komar | Agency: Dreamstime.com

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Altogether I had 8 images accepted of the election with 4 making it to the News section. Dreamstime gives a $5 bonus for every photo which makes it to the News section, which is obviously nice. However, despite the photos receiving far more views than non editorial images, at least in the first few days online, they have until now had no downloads. Within about a 3 week period I have had 21 editorial images online at Dreamstime alone and not a single sale. I also sent images to Bigstock and Cutcaster and nothing there too. Am I right in saying that buyers don’t look at microstock sites for editorial images, and if they don’t where do they go? Do they commission their own photographers, do they buy from stock agencies like Getty or Corbis at higher prices? Why are they not using microstock sites much? I realise that commercial images probably have a wider market, but there are still plenty of businesses worldwide that use editorial images. I have sold editorial images on microstock, but very few. I’m interested to know your opinions and maybe you know of other sites to upload editorial photos to.

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4 thoughts on “In the News

  1. Here are a few thoughts.

    First, the market for such images is almost exclusively in Indonesia. The useful life of such images is about 24 hours. Editors who need such images will make their decisions about which image to use within 24 hours. To have a chance of being used a breaking news images must be uploaded within hours of being taken. Sure there are weekly news magazines, but their editors also make decisions very quickly after the event occurred. If the event happens on Monday and the magazine goes to press on Saturday the editors will still probably make their decision in the first 24 hours because that’s when they will be focused on the Monday story. They will have other stories to worry about later on in the week.

    Most of the Indonesian newspapers will have staff photographers, or photographers they work with on a regular basis. A big story like the elections will be covered by these photographers. It is their pictures that will get used. There may be hundreds of other great pictures available, but the publication has already paid for the pictures their photographer shot, so why waste the editor’s time looking elsewhere for a picture.

    And yes they do use Getty, Corbis, Associated Press, Reuters and other wire services. However, they don’t necessarily pay higher than microstock prices for these services. That’s because they have an annual subscription to the wire service for a daily allowance of a certain number of pictures. The wire services are going to have a photographer covering something like the elections; his pictures will be available as part of their subscription so they pay for it whether they use it or not. Why pay more, even if it is only $3.00 or $4.00, when they don’t have to.

    It’s also necessary to take into consideration that in most parts of the world newspapers and magazines are declining in size and are reducing the number of pictures they use. This means that they tend to depend more heavily on the few staffers they retain and on the wire services they simply can’t afford to drop completely. Thus, there are even fewer chances they will accept something shot by a freelancer.

    There are hard news pictures that will sell such as an airplane crash — if you’re the only photographer who got any pictures. Or maybe you get to shoot Brittany Spears waterskiing along the Bali coast and you are the only photographer who knows she is there. Fat chance.:)

    There are editorial feature pictures that might get used for such things as travel or food stories, etc. Such stories are in the planning stages for a long time and are often contingent on inexpensive pictures being available. But, in such cases the photographer or writer usually goes directly to a specific publication and “sells” the editor on the idea of the story, rather than waiting for editors to think up the story idea and then go searching for pictures.

    Another big market for editorial pictures is books. If the editorial pictures you’re shooting illustrate points made in textbooks books, there is a good chance the picture editors of such publications may go to microstock sites to find them. But then that depends on whether those are the kind of pictures the microstock site editors are accepting into their collections. Are they more focused on news events?

    Finally, maybe the best opportunity for microstock editorial shooters is web blogs. Typically, these people wouldn’t have subscription arrangements with anyone and they wouldn’t want to pay traditional single image prices. However, the fact that until now there have been no sales for these photos, probably means that there are no Indonesian bloggers who want to add pictures to their posts about the elections, or that those bloggers writing about the elections are unaware of microstock sites as a resource.

  2. I would agree with Jims comments that you are unlikely to get immediate sales of “news” photos on microstock (for the reasons he outlined). If you ever get that Britttany exclusive get selling direct to the tabloids! However, there is no reason why your shots won’t get sales over time. Someone writing an article on the Indonesian electoral system in six months time (or even six years time for that matter) could well use them as illustration. Editorial shots I took years ago are still selling. I admit, this is mainly archive celebrity shots (Margaret Thatcher in 1991 etc) but also things like “estate agent signs” (shot in 1988) have sold. Mostly through British agency picturenation.co.uk , but some through bigstockphoto. I am currently uploading my entire editorial archives to yaymicro as well, so will see how that goes there! In conclusion, I don’t think you wasted your time uploading those shots, just play the long game! Regards, David

  3. Aha so there is hope. I did get a download on Bigstockphoto a couple of days ago on the editorial shoot I did approximately a month ago, best described as the “Kissing Festival“. A festival which is annual, the elections are also periodical, so there could be downloads in the future, in fact the Presidential elections take place in July. So you never know.

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