With so many new microstock agencies launching each year, surviving more than 12 months is starting to become what sets the good apart from the not so good.
Having been in business since 2009, the Spanish-born microstock agency Photaki is approaching veteran status.
But having enough profits for the agency itself to survive doesn’t mean it will be profitable for contributors to submit. Hopefully this review will give you the information you need to make a well-informed decision for yourself.
Like the majority of microstock agencies, Photaki started out as a collection of online images before switching to the microstock business model.
The original collection consisted of photos of the local area pooled by a group of photographers in Malaga, Spain, way back in 2001.
In 2009 it switched from Rights Managed licenses to a fully fledged microstock agency and changed the name from AndaluciaImages to Photaki.
The team is small and multi-skilled, allowing them to achieve a lot without spending too much money. And that’s important when your strategy involves undercutting the market on prices and paying super-high royalties.
Traction has been slow since Photaki launched as a microstock agency, and that’s how the team likes it. Steady and sustainable growth is their objective.
|Social Profiles||Facebook Twitter|
|Minimum Size||4 megapixels|
|Licenses||Royalty Free and Rights Managed, Editorial, Extended License for Resale Products but Unlimited Reproduction is included in the standard license.|
|Compensation||50% – 80%, based on sales performance of each file|
|Pricing||1 – 15 credits, 1 credit = €1. Subscriptions provide credits, not downloads.|
|Payout Methods||PayPal or bank transfer|
|Payout||€50 minimum balance, or €150 for bank transfer|
|Referral Program||15% for referred buyers and 10% for referred contributors|
|Application Process||Submit ID and 10 test images.|
|Upload Methods||Web form or FTP|
|Delete images?||Yes, immediately and individually|
|Languages||English, Spanish (and Catalan), French, Italian, German, Portuguese, Brazilian Portuguese, Greek, Japanese, Polish, Dutch, Swedish, Chinese, Russian|
|Founder||Pablo Blanes (LinkedIn, Facebook, Flickr)|
If you have 150 approved files and 70% or higher approval rate, you can set your own prices.
Photaki allows buyers to browse photos on a map, which is not something we haven’t seen before in microstock, but it’s not common and very useful for photo buyers in the travel industry.
Most microstock agencies will allow new contributors with very large portfolios to submit all their files at once by posting in a hard drive or DVDs with a release spreadsheet. Photaki have formalized this program to encourage more microstockers to contribute.
Contributors get a sub-domain portfolio which can be customized (change colors). While not so useful for those committed to stock, it’s popular with the ‘less stocky’ contributors that seem to like and do well at Photaki. Photos from Flickr can also be imported for display (not for sale) in the portfolio.
Issues to Consider
Photaki have worked hard to clear up the issues that arose from switching to the microstock business model and changing the primary language of the site to English.
Most of these issues have now been resolved, so while the site isn’t as slick as some of the big-team microstock agencies, it’s functional and ready to get on with the business of selling photos.
The biggest issue for me is the inclusion of unlimited print runs and multiple seats in the standard license. The cheap licensing of the microstock business model works because buyers get only very limited rights. Including Extended License rights in the standard license makes it easier for agencies to sell while eliminating the lucrative Extended License opportunity for contributors.
The translations of the license agreements into English – which came way too long after the English-language website was launched – are full of grammar errors and confusing language. As a buyer this would concern me. As a contributor I wonder why they haven’t had a native English speaking lawyer properly draft these most critical legal agreements.
Low prices are great for customers and high royalties are great for contributors. But neither is helpful for an agency, especially when combined. Competition among microstock agencies is fierce, so having healthy margins – not to mention the motivation of healthy profits – makes the difference between languishing and sustaining meaningful growth.
One of the key ideals of Photaki is that small microstock agencies prevent the dire consequences of oligopoly, hence it’s in the interests of contributors to support them. It’s the classic “help us to help you”. That makes sense, but clashes with the strategy of under-cutting the top agencies on price.
Photaki is clearly a serious microstock agency worthy of consideration for adding to your microstock distribution. The business has demonstrated longevity and the ability to resolve problems with the business.
The need to support small microstock agencies for the health of the market is a fair argument, but I recommend we request two critical issues be addressed before we support Photaki as our agent for market balance. These are the inclusion of Extended License level rights in the standard license and the poor translation of the license agreement.
If you’d like to join me, leave a comment below with a link to one of your microstock portfolios (so Photaki can see what’s at stake). State that you’d like to see the rights and license issues addressed (and/or any others) before you submit your portfolio.
Posted September 26th, 2012 by Lee Torrens