30 Sep 2011 STOCKinRUSSIA 2011 Live
I’m here in Moscow attending the 3rd STOCKinRUSSIA conference. To share some of what’s going on here, I’ll be posting some updates throughout the next two days. So check back for updates over the next two days.
Pavel Orekhov opened the conference with an enthusiastic address, introducing the conference and the international speakers, and expressing his delight at how Russia was increasing its participation in the international stock photography market. As a gift to attendees, he provided a promotion code for Pressfoto contributors to receive 100% royalties from now until the end of the year.
The first presentation was by intellectual property expert Natalia Gulyaeva from Hogan Lovells (CIS). There were many interesting points, though please keep in mind these are specific for the Russian Federation and came through a real-time translation so I may not have got them perfectly accurate.
- Some people say that IP protection in Russia is impossible, but my experience is different.
- Compensations is rising. Over €12million were awarded to rights holders by Russian courts in 2010.
- Photographers or copyright owners must keep all original contracts or notarised copyies
- They must also produce the receipt for the camera used to shoot the photo.
- All original RAW and JPEG files must be stored where they cannot be accessed by unauthorised people.
- Always use a copyright symbol, but it doesn’t mean that it’s not protected by copyright if it’s not there.
- Record the infringement – if it’s online you can view the offending material in the presence of a notary public.
- Other photos taken in the same shoot are excellent proof that the photo is yours.
- You must prove that photos are artistic and not just any amateur snapshot – this is done with experts testimony.
Manager of Nikon Professional Services, Valery Akekseev, provided a very interesting background on how the Nikon legend was born. This was followed by a surprisingly entertaining description of the service and how it works in Russia, complete with stories of why Nikon has developed the features it has and the benefits of registering your Nikon equipment online.
iStockphoto‘s Dittmar Frohman presented on the Past, Present and Future of microstock. Despite explaining how he couldn’t provide any numbers, a few interesting ones were mentioned. Most interestingly were the weekly royalty payout amount now up to $1.9million, and that only 2,000 of iStockphoto’s 100,000 contributors were Russian.
He skillfully dodged tongue-in-cheek questions about how the search algorithm works, and took head on a question about whether beginners could still get started at iStockphoto. He also hinted that receiving payments in the Russian Federation will become easier in the future in response to a question about the topic.
Robert Davies of picNiche / picWorkflow gave an analyst’s view of microstock full of insightful charts and advice on how contributors could earn more money in microstock. He demonstrated how the long tail pattern and 80/20 rule applied everywhere in microstock. He also suggested that earning more is more about ‘selling’ than producing more photos, through analysis, targeted production, marketing yourself with methods such as blogging, talking to buyers, and creating a Creative Commons collection to drive traffic from Flickr to your portfolio on the most lucrative agencies. He was also enthusiastic about the opportunities for microstock photographers with video footage.
His charts showing how the picNiche rating for important search terms had risen consistently until around 2009 after which they almost all started declining. He explained that this is caused by increases in supply – essentially proving that the microstock market matured in 2009. Interestingly the trends for Music and other arts, energy, gay topics, negative emotions, are all still rising, presenting opportunities for microstock contributors.
After lunch Andres Rodriguez took the stage to present the story of his 7 years in microstock. After describing his background and how he got started in microstock, he provided a detailed look of the current industry. He said that it’s unfortunate that the industry seems to be all about volume these days, comparing it to when he got started – a time with iStockphoto had only 100,000 images and BigStock had only 10,000. Now it’s saturated, he says.
Standards are also rising. You need to have technically perfect images to pass review in microstock. Although in the traditional industry, he says, they’ll tolerate technical mistakes if the image is good.
Moving into tips for microstock photographers, he stated that models don’t need to be expensive. People enjoy being photographed and seeing their photos in use, so they’re happy to work for copies of the photos if you approach them in the right way. They’re also more natural. Similarly, he hardly ever pays for locations because a few hundred dollars rarely makes a difference to a business, but getting free images of their business is usually very appealing.
Advising beginners, Andres explained that if he was starting again he would focus on just the top agencies. He pays the person who uploads and submits his images 20 cents per image per agency. If an agency returns less than 20 cents extra for each new image he adds, he stops uploading. He encouraged contributors to use Microstock Charts to track your RPI.
Andres sees future opportunities in video, particularly making both video and still images in the same shoot. He also sees more collections at different price points being a bigger part of the future than they are now.
Andres’s presentation can be downloaded here in Keynote format (4.4MB).
Following Andres was Irina Terentieva from Russian microstock agency Lori.ru. She gave an interesting insight into the microstock business in Russia from the agency perspective, tailed for the audience of microstock contributors. She included tips on what to shoot, how to shoot it – things like always shooting people doing an action, or when shooting objects, shoot them with a person doing an action.
Dmitriy Karpov, Chairman of the British Higher School of Art & Design ended the day with a fascinating insight into image technology, business, art and sociology. He explored and demonstrate the current trend of intentionally incorporating glitches, distortions and artifacts into images. Citing the rise in fashion of old, cheap cameras and the my-camera-is-worse-than-yours trend (the sort replicated by many an iPhone app), he provided examples of such images in use by big publications and top brands, including Coca Cola.
He also demonstrated some amazing photo compositions and new art, explaining how art is replacing old technical flaws, and even new ones. As an example he showed a painting of images influenced by distorted digital satellite signals.
The second day kicked off with a 4-hour stock shoot workshop from Andres Rodriguez. Andres took us from end to end, starting with planning the shoot, preparing the models, props and sets, through shooting all the way through to retouching and preparing the files for submission.
After an introduction, Andres started with the shoot planning while the models were having their makeup done. He started with a mind-map for the shoot, looking at what models he had and what types of shots he could build from that. He also listed props, and started creating groups of shots based on combining models with props, all the time explaining why he was choosing certain shots – based on how they sell in microstock – and helpful things to keep in mind when planning.
During the shooting portion of the workshop Andres explained how he worked with the models, why he used the camera settings he used, and how placement of props and styling impact how a stock photo will sell.
Between shooting the models, Andres swaps cards so his sister / model / assistant, Adriana, can show the photos on the screen. Andres jumps in to explain how and why he crops, color-corrects and adjusts the images to make them more usable for designers.
Simon Krzic’s Microstock Video Workshop
Top microstock video contributor, Simon Krzic, gave an extremely detailed workshop explaining everything a microstock contributor needs to do to succeed with video.
Flipping between presentation slides and example videos, he ran through all parts of his stock video production business. From planning and strategy, through equipment and shooting, to managing models and distribution.
The audience were super enthusiastic with their questions, keep Simon on his feet – speaking through a translator.
Simon revealed a lot about his operation, including a demonstration of his custom database for managing models, equipment and props, as well as behind-the-scenes photos of his shoots, showing impressive grip setups, his 300kg crane, and of course, his camera equipment. Showing the finished video clips from the same shoots of the behind-the-scenes shots tied the two together, creating a complete picture.
The details and specifics of his production processes were truly impressive, leaving most of us shaking our heads in amazement.
That’s all for my coverage of STOCKinRUSSIA 2011. With so much amazing content this year, I’m looking forward to seeing what gets delivered next year!