Do I need to remove my photos from flickr if I put it up for sale on istockphoto?
May 27, 2009 10:38 PM   Subscribe

Do I have to remove photos from Flickr if I put it up for sale on istockphoto?

I'm getting into photography and thought it would be nice to help pay for my camera by selling some stock photography on istockphoto. I'll mostly be taking new photos but have a few old ones which would work nicely as stock. I'm wondering if I will need to take them off any photo sharing website like flickr if I am trying to now sell them on istock. I have all my photos as "All Rights Reserved" on the flickr settings. Any additional stock photography tips are appreciated! Thanks!

- austin lee
posted by austinlee to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
No, you don't have to remove them- the images still belong to you and are 'all rights reserved'.
posted by dunkadunc at 10:58 PM on May 27, 2009

Flickr can be thought of as your portfolio. As long as you have the pictures on flickr marked as "all rights reserved" (that's a great first step to protecting your pictures, by the way!) nothing can prevent you from displaying your pictures there unless you have specifically signed away your right to do so. If you're doing rights managed licensing, you'll run into problems if your photos are Creative Commons licensed on flickr or anywhere else. And, in fact, it's a rare licensing agreement that completely takes away your right to use your pictures in your own portfolio. You should be well-compensated (many thousands of dollars) if a picture buyer wants that right in perpetuity.

Any additional stock photography tips are appreciated! Thanks!

Well, since you asked. Stay as far away from microstock as you can. They can't sustain their business, and you lose money with every "sale." Sure, it looks like you're getting a dollar for each sale, but the time and money and equipment lifespan spent producing that photo are worth a lot more than a dollar. The worst thing about microstock and other royalty free sales is that it severely impinges on any future sales you might have. Licensing ordinarily works like this: You own the picture, somebody or some company wants to use that picture, you and the company come to an agreement about how the picture will be used and for how long, you get paid by the company for the agreed upon usage and duration (and usually an agreement that no one else can use the picture or similars for the agreed duration of usage). With royaltyfree and microstock, you completely eliminate that usage/duration negotiation and agreement, which means both that the company/person can do whatever the hell they want with your picture (Can we use your photo for an international ad campaign? Sure, that'll be $1. Can we use your photo to endorse our racist political party? Sure, just pay me my $1. Except, in royalty free reality, you don't get the luxury of being asked the question....) And on top of that, your "all rights reserved" no longer means much. Yes, you still own the picture. But, whoever paid $1 for it through istockphoto can also do whatever they want with it except for sell it. And you can no longer guarantee any real licensing terms to potential future buyers. No one wants to use a photo for their advertising campaign if it's been used (or potentially used) a million times by their competitor. The risk to the potential buyer's brand is too great (previously on Metafilter twice).

But this is not to scare you out of stock photography. It won't be as easy as istockphoto makes it seem, but you'll not have whored out your pictures for a few dimes. If you want a low-barrier entry into stock photography, look into Alamy and license your photography under the rights-managed scheme. You won't have a million sales, and it might take a year or so before you get a sale, but with large and varied library available for sale on the site, you'll start to see regular sales. I've got a few pictures up for sale there and I'm now getting to about 1 or 2 sales per month. Some of those sales are for a few thousand dollars and some are for around a hundred dollars (all of these sales would have been around $1 at a microstock site). This isn't my only outlet for my pictures, but you've got to start somewhere.

If you want other places to sell your pictures, look at this list compiled by a well-known magazine photo editor. Did you find istockphoto on the list? Hint: it's filed under "crap." Put your pictures up at a general stock archive and also, if you've got the right pictures, find some niche stock houses to market your work. When you start selling pictures through multiple venues, though, be certain that your agreement with the stock house allows that. Some require exclusivity to the images, some don't.

Remember, stock photography is a guessing game and a long game. You've got to have a feel for what the trends are going to be now and in the future. And you've got to be prepared to work a lot now for returns that may come a few months or years down the line. But, once you've got pictures taken/captioned/keyworded/uploaded, your work is over. Just let the pictures sit and get sold. And make new pictures.

(I've written about this before on AskMe, and I'm sure I'll do it again....I can't satisfy the habit....)
posted by msbrauer at 2:29 AM on May 28, 2009 [20 favorites]

You don't have to remove your images from flickr. Also, this question has been asked many times in the iStock forums - there's a ton of info in there if you do a quick search.
posted by blaneyphoto at 3:51 AM on May 28, 2009

[Link to flickr account removed from question. You're welcome to include it in your user profile page, but in here it comes off as gratuitous self-promotion.]
posted by cortex at 6:09 AM on May 28, 2009

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