Stock Photography and Knitting Design: Issues for Designers

Here I thought the reply I sent to Mr. Granger went to my blog also, but it didn’t. For those who missed out here are the details.

Mr. Granger is a very nice designer and he also submits photography to the company he discussed. One of the difficulties I ran into in pricing stock photography is that I did not need it frequently enough for the amounts charged by many stock photography companies to be cost effective (a couple pictures a year does not make $70 plus an affordable option). 98% of the time I use my own photography.

Dreamstime, at least for the user, was a good option for me. I don’t generally need a lot of stock photography so the low cost per royalty free download was what interested me in the site. I was able to get the few images I needed on a per image basis. However, if I were using larger numbers of royalty free images, I would choose an option where it was a subscription. It is a balance of what you truly consume and what the cost per image really turns out to be.

As it is royalty free I know there are others who are downloading the same image, which doesn’t matter to me as I am not a big company looking to use images for big add campaigns or brand imaging use. Dreamstime also has rights protected work which is much more for the consumer (as it should be, as they are purchasing the exclusive rights to use an image). What I actually needed the images for was a project at our church, for the poster for the PR committee at the ministry fair. I did the poster in Photoshop and then had it printed. I was paying for the two images I used, so a subscription would not have been a good option for me.

As for the amount charged at Dreamstime, the more an image sells the more it costs (to a degree). There are photographers who sell their images through lots of stock photography places. The point Mr. Granger made about the cost per image relative to the earnings of the photographer is a good one. I had rather thought many who submitted to these types of sites were talented hobbyists and students as well as photographers, but in all honesty I don’t know. My images there are more out of fun than a real intent to earn significant money. I am a hobbyist photographer. I can see how this type of forum has its own challenges for the professional photographer. If I were a professional photographer, or struggling to be one, I don’t know how I would feel about it. I would have to submit it to several places and hope that my image beat out the competition, and I would also hope that I had some exposure to my work that would result in exclusive rights types of work.

Every genre has design issues. With knitting designers it is free patterns (among others). Some say yes, some say no. For those that don’t want them, they feel that it hurts independent designers as people come for the free patterns and then leave, taking only what is free with them. Others say why should people spend $5 plus per pattern when they can get patterns for free on the web? Others feel that the free patterns are just not the same quality as a professionally done pattern.

There are some good free patterns out there, however it is worth mentioning that there is a grain of truth on all sides of the debate. There are many who balk at spending money for a pattern because they can get it for free. There are those who will scavenge for free patterns and not come back to purchase a pattern from a designer after they enjoyed the free one that they used. And there are those (probably more than the others) who discover a designer that they like and come back and purchase patterns from, as they were able to see what style and quality of work the designer had. It is somewhat of a crap shoot for the consumer as well, as there is a wide range in style and quality of work in independent designers. So free patterns has been a tool some use to show what their work is like without an initial outlay of cash on the part of the consumer.

 I put a lot of time into my designs, and try as I might, it is very difficult to have one completely error free at the first release of the pattern. Hopefully most knitters forgive us of this, as errors do happen. Getting back to the time factor, though, this is a big reason why I don’t have free patterns per se. I simply cannot afford it in most cases. I did a watchcap (I have linked to it before from this blog and my website) that went into the knitting calender. It was not something I recieved compensation for, but I kept the rights to do with it as I wanted. I felt it would be good to be able to have a free pattern of some sort, and a hat was a good option as it was not as much work to produce as a sweater or other garment. I was able to use it as a free pattern on my website and in my newsletter, so I had added value in the design that made it worth going that route. I personally feel the “advertisement” I get in exchange for use of one of my designs is not worth it if I do not retain the rights to a design (I am referring to calls for submissions to designers in which the only compensation a designer recieves is “getting there name out there, you would have free advertising”, and then they want the copyright to your design). If I can use the design in other ways, because I still retain the copyright, that is a different story.

If I were a professional photographer, I don’t know how I would think about Dreamstime or other stock photography places that have royalty free photography. As a consumer, I love it as I generally find what I want and am not purchasing a subscription that I don’t need. In this as in other areas of the arts, I think it good for any of us as consumers to look at the work we use for free (or cheap), and remember those artists when we need something more substantial. If you enjoy the work of any designer, and need something for a bigger job and will therefore be paying more, consider those whose work you have enjoyed when making your selection.

Peace and Knitting, JoLene Treace

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