Friday, December 4, 2009

Monkey Business & Photography

Q: Why is a monkey smarter than 98% of all microstock photographers?

A: Because the monkey can feed herself by taking photos.

Sadly, this isn't a joke, it's the truth. Paul Melcher, over on his "Thoughts of a Bohemian" blog (here), shares the news that a 33 year old Orangutan earns a raisin for every photo taken.

Let's see - why don't we do the math: reports from some photographers suggest a ratio low ratio of images "snapped" to images "accepted", and it's not unreasonable to believe that 100 or more images are taken at a shoot. So, you shoot, say, a gross of 500 images and get, say, 10 accepted. Your monkey competitor has earned 500 raisins. That's about equivalent to 9 15 oz boxes of Sun-Maid raisins. A 15 oz box of Sun-Maid raisins sells for $2.50 at So, after 500 photos, the monkey has earned $37.50 in raisins. In order for a microstocker to have $37.50 to spend on food (i.e. a personal item), they have to have earned $75 in taxable income because between federal, state, and self-employment/social-security taxes on their microstock income, they are paying 50% taxes on their profits, and we all know that microstockers argue that it doesn't cost them a thing to make photos, so whatever they earn is profit, right?
(Continued after the Jump)

How long does it take for those 10 accepted photos to make $75? Quite awhile, when the average per-sale figure is about $2, according to Jim Pickerell, in this article.

The numbers could be even worse. According to the iStock Contributors site here, the TOP contributor, Yuri Arcurs, in 4 years only has 5,006 files uploaded, which equates to 104 images a month, on average, that are accepted. the site lists Arcurs as having 136 new files in the last 30 days. In his profile here, it is suggested he shoots "hundreds of 39mp files per day...", so assuming he shoots 5 days a week, and let's say 200 images a day, that's 1,000 a week, 4,000 a month, and he's only getting 136 accepted - and he's the TOP guy? That's a 3.5% shoot-to-acceptance ratio.

So yes, this generalization of math and microstock income provides the rough estimation that even a monkey is smarter than almost all microstock photographers.

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