Pond5 releases Adobe Premiere Plugin

Pond5 finally did something this year…  Still no updates on their web site, but they created a plugin for Adobe Premiere CS6 users that allows them to browse/search for stock footage from within their Premiere projects.  If they can roll it out to a lot of users, it should make Pond5 the premiere choice for buying stock footage, music and sound FX.

Check out this video on how it works:

The Summer Slump Cometh!

Twelve days into July and I can tell that the summer slump has smacked Pond5 in the face.  My sales are about average with last year, which was dismal.  And I think the Euro crisis has really hit ClipCanvas hard, as sales there have plummeted in the past two months.  In addition to poor sales there, the balancing of the Euro versus the dollar means you don’t get that extra bump in the U.S. when requesting a payout.

Shutterstock is bucking the trend, but I think that’s mostly because they are marketing the footage side hardcore right now.  And new customers signing up make up for existing customers going on vacation.

Also, Pond5 has changed their script that posts sales from 2am eastern to 10:30pm eastern.  Not sure why, but it means we won’t get that extra bump before payout on the 15th.

How are your sales this summer?

Online File Sharing

I shot close to 6,000 photos and 22 minutes of video footage last week during a 4-day music festival (plus an extra day shooting the set up) and at nearly 100 GB of data, the easiest way to share everything with my client is online. That means upgrading my measly little DropBox account from the free 3.7 GB I have now, but $20 a month for 100 GB is a bit steep.  And I’d need to maintain it for probably at least 6 months to make sure my client gets everything.

So, I did some research and at only $4.99 a month, Google Drive is a much better deal.  The DropBox app and service are more mature and easier to use, configure and share but Google Drive will work and at a much better price.  If you need to share a lot of data (more than the 5 GB of free space they give you), I’d recommend Google Drive.

As long as I’m setting up online file sharing, it’s time to start looking at online file backup as well.  A friend of mine uses Carbonite and likes it, but has issue with their support. I installed the free trial for JustCloud and their desktop app is annoying, but seems to be doing its job.  They only give you 15 GB of free space during the 15-day trial, just enough to get your critical files backed up.  But from doing a comparison of the top 10 or so sites, they have the most features and lowest price for “unlimited” data backup.  I’m going to test that by backing up all 4 of my internal 2 terrabyte hard drives.  I’ll let you know how it works out.

Renting Lenses – BorrowLenses vs LensProToGo

Every year I attend a local Country music festival where I take pictures and shoot video for stock. However, this year I’m fortunate enough to have been hired as the venue’s official photographer. So, I need to step up my game.  I was selected because of the quality of my work from past years, but I want to make sure I’m selected again in the future, so I wanted to rent a better zoom lens (I have a Sigma 70-300 F/3.5-5.6).

In the past I have rented lenses from BorrowLenses.com and I’ve been pretty satisfied. But this time I decided to use LensProToGo.com and I’m highly impressed by their service so far.

When I first rented from BorrowLenses, I had to jump through all kinds of hoops from them.  I had to fax a signed form, make copies of my ID, credit card, a utility bill and they put a lien on my first born child. It was a difficult process, but you only have to go through it once.  LensProToGo required additional information not in their order form, but it was a much more painless and friendlier process.

When you order a lens from BorrowLenses, their minimum rental period is 3 days, then it goes to a week, 2 weeks, etc. You can do custom rental periods, but that requires emailing or calling them, it’s in no way a automated process online.  By contrast, LensProToGo has a modern web site that allows you to very easily select a custom rental period when placing your order. Furthermore, with BorrowLenses, their prices do not include shipping and you have to go deep through the lens order process in order to figure out what the cost will eventually be. While LensProToGo includes the shipping cost in their prices and as you select options it automatically updates your final total conveniently.

BorrowLenses has a MUCH LARGER selection of lenses available, at least for Canon.  I rented the Canon 70-200mm F/2.8L IS lens for the music festival from LensProToGo and I would have preferred to rent the non-IS version, but they don’t carry it. They also don’t carry the Tamron 70-200mm F/2.8 which I’ve found to be of excellent quality and would have been cheaper to rent.

Besides being able to get a lens needed for a particular shoot (if you don’t have friends that can loan you the lens), renting lenses also allows you to try an expensive lens before you buy it. I bought the Canon 70-300mm F/3.5-5.6 IS lens and found that I really didn’t like it after having spent a lot of money on it.  It worked, but it was louder than the Sigma and the bokeh wasn’t early as nice.  I also found the Sigma to be slightly sharper.  Before buying my Tamron 17-50mm F/2.8 lens, I rented one and found that I really loved it. So, I was able to buy one with confidence.

I will continue to check both BorrowLenses and LensProToGo when I rent my lenses, but if the price is the same between the two sites, I’ll order from LensProToGo because the order process is so much smoother and flexible. I only wish they had more of a selection.

Long slow year, mostly…

Stock Footage DataIt’s mostly been a long slow year for my MicroStock portfolio.  My Pond5 sales are down by 30% from same month sales last year. I know there’s a lot of infighting on the Pond5 forums about pricing, but when I slugged through the numbers I found a direct correlation between my poor sales performance on Pond5 and my having raised my prices there a year ago.  I’ve lowered my prices back to where they were and we’ll see how things go for the rest of the year.  Of course, we’re headed into the summer slump, so I’m not expecting anything radical until September.

RevoStock fell off the edge of the earth.  And Craig can complain all he wants, but I’m hearing it from every single one of my friends who sell there.  Footage sales are WAY DOWN.  It’s like they totally gave up or all their footage customers left for greener pastures.  They’re doing a big anniversary sale there right now, but it doesn’t appear to be doing any good.  It’s too bad because, as I mentioned in a previous article, RevoStock is one of the “good guys” in MicroStock and they really do deserve to be successful.

Shutterstock is my anomaly.  Sales continue to grow there even though my portfolio is small at the moment and growing slowly.  Tom Spota, who took over the footage area of Shutterstock, has been extremely aggressive in growing their share of market sales.  He’s personally contacted the big players (even a little player like me) and has overseen an overhaul of the submission process as well as aggressively marketing Shutterstock Footage to buyers.  With the near complete lack of anything new on Pond5 in over a year, I fully expect Shutterstock to overtake Pond5 as #1 in footage sales by the end of 2013… unless Pond5 gets off their butts and gets back to communicating with artists and updating features on their site.