Friday, February 16, 2018

Have I Got a Deal for You!

Let me start out by saying I had to be dragged kicking and screaming into Adobe's subscription model for software payment. Something about being on the hook for money going out every month regardless of whether I was rich or poor really grated on my inner miser.

Over time I was won over by the fact that the costs were reasonable (at least for the Photographer's package of Lightroom and Photoshop) and that the regular updates made a qualitative difference in my workflow. Not bad for what was just a bit more than the cost of a latte and croissant.

Updating was reduced to clicking on a button and spending a few minutes of quality time with my dog while the software installed itself. Painless and one less thing that required my undivided attention staring at a screen. Surprisingly,  I'm now on board. It seems to be win/win for everyone.

So it was with an open mind that I watched a Terry White tutorial about Adobe Stock. Among all the YouTube literati, Terry is particularly knowledgeable, succinct and enlightening about all of the topics he covers. In a few clicks, he was able to demonstrate how Adobe built in the sharing mechanism right into Lightroom so all you had to do was upload your assets, supplement Adobe's automatic image recognition software with some custom tags and wait for the money to roll in.

Terry even put it in terms a cheapskate like me could understand.... "I really like making money while I'm sleeping".

Once you've made a sale Adobe will let your profits accumulate and then issue a payout at intervals of $50. What could be better than another income stream for work that I'd already done? I didn't think I'd be financing a beach house with the profits but something made me think I could possibly offset the fees charged by Adobe software licensing in some kind of symbiotic feedback loop.

Sadly the reality didn't quite live up to the hype.

As advertised, the upload process is a breeze but the image vetting that goes on is surprisingly strict and seemingly arbitrary. For various reasons, most of the images I uploaded were rejected outright. Lack of aesthetic interest, grain/noise problem, intellectual property violation were the usual reasons cited. I've developed a pretty thick skin over the years so my reaction to rejection is to just take it as a learning point. Obviously if I'm missing something basic I should really pay attention and learn so I don't do it again has been my main takeaway. The image below for example, was turned away for an intellectual property violation.

Hmmm... where? If you blow it up on screen, way off at the end of the block is a store sign. Really, is that it? The church, the street sign, maybe the barely legible license plate on the Cinque Cento?

Now understand, this isn't sour grapes. Aesthetic judgements can fall all over the spectrum and I'm perfectly fine with others not sharing my own, sometimes peculiar outlook but I'm at a loss to discern the disqualifying characteristics here because absent that bit of knowledge, I'm likely to do it again. As much as I love making money in my sleep, I really hate making the same mistake twice.

Ultimately, some of my files were accepted and in a short while I was actually making sales!

Twenty five cents? If the grammar police were watching, they should be fined for illegal use of exclamation points.

There's a semi Italian word that I still fall back on with alarming regularity. Acita.

Basically anything that gives you anxiety, concern or disappointment may give you acita... heartburn, upset stomach, nausea. And there are some things in life that you can't dodge. Quarterly tax payments. Late fees. Cancelled flights and missed meetings. Acita.  But there are also things that are difficult and still eminently worthwhile to endure. The reward can justify the sweat and late nights and time spent not doing things you love. But with apologies to Adobe, this just isn't one of them.

It was interesting to see that under Adobe's standard image license, that photo is resold at nearly $10. Cheap for image rights but still 40 times what they're paying me for it. And adding insult to injury, they get to hold on to that money, mine and everyone else participating, until it reaches a critical mass. It's like giving them the photos and a loan at the same time. For my account to reach $50, I'd have to spend days, weeks even months editing, submitting and tagging files. Or at the rates they're paying, wait about ten years. That's a long wait for so much acita.

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