As most professional photographers
have discovered, the business of stock photography has changed. It is
not just the photos left over from an assignment. It is not just old
photos sitting in a file drawer. It is a powerful, potential profit
center for every photographer willing to put in the time and effort
to understand and to work with the new state of stock.
Here are some of the changes the photographers and the stock agencies
are dealing with in the new millennium.
· Changes in the agency/photographer contract
· Stock agencies and photographers forming a creative partnership
· Electronic stock marketing and sales
Changes in the photographer and stock agency contract are technology
driven and client driven. As stock agencies seek to compete for clients,
they need to offer more technology and variety of media usage. For example,
stock agencies need to discuss with their photographers their electronic
imaging rights, royalty free usage, and exclusive contracts for non-royalty
free usage. In addition, stock agencies want to require photographers
to supply new images on a specified regular basis. With these tools
in hand, stock agencies today can offer their clients more services
and types of image usage. Since the additional costs of new technology
and marketing have increased, the agency/photographer commission structure
is undergoing change. From the 50/50 split of the stock usage fee, some
agencies now want to negotiate a 60/40 split in their favor.
It is very important to discuss with your agency the reach and marketing
they can do internationally. Last decade, photographers would have several
regional contracts with different agencies for the best geographic coverage.
Since then, many of these smaller and regional stock agencies have been
acquired by the larger and international agencies. If a photographer
wants to contract with more than one stock agency, their contracts have
to reflect that. Don't rule out the smaller agency. Now, with
Internet access and digital delivery, one agency can sell any image
anywhere in the world.
This international creative partnership is not just sales representation.
Photographers and their stock agencies can work together to increase
sales. The stock agencies can keep their photographers up-to-date with
information of trends, global marketing, digital production. Stock agencies
can also provide their photographers with information in frequently
requested subjects. Photographers can then create self-assignments for
stock usage based on these guidelines.
Electronic access and delivery of stock images is still an emerging
technology but has made great advances in just the last couple of years.
Three stock agencies comments on their new technology trends. Leslie
Hughes from Corbis Images tells us, "Clearly, digital sales are
still evolving and when you consider the global environment, there is
a vast difference between markets. For us, digital technology means
a sales via online search, digital delivery, or both. This includes
sales of, or from, CDs. In our company, digital sales are over 50 percent
of total sales and growing dramatically in the US, in particular. Europe
is also growing very fast but the base is smaller for us at this time."
Alan Carey from The Image Works adds, "How quickly things have
changed! In the last six months we noticed a tremendous shift in our
clients' willingness to take digital delivery as well as review
images online and by e-mail. It is as though suddenly a switch was thrown
and everyone is turned on. We have increased our digital deliveries
by over 1000 percent in the last year. We have some clients who one
year ago said they didn't even want the term digital mentioned
to them who are now receiving high-resolution files from us for reproduction.
At this point I could invest as much as I have in digital and still
not do it fast enough. We expect that within one year 50 percent of
the images we take in from our photographers will be in digital form
even if the original is film."
When The Stock Market photo agency released its latest CD in its "Idea
Disc Series," Executive Vice President, Andrei Lloyd, commented,
"The creation of our concepts for the New Millennium Idea Disc
is a result of the high customer demand for conceptual images. Concepts
for the New Millennium provide our stock users with forward-thinking
images via an easy and comprehensible route. Furthermore, because we
are intensely aware of the time sensitive pressures our clients face
each day, we provide immediate access to our web site where they are
a click away from downloading a high-resolution, quality product, ready
for comping and/or purchasing."
In conclusion, here is a partial list of stock photo agencies. Shutterbug
magazine does not endorse any agency on or off this list. For a more
complete list, contact the Picture Agency Council of America (PACA)
at 800-457-7222 or www.pacaoffice.org.
Stock Photo Agencies
fax: (212) 505-2053
Comstock Stock Photography
fax: (212) 353-3383
fax: (425) 643-9740
fax: (212) 995-9652
H. Armstrong Roberts
fax: (800) 786-1920
The Image Bank
fax: (214) 863-4860
The Image Works
fax: (914) 679-0606
Natural Selection Stock
fax: (716) 232-6325
fax: (305) 666-5485
The Stock Market
fax: (800) 283-0808
Tony Stone Images
fax: (312) 922-9075