So, for a long-time professional photographer trying to
adjust to the "new stock" business models, or even for those just
starting out, what do you recommend as steps they can take to seriously consider
stock as a revenue stream?
Photographers need to study the competitive mix. Look at
the images that are found on the websites of the big providers such as SuperStock,
Getty, and Corbis. What is the agency looking for? For example, at our agency
we are not looking for image submissions of landscapes, wildlife, or scenics.
Photographers should consider the concepts that the images are about, the emotions
that the images elicit as well as techniques and style. Today's successful
stock photographer has the same qualities as any successful advertising photographer:
a great sense of style, the ability to assemble a good production team, and
a good knowledge of the market's needs. Increasingly, a photographer who
is just getting started could be faced with doing work for hire or being hired
for a staff position as more and more companies are demanding wholly-owned material,
especially from their more junior photographers.
© Wendy Amdahl/SuperStock, All Rights Reserved
SB: Describe your firm's "business model"
and the aspects that make this a more successful relationship between stock
agency and stock photographer than those of the "big box" stock
EB: SuperStock represents a mix of an independent agency with
a major generalist company. The collection is multifaceted across at least four
genres: contemporary photography, travel, vintage, and fine art. At the same
time SuperStock has less than 400 photographers, as opposed to the giants that
have thousands of contributors. As a consequence photographers have the benefit
of a closer relationship with the company.
The parent company of SuperStock, a21, is looking to become a leading content
(image) provider for professional creatives. We understand that good and relevant
content is critical to our success and we strive to support our photographers
and artists with their craft. We offer competitive royalty splits and pride
ourselves on always making timely payments to our contributors. In addition,
we have pulled together a team of industry professionals who understand the
art and commerce sides of the stock business.
© Tracy Kahn/SuperStock, All Rights Reserved
SB: Since stock photography sales are based on getting images
in front of potential clients, what are some marketing tools that have worked
well for you?
EB: Now that our world is nearly completely digital, the most
important marketing and advertising tools are those that drive the client to
the web. This call to action is effectively delivered via e-mail blasts on a
regular basis. Targeted e-mail to particular market segments is more likely
to get results than a blanket mailing to all clients and customers.
SB: What types of clients do you seek out and what do you send
EB: Because our collection has a good mix of contemporary,
fine art, and vintage images in both rights-managed and royalty-free, we focus on targeting our customer base with the appropriate message
that we believe will speak to their particular needs. One recent printed piece
was a small format booklet focused on our contemporary collection that was mailed
to current and potential clients. It worked very well as it showed off some
hero shots, while also presenting copy that covered all our collections and