Business Trends
Stock Photography--Year 2000

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

Stock Photo Agencies

Art Resource
(212) 505-8700
fax: (212) 505-2053

Comstock Stock Photography
(800) 225-2727
fax: (212) 353-3383

Corbis Images
(425) 641-4505
fax: (425) 643-9740

FPG International
(212) 777-4210
fax: (212) 995-9652

H. Armstrong Roberts
(800) 786-6300
fax: (800) 786-1920

The Image Bank
(800) 842-4624
fax: (214) 863-4860

The Image Works
(800) 475-8801
fax: (914) 679-0606

Natural Selection Stock
(716) 232-1502
fax: (716) 232-6325

(800) 666-1266
(305) 666-1266
fax: (305) 666-5485

The Stock Market
(212) 684-7878
fax: (800) 283-0808

Tony Stone Images
(800) 234-7880
fax: (312) 922-9075