1998 Survey

Posted on 3/6/1998 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)



March 6, 1998

One of the surprising results from the January Stock Survey is the number of

photographers earning a good income from stock. Thirty-five percent of

the 206 respondents earned over $70,000 in 1997 from the stock side of their business.

About 5,000 surveys were mailed.

The following are the number of responses and the percentage of the total at each level

of income.


  over $400,000   



  $250,000 to $400,000   



  $150,000 to $250,000   



  $100,000 to $150,000   



  $70,000 to $100,000   



  $40,000 to $70,000   



  $20,000 to $40,000   



  $10,000 to $20,000   



  less than $10,000   



Fourteen percent of the photographers were not represented by a stock agency, 27% had a

single agency and 59% are represented by more than one agency. The good news for stock

agencies is that photographers earn much more when they are represented by an agency.

Of those not represented, about 17% earned over $40,000, but none earned over $70,000

and 50% earned less than $10,000.

Interestingly, at the higher earning levels those represented by several stock agencies

tended to earn more than those who were exclusive with a single agency. This was

surprising considering that the major agencies require exclusive contracts.


Respondents Exclusive Several Agencies
  over $400,000   




  $250,000 to $400,000   




  $150,000 to $250,000   




  $100,000 to $150,000   




Eighty-five percent of those responding have images in a print or digital catalog.

Having images in a catalog was a very important predictor of income. Of the 30 with

no images in catalogs one earned over $150,000, but had several agencies handling his

work. After this aberration, 10% of those without catalog images earned between

$40,000 and $70,000 and 80% earned less than $20,000 in 1997.

A major photographer complaint has been that they are not getting as many images in

recent catalogs as they did in the past. We asked, "Did you get as many images in

catalogs in 1997 as you did in 1996, or in previous years?" The response to this

question split about equally with 61 saying more, 58 saying less and 56 about the

same (31 didn't answer).

However, when it comes to production of new images 50 said they produced more in 1997

than in previous years, 63 said less and 87 said about the same.

When asked about their gross earnings from stock 97 said they earned more in 1997, 39

earned less and 67 said about the same.

Royalty Free Discs

Only 9 had actually allowed their images to be used on Royalty Free discs while 195 said

they had not and two were unsure. However, 41 said that given the opportunity they

would be willing to put images on RF discs and 32 more said they might, but were unsure.

That's over 35% of the respondents who are prepared to consider participating in the

royalty free environment. This would indicate that RF producers will have little

trouble getting as much high quality content as they can absorb.

The other 65% said they would not participate and some gave strong opinions as to why

they would

not participate. Keep in

mind, also, that at the PACA

seminar last November, thirteen of the stock agencies attending said, "their company was

likely to market some form

of Royalty Free product in

the next three years" and 35 said maybe. That's 24% of the 195 agencies attending.

We asked photographers if they wanted their stock agency to produce, or market some type

of RF or

Low Royalty product.

Thirty-one said yes, 138 said

no and 24 were unsure.

A word of caution for stock agencies. We asked if photographers were satisfied with

their current

agency relationship and

103 said Yes, but 50 said No

and 24 were either not sure, or in cases where they were with more than one agency said

it depended

on the agency. That

means that 74 or about 40% are

not satisfied with some of their agency relationships.

Surprisingly, those earning more than $100,000 in 1997 were even more dissatisfied than

those at

the lower levels. Thirty

said they were satisfied

with their agency, but 15 said they were not and 12 said they were happy with some of the


they deal with, but not

all of them. Thus, 47% of

high earners are somewhat dissatisfied.


The above copyrighted article(s) are for the sole use of Selling Stock subscribers and may

not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner to non-subscribers without

the written permission of Jim Pickerell, the editor. For subscription information contact:

Selling Stock 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-251-0720,

fax 301-309-0941, e-mail: jim@chd.com.

Copyright © 1998 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-251-0720, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of www.selling-stock.com, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to: http://www.jimpickerell.com/Curriculum-Vitae.aspx.  


Be the first to comment below.

Post Comment

You must log in to post comments.

Stay Connected

Sign up to receive our FREE weekly email listing new stories posted.

Follow Us

Free Stuff

Recent Stories – Summer 2016
If you’ve been shooting all summer and haven’t had time to keep up with your reading here are links to a few stories you might want to check out as we move into the fall. To begin, be sure to complet...
Read More
Corbis Acquisition by VCG/Getty Images
This story provides links to several stories that relate to the Visual China Group (VCG) acquisition of Corbis and the role Getty Images has been assigned in the transfer of Corbis assets to the Gett...
Read More
Finding The Right Image
Many think search will be solved with better Metadata. While metadata is important, there are limits to how far it can take the customer toward finding the right piece of content. This story provides...
Read More
Where Is The Stock Photo Industry Headed?
For new readers, or those who may have missed some of what I have written over the last few months, the following are a list of stories worth looking at to get a sense of where the industry is headed.
Read More
Photography As A Career
It’s that time of year when high school seniors are waiting for college acceptance letters and thinking about future careers. If you know someone who is thinking about photography as a career you mig...
Read More
2014 Stories You May Have Missed
For many the end of the year is a time to review past experiences and consider whether it makes sense to chart a new course in the year ahead. Stock photography has changed dramatically for professio...
Read More
More Stories In 2014 You May Have Missed
Every so often I put together a list of the most important stories we’ve published in the recent past. If you are engaged in the business of stock photography the links below are to stories that we’v...
Read More
Getty: A Three Month Review
In all the excitement about 35 million FREE images it is worth looking back at some of things that have been happening at Getty Images in the last three months. After watching revenue decline for the...
Read More
State Of Stock Photo Industry: 2013
If you’re looking for an overview of the state of the stock photo industry as of October 2013 the stories listed below are a good place to start. Regular readers of Selling-Stock will have seen all t...
Read More
Education Market Shifts To Digital
If supplying pictures for educational use is a significant part of your business plan you need to be aware of how the market is trending toward digital delivery and how that is likely to affect the p...
Read More

More from Free Stuff