2003 Stock Photographer Survey Results

Posted on 2/14/2003 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

539

2003 STOCK PHOTOGRAPHER SURVEY RESULTS



February 14, 2003

The results of the survey we posted in mid-December are in and 172 photographers
supplied data. Nearly all the respondents have been selling stock for three years
or more. The combined gross 2002 income of these photographers was $24,244,557
and 67% of this income came from stock photography. If most of
the stock sales were made by agencies and, on average, the photographers receive
40% of each license, then this data represents in excess of $40 million in sales
to customers. Given the size of our industry this is a significant sample.


In many ways the results were not what we expected. We sub-titled the survey "Stock
Industry In Crisis", but based on results there may not be nearly as much
"crisis" as we had anticipated. At Selling Stock we have daily discussions with
photographers throughout the U.S. and the world. Often we hear anecdotes
indicating hard times. Surveys like this one provide a more balanced perspective
on some of that information.


Regularly photographers tell us that their income has dropped significantly in
the last two or three years. Some photographers with very high incomes who
responded to this survey reported that their incomes had dropped 50% and more since
2000. But at the same time there were many photographers who reported a rise in
income over the three-year period. Thus, while there was a drop in average income
year-to-year, it was not as significant as we had expected. On average
there was a drop in total income of 4% in 2001 when compared with what the
photographers earned in 2000, and a total drop of 14% for the two year period
from the end of 2002 when compared with 2000. Of the photographers who earned
more than $70,000 in each year 49% saw a rise in their income in 2001 as
compared with 2000 and 38% saw a rise in 2002 when compared with 2001.


























     

Total Income   

Percent Decline   

RM Stock   

RF Stock   

Total Stock Income   

2000   

$28,149,000   

     

$17,923,596   

$1,052,849   

$18,976,445   

2001   

$27,155,121   

4% from 2000   

$17,759,614   

$980,870   

$18,740,484   

2002   

$24,244,557   

14% from 2000   

$15,121,066   

$1,160,641   

$16,281,707   





















     

Total Income   

Average Photographer Income   

Percent Income From Stock   

2000   

$28,149,000   

$163,657   

67%   

2001   

$27,155,121   

$157,878   

69%   

2002   

$24,244,557   

$140,956   

67%   






It is interesting that for all three years the photographer's stock income was
about 2/3rds of total income. In a 2001 survey of year 2000 income 61% of photographer's
total income came from stock (the response rate was smaller for this survey), and for a 1999
income survey stock represented
62% of their total income. Thus, it seems the average photographer is not finding
other sources of income to make up for loses in stock income as we thought might be
the case. We know of some cases where this is happening, but evidently not
enough to affect the averages. In fact the percentage of total income photographers
are earning from stock (and thus their dependence on stock) is slightly higher
than it was in previous years.


Character of Respondents


Many more respondents reported high incomes on this survey than on
previous surveys (I'll provide a breakdown under "Comparison With Recent Surveys"
below). This probably is due in no
small part to the founding since the last survey of the StockArtistsAlliance,
and the participation of SAA photographers in this survey. Ninety-five of the
respondents were SAA members and this is close to one-quarter of their membership.
These photographers are among the most successful stock photographers in the
world and their numbers clearly pushed the averages higher. ( Editors note: Any
photographer seriously interested in the stock segment of this business ought to
consider joining the SAA. You can get more information at
www.stockartistsalliance.com ),


The first chart below shows a breakdown of the Total Income and Stock Income from
the 95 SAA respondents. The second chart shows the comparison incomes from the 77
other respondents who are not members of the SAA.



























     

Total Income   

  

RM Stock

RF Stock

Total Stock Income

2000

$15,948,434

  

$11,152,562

$22,499

$11,175,061

2001

$16,030,876

  

$11,456,386

$54,370

$11,510,756

2002

$14,369,565

  

$10,344,119

$86,041

$10,430,160




























  

Total Income

  

RM Stock

RF Stock

Total Stock Income

2000

$12,200,566

  

$6,771,349

$1,030,350

$7,801,699

2001

$11,124,245

  

$6,303,228

$926,500

$7,229,728

2002

$9,875,032

  

$4,776,947

$1,074,600

$5,851,547





The average income for the SAA members is quite a bit higher than for
non-members. The chart below provides a breakdown of the average income of SAA
photographers compared with those who are not members of the SAA. (In the
Averages chart further down in this report we will provide averages for
the SAA members operating in the U.S. compared with those from other countries.


























  

Income of SAA Members

Average

  

Income of Non-SAA

Average

2000

$15,948,434

$167,878

  

$12,200,566

$158,449

2001

$16,030,876

$168,746

  

$11,124,245

$144,471

2002

$14,369,565

$151,259

  

$9,875,032

$128,247



Royalty Free Income

Another interesting factor is the percentage of income from Royalty Free
sales. The SAA is very opposed to Royalty Free and in all years its members
had less than 1% of their sales from RF images. While the amount of RF sales
did rise year-to-year in all cases it was less than 1%. The non-SAA members,
on the other hand, showed a small but significant amount of income from RF
sales. The income remained about the same year to year, but due to declining
Total Stock Income RF represented a significant rise to 18% of total income in
2002.

A total of 18 of the respondents had some RF income. Seven of them showed a
rising trend and 11 showed a flat or declining trend over the three years. Three
earned all their stock income from selling RF. Two had RF incomes in excess of
$100,000 a year and for one the income was significantly in excess of this
number. However, the one with the greatest income showed a decline in income
year-to-year.


























  

SAA Stock Income

Percent RF

  

Non-SAA Stock Income

Percent RF

2000

$11,175,061

0.2%

  

$7,801,699

13%

2001

$11,510,756

0.5%

  

$7,229,728

13%

2002

$10,430,160

0.8%

  

$5,851,547

18%




Income from photographers based outside the U.S.

We received responses from 40 photographers living and working outside the
U.S and they represented 23% of total respondents to the survey. 35% of these
foreign respondents were based in the United Kingdom. This was the first time
since we began surveying that we have received a significant response from
non-U.S. photographers.

While the average incomes for this group were much lower than for U.S.
photographers, the foreign photographers do not seem to be experiencing the same
drop in incomes that U.S. photographers have been experiencing. In fact, they
had an average rise of 5% in income for 2002 over what they were earning in 2000.

I have a couple theories about this anomaly. First, because the number of
respondents is still relatively low this may not be truly representative of all
photographers living outside the U.S. On the other hand there has definitely
been a push in the industry in the last couple of years to produce and market
more European looking content. This may be paying off in increased sales
for photographers working in that part of the world.


























  

Total Income

  

RM Stock

RF Stock

Total Stock Income

2000

$3,387,606

  

$1,813,027

$19,000

$1,832,027

2001

$3,747,153

  

$2,163,498

$46,000

$2,209,498

2002

$3,559,125

  

$2,308,065

$39,615

$2,347,680



Average Income for Photographers

The following are the average incomes for all respondents to the survey and
for various groups within the survey. The first chart is focused on the
U.S. and SAA respondents. The second chart deals with the responses from
those who live and work outside the U.S.



























  

All Responses

All U.S.

US SAA

US non-SAA

Respondents

172

132

72

60

2000

$163,657

$187,586

$192,295

$181,936

2001

$157,878

$177,333

$187,745

$164,837

2002

$140,956

$156,710

$166,505

$146,188























  

All Foreign

Foreign SAA

Non-SAA Foreign

Respondents

40

23

17

2000

$84,690

$91,443

$75,553

2001

$93,678

$109,268

$72,586

2002

$88,978

$106,756

$64,924



Comparisons With Recent Surveys

This chart lists the number of respondents for certain levels of Gross Income.
It includes the total number of respondents to each survey and the number that
had gross revenue above $70,000. The bottom row indicates the percentage of
total participants that earned over $70,000 during the year.

There are two different columns for the year 2000. 2000A was for a survey done
in early 2001 and it measured income for the year 2000 (There was a low response
to this survey). The numbers for 2000B were generated from the survey just completed.


































































































  Year

1997

1998

1999

2000A

2000B

2001

2002

  Total Respondents to Survey

206

185

138

97

172

172

172

  Gross Income

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  Over $400,000

6

6

4

5

12

11

9

  $250,000 to $400,000

13

12

11

5

10

10

9

  $150,000 to $250,000

14

18

7

7

13

16

15

  $100,000 to $150,000

24

11

17

9

16

18

10

  $70,000 to $100,000

13

18

23

16

22

10

20

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  Total In High Income Categories (HIC)

70

65

62

42

73

65

63

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  

  Percent of Total HIC Responding to Survey

34%

35%

45%

43%

42%

37%

36%




Next Survey

This survey gives us some useful base data, but the overall picture might have
been clearer if we had asked additional more detailed and probing questions. For this
reason, I want to encourage everyone who responded to this survey, and who
qualifies to do so, to also respond to the 2003 Stock Picture Industry Survey being sponsored
by PACA. Anyone, photographer or stock agent, who is based in North America and
who makes any direct sales of stock images to customers is encouraged to respond
to this survey and will get a copy of the results. Unfortunately, if all your
stock income comes from stock agencies you do not qualify to respond to the survey because
the sales of your images will be reflected in the figures reported by your agency.

The Survey Questionnaire is available as a downloadable document. You can obtain your copy
at www.pacaoffice.org/survey.html .

The deadline for submitting a completed questionnaire is March 5, 2003.

Click here to review the results for previous Selling Stock surveys for the years: 1997
(Story 125) , 1998
(Story 213) , 1999
(Story 297) and 2000
(Story 399) ,


Copyright © 2003 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.  

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