209 ASMP AND STOCK
March 15, 1999
The ASMP board has issued the following resolution relative to future stock photo
Resolved that no chapter, specialty group or national component of ASMP shall
conduct any meeting, program, workshop or other activity regarding stock
photography (including traditional managed-rights and royalty-free stock
photography), without first assuring that a balance will be made by offering at the
same event an equal opportunity for ASMP to present its point of view. Any entity
planning such an event must submit in advance a description of the event to the
ASMP Executive Board, and take such steps as the Executive Board may direct.
Violation of this policy shall result in cancellation of the event.
This policy is an interim policy and will be discussed again in the April board
meeting. At that time it may be continued or dropped.
The letter from President Les Riess explaining this policy says, "ASMP has a
long-standing policy to discourage photographers from participating in clip art or
royalty-free stock deals, and it has a current goal to improve photographer's
bargaining power and economic standing with respect to stock agencies."
However, he goes on to say, "Meetings held regarding stock photography can provide
a forum for those managed-rights and royalty-free stock photography companies that
we believe do not act in the best interests of photographers. ASMP cannot support
stock agencies that offer photographers unfair contracts in which photographers
fundamentally have no rights; nor can it support the proliferation of clip art,
which lessens the worth of photography by making the value of the images secondary
to the value of the software containing them."
This seems confusing to me, but after talking with Les Riess it appears that the
key issue is that ASMP wants to know in advance the position of the speaker will be
and have someone prepared to challenge any point that does not support the ASMP
point of view. In future meetings where managed-rights and royalty-free stock
photography companies are given a chance to speak someone from ASMP must have
"equal time" to "confront these presenters" on the issues of their operation that
According to a knowledgeable source at least one of the RF speakers invited to
speak at the Dallas meeting (reported in Story 203 )
was unwilling to participate if the meeting was to be confrontational.
I believe this policy will make it extremely difficult for local chapters to plan
and organize meetings that contain stock photo content. Having served as a program
chairman and chapter president many years ago, my guess is that most chapters will
simply avoid the stock topic and focus on other issues.
Obviously, ASMP has an interest in promoting MPCA and MIRA. They would like for
other stock agencies to give photographers some of the same rights that MIRA offers
them. On the other hand they believe photographers need to be represented by stock
agencies as well as MIRA because MIRA is concentrating on the low end, non-exclusive
sales, not high end advertising sales. "MIRA is there to represent the other images
that a photographer's primary stock agency refuses to handle," said Dick Weisgrau.
According to Weisgrau the average gross sales for MPCA photographers with MIRA
(MIRA has direct relationships with certain photographers who are not MPCA members)
is currently about $5,000 per month or approximately $60,000 per year. Seventy
percent of this is distributed to the photographers, or approximately $42,000 on an
annual basis. The MPCA photographers have about 60,000 images currently on the
site so, on average, a photographer will receive $.70 per year , per image on file.
A year ago MPCA had 39 qualified buyers. Now they have 600 qualified buyers.
About 350 photographers currently have images with MPCA ranging from a low of about
25 images to a high of approximately 1,000. Weisgrau said, "MIRA is
meetings its sales targets and they are pleased with its growth."
By way of comparison Stock Connection had about 1900 images with Picture Network
International in January. Our number of images on-line is growing and we are
seeing month to month growth in our sales. In January the total gross sales for
our images was $10,640. In this situation PNI takes 40% of the gross sale off the
top and, we split the remainder 35/65 with the photographer, so the photographer
actually ends up getting only 39% of the gross sale. PNI has 47,000 qualified
If we assume that our sales remain level throughout 1999, as we have assumed that
MPCA's sales will remain level, then Stock Connections total sales for the year for
our 1900 images will be approximately $127,680 and the share of that which is
divided among the photographers will be $49,795. The average each photographer
will receive is $26.20 per year , per image on file.
It should be recognized that these are averages. For certain individuals sales
will be higher and for some much lower. There is also no guarantee that either
MPCA or Stock Connection will maintain the same level of sales month to month,
although in both cases sales growth has been showing a steady increase.
It should also be noted that Stock Connection is only one of about 60 agencies on
the PNI site and the total images in the database from all these agencies is
approximately 400,000. We have no way of knowing whether our returns are better or
worse than the other agencies who obviously represent the vast majority of the
It is also clear from these numbers that percentage-of-gross-sale is one of the
factors, but not necessarily the only factor, that needs to be considered when
determining where to place ones images.