203 ASMP CANCELS TEXAS SEMINAR
February 24, 1999
The ASMP executive committee of the national board has cancelled a stock
photography seminar, planned by the Dallas chapter, because the planned
meetings "are inconsistent with ASMP's policy, goals and code of ethics."
Scheduled to be on the panel were Allen Russell, president of PACA, Les
Riess, president of ASMP, a representative from The Image Bank, Rick
Becker-Leckrone from Corbis, Kasz Maciag from PhotoDisc and Drina Lazar from
According to Les Riess, president of ASMP, "ASMP has long been formally and
completely opposed to clip art (May 1992) for the reason that clip art is
fundamentally damaging to the long term interests of photographers. In
addition, ASMP is currently embarked upon a campaign to reverse the
diminishing financial return and rights that photographers have been
receiving from most stock agencies."
"Against this background, the March program would have given approximately a
half-dozen clip art companies, stock agencies selling clip art, and stock
agencies in the vanguard of decreasing photographers' income and rights, a
platform from which they could make a sales pitch to ASMP members. Because
of the large number of clip art and stock agencies on the panel, combined
with the short
amount of time allotted to each speaker, there was no practical way in which
ASMP's position in opposition to these entities could effectively have been
"We are at the threshold of implementing a plan to take a series of
aggressive actions to reverse declining revenues and rights of photographers
in a number of fields, specifically including stock photography, and we will
not be able to accomplish that without making some people and industry
The meeting was originally scheduled to have a second day where
photographers could schedule private consultations with the various
speakers. Riess said, "ASMP is not going to make a venue available for
people not working in the best interests of photographers."
This program was modeled to a degree after a program produced in San
Francisco in January called "Future Stock 2000." The speakers in San
Francisco were Dick Weisgrau; Lynn Martin from The Image Bank; Patrick
Donohoue from TSI and Rick Becker-Leckrone from Corbis. Evidently, after
that program, ASMP decided that their message relative to stock was not
being presented strongly enough.
ASMP's current goals to influence Stock Photography are as follows:
"To protect photographers' interests by working for:
- a reversal of the trend toward diminished compensation to photographers
due to a decreased share of licensing fees paid to photographers and/or
increased charges made back to photographers from those fees,
- recognition that a stock agency is obligated to serve the photographers it
represents faithfully under the traditional principles of agency, which do
not allow an agent to serve its own interests at the expense of those it
- compliance by stock agents with the ASMP/PACA Joint Statement of 1992
which was intended to ensure that agencies recognize and provide for the
minimum rights of photographers who they represent."
ASMP/PACA Joint Statement
The ASMP/PACA Joint Statement encouraged photographers and agencies to
incorporate the following minimum standards for fair treatment of
- that the agency not use the photographer's royalty share of collections
as operating funds,
- that the photographer should have the contractual right to audit all
agency records which pertain to the reproduction fees for his or her work,
- that the agency provide reasonable details regarding client usage and
licensing terms of the photographers's images, such as indentification of
the end user of the image, the duration of use, geographic limits,
reproduction size, identification and description of the image, the press
run or circulation, and the number of insertions or uses of the image,
- that agency contracts shall contain renewal and termination terms
which are the same for both parties and that automatic renewals are
- and that photographers be given the right to establish the level of
debt the agency can incur on their behalf, and that images may not be held
as collateral for such debt after termination.
Selling Stock Editorial Position
Before leaving this topic, I need to say a little about Selling Stock's
editorial position. ASMP's goals are admirable. However, sometimes it is
necessary to temper admirable goals with a dose of reality.
Back in 1992 many of us were opposed to "clip" photography. Seven years
later our industry has changed dramatically and photographers need to
understand current realities, not be locked into out dated policies and
modes of thinking. In 1999 we must recognize that approximately 15% of the
total gross sales worldwide of stock photography are "royalty free" images.
This percentage will continue to rise before there is some balance between
RF and RP. RF is here to stay. RF has a share of the stock photo market
and some photographers will produce RF pictures in the future.
A few photographers are making very good money producing RF images. We have
reported on some of these in an extensive story on PhotoDisc last summer.
Story 139. RF is certainly not the marketing solution for every stock
photographer or for every type of imagery, but RF is having an impact on the
business that photographers would be foolish to ignore. Clients are happy
to use RF for many of their projects. We believe it is important for
photographers to assess, in light of their own situations, both RF and RP
(rights protected) marketing.
Virtually all the major marketers of stock images are involved in RF in one
form or another. This includes: Getty Images, The Image Bank, Corbis,
Comstock, Index Stock Images, VCG (who say they will be starting an RF
division in 1999), PNI, etc. To reject an agency simply because they have
an RF division, or because they have undesirable policies in their standard
contract severely limits your chances of selling stock -- period.
The important thing is to learn how to identify the best offer and negotiate
the best deal for your particular situation. Photographers who want to
license rights to their images need to figure out how they can co-exist with
RF, not waste energies and resources trying to eliminate it.
Photographers need information. They need a better understanding of why art
directors use RF. They need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of
RF. They need to watch the development of this segment of the industry as
closely as they watch the development of the rights protected segment. They
need to be constantly re-assessing their options. To help in this, Selling
Stock will continue to provide indepth reporting on both the RF and the RP
segments of the stock photo industry.