Aurora Photos Adapts To Changing Business

Posted on 7/28/2016 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

The needs of stock photo customers are changing. Successful agencies and distributors are adapting to those needs. Increasingly, customers are turning away from the large collections that purport to have everything. They are moving toward smaller, tightly curated collections that have a narrow focus in terms of the subject matter they represent. Aurora Photos is one such agency.

While Aurora Photos has been in business for 23 years, two years ago they re-launched their agency and focused their collection more tightly on outdoors and healthy, active lifestyle photography. Currently they have approximately 350,000 images in their collection, 70% from contributing photographers and the remaining 30% from about 20 supplier agencies. Rather than taking everything a contributing photographer or supplier agency has to offer, they carefully curate the imagery each sends to make sure it is consistent with their brand.

President and Founder Jose Azel says, “When we launched the new, rebranded website in June 2014 we kept the majority of contributing photographer images, choosing to emphasize new on-brand images and over time letting older off-brand images gradually become a smaller and smaller percentage of the overall collection. We initially downsized some partner collections by category and search terms, others by manual editing because these collections contributed more off-brand images in larger numbers. New images are added by careful curation with special attention to quality and keeping “on-brand”.

Another big focus of the re-branding was “working very, very hard to discover the 300, 500 or 1000 clients who want the high quality that we provide along with the high touch service that makes them want to work with us,” Jose continued.

On the Aurora Photos website there is a link to 33 Galleries that show selections of some of the main themes Aurora has to offer. These Galleries were created primarily for the purpose of marketing and promotion, and show off the best images in certain categories or topics that Aurora knows to be of interest to potential clients.

Previously, a significant percentage of the company’s revenue was derived from sales made by approximately 50 distributors. As part of the re-branding and reorganization Aurora’s direct sales now makes up about 1/3rd of the company’s gross revenue. Another 1/3rd comes from Getty Images and the remaining 1/3rd from a combined total of approximately 50 additional distributors. In 2015 Aurora had a 28% increase in direct sales to customers and a 13% increase in revenue overall.

No distributor represents the entire Aurora collection. Each distributor has a small segment of the collection based on the distributor’s strengths. Among the distributors that Aurora uses is Shutterstock Offset. Aurora has 10,843 images on Offset and only three other supplier agencies have more. Offset prices its premium RF images at $250 for a small 72dpi file and $500 for a large 300dpi file. Jose says this pricing structure has “brought many top photographers, who had abandoned stock, back into submitting because it removes the possibility for the very small licenses that have been so discouraging,” and have become such a prevalent part of total sales at many of the big distributors.  

Aurora contributors have image exclusive or co-exclusive (photographers may make direct sales to their own customers of images Aurora represents) agreements. “Photographers are welcome to submit images that we do not accept (assuming they are not similars) to other agencies. We work with many photographers who shoot outdoor or healthy and active lifestyle photography as one of the many genres of photography that they focus on.

Because we are curating to our outdoor brand, we represent their outdoor material, but there may be excellent off-brand material that we won't take. We encourage photographer to work with other agencies that might be interested in different subjects. We also have a high quality bar for inclusion in the collection,” Jose says.

Karl Schatz, Director of Aurora Photos says, “We have photographers that have been with us since the very beginning, 23 years ago -- at least one for over 20 years and others for almost that long, and they are still contributing. We have clients who have been with us that long, and come back time and time again knowing that our research and sales team are going to go the extra mile to get them the image or images they are looking for.

“We bring breathtaking photography into the marketplace -- remarkable images of men and women pushing the limits of what it means to explore the challenges and beauty that the natural world presents.

“We have new young photographers who are just getting started in the business, and like we have always done, we are a partner to them, helping them understand how to make stock a part of their photography business, how to maximize and focus their efforts in order to maximize the revenue that we know is still there to be made. We're doing fun and innovative stuff with our marketing that is engaging and resonating. We have new clients who are learning now that we are THE place, worldwide, to come for outdoor adventure and lifestyle photography,” Karl continued.

Copyright © 2016 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 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of, 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:  


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