Disintermediating: Can Photographers Go It Alone?

Posted on 5/16/2011 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (3)

An increasing number of stock photographers are fed up with low prices and low royalty percentages and are looking for a way to get out of the whole agency/distributor rat race. Many are setting up their own sites and are looking for ways deal more directly with their customers. They recognize that they won’t make as many sales, but feel that the higher fees they will receive for each use will generate more total income in the long run. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that by licensing their images directly to end users photographers would receive 10 or more times the revenue for each image licensed compared to what they are receiving from their agencies now.

Get the Full Article (2 Credits)

Have an Account?

Access to this site is an exclusive benefit for you. Enter your username and password in the form above. If you don't remember your password you can reset it at any time.

Forgot your password?

New to Selling Stock?

Selling Stock is an on-line newsletter that reports on developing trends in the stock photo industry. It is updated at least twice a month. On-line subscribers receive e-mail notification whenever new stories are posted. Archives containing stories going back to late 1995 are fully available to subscribers.

Copyright © 2011 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.  


  • Moly R Yim Posted May 17, 2011
    This is a great post, Jim. Thanks for continually putting up quality content.

    Do you know of any examples of photographers who have gone down the Disintermediated Road? Of course there are the many examples offered up by the likes of PhotoShelter and PhotoDeck who use those solutions, but I'm more interested in ones who have completely gone independent, like Jim Erickson — essentially defining every last detail of their own business from business model, to pricing, to technology, to design.

    As a designer and buyer, I do have to disagree somewhat with the point about buyers wanting to go to a central source for photos. I personally am always more than happy to check out individual photographers' websites, especially if they offer their own archived collections up as stock, as it makes me feel confident in knowing that I will get a consistent style from a single photographer. If said photographer specializes in a certain area (and of course is good), I will remember that particular photographer's website and work specifically and go back to it when I have a client project that I know could benefit greatly from using their unique style of imagery.

    All I can say is, from my personal perspective, disintermediating can only be a really good thing for the stock photo industry.

  • Bill Bachmann Posted May 18, 2011
    The article does give pause for thinking. I feel the best way is to have that agency representation (NOT RF or Microstock, but RM where fees are stronger) and combine that with selling to my own clients direct. That works for us.... I have a lot of clients who come directly to my travel & lifestyle imagery, and that pays 100% (of very good fees still --- sold a cover in April for $2500 direct). It is all about VALUING your work and not giving t away in Microstock for mere pennies. I would rather drive a truck than sell an image for $5.


  • John Harris Posted May 28, 2011
    Very interesting thank you. Large libraries only aggregating content without adding value by editing will be increasingly vulnerable to other forms of aggregation, especially if the alternatives add value. However, the system you propose may be just as vulnerable, if not more so with the removal of the middleman, to a continuing coercive downward price spiral. As long as photographers give pictures away for very little money the issues of sustainability and quality will not become the countervailing force which creates a more differentiated market... John H

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

Stock Photo Pricing: The Future
In the last two years I have written a lot about stock photo pricing and its downward slide. If you have time over the holidays you may want to review some of these stories as you plan your strategy ...
Read More
Future Of Stock Photography
If you’re a photographer that counts on the licensing of stock images to provide a portion of your annual income the following are a few stories you should read. In the past decade stock photography ...
Read More
Blockchain Stories
The opening session at this year’s CEPIC Congress in Berlin on May 30, 2018 is entitled “Can Blockchain be applied to the Photo Industry?” For those who would like to know more about the existing blo...
Read More
2017 Stories Worth Reviewing
The following are links to some 2017 and early 2018 stories that might be worth reviewing as we move into the new year.
Read More
Stories Related To Stock Photo Pricing
The following are links to stories that deal with stock photo pricing trends. Probably the biggest problem the industry has faced in recent years has been the steady decline in prices for the use of ...
Read More
Stock Photo Prices: The Future
This story is FREE. Feel free to pass it along to anyone interested in licensing their work as stock photography. On October 23rd at the DMLA 2017 Conference in New York there will be a panel discuss...
Read More
Important Stock Photo Industry Issues
Here are links to recent stories that deal with three major issues for the stock photo industry – Revenue Growth Potential, Setting Bottom Line On Pricing and Future Production Sources.
Read More
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

More from Free Stuff