Fashion Sells Basics

Posted on 4/16/2004 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)



April 16, 2004

Tom Grill was recently trying to explain the stock photo industry to a friend in
the fashion industry.

He explained that there are two necessary types of stock images:
those that make the phone ring, and those that fill the request when the phone
order is made. You can't sell a photo unless the phone rings first. Today, of
course, that means getting someone to your web site. The image that makes the
phone ring must strike a response in the graphic designer more than anything else.
It is not necessarily an image the designer will use in a project. In other
words, the image must bring the designer in the door. Once the designer goes to
the agency's web site, then he/she will begin the real search for an image to use
for his or her client.

A successful stock agency must have both image types. The conundrum: You can't
sell the file material if they don't go to your site, but they won't go to your
site if you just show the file images.

Once he had explained all this, his friend simply said, "Fashion sells basics".
In his industry, the producers have glitzy fashion designs to capture the
attention of the first client (the designer, in our case). The store buyer will
usually only purchase one or two of the actual fashion item to put in the store
window to attract customers. Once the customer is in the store, they invariably
buy the basic (classic) styles. So the store has an extensive supply of these.

The question for stock producers and sellers today is the proper balance for
today's customers. The "fashion" extreme may be necessary to grab the audience.
But, are we supplying too much of the "fashion" extreme ? the eye candy ? in our
total offering? Are we supplying sufficient "basics" to meet the customer's need
once they enter our store?

What are the basics? Tried and true subjects and concepts, with contemporary
colors and lighting that are today's classics. Images that are shot in a more
modern style than five or ten years ago, but still stripped to the essentials.

Some agencies are encouraging photographers to shoot the "fashion" extreme, which
they then use for free in their advertising and marketing. Often these
photographers either do not also shoot the "basics", or if they do those images
end up not being posted on the web site. Avoiding the "basics" can greatly limit
the photographer's potential income.

Note: For more on Tom Grill's thoughts on the stock photo industry see Story 548 .

Copyright © 2004 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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