Getting Images Seen

Posted on 10/12/1999 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)



October 12, 1999

One of the toughtest things in today's stock photo market is finding a way to

get your images in a position to be seen by potential customers.

At TSI many photographers who have been major producers in the past are

reporting they are getting fewer and fewer images accepted for scanning

and inclusion into the Dupe Master Collection (DMC) or online.

Quite a large number report that have had less than 10 images accepted in the

past year. Not all of these images made it into one of the print catalogs.

Often images are accepted by a U.S. editor, sent to London for consideration

by the London editing team, held for months and then returned unaccepted with

no explanation.

Many of the rejected images were "art directed" by the U.S. editors, and

after several re-shoots the photographer produced exactly what the U.S.

editor was asking for.

Many photographers feel that their best and most saleable images were not

accepted by the U.S. editors. As one photographer put it the editing

philosophy seems to be to only accept images that are more Outrageous than

MTV. While no one would deny that there is some market for the MTV type of

imagery, there is also a market for what might be called Working Images that

have strong composition and illustrate often used concepts.

These Working Images are being totally ignored by TSI, and not even placed in the

files. Nevertheless, this type of image still sells briskly at TSI, based on

photographer's sales reports. But they are images that were produced, and

placed in the files, years ago.

Many of these photographers are finding that other agencies immediately

accept the rejected images because they believe the images are

marketable. In addition some have made high ticket sales with rejected


Anything of an editorial nature is being rejected. Editors have been

replaced because they were "too editorially oriented." Photographers have

been told, "we are only taking the highest end images which will produce

multi-sales in the international advertising market." Editorial photographers

who were formerly with Liaison and who were moved to TSI after the acquisition

are now finding that most of their production is rejected.

Everything has to be so generic that one photographer commented, "A shot of a

French Provence can not look like itself, because it must also illustrate up

state New York or the California wine country."

Even when photographers use all the popular MTV techniques -- cross

processing, b&w infraread, negative film, polaroid slide film, distored

images, out of focus, blur, funky colors, digitally manipulated to produce

saturated color palettes -- they find this still doesn't satisfy the editors

in London.

Photographers are at a loss to figure out where the communications is

breaking down. They do exactly what their editors tell them, the editor

accepts the image and it is later rejected. Do U.S. editors know

what London wants? Does London know what it wants? Does London want

anything? Does London have any idea what the worldwide market wants? So

much of what they reject seems to sell through other sources.

Some photographers have been told that TSI has dropped plans to build a

section of their file that would target the

Asian market. The photographers assessment is that that market is too

small (maybe 3% to 5% of the world market) for Getty to justify producing

images specifically targeted for that market. Getty will be happy to sell

Asians images that were shot to meet the needs of the U.S. or European

markets -- if the Asians want them.

It is hard to imagine where the current global strategy will eventually take

TSI and Getty. But it would seem to leave wide openings for many suppliers

who are willing to target specific markets and supply strong coverage

One thing seems sure. Just because you have the world's largest database of

images doesn't mean that you have the most current material on many subjects

of moderate demand.

Copyright © 1999 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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