Image Buyout

Posted on 3/18/2005 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

Another competitor for OnRequest Images has hit the street - this time from Dubai - and the company's early focus seems to be on the European market.

The new company is Images Buyout ( founded by Gregg Sedgwick, a British photographer and designer, and it is privately owned. They define buyout as: "the transfer of rights of an image. This includes copyright, model releases, property releases, moral rights waiver, etc. A one-time fee is paid for the sale of the rights. This means that the image is actually owned by the buyer in its entirety."

They say, "imagebuyout has created a new genre of photo library based on the buy out principle. We produce and supply high quality, highly relevant images available on a buy out basis that is exclusively for use by the purchaser and not available for loan or license to any other user." In their brief to photographers they add, "It is not our aim to compete with 'lending' libraries - our business model is more about image integrity in the sense that our 'stock' is only sold once."

One of things that is somewhat unique is that there is a specific price attached to every image. The price is as low as $300, but many of the images are priced well over $1,000 up to $10,000. It appears that the photographer will have some input in setting the price, but that is not clear. Photographers will receive 50% of the sales fee.

Another unique factor is their "Briefing Room" where they list requests from creatives. Full, secure access to the "Briefing Room" is only given to approved photographers who agree to their contract. However, on their site they do provide some samples of what the briefs look like. They have briefs from various customers in Scotland, England, Birmingham, Sydney, Paris and New York.

They say, "Being an approved contributor with imagebuyout is simple and guarantees a higher acceptance rate than any other photo library. We are able to do so because we, on the merit of your portfolio, provide you with the briefs we are looking for and we aid in the art direction of these briefs. In a nutshell, we work with our contributors to ensure that the images they produce are precisely what we are looking for."

Based on reviewing the sample briefs they appear to be more speculative than something a particular customer needs immediately. Unlike OnRequest there seems to be no limit on the number of photographers who can submit images to fill a particular request, or brief. (OnRequest limits the number to no more than 5.)

They say there are three easy methods for photographers and artists to submit material to imagebuyout:

1. Through our dedicated "Briefing Room" as an approved contributor

2. "What buyers want" is dedicated to the broad areas in which there is a demand for imagery. Several categories including but not limited to abstracts, business concepts and corporate images are good sellers. imagebuyout welcomes submissions from both registered contributors and speculators to these general briefs.

3. "Designer Requests" are a selection of the best requests submitted to imagebuyout by creatives using the website. Our art directors pick and choose the cream of the crop and offer it to our registered contributors to select and shoot. These hot briefs are usually urgently needed images that are sure to sell.


As I see it, this business model has several flaws.

  • There is a very limited number of customers who really want to own the images they purchase exclusively. For those that do, the price they are willing to pay is very dependent on how they intend to use it. For those that do want exclusives they may be interested in an image priced at $3,000, but if their planned usage is relatively small they may not be able to justify paying more than $1,500 for the usage. With a fixed, non-negotiable price this customer will not be able to use this image. On the other hand the customer who is planning a big campaign may think $3,000 is a real deal and would have been willing to pay a lot more for the image.
  • Establishing the fixed price is very difficult. Make it too high and you limit the number of potential users to only those who are working on major campaigns. And this is a spec shoot, not a guaranteed interest from an assignment customer.

    Make the price too low, and by giving ownership to the customer they give the customer the chance to earn significant revenue from the image by reselling it while the photographer, and Imagebuyout, gets no additional benefit. The low priced pictures will appeal to a lot of the customers who are using RF, but in this case there are no multiple sales to justify the low prices. Many of Imagebuyout's images are priced almost below the current price of high end RF.

  • Someone could search the site for bargains, (images that the buyer believes might have been priced incorrectly) buy them, then re-sell them through other portals. Any art director who does buy an ImageBuyout images for a particular project could turn around, offer that image on one of the stock portals and potentially make more money than they originally paid for the usage. The photographer receives no additional benefit for this extra usage. This will be particularly attractive to art directors who know their client doesn't require an exclusive, and where the image is priced at a level that is basically what it would cost to purchase a non-exclusive image.
  • The $300 minimum price, (and fees significantly higher - remember the photographer only gets half) is less than what it will cost many photographers to produce most images. Since there is no chance for multiple sales it is likely to be a losing deal for the photographer from the beginning.

  • Copyright © 2005 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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