Leading Stock Photo Sellers

Posted on 7/9/2003 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)

564

LEADING STOCK PHOTO SELLERS



Updated - May 25, 2007

When photographers look for an agency to represent their work it is useful to have some idea
of an agency's relative size and position in the market. Since most stock agencies are
privately held, and very little financial data is publicly available it is often difficult
to get a handle on who the significant players might be in any given market.


Over the years, and as a result of extensive discussion with many agents around the world, I
have put together a list of the companies that I believe are among the industry leaders. I
have divided these companies into three categories - those that I believe have annual gross
revenue in excess of $20 million; those with revenues between $5 million and $20 million and
those with revenues between $1 million and $5 million.


These are fairly large ranges, as I do not have accurate revenue figures for many of these
companies. Even when figures are publicly available as is the case in France, UK and Italy,
they are often a year or two out of date due to reporting requirements. Despite these
handicaps, based on the size of their staffs, the size of the market they address and
information from their competitors it is often possible to get an idea of roughly what their
revenue might be.

This list includes agencies worldwide and I believe is fairly comprehensive, but undoubtedly
I have missed a few companies - particularly in the $1 million to $5 million range. I will be updating
the list from time to time as I obtain new data. If companies believe I have inadvertently
left them off the list, or placed them in an incorrect position, I encourage them to contact
me and provide some general information that would help me position them correctly.


All companies are positioned in a category based on their gross worldwide revenue figures.
Some of the companies in the higher categories have individual country offices that could
qualify for a position in one of the lower categories. I have not listed these regional offices in the lower category because all of their revenue has been accounted for in the parents listing.
For example, according to on the www.societe.com site in
France Corbis Sygma was listed (in 2002 when I first created this chart) as having approximately 13.7 million Euros revenue in 2001 which would put its French office solidly in the second category. It is not listed because all its revenue is already accounted for in Corbis' top category listing.


I have ordered the companies in the first list below based on their overall size and I feel
confident of this order. The companies in the following two lists are not ordered by size
as it is more difficult to determine from the available information who is ahead of whom.

The List




























Over $20 Million Annual Sales

AGENCY

COUNTRY

Getty

USA

Corbis

USA

Jupiterimages

USA

Associated Press

USA

Amana

Japan

DPA Photo

Germany

Reuters

UK

AFP

France

Alamy

UK

Photolibrary

Australia

Image Source

UK



Some companies have other lines of busines from which they generate revenue. I am focusing
exclusively on the revenue earned from the licensing of rights to still images, illustrations
and footage.


























































$5 Million to $20 Million Annual Sales

AGENCY

COUNTRY

A21 - (formerly SuperStock)

USA

Action Press

Germany

Aflo Foto Agency

Japan

AGE

Spain

ANP

Netherlands

Bon Color Photo Agency

Japan

Bridgeman Archives

UK

Contrasto

Italy

fotosearch.com

USA

Green Recovery

France

Grazia Neri

Italy

Hollandse Hoogte

Netherlands

IPJ (formerly Imperial Press)

Japan

IPS

Japan

Keystone

Switzerland

Masterfile

Canada

Mauritius

Germany

Olycom

Italy

Pacific Press

Japan

Photo Researchers

USA

Picture Press

Germany

Rex Features

UK

Scanpix

Scandinavia

Science Photo Library

UK

Sipa

France

Uniphoto

Japan






































































































$1 Million to 5 Million Annual Sales

AGENCY

COUNTRY

Adobe Stock Photos

USA

Agence Stills

France

AKG Phototheque

France

All Over Press

Germany

ANSA

Italy

APA/Contrast

Vienna

Bilderberg

Germany

BSIP

France

Camera Press

UK

Dreamstime

Romania

EastNews

Warsaw

Farabola

Italy

Firstlight

Canada

Fotolia

France

Granata Press

Italy

Great Stock!

South Africa

Imapress

France

The Image Works

USA

Keyphoto

Japan

La Presse

Italy

Marka

Italy

Matton

Denmark

National Geographic

USA

Neo Vision

Japan

Panoramic Images

USA

Photo Alto

France

Photo Bank Yokohama

Japan

Photonews

Belgium

Photomovie

Italy

Photononstop

France

PhotoTake

USA

Premium

Germany

Pressensbild

Sweden

Prisma

Switzerland

Radial Press

Spain

Reporters

France

Robert Harding

UK

Roberts Stock

USA

Roger Violette

France

Shutterstock

USA

StockFood

USA and Germany

Superbild

Germany

The Picture Desk

UK

Time-Life Picture Library

USA

Uno Press

Italy

Veer

Canada

ZUMA

USA



There are hundreds of other stock agencies or portals companies around the world that are
not included on any of these lists. I believe each of them is generating less than $1
million in annual sales. This does not necessarily mean that these smaller companies are not
significant players in their markets. If their market is small, or if the company focuses
on a niche within the market, they could well be a leading provider to that niche.

But the amount of gross revenue they generate does have some bearing on the return a
photographer might expect to see from such an agency, if he is one of several hundred
photographers represented by the company.

In addition, according to survey information collected in both Europe and the U.S. in past
years there are quite a few stock agencies with gross revenues of less than $500,000 per
year.

It is also important to recognize that many of the larger companies earn a significant
portion of their revenue by representing images produced by other agencies or distributors.
Punchstock is a prime example because nearly all the content on their web site is supplied
by other agencies. Punchstock takes a percentage of the gross sale, submits the remainder to the
producing agency and that is split with the photographer. Even Getty, with its third party
strategy is now representing over 70 other agencies that are "content partners."

This means that some of the same revenue that shows up on the balance sheets of the 1st and
2nd tier companies is also on the balance sheets of other smaller companies. It is virtually
impossible to estimate the amount of revenue that might be double reported in this way, but I estimate that if you were to total all the revenue reported by all the primary sellers in the industry about 30% of it would be double counted. It is important to recognize that it is a factor when trying to calculate how much an agency might earn for the photographers it represents. An important question for photographers to ask their agent is, "What portion of your revenue results from direct sales to customers and what portion comes from distributors or sub-agents?" Some agencies in Europe have few, if any, photographers that they represent directly and rely solely on representing images that have been supplied to them by other agencies.

I mentioned www.societe.com earlier as a resource
for getting information about the revenue
of companies operating in France. You can go to this site, enter the agency's name under
"Enterprise" and get the most recently reported information about the company. Some smaller
companies are not required to supply data, but it seems that all the larger ones are. If the
company is based in the UK you can go to
www.companieshouse.com and for a modest fee get a
copy of the latest financial report of the company. It is my understanding that all Ltd.
Companies are required to file information, but that sole proprietorships and partnerships
are not. Unfortunately, this information is often very out of date, but it provides some
basis for making a judgment.


Copyright © 2003 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.  

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