135 MAJOR AGENCY CATALOG COSTS
April 3, 1998
In an effort to understand what it is costing photographers to advertise and promote
their stock images I contacted a number of photographers with the three major
companies marketing stock photos worldwide. This information was later corrected and
confirmed by principals within each company. The agencies are:
I also discovered that in some cases policy modification are to be put into
operation this spring, and to the degree that they are defined at this time I have
reported them below. The questions I asked were as follows:
1 - What are the costs per image for catalogs distributed in the U.S. and the rest
of the world?
TSI - According to Stephen Mayes of Getty-Images, the TSI photographers pay 50%
of the entire costs of design, production, printing and distribution. These figures
are calculated after printing and distribution is complete and a detailed breakdown of
the costs is given to each participating photographer.
To give some examples of specific products, I have the following figures for two TSI
catalogs. The cost per image for the Interpretations catalog released in May 1997 was:
| Single Worldwide Edition
For the Flagship 8 catalog released in January 1996 the costs per image were:
| North America
| Rest Of The World
| Both Editions
Reproduction size is not a factor for TSI when calculating the value of a catalog
image. Sales are influenced by many factors: subject matter, quality of the image,
prominence (not simply size), territory of sale, etc.
VCG/FPG - The current per image catalog placement costs for VCG/FPG as stated in
the new contracts are the following:
Up to 1/4 Page
1/4 Page or Larger
| North America
| Rest Of The World
| Both Editions
In addition they are charging $75 per image for placement on a CD, but this charge only
applies to images that are not in a print catalog. If a CD is a companion to a print
catalog the cost is covered in the catalog fee.
While these current fees are listed in the new contract they may be adjusted for future
catalogs through the use of a contract addendum.
TIB - The following are prices for some catalogs.
| Catalog 22
| All 1998 Catalogs
$395 - $500
These are the prices no matter what the size of the image. The price also included all
the extra dupes that are distributed with the catalogs.
Diane C. Fannon, Senior Vice President of TIB said, "The MAXIMUM we charge the artists
is 50% of production costs. We don't generally hit 50% in our charges to them, it usually
ends up being around 45%. We can't possibly have 'fixed catalog production costs'
because it varies by the size of the catalog, the print run of the catalog, whether it's
sheetfed or web printed. If we go overbudget for whatever reason, we eat that overage
and do not pass it on to the artists. That's why their fee is sometimes under the 50%,
but never over."
2 - How many copies are printed and distributed?
TSI - I don't know how many copies of Interpretations or Flagship 8 catalogs were
distributed. However in 1995, TSI distributed a Business and Industry catalog and gave
their photographers the following numbers for distribution:
| North American
| Rest Of The World
Recently, Stephen Mayes told us that the Worldwide distribution of catalogs is
approximately 200,000 but that varies with each product.
VCG/FPG - While the numbers vary from product to product, approximately 80,000
are distributed in the U.S. and 120,000 in the rest of the world outside the U.S. for a
total of approximately 200,000.
TIB - Officials at TIB did not dispute my estimate of the number distributed at
being between 150,000 and 200,000.
3 - How are catalog fees calculated?
TSI - According to Stephen Mayes of Getty Images, "TSI does not have a fixed
catalog charge, although we do have a standard formula for sharing the production
expenses with Contributors. It is very simple:
1) TSI pays 50% of the entire costs of design, production, printing and distribution
2) Contributors pay the remaining 50%
3) Contributors' charge is divided pro rata according to the number of images in the
4) The charge is deducted from sales of each image, so the Contributor pays nothing
until the image generates sales, at which point the charge is deducted from commission
due to the Contributor. Therefore if the image fails to sell TSI absorbs 100% of the
Thus, the charge to Contributors is variable from catalog to catalog. However, TSI has
stabilized production costs so the key variable is the number of images per catalog
which dramatically affects the per-image cost of publication. In addition, the number
of catalogs distributed, especially when dealing with specialty catalogs can have a
major impact on the price.
VCG/FPG - The price is fixed in the contract and is based on the photographers
paying 50% of the costs. However, the contract does allow for future addendums that
might raise the price of future catalogs.
TIB - They say they charge photographers 50% of what it costs to produce and
distribute the catalog.
4 - How do photographers pay these catalog fees?
TSI - TSI is moving this year to a system where they will withold 50% of the
entire monthly remittance, not simply 50% of the remittance due on a specific image.
For example: assume a photographer had ten images in the Interpretations catalog and
owed $8,159.60 in catalog fees. In the first month three images from this catalog sell
for a total of $700 (photographer share). The photographer owes a maximum of $2,447.88
for these three images. The total due the photographer this month from all sales is
$5,000. Since 50% of the total monthly remittance can be taken (a) 100% of the money
collected from these images ($700) could be used up to pay the catalog fees or (b) the
entire $2,447.88 owed for these images could be deducted because it is less than 50% of
the total owed the photographer for that month.
I could not confirm which option they intend to use which may mean they are still
trying to decide. Photographers with TSI should make sure this is clearly explained
before they begin production of images for the next catalog.
VCG/FPG - Out of sales of the specific images. If the image does not sell, no
fee is charged.
TIB - Out of all sales at the time the catalog comes out.
5 - How are the monies deducted?
TSI - No more than 50% of the entire monthly remittance will be deducted from
VCG/FPG - Deduct 100% of the monies collected for the sale of any specific image
included in the catalog until the cost is paid off. Thus, if you owe $600 for an image
and initial sales total $600, the entire $600 will be deducted before the photographer
is paid anything. If your image fails to sell you contribute nothing.
TIB - Money deducted immediately after the catalog is released for all images no
matter whether they sell, or not. No more than 25% of monies owed are deducted from
TSI - supplies a detailed breakdown of costs and the total number of copies
distributed so the photographer can see how the 50% was calculated.
VCG/FPG - does not supply any breakdown, but has a fixed cost that they say is
based on their paying 50% of the costs.
TIB - does not supply any breakdown. They say the fee they charge is based on
their paying 50% of the costs.
7 - Does the agency charge for images placed on CD's?
TSI - Yes, but I was unable to confirm how much.
VCG/FPG - Does not charge for catalog images that are placed on a companion CD.
That cost is covered in the catalog charge. They do charge $75.00 per image for
non-catalog images placed on specialty CD's. At the present time they are not putting
catalog images on specialty CD's, but when they do there will probably be some charge
for these placements.
TIB - No
8 - Does the agency charge for electronic enhancement or retouching?
TSI - gives the first 40 minutes work on an image free, but charges $281.40 per
hour. This figure is recalculated annually, by averaging the rates charged by three
high-end studios and discounting by 25%. "We are not charging for "cheap & cheerful"
retouching, but for the highest calibre of artistic work, much of which is performed on
Barco workstations with Creator software. The photographers are notified in advance,
and they must give approval for the work and the charge," said Stephen Mayes.
Some photographers have incurred hundreds of dollars in additional fees for the
enhancement of a particular image. The majority of the images in the TSI catalogs have
had some electronic work done on them.
VCG/FPG - does not charge for digital retouching or outputs.
TIB - They do all retouching at no charge to the artist.
9- Are there charges for dupes for the catalog?
TSI - Stephen Mayes said, "TSI does not make any charge for the production or
distribution of any dupes.
VCG/FPG - does not charge for dupes
TIB - According to Diane C. Fannon, Senior Vice President, when an image is
selected for the Core file TIB makes 75 dupes free of charge. If TIB determines that
more than 75 dupes are needed then they charge $.35 per dupe for each additional 35mm
dupe. Regardless of the format of the dupes, large or 35mm, the dupe costs for catalog
sets are included in the one catalog fee.
These fees are deducted from the net monies due the photographer irregardless of
whether the images ever sell.
10 - Does the agency have an on-line catalog?
TSI - At present, they do not have an on-line database. However, as a result of
acquiring PhotoDisc Getty-Images has the technology to put a catalog on-line using the
same search engine that PhotoDisc uses. It is my understanding that the TSI catalog
images will be put on line in the near future.
VCG/FPG - At present, they do not have an on-line database, but we understand
that a site with about 30,000 images is being tested and has been demonstrated to many
large photo buyers. I believe that site will be publically available in a few months.
TIB - TIB, as a subsidiary of Kodak, has acquired rights to the Picture Network
International (PNI) technology. It is our understanding that TIB has a PNI private
database with approximately 100,000 images on it. This site has been made available to
some large picture buyers (advertising agencies) who have been given a private password
to search for images on this site. I believe this database is also being used
extensively by TIB researchers internally as they search for images for other clients.
Digital delivery of all files on the TIB database is currently possible.
11 - What is the percentage of sales that the photographer receives?
In comparing costs of catalog placement it is important to keep in mind the percentage
you will receive of the gross fees collected. Different agencies calculate the
percentages in different ways so 50% can mean many different things in different
TSI - pays photographers 50% of the gross fee collected in the home country.
Thus, an American photographer that deals through the U.S. office receives 50% of U.S.
sales. American photographers who deal through the UK receive 50% of the UK sales and
a lesser percent of US sales.
Countries who do not pay photographers directly usually retain 40% of any fee collected
and remit the remainder to TSI's London headquarters. This 60% of the gross fee
charged is split with the photographer.
The gross company figures that were reported when TSI went public in 1996 showed that
on average photographers received 39% of all sales.
VCG/FPG - American photographers who have been represented by FPG will receive
two statements - one for North American sales, and one for the Rest of the World. The
"North American" statement comes from FPG. The "Rest of the World" statement comes from VCG.
Photographers receive 50% of the gross fee from FPG and 50% of what VCG receives from
its sub-agents. VCG operates as a holding company and thus all the agencies in the
various countries where VCG licenses images pay VCG a percentage of gross sales. The
wholly owned VCG agencies including the Telegraph Colour Library in the UK, PIX in
France and Bavaria in Germany keep 50% of the gross fee to cover their operating costs.
They submit 50% to VCG which then splits that money with the photographer giving the
photographer 25% of the gross fee collected.
Some of these agencies keep 40% of the gross sales and others keep 50%. Thus, in most cases,
what the photographer is actually receiving is 25% of the gross sale.
TIB - TIB photographers receive 50% of the gross fees collected from the New
York and Boston offices. They receive half of the payments TIB receives from all the
other offices. On average I believe TIB photographers are receiving 32% to 33% of
actual gross sales.
All the figures above are before the catalog and dupe costs are deducted. When these
costs are taken into consideration the actual percentage of the gross fee collected
would be lower.
Many of these costs may seem high to those who have never had an image in one of these
catalogs, but the real question is how much can someone earn from an image promoted
worldwide in this manner.
Photographers would like to pay less, but the biggest complaint I hear from
photographers with these agencies is that they cannot get enough images into these major
What bothers photographers more than the price paid for space is when they spend
thousands of dollars producing unique shots on speculation and then their agent refuses
to promote the images in the catalog.
©1998 SELLING STOCK
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