187 RANDOM THOUGHTS
January 6, 1999
The following are some bits of useful information that have come to light
as we track the ebb and flow of the stock photo business. This column will be
an occasional feature in future issues of Selling Stock.
If you think individual web sites will help you sell stock images here is a
test. Go the the links section of our site at www.pickphoto.com/sso. We
have over 200 photographer sites listed as well as stock agencies and other
resources. You can click on the link and go into any site. You will find
some great images and some so-so images.
Now, pretend your an art director looking for something specific. Wonder
around in this list and see how long it takes you to find something useful.
It is our opinion that such sites are fine if you use them as a portfolio.
Once you know a client is looking for something specific then you direct the
client to your site. But, don't expect art buyer to go to the trouble of
randomly searching such sites when they are looking for stock images.
One big problem is giving the art director an immediate clue as to what they
will find on a photographer's site, or in somehow putting such sites into
some type of category system. So far, I haven't seen any simple, cost free
ways of doing this.
TSI Website Exceed Expectations
Chicago, December 21 -- Tony Stone Images announced a better than anticipated
performance from its full commerce website, www.tonystone.com. Launched only
eight weeks ago, the site consists of 50,000 high quality and creative images
available for search,
purchase and download with 1,000 new images being added every week.
It has attracted over 1,000 registered users each week and has generated a
higher revenue per individual sale than is currently being achieved in the
analog environment. The website has achieved a 25 per cent weekly growth rate
in sales since its mid-October launch. In addition more than 25 per cent of
all online purchases have come from new customers.
Getty's full web commerce sales reached more than 10% of total sales and
digital sales for the third quarter of 1998 were $16.8 million, representing
34% of total sales. (These sales were principally from PhotoDisc and
Getty also reported that they acquired Sporting Pix in Melbourne, Australia.
This acquisition is part of a strategy to own and operate offices in key
markets in order to build client relationships and increase sales. Getty now
has a network of 14 wholly owned outlets in all the major markets for visual
content, as well as agents in 54 countries.
New Print Catalogs
Indications are that the publication dates of a number of stock agency
catalogs are being delayed. The longer it takes to get an image where it can
be seen by clients, the longer it takes to recover production costs. Check
with your agency to see what is happening with their scheduled catalog
We are not sure, but agencies could be finding that it is taking longer to
recover costs from previous catalogs. They may not want to further reduce
the sales of the images that are already in the hands of clients by making
new options available.
Natural Selection Stock
David L. Brown, Chairman of Natural Selection Stock has assumed the
additional title of CEO and succeeds Mrs. Deborah A. Free who has resigned as
president and CEO for personal reasons. Mrs. Free will remain a shareholder
in the company which she helped found twelve years ago.
"Natural Selection has experienced strong growth during the past three years,
and we owe much of our success to Deborah's efforts," Brown said. "I plan to
continue to operate the agency with the same concern for quality service to
our clients that Deborah established. We will also strive to maintain the
fair and open relationship with our photographers for which Natural Selection
Brown and a small group of investors purchased the stock agency nearly three
years ago and launched it on a rapid growth trajectory. Since then, the
company has more than quadrupled in size and remains one of the fastest
growing agencies in the stock photo industry.
Frozen Images of Minneapolis has closed their doors and a large segment of
their library has been transferred to Zephyr Images. Zephyr has offices in
Solana Beach, CA and New York City. Participating photographers will continue
to receive a 50% commission rate and benefit from a much larger distribution
I couldn't resist this. It is clear from the way tech stock have been
gobbled up by investors that Wall Street now values revenues and growth more
Buy.com, and internet company founded in October 1996, has grabbed onto this
philosophy and is selling products "below their costs" in an effort to try to
create a brand synonymous with low price. According to William Gurley
reporting in Forbes, "The company is ruthlessly committed to be the price
leader--even if it means losing money on every sale."
How does this relate to the stock photo industry? It certainly seems that
many of the major sellers are determined to be the "price leader" -- no
Getting back to Buy.com model the distributors and the manufacturers are not
complaining that their products are being sold as a "loss leader" as long as
the manufacturer gets their standard price and the distributor gets their
However, when we look at stock photography there is no standard price for the
product, so the manufacturers in this case are not guarantee to get a price
that will enable them to continue to manufacturer. All the manufacturers get
is a small percentage of whatever the seller gets which has no relations
whatsoever to the cost of production.
Amazingly, investors are willing to give huge amounts of capital to companies
like Buy.com on the hopes that the stock price will rise regardless of
whether the company ever shows a profit.
Are Computers Male or Female?
A group of men and women were asked what gender would be most appropriate for
computers. The women agreed that computers should be masculine because "they
have a lot of data, but they are still clueless" and "most of the time, they
are the problem." The men decided computers should be feminine because "even
your smallest mistakes are stored in long-term memory for later retrieval"
and "as soon as you make a commitment to one, you find yourself spending half
your paycheck on accessories."