Random Thoughts

Posted on 1/6/1999 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)



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.

Web Sites

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

is well-known."

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

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


Economics 101

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

than profits.

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

matter what.

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

standard markup.

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."

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 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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