Random Thoughts 38

Posted on 9/12/2001 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)



September 12, 2001

$135,000 Sale

Corbis has licensed one of Chuck O'Rear's commercial images for $135,000. The name of the
client, and the subject of the image can not be disclosed due to a confidentiality
agreement, but in all likelihood we will begin seeing some image used very frequently in the
near future.

O'Rear's has one of the 40% contract's that were given to WestLight photographers when
Corbis acquired WestLight. Thus, O'Rear received $54,000 of this sale. Corbis did fly O'Rear
to Seattle to pick up the money.

We are also told that the image was originally found by the customer on the Corbis web site
without any help from a researcher. Corbis points out that this in no way diminishes the
value that their 70 researchers bring to the table, but points out that the web site earns
its keep as mell.

The only image I am aware of that sold for more than this amount was Dirck Halstead's
picture of Monica and Bill Clinton hugging on the White House lawn. According to sources
this picture went for $150,000 for one year unlimited worldwide right. Will O'Rear's picture
get the kind of exposure that was accorded Monica and Bill?

Corbis Digital Stock Layoffs

Rick Becker-Leckrone, Director of RF Production, will be leaving Corbis effective October
30, 2001. His position has been eliminated.

His departure is continuing evidence of radical changes in how RF images are planned,
produced and promoted. Some photographers have called him the Gandhi of RF.

Lawrence Manning was also laid off. Corbis says, "Rick's and Lawrence's positions have been
eliminated. These changes were prompted in part by the integration of the Corbis Stock
Market editing team, and do not reflect any changes in our RF strategy." Corbis has combined
the rights-protected editing and production teams to add efficiency, since many of their
photographers shoot both RF and RP imagery.

(Note: This is good news for Stock Market photographers because it is solid evidence that
Corbis not only intends to keep the TSM editing and production team together, but expand its

Rick and Lawrence will continue to work for Corbis as contract photographers. Corbis says,
"Both Lawrence and Rick will enjoy our full support as they shoot for Corbis."

Royalty Free Image Sells For $17,000

Corbis has licensed the rights to a Royalty Free image for a royalty of $17,000. It is
believed that the customer wanted to use the image and wanted pulled from future
distribution. It is believed that the image was removed from the site and this satisfied the
customer. Sources indicate that the image had been sold earlier to several other customers
and may be used again by any of these customers.

Getty Scanning Update

This is an update of Story 422 .
We have learned that Getty's scanning operation in London
has four retouching workstations - the scanning is done by others - working three shifts.
Each person cleans and color corrects about 25 images per shift. This would mean
that in a 260 work day year, they would scan close to 78,000 images. The images are scanned
to file sizes between 48MB and 60MB.

This is more than twice the productivity of the Seattle operation, which is certainly one
obvious reason for closing the Seattle operation. Sources indicate that the reason London is
able to be so productive is that they do minimal spotting of the images and much less color
correction than was being done in Seattle. It has also been confirmed that they often scan
dupes instead of always scanning originals, as was the policy in Seattle.

In addition salaries in the UK seems to range from about $26,000 to $35,000 (in U.S.
dollars) which is somewhat lower than the salaries in Seattle.

It would seem that London could easily add more scanners and retouchers to compensate for
the lost capacity in Seattle. However, indications are that they do not plan to take on more
staff. In fact, they may even cut back on the staff they already have. We are told that the
managers feel they can increase their output by simply expecting more of their employees and
getting rid of those who don't perform.

Photographers need to carefully consider how this is likely to play out in terms of getting
their new images scanned and up online.

German Disaster

Photographers and stock agencies who had pictures with the German agency Bavaria at the time
it was acquired by Getty Images are no longer being paid for the use of their images.
Bavaria was part of VCG which Getty purchased in March 2000.

Getty fired the entire Bavaria staff in October of 2000. In addition many other Getty
employees in Germany left Getty of their own will as they observed the non-professional
situation that was developing. At about that time they closed the Stone offices in Hamburg
and Dusseldorf and began concentrating all their German operations in the Munich in the old
Bavaria Bildagentur headquarters. It appears that as part of this consolidation, they have
lost track of which Bavaria images they are selling and to which creators they owe money.

In some cases when customers call requesting images they are told that Getty no longer
represents those images. However the companies and individuals who supplied images to
Bavaria have never been informed that Getty was no longer representing their work. In effect
Getty has taken the images off the market without giving the images suppliers a chance to
make new arrangements to offer their images to German buyers.

In other cases, image suppliers are aware that their images have been used in Germany in
2001, but have received no sales reports or payments for these uses.

We know of agencies that earned in excess of $100,000 in 2000 from catalogs that were
represented by Bavaria. These catalogs are still in the hands of buyers, but the agencies
have received no payment whatsoever in 2001, despite evidence that their images are being
used by major advertising customers in Germany. We know of photographers who has sales
statements indicating they are owed more than $5,000 who have not been paid in months. In
addition these photographers can not find anyone at Getty who knows anything about the
situation, or will answer their phone calls.

Buyers In The World

I've been asked how many photo buyers there are in the world. It is not an easy question,
but here are some numbers to consider.

Getty says they have over 1 million registered users of their site who are, in theory, photo
buyers. A lot of these names may come from their EyeWire division which was mailing 800,000
catalogs a month before they were purchased. Of these 800,000 they had 375,000 who had
purchased something and another 125,000 who had requested information at one time, but not
yet purchased. Keep in mind that while EyeWire has a strong offering of RF photography they
also sell type fonts to graphic designers and software like Adobe Photoshop. Were all these
375,000 photo buyers? I don't know. Also keep in mind that most of EyeWire's list was from
North America, not the rest of the world.

When we talk about print catalog distribution, it is generally assumed that the universe of
professional buyers in North America is in the range of 30,000 to 40,000. This is the number
of buyers most big catalog distributors are mailing to. The total print catalog distribution
in the rest of the world is generally about another 60,000 although The Image Bank sometimes
distributed as many as 250,000 to 300,000 print catalogs worldwide. However, the TIB figures
are somewhat questionable as we know that art directors would sometimes receive as many as
three or four of the same book as a result of their names appearing on several different
lists that TIB used.

The other big question is how to count people on the low end who don't buy very much, or
very often. Consider the person who prints a small newsletter, or does a small web site.
This person buys one RF photo in a year for $35. They use the picture over and over in their
masthead, but they don't need photos for any other purpose. Is this person a photo buyer? Is
this person someone you will aggressively pursue with marketing?

One of the problems is coming up with a list of those who buy frequently enough to justify
the expense of marketing.

Online Usage In The U.S.

In 2000 Getty had $165 million in e-commerce sales. I estimate that Corbis had about $80
million because they are so totally focused on e-commerce selling. I think these numbers
will remain about the same for 2001. Of this $245 million of the two combined, I estimate
that at least 80% was in the U.S., or $196 million. At the present moment neither company is
set up to use online marketing effectively internationally. This may change dramatically in
October when Getty launches a multi-language site, but the big question is whether the
European buyers are ready to make full use of such a site.

Add to this $196 million about $16 million in sales by PictureQuest, $6 million for
Masterfile, and maybe $5 million for Index Stock. Other significant contributors would be
SuperStock and Sheldon Marshall's Image State, but I don't have a good handle on what their
sales might be. Also there are about 20 agencies that have individual sites using ProStock
software and some of them are making a significant percentage of their sales as a result of
web search. And finally there are a number of agencies using their own
custom software. For all these other agencies (not counting Getty, Corbis, PictureQuest,
Masterfile and Index Stock), I would estimate an additional $25 million in gross sales. This
gives a total of $248 million resulting from web search in the U.S. I have previously
estimated U.S. sales in 2000 at about $673 million and that about 37% of the revenue
generated resulted from images being found on the web.

Keep in mind that this is not full e-commerce. I estimate that no more than 20% of these
sales are paid for online with a credit card, and a huge percentage of those sales are for
Royalty Free images. Most of the Rights Protected uses are still negotiated and billed to
the customers. Also, even when the customer uses online to find the image they want, often
there is analog delivery of the image.

Stephen Mayes

Stephen Mayes left Photonica in July and is now Group Creative Director of eyestorm,
(www.eyestorm.com) an art media company. eyestorm's vision is to make artworks by
established artists available to a global audience.

Mayes was Senior VP of Creative with Getty Images for three years and spent three years with
Photonica - most recently as CEO amana america inc. He feels the opportunity to move into
the art world offers another learning experience and a fresh set of challenges.
He has also worked in the documentary world as Director of Network Photographers for one of
the UK's leading reportage agency, and chaired the jury of the World Press Photo during that

eyestorm currently specializes in the on-line sale of limited edition prints by such artists
as Helmut Newton, Richard Misrach, William Eggleston, Sabastiao Salgado, Damien Hirst, David
Hockney and Magnum Photographers (in total, 120 artists). Mayes will be working with
eyestorm's worldwide team to develop new outlets and new ways of working with this rich
talent in a relatively undeveloped market.

Video Clips

According to TrendWatch about 8% of Internet creatives plan to purchase stock video clips
this year. However, as many as 25% or the Internet creatives who work for ad agencies intend
to purchase stock video.

Slowly but surely digital video is creeping into creatives' repertoires, and islands of
opportunity are popping up. Increased bandwidth, coupled with heightened interest from
clients are making digital and especially streaming video more inviting prospects. Not only
will the need for stock video clips increase, but so, too, will the need for original video.


Getty's German Disaster

From AgentG:

Getty's French operation is experiencing the same "troubles" as Germany.
Since the take over of PIX, the French subsidiary of VCG, sales are down 40%. Some
photographers of PIX and TIB France have not been paid for more than a year.

Getty's German Disaster

From George:

I've been represented by Bavaria for many years. After their takeover we have
mutually agreed to terminate our relationship and they have said that they will return all
my material - this was perhaps a year ago. Nothing has been returned so far, and now they
are not answering any of my communication attempts. They seem to continue selling some of
my material, and I've been receiving sales statements and payments on time. The sales are
perhaps 20% of what they are used to be before the takeover. I have no idea of what to
expect and how to proceed. It would be very interesting to hear from other photographers in
a similar situation!

Copyright © 2001 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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