Selling Same Images at Different Prices with Customer Segmentation

Posted on 3/23/2009 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (3)

As part of the ongoing discussion in the stock-image industry about the ethics and implications of selling the same content at different prices, James Alexander, formerly of Adobe Stock Photos, has posted some thoughts on his personal blog. This issue was first raised by Microstock Diaries, and Selling Stock has also addressed it in the past.

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Copyright © 2009 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, 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:  


  • Fred Voetsch Posted Mar 23, 2009
    I think that this is perhaps the most important issue facing most stock photographers today as it is costing many a lot of money because they are limiting their sales by only offering their images in one market segement of the other.

    I once thought that the key to surviving was to create a barrier between the high end and the low end but now I am starting to see that the same images can serve both markets.

  • Don Farrall Posted Mar 23, 2009
    For this to work there has to be a good way of policing use. Given the opportunity far too many will "cheat" the system, they already do, but keeping the content intended for high end users out of the hands of the masses does help to shelter the value of the higher value images. When anyone can buy any image claiming their minimal use then the value of the same image has been degraded to the high end buyer. I don't have an issue with this in principal, but I have my doubts about how it would be practical.

    Don Farrall

  • Andrea Stern Posted Mar 24, 2009
    Marketing segmentation has been working in the heritage sector for a long time. In V&AImages, which represents the Victoria and Albert Museum, we have maintained clear pricing differences between the academic and the commercial markets. Now with the pressure to give images free to academics, and the creation of a separate website to do so, the need for close monitoring to ensure 'fairness' has become essential. Not easy to do in the heritage sector as there is resistance to it and insufficient resources. And some images will only be viewable on the commercial websites as they are considered to be commercial assets and their value needs protecting.

    The separation of the markets does appear to be working and has generally been accepted by clients. Often it is the terminology used that makes the pricing acceptable. Reproduction fee converts to permission to license; service and search fees can be applied in the academic market, whereas delivery charges apply to commercial clients.

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