ASMP and Stock

Posted on 3/15/1999 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)



March 15, 1999

The ASMP board has issued the following resolution relative to future stock photo


    Resolved that no chapter, specialty group or national component of ASMP shall

    conduct any meeting, program, workshop or other activity regarding stock

    photography (including traditional managed-rights and royalty-free stock

    photography), without first assuring that a balance will be made by offering at the

    same event an equal opportunity for ASMP to present its point of view. Any entity

    planning such an event must submit in advance a description of the event to the

    ASMP Executive Board, and take such steps as the Executive Board may direct.

    Violation of this policy shall result in cancellation of the event.

This policy is an interim policy and will be discussed again in the April board

meeting. At that time it may be continued or dropped.

The letter from President Les Riess explaining this policy says, "ASMP has a

long-standing policy to discourage photographers from participating in clip art or

royalty-free stock deals, and it has a current goal to improve photographer's

bargaining power and economic standing with respect to stock agencies."

However, he goes on to say, "Meetings held regarding stock photography can provide

a forum for those managed-rights and royalty-free stock photography companies that

we believe do not act in the best interests of photographers. ASMP cannot support

stock agencies that offer photographers unfair contracts in which photographers

fundamentally have no rights; nor can it support the proliferation of clip art,

which lessens the worth of photography by making the value of the images secondary

to the value of the software containing them."

This seems confusing to me, but after talking with Les Riess it appears that the

key issue is that ASMP wants to know in advance the position of the speaker will be

and have someone prepared to challenge any point that does not support the ASMP

point of view. In future meetings where managed-rights and royalty-free stock

photography companies are given a chance to speak someone from ASMP must have

"equal time" to "confront these presenters" on the issues of their operation that

concern ASMP.

According to a knowledgeable source at least one of the RF speakers invited to

speak at the Dallas meeting (reported in Story 203 )

was unwilling to participate if the meeting was to be confrontational.

I believe this policy will make it extremely difficult for local chapters to plan

and organize meetings that contain stock photo content. Having served as a program

chairman and chapter president many years ago, my guess is that most chapters will

simply avoid the stock topic and focus on other issues.

Obviously, ASMP has an interest in promoting MPCA and MIRA. They would like for

other stock agencies to give photographers some of the same rights that MIRA offers

them. On the other hand they believe photographers need to be represented by stock

agencies as well as MIRA because MIRA is concentrating on the low end, non-exclusive

sales, not high end advertising sales. "MIRA is there to represent the other images

that a photographer's primary stock agency refuses to handle," said Dick Weisgrau.

According to Weisgrau the average gross sales for MPCA photographers with MIRA

(MIRA has direct relationships with certain photographers who are not MPCA members)

is currently about $5,000 per month or approximately $60,000 per year. Seventy

percent of this is distributed to the photographers, or approximately $42,000 on an

annual basis. The MPCA photographers have about 60,000 images currently on the

site so, on average, a photographer will receive $.70 per year , per image on file.

A year ago MPCA had 39 qualified buyers. Now they have 600 qualified buyers.

About 350 photographers currently have images with MPCA ranging from a low of about

25 images to a high of approximately 1,000. Weisgrau said, "MIRA is

meetings its sales targets and they are pleased with its growth."

By way of comparison Stock Connection had about 1900 images with Picture Network

International in January. Our number of images on-line is growing and we are

seeing month to month growth in our sales. In January the total gross sales for

our images was $10,640. In this situation PNI takes 40% of the gross sale off the

top and, we split the remainder 35/65 with the photographer, so the photographer

actually ends up getting only 39% of the gross sale. PNI has 47,000 qualified


If we assume that our sales remain level throughout 1999, as we have assumed that

MPCA's sales will remain level, then Stock Connections total sales for the year for

our 1900 images will be approximately $127,680 and the share of that which is

divided among the photographers will be $49,795. The average each photographer

will receive is $26.20 per year , per image on file.

It should be recognized that these are averages. For certain individuals sales

will be higher and for some much lower. There is also no guarantee that either

MPCA or Stock Connection will maintain the same level of sales month to month,

although in both cases sales growth has been showing a steady increase.

It should also be noted that Stock Connection is only one of about 60 agencies on

the PNI site and the total images in the database from all these agencies is

approximately 400,000. We have no way of knowing whether our returns are better or

worse than the other agencies who obviously represent the vast majority of the


It is also clear from these numbers that percentage-of-gross-sale is one of the

factors, but not necessarily the only factor, that needs to be considered when

determining where to place ones images.

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 301-251-0720, 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:  


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