RM, RF or Micro?

Posted on 2/9/2010 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (7)

I was recently asked: "If you were shooting stock (hey, maybe you are...), would you be shooting for rights-managed, royalty-free, microstock or some combination?"

Get the Full Article (2 Credits)

Have an Account?

Access to this site is an exclusive benefit for you. Enter your username and password in the form above. If you don't remember your password you can reset it at any time.

Forgot your password?

New to Selling Stock?

Selling Stock is an on-line newsletter that reports on developing trends in the stock photo industry. It is updated at least twice a month. On-line subscribers receive e-mail notification whenever new stories are posted. Archives containing stories going back to late 1995 are fully available to subscribers.

Copyright © 2010 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.  


  • Rahul Pathak Posted Feb 10, 2010
    A thought-provoking piece, Jim. However, I'm not sure that RM is on its way out. I actually think we'll move to a model where sites like iStock will integrate RM licensing into their pricing models.

    As the stock photography market converges, I expect buyers will begin to demand some of the elements of RM licensing, such as the ability to prevent someone else from using an image for a period of time.

    No reason this licensing couldn't be introduced, especially if it improves the bottom line.

    There are also more sophisticated pricing scenarios such as end-use rev share that some companies are also exploring.

    In conclusion, I think usage-based pricing is morphing, but not going away.

  • Bill Bachmann Posted Feb 10, 2010
    I think that if you cry wolf enough, you will scare good photographers from making money in RM. As you have found when you interviewed me recently, there still are some darn good photographers making darn good money shooting only Rights Managed (if you consider 6 & 7 figures really )

    I think, as you stated rather vaguely, Rights Managed is the ONLY way to really have a CAREER as a stock shooter. As you stated, the other ways are not going to be a career, but just beer money!!


  • Gerard Fritz Posted Feb 10, 2010
    It seems Rahul's scenario is already happening. Stock agencies simply offer all options by having material in all categories...RM, RF, Micro. We will see all these images offered at the same small fees for everyday uses. But only RM will have the option of the big exclusive sale.

  • Randy & Andrea Wells Posted Feb 10, 2010
    Jim, you say, "We should forget about licensing rights to stock images for exclusive use. When someone needs exclusive rights, let them hire a photographer." Clients whose projects require exclusive rights have always had a budget for Rights Managed stock photography and they still do. I recently earned multiple thousand-dollar RM stock sales for just such usages. But stock photographers and agencies that follow your advice will never see it. You also "favor a system that licenses images based on how they will be initially used, but also offers unlimited future usages." There are certainly clients who request this kind of flexibility, but they will usually agree to an original license where additional usage is available for additional fees. And guess what, they will pay you what is rightfully yours! But photographers and agencies that give it away will never see it. Royalty Free and Microstock have not turned out to be the answer for the vast majority of photographers who were encouraged to participate and whose goal it was to earn decent money taking pictures. IMO, in the long run, neither will these new suggestions benefit income levels for your target industry or the person whose question you based your article on - the future stock photographer.


  • Peter Bennett Posted Feb 10, 2010
    I think we must step back and realize that much of what we are seeing going on is being driven by budgets forced downward by the dark economic times we are in. It becomes hard to see around the corner until you have actually turned the corner, and that could be months or even a year or so away. But a positive economy will once again drive budgets upward, and while we will never return to the stock business of even a couple of years ago, there may yet be opportunities for RM stock photography.

    How profitable it will be, and what form it will take are yet to be determined, but writing it off, as you seem to be doing, is an opinion I believe too much shaped by the dark lens you seem to be viewing things through.

  • Bill Bachmann Posted Feb 11, 2010
    Great comments from Peter and Randy! I agree and write those things always in my books & lectures. WE STILL ARE MAKING GOOD MONEY FROM EXCLUSIVE SALES and ALSO FROM RM IMAGES! No one can make money from Micro prices! (except one or two people out there)

    Stop saying the sky is falling... many of us are doing well, even in these tough times. And I agree with Peter... soon the budgets will come back again for more than we have now.


  • Maggie Hunt Posted Feb 17, 2010
    StockShop was originally a RM only agency - however, we found that there were increasing numbers of image requests that were RF only. We reluctantly added RF about nine months ago. However, we have kept the vast majority RM and these images are exclusive to StockShop - we are not using any distribution channels - which has been very attractive to art buyers and other creatives who are tired of seeing the same images across many searches.

Post Comment

You must log in to post comments.

Stay Connected

Sign up to receive our FREE weekly email listing new stories posted.

Follow Us

Free Stuff

Stock Photo Pricing: The Future
In the last two years I have written a lot about stock photo pricing and its downward slide. If you have time over the holidays you may want to review some of these stories as you plan your strategy ...
Read More
Future Of Stock Photography
If you’re a photographer that counts on the licensing of stock images to provide a portion of your annual income the following are a few stories you should read. In the past decade stock photography ...
Read More
Blockchain Stories
The opening session at this year’s CEPIC Congress in Berlin on May 30, 2018 is entitled “Can Blockchain be applied to the Photo Industry?” For those who would like to know more about the existing blo...
Read More
2017 Stories Worth Reviewing
The following are links to some 2017 and early 2018 stories that might be worth reviewing as we move into the new year.
Read More
Stories Related To Stock Photo Pricing
The following are links to stories that deal with stock photo pricing trends. Probably the biggest problem the industry has faced in recent years has been the steady decline in prices for the use of ...
Read More
Stock Photo Prices: The Future
This story is FREE. Feel free to pass it along to anyone interested in licensing their work as stock photography. On October 23rd at the DMLA 2017 Conference in New York there will be a panel discuss...
Read More
Important Stock Photo Industry Issues
Here are links to recent stories that deal with three major issues for the stock photo industry – Revenue Growth Potential, Setting Bottom Line On Pricing and Future Production Sources.
Read More
Recent Stories – Summer 2016
If you’ve been shooting all summer and haven’t had time to keep up with your reading here are links to a few stories you might want to check out as we move into the fall. To begin, be sure to complet...
Read More
Corbis Acquisition by VCG/Getty Images
This story provides links to several stories that relate to the Visual China Group (VCG) acquisition of Corbis and the role Getty Images has been assigned in the transfer of Corbis assets to the Gett...
Read More
Finding The Right Image
Many think search will be solved with better Metadata. While metadata is important, there are limits to how far it can take the customer toward finding the right piece of content. This story provides...
Read More

More from Free Stuff