Career

Successful Stock Photographers

By Jim Pickerell | 724 Words | Posted 2/8/2019 | Comments
If you want to know what it takes to be successful in stock photography you may want to listen to what Steve Heap and Todd Klassy have to say. Both approach the stock business in non-traditional ways. Both have seen continued annual growth in revenue in the last few years despite the fact that many other photographers are seeing a plateau or decline in revenue.

Decline Of Images Requiring Production Planning And Costs

By Jim Pickerell | 719 Words | Posted 1/29/2019 | Comments
In the not too distant future there will be few, if any, new professional images created that require pre-planning, paying for models, renting locations, building sets, acquiring props, or anything that adds to the cost of producing such images. Currently the costs of producing a large segment of images in demand far exceeds the revenue generated from licensing such images. Producers trying to earn their living from such production will find it necessary to drop out of the market.

Direct Selling Of Stock Images

By Jim Pickerell | 2110 Words | Posted 1/25/2019 | Comments
The stock agency sales model no longer works for most photographers trying to earn a portion of their living from the images they produce. Prices for the use of photos have declined so dramatically that it no longer makes much sense for professional photographers to spend much time or effort producing stock images on speculation.

Copyright Thief

By Jim Pickerell | 279 Words | Posted 1/14/2019 | Comments
A reader called my attention to an article I wrote in 2010 where the “The U.S. Chamber of Commerce estimates that online rights infringements costs the U.S. economy roughly $58 billion in total output every year.” The reader wanted to know how much that might be today.

Stock Photo Agencies: Outlived Their Usefulness

By Jim Pickerell | 4385 Words | Posted 12/27/2018 | Comments
This long read outlines the step-by-step changes in the marketing of stock images over the the last 30 to 40 years. It makes clear why the production of stock images is no longer a viable business for most photographers and other image creators. At the end of the article, I have outlined some of the changes I believe need to be made in the relationships between image creators and customers in order to return the business to a profitable occupation for those who produce images.

Is The Customer Always Right?

By Jim Pickerell | 535 Words | Posted 12/20/2018 | Comments
Many in business believe “The Customer Is Always Right.” The only problem with this is that most customers always want “more” for “less money.” In the Internet environment, particularly, everything is expected to be FREE – literally. When it comes to satisfying the customer the problem arises in finding a way to cover the cost of producing the product or service. Part of the answer is to find ways to produce more efficiently. Over the years it has been possible to cut costs by providing workers with better tools, expecting more from the workers for less pay or replacing workers entirely by turning production jobs over to machines.

Cutting Out The Middleman

By Jim Pickerell | 1897 Words | Posted 12/18/2018 | Comments
As fewer and fewer stock photographers earn enough from the licensing of their photos to justify continued production, some suggest that instead of letting stock agencies pay them 20% to 30% of the small gross fees collected to use their images, they should sell their images directly to customers. In this way they would get higher prices and keep 100% of what the customer pays.

What Is Stock Photography?

By Jim Pickerell | 725 Words | Posted 12/7/2018 | Comments
When I first started actively producing stock photography, I did so because I wanted to make money. I had discovered that I could earn additional revenue from images I had previously produced on either an assignment or on speculation. At the time I wasn’t earning enough from assignments alone to fully support the needs of my family. The stock revenue was an important supplement. Assignments weren’t as frequent, or as well paying, as I would have liked. I realized I could use the “in between” time to produce images for my stock collection that one day might be licensed.

Moving On : Winding Down Selling Stock

By Jim Pickerell | 599 Words | Posted 11/30/2018 | Comments
After 28 years of publishing Selling Stock, in 2019 I will begin to wind down my regular daily coverage of the stock photo industry. The site (www.selling-stock.com ) with all its archives will continue to be available to readers, indefinitely.

Future Of Stock Photography

By Jim Pickerell | 234 Words | Posted 6/7/2018 | Comments
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 as a business has declined dramatically. There is little hope that the situation will improve.

Know Your Return-Per-Image

By Jim Pickerell | 726 Words | Posted 5/31/2018 | Comments
I would like to encourage every stock photographer to begin to calculate, on an annual basis, their Return-Per-Image (RPI) for each agency they work with. This is particularly important for those photographers who hope to realize a profit for the time and expense they invest in producing stock images.

What’s Selling?

By Jim Pickerell | 771 Words | Posted 5/21/2018 | Comments
What kind of images are generating the most revenue? Is it the amateur produce imagery that is quickly loading up most of the databases, or the more costly to produce model released people, lifestyle, and business imagery requiring complex and costly set ups and arrangement?

Future Of Photography: Taking Or Creating Images

By Jim Pickerell | 441 Words | Posted 5/3/2018 | Comments
If you enjoy taking pictures and are considering photography as a career, maybe it is time to think again. If you’re in your 20s or 30s it is definitely time to think again. If you’re thinking about majoring in photography at a University, please don’t waste your money.

Editorial Photography Future

By Jim Pickerell | 702 Words | Posted 4/25/2018 | Comments
A few months ago in an interview promoting his new book The Good Fight: America’s Ongoing Struggle for Justice, Rick Smolan was asked “How has technology disrupted photography.” Rick has been an editorial photographer since the 1980s, shot for Time, Life and National Geographic and may be best known for his “Day in the Life Of” series of books. The first six minutes of the interview is worth a listen.

Looking To Maximize Revenue: RM or RF?

By Jim Pickerell | 700 Words | Posted 3/26/2018 | Comments
I was talking to a photographer recently who has both RM and RF collections with Getty Images. The question he faces is whether to put new images into the RM or RF collections. Getty is pushing many of its photographers to move many of their images from RM to RF. Certainly, there is a much better chance that an image will get used if it is available for licensing as RF rather than RM. But, if the photographer’s goal is to maximize revenue, will images offered as RF earn as much revenue overall as those offered as RM?

iStock Exclusive or Multi-Agency Non-Exclusive?

By Jim Pickerell | 734 Words | Posted 3/21/2018 | Comments
I’ve been asked by an iStock exclusive contributor with more than 10,000 images in the collection if he should go non-exclusive and put his images with multiple agencies. This contributor has been regularly adding new images, but his gross revenue has been steadily declining month by month.

Photography: The More Things Change...

By Jose Azel | 1488 Words | Posted 3/19/2018 | Comments
In Aurora Photos latest newsletter to contributors President and Founder José Azel offered insights on the current state of the stock photo industry that are worth every stock photographer considering

Changing Photography Business

By Jim Pickerell | 1766 Words | Posted 3/7/2018 | Comments
Over 60 years ago I decided that because I enjoyed taking pictures I wanted to pursue photography as a way of earning my living. I’ve had a great career, but as a profession things have changed dramatically. For anyone starting out today it is much more difficult to get a foothold – and much less likely that you will ever earn reasonable money – taking pictures for a living.

Teaching Journalists Where To Find Photos

By Jim Pickerell | 520 Words | Posted 2/15/2018 | Comments
The Poynter Institute, headquartered in St. Petersburg, FL, is considered by many to be a global leader in journalism education. Poynter claims to be “the world’s leading instructor, innovator, convener and resource for anyone who aspires to engage and inform citizens in 21st Century democracies.” In a recent article formatted as a conversation between two Poynter employees -- Kristen Hare and Ren LaForme -- the two took the position that it’s hard to get anyone to read an online article if it is not accompanied with an image.

Joe Sohm: Stock Photo Success Story

By Jim Pickerell | 1336 Words | Posted 2/12/2018 | Comments
Joe Sohm, the creator of Visions of America has been crisscrossing the U.S. for more that 30 years documenting the country as he sees it in all its beauty and uniqueness. From Presidential Campaigns of both parties to Landscapes & Cityscapes, Sohm is one of the most prolific Americana photographers. He has approximately 33,000 images in his collection. The collection is represented by the three major agencies – Getty Images, AdobeStock and Shutterstock – as well as a host of other agencies around the world.

Pursuing A Stock Photography Career

By Jim Pickerell | 1036 Words | Posted 2/8/2018 | Comments
I’ve been hearing more and more complaints from experienced photographers about the low royalties they are receiving for the use of their images – often less than $1.00. In many cases these low figures result because the primary agent with whom they placed their images is using a secondary distributor to actually handle the licensing to the customer.

Dealing With Free Image Use Requests

By Jim Pickerell | 612 Words | Posted 1/9/2018 | Comments
Recently, Owen Franken asked how I would deal with a request for personal blog use of an image. He receives such requests rarely. He received the following from Andrew Skladowski in Australia. See my comments on things to consider regarding such a request.

Photographer Productivity

By Jim Pickerell | 1299 Words | Posted 1/3/2018 | Comments
One of the things I said in my 2018 Predictions is: “Image creator may be given more useful information about what is in demand.” In recent years we’ve seen a huge growth in the number of creators entering the stock photo business as well as images added to the collections. But we’re no longer seeing a corresponding growth in revenue.

Photos Shot In 2017

By Jim Pickerell | 621 Words | Posted 12/7/2017 | Comments
According to Statista 1,200 billion photos will be taken worldwide in 2017. Not surprisingly,  85% of them will be taken with Smartphones, 4.7% taken with Tablets and only 10.3% were taken with digital cameras. That works out to about 123,600,000,000 photos taken with digital cameras. A very small percentage of these will be made available available for licensing.

New Career Paths For Photographers

By Jim Pickerell | 531 Words | Posted 12/5/2017 | Comments
Many stock photographers are earning less and less from the new stock images they produce. They are finding that they can no longer expect to earn a significant portion of their annual income from licensing right to the use of their stock images. Consequently, they are looking for other ways to supplement their income.