1999 Survey

Posted on 1/25/1999 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)



January 25, 1999

Why do we need another survey?

Control of our industry is more and more in the hands of investors whose

prime interest is immediate, short term profits, not the quality of the


Their route to increased profits is controlling (i.e. cutting) costs. The

single largest "cost" for stock agencies is the usage fees they pay

photographers for the product. In 1998, we have seen many moves to increase

various selling fees charged photographers, as well as efforts to reduce the

percentage of gross sales paid photographers. While, at this point, this

approach is far from universal, it seems likely that the trend will continue.

The bankers who control these organizations, and who have never taken

anything but family photos in their lives, look at the amount they are paying

photographers for the use of their images and come to the conclusion that

"photographers are overpaid."

A year ago we did a survey of stock photographer incomes which demonstrated

that a higher percentage of responding photographers were earning higher incomes

than had ever been the case in our previous surveys. It is easy to see how the

agency "bankers" can come to the conclusion that they are paying their

photographers -- particularly the major producers -- too much.

What none of the income figures take into account is the cost of production

-- the cost of operating a photographic studio, new equipment, training to stay

current, models, assistants, travel and all the other costs that go into

producing quality, competitive imagery today. No one, but the poor photographer

trying to survive in a very competitive business, takes the cost of production

into account.

No data has ever been collected as to what it costs to produce the tremendous

variety of stock imagery currently available in the marketplace. In many cases

the price charged to use images is ridiculously low compared to the cost of

producing them. We believe that to have some idea of the industry average of

return on investment will help all photographers as they plan future stock

productions. An understanding of production costs may also help those who

establish prices for stock photo uses, and photo buyers, to understand that the

supply of quality images will not last forever

if producers can not earn a reasonable income for their efforts.


In an effort to try to develop some useful data Selling Stock and PhotoSource

International have joined forces to conduct the most comprehensive survey of

stock photographers ever attempted. The majority of photographers surveyed will

be from the United States, but we are also interested in collecting as much

comparative data as possible from photographers in other parts of the world.

We are asking for very specific detail. We have made arrangements with

Integrated Statistics in Massachusetts to collect and collate the data so that

no one in the stock photo industry will have access to any of the private,

personal information we are asking photographers to supply.

Results of this survey will be reported in both publications listed. We also

want to thank Ann Guilfoyle of The Guilfoyle Report for her support and

encouragement in this project.

We urge every stock photographer to take the time to participate in this

survey, and to supply accurate information. The results could provide a strong

baseline of information that will aid everyone in the stock photography


Thank you.

Jim Pickerell

Rohn Engh


Click on 1999 Survey to access the survey form. You may print out the survey using the

print command and mail in your response, if you wish.

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 301-461-7627, 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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