ASMP Cancels Texas Seminar

Posted on 2/24/1999 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)



February 24, 1999

The ASMP executive committee of the national board has cancelled a stock

photography seminar, planned by the Dallas chapter, because the planned

meetings "are inconsistent with ASMP's policy, goals and code of ethics."

Scheduled to be on the panel were Allen Russell, president of PACA, Les

Riess, president of ASMP, a representative from The Image Bank, Rick

Becker-Leckrone from Corbis, Kasz Maciag from PhotoDisc and Drina Lazar from


According to Les Riess, president of ASMP, "ASMP has long been formally and

completely opposed to clip art (May 1992) for the reason that clip art is

fundamentally damaging to the long term interests of photographers. In

addition, ASMP is currently embarked upon a campaign to reverse the

diminishing financial return and rights that photographers have been

receiving from most stock agencies."

"Against this background, the March program would have given approximately a

half-dozen clip art companies, stock agencies selling clip art, and stock

agencies in the vanguard of decreasing photographers' income and rights, a

platform from which they could make a sales pitch to ASMP members. Because

of the large number of clip art and stock agencies on the panel, combined

with the short

amount of time allotted to each speaker, there was no practical way in which

ASMP's position in opposition to these entities could effectively have been


"We are at the threshold of implementing a plan to take a series of

aggressive actions to reverse declining revenues and rights of photographers

in a number of fields, specifically including stock photography, and we will

not be able to accomplish that without making some people and industry

segments unhappy."

The meeting was originally scheduled to have a second day where

photographers could schedule private consultations with the various

speakers. Riess said, "ASMP is not going to make a venue available for

people not working in the best interests of photographers."

This program was modeled to a degree after a program produced in San

Francisco in January called "Future Stock 2000." The speakers in San

Francisco were Dick Weisgrau; Lynn Martin from The Image Bank; Patrick

Donohoue from TSI and Rick Becker-Leckrone from Corbis. Evidently, after

that program, ASMP decided that their message relative to stock was not

being presented strongly enough.

ASMP's current goals to influence Stock Photography are as follows:

    "To protect photographers' interests by working for:

    - a reversal of the trend toward diminished compensation to photographers

    due to a decreased share of licensing fees paid to photographers and/or

    increased charges made back to photographers from those fees,

    - recognition that a stock agency is obligated to serve the photographers it

    represents faithfully under the traditional principles of agency, which do

    not allow an agent to serve its own interests at the expense of those it


    - compliance by stock agents with the ASMP/PACA Joint Statement of 1992

    which was intended to ensure that agencies recognize and provide for the

    minimum rights of photographers who they represent."

    ASMP/PACA Joint Statement

    The ASMP/PACA Joint Statement encouraged photographers and agencies to

    incorporate the following minimum standards for fair treatment of


  • that the agency not use the photographer's royalty share of collections

    as operating funds,

  • that the photographer should have the contractual right to audit all

    agency records which pertain to the reproduction fees for his or her work,

  • that the agency provide reasonable details regarding client usage and

    licensing terms of the photographers's images, such as indentification of

    the end user of the image, the duration of use, geographic limits,

    reproduction size, identification and description of the image, the press

    run or circulation, and the number of insertions or uses of the image,

  • that agency contracts shall contain renewal and termination terms

    which are the same for both parties and that automatic renewals are


  • and that photographers be given the right to establish the level of

    debt the agency can incur on their behalf, and that images may not be held

    as collateral for such debt after termination.

Selling Stock Editorial Position

Before leaving this topic, I need to say a little about Selling Stock's

editorial position. ASMP's goals are admirable. However, sometimes it is

necessary to temper admirable goals with a dose of reality.

Back in 1992 many of us were opposed to "clip" photography. Seven years

later our industry has changed dramatically and photographers need to

understand current realities, not be locked into out dated policies and

modes of thinking. In 1999 we must recognize that approximately 15% of the

total gross sales worldwide of stock photography are "royalty free" images.

This percentage will continue to rise before there is some balance between

RF and RP. RF is here to stay. RF has a share of the stock photo market

and some photographers will produce RF pictures in the future.

A few photographers are making very good money producing RF images. We have

reported on some of these in an extensive story on PhotoDisc last summer.

Story 139. RF is certainly not the marketing solution for every stock

photographer or for every type of imagery, but RF is having an impact on the

business that photographers would be foolish to ignore. Clients are happy

to use RF for many of their projects. We believe it is important for

photographers to assess, in light of their own situations, both RF and RP

(rights protected) marketing.

Virtually all the major marketers of stock images are involved in RF in one

form or another. This includes: Getty Images, The Image Bank, Corbis,

Comstock, Index Stock Images, VCG (who say they will be starting an RF

division in 1999), PNI, etc. To reject an agency simply because they have

an RF division, or because they have undesirable policies in their standard

contract severely limits your chances of selling stock -- period.

The important thing is to learn how to identify the best offer and negotiate

the best deal for your particular situation. Photographers who want to

license rights to their images need to figure out how they can co-exist with

RF, not waste energies and resources trying to eliminate it.

Photographers need information. They need a better understanding of why art

directors use RF. They need to understand the strengths and weaknesses of

RF. They need to watch the development of this segment of the industry as

closely as they watch the development of the rights protected segment. They

need to be constantly re-assessing their options. To help in this, Selling

Stock will continue to provide indepth reporting on both the RF and the RP

segments of the stock photo industry.

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, 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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