Is There a Long Tail Among Photo Buyers?

Posted on 3/17/2009 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (1)

The long-tail theory is indeed about inventory and not pricing. Andersons theory is based on giving away things that are abundant in order to get customers' attention and draw them back to buy scarce, unique and relatively controlled items. That does not work in stock photography, where there is no way to determine what is abundant and what is scarce in advance. Still, the long tail exists in stock licensing, and it is entirely the domain of microstock companies, making the discussion inextricably tied to how images are priced.

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Copyright © 2009 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:  


  • Ellen Boughn Posted Mar 17, 2009
    See my comment to yesterday's post. To that I add that number 4. above is not workable as I understand it. It will encourage lying about usage or be so complicated that even more traditional buyers will flee to the simple subscription model or microstock.

    Think about this: what kind of hero do you think today's art buyer/photo editor can be to his/her bosses when they can bring in minor shots for next to nothing and still have enough in the budget to pay big bucks for a hero stock photo or an assignment?

    I also don't like the idea of figuring out that if a buyer CAN pay more that they should. Applying this to the retain market: buyers at Wal-Mart would have to fill out a survey complete with tax returns to determine if they were poor enough to shop there. If not, off they'd go to Whole Foods where the Wal-Mart shoppers have traditionally been blocked by pricing.

    I also have a lot to say about how photographers can MAKE money using creative commons but I'm saving that for a seminar at Photo-Expo!

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