More On ImageBrief

Posted on 2/19/2014 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (8)

Over the weekend I reported that there were 71 live briefs on ImageBrief worth a combined total of over $150,000.

Allyson Scott, who has been responding to briefs and submitting images for more than six months, points out that actually making a sale is not as easy as I might have made it sound. Here’s what she had to say.

"I was accepted as an IB contributor in August 2013, and have participated in a wide variety of briefs ranging from lifestyle to animals to travel.  It takes a significant amount of time to participate, since I must review the brief, locate the appropriate files in my archives, and then of course ensure no similars exist with any of the 4 traditional stock agencies currently representing my work.  

"The vast majority of briefs I see are for $500 or less.  Sometimes the fees are fixed, and sometimes there is a very wide range for one brief ($500 - $1,500 per image).  It’s pretty rare that the potential award is within the range IB is claiming as an average, in my experience.  It is also comical how often the value is less than $300, when clients are using adjectives like “stunning”, “award-winning”, “unique” and of course the inevitable “non-stocky”.  They seriously want stunning, unique, award-winning, fully released images for $250, of which IB will take 30%!

"I’ve been selective about which briefs to respond to, and have been shortlisted several times now.  Not only have I not been awarded a single sale as of yet, but of all the briefs I participated in, only three or four have actually resulted in sales through ImageBrief for anyone at all.  It is shocking how often the deadline passes and there is no feedback or information from the client at all for weeks on end. The IB employee managing the brief simply has to close the job and say the client did not select anything.

"This is not IB’s fault, the problem is that clients are simultaneously sending the exact same image request to IB that they are sending to a dozen stock agencies.  The concept as I originally understood it was that clients would often approach IB for fresh material when they could not find what they wanted in stock agencies, but that is not usually the case.  I have verified that researchers at stock agencies are receiving the same image requests word for word that I am receiving from IB, at precisely the same time.  

"I worked at a stock agency for close to 20 years, opting to leave last summer to focus on shooting.  It was just as frustrating from the agency side to receive image requests from clients, have our researching staff rush to put together lightboxes for clients on tight deadlines (knowing full well that ours was one of ten the client would receive), and then be unable to reach the client for follow-up.  The concepts change direction, the art director went with a competitor’s image, or - our favourite - they decided to save money by using an existing image from their own library of stock.  Ouch.

"Winning a sale on IB feels a bit like the odds of holding a winning lottery ticket, but of course it’s still possible.  In discussing the potential of IB as an additional sales venue, it would be prudent to offer a word of caution to photographers that they devise a system to expend the minimum amount of time and effort.  For myself, that has meant often submitting only brand-new images that are easy to locate on my hard drive, and have not yet been submitted as stock.  The experience overall has been disappointing, and reinforces the need to work smarter as opposed to harder in the current sales climate."  

Copyright © 2014 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:  


  • Todd Klassy Posted Feb 19, 2014
    I have to echo what Allyson said. In roughly 18 months I have been shortlisted 6 times and not one has resulted in a sale. I've told them repeatedly that I would be beneficial to know the final outcome of gigs, but they say they can't provide that information. I've become dubious of ImageBrief so I have contributed less and less.

  • jean-marie guyon Posted Feb 20, 2014
    Maybe just another way to get creative input from photographers at no costs...

  • Paul Melcher Posted Feb 21, 2014
    too bad you have not posted a comment by someone who had a positive experience. Or asked for someone at ImageBrief to answer.

  • John T Fowler Posted Feb 22, 2014
    Thanks Allyson. With the greatest respect and good will, I have to say that it didn't take me nearly as long to figure out that IB was a waste of my time.

  • Tibor Bognar Posted Feb 22, 2014
    In my experience the IB staff is trying hard to make this work, but the clients are very hard to please and often just fishing around but end up not buying anything. For the contributing photographer the key is to have a well organized archive, so it takes only a short time to locate and upload submissions. As this is my case, I'm sticking with them for now, but if the results don't improve I may well drop out at one point. In 6 months I've submitted over a 1000 images, had 22 shortlisted but made only one sale - not a very good record. But of course buyers are spoiled with choice, this is perhaps unavoidable.

  • Douglas Peebles Posted Feb 22, 2014
    18 shortlisted 1 sale for $500

    It was more viable when the were only taking photos directly from photographers. They are now funneling stock agency work through so it is very diluted.

  • Gerard Fritz Posted Feb 22, 2014
    Clients have always used catalogs, and now services like IB, to troll for ideas. Then they assign a shoot with a local photographer to copy the shot they like.

  • Douglas Peebles Posted Feb 24, 2014
    Just made another sale for $250 so I am not totally giving up.

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