Moving On : Winding Down Selling Stock

Posted on 11/30/2018 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (25)

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 ( ) with all its archives will continue to be available to readers, indefinitely.

In 2019, I will continue to publish occasional stories on a random basis when I stumble on a topic of particular interest to me. But, I will no longer attempt to provide daily coverage of changing industry developments.

I will no longer ask readers to subscribe to the service, but instead ask them to pay on a story-by-story basis whenever they want to read one of my articles. Every current subscriber and recipient of the Weekly Digest will receive an email notification whenever I post a new story. Anyone interested in receiving these FREE notifications can sign up on the website.

In the last two years, revenue generated by the newsletter has declined 53%. For the professional photographer the industry has changed and declined dramatically in the last decade. Fewer and fewer people need, or are interested in reading what I have to say. The amateurs don’t need to be told how to maximize revenue from the images they create because they don’t expect to earn much from their images anyway. More and more former subscribers are getting out of the business and moving on to other activities. It’s time for me to so the same.

At one time, stock photography was an exciting way for many photographers to earn a comfortable and enjoyable living. Now, it is a bad-paying hobby. And it is on a path that seems likely to get even worse, and more depressing for most of those who hope to earn real money from the images they produce.

My goal in publishing Selling Stock has always been to help those still photographers trying to earn a portion of their living by licensing usage rights to the images they produce. Looking ahead images are likely to be created by robots and file sharing and piracy will continue to be on the upswing.

In the Internet environment most people think all information and photographs should be FREE. They’ve been raised in the Walmart and Amazon economy where everything can be shopped down to prices so low no one can make a living.

An ever increasing percentage of the images being created are produced by part timers who view their earnings as a “supplement” to another major source of income, not a serious income source. This trend will not be reversed, although there still may be a question as to whether amateurs will eventually produce everything professional image users want for the products they design.

There may still be some opportunities for video producers, but I have never produced video myself and have trouble understanding all that is involved in meeting the needs of video users. Given video production costs there is still a big question as to whether a significant number of videographers will be able to profit from their efforts.

I’m 82 and have been in the stock photo industry for more than 55 years ( ), first as a photographer and more recently as the editor of Selling Stock. I’ve seen the industry at its peaks and current lows. All in all, it has been a very satisfying career. But, I was born at the right time to have a career in photography. People in their 20s and 30s need to explore other career paths. The need for professionally produced images will never be the same. For me, now it is time to explore the next stage of my life.

Copyright © 2018 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:  


  • Vasyl Shulga Posted Nov 30, 2018
    Thank you Jim for all that you've done! Wish you luck!

  • Martin Skultety Posted Dec 1, 2018
    Jim, these are very sad news for any one seriously involved with the stock photo industry. Your articles have been always inspiring and often provided fundamental knowledge for well-balanced decisions. I will miss you and will certainly continue being an interested reader of whatever you will decide to publish in the future. Thanks for many years of very valuable service to our little funny ever-changing industry. Take care. Martin Skultety (StockFood)

  • mark milstein Posted Dec 1, 2018
    I am really sorry to read this, but understand fully. You've given so much to this industry, and it's time to "move on." Many thanks, Jim

  • Kasper Ravlo Posted Dec 1, 2018
    Hi Jim, this is truly bad news. For years your coverage of the industry have been an important source of information in an industry where transparency has been on a continuous decline. Thank your for all that you have done to help understanding the movements in this industry with thorough analysis. Your contribution will surely be missed. All the best going forwards. Kasper (Arcurs Creative, qHero)

  • Peter Dazeley Posted Dec 1, 2018
    Big thank you but not good bye!

  • jasmin awad Posted Dec 1, 2018
    Thank you for everything Jim! I still believe that stock is a fantastic career option, but it requires a lot of flexibility to be able to adapt to the very quickly changing image trends. And cost efficient production. But I love stock and will continue to do it.

  • Kelvin Murray Posted Dec 1, 2018
    I am so sorry to read your news. I'm sorry because I respect & learn from your posts but I'm mainly sad for what I fear the industry will become and where that leaves so many of us. May the next stage of your life be as good as the stage that I have watched.Thank you

  • Tibor Bognar Posted Dec 1, 2018
    You have made a useful and important contribution to the stock photography community. Thank you very much for all the years of hard work. It's sad that our industry is slowly but surely disappearing, but we are not alone. It is said that within the next 20 years half of the currently existing professions will be no more, replaced by computers or robots. Great for the progress of technology, but what will the no longer needed people do? A huge challenge to society!
    My very best wishes to you!

  • Paula Lumbard Posted Dec 1, 2018
    Each week I have looked forward to your newsletter Jim and will miss your opinions, research and wise words. Thank you for your service to all of us in the stock licensing world. You will be sorely missed and I too wish you all good things in next adventures.

  • Charles Cecil Posted Dec 1, 2018
    Sorry to read this. Your insightful analysis has always been useful. I don't know what will take its place. I'll look forward to your occasional pieces in the future.

  • Grant Faint Posted Dec 1, 2018
    I want to say thank you for all you have done to help photographers be more informed and prosper in the stock photography business. If information is indeed power then you made us all more able to decide our collective fate. grant faint

  • Marcel Pirosca Posted Dec 1, 2018
    Thank you for your work, Jim. I've always found your articles very inspiring and actually the go-to source of information on the current state of the industry. We've used this information in our marketing strategies.

    Thank you once again.

  • Frederick Rhodes Posted Dec 1, 2018
    Many thanks for all of your work and insight over the years - you certainly made a difference in many people's lives!

  • Tom Zimberoff Posted Dec 1, 2018
    Let me add a note of condolence for the column, and congratulations for its — and your —accomplishments.

    Although I've been critical, in the past, because I've read a pessimistic theme running throughout "Selling Stock" over the years, your dedication and many of your insights have been an invaluable aid to the worldwide community of photographers. "Selling Stock" can be defended as factual reporting. But I think solutions that could have been written about and advocated have long been overlooked.

    There is too much hand-wringing about the plight of the industry. Technology did indeed nearly do it in; but seldom have I read about how technology can also change circumstances for the better. And it can! It can be turned around.

    Earlier this year, you published a link to the article I wrote in I've re-written it as an industry white paper. Although I've been unsuccessful, so far, in raising enough funds to turn the solution I describe into a reality, the light at the end of the tunnel is looking less and less like an oncoming train. Here, then, is a FREE link to read in depth about that solution.

    Very best wishes to you Jim.

  • Penny Gentieu Posted Dec 1, 2018
    Thank you Jim. You’ve seen it all and have chronicled it faithfully, and in doing so, you’ve made an important contribution to the history of photography. I hope you write a book about it. Best wishes to you.

  • Jagdish Agarwal Posted Dec 2, 2018
    Dear Jim, Thank you for all that you have done for stock photography. If I remember correctly, we first interacted, over 30 years ago, when I had contributed to Uniphoto in Washington, D.C. You have been a great source of inspiration, motivation and information. Wish you all success in whatever you do. Best wishes.

  • Bas van Beek Posted Dec 3, 2018
    I'm going to miss this very much Jim. You have always helped us tremendously with excellent background about our bizarre industry. I keep reading your articles. Thank you for sharing your knowledge and enjoying your new times!

  • John DiRoma Posted Dec 3, 2018
    Jim I’ve been following you for a long time and you have been a tremendous help in this field of photography. Sorry to see you go, however I understand your decision. Proverbs 11:25 says” He who refreshes others will myself be refreshed.”
    Best to you.
    John DiRoma

  • Laurance & Janis Aiuppy Posted Dec 7, 2018
    Jim, I confess I misremember when we became acquainted, but I believe it predates your newsletter. In any case, in all the time I have known you (and your daughter Cheryl, through Stock Connection), I have valued your thoughts and insights about the stock photo industry, as I know many, many others have as well. Jan and I always valued our get togethers at the N.Y. Photo Expo back in the day.
    While my time in the stock photo industry is less than yours (45 years to your 55) our involvement in the “modern” stock photo industry is probably about the same. In that time we have seen enormous changes, from when stock was considered a poor relative to assignment photography, at best an adjunct to “real,” i.e., corporate and editorial assignment work, to a legitimate full time (and well paying) profession on its own.
    We have seen the rise, and demise, of the “golden age” of stock photography, at least as far as the producers of stock are concerned. At its height, in the 1990’s, a regional freelance like me, based in far off Montana, could produce a relative handful of select stock photos a year, and earn a comfortable six figure income from them. Those days are a distant and bittersweet memory today.
    You have chronicled and explained it all, and been a great help to those in the industry. I thank you sincerely for your efforts and wish you well in your retirement. You have earned the rest. Though I will still look forward to your occasional comments and insights as you may be inclined from time to time to deliver them.
    My best regards,
    Larry (and Jan) Aiuppy
    Aiuppy Photographs

  • James Domke Posted Dec 8, 2018
    It's been fun! Keep clicking.

  • Steven gottlieb Posted Dec 13, 2018
    All the praise for you, Jim, that is reflected in the many comments is well deserved. A couple of qualities have really stood out to me over these many years I have followed your writings: In trying to decipher what is REALLY happening in the industry, you have combined creative ways of interpreting the financial numbers with a Sherlock Holmesian nose for sniffing out telling details. One more thing: you've always called it exactly as you see it...your words carry the authority of someone who speaks with absolute integrity.
    Steve Gottlieb

  • Douglas Peebles Posted Dec 29, 2018
    Jim, Thanks again for all you help, both with Selling Stock & Stock Connection. It was fun while it lasted and has been a great ride.

  • Bill Bachman Posted Dec 29, 2018
    Many thanks for your devotion to the cause and clear-eyed analysis over many years, Jim. Enjoy whatever comes next.

  • Andrea Stern Posted Jan 4, 2019
    Am going to miss the emails with your thoughts and pithy comments on the industry. I’ve quoted you many a time (always attributed!) and often referred to your analytics to support my argument. I wish you a great new beginning!

  • david sanger Posted Feb 26, 2019
    Can't say I'm surprised, Jim, but you put in a good effort over many, many years, navigating the ups and downs of the industry.
    Best of luck in the next chapter of your life..

Post Comment

Please log in or create an account to post comments.

Stay Connected

Sign up to receive email notification when new stories are posted.

Follow Us

Free Stuff

Stock Photo Pricing: The Future
In the last two years I have written a lot about stock photo pricing and its downward slide. If you have time over the holidays you may want to review some of these stories as you plan your strategy ...
Read More
Future Of Stock Photography
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 ...
Read More
Blockchain Stories
The opening session at this year’s CEPIC Congress in Berlin on May 30, 2018 is entitled “Can Blockchain be applied to the Photo Industry?” For those who would like to know more about the existing blo...
Read More
2017 Stories Worth Reviewing
The following are links to some 2017 and early 2018 stories that might be worth reviewing as we move into the new year.
Read More
Stories Related To Stock Photo Pricing
The following are links to stories that deal with stock photo pricing trends. Probably the biggest problem the industry has faced in recent years has been the steady decline in prices for the use of ...
Read More
Stock Photo Prices: The Future
This story is FREE. Feel free to pass it along to anyone interested in licensing their work as stock photography. On October 23rd at the DMLA 2017 Conference in New York there will be a panel discuss...
Read More
Important Stock Photo Industry Issues
Here are links to recent stories that deal with three major issues for the stock photo industry – Revenue Growth Potential, Setting Bottom Line On Pricing and Future Production Sources.
Read More
Recent Stories – Summer 2016
If you’ve been shooting all summer and haven’t had time to keep up with your reading here are links to a few stories you might want to check out as we move into the fall. To begin, be sure to complet...
Read More
Corbis Acquisition by VCG/Getty Images
This story provides links to several stories that relate to the Visual China Group (VCG) acquisition of Corbis and the role Getty Images has been assigned in the transfer of Corbis assets to the Gett...
Read More
Finding The Right Image
Many think search will be solved with better Metadata. While metadata is important, there are limits to how far it can take the customer toward finding the right piece of content. This story provides...
Read More

More from Free Stuff