MY TURN - Wayne Eastep

Posted on 10/5/2001 by Wayne Eastep | Printable Version | Comments (0)


MY TURN - Wayne Eastep

October 5, 2001

    With this story Selling Stock is launching a new occasional series of articles offering
    photographers and stock agents the opportunity to speak out on important industry issues. This

    space is open to anyone. The aim is to provide a forum for diverse points of view. While we
    reserve the right to determine what will be published, it is not a requirement that authors
    agree with Jim Pickerell's point of view.

    Wayne Eastep is a member of the Steering Committee of the StockArtistsAlliance (SAA). The SAA was
    formed with a goal of assisting Getty Images photographers in their efforts to negotiate
    changes in the new Getty Images contract. The SAA turned into an unprecedented (for the stock
    photo industry) example of photographers sharing information and working together to achieve a
    common goal. Now that negotiations have been completed, and a signable contract achieved, it
    appears that the SAA will not disband. Instead the SAA intends to continue to offer stock
    photographers a forum for sharing information. Among other things it will work to help
    photographers gain better control over the marketing of their images and find ways to increase
    their income from stock photography.

A Perspective on The Future

by Wayne Eastep

The process of negotiating the Getty contract has highlighted the changes taking place between
photographers and stock photography companies. The Stock Artists Alliance was successful in
protecting the rights and decreasing many of the risks in the Getty Images contract. Many
photographers wish there had been changes to the percentage formula, catalog charges and agency
role. I would like to examine a couple of these issues and propose an alternative way to think
about the evolution underway in the stock industry.

Getty Images has not been and never will be an "Agency." An Agency represents a photographer's
images, finding markets for the work. Getty Images is an image distribution company. Getty
looks first to the client and determines what the client wants then filters through the
photographers' images selecting those images the client needs.

The sooner we recognize this change within Getty Images and virtually every other stock
photography company, the less frustration we will have and the better off we will be. We will
be better off because we will realize that getting our images to the market is our
responsibility. We have already taken the first step by making the SAA work. We demonstrated
that we possess the most important ingredient in determining our success, TAKING

I say forget the agency model, by an large it was always an illusion. Tony Stone Images, FPG
and TIB demonstrated how committed they were to the photographer when they sold out and moved
on leaving us in the care of Getty Images. The same can be said about Sharpshooters, The Stock
Market, Corbis and numerous other stock companies.

The death of the 50/50 percent split is a bad deal, but a better deal may have been born. Free
market dynamics has competition at its core and other companies noticing that photographers
demand a more equitable split have taken advantage of this need. Along come Creative-eye, Alamy
and Workbook Stock with a better royalty split, lower catalog charges and a photographer
friendly structure. Those choices, however, are still predicated on co-dependency. The
healthiest choice is to dismiss the expectation of them taking care of us, and switch our
thinking to us taking care of ourselves. The tools of the Internet and e-commerce provide us
with what we need to build our own business model based on independence, and under that model
we get more than thirty, forty or fifty percent. We get 100%.

From my point of view a revolution is taking place in stock photography. Like all revolutions
there is a great deal of pain, uncertainty and anxiety. When this phase is complete there will
be a new order. The question is, do we have what it will take individually and collectively to
define the new order or will we allow Getty Images, Corbis or any other "agency" to do that for
us? Make no mistake, this struggle is as old as business. It's all about Control, Power,
Capital and Labor. While we have the talent and labor, we must also get our hands on the
capital and build effective distribution networks.

A factor which will challenge the Stock Artist Alliance is our ability to have a global vision
while allowing for and even celebrating our uniqueness. Being British, American, European,
Asian, Latin or African and balancing those individual characteristics with the need to be
unified as a global group of photographers is going to be a monumental challenge.

I would suggest that the ingredient which will be essential is Respect. We will need to develop
a way of communicating which will allow for individualism while working for the collective
interest. We will need an understanding that dissent is not our enemy. When we care about
something we have passion and when we express our ideas we are actually trying to get to a
better place. The real enemy is apathy and singular self interest. Mature self interest is not
only a good thing, it is essential. We must see that protecting the rights and promoting the
interests of all photographers is helping us achieve our personal self interest.

Educating, motivating and organizing our colleagues who are in the frame of mind of looking out
just for themselves and not working for the collective interest is going to be one of our
biggest challenges.

The coming weeks are going to be important as we define what business principles drive our
business model. I look forward to that debate. Let's carry it on with passion which is tempered
with respect.

Copyright © 2001 Wayne Eastep. 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


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