September 1998 Selling Stock

Posted on 9/10/1998 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (0)



Volume 9, Number 1

©1998 Jim Pickerell - SELLING STOCK is written and published by Jim

Pickerell six times a year. The annual subscription rate is $80.00. subscriptions may be

obtained by writing Jim Pickerell, 110 Frederick Avenue, Suite A, Rockville, MD

20850, phone 301-251-0720, fax 301-309-0941, e-mail: All rights

are reserved and no information contained herein may be reporduced in any manner

whatsoever without written permission of the editor. Jim Pickerell is also

co-owner of Stock Connection, a stock agency. In addition, he is co-author with

Cheryl Pickerell of Negotiating Stock Photo Prices , a guide to pricing

stock photo usages.

Thought For The Month

A survey done by The Stock Market and reported in CA found that 75% of

advertising art directors and designers use a computer to search for

stock photo images.

In this survey 41% of the respondents were advertising art directors and

57% were designers. Just imagine how often digital search techniques

will be used once the internet gets faster. Also of note is the weekly

survey at that The Stock Market conducts.

Interesting questions/interesting answers. You can see past answers by

responding to the survey. See Story 165.


September 9, 1998

In early August Tony Stone Images began circulating a new three year

agreement to their contributing photographers with a deadline of

September 15th for signing. TSI plans to launch a new web site in

October and they told photographers their images would not be included on

the web site unless they sign this new agreement.

One of the key elements of this contract is that photographers will

receive 40% instead of 50% of all digital sales in their home territory

(sales in the U.S for U.S. photographers) and 30% for all digital sales

made in other territories.

This would make it appear that digital marketing will be more expensive

than traditional marketing, and thus the photographers must give up an

additional share of income in order to continue to participate in the


On the other hand, Getty told their shareholders in their quarterly

report, "In the quarter, Tony Stone Images Client Preview system was

successfully tested. the Preview system will allow customers to request

selections from picture research personnel and have the required

photographs delivered online. The system provides cost saving

opportunities for Tony Stone Images and the company's customers, ..."

We estimate once current print sales move to on-line sales and delivery,

and assuming current sales levels, TSI photographers, in the aggregate,

will be paid at least $3 million less annually than under the present

50/50 arrangement.

Photographers should examine their contracts closely before rushing to

sign. While Patrick Donehue reported that he a "pile of signed

contracts" within two weeks after they were mailed, there are indications

that many of TSI's most productive contributors have not signed and have

deep concerns about a number of issues in the contract.

In their letter accompanying the contract TSI said, "The agreement has

already been endorsed by Tony Stone Images' consultative photographer

panel (the Photographer Advisory Group) in both the U.S. and Europe." In

fact, as of the end of August, some of the PAG members, have not signed

the agreement and appear to have certain reservations about certain

clauses in it.

On the other hand other photographers have accepted the PAG endorsement

at face value and signed the contract without reading it. One

photographer told us, "I'm too busy to read and try to understand all

that (11 pages plus exhibits). Besides the PAG members approved it. I

just signed it and sent it in."

Photographers should recognize that not all contracts are the same. I

have learned of at least three versions of Exhibit 2.4 and Patrick

Donehue says there are "many versions." The terms in the ones I am aware

of include:

  • photographer exclusive (not allowing the photographer to offer

    any part of their work to any other stock agency other than Tony Stone.)

  • image exclusive (exclusive only for the selected images and all


  • image exclusive, but also allowing the photographer to

    independently make small editorial sales from images similar to the

    accepted images, but not to include editorial sales for full pages and


According to Patrick Donehue, "The intention is to mirror, as closely as

possible, the current version of the photographer's current TSI


But, what many photographers received was an agreement that was much more

restrictive than their current contracts. When some individuals

challenge TSI on this point the response often seems to be, "Oh, we made

a mistake and sent you the wrong version. We'll send you the correct

version today."

These mistakes may well have been honest, but it is a standard strategy

in many businesses to offer a very restrictive version to everyone the

first time out and see how many people you can get to agree to it. For

those who complain you have a second version where you give on a few


And maybe there is a third version and so on.

When Time Inc. recently revised its photographer contract every

photographer received the most restrictive version first. There were

actually six different versions ready to offer photographers who


Photographers should carefully examine their agreements and not be steam

rollered with a tight deadline into signing something that is not in

their best interest.

For those with the "image exclusive" contracts the new version is

conditional on the photographer giving TSI first look at everything they

produce. A problem arises here because TSI is also telling photographers

that they don't want to look at everything the photographer produces.

They only want to see a tightly edited sample of the "best". Thus, in

order to satisfy the requirements of their editor, photographers must

tightly edit their submissions. It is unclear whether a photographer who

signs one of these contracts can legally attempt to market any of the

situations not shown to TSI.

Under the new agreement the photographer is not paid in the month after

the invoice is paid , but within 120 days from the date the client

invoice is issued , regardless of the location of the sale.

According the letter photographers received and the press release, TSI is

insuring photographers against "bad debt" loss, if the sale is eventually


However, on careful examination of the terms of the contract TSI has

"...the right, in its sole discretion, to deduct the amount of such loss

(bad debt) equal to the amount previously paid to Contributor..."

For sales within a photographer's own territory 120 days could stretch

out payment, rather than make it shorter. Currently, photographers are

paid monthly in the month after the fee is collected.

Some photographers have asked why sub agencies or wholly-owned offices

should be receiving a percentage of the on-line and digitally fulfilled

sales when they and are not involved in the sale in any way.

Patrick Donehue points out that TSI must be careful not to undermine

existing relationships with local offices in various countries around the

world. TSI will rely on the marketing and support from these offices to

encourage local buyers to use the on-line systems.

It is also important to recognize that a number of offices around the

world are wholly-owned by TSI. I estimate that for at least $25 million

of their gross sales, and maybe more, they get to keep 70% of the gross

fee collected and remit 30% to the photographer.

Promotion of the site is expected to be very expensive. Getty Images has

allocated $13 million for digital development in 1998 alone. Much of

this is earmarked for the development and launch of the Tony Stone Images

electronic commerce enabled website.

Another complexity, the details of which are still being worked out, is

to provide 24 hour-a-day, 7 day-a-week negotiating service because these

right-controlled images will be licensed based on the usage. This

service will have to be available in many languages because the requests

could come from any country in the world. In all likelihood the local

offices will be involved in some way in many of these sales.

TSI photographers interested communicating with their colleagues

concerning the contract can get a free password to the TSI Photographers

Forum by sending an e-mail to:

Story 162


August 13, 1998

"What is a similar?" The answer is so subjective that

there is absolutely no agreement among clients, stock agencies or

photographers as to a general statement of what is, or should be, a


Agencies establish policies on "similars" so they can license exclusive

and restricted rights to certain images, and be sure that no other image

that the client might judge as similar will ever appear in the market


In deciding what is a similar, FPG gives their photographers the

following advice. "Would a reasonable client be upset if we licensed one

of these images to them and the other one to a competitor?" They go on

to provide a three page set of guidelines for the photographer to use in

deciding what is similar.

One problem with the above definition is defining a "reasonable client."

If the customer is always right, then anything the customer wants is

reasonable. FPG acknowledges to their photographers that because the

definition is extremely subjective they tend to err on the side of a

"wider" standard, feeling it is "better to be safe than sorry."

When the standard is based on the interpretation of "any" client it is

possible to go to some real extremes. In one legal case it was argued

that two pictures of couples having breakfast in bed were similar enough

that if a client purchased exclusive rights to one, the client would be

upset if the other appeared in a ad produced by a competitor.

In this case the people in the two pictures were different, the photos

were taken in different cities by different photographers, at different

times. The clothing was different, the bed clothes were different, the

walls of the rooms were different colors, the light was coming from a

different direction, and the images were handled by different agencies.

Still it was argued that the second image produced infringed on the

rights of the first and would make it impossible to license the first for

an exclusive use.

Normally, we think of similars as images produced by a single

photographer and not those produced by all photographers. But there are

a lot of very similar pictures, produced by different photographers that

could conceivably present problems for certain clients, particularly if

both uses were licensed by the same agency.

If an agency licenses an exclusive use of a man talking on a cell phone,

are they obligated to take all other images of men using cell phones out

of circulation for the duration of the license, even if they were taken

by other photographers they represent? If the agency takes images

produced by other photographers out of circulation then a proper agency

production strategy would be to get as many photographers as possible to

produce images on the same general subject so that once one is licensed

there are still others available for licensing.

If the agency removes similars taken by other photographers when an

exclusive is licensed who gets paid for the usage? Does all the money go

to the one whose image was used, or does everyone share proportionally

based on the number of images removed from the market?

Do We Need An Industry Policy On Similars?

To answer this question we need to consider the needs of clients, agents

and photographers, and identify the attitudes of each toward similars.

We also need to consider how important restricted use sales are to the


  • What are the gross dollars earned from restricted use sales as

    compared with one-time non-exclusive sales?

    Big agencies say a lot. Smaller agencies say almost nothing. This will

    also vary from photographer to photographer, depending on the type of

    work each does.

    Photographers can easily calculate how important it is to them by looking

    at their sales reports. Clients should be paying several thousand

    dollars for any use where that image, and "similars" are being held out

    of the market for a period of time. If you get 50% of the gross sale

    look for sales where you received at least $2,000. If you get 25% look

    for sales where you received at least $1,000. What percentage of your

    gross stock income do these sales represent? Most photographers will

    find that in spite of their size, these sales make up a very small

    percentage of the photographer's total stock income.

  • Some agents believe that in future, given the improving quality of

    RF images, a larger percentage of the sales made by traditional agencies

    will be for restricted uses. At Selling Stock we believe there will

    still be plenty of opportunities for traditional agencies to license

    one-time uses for fees much higher than RF prices. Traditional agencies

    will be able to provide a much larger selection of imagery, technical

    information about the imagery, information about who has used the image

    in the past and other research and support services that RF companies can

    not provide.


Photographer: The critical issue for photographers is to earn the

maximum return on the images they produce. For many this may mean

keeping the maximum number of images in circulation in the maximum number

of markets.

No agent reaches every client in the world. Some buyers prefer to deal

with specialists or sellers who understand their particular needs. Stock

agency editors play a critical role. No editor can fully comprehend the

future needs of all clients. Some will select better then others for

particular segments of the market, and these market segments tend to find

the agencies with better editing. Photographers tend to sell more images

when a larger number of stock agency editors are selecting from their


Client: The client who uses a stock image for a major advertising

campaign wants to be sure that their competitor doesn't use the same

image for the duration of the campaign. If their customers think of

their company whenever they see a particular image, that image has very

high marketing value for the company.

Clients preparing a campaign will pay substantial five figure amounts for

exclusivity. Occasionally clients think they should be entitled to

exclusive use for a very low one-time use fee but such requests are

normally denied.

What the client thinks is a "similar" will vary with each image chosen,

and with each campaign. If the image user starts losing business and

their competitor shows up with a

similar image in one of their promotions, in all likelihood the client

would seek legal redress from the image sellers.

Clients often like to know the history of sales of an image they have

chosen, in order to make sure their competitors have not used it


Agents: Most agencies can easily supply previous sales information

for a specific image number. But, when it comes to supplying a sales

history for all "similars" to that number the issue becomes much more

complex. Few, if any agencies can do this for the majority of images

they currently have on file. They may be able to do it for some of their

newer images, or for very unique subjects, because their policy is to

edit so tightly that they place few if any

similars to new images into their general file. They also require, by

contract, that the photographer withhold all similars not selected from

the market.

There is no way to determine in advance which clients will want

exclusives and which ones won't, or which images they will want to use.

Therefore, an increasing number of agents want exclusive control of

all images in their file , to be assured, in advance, that they can

honor any request.

Some agents, particularly those who specialize, take a different

approach. Their normal practice is to license one-time non-exclusive

rights to an image. If the client wants to restrict future usages the

agent contacts the photographer to see if such restrictions can be

arranged. These agents are willing to lose an occasional exclusive sale

in order to give clients who are primarily interested in one-time use

licensing, a greater choice of material.

Reasons Agents Want To Control Similars.

  • The agent wants to be prepared to supply excellent and

    immediate service to the client, and to fulfill the clients expectations

    with as few questions as possible.

  • Once an exclusive is requested, the agent doesn't want to have the

    inconvenience of going back to the photographer to try to place

    restrictions on similars.

  • The agent wants to be able to advertise that they can offer

    exclusive rights to every image in their file.

  • There is a fear that in the future clients will only come to "RP"

    (rights protected) agencies, if the agency can offer exclusive use on

    every sale.

  • The agency also wants to keep similar images out of the files of

    their competition so clients will have to come to them to find a

    particular image.

  • The agent doesn't want to lose a big sale if the photographer can't

    restrict future usages of the image.

  • The world is getting smaller and more and more agencies have the

    potential of marketing worldwide through the use of electronic catalogs.

    Therefore, in theory, there is less need for multiple agents than there

    was in the past.

  • The agency wants to be able to license rights in foreign countries

    where rights control has traditionally been a greater concern, than is

    normally the case in the U.S.oe The agent doesn't want to get in a

    bidding war when the client finds the same image at two different


  • The agency wants to avoid the hassle and extra costs of handling

    some images on a non-exclusive basis, and others exclusively.

On the other hand, in theory, as a larger and larger percentage of the

images are placed in on-line databases it should not be that hard to add

a field that would indicate whether the image was available for exclusive

licensing or not. There is no reason why both systems can not co-exist

in a single agency. Most large agencies currently handle some images

that they can only license on a non-exclusive basis.

Foreign Agencies: In the past, European clients have tended to

have greater expectations of restricted rights to any image they license

than do North American clients. Normally this restriction for what they

would define as "their competitors" is automatically included in the base

price. The agent making the sale is expected to automatically know who

those competitors are, but traditionally that list has been small because

it included only those doing business and marketing to a language group

within that country.

Other languages and other countries were not considered a problem because

the readership of each individual publication or promotional material did

not cross borders.

Now all that is changing. Advertisers want to sell products across

borders and when possible they want to produce unified campaigns rather

that something totally unique for each language group. Consequently

stock agents want to sell across borders, but in most cases they only

have rights to license their images within their country. The transition

to worldwide licensing rights is an extremely difficult problem.

Everyone wants worldwide rights, but only

a few even approach worldwide distribution.

Consolidation/Acquisition: A number of small agencies are being

absorbed by larger agencies. Typically, the larger agency asks the

acquired photographers to sign exclusive rights contracts and the

strategies for handling similars change under the new management. This

presents a dilemma for the photographers as well as the agency.

The agency will be unable to license exclusive rights to many of these

new images because the photographers already have similars on file with

other agencies. The photographers have to determine whether the new

agency is likely to produce enough sales volume to justify their pulling

images from their other agencies.

The agency then has to decide whether they will handle some images on a

non-exclusive basis and others on an exclusive basis.

The photographer must decide what to do about new production. If many of

his or her "similars" can no longer be marketed will that result in an

overall loss of revenue? Can the photographer justify the costs of new

production without the previous sales volume?

RF Producers: One of the strangest positions on "similars" is that

taken by RF producers. They do not want their photographers to license

rights any images that are similar to those accepted for one of their RF

discs. They take this position in spite of the fact that they make no

guarantees to their customers about exclusivity.

Their argument to photographers is that if the photographer (or his

agent) charges a client $300 or $1000 to use an image and the client

later finds that he could have purchased the same image for $70, or got

unlimited usage of that image and 100 others for $250, the client will

feel cheated.

But, if the clients feels cheated it's not the RF producer who did the

cheating. It's the photographer or his agent, and if they are willing to

accept the risk and deal with the fallout why should the RF producer

care? One might think it would be in everyone's best interest to try to

help the photographer earn enough from his or her photos to stay in

business and continue to produce.

A "money back guarantee" policy like that practiced in many other

industries would be a very simple way to deal with this problem.

Photographers and agents licensing images through several sources could

offer such a guarantee to any customer who later discovered they might

have purchased the exact same image from another source for less. This

enables the photographer to make an image available at several different

market levels and maximize potential sales without alienating customers.

The customer in this case is not expecting to get exclusive rights so the

only reason to be upset would be price.

Probably the greater concern for the RF producers is that photographers

might discover that they can earn more from licensing limited uses to

their images than they can earn from RF sales.

Implementing A Similars Policy With Clients.

When a stock agency puts a lot of emphasis on "rights control" there are

a number of things the photographer needs to understand about

implementation of this policy.

  • Does your agency take certain similars out of circulation when

    a restricted use is licensed to an image? Do they let you know when this

    happens? Is it clearly indicated on your sales report? If you know, and

    it is a best selling subject, you might be able to produce new images

    that would illustrate the concept, but not be competitive. This way you

    have something different to offer new clients that would not violate the

    spirit of the restriction on the image already sold.

  • Can your agency easily tell you which of your images currently are

    under restricted use? Consider the sales your competitors are making of

    this subject matter while your images are held out of the market. Was

    the fee worth it?

  • Does the agent search his records, without being asked, and

    volunteer information about previous uses by other clients?

  • Does the agent try to talk clients out of using a particular image

    if it has been used by someone else in the same industry? Do clients

    expect agents to provide this service?

  • Are customers being trained to believe that unless they are told up

    front about a conflict, that they can now assume that there is none...

    even if they've paid no additional fees to get an exclusive license?

    What does this do to the pricing model for exclusive use licenses? Are

    customers being led to believe that they have something that they really

    do not? How does the agency deal with similars taken by different


  • How often does the agency license industry exclusives? Many images

    are only of interest to a particular industry segment - finance,

    education, travel, hunting. Thus, if the image is restricted for a

    period of time in only that "industry," in effect it is restricted from

    the entire market.

Another Approach To The Problem

Controlling the use of similars is often presented as the only way

a stock agency can stay in business, or a photographer can maximize

earning from his or her images. THERE IS ANOTHER APPROACH.

Instead of worrying about trying to make the big exclusive sales focus on

selling one-time non-exclusive rights and selling a higher volume. Every

invoice says that the client is buying "one-time, non-exclusive rights

for specific uses with no restrictions on other uses of the image by the

seller unless specific restrictions have been negotiated."

Instead of saying, "If you buy from us you can be confident that there

will be no other uses

of the image that might upset you," try the following:

    "Our normal policy is to license one-time non-exclusive rights. However,

    if you need restrictions on future use of a specific image and/or its

    similars explain in detail what you need and we'll do our best to comply.

    In most cases, we can also supply detailed information as to previous

    uses of the image in your industry at your request."

When a client wants certain restrictions placed on similars you define

exactly what the client wants, you check with the photographer to see if

it is possible to place restrictions on the image, you negotiate a fee,

you write the specific restrictions into the invoice -- and everyone is

happy. And everyone has a clear understanding of what is going to happen

with this image or this particular group of images.

We believe this is a more practical approach to the problem, and much

less likely to backfire on the seller. With this strategy there will be

discussions with the client about what is a similar to the specific image

being purchased. It makes no difference what the photographer or stock

agent thinks are similar. What it really boils down to is what the

client thinks is similar and that can only be determined in one of two

ways -- talking to the client at the time of the sale and defining it, or

waiting until he sues you.

The major agencies want to avoid having to communicate with the

photographer in such a negotiation. But there is a tremendous advantage

for the photographer in knowing the specific image being used, and the

specific similars that will need to be removed from the market rather

than having to make a decision that all similars of everything the

photographer shoots in the future will be held out of the market.

The major agencies are probably also afraid that in too many cases, the

photographer would say, "The fee is too low for all you want me to remove

from the marketplace. Therefore I'm not interested." In this case the

agency wouldn't earn anything for its efforts. But, shouldn't

photographers have some say in restricted use sales?

Bottom Line

Do I think the big agencies are going to change their approach. Not a

chance. They will continue to demand exclusives for all the images they

select and their "similars". They will define "similars" in ever broader

terms. They will occasionally get caught because they didn't define the

terms broadly enough, but that's OK because the photographer will

indemnify the agency so if problems arise it is the photographer's fault,

not the agency's.

A few agencies that take the other approach. Stock Connection is one of

them. Photographers who don't want to lock up all their images and bet

that one big agency will maximize sales for them need to shop carefully.

Oh! and by the way. Getting back to this idea that the only way to make

big money in stock is to license exclusive rights. Think about the

royalty free companies. They don't license exclusives. Their customers

know that everyone in the world is likely to use the same image. In

spite of this fact they are the fastest growing segment of the industry.


The following proposal is being circulated among stock agencies in an

effort to try to develop a definition for "similars" to which all

agencies can agree. "Similar" with regards to photographic images is

defined under the following two general categories:

  • Photographs of the free natural world, outdoor public places or

    manmade landmarks are similar when created at the same time, same

    photographic shoot by the same photographer, and are images of the exact

    same scene, subject matter, arrangement or portions of the same scene

    with slight variations of images within the photographic shoot from

    change of angle, lens, f/stop, filtration, brightness or other minor

    variation in the same scene. Photographs involving a specific natural

    element (whether living or non-living) moving within the scene or are

    sequences of that specific natural element are considered similar. In

    the case of the primary subject moving within a scene, those images with

    different primary subjects are not considered similar.

  • (a) Photographs of pre-arranged situations involving the same

    recognizable model(s) wearing the same outfits, engaged in the same

    activity during the same photographic shoot by the same photographer are

    considered similar.

  • (b) Photographs of unique, one-of-a-kind, non-living subject matter

    (whether released or not) prearranged and created during the same

    photographic shoot by the same photographer are considered similar.

How These Rules Might Be Interpreted In Practice

The following are a few situations where these rules might present

difficulties for photographers.

  • There are several huge colonies of King Penguins on the eastern

    shore of South Georgia Island. This is where everyone goes to get almost

    all of the endless serried ranks of 100's or 1,000's of penguins standing

    nose to nose. Are all the shots that a photographer takes in one day

    "similars"? Or, assume that the actual "photographic shoot" -- the time

    spent on this island -- was three days. Are all the shots taken on the

    shoot "similars"? If, the photographers agency licenses one penguin shot

    for a one-year exclusive, does that mean that all the rest of the penguin

    shots taken on this trip must be held out of the market for one year? If

    the photographer moves to another rookery, on the same island on the same

    day is this now a different shoot?

    Part of the problem with the definition in this situation is the

    definition of "exact same scene." Is shooting close ups of a few

    penguins, or adults with a chick, part of the "exact

    same scene," or not?

    Often several photographers go on these trips together. If two

    photographers are standing side by side and shoot with the same lens and

    in the same direction these photos are not similar because they were

    taken by two different photographers. If a photographer takes a spouse,

    or an assistant along on the trip, and after shooting some pictures,

    hands the camera to the assistant the resulting pictures are not similar

    because they were produced by two different individuals.

  • A photographer builds an office set in the studio. There are six

    desks and workers are placed at each desk. A dozen models are brought

    into the studio and one shot has all twelve in an overall picture. Next

    the photographer zeros in on activities at various desks with one, two or

    three models in each frame, still using the same background and wall

    decorations, but the background is out of focus in most pictures. The

    photographer also shoots some close-ups of hands on the computer

    keyboard. Are the tight shots of individuals, or the twos and threes

    "similars" to the large group shot because they were taken on the same

    day on the

    same large set? Are the close-ups of hands "similars?" If the models

    change clothes are they "similars," simply because they are the same

    people? If the photographer uses one of the same models in another

    office set on a different day are the pictures similar? If you think

    some of these are not similar is every client likely to agree with your


  • What about a tight shot of a snarling tiger's head. This is a huge

    seller and is often used to show aggression, anger, or lethal danger. Is

    one tiger shot full frame vertical

    looking directly into the camera a "similar" to the same action on the

    same day shot from a side angle? What if we change tigers, but they are

    both shot on the same day? If the same tiger snarls differently at two

    different times in a half hour period, can you or your client tell that

    it is the same tiger shot on the same day?

  • A photographer brings a model into the studio and shoots some

    pictures of that model using a cell-phone and a laptop computer. Some

    agencies would say that is only a "prop switch" and thus it doesn't

    really change the visual impact of the image. On the other hand it would

    be easy to see how a photographer could make two very different looking

    pictures of the same subject using these two props in one location.

    Because they are judged to be similar, if the

    photographer decides to shoot both will the agency only keep one or the

    other? If the agency will only accept one for the files, why should the

    photographer bother to shoot both? If the model changes clothes does

    that make the image different? If the photographer hires a different

    model for each prop used, but shoots the images in basically the same

    location, on the same day, are all these images similar? How much time

    and money is it necessary for the photographer to spend to discover that

    he must throw away most of his production?

  • A photographer sent a broad selection of polar bears wrestling to

    his agency. They kept 5 for their general file and put 2 in their print

    catalog. They wanted the photographer to withhold all other polar bear

    wrestling shots from the market in order to protect the marketability of

    the two in the catalog. The photographer did not agree. The agency was

    given first shot at the photographer's best images and those the agency

    choose for the catalog were not distributed in any other way.

    The photographer argued that he had spent a good deal of time and

    thousands of dollars getting these images and that the agency doesn't

    attempt to reach certain markets that the photographer approaches

    directly. Since these images were accepted by the agency the

    photographer has made a lot more money selling the "rejects" directly,

    than the agency has made for him, even with 2 images being in the


  • What about the shots of a bald eagle in flight? This is a

    consistent good seller which works as a natural history picture and as an

    icon for "Pristine/America's symbol/"wild and free." When you get into

    eagle flight shots everyone basically wants the same wing-set (fully

    outstretched, slightly cupped as it swoops in, quartering toward the

    viewer. If you shoot two shots of the same eagle within 20 seconds of

    each other, but one shot is further out with a strong green background,

    and the next has a background of blue water as it swoops in for the

    catch, are these two shots "similars"? If you shoot a different eagle,

    but the average person can't tell it is a different eagle, on the same

    day, but with similar backgrounds (water or trees), are the two images

    similar? Is a similar angle on a bird, against a similar background,

    shot two years apart, qualify as a "similar"?

    For more examples of problems see the Story 162.

    Story 156


    July 8, 1998

    Where will educational publishing be in 2005? This was

    the theme of a recent American Society of Picture Professionals (ASPP)

    meeting in Chicago. Encyclopedias will certainly be on-line, but the

    dilemma is that as yet the publishers haven't figured a way to charge for

    that information.

    Sandra Dyrlund, Senior Photographs Editor, World Book Encyclopedia said

    WB would be on line, free of charge, for schools and libraries later this

    year. "Everyone on the internet expects the information to be free," she

    said. "But, the competition is so fierce that we have to get out there

    now, even if we can't charge. If we wait until we can learn how to get

    paid for what we supply, we will be dead in the water. The risk of not

    being there now is greater than the risk of giving the information away

    for free for a while."

    Fortunately, sales of the print editions to schools and libraries are

    still strong, but family sales of encyclopedias are dead. The home

    market is going to CD-ROM.

    Will the movement to CD-ROM from printed books mean a greater use of

    pictures? Overall, NO.

    Currently the print set of WB has about 27,000 images and the CD-ROM

    version has about 8,000. They hope to get the numbers up to 10,000 to

    12,000 for the CD-ROM because, in the retail environment, shoppers are

    buying based on the numbers printed on the box. If one CD encyclopedia

    has 12,000 images and the other less, shoppers will go with the one that

    has more.

    Currently, Encarta is leading the market with 38% of the sales.

    Encyclopedia Britannica has about 24% and WB has 8%. This year WB will

    buy about 200 to 275 images to update the printed versions of their book.

    This is way down over what it has been in previous years.

    World Book will purchase rights to about 2000 images for the CD-ROM, but

    they are trying to get more rights for less money. They are currently

    getting unlimited electronic use, forever, for $200 to $225. Sometimes

    they will negotiate down to 20 years or 10 years use, but still with no

    limitations on the number of pressings or the amount of use on-line.

    World Book gets a majority of their pictures from agencies with large

    files who are willing to do bulk deals for a fixed price per image.

    These prices are often substantially lower than the $200 to $225 price

    listed above.

    World Book has tried putting out two-disc sets of CD-ROMs as a way of

    showing more visual material, but that doesn't seem to be working. The

    customer doesn't seem to want to switch discs. This situation may

    improve when DVD's become common in the home. A DVD disc holds up to

    seven times the amount of information on a CD-ROM. However, by the time

    DVD comes into popular use, on-line will probably be a major source for

    Encyclopedia information.

    National Geographic Society is planning to put their 30 disc set of "108

    Years of National Geographic Magazine" on DVD. They believe this will

    require about 4 discs.

    The situation with the elementary, high school and the college markets

    may be a little more hopeful. According to Keri Johnson, Senior Photo

    Research Coordinator for McGraw-Hill Higher Education, the textbook

    market is moving toward on-line at a slower pace.

    A major growth area in this market is "on-demand" publishing. This is a

    growth area within McGraw Hill although it is unclear what portion of

    total revenues it represents.

    With "on-demand" publishing, teachers may select various chapters, or

    articles, from several books to be included in a course pack for a class

    - 50 students more or less. These "course packs" often have little or no

    relation to the books as originally published. Rights are licensed on a

    per article or per chapter basis.

    Rights are normally negotiated for a certain number of copies of a

    printed work, and an additional percentage (25% or 50%) for use of the

    material in a certain amount of "on-demand" publishing. For any given

    book, one chapter might be heavily used and another chapter might be

    seldom used. On the heavily used chapter they may have to go back and

    re-negotiate rights for more usage.

    A story in the Washington Post recently pointed to the declining use of

    textbooks at the high school level with the following anecdote. "Sherry

    Singer distributed a 1,206-page textbook last fall to all the students in

    here senior science class at Fairfax's J.E.B. Stuart High School. Then

    she taught the course as though the book didn't exist. Singer has never

    asked her students to bring the textbook to school or discussed it in


    She said that she likes to use a variety of techniques to engage the

    teenagers - lab work, lectures, and student presentations - and that

    following a text would be boring. 'I never say turn to Page 341' Singer

    said. "Textbooks are less important these days."

    On-Line links

    If this attitude is prevalent among teachers, on-line offers some unique

    advantages. At the college text level, many authors of these books are

    now referring their students to various web sites.

    They might talk about a manufacturing process or a business strategy of a

    particular company and then refer the reader to the site of a particular

    company like Campbell's Soups. When these college texts go on-line there

    will be direct links to the site so all the student has to do is click in

    order to read the related information. In the printed book, the

    publishers often print a screen grab of the home page.

    One of McGraw-Hill's textbooks coming out this fall will have a chapter

    on-line with links to other web sites.

    This technique, while supplying the reader - the student - some very

    useful information relative to what a printed book can offer, raises some

    questions that both photographers and picture researchers need to


    When a photographer licenses rights for usage of an image on the front

    page of a company's web site is he also licensing the right for that

    picture to be printed in a book? This may need to be spelled out in

    license agreements.

    Interestingly, an employee of PhotoDisc who attended the ASPP meeting

    pointed out that they had licensed an additional sale recently in just

    such a situation. A company had used a PhotoDisc picture on their home

    page. The company was willing to allow the publisher to publish a screen

    grab of their home page, but they would not grant approval until the

    publisher had cleared rights for the photo with PhotoDisc. (Even though

    PhotoDisc is royalty free, it is only free to the original purchaser of

    the disc and that purchaser is not allowed to give the disc, or any of

    the images on the disc, to other organizations, according to the license


    Another thing photographers or stock agencies could do is request that

    their DOI number be placed under their image whenever they license rights

    for use on any site. (See Article 145 on Selling Stock's online site.)

    This way the picture researcher can easily find the image owner when

    clearing rights.

    Reseachers recognize that they need to clear rights for such usages, but

    often they have difficulty tracking down the photographer.

    Reseachers also need to be able to do screen grabs of web sites in order

    to supply digital files to their clients. Keri Johnson pointed out that

    screen grabs produce much better quality reproduction than trying to

    photograph the screen and they are simpler if the researcher knows what

    he or she is doing.

    Picture Research

    Mary Goljenboom, President of Ferret Photo Research also outlined some of

    the changes taking place in this industry. She estimated that 50% of the

    images she licenses are now found on either CD-ROM or on-line. She uses

    every digital resource she can get her hands on in her search for images.

    She also pointed out the advantage of being able to show her client a

    download of a digital file as they work to refine the concepts for a

    project. In this way they can talk about specifics. The client can

    define specifically what he or she does or does not like about a

    particular image and it can move the research process along at a more

    efficient pace.

    In some cases, Mary scans transparencies for her clients and sends them

    digital files rather than letting them handle the film. This reduces the

    liability of allowing these valuable transparencies to be handled by many

    different people. She particularly likes to use this technique when

    previous experience with a particular client has demonstrated that the

    client is not particularly good at caring for images.

    Many clients are beginning to prefer to have the researcher supply them

    with digital files rather than incur the digitizing costs themselves.

    Mary believes the industry will move much more in this direction by 2005.

  • Copyright © 1998 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:  


    Be the first to comment below.

    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