Posted on 9/15/2011 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (1)

Jonathan Ross of Andersen Ross Photography has been one of the more prolific and successful shooters of stock images over the last 13 year. He has over 10,000 images and motion clips in the Getty Images collection and in addition to his own company is a partner in two stock image production companies -- Blend Images and Cultura. He is particularly known for his images of people shot in business and lifestyle situations. There are considered by most to be the best selling categories of stock photography.

However, in tracking their sales over the years he and his wife Amy noticed that many of their best selling images did not include people. This led them, about a year ago, to build a new stock production agency called Spaces Images. The focus of this agency is to produce property released images of locations where man lives, works and plays, but without any people in the images. This is not an interiors or landscape collection. Among the subject matter they represent are images related to business, industry, green energy, homes, hospitals and schools.  Most of the images have strong graphic and design elements. Their property released images of gas stations, airports, energy plants, etc. photographed with an artistic interest and beautiful light have filled a niche that has up to now gone unnoticed.

Photographers that shoot for spaces like the fact that most of the images are inexpensive to produce. The costs of stylists, models, props, locations and a great deal of production support are eliminated. In addition, because most images have no elements that would date them, most of the images accepted into the collection tend to have a long useful life. While people images often produce a higher return initially they tend to go out of style quickly.

Many of the images in the collection are not property released, and given the subject matter don’t need to be. However, photographers can often get location releases by negotiating a trade deal that allows the owner of the location to use the images for their own promotion and advertising. Ross says, “I can gain access to a Hospital and create 30 strong images in a day of shooting (thanks to the help of technology like HDR). If those 30 images make $500 over their life I make $15,000 for that day’s work and another day for post processing. I think that is a hell of a solid investment especially when compared to producing lifestyle which is costly per image considering that returns have fallen and it is tougher to even recoup money out of pocket.“

There is some question as to whether all contributors can consistently produce every shooting day 30 images that will be accepted into the collection, and whether all 30 will produce an average of $500 each over the lifetime of the image, even if some are licensed for very high fees. However, the images offered in this collection seem likely to have a very long useful life.

Currently Spaces has 50 photographers contributing images. The company’s goal is to add 7,000 to 10,000 new images each year and focus on quality, not quantity. They are currently signing 5 to 10 new photographers a month. Ross says, “Being a contributor to Spaces is supposed to be fun, we are trying to bring back the buzz of creating great imagery and placing it in a collection where the photographer and the image are appreciated.”

Photographers are not required to perform any of the boring tasks associated with marketing images. They take the shot and do the post production. (Spaces also offers post production services at a very reduced group rate). The company handles all the keywording and spends a great deal of money employing the best keyworders in the U.S. to do its keywording and analysis.
Spaces’ creative team provides a creative brief every other month. Ross said, “since Spaces is a stock agency founded and operated by seasoned stock photographers, we are able to design our agency around what serves the photographer best.  We appreciate and recognize how important image creators are, without them we would not have this industry. Shooting stock is an amazing profession that has lost some of its charm over the last few years, we want to make it rewarding again. Our editors and staff regularly communicate with contributors. There is almost always someone available by phone to answer questions and assist in any way. Serving our photographers needs is of great importance to Spaces Images. Over the past several months we have added Stacey Green as art director/photographer liaison, Megan Smith as technical specialist and Raquel Dennett as producer to provide much broader support for our photographers.”

The company’s marketing strategy is to make the images available through at as many outlets as possible in order to receive as many views as possible. Currently, both the both rights managed and royalty free collections are represented by 40 distributors. While they make some direct sales Ross says, “No small agency can survive these days through direct sales. Getting eyes to your site for direct sales is a slow, steady process.”

Copyright © 2011 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:  


  • Jonathan Ross Posted Sep 16, 2011
    Thank you Jim,

    I could not have asked for a better write up. You have always been a great support to the stock industry and on behalf of everyone at Spaces Images I want to thank you for once again helping to spread the word and for representing Spaces Images in such a positive light.

    Many thanks,
    Jonathan Ross

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