Stock Photo Agencies – Designed To Fail

Posted on 9/1/2016 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (3)

The basic operating structure of how most stock photo agencies acquire and market images has not changed in 15 to 25 years. Image creator produce and submit their work to an agency. The agency may reject some of it, but most will go into an online collection that customer can review. When a customer finds something she wants to use she pays a fee and the image creator receives a percentage. The agency’s job is to manage the material, make customers aware that the collection exists, license use of the image for whatever they can get and collect money.

Get the Full Article (2 Credits)

Have an Account?

Access to this site is an exclusive benefit for you. Enter your username and password in the form above. If you don't remember your password you can reset it at any time.

Forgot your password?

New to Selling Stock?

Selling Stock is an on-line newsletter that reports on developing trends in the stock photo industry. It is updated at least twice a month. On-line subscribers receive e-mail notification whenever new stories are posted. Archives containing stories going back to late 1995 are fully available to subscribers.

Copyright © 2016 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:  


  • Paul Melcher Posted Sep 1, 2016
    It could also be that buyers going to Picfair are looking for amateur photography, as you call it. One company's example does not define the market, especially as young and insignificant as the one you mention. To be more accurate in your projection, you should ask Getty for example, who licenses both pro and amateur photography. Doubtful they would tell you but considering their market share, they have a much clearer picture.
    Furthermore, style can be replicated ( and it is). Believing that only amateurs can produce the more authentic content that buyers want is an antiquated concept put to rest by a myriad of pros that have no problem imitating the Instagram style. If only it was that simple.
    As of today, no one has the tools to predict content demand. It will change soon enough as solutions are in the works, but it the meantime, it is pure speculation (or cheap marketing) to define the market as being "more this than that".

  • Christine Osborne Pictures Posted Sep 1, 2016
    I found this post interesting. In the case of my stock library World Religions, 50% of images licensed have been/are by amateurs.
    Whenever I was contacted by a photographer interested to contribute, I made the time to advise on what was required. With a name such as "world" religions, it was clear when I launched the collection, that I could not manage the travel required on my own work alone, hence my invitation to join for any amateur that met the required standards. It worked well and I enjoyed being a mentor, as it were. On the other hand, with the knowledge of what the market needed, at least one amateur supplier went off and submitted to a far bigger agency. I was disappointed, but of course I realised it could not be helped.
    In order to boost our reputation, I recently published a complete book (with deep captions) using 365 of our best images. See www,

    Thank you.

  • Christine Osborne Pictures Posted Sep 1, 2016
    Again re. stock libraries, I omitted the url for the website which supplied the more than 350 images that appear in Among Believers.

    Thank you.

Post Comment

You must log in to post comments.

Stay Connected

Sign up to receive our FREE weekly email listing new stories 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