For articles, see F2 eZine Archive 8 - Oct - Dec 2001
is a hot topic these days. It used to be definable in a context that everyone
could understand. You chose to make it part of your revenue stream or
not. You chose to pick an agency to market your film. You shot lots of
volume (film was cheap), and you turned in a lot of your outtakes, and
waited for a year, hoping for a 50% return commission on your investment.
That was pretty straightforward and easy. What happened? How did it get
the industry goes back quite a bit further than you may think. In the
1920s Ruth Nichols was a photographer of children. Her work was
unique because she ran around with her heavy view camera capturing children
in their natural environment, at play, at meals, in the bath, and having
fun. This imagery caught on with the budding advertising community for
its natural look and homespun appeal. She was so successful that she put
together a printed catalog of her black and white images and sold them
for $5.00 apiece.
as most of us know it, began to find its niche in the 1950s,
when enough agencies had formed into businesses to merit a trade organization
to unite them. This was called PACA The Picture Agency Council
of America. PACA became more active in the 60s and 70s, concurrent
with the development of better color printing techniques, and increased
use of imagery in advertising. Clients began to seek quick, less costly
access to images, and the editorial market absorbed a lot of stock material.
During this time, photographers often thought of their outtakes and extras
as the images to donate to stock usage, and rarely composed photographic
shoots for the purpose of marketing in the stock arena.
communication, and advertising have continued to grow over the last two
decades, the marketing and sale of stock photography has become a worldwide,
sophisticated industry. We have seen the growth of new markets, new agencies,
and new forms of production and delivery, that have created an industry
which is now hand in hand with the control and dissemination of intellectual
property on the internet in a global community.
growth of the photo industry has come the maturation of copyright laws,
rights issues, trademark claims and model/property release needs, all
having formed a strong structure around the photo industry. The biggest
engine of change in the last decade has been the development of digital
imagery, and the delivery of that imagery on various forms of media and
on the Internet. Up until that time, all imagery was shipped in analog
form (film), via systems such as Fed Ex and UPS. Clients were held responsible
for tracking and returning these images, and production schedules required
much longer turn around time.
see this system in force. But today, a lightbox of low rez sample images
can be sent via a web URL in a matter of minutes. The client can make
a choice, order the high rez to be sent for download on a fast DLS or
T1 line, and go to press all in 24 hours. The ease and popularity of this
technology has forced the stock industry as a whole to fast forward
in its development. The cost of this development for traditional stock
agencies has been very high, and for many the price tag has been out of
of this technology, along with the power of holding the worlds intellectual
property, has attracted the investment community to the industry, thus
changing forever the landscape of what we call the traditional
stock photography agency. The former business model was most likely owned
by photographers or designers, who enjoyed a personal relationship with
the contributing artists, and fostered a marketing structure that almost
seemed fraternal. The consolidation of many of these companies has now
created structures owned by private venture or public money, run by CEOs
and powered by Internet technology experts, who all have to answer to
the Board of Directors that evaluate the bottom line.
of hand shake agreements and traditional camaraderie are gone,
and producers of imagery are concerned about losing control of copyright,
assuming more liability, having less opportunity to be involved in pricing,
and fewer assurances that their work will be safe guarded and disseminated
properly. Artists are seeing commissions rates change and new markets
develop in which profitability may not be immediately obvious.
of imagery in this market has soared, along with the volume of good imagery
that many of the new markets demand. We no longer deal with only the advertising
and editorial markets, but a multitude of consumer markets from E-cards
to subscription buying, from SoHo (small office, home office-low rez)
to royalty free imagery (offering broad usage rights for a single purchase
price). Today you are more likely to see photographers doing major production
shoots, with models, location scouts and stylists. These activities are
supported financially by themselves or their agents, who offer a variety
of commission deals and charge backs. Some voice concern that this will
lead to a corporate form of natural selection, where only
the highly salable images will be marketed and the experimentally creative
will be over looked.
As I see
it, all these changes have evolved us only half way into the new digital
era. What is looming on the horizon are totally new models for doing business
in stock photography, illustration, graphic design, and film/video marketing.
The development of new Internet portals are coming on line
at a fast pace. These portals provide access to Internet marketing for
the individual artist, as well as the small agency, without the development
costs and maintenance overhead. . For the most part, they are a marketing
service only, and offer the artists a higher percentage of the return,
with greater control of rights and pricing. They give much of the work
and cost of digital prepress back to the artist, and offer fewer services
and less protection from liability in return. The advantage of this broadening
of technology may represent new opportunities for niche markets and experimental
creations that dont have to prove themselves to the profitability
of the bottom line. We will also see continued global expansion
of the larger moneyed agencies, offering new opportunities for creative
talent in the future and around the world.
shuffle and change in this industry, looking to meet the needs of the
business model they want to follow, we will see a continuing evolving
landscape over the next couple of years that hopefully will bode well
for the creative industry as a whole. The opportunity to market and sell
will be greater than ever in the constantly growing consumer and technological
world. As the globe shrinks with the use of the Internet, so communication
expands, and those who expand with it will reap the rewards.by Pat Hunt
see additional archived articles on Marketing
Pat Hunt, Stock Photography Consultant for Port Authority, Inc. has spent the last 20 years in the photography industry. Fifteen of them in stock photography, as the owner of Light Sources. She later merged her company with industry giant, Index Stock Imagery. Pat became VP and Sales Director of Index Stock Boston. It was there that she had the opportunity to work with some of the world's best shooters, helping them to define their vision, understand the industry and become successful in the art of selling stock photography. Her commitment to photographers and her extensive experience in the field of stock photography are a bonus to any photographer. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org
the past 20 years, I have worked as a consultant to creative professionals.
My role is to develop marketing and advertising programs that will enable
my clients to reach their creative and financial goals.
For articles, see F2 eZine Archive 8 - Oct - Dec 2001