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Monday, April 28, 2008

The Stock Trade

A look behind the turbulence and uncertainties of today's stock photography marketplace to help you find the best way to make a profit

Full-Service Agencies Vs. Self-Serve Portals
At full-service agencies like Corbis and Getty, they handle the selection of images, keywording for search engines, pricing, marketing, negotiating, sales and licensing, and the collection of money. At self-serve portals, which are a way to market and manage your own collection, the number of tasks you're responsible for will vary between sites. Some simply provide access to the market, and you handle almost everything a full-service agency would.

Others take on some of those tasks for you and leave keywording, pricing, negotiating and collecting money up to you. Some sites like Digital Railroad and PhotoShelter have stock collections that you can participate in, and they take on the responsibility of sales and the marketing of those images.


stock trade

Mystified About Pricing Your Images?
Take a look at fotoQuote Pro, the industry-standard price guide for stock and assignment photography. With 218 pricing categories, this program helps you determine a fair price for an image license and provides a lot of valuable tips for negotiating with clients and closing sales. For assignments, rates are included for large and small markets throughout the U.S., and there's a built-in Assignment Coach with information to guide you and keep you away from assignment nightmares. Contact: Cradoc fotoSoftware, (360) 945-1380, www.fotoquote.com.
Donehue says the way the market is now, it's difficult for a given single photographer to get in front of the power buyers of imagery on a global basis. The people who do this for a living don't have a lot of time. They want to find the best possible pictures quickly. They want to go to the smallest number of sources and have a relatively efficient and seamless experience while they're doing it.

“And that's why, for a long time, photographers have used traditional agencies and used them very successfully to distribute their work,” says Donehue. “I really believe the most valuable asset a photographer has right now is time. It's not equipment, or this or that; it's how can they regulate their time so they can have more of it for the creative part of the business.”

Paul Banwell, Director of Photographer and Filmmaker Relations for Getty Images, says, “As a market leader, Getty Images is the first place many creative professionals go to license imagery, due to our reputation for quality, relevance and depth and breadth of imagery. So being represented by us is a big competitive advantage. Clients know that we offer a complete range of collections, additional services and price points. And we're able to offer photographers market-leading creative research on what to shoot, electronic royalty statements and fast payment terms.”

While Getty can't claim factual data on the earnings represented photographers make compared to other agencies, Banwell says, “Photographers have often told them that their overall return on investment with Getty Images is much higher than with other agencies. Getty typically pays photographers based on a gross percentage of what the image actually sold for, which is very transparent, but can appear low. By contrast, some agencies have contracts that pay a percentage of what they receive, the net, which appears high but obscures the fact that agent deductions significantly reduce the net percentage.”

Allen Murabayashi, CEO of PhotoShelter, says its approach is to provide a practical alternative to traditional agencies like Corbis and Getty and empower the individual. This can be done through a PhotoShelter personal archive, which is a great way to market yourself, and integrate that with your existing website. And you can participate in the PhotoShelter Collection, an aggregated site specifically for stock photography.

“We did a lot of research of photo buyers,” says Murabayashi, “and one of the things they all said was, ‘We don't want to talk to individual photographers. They don't want to negotiate, and a lot of times, photographers don't understand pricing or licensing concerns, so it just bogs the whole process down.' Our goal with the PhotoShelter Collection was to make it as streamlined as possible for photo buyers. We're basically trying to bridge that gap between the diversity and freshness of images on a site like Flickr and the commercialization of Getty, while still empowering the photographer by giving them either 70 or 90 percent of each sale.”


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