The Future of Stock Photography

Portret man met baardThe past fifteen years or so (since 2004) I have been involved in Stockphotography. It Brough me places and it gained revenues. On top: I’ve learned a lot and it all was a pleasure to do so. However, not all good things last. According to Jim Pickerell, stockphotography as a career is no longer an option for photographers to earn a living. Why? Here are his zeven reasons why;

  1. A huge and growing oversupply of images compared to demand.
  2. Prices for use of images began to plummet.
  3. An increasing number of part-timers and amateurs entering the market.
  4. Agencies and middlemen sellers of stock images began to reduce the support they supplied image creators.
  5. Agencies put an increasing amount of the work of preparing images for marketing on the backs of the creators.
  6. Agencies began to reduce and eliminate editing and turn all the human editing functions over to technology and the customers. As a result, customers have been required to spend more of their time trying to find the images they need for their projects.
  7. At the same time agencies began to take a larger and larger share of the fees customers pay to use the images the agencies represent.

Read the entire article, and more related to this subject¬†HERE! Personally I find Jim’s article a well funded overview of developments within the business of stockphotography the past decade. Due to his over 50 years of experience Jim has collected numerous sources and insights. Above all, reading between the lines, his statements also give a valuable insight into the future of photography: “No, it won’t get better!”. Valuable information for present stock photographers and photojournalists and for people considering to enter the market to gain a buck or two.

Besides the above, developments in StockPhotography must be a stimulant for ¬†assignors to start paying reasonable rates for assignments to photographers. Photographers need to earn a living within 20 to 30 hours a week, otherwise they will fall over and go under. Since assignors won’t consume their budgets faster then necessary, photographers, photojournalists and their Unions, like the Dutch NVJ/NVF need to step up and start making an effort towards press-agencies and other assignors. If not, not only photography will soon be merely a hobby, photojournalism (and journalism in general) will also be the work of amateurs and civilians. Thus increasing the distrust public has towards Press.