The End of the Pro Photographer? The Classic Model that Is.

Discussion in 'Photographic Discussions' started by benjikan, Aug 9, 2009.

  1. benjikan

    benjikan TPF Noob!

    Feb 8, 2007
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    Paris, France
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    Selling Out and the Stock Photography Dilemma!

    Someone on another photography forum , stated that a photographer sold their image for a cover of TIME Magazine for $30. It was sold through a stock photography agency called iStockPhoto. That is sadly unfortunate. It also represents the present state of affairs for many photographers attempting to make a living by their craft.

    It is for this reason, that I am glad that I am a fashion photographer. It is impossible to sell stock of fashion shoots after more than three months as the next collections are already being prepared to be shot for the next season of fashion magazines.

    Every editor knows which designers have come out with which collection and images must always be current. There are instances where fashion photography is sold as stock. If there is a fashion retrospective or a special article on a specific designer. Several of my older images from a magazine in France called Madame Figaro were used in a book about the Italian Designer Emanuel Ungaro, but that was a book and not a magazine.

    Like in the music business, photographers outside of fashion are getting royally screwed in terms of fee's. However, they are still in a good position to negotiate royalties. Most image bank agencies take between 40-60 percent and that IS the norm. In my venue the standard across the board fee taken by a photographer agents is 25%.

    It is up to you to not sell your images at bargain based prices. It is up to you to set the precedent. Once the barometer goes too low, you will have to find a more creative means of generating an income from your images.

    Unfortunately, there is a line of photographers prepared to take your place for that $30, if you decide to say no to the proposition. A new business model must eventually surface for photographer's to be able to survive. Perhaps the new pro-photographers of the future will be all of you.

    Benjamin Kanarek Blog ยป Selling Out and the Stock Photography Dilemma!

  2. benhasajeep

    benhasajeep No longer a newbie, moving up!

    May 4, 2006
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    Wow, 20 years ago I was getting $40 or $60 (front page) for shots picked up by the AP wire. I can't believe Time is hunting the stock photo sites for cover shots. They pretty much want current stuff as much as fashion. That photo must not have been on there too long, unless it was like a retrospective piece.

    But the way print industry is going I can see them trying to be cheap in any way they can. In my opinion printed publications are going to keep going down. Kinda like the telegraph. Newer more modern, widely available, faster sources are now available for news and entertainment.
  3. table1349

    table1349 Been spending a lot of time on here!

    Sep 9, 2006
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    It would be good to keep in mind that Time has long used stock photographs for their cover. Many of the news magazines do this. It is really nothing new. The photographer in the post saw an image that he had already sold to a stock photo agency that had been then used by Time.

    I would suggest that instead of a death in the "Pro" photographer model it is actually a death of the need for the number of photographers. Over the past few years, several publications have gone out of business. The paper news industry is being choked out of the market by the internet. Magazines like Life and Look are gone as are dozens of magazines in a variety of fields. Many of the existing magazines have cut the number and size of their visual arts to cut costs.

    Along with the loss of magazines, are the loss of the catalog business and advertising business. With fewer papers and magazines there are fewer outlets for still visual advertising. Many companies have either completely cut or drastically reduced the number of catalogs that they send out.

    The need for still visual arts has over the last few years has shifted from still visual arts to video. It has also seen a decline for the numbers of photos used by the death of many of the old publications and newspapers.

    Just my $0.02 cents.
  4. Derrel

    Derrel Mr. Rain Cloud

    Jul 23, 2009
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    The old model of one photographer-one photo or set of photos-one,single client has been greatly reduced with the proliferation of microstock web sites, where a single photograph can be sold dozens and dozens of times, to many different clients; clients located all around the world.

    If one checks into stock photography at any deep level, the most compelling stock images are those which are somewhat story-telling, those which have an apparent narrative, or which can easily have a narrative supplied to them by the caption writer. A good, story-telling or highly illustrative stock image can be sold many times, often over decades, earning the photographer more money than one-time rights for most types of usage.

    The proliferation of high-quality cameras and lenses and excellent post-processing software has created millions of new "shooters"; I hesitate to call many of them photographers. Regardless of what they are called, both the photographer business model and the photographic buyer business model have changed,and changed a LOT. The print media outlets have also changed, becoming fewer,and smaller, and more financially troubled; look at how many newspapers have folded, and how many magazines have seen their print circulations cut back dramatically. My local-area daily newspaper has lost so much circulation that they have raised the newsstand price to $1.00,and home deliver cost to 50 cents, and is now giving me a FREE, unrequested six-month daily subscription, just to keep circulation numbers high so it can continue to charge advertisers; they have lost roughly 200,000 subscribers, now down to around 400,000 daily copies from 600,000 10 years ago. Print media is in serious decline.

    The one thing many "traditional" photographers have begun to do is to charge a relatively high creation or shooting fee,simply because print sales are no longer as automatic as they were back in the darkroom days, and images now are easily developed (sometimes literally in-camera), easily retouched, and easily reproduced through scanning and inkjet printing, and images are nowadays also easily shared without the need for a paper print. Images are very easily stolen or misappropriated now that digital image files exist so widely, hence the need for many traditional photographers to get payed "up front" at the time of shooting.

    The world of photography has changed at almost every level...shooting,selling,reproducing,distributing,viewing/consuming,archiving,etc.
    Last edited: Aug 9, 2009
  5. craig

    craig TPF Noob!

    Oct 30, 2003
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    Hermosa Beach, CA U.S.A

    Excellent thread. All of the above posts are correct. So now what? Bow our heads and become lawyers?

    Personally my clients have increased their advertising. One client in particular has sen his business decline by 50%. He has revamped all of his photography and is full bore to gain new clients. Models I have worked with and those approaching me have been burned by amateurs and GWC's. They are psyched to see quality.

    No doubt photography will have to reinvent itself. We need to be participating in the future. That means helping other photographers. Schooling clients. Most importantly we need to produce work that has never been matched by any previous generation. I see amazing work everyday and I am very proud.

    Love & Bass

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