No matter what field of photography you choose to work in, it’s well worth having a photography agency to represent you and generate additional stock photography sales. And while there are a lot of libraries out there that will take your work without putting you through too many hurdles, if you’re a talented photographer looking at building a real long-term photography business, you really want to put the time and effort into finding the best possible photography agency you can.
Here are a few tips on what to look for and what to avoid at all costs when you start approaching stock photo libraries…
Look for stock libraries that encourage you to get involved at all levels.
Stock photography is tough these days and even long-time professionals can struggle to make regular sales if they wait around for buyers to visit the library, find their work and decide to buy. The modern approach is to use the library as a catalogue of your work, and enjoy the hands free sales as they turn up, but to actively promote your stock library catalogue to generate your own leads and sales.
Look for libraries that allow you direct access to your buyers.
If you want to grow your business you need to be building your own list of photo buyers who need your subjects. That way you can generate repeat business, up-sells, down-sells, cross-sells and more. You can’t do that with most image libraries though so choose carefully, other wise you’re destined to be forever chasing one-off random photo sales.
Look for photo agencies that respect you and your work, and target quality buyers.
There are plenty of quality buyers out there who’ll pay fair and reasonable fees to use your images, so there is no need to give your images away for peanuts. Nor is there any reason to give away blanket rights to your work. Demand that your library charges fair and reasonable license fees for your work, or look for a better library.
Look for a partner and a friend…
A photography library should be a long-term business partner so look for someone you connect with and trust, who you feel will work with you to help you grow your photography business. If a library just wants to give your work away a bargain prices or needs you to give up all future rights to your work, they obviously don’t respect you and they don’t care about your long-term viability.
Most modern stock libraries offer little more than a mass distribution platform for cheap photos. Their business model relies only on a lot of photographers lining up to contribute images and it doesn’t really matter to them if you do well or not. Basically, their photographers are expendable.
So you need to find a photography agency that has a business model that relies on you doing well and sticking with them long-term. When their success rests on your success, then you know you’ve found a genuine partner.