Best Stock Photography – The Never Ending Hunt

Getting quality photographs for almost any kind of purpose has never been easier. With the advent of quality photographs have not only become relatively cheaper to acquire but also more accessible. To simply put it – quite a while back in order to procure quality photographs one would have had to look around for an expensive photographer, describe your theme, make frequent trips to the studio etc. However companies have managed to negate all these difficulties as they have high quality photographs available for almost any possible theme. Most of all procuring these photographs is easy as it’s all available online i.e. the selection, payment and procurement procedures are all taken care of in a few clicks. However the never ending hunt for the best stock photography source still goes on.

Now one would wonder why people go on searching for the best agency i.e. why the search is always going on when there are only quite a few global players in this sector. As if to validate the aforementioned argument; it was only recently that a global stock photography agency absorbed or brought three other small but popular agencies. And still this giant stock photography agency is not the best stock photography agency.

The answer lies in the fact that the field of operates in a highly competitive environment. Most importantly new photographers and agencies keep raising the standards quite frequently. Hence we are witness to the large amount of mergers in this sector. To add to the cut throat competition is the fact that many quality photographs have become very common and moreover with the advent of micro agencies there has been a sudden proliferation of high quality photographs. So in many ways there was a time when the best stock photography was described to be in the possession of these microstock agencies. The logic behind this was reasonably justifiable because – among the myriad variety of high quality photographs offered by miscrostock agencies, it would only take a careful screening for one to get a collection that can considered on par with the most expensive of best stock photography companies out there. Of course all these factors apart – the cheaper prices made a big impact.

So with the proliferation of high quality stock photographs – now the search is on for stock photography agencies that can produce unique, exclusive and high quality photographs. And without doubt that agency is going to be the best stock photography agency.

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Selling Your Photos – Stock Photography

Stock Photography agencies can be something of an enigma to beginning photographers. Unless you understand how they work, and what they expect from photographers, it can be difficult to begin selling your work through agencies. This article aims to give an overview of the stock photography business for those new to the industry.

What is a Stock Photography Agency?

Stock photography agencies are essentially a big library where buyers can search for a specific image they need to illustrate something, be it a magazine article or commercial advertisement. Buyers license the image and pay a fee to use it. The amount of the fee depends on the publication, size of the reprint, circulation and length of use. If your image is chosen, you receive a commission.

How do I start?

To begin selling your images through an agency, first they will have to accept you. This will usually entail submitting a selection of your images for assessment. If the agency likes what they see, they might offer you a contract.

From there on it’s a matter of submitting images regularly. Agencies need to keep their collections up to date to be competitive, and so expect regular contributions from their photographers.

One thing to remember is that, all things being equal, stock photography is a numbers game. The more images you have out there in the big wide world, the more chance you stand of making sales. Look at stock photography as a long term proposition. It can take a long time to build your collection and begin to make some sales. The good news though, is that everything you do is accumulative. And eventually, if you’ve put in the hard work, your stock collection could become a passive income, like having a share portfolio.

What do agencies expect?

All stock agencies expect images to be technically perfect. This means no dust or scratches, color casts and pin sharp. They can’t sell a sub standard image to a buyer and so won’t accept them into their library. Agencies also have differing requirements as to image size and file type that they will accept. It is important to read the requirements for image submissions carefully before sending in your own.

Agencies also differ in the amount of images they require from you. Some will state you need to submit a certain number each year, others will have no minimum requirement. All this will be written into your contract, which you should read carefully before signing to ensure this is the right agency for you. In particular, find out if the agency requires exclusivity (ie. You are unable to submit to any other agency) or image exclusivity (you are unable to submit the same image to any other agency). Also, find out what you need to do if you want to cancel your contract. What is the notice period you need to give? What happens to your images after your contract is cancelled? The last thing you want is to have your images tied up somewhere that is just not working for you without anything you can do about it.

So how do I choose an agency?

You may have noticed that I haven’t mentioned any agency names here. This is deliberate. There are hundreds of agencies all over the world to choose from and all of them are suited to different photographers. You may want the prestige of being with a big name agency but find that you have very little control over your images and how and where they are seen.

On the other hand, a smaller agency with fewer contributors may offer a better chance of your photos being seen and thus purchased. They might also offer higher commissions to photographers as they try to build their library and gain more market share.

It is important to look at an agency carefully before joining. Do your images fit the material they offer? Do they expect more than you can provide? Do they pay a suitable commission? What is their customer service like? If you ask a question, are they able to give you a useful answer?

Selling stock photography is a long hard road. It is competitive and takes a long time to see results. However if you stick at it and choose the right business partners, it can be very rewarding.