Demise of Stock Agencies

The one thing that I regret is the demise of many stock photo agencies, due to the fact that so many people shooting digital photos today think they are good enough to advertise their photographs for sale on their Websites on the Internet at very low prices. Sure they have pretty pictures but what makes them think other people want them.  If they sell one or two a year they call themselves professional photographers. The definition of a professional photographer has always been one who earns at least one half their income through photographic work.

In the days before digital photography, there were hundreds of small stock photo agencies that catered to the amateur and professional photographer, selling the rights to photos for decent prices, from $150.00 to thousands of dollars for one time use, depending on the size, type of use, and the amount of the run. Also, if an agency client lost or damaged a color slide, the agency could collect $1,500.00 from them, according to the law. In my lifetime as a stock photographer, I collected twice from lost color slides. The photographer and agency split the price that the client had to pay 50-50, as the agency does all the selling and collecting of payments and keeps all the records of sale. All the photographer had to do was take and send saleable photos to the agency on a regular basis. The more photos you had with the photo agency, the better your chances were to make money with them. At one point in time back then, I had over 10,000 color slides in five different photo agencies that produced a good side income for me.

“Gone are the good old days of easy money with stock photos”

Those days are gone forever with the creation of the digital camera, as most of the small photo stock agencies quit the business or were taken over by the larger ones. Like Getty Images, who by the way bought out some of my smaller stock agencies, so that I have been connected to Getty Images for the past 10 years. That meant that my color slides must now compete with the millions of photo works in Getty’s files and they have only produced about one or two sales a year since then. Gone are the good old days of easy money with stock photos.

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