Luminous Landscape Forum

Equipment & Techniques => Pro Business Discussion => Topic started by: 32BT on January 25, 2013, 05:44:22 am

Title: Fair Stock Service
Post by: 32BT on January 25, 2013, 05:44:22 am
In light of the recent events surrounding stock photography sites, I was thinking about a possible setup for such a service. It all seems very simple to my limited intellectual capacity. Abide to some straightforward rules, and provide a transparent service.
- Provide services that empower the user.
- All services are optional.
- Make enough money as is relevant to the business, no more, no less.
- Be transparent about costs and rewards.

So, pretty much a stock-service in the form of an association or organisation. So this poll is just a way of getting an idea of what people think. The question merely is meant to get a feel for what lives, to get some insights into the possibilities.

I'm thinking about for example an iTunes/app-store setup. Where you can possibly create some portfolio pages, in your own distinct style, set the price for your own photos, set the use-options, etc… The site will never own any of the images, it will just provide the service to enable the use of images in advertising, and providing the advertising search and sales structure. But it could additionally provide print&frame services etc. This service obviously involves costs. I would like to make the costs and rewards as transparent as possible and was thus wondering what you generally consider a fair price for such a service?

Note that the actual service could be much more customisable. Any ideas regarding this are welcome.

Title: Re: Fair Stock Service
Post by: Rob C on January 25, 2013, 09:22:45 am
There have been several attempts to set up photographer-owned combines, and I don't think any worked out.

My first stock agency was Tony Stone, in London. He became the biggest home-grown one and he himself was an ex-photographer and therefore very aware of photographic realities.

He used to supply lots of stock images for those multiple calendars that printers used to produce, where a company only able to afford, say, fifty units could buy that small quantity, the only thing really being their own was their company overprint. Many printing giants ran these services. One, probably the biggest in the UK at the time, was Bemrose in Derby, who printed a couple of bespokes for me. Unbeknownst to me, the chap who handled my work there referred me to Stone and I received an invitation to visit in London and was subsequently asked to join, which I did.

The split with Stone was 50-50 on all sales, and though sales abroad via sub-agencies was supposedly split differently, I found no reason to complain. But I ran into what, for me, was a big flaw: most of my good sales turned out to be in Fance or other foreign parts. On the basis of thinking my style was more suited to the European than British market, I requested that my submissions be edited in Stone's French offices by French eyes. This request was denied. I then approached Image Bank in Paris, and was told that my submissions would have to be edited in Spain, by then my country of residence if not domicile. (Don't even attempt to understand - I never have). Then, Stone became Getty's first huge buy, by which time I was gone.

I would love to find a new outlet that allowed me to make money from setting up and shooting shoots again!

So, my feeling about setting up new agencies is that the difficulties are even greater today, and the time/application needed to run one would quickly swamp any indiviual.

Rob C
Title: Re: Fair Stock Service
Post by: 32BT on January 25, 2013, 10:18:36 am
Well, one relevant difference today I think is the fact that we now have digital printing services. If I require only a single copy of a calendar, book, or just a sheetprint, it can be done, with unprecedented quality. Additionally, the service could be all digital, at least initially, with open-source connections. This only requires good internuts programming skills which is available ubiquitously.

I believe a far greater problem arises on the consumption side. The primary added value for a proposition like this, is its filtering and redaction mechanism. There needs to be some incentive for companies to select this service for images. They won't do so on the basis of fair treatment of the producers alone. And the number of productions these days is staggering, so there needs to be a good filtering and selection method for potential customers.

Redaction may be necessary to ensure a certain quality of production, and that may be crossing a precariously fine line. One can quickly grow into an online art gallery on the basis of this selection. Nothing wrong with that, I can envision that something like that may happen as a spin-off or something, but you get the point...