Thursday, February 4, 2010

Is Stock Photography Worth the Effort?

In the ten months since my last blog post, I have been re-evaluating my participation in stock photography.

First, a little background. I jumped into stock photography on the backside of the "heyday" peak in the industry. Tony Stone Images was leading the way as the classy, sophisticated agency that photographers aspired to be accepted by. Agencies published paper catalogs and slides where shipped overnight for review and selection. Photographers received 50% of commissions and licenses were rarely sold for less than $125.00 with many photographers setting a minimum fee of $250.00.

But things have changed.

Lest I sound curmudgeonly, please note that I like change. I like challenges. I like digital cameras. I like being able to upload digital files. I like having my own website. I like not knowing my FedEx man. I like Photoshop. I like mastering new skills.

I don't like being paid $85.00 for a usage that 2 years ago was priced at $425.00. I don't like keywording. I don't like the lowered standards for publishable images. I don't like millions of images available for free or $5.00. I don't like agency statements for sales of $18.17. I don't like lowered commission percentages for photographers. I don't like having to run 3x as fast to stay in the same place.

I don't like stock photography any more. OK, that's a bit broad. Run the financials. Pick up a magazine. Peer into the future. Calculate the added work load for social media, networking, keywording, SEO, and shoot the additional volume of images needed to stay afloat. Calculate and then determine if you would spend the finite number of work hours available in such a business venture. Or invest a nest egg. Or provide venture capital.

I doubt it. Me either.