The Stock Jungle
I am not talking about the stock market, not that jungle. The jungle I am hacking through is the stock image jungle. From monsters like Getty Images and Corbis to the micro stock agencies where you can pick up a great image for $5 or less. Who are they and how does this all work. Here is what I know:
Most stock agencies sell images based on size and usage. So an image that is small and will only be used once in a limited small run may only cost you a few bucks. But an image that will be used on a hording (that is a billboard for us Americans) and plastered all over New York or London will run you big, big bucks. The photographer lets these agencies represent their images for “right of use”. He makes his money from a cut or a percent. It can be anywhere from 25% to as much as 50% of the image sale. Micro stock is different. These guys deal in volume and will sell your images for pennies compared to the large stock agencies. In fact you won’t even get a check till you have sold $75 to $100 worth of images. Not much profit for the amount of work that goes into imaging. So, the idea is to have large volumes of photos online and key worded so that when some one wants an image of a “crying boy” they key-in those words and your image pops up. That is of course, along with 150 other crying boys, so you still have to have great images that stand out above the rest.
So who are these micro stock agencies? Here are just a few. The most famous being iStockPhoto also Shutter Stock, Dreams Time, 123rf.com, Feature Pics. Feature Pics actually let’s photographers set the price for their images. Then there is Stock.xchng, these guys even have many images that are free! I found images on Stock.xchng that were priced images on iStock. Not sure how they do that, but for the end user it is a great deal.
At this time I have not taken the dive into the micro stock agency. I am represented by IndiaPicture. Of course they specialise in ..er.. Pictures …of India. One thing they have just started on their site, that I have not seen of the others is Live Support. Not sure how this is used but I guess it is at least fun to talk to someone in India for once about your image needs and not your credit card statement.