Podcast: The Stock Answer or Can You Prosper in the Stock Photography Market?


Anyone, I mean, anyone can submit their photos for sale in the stock-photography market. (Are you a foaper?) But the question remains: is it worth it? No doubt, the industry has been transformed by corporate conglomeration and digital technology but, while some decry the devaluation of the image, others see huge opportunity and a bright future. Join us as industry expert Paul Melcher and former Getty executive and now independent photographer and boutique agency owner Rana Faure relate their experiences in the stock-photo business. We’ll ask them to explain the various types of agencies, what makes a good stock shot, and we’ll get to the truth behind the myth of the “lottery” photo.

Guests: Rana Faure and Paul Melcher

To listen to this week’s episode: Listen to or download on SoundCloud, or subscribe to the B&H Photography Podcast on iTunesStitcher; SoundCloud; or via RSS.


Photographs by Rana Faure, Mother Image. ranafaure.com
Screenshot from
Thoughts of a Bohemian
melchersystem.com Screenshot from kaptur.co




Host: Allan Weitz
Producer: John Harris
Engineer: Jason Tables
Executive Producers: Bryan Formhals, Mark Zuppe


Can you prosper in the stock photography market? Sure, if you're an owner or VP at Corbis, Getty or other profitable stock agency. Stock photography gathered momentum in the early 1980's. I remember attending meetings to hear stock photo agency owners speak. The pitch was that the photos were for people who weren't typical photo buyers such as religious groups, home publishers and such. Agencies specifically stated this would never hurt assignment photography. At the time, the agency took a typical agent percentage of about 25 percent and photographers were always credited. Most photographers were rightly skeptical. It took very little time for the agent percentage to go up, for various fees to be assessed, for bookeeping to become sloppy, for photos to become lost, for photographers to lose their photo credit and for numerous problems to develop. Some photographers managed to make a living shooting spec tailored to shot criteria and popularity info filtered to them from the agency.

The goal of a stock agency is to build their brand and not that of the photographer. Their goal is to turn a photographer's work into a commodity -- I actually heard one stock agency representative compare stock photos to corn and said that's how photos should be viewed -- as a commodity. Royalty-free stock put the nail in the proverbial coffin. All of this has not advanced the interests or final product of photo buyers. Often the same photo winds up being used for competing products and services. There is a lack of creativity. The creative, working relationship between art director and photographers has been irrevocably shattered. :) Just saying. HMO's came in with the same kind of pitch and you can see how well that worked out. Good podcast -- I enjoyed the speakers and moderators. Thanks!

Cubby ...Thanks for listeniing and for the real world input.