In the Part One of Working With Stock Photo Agencies, I ended with a promise I would continue to explain the wonderful world of the Stock Photo Industry.
If you remember, I ended by telling you I was about to submit some 30,000 images to my newly contracted stock photo agency. No problem, I thought. All I had to do was sort them and submit them, right? Well, not quite.
Imagine this: before I could submit anything, I was told, every slide had to be stamped with my copyright; every slide had to have a mini-caption printed or written on it; and every slide had to be cataloged, numbered and captioned. These captions had to be typed, numerically and by category. And all of this had to be done by me, and I also had to labor under the handicap of being told that they would probably not accept all of them, only the images they thought they could sell.
Do you have any idea what 30,000 35mm slides even looks like? Daunting is not the word for the task that lay ahead – there is no word to describe it. Never-the-less, I decided to go ahead – I am after all a professional photographer this is what I do, right? Hahahahaha.
I tell you folks, three weeks later and only 500 slides cataloged, numbered and captioned and I was ready to pull my hair out. Would it surprise you to know that more than 25, 000 of those original slides, plus maybe 5,000 more, still lie forgotten in those now tattered three-ring binders? I ended up cherry-picking a few of the best. Those I submitted, and about half of them were accepted.
It was at that point I decided to start over and do the ancillary stuff as I shot the images: better, but still very tough work. To cut a long story short, I continued to submit my images on a fairly regular basis not the 100 per month I’d contracted for and I still do today. Although, these days, I have made the switch to digital
Ah hah, you say: digital. Now it’s easy, right? Wrong, but I digress; well get to that in a later issue. Anyway, I now have slightly more than 8,000 images on file, and that number continues to grow by maybe a couple of dozen or so every other month. How do I get away with not meeting my contractual obligations? Well, my friends, I think maybe I’ve earned the right. Let me explain a little more.
First of all, I don’t send them any garbage. I will not send them a single image unless its perfectly focused, perfectly exposed, and nicely composed. Even so at least 60 images out of every 100 I send are rejected. Not because they are not good, but because they HAVE NO NEEDS FOR THEM. Where, I wonder, have I heard that before?
Second, I am easy to work with. They know they can contact me at any time and give me suggestions and I WILL LISTEN TO THEM. Yes, they know what they want photographically, but they also want people that are easy to work with.
Finally, they can and do sell my images. And that is, after all, what they are in business for.
Ok, that’s it for this issue. In the next issue I explain my transition from 35mm to digital imaging, and how that was and is received by the stock photo industry.
Blair Howard is freelance photojournalist and the author of 29 books, more than 600 articles and 3,000 published photographs. His work has appeared in PHOTOgraphic Magazine, Delta Sky Magazine, Popular Woodworking, Peter’s Hunting Magazine, Country Accents, The Mail On Sunday, Golf Illustrated, The Walking Magazine, and many more.
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