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Stock Agencies
Carlisle Stockton, Photographer
Stanfordville | NY | USA | Posted: 1:43 PM on 01.09.17
->> It seems to have been a while since this thread was discussed so I'm wondering if anyone has any new thoughts. I've been shooting college sports professionally for over 20 years. For some side income, I'm wondering about sending some of my past work to a stock agency. I wouldn't send my sports work because I have no model releases but rather my other stuff that's just stored on an external "collecting dust". Does anyone have any advice or good/bad experiences to share about any specific agencies? Many thanks in advance.
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 4:20 PM on 01.09.17
->> First, READ the fine print and look for a clause that says they can change the rules at their discretion without even notifying you. Some have that wording. If it exists then you can lose any rights you agreed to or may think you have.

Second, keep in mind that you are sharing your images as a BUSINESS -- not as a hobby. As such, look at all aspects of the contract from a business point of view. How much does it benefit you financially versus the agency. What rights are you giving the agency. In addition to licensing your work are you giving it the power to use your imagery for free such as promoting its services, or allowing your imagery to be used for free by clients who want to "try" the service. Can your work go from rights managed to royalty free without any input/okay from you. Can the agency sublicense your images through other agencies. For example, you sign with agency A who has a sharing agreement with agency B who has an agreement with C. Agency C licenses your photo for $100 and gives $50 to B who gives $25 to A who shares $12.50 with you which is generous. Some agencies give you 30% or less. A friend of mine once got a trickle down check for 75 cents.

Third, make sure there is wording that states when you will be paid -- in full -- and what happens if payment doesn't arrive on time. Recent postings about GameFace Media tell of photographers who shot events and haven't been paid in many months. A standard clause is "no rights are transferred until payment is made in full." You won't find that in any agency produced contracts; you have to get that inserted yourself... if you can.

There's a lot more, but keep this in mind: representation is easy and can be done with a handshake; that's the pro. The con is a contract isn't to form a marriage between you and the agency; its most important aspect is to act as a divorce decree. For example, what happens if you choose to move on? Can you take your images with you to someone else or does the contract give the agency perpetual and exclusive rights to market them. There are some contracts like that. What good is it for you to retain full copyright ownership of your images if the agency has full exclusive rights to them even if the two of you part ways? That's like having your name on the pink slip to your car but the agency has the keys to it forever.

And here is one more thing to keep in mind -- agency contracts are written by their attorneys to put the agency in the best and most lucrative position, not you.
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Carlisle Stockton, Photographer
Stanfordville | NY | USA | Posted: 10:15 AM on 01.11.17
->> Doug Pizac, thank you so much for your advice. I hadn't though of many of those points.

Has anyone had a positive stock experience and, if so, with which company?
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Doug Pizac, Photographer
Sandy | UT | USA | Posted: 12:20 PM on 01.11.17
->> Carlisle...

Some photographers will give kudos to some agencies and poo poo others while other photographers will have opposite opinions of the same agencies. It all depends on how that agency fulfills the needs of that particular photographer, including yourself. And the central key to that is the contract and the control you turn over to the agency. In essence you're giving it power of attorney over your imagery, your financials, your reputation, your ethics, etc. where its prime motive/goal is maximizing profits for itself and its corporate owners.

The ONLY way you can be purely happy with your representation is to utilize the old adage "If you want it done right, do it yourself" which many photographers do. And many of them utilize Photoshelter where you create your own pricing model and contract terms. The question for you is how much time/effort do you want to put into it to maximize the profits for yourself.

Personally, I don't market my imagery through any agency because I have not found one with terms I like, plus the majority of work I do now is for clients. And for the events I do I create a Photoshelter folder for those people where they can choose the imagery they want without me giving up 50-70% of the income stream to an agency where the prices I want to charge aren't discounted to make clients happy. My goal is to make me happy.

My uncle was a WWII photographer and was a founding photographer of the custom car show industry (Autorama, World of Wheels, etc.) that started in the '50s and '60s. I now own his imagery -- some of which is one-of-a-kind. I'm scanning his 35mm, 120 and 4x5 film whereupon I'll copyright the collections and post online to market them. In researching various stock agencies and their terms I would never have them represent my uncle's work because of the amount of control and pricing I would lose.

That is MY opinion based on my relations with numerous agencies ranging from the 1970's to today. And fyi, how agencies treated photographers, their work and represented them back when I started my career is very different in how the stock industry is run today.

Another thing to consider is what else is in an agency's image database. If you shoot spectacular landscapes and the agency has thousands of images of the same scenes by novices at discount prices which pictures do you think bean counter clients are going to license? Not yours. This goes back to finding the right fit. The last thing you want to do is make yourself a needle in a hay stack.
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Thread Title: Stock Agencies
Thread Started By: Carlisle Stockton
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