Copyright Scott Bourne 1998 – All Rights Reserved Back in the old days, when the contracts were much fairer and you could actually audit the stock photo company that held your library, I made some money selling stock. Then things changed. iStock and micro stock became the new sheriff in town and my earnings fell […]

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Many emerging photographers think they’ll turn pro by turning to stock photography as an outlet. In the old days, that wasn’t a terrible strategy. Back when rights-managed images were the rule, rather than the exception, stock fees could run into the tens of thousands of dollars for a big commercial job. The agencies took less from the sale than the photographer back then, and the Internet didn’t exist so there was no iStock Photo. When I started selling stock in the 1980s, we didn’t face the fact that there were 10,000 copies of a bald eagle sitting on his nest available on every corner.

Now, most of the big agencies are gone or merged together. The new stock contracts offered by most of the big agencies are unacceptable to the thinking photographer. Instead of tens of thousands of dollars per sale, your lucky to make ten cents on a sale. Micro-stock has been a boon to some companies, and even a few photographers, but for the most part, it’s killed the traditional stock business.
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