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Selling Your Photography: Choosing A Stock Agency

Apr 27, 2008
For photographers wanting to get into the stock photography business, it is important to look closely at any agency that you are thinking of submitting work to. Choosing the agency that is right for you could be the difference between success and failure.

The market

It is important to look at the type of work an agency has in its library. Make sure the subject matter matches the type of work you do. Particularly if it is a specialist library. A little research and you should also be able to find out the type of clients they supply. One way of doing this is to make a list of various publications where you would like to see your photos and check the credits for agency names. Then working backwards, research the agency from there. Many agencies have strong relationships with particular clients and because of this this clients will automatically return to this agency automatically every time they need to license an image. Establishing yourself with the right agency for your marketplace could mean that your work becomes seen regularly where you want it to be seen.


As well as looking closely at the subject matter held by agencies, look at the style of images and the image of the library itself. Is the stock bold and colorful? Modern and experimental? Editorial or commercial? Or do the images have a more classic feel. Stock agencies can be picky about who they work with. If your work differs too much from what an agency has in their library and what they know they can sell, it isn't likely they will want to work with you. This doesn't mean there is anything wrong with your work, you just haven't found the right business partner yet. Fortunately there are hundreds of agencies, and one to suit all styles.

The contract

Once you find an agency you want to work with, make sure you read the contract carefully. Know exactly what you're getting into. Some key points to look at are the commission structure. What percentage of each sale do you get compared with the agency? Also check the submission requirements. Some agencies require a certain number of submissions per year, others have no restrictions. Make sure you can keep up with your end of the bargain before you sign a contract. It is also a good idea to find out if and how you can terminate a contract if things don't work out. Because despite all our best efforts, some things just don't go to plan.


If you do enough research on the stock photography industry, you will come to learn which agencies are known for professionalism in customer service and looking after their contributors and which aren't. Choosing an agency is choosing a business partner. To build a successful partnership, both parties need to be looking out for each other. Don't get stuck with an agency that promises and demands much but delivers very little.

The stock photography industry is a difficult and competitive one. Like all careers, your success or failure depends on the decisions you make. Choosing the right agency is a giant step forward in being successful in selling stock photography.
About the Author
Mark Eden is a freelance travel photographer and owner of Expanse Photography, a photographic services company You can see Mark's, travel photography and contact Mark through the Expanse Photography website http://www.expansephotography.com.
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