FUTURE STOCK 2011
It is morning and as you finish your breakfast, in October of the year
2011, you click on your "daily revenue" feature on your keypad.
"My! That's a nice surprise," you exclaim. "But of course garden publishers
are preparing for their year 2012 brochures, magazine articles, calendars
You are a gardening enthusiast and specialize in vegetables. Before you go
off to your job as a biologist at a nearby college, you are examining your
stock photo sales made last night while you were sleeping. Fourteen sales
for a total of $307.16. That beats yesterday's sales of $215 for seven
"I wonder if that company in Buenos Aires is still interested in the three
dozen seedling shots I emailed them last week," you wonder to yourself just
as the fax line rings. You watch as the machine curls out an order totaling
$1,700 US. Not bad for 24 hours' "work."
You have been engaged in this kind of stock photo marketing for the past
five years. You have developed a database of photos in an area (gardening)
that you have special interest in and abundant knowledge about. You are not
only a serious amateur gardener, but you also teach horticulture.
About five years ago, you began building a massive file, 10,000 photos now,
capturing all aspects of vegetable gardening, from seed to mature plant.
You researched the biological and common name of each plant you
photographed. Because you live in the southwest desert area of the U.S.,
many of your images are unique to that part of the country. You have
recorded the stages of various plants' growth, various insects that plague
different plants, the resulting harm, and in some cases the effects of
diseased plants on animals or people who eat them.
Your photobuyers, a select group of 42 photobuyers and researchers on your
master list, call you by first name and you call them collect whenever you
wish. You have become an important resource to them. You also deal with
outside buyers. Every now and then you get an occasional one-time sale from
a buyer who has used the Internet to locate you and your email address. A
children's book publisher bought one of your beanstalk images, an
advertising agency bought a tomato plant growth sequence for a
pharmaceutical ad, and a close-up of a ladybug was used on a drug company's
advertisement for a salve for freckles. But for the most part, your checks
come from within your 42 mainstays who are prompt with their photo requests,
and who know you do good work and provide accurate captioning.
WHEN IT ALL STARTED
And how did this system of acquiring that "just right" photo at an
inexpensive fee all start? It was born of the revolution in e-commerce
marketing at the turn of the century; inspired by the Napster music outburst
back in 2001. Internet entrepreneurs realized that if you injected some
democracy into music buying, more people could enjoy music at a lower cost
to the consumer. And if you applied evolving Internet search methods, photo
researchers and photobuyers, using the same basic technology, could use more
illustrations because they were easier to find. A final advantage was
micro-payments, a system of tracking multiple volume sales and controlling
the bookkeeping through subscription services that provide royalty tracking
and payments schemes, ensuring that the photos purchased didn't leak out
onto the wider Web landscape.
In the first decade of the 2000's, the world of stock photography
distribution changed. No longer did massive stock agencies, based on
previous century technology, control the commerce. Photobuyers armed with
Web search know-how, aimed their high-speed computers and bandwidth directly
at individual photographers who were able to supply the highly specific
images they were looking for. Everyone from school children to major book
publishers, from TV documentary production companies to major advertising
agencies, were customers.
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Rohn Engh, Photosource International.