Online Photo Libraries – Am I Their Cheap Whore?

Online Libraries - Am I Selling Myself

We were discussing online photo libraries and the impact they have had on photography and photographers. Back when I were a lad, stock photography meant supplying thousands of transparencies to a library who would produce and distribute expensive catalogues to design studios and the like, at enormous expense.

The commission for each picture sold was quite respectable though.

The online library makes it all much simpler, of course. Simpler to get accepted into a library, simpler to get your pictures seen, simpler to buy images and simpler to calculate your wedge. However, the online library has also lead to a dilution of the quality of images for sale. Worst of all, it has lead to paltry, pathetic commissions for the photographer and I think it is a great pity that we have allowed this to happen. Unfortunately the same system which has made it possible for anyone to sell their beautiful images to a global audience has also made it possible for anyone to sell their crap images and the standard is continuing to drop!

I realize it is unfair to blame the libraries entirely – they are (kind of) the victims here, too. They have been forced to drive the prices down to compete with other libraries who are forced to drive their prices down and so on. Selling your art for a few pence and relying on thousands of people wanting to use the same image seems a bit lacking in self-respect to me. And yet I too have signed up with a number of online libraries.

What we need is some innovation. Someone needs to think of a way to sell images online at a sensible price with a fair commission. Then they need to find the balls to actually go out there and do it!

Maybe we should do it? Then I can be the Madam of a high class establishment instead of a cheap whore.

One Reply to “Online Photo Libraries – Am I Their Cheap Whore?”

  1. I have been subscribed to several of these online stock galleries for about three years now. Although I have made several hundred sales I have only made the equivalent of around £150 between them – money that I can’t even get at because the minimum payout on several of them is $100.

    I haven’t thought about it until now but I guess the deal is soured further by the fact that most of the sites deal in US dollars and the exchange rate at the moment is crazy!

    I am certainly their cheap whore!

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