Do you put all your stock photography eggs in one basket or spread your bets?
Going exclusive with your images means that you are giving just one agency the right to resell your images on your behalf. For this honour, they will usually offer you a greater percentage of the sale.
The reason they offer this is to try and get a library of images that no-one else has but it has its benefits and downsides.
Probably the biggest saving is time! Rather than uploading, keywording and captioning your images to 6 or 7 websites, you only need do it once. The extra time could be spent shooting more great stock.
Secondly, money. Obviously you will be rewarded for your exclusivity but you really must weigh up the pros and cons before deciding to go exclusive. Will you earn more money with a small pay rise at one agency rather than huge exposure at 6 or 7 more agencies? Will the time saving make that much of a difference etc?
Thirdly, you may get more recognition and “glamour” by going exclusive. The agency may want to punt you and “big you up” a little in order to attract more exclusive photographers. Do you want or need “fame” or would you rather earn more?
I think personally that exclusives earn less, that is not just my opinion but that of many other professional stock shooters. Sure, they may earn a good cut with larger portfolios held in one place but how will they know that they could have earned a whole heap more unless they tested it first.
Maybe if you are unsure, it is worth uploading your images to all agencies for say 12 months whilst you learn the ropes and find out which would be best suited for exclusivity.
Then, try them exclusively for 12 months with the agency of your choice and compare notes. That is assuming you can afford the time and effort that it would take!
Think of the future!
You never know what is around the corner with microstock and future trends may just suggest that good things lie in waiting for your average non-exclusive stock shooter.
The way things are going, some other traditional stock agencies may need to rethink their business model and offer handsome rewards to attract photographers and buyers to their new “micro based” changes. If you are stuck in an exclusive contract you may miss out on your slice of that particular pie…exclusivity is not for me thanks!
In all honesty and seriousness, unless you have access to some amazing imagery that is sustainable and out of reach of any other photographers, I would suggest starting out as non exclusive for now. See how things go and where the industry is leading. I still think more changes are coming.
Next Page – Go It Alone