Archive for January, 2012

Less and Less of Less: The Stock Photographers Problem

Posted in Business, photography with tags , , , , , , on January 25, 2012 by Tim McGuire Images

This image above was licensed through one of my stock photo distributors. The license granted to the client was for the cover of a textbook, on up to 100,000 printed copies and unlimited e-books (no # given so it seems it was just thrown in to the deal and they could sell as many e-books as they want), English language only, the image would be across the whole cover, and the duration of this license is for 10 years.

For all of that use of my image I will get paid $135 which is 60% of the gross license amount of $225. The other 40% goes to the distributor. This is one of the best revenue splits in the stock industry among the large distributors of imagery (most big distributors take at least 70% of the gross fee). So for 10 years use of my image on up to 100,000 book covers and seemingly unlimited e-book covers I get $135.

I then did the math to see what I would get per printed book cover if they printed as many as they legally could, which is 100,000. It turns out I would get .00135 cents per book cover (135 thousandths of a cent per printed book). The textbook publisher would be paying .00225 cents per printed book cover in total. Even if the publisher only printed 20,000 books they’d still only be paying .01125 cents per book for the cover.

I then asked myself what an average textbook is sold for these days. With a little online searching I saw that printed textbook costs have been spiraling upward in recent years and that e-books through Apple are coming in at $14.99 for an electronic version of the book (no printing no paper and online delivery). That $14.99 is 11,103 times more than what I received to provide the cover art for one printed book. I found that in 1999 the average cost of a college textbook was $61.61 (that’s 12 years ago). I also found that ” A General Accounting Office report in 2005 noted that textbook prices rose 186 percent in the U.S. from 1986 to 2004″. That is certainly not the case for textbook photo licenses in that same time period.

For fun let’s say this printed textbook costs a student or consumer $25.00. This is very cheap by textbook standards. The publisher would have to sell 10 of these books to cover the license to use my image on the cover of 100,000 books and unlimited e-books for 10 years. So if they sell 1/10,000 of the total they can sell they will have covered the cost of my photograph. If the book retails at the average cost of a college textbook in 1999 then the publisher would only have to sell 4 printed books to cover the cost of licensing my photograph.

My point is that considering the potential number of books being sold (both printed and electronically), the license fee for my image is an extremely small amount and would still be low if the license fee were doubled. If it were doubled, I would be happier with the license and be able to have a sustainable stock photography business and career. My guess is that the publisher would also still have a sustainable business especially with the lower costs of producing e-books coming into the mix.

Low price points and lowering revenue splits for photographers by the major stock image distributors (in order to keep their businesses viable) are the two biggest problems for pro photographers in the stock photography business.


Functional Art in iPhone Cases

Posted in Business, photography with tags , , , , , , , , on January 19, 2012 by Tim McGuire Images

I recently decided to try out to sell prints and other items using my photography.

I have just recently uploaded a bunch of imagery to be used as iPhone Cases. Check them out!

Tim McGuire Images iPhone cases

I’ve only uploaded a few images for prints (canvas and regular photographic), cards, and posters but more will be coming soon.

Agave Plant Detail

Posted in photography on January 3, 2012 by Tim McGuire Images

20111227_PHXXmas_0166, originally uploaded by Tim McGuire Images.

This image was made on a recent visit to the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix, Arizona. It really is a spectacular garden.

Via Flickr:
Agave at the Desert Botanical Garden, Phoenix, Arizona, AZ

Black and White Cactus

Posted in photography on January 2, 2012 by Tim McGuire Images

20111227_PHXXmas_0200-2, originally uploaded by Tim McGuire Images.

Cactus are cool! Taken at the Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden on a recent personal trip.