Information For Photographers

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FAQ by Photographers

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What is stock photography?

Stock photography is pre-existing photography, as opposed to commissioned or assignment photography which is created on demand for a client. In most cases, the photographer himself incurs all the cost of producing stock photography. To recoup these expenses he/ she licenses the rights for use of the images. He can do this directly to clients or through a stock photography agency. The copyright, or ownership, of the image remains with the photographer. For more information about the copyright, go to the U.S. Copyright Office.

What is stock photography agency?

A stock photography agency is a business which acts as an agent for one or more photographers. The agency conducts the business of licensing their stock photos to clients in return for a percentage of the fees. The photographers take the pictures and submit them to the stock agency. The stock agency reviews the submission and selects pictures that suit their photo library, and then markets the work and makes sales for the photographers. Because they usually represent many different photographers they can offer a far more comprehensive selection of pictures than a single photographer can, and usually they have well established client database. An agency is able to offer dependable fast service to photo buyers, since it does not leave the office to go shoot more pictures. By utilizing photo agencies to handle the business of selling the photos, photographers free up more time to do what they do best; create photographs. In general, sales are split 50 - 50 between an agency and a photographer.

Exclusive or non-exclusive?

At, images are held and licensed on a non-exclusive basis except where an exclusive use is directly authorized by the photographer in a specific case. Photographers are free to market their work independently and through other agents. Photographers are paid a 40% commission on payments actually collected from clients, on a quarterly basis. Please refer to our contract for more information.

Why should I choose as my agent?

1. Our photographer Photographer Agreement is completely non-exclusive. This is very important. It is hard to make a living as a photographer from a single source of income. Yet most agencies try to make you sign a Photographer Agreement that will make you their sole representative - with no guarantees as to how much income they will earn for you. is owned and run by photographers, so our policies are photographer-friendly. Other agencies are run by corporate bean counters, and you will quickly see the difference. It is obvious whose interests they are looking out for. They will then farm your images out to other agencies or their affiliates (sub-agencies) in other countries, collecting only 40% of those sales, and paying you 20% only if you are lucky. In most of the cases with such large agencies, those sub-agencies send out your images to their sub-agencies (sub-sub-agencies to you), so guess how much you would get from them eventually. Our Photographer Agreement is also the shortest, friendliest one in the business - any other agency will give you a contract 5 pages long that in many cases makes YOU liable for their screw-ups.

2. We still pay 40% commissions. Other agencies are cutting back to 30% or even 20%.

3. You get paid before we do. Other agencies have held back payments to photographers because of "cash flow" problems. They use the photographers' commissions to pay staff & expenses. That has never happened here.

4. We tell you exactly where your picture was used on your statement. If you see your picture somewhere, it's easy to check and see if you've been paid. Other agencies won't do this - they just put something like "consumer magazine - 1/4 page" because they are more concerned about their own photographers stealing their clients.

5. We have a lengthy client list and make good sales for our photographers. You will see our credit line almost everywhere. We've been successfully in business for decades and have a solid reputation. We are known as the premier agency for pictures of the undersea world.

Does this mean I can submit a few pictures, and expect the money to keep rolling in?

No - our successful photographers are the ones who are continuously keeping on top of things, submitting new pictures regularly, and providing fresh new material that is different from what everybody else is shooting. Keep shooting a variety of subjects is one of the keys to become a successful stock photographer.

How do I find out, if my pictures have sold?

Taking pictures may seem like hard work but making the photos pay your bills is just as much work - that’s why we take 60% of any sales made. We pay our photographers quarterly. If no sales are made in that quarter or your check is under $100.00 you will not get a statement. You are not informed every time a sale is made. A quarterly statement is well detailed - we provide your image i.d. number (if applicable), a description of the image, the clients name, the exact use and size, the amount paid and the amount you receive. For more information please read our Photographer Agreement.

How long does it take to make a sale?

Not every picture will sell. Some photographs can be in our files for three years before they start to sell and resell. Some do not sell for five years then they become hot sellers. For example, Doug Perrine took pictures of dolphins being aggressive but was unable to sell these pictures for over five years because they did not fit the concept that people had of “friendly, smiling dolphins” at that time. In the last few years these photographs became sellers because the topic became hot among writers and editors, and these photographs have been sold many times over. Be patient - a great or unique picture will sell eventually. On the other hand, some photos have gone out to clients and made a sale the day that they arrived in our office. Certain photos sell almost every month. Keep in mind that according to our records only 10% of our images have ever sold. That is important when making your submission. If you submit 100 images then over a period of 5 years you could expect 10 to sell. That means 100 images is not enough! Quantity and quality both make a difference when it comes to sales.

Can I submit my pictures to the same client of

If a sale has already been made of one of your pictures through you should not make submissions to that client. Even if the client contacts you directly then you should refer them back to as we were the one to develop the relationship and promote your pictures initially. It is a matter of ethics and etiquette which governs the relationship between a photographer and an agent. This is also stated in our Photographer Agreement.

Are my photos good enough to submit?

Please be aware that we specialize in the world of the oceans so what may seem like the best shot of a humpback whale to you may be already covered well in our database. Conduct some searches in our web database and see what you are competing against. We accept high quality scans from your original slides/ transparencies or high resolution image files from high-end digital SLR cameras. Please read through carefully our submission guidelines and follow it before you make a submission. If you do not follow our guidelines, it will take us much longer to review your submission and it may even be rejected.

Please select your images carefully and do not send too many "almost identicals." You must edit your submissions for your best work. This is very, very hard for most photographers. You worked extremely hard to get that shot and you have an emotional attachment to it. Most of the time the difficulty in getting the image is irrelevant. Editing is a skill that must be learned and it takes long time to develop. Most importantly it is the skill which separates good photographers from lesser ones.

Why did you reject my very best pictures?

Well...most likely and honestly it didn't impress us. We are trained professional editors with years of experience. Our eyes have been trained by thousands of excellent pictures from around the world. In addition, we have seen many, many published pictures through our clients, so we know what is and will be in demand.

Remember just because its your best shot of a clownfish it might not be ours. Your picture has to be better or more unique than others in our file for us to accept. However, if we have 2,000 shots of clownfish and yours is the only one taken in Timbuktoo then we might accept that picture - not because it is better than the other clown fish but because it was taken in a location which we might get a request for someday in the future and we don’t have anything in our database.

Avoiding popular subjects or locations is a good rule of thumb to be successful at, but remember that you must be diversified. You should try to have many subjects and great depth in them.
Gray Reef Sharks
Gray Reef Sharks, Carcharhinus amblyrhynchos, feeding frenzy, Bikini Atoll, Marshall Islands, Micronesia, Pacific Ocean. Picture #: 002835