Words and Pictures Angelika Stehle
Dealing with Photo Stock Libraries is an alternative to dealing directly with publishers. One advantage is that the agency does the selling for you, which frees up your time to do what you are probably best at and enjoy most - photography! Another positive point is that Stock Libraries can sell your images to a number of clients who may even take their own initiative in contacting the library for pictures. The downside is that it takes more time for your income to be generated, and the usual commission rate is about 50% of what you could negotiate directly. It may also take a considerable length of time for your submission to be seen and returned. So you have to weigh up carefully if you prefer to do commissioned work, or if you would like to make your living as a stock photographer, or if a balance of both would suit you best.
Medium and large format is usually preferred by photographic stock libraries, but very good quality 35mm is also acceptable. You should only submit saleable images, which means careful market studies in order to be able to submit the right type of pictures. To make their efforts pay in terms of marketing costs and other overheads, they will usually require an initial minimum quantity of pictures, and those should normally be transparencies. The photographer will, in most instances. be able to retain the copyright. Should you be offered the sale of copyright of certain images, you would be well advised to look for a substantial remuneration, as an outright sale of a picture will transfer all rights to the buyer.
Britain has over one hundred photo stock agencies, and many of them specialise in their subjects. There are other companies as well that buy up entire stocks from freelances, and they like to keep your slides for an extended period of time (possibly years), in which case it is advantageous if you have taken perhaps 4 or 5 shots of the same subject matter so you can part with one of them for that length of time. And not to forget the Internet, some agencies will accept high resolution scans or at least digital image files for starters to be able to assess what you can offer.
In any case, it is important to contact the company before submitting your work.
I spoke with four companies to see what they require, results below, and you'll also find detailed listings of over 60 libraries in the Stock Libraries directory here on ePHOTOzine.
1 One of the botanical agencies is Flowers & Foliage. As a specialist library they stock creative shots of flowers, leaves and plants with what they themselves describe as 'a special quality that separates us from straight botanical and garden libraries''. They are also looking for crops, grasses & trees, particularly herbs, fruits, vegetables, inside and outside shots, and especially plant portraits of very high quality, imaginative, including b&w, also including abstract images. Minimum initial requirement: 30 images, medium format 70mm trannies preferred, 35mm transparencies also acceptable.
Address: Flowers & Foliage, 71 Leonard Street, London EC2A 4QU.
Director: Carol Sharp
Library Manager: Trudi Newton
Tel: 020 7729 8040 (0171-684 5668)
Fax: 020 7729 7909
email: email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org
Web site: http://www.flowerphotos.com
2 GreyPower Photo-Stock have not given me too many details, but when I contacted them they were looking for Mature People images, and they will accept JPEG digital images.
Address: GreyPower Photo-Stock, Millenium ADMP plc, Windhill Manor, Leeds Road, Shipley, West Yorkshire BD18 1BP
Library Manager: Lynn Connolley
Tel: 01274 538888
3 A-Z Botanical Collection Ltd is another outlet for fauna-and-flora photographers, and they are interested in not just flowers, but in other botanical aspects too. When I talked to the library manager, he told me that within a few months' time they will have whole new lists of requirements ready, and their most used format is 35mm, but slides only, captioned with botanical plant names.
Address: A-Z Botanical Collection Ltd, 192 Goswell Road, London EC1V 7DT.
Library Manager: James Wakefield
Tel:. 020 7253 0991
Fax: 020 7253 0992.
4 One of the top libraries in contents and in treatment of contributing photographers is Science Photo Library. Their catalogues bear out the very high quality of their stock images, mainly within the scientific and medical field. Medium-format is preferred, but excellent 35 mm is acceptable. On request they will send you their SPL Handbook for Photographers and Illustrators which clarifies any questions from submission and duplication to agreement and fees.
Address: Science Photo Library, 327-329 Harrow Road, London W9 3RB
Director: Rosemary Taylor
Tel: 020 7432 1100
Fax: 020 7286 8668
Web site: www.sciencephoto.com
Many more Photographic Stock Libraries or Agencies can be found in the Writers & Artists' Yearbook, which is printed by A & C Black, London and the BFP Photographer Market Handbook.