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Got A Score Card?
You gotta know who the players are.
Who are the players in the stock photography industry? The players, of course, are the photographers and the buyers – but there are two separate "games" they can play and the stock photos differ, depending on which game they're in.
To get a clear picture of this, take a magazine and tear out all the advertisements. The photos that are left are what we call "editorial photography" [game 1]. The ad photos are "commercial photography" [game 2].
Stock photography is used in both games, but with some big differences.
Most commercial photos are shot in studios or on contrived locations and conform to the wishes of several parties: the client, the ad agency, the art director, and only slightly, the photographer.
Editorial photos, on the other hand, are “true-to-life,” and meet the wishes of the editor of a magazine, book, and sometimes a newspaper. But first and foremost the editorial photo ought to meet the wishes of the photographer.
Commercial stock photos can be designed and produced by the commercial photographer, but the photographer is still under the dictates of having to conform to "what sells."
The photographer must gear the photos to fit into art directors’ dictates, commercial clients' needs, trends in the industry, and to appeal to a wide, general audience. The resulting photos are often called generic images because they are purposefully shots with broad, general content that can fit a variety of uses and appeal to a wide audience.
WELL,WHAT'S THE DIFFERENCE ?
Editorial stock photos are produced by a different approach. Rather than appeal to the commercial needs of a client, the editorial stock photographer follows his or her own interest areas, own needs, and enjoyment, in photographing certain segments of life and culture.
Examples: medicine, fitness, sports, social issues, travel, etc. The photographer then sells these photos to specialized markets that use images in those specific subject areas.
Buyers in the commercial field range from graphic design houses, to corporate art directors, to ad agency creative directors. There's much turnover in these positions, so developing consistent working relationships with these markets is frustrating and difficult.
In the editorial field the buyers range from photo editors at books and magazines, to photo researchers -- the people who are hired by publishers and art directors to seek out highly specific pictures. There's less turnover and more longevity with editorial buyers, and editorial stock photographers can enjoy strong long-term working relationships with their buyers -- which translates to more consistent sales.
As an editorial stock photographer you are going to find much more enjoyment when you are photographing subject matter that you like to take. Learn more about how to sell those pictures at PhotoSource International and the PhotoSourceBANK, Pine Lake Farm, 1910 35th Road, Osceola, WI 54020 USA. Rohn Engh is director of and publisher of PhotoStockNotes. E-mail: info[at]photosource[dot]com Fax: 1 715 248 3800; www.photosource.com