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Shooting for Stock Photography

Lesson 3 of 19

Finding an Agency

Geo Rittenmyer

Shooting for Stock Photography

Geo Rittenmyer

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Lesson Info

3. Finding an Agency

Lesson Info

Finding an Agency

All kinds of stock, there is a lot of stock out there. Lots of different agencies still, and there's needs for everything. Underwater, food, aerial, nature, sports, news, product photography, that's kind of a big one, that's popular, sports. There is a need for pictures of athletes, so like high school athletes. There's actually people who go and take pictures of athletes in football and basketball and when they become NBA, NFL stars, there's a need for their pictures from when they were younger. I don't know too much about that world but it exists and it's there, so no matter what you're into, look for it, there's a place to sell your images, there's a platform for it. So, how do you find that agency, and that's a tough question. So, finding an agency... My advice is to just keep looking, see stuff that you feel like your work could fit in, and contact them. Finding an agency is not too difficult, pretty much any agency has- usually right on their front page, you wanna contribute? Con...

tact us. So, reach out, contact, I would say the first agency that says oh yes, send all your stuff this way, you don't have to necessarily do that but look into it, ask questions, they're all very responsive. There's a lot of people I'm sure asking questions so it might take a few tries to get in there, but keep going. If there's one that looks like your goal, where you'd really like to be, where you'd like to have your work then strive for that. Maybe you try a smaller agency first. You can always move your work or submit your work to different agencies. I wouldn't recommend having too many 'cause it just gets more and more hectic. Yeah, question? Just for when you apply to jobs you have multiple resumes, do you have multiple portfolios that you have prepared for these agencies? No, I- Some agencies are more specialized in boutique so they're gonna want images that fit that. I'm with a boutique agency now that covers a very broad spectrum, a lot of them do cover a broad spectrum, so the more variety that you have, it could be a good thing. If all of that work has a look and feel and they feel that it's viable because you don't know what is gonna sell and what somebody wants. If you are real specialized and you have a really good, unique look in one field then that could be to your advantage too because you are able to produce something that's strong in that specific category and they know there's a need for that specific type of photography. So I don't have... I haven't worked with multiple agencies at once if you're an underwater photographer and you're also a lifestyle photographer, maybe an agency would want all of that, maybe not. Maybe you do have your underwater agency and you have your everyday lifestyle agency. Again, with aerial photography maybe there is an agency that really does well selling aerial work, and your aerial stuff really fits in to that, then maybe you do go that route. That help you out? Yeah, good, thanks. Alright so here's a quick list that I could type up of the agencies I could find online. Just a few of them there (chuckles). There's so many, just countless. There's probably new ones that are opening today and there's probably 10 of those that have closed in the last week. It's just ever evolving. As part of the bonus materials, there is a list of a bunch of agencies that I'm kind of familiar with, agencies that I actually look at their web pages and see what they're doing. That'll kinda give you a good starting point. So, there might be some questions in this section, jump right into it and try to explain rights managed versus royalty free. I'm sure all of you guys have heard about these two terms being in the stock world. There's a couple differences, one big difference is rights managed is, every time the picture is sold it's negotiated for a price and for what that use is specifically. Royalty free, there's just a price set on an image, anybody can buy it and it depends usually on the size of the image that the person wants to buy, if they want low res, medium res, high res. The other big difference is royalty free has to be released, every picture for royalty free has to have a model release. Rights managed, you don't necessarily have to have a model release. For rights managed the image of it does not have, if it's a model or property that does not have a release, it's not gonna be used for advertising, but it can still be used for editorial. For editorial use you don't have to have a model release. It's not gonna make as much money, it's editorial, doesn't pay as much as advertising. So that's another big difference between the two. So if you are- I'll mention this too in model releases but, if you're taking a picture and you can't get a model release, don't say no it's not worth it now, just take the picture. It might get picked up and used for editorial use. When you work with your agency they're all different. If it's a really strong picture they might say yeah, let's bring that in here, we'll note that it's not released, a lot of the images that people look for don't have releases. A lot of times when you do searches there's a little check box that say released. If you have to have something released you click that. You don't have to have everything released. So that's kind of the difference. Royalty free has really, it's gotten low and it's come back up. Like I mentioned earlier, royalty free is still a good way to make money. I initially was just rights managed when I entered and royalty free was just not even really an option, it was still really, really cheap. I would say today about 75-25 rights managed and royalty free, I've got a mix of both. I think that's what you guys should strive for, to try to have both. If you really don't want to deal with royalty free you don't feel like that's a value to you, you feel like your pictures are worth more, that's completely fine too, a lot of stock agencies give you that choice. They may not take as many pictures because they feel like some pictures just aren't quite gonna make it as rights managed, they'd rather have them as royalty-free, but you don't have to, the choice is yours. I, 10 years ago would've said stay away from royalty free, today, I think it's actually pretty valuable. Like I had said, some of the bigger, better agencies, the minimum price for royalty free pictures is 50 dollars for an Instagram size, and it goes up to 1500 dollars for something somebody might actually wanna print. So there's money in royalty free now and it's decent, it'll pay for your royalty free shoots. There's another area of stock photography, that's micro stock, and subscription-based, and those are an option, I think that if you're watching this course and worrying about it, don't set your goals there, set your goals to go to one of the bigger rights managed, royalty free sites. But it's an option if you want to try it out to get started or you use it as a supplement to the supplement, to stuff that wasn't picked up and you think maybe it's worth it. But you're not gonna see a big return there and I think everybody should be striving to get that 20,000 dollar big ad sell for one picture. That's what we all want right (chuckles). So any questions about royalty free versus rights managed? Yep, I'll start over here and then we can see if the audience has any. So, Shelley would like to know, do you find it helpful to offer one photo from a set as royalty free and the rest as rights managed to find a different audience or do you find that's sort of shooting yourself in the foot? That would actually be a really good question for Jen when she comes on. As the photographer, I don't... For the agency that I have worked with I don't really make that decision. I mean I have the ultimate decision of yes or no, but I don't really make the decision of where it goes initially. I would say that that's actually pretty true in the way that I've seen agencies select images, is that you'll have 10 pictures from one shoot and a lot of times there are three or four that are a little bigger, a little more dynamic, those will go into a rights managed catalog, and then some of the more kind of b-roll, side stuff that you gather, will go into a royalty free collection. So yeah, I think that definitely is a good way to manage your work. Cool, and then one of our other students just as an example, I thought this was good. If I take photos at a concert of a band, can I have that photo sold at a stock agency? How does that sort of work? Does that become editorial? Is that royalty free? Yeah, it becomes editorial, it can't be royalty free unless you have it released like I said. So anything royalty free needs to have a release. I'm gonna talk a little bit about that when we go to our model releases. So a concert is sort of a different idea. Can you take pictures of a performer and sell them. There's lots of battles going on, I know some really big musicians have had problems with photographers taking pictures of them at shows and have banned all photography and tried to control that, and that's more of celebrity managing their images. If you're at a music festival and you take pictures at a festival, of the actual festival happening, those are awesome pictures, those usually sell pretty well, and you probably aren't gonna have any problem there. Again when you buy the ticket, have your lawyer look at the fine print on the ticket, of the venue you're going to. It's tough to know exactly. So those are one of those things where I'd say, go out to a big music fest, go to Coachella and take tons of pictures, and give them to the agency, and the agency has lots of lawyers and people working for them that know what they can sell and can't sell. So kinda let them decide, but take the pictures. Even though they tell you not to take the pictures. Try and take a picture (chuckles). Oh yeah, a little sample. So, which one's royalty free, which one is rights managed? The one on the right's royalty free? Rights managed, royalty free. The only reason that's rights managed versus royalty free was this picture was taken a while back and it went into the catalog as a rights managed image. I took that one a couple months ago, and because agency doesn't think that's probably gonna sell for some big, huge ad, but it's got a little b-roll picture that could be worthwhile in someone's presentation or brochure. It might sell, so it went into the catalog as royalty-free. So as you can see, there's not a real big difference between the two. That was a- The lower ninth ward in New Orleans, went there on the 5th anniversary of Katrina, just was working down there so I'd never seen New Orleans after Katrina so I went over there and- I really like that picture for my own kind of, personal photo was a playground that sort of survived all the devastation down there.

Class Description

The world of stock photography can feel complicated, but commercial and editorial photographer, Geo Rittenmyer, will show you how to create and sell stock photography from any situation. In this course, he’ll cover the essentials of stock photography, the differences between royalty free or rights managed, as well as where stock is utilized in today’s world. He’ll also be interviewing an art director at a top agency to better understand what types of imagery stock agencies are looking for. 

Topics include: 

  • Techniques for shooting when traveling and what to think about when taking a photo 
  • How to set up a low-cost stock specific studio shoot 
  • How to utilize Adobe® Photoshop® & Lightroom CC to organize your catalog and keywords for easy access 
  • How to find a stock agency for your work 
  • When and where to use model or property releases 

Stock photography can allow you to shoot for your clients, as well as your passion. Get back to shooting what you love and make money at the same time! 

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

2017 Gallery Stock Trend Report

Sample Model Release

Sample Property Release

Stock Agencies List

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


Amy Vaughn

Personally, I really liked this class, but I can see why it wouldn’t be for everyone looking for information about stock photography. I’ve already researched and started doing microstock, but now I’m looking for more information about other options. This class was a good fit for me. Although Geo seemed new to public speaking and used too many fillers like “uh” and “um”, I found him likable and surprisingly relatable considering our different photographic niches. This class may be best suited for: Learning more about boutique galleries, rights managed stock and alternatives to microstock Seeing how this particular stock photographer works, gets inspiration and has been successful Getting ideas about current trends and sources for inspiration Getting the perspective of a creative director for a boutique agency Those interested in lifestyle photography May not be as suitable for: Broader and more in depth information about the variety of options in stock photography Those who want to focus on microstock New photographers who want detailed information about getting started and meeting technical requirements Those who prefer a more polished speaker

Carol Totaro

I thought this was a great class and have to disagree with some of the comments from the hands down viewers. The audience was listless and did not seem to be interested in being there. Do you know how difficult it is to stand up in front of a bunch like this and keep your mojo racing? Very difficult. Hardly anyone asked questions and they all just gave a lot of nods most of the time. If your read ahead of time the info on the class, you would see that he was going to go into Lightroom and workflow. Yes, some of it was a drag especially all those pictures taken from the condo at a FL panhandle beach. But nothing's perfect. Maybe I got a lot out of this because I am newer at photography. I was glad to know about his equipment. Everyone's personality is different and for all the talent and success Geo has enjoyed, he remains a humble and very likeable guy.

Christina Biasi

I loved this class! I cannot agree with some other reviews below at all Geo gives so much valuable information, and in fact I love his style much more than many other over-self confident speakers. He is sympathetic and likeable, and most importantly give very much valuable insights into stock photography. I just started with stock and got all my questions answered. I watched it already three times. The only part which I did not like so much was the post-processing part, because he could have explained better his workflow and why he chose certain actions. But that does not impact on the overall quality of the course. I can only highly recommend this class