News and Views from Dave Wilson

Flickr Collection on Getty: Why I’m Taking Part

by on Jan.25, 2009, under Photography

Jim Goldstein posted an interesting entry in his blog last week relating to the Getty Flickr Collection invitation he received and why he intends to turn it down. I commented in his blog but wanted to expand on that here and give some of my reasons for accepting the same invitation.

Firstly, I should note that I am not accepting the invitation 100%. I had about 3 dozen images invited into the collection but I have no intention of submitting about 2/3 of these right now. I have problems with the fact that Getty require exclusivity and this would prevent me from doing anything with those images other than selling signed or numbered prints. On top of this, the commission rate offered by Getty (20% for the license model my images were invited under) seems extremely low based on the other stock agency sites I have looked at.

After this, it’s reasonable to ask why I am still interested. As a keen amateur who is looking to make enough from his photography to feed the (equipment and software) habit, I can see several reasons which push me towards Getty and accepting the invitation for at least a subset of the invited images:

  • The Getty name is very prestigious and, frankly, it will look rather good on my photographic resume to say that I have some images in a Getty collection.
  • The photos are pre-screened by Getty editors so are obviously of interest to them. I don’t, therefore, have to edit my own work and try to guess which images to use as an initial submission to a new agency. I know exactly which images are most likely to be successful already.
  • The process of signing up and submitting images is made very easy and involves nothing more than filling in a form (after reading a lot of small print) then uploading high resolution versions of the images and editing description and title information (the original Flickr information is pulled in and you are given an option to change it).
  • Although I have no hard data, my impression is that Getty has a huge customer base and, hence, my photographs are likely to be seen there more than at some other agencies. I would rather have 20% of something than 60% of nothing.
  • From my perspective, submitting the images that I would not otherwise have tried to sell is pure upside potential. I can test the water and see how things go using these images then jump in or keep clear later with what I would consider my best images depending upon how things go. Anything I make on the submitted images is icing on the cake.
  • It’s flattering to be told by a professional photo editor that your work is commercially viable.

The biggest unknown to me, as someone taking the first steps into the agency pool, is which agencies are most likely to actually license my photographs. Giving exclusive access to all my best images to one agency seems to me to be a rather risky proposition until I have a better idea of whether or not that agency is doing everything it can to market my images so, for now, my approach will be to try several agencies with a subset of my images and determine which offer the best returns. Obviously this is more work but, over a couple of years, I hope it will yield enough data for me to select the agency which suits me best.

The question now, of course, is whether the Getty editors will be happy with the quality of the 10 high resolution images I have waiting to be inspected. Normally I’m not too worried by the amount of noise Photomatix adds to my HDRs but now my fingers are crossed.

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