Gatekeepers, Responsibility and Stock Photos

The time has come for stock photographers to become their own “gatekeepers”!

Gatekeepers and Responsibility

“Someone is going to be the gatekeeper, and it should be you.” Seth Godin. I read that a couple of days ago in Seth Godin’s blog (how does he come up with such great stuff day after day?). I think this is especially true for stock photographers. Being your own gatekeeper is not easy…and requires that you take responsibility for your self.  For me, it means working every day to give my images as great a chance to be seen by those in need of them as possible. It means getting my images in to stock agencies…which is were the bulk of the money is. But it also means getting images up on my site where I can add to the audience. 
Image Searches And Agency Links Today, as I write this, 19 people have conducted Internet searches for Images that have brought them o my site…and have then gone on to the agencies that carry my work (a whole lot more made it to my site but did not follow a link to an agency). While I don’t know what percentage have gone on, if any of them have, to license an image, I do know that overall some of them are doing so. I know because every once in a while I am contacted directly when a link isn’t working or they want additional information on an image…or even sometimes when I get a compliment on the image and how perfect it was for their needs.

Animal Antics, Restrictions, and No Guarantees

As time goes by I am adding more and more images to my site that are not handled by an agency.  My Animal Antics (funny animal pictures) images I am increasingly handling myself. I recently had a conversation with a Getty executive who informed me that even though I have greeting card restrictions on some of the images, they can’t guarantee that those restrictions will be enforced. Gulp!

Greeting Cards, Royalty Percentages and Time To Negotiate

Plus, when I license a greeting card image for a royalty percentage, I stand to get a lot more revenue than a one-time fee through a stock agency. It is a trade-off. Without the agency, at least for now, way fewer people will see the image…and I have to take the time to negotiate…something I am not really well suited for! Oh well…at least I get 100% of the fee!

Gatekeepers, Hedging Bets, and the Internet

Ultimately my point is that it is better to take responsibility for your own success than to hand it over entirely to a “gate keeper”. Yes, I am playing the “gate keeper” game, and expect that stock agencies will always be a significant part of my business, but I am also hedging my bets on this new fangled thing called the Internet. I think it is going to be big…really big!

About the author

John Lund  has been shooting professionally for over 30 years.  John was an early adopter of Photoshop, first using version 1.0 in 1990.  He began using digital capture in 1994.  John has been active in the stock photography world as a founding member of BLEND IMAGES, and long time contributor to Getty Images, Corbis, and, more recently SuperStock.

John has lectured on digital imaging and stock photography, has been a columnist for PICTURE and DIGITAL IMAGING magazines, and written ADOBE MASTER CLASS, PHOTOSHOP COMPOSITING WITH JOHN LUND.  John has been a frequent speaker at Photo Plus and other venues and has taught workshops at Palm Beach Workshops and Santa Fe Workshops.  His work can be seen at

Marco | Editor

Editor at large and founder of a bunch of stockphoto businesses

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