One of the ways we’re supporting our member photographers during COVID-19 is with a weekly Member Open House. Most Fridays, we’re going to be hosting discussions that we hope you’ll find interesting and informative for our members. Please email me if you have suggestions for future programs. They’ll last about an hour, but most weeks I’ll be able to stick around afterward to discuss any topic.
Last Friday the subject was Wonderful Machine Stock Requests and stock photography in general. Joining me were executive producer Craig Oppenheimer and associate producers Jemma Dilag and Nadia Kiyatkina. Jemma and Nadia respond to Stock Requests from our clients and send them to our photographers. Craig oversees this process. He uses his nine years of estimating experience to help clients understand what a reasonable budget is. He also consults with photographers on pricing stock sales when they need help. Our publicist Will Brown, one of our creative consultants Cameron Sterling, and our project manager Bryan Sheffield also joined in on the call.
Recently, the changes to our Stock Requests policies have been an issue of concern for some member photographers. So, I wanted to share some of the reasoning that guides this (and other) decision(s) at Wonderful Machine.
During the Member Open House, we discussed how we have handled Stock Requests in the past and how they have changed. In the past, when clients sent us stock requests, we would simply pass them to our member photographers and they would send their submissions directly to the clients. Many of our clients appreciate having access to that content. And many of our photographers like that this gives them a direct connection to the clients.
However, both photographers and clients have also raised questions about this process as well. Photographers have pointed out that the stock requests don’t always apply to them or that they tend to be very low-budget. Clients (especially commercial clients) have said they do not want to interact with dozens of photographers to find a single stock image.
Another drawback of our traditional approach is that when five photographers offer up content to a single client, the client possesses a disproportionate negotiating leverage. This, in turn, drives down the value of the stock photo. It’s basic supply and demand. When we’re increasing the supply, the price drops.
Finally, from the perspective of Wonderful Machine, managing this process for clients can be very labor-intensive. To provide that service and keep staff at work on the other services for our member photographers, we need to charge some combination of a production fee to the client or a commission to the photographer. No matter what you call it, it has to come out of the total budget for the project.
In response to all this, we’re now experimenting with managed stock requests for commercial clients. Which we believe will help us attract a higher volume of commercial stock requests and drive up the price as well. Instead of giving the client five photographers to play against each other, we act as a single voice to negotiate on behalf of the five photographers, in turn raising the price.
We then posed the following questions to our photographers:
Watch the entire conversation below: