WILD, Our Virtual Stock Agency

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I want to let you know what I’m up to vis a vis stock.

David Doubilet, and Thomas Mangelsen, and I have banded together to create a Virtual Agency on Photoshelter called WILD (www.wildphotography.com). A Virtual Agency is a search pool where art buyers simultaneously search the collections of all the photographers. When an image is selected for licensing, the screen moves to the photographer’s individual Photoshelter (http://pa.photoshelter.com/) site to complete the order.

I had been looking for an alternative to the big agencies. They took so few images that some of my best work languished, which kept it off the market and didn’t serve my goals at all while limited the buyers’ options. I haven’t sent a still to Getty for five years. When I heard about the virtual agency idea, I thought it had potential.

A Virtual Agency allows photographers to show a wider range of their work than a traditional agency affords. With our lower overheads, we can market the images for less while still making higher income since we keep 90% of the licensing fee instead of only 40 or even 30%. I asked three photographers to join me so we could assemble the best work of the best photographers in one place. David and Thomas said yes.

I wrote an article that’s appearing in the new Outdoor Photographer explaining our thinking. Check out:

http://www.outdoorphotographer.com/how-to/more-how-to/get-into-the-stock-market.html

I know the article reads like an attack on the big agencies, but I always enjoyed working with the people there. They are smart and motivated. I’m sure they do a good job with their wholly-owned material where they can capture 100% of the revenue, but in my opinion the model is broken for independent photographers, and I am moving on.

26 Responses to “WILD, Our Virtual Stock Agency”

  1. Interesting approach by @artwolfe with his new stock collaboration with David Doubilet and Thomas Mangelsen http://bit.ly/DoJiQ

  2. A great read Art. Congrats on the new collaboration and virtual agency. I’m in the middle of reading Chris Anderson’s “Free: The Future of a Radical Price“. It’s a good read and might shed some light on the stock agency model that you’ve identified as broken.

  3. A great read Art. Congrats on the new collaboration and virtual agency. I’m in the middle of reading Chris Anderson’s “Free: The Future of a Radical Price“. It’s a good read and might shed some light on the stock agency model that you’ve identified as broken.

  4. RT @jimgoldstein Interesting approach by @artwolfe his new stock collaboration with David Doubilet & Thomas Mangelsen http://bit.ly/DoJiQ

  5. admin says:

    There is a good post on FREE in the Livebooks Resolve blog, too. Thanks for the pat on the back.

  6. Richard Wong says:

    Great article, Art. It is great to see a respected photographer of your stature recognizes how things are changing and offer your thoughts on it.

  7. A great article and read, thanks for putting that together for some of us just getting into the “business”!

  8. Richard,

    I am glad to see that my experience with stock agencies was not unique. Too many times, IMHO, buyers are really clueless at to what constitutes a quality image, and so clients never see some of the best stuff. Best of luck in this endeavour!

  9. Art Wolfe says:

    WILD, Our Virtual Stock Agency:
    I want to let you know what I’m up to vis a vis stock.
    David Doubilet, and Thom.. http://tinyurl.com/mo2z7w

  10. Art Wolfe says:

    WILD, Our Virtual Stock Agency:
    I want to let you know what I’m up to vis a vis stock.
    David Doubilet, and Thom.. http://tinyurl.com/mo2z7w

  11. RT @artwolfe: WILD, Our Virtual Stock Agency: I want to let you know what I’m up to.
    David Doubilet, and Thom.. http://tinyurl.com/mo2z7w

  12. Cory Silken says:

    Art,
    I enjoyed the article and appreciate you sharing your insights. As a relative new-comer, I’ve arrived at a similar conclusion that it’s most efficient for me to sell stock directly. Next time I have a moment to breathe, I’m planning to properly arrange a selection of stock in my Photoshelter archive. I like your virtual agency, although I wonder if my yacht shots would fit within the concept of “Wild?”

    • admin says:

      Hi, Cory,

      I am going to limit Wild to just a few photographers. You can band together with others with your thematic elements, which could be helpful for art buyers. You will have to figure out how to drive traffic your way because Photoshelter doesn’t market for you.

  13. Jerry Greer says:

    Art,

    I just, in the last month, joined PhotoShelter and the site just went live yesterday. I have a few more customizations to do and a lot of images to upload (I’ll be doing that over the next few days). The way that I found PS was from a longtime client, they suggested that I use them. It’s much easier for the client to purchase images and also more cost effective. We at Mountain Trail Photo have been contemplating a virtual agency setup for a few weeks and it looks like we will go this route also.

    Best of luck!

    Jerry

    http://www.jerrygreerphotography.com
    http://www.mountaintrailphoto.com
    http://www.mountaintrailpress.com

  14. Jerry Greer says:

    Art,

    I just, in the last month, joined PhotoShelter and the site just went live yesterday. I have a few more customizations to do and a lot of images to upload (I’ll be doing that over the next few days). The way that I found PS was from a longtime client, they suggested that I use them. It’s much easier for the client to purchase images and also more cost effective. We at Mountain Trail Photo have been contemplating a virtual agency setup for a few weeks and it looks like we will go this route also.

    Best of luck!

    Jerry

    http://www.jerrygreerphotography.com
    http://www.mountaintrailphoto.com
    http://www.mountaintrailpress.com

  15. Jess Lee says:

    Art, I think this is on the right track. I fully agree with your comments about the Big guy’s. I have stopped my submissions to them also and will turn that part of the business to efforts such as Photo Shelter.
    Best
    Jess

  16. Markos says:

    Its a very nice stock site, I like seeing your others images… normally in your books its your most beautiful images.

    You forgot to mention that the stock site uses cooliris, it makes it so much easier to look at the images. My stock site doesn’t use it which is a shame. I wish I had the money and tie to start my own.

    Good luck with this, I hope it does well for you.

  17. Radek says:

    Hi Art,

    both this post and the OP article are interesting to read. I think the idea of a virtual agency is great. Having been a marketer for a couple of years I have spent hours scanning microstock banks for photos. This is relevant especially to microstock – there are so many photos to dig through, that once a buyer finds a photographer whose style he likes, he simply returns to him first when searching for new images.

    From the buyer’s perspective, one value I would see in a big agency, like Gettys, is that they guarantee a certain level of quality. But on the other hand, this can also be achieved by rating / popularity filters or groups in photo communities.

    Having said that, a reputable photographer, like yourself, may be better off by leaving a sample of your work with big agencies – for those that are not familiar with your work. If they then find use for your style, they will look for you elsewhere. From a marketer’s perspective having a pool of photos and images that are consistent in style, is a great thing.

    Good luck with your new venture!

  18. admin says:

    Thanks. I think we are on the right path.

  19. nelson says:

    This is just what I was looking for. The templates are a nice idea. Good Luck
    more templates easy to download

  20. humbolt says:

    The long and the short of it is that You – Art Wolfe are not that interesting or compelling of a figure – you seem to be a nice man – and a wonderful photographer . Your hearts in the right place but your boring as sin !!! I saw a behind the scene episode and it was GREAT much improved – share the spotlight with your crew – your not out there alone – so why make believe your some kind of travel Hero !!! The different points of view would make for a much stronger show ! Having said that your a damn site better that Rudi Maxa – which ain’t sayin much !!!

  21. Kellypix says:

    Art, thanks for your leadership in this move. You could have gone quietly to Photoshelter, but your article and transparency have been an inspiration. By publicizing your move, you may create a rush to Photoshelter which will make Photoshelter the Go-To place for photobuyers and make it a better marketplace for the rest of us.

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