November 2006

Kay Warren Book Cover Image

We have seen a trend over the past few years that only seems to be growing; the idea of medium-sized companies and large corporations establishing their own photo libraries. For years now stock photography has been a major force in corporate imaging. But there has been a slow and steady backlash as companies again see the value of having proprietary imagery that is not being used by a dozen other companies, also the fact that the cost of stock has grown to the point where, in many cases, it has become more affordable to shoot original photography than to use stock imagery. The beauty of which is that you get exactly what you want rather than something that is “close enough”. The other draw for companies to build their own internal libraries is that they no longer have to bother with the time and expense of re-licensing images as most companies are opting to purchase unlimited usage, right off the bat. We have been producing these types of libraries for corporations for more than 5 years and we only see the trend increasing. There are financial benefits as well. When a company goes down the path of creating an in-house library they tend to shoot the libraries in bulk, that is to say, they shoot 75 – 300 scenarios in one production, maybe doing on or two productions a year. This significantly brings down the cost per shot and even with unlimited usage built-in, it clearly beats the cost of stock for the same usage and certainly rivals the cost of stock for a 1 year license!! Yet another benefit (they just keep coming, don’t they?) is the inherent visual continuity that arises out of one photographer producing all of the imagery.

All of this bodes well for assignment photography, and those of us who shoot a broad spectrum of subject matter. I love this kind of work as it allows us to stretch creatively and allows us to continually do something new and different. Admittedly I also love building long-term relationships, and taking care of our clients! And working on big productions always makes me feel like I’ve just acquired a second family (in a good way!).