Selling Your Images

January 2nd, 2013

A Happy New Year to you!

We’re always looking for new outlets to which to sell fotoLibra members’ images, and between Christmas and the New Year we had a very interesting meeting with an extremely high-powered yet friendly executive who lives close by fotoLibra’s Hertfordshire office.

There is a vast European educational and public sector out there which is largely untapped by normal picture libraries because like most organisations funded with public money, Accountability & Transparency in Procurement are their watchwords. This inevitably means routes to market are not so much Jude The Obscure as Jude The Invisible — there is no way a company such as ours can ring up a representative from one of these monolithic organisations and mutter “pssst! wanna buy some images?” We couldn’t even find out who to talk to.

Everything has to take place through bureaucratic procurement procedures, grim, inflexible ordeals which are less concerned about the quality, range and variety of the images we have to offer than discovering the number of ethnic Welsh people we employ and our policy towards recycling hard disks.

By the simple expedient of not paying taxes, global corporations can afford to employ the sort of people who love ticking all these boxes, so they get flooded with grants, incentives and bonuses as well as three-yearly contracts to be exclusive coffee and image suppliers to the Ruritarian Public Affairs Ministry.

We struggle on. Thanks to our executive friend, we now have at least an inkling of the riches lying out there, just beyond our reach at the moment. But we have more contacts who understand this world far better than our simple viewpoint, and we believe they may be prepared to help us.

Like every other picture library, our sales have fallen over the past three or four years, and we are doing everything in our power to restore lost revenue and explore new possibilities. If our photographers aren’t making money, we’re not making money, so we need to find out about these overseas procurement procedures fast. Even so, our friend warned us “Don’t expect anything to happen for three years. This is the world of bureaucracy, after all.”

We went on to the website of one of these organisations and found this rather good and clearly explained guide to copyright for picture users in the EU. I should point out that this was discovered on the English-language subset of a foreign-language quango’s website:

Information for image users

    When will you have dealings with us? Virtually every publication, every website and every television programme uses images. Copyright law stipulates that the author’s permission is required for this. That permission is usually linked to a financial payment: image creators must, after all, live on the income from their creative labours. 
Apart from a couple of exceptions, publishers and producers are obliged to trace the creators of the images in order to ask permission for publication. The fact that this is not always easy does not detract from this obligation. Our agency enables the user to arrange this effectively in advance. Over 50,000 image creators both in this country and abroad are registered with us and we issue licences on their behalf. Our rates are harmonised with sister organisations abroad. Our agency arranges permission for publication.

    Asking permission is compulsory
 Users are often confused as to what they can and cannot do under copyright law. The golden rule is: anyone who wants to publish someone else’s image must ask permission for this from the creator or their heirs. This obligation only lapses 70 years after the death of the artist. Hence the work of Rembrandt is rights-free, but that of Picasso is not. Anyone who publishes a picture of a painting by Picasso in a book or leaflet without permission runs the risk of having to pay damages.

That’s nice and clear and straightforward.

Not every government announcement has to be draped in the cobwebs of obscurity. And this was English as a foreign language. I wish I could write as clearly. I think we could work with these people.


Add your comment


54 Responses to “Selling Your Images”

  1. David Williams says:

    Anything that leads to a sale or sales is welcome.

  2. JG says:

    What a way to start Lucky ’13!
    Keep us updated!

  3. David Roberts says:

    As someone who has now been put in the position of looking for income having left my company due to “reorganisation” I value any opportunity to expand the market I can enter. It does seem odd as a unified Europe it is difficult to get into this market you are not exploring.


    David Roberts

  4. David Roberts says:

    I must appologise for my last entry it should read at the end “you are now exploring” at my age I trype more than type?

    • Gwyn Headley says:

      Me too, David! It’s not exactly *difficult*, it’s just very drawn-out, long-winded and complex. Miss a tick out of one box and the whole thing comes tumbling down.

      One thing is certain — the system is totally loaded against individuals. An application from a single photographer to get integrated into the system would be rejected — they will only talk to organisations, and the larger the better, it would appear.

      More guarantees and safeguards and somewhere to pin the blame should it go tits up, I guess.

  5. Romari says:

    If only that were the case in reality. I get fed up of national companies aking for freebies and being surprised that you ask for a fee.

    Let the good times roll!

  6. Ron Tear says:

    Any way of selling images is welcomed, I have had work lifted from my site in the past. A backhanded compliment perhaps.So long as I have some images that others rerquire !!!!!

    • Gwyn Headley says:

      People assume if you can see it on the internet, you can use it. Which is why all fotoLibra 72ppi Previews and Thumbnails have metadata, and Previews have visible watermarks.

      And that’s why we always chase up unauthorised image usage in our national jurisdiction.

  7. muy buena esplicacion tener cuidado con lo que se publica

  8. Bev Symmonds says:

    Sounds very good. Hope it will be successful

  9. Richard Coombs says:

    All avenues have to be explored. Best of luck with this Gwyn.

  10. Chris says:

    “We’re always looking for new outlets to which to sell fotoLibra members’ images”

    Hmm, we offered FotoLibra the opportunity to work with us selling photos to customers as printed artwork via a very sophisticated search engine… yet after several phone conversations and emails a promised decision from yourself has never been received. That was 2 years ago. Shame.

    • Gwyn Headley says:

      Shame, I agree. Send us the details again.

    • David Williams says:

      Chris – that sounds like an amazing possibility – as a contributor I am glad that Gwyn is now following it up and look forward to hearing what happens.

      • Gwyn Headley says:

        I hope there’s a possibility of income there. We tried this with a company when we first started fotoLibra. The fees and effort we put in easily outstripped the income we made. The company then went bust. But if works, it could be good for everyone.

  11. Rahul Pandit says:

    Hope it will be my foot forward in photography.

  12. Nicolas says:

    I hope this works!

    Not many photos are being sold anymore.

    Hoping and Praying that 2013 will be more prosperous for independent photographers.

    GOD bless us and a good new year to everyone within the fotoLibra family!


  13. Alex Bradley says:

    Happy New Year for 2013 and I hope it is a fruitful year for you and all photographers alike. I would like to use your excerpt if it is possible on my website ( a job in progress).

  14. All journeys start with the first step. Distance and time do not enter into the process just a satisfactory ending.

    Keep focused and ensure every box is ticked. Good luck.

  15. Christine Norton says:

    Happy New Year! I say we should begin the year by digging new holes in new places for better results. Good luck. Help us to understand their photographic needs. Thanks.

  16. Michael Reed says:

    There is no doubt that photo sales are much more difficult these days. Newspapers and book publishers have a vast range of images available to them even mobile phone images are being used.Look forward to hearing how this new avenue develops. Mike R

  17. Nicholl Williams says:

    Hello Gwyn
    Always good to hear from you. You seem to be doing a very proactive job.
    My only suggestion is to tap the personal market. Obviously this is a very return compared to the commercial market, but the size is huge.
    For example the use for Birthday cards, Screensavers etc.
    Thanks for your positive setup.

    • Gwyn Headley says:

      Thanks Nicholl, we do sell hard to greetings cards companies who when they do buy photographs — on average they’re 80% illustrations — choose either Funny or Vintage.

  18. Harry Collinns says:

    Very useful and informative article. The information on copyright law was most interesting

  19. David Davies says:

    Sounds like good news to start the new year with, lets hope it works out!

  20. Mark Goodwin says:

    Interesting stuff Gwyn.

    A number of years ago I had a lot to with the Welsh Assembly Government (WAG) in Cardiff. I had a contract to train New Business Start-Ups in Marketing and Business Planing. However, at that time – and I know since – WAG were delivering a number of open seminars on how Procurement works in Wales and especially what WAG are looking for from their suppliers (I helped Chair one seminar on the Procurement Procedure for the Health Service in Wales).

    As your HQ is based in Wales it might be worth given them a call. They churn out a hell of a lot of brochures, newspapers etc every year and they contain simply 100’s of pics, they have to get them from somewhere. I understand that a lot of their marketing materials are out sourced, but they still produce a lot of stuff in-house, I feel it well worth giving them a call.

    Moreover, as a Welsh based company they have an obligation to talk to Fotolibra about how they can help you retain and increase jobs in Wales.

    Just a thought.

    HNY to you and the Team.


    • Gwyn Headley says:

      Thanks Mark, we’re logged in to the Sell2Wales system and the ICPS but in ten years I don’t think we’ve had one enquiry. Nevertheless we’re applying to be put on the United Nations procurement roster. Never Say Die!
      They get their pics from graphic designers. Designers now buy almost exclusively from microstock agencies, which is why they get pictures of Llandudno in South Africa and Cardiff by the Sea in California instead of the Welsh originals. See our blogs passim.

  21. Mike Mumford says:

    Unlike most of your readers I have more infinity with the past. My business is buying and selling old used books, and publishing new eBooks, downloadable APPS. Almost all my images are in the public domain, a few are unpublished so I can claim copyright.
    Any of my own photographs I will use where appropriate and a few in copyright are bought in.
    I too find ways through bureaucratic archives procurement procedures, by hard work and being more flexible in finding their hidden gem’s if you are prepared to hunt for hidden index’s with the right variety of old images suitable for your product.
    Modern images are for the rich and the big publishers who can afford high copyright fees.
    In these times of recession you have to economize where ever you can, and choose your material carefully. Here’s wishing you all the Best for 2013.

  22. Peter Wooton says:

    Until I was made redundant/early retired in 2011, I used to work for Hertfordshire County Council. I was also involved with esd-Toolkit (which I believe Fotolibra has had some dealings with regarding the LGSL). If my memory is correct, the Corporate Communications department was responsible for sourcing images for use by the authority in publications, notices, signage, website etc etc.. I suspect this is true of all UK local authorities and similar public sector organisations so perhaps a way to go would be to make contact with the head of corporate comms? esd-Toolkit also has links with EU local authorities so there might be a way in through that.

    • Gwyn Headley says:

      Thank you Peter, we are active participants in the esd-toolkit Forum, from where we helped promote the Integrated Public Sector Vocabulary codes to fotoLibra members.

      Unfortunately as it was a Labour government initiative it’s fallen into the Not Invented Here basket on the Coalition Government’s desk. IT’s not exactly dead, but it’s showing few signs of life.

      Which is a pity, because we were informed by 3 separate local authorities that they would buy from us if we had IPSV codes on our images. So far, they haven’t.

  23. Linda Cooke says:

    Here, here! Let’s hope future communications with these bodies are as clear as this.

  24. Sir i like foto libra and i want to sell my baby picturs.
    please help me for selling my pictures

  25. piracetam says:

    The Daily Mail has a history of stealing images and only paying up if and when they are caught and pursued. A quick Google search will turn up lots of results, but here , here and here are a few. It appears as though I am the latest test subject, as their MailOnline web newspaper has decided to publish my urban exploration photos from Gunkanjima without first contacting me to ask permission and without payment. This is copyright infringement.

    • Gwyn Headley says:

      If you were a fotoLibra Pro or Platinum member and those images had been uploaded to the fotoLibra site, we would have acted on your behalf.

  26. Laurence says:

    Very informative article.

    Have you ever approached creative card publishers and/or expecially the e-card businesses out there. The e-card market is growing year on year at an impressive rate. Many have a large library of pictures and photos.

    E-card companies are probably easier to approcah, I would imagine, as the business in part relies on some new photography.

    • Gwyn Headley says:

      Thanks Laurence, we are talking to card publishers every week. But alas, they prefer the microstock route simply because of the vast number of images out there — one in a thousand might be usable so they’ll go for it, happy to burden themselves with a minimum purchase subscription instead of buying what they want when they want it — which inevitably works out cheaper. But they can’t see it.

  27. Paulo says:

    Yes,very interesting post. Specially this last part about copyright. Just when here in the UK the government is proposing a change in the UK copyright law,that if approved, will affect and damage the rights of photographers and illustrators(“removing legal protection of photographers rights in their images… making legal the use of “orphan works” without the permission of the copyright owner).” By EU laws for example, orphan works can not be used for commercial purposes. As we know removal of information identifying the creator and copyright owner of an image can easly be done(metadata erased for e.g.)

  28. Lefa says:

    Just provide me with a simple process tro send photos to you.