Mastering Editorial Stock Photography WorkFlow

Rohn Engh

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The Information Age is upon us. The time it takes to deliver information has become so quick as to be almost instantaneous. This allows us to capitalize on opportunities with new efficiency, and helps us avoid unnecessary risks. The “information float” is collapsing.

The change is here. Photography technology is outdoing itself. Digital transmission of images is a reality. Printers can produce images that compete in quality with film. Digital cameras have taken over. Storing images in digital form is now de rigeur. The average photographer can provide clients with on-line retrieval and viewing of their stock selections.

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“It’s Still the Same Show…”
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But don’t let all the bells and whistles distract you. The actors, props, and settings may be different, but it’s still the same show. Getting pictures that are publishable still takes creative ability - and that takes talent. And it has always taken more than talent to consistently receive checks from publications and ad agencies, and to see your credit line in national circulation. That takes marketing know-how, and always will.


Assignments are an excellent way to capture stock photos that may not be available to you ordinarily. During your lunch break, or before or after completing your assignment, take advantage of the location by taking photographs in the environment you find yourself in on this assignment.

Freelance photography sites on the web and in your library, are helpful in researching how to price yourself for your day rate.

Three tips: Since each publication you work with will offer a different ‘day rate, ’ based on such things as circulation, advertising revenue, and size, you’ll find day rates ranging from $400 a day to $2,000 a day. In addition to the base ‘day rate’ fee, it is acceptable to also submit a statement for expenses. Such as: mileage, 45 cents per mile to areas outside your general metropolitan area, (if you live outside the general metropolitan area of the publishing house, do not charge a fee for coming into the city), car rental, plane, train, meals, and lodging. Also, photographic expenses: renting of special equipment; props; model fees; location charges (such as rent); mailing and/or carrier charges; phone calls (beyond the ordinary); messengers; porters; guards. Be sure to keep your receipts and staple them to your statement. Pricing Your Photo

Three popular pricing guides:

FotoQuote, Cradoc Corporation, Phone: 1 206 842-4030; Fax: 1 206 824-1381;;

Jim Pickerell’s, Selling Stock, 110 Fredrick Ave Ste A, Rockville, MD 20850; Phone: 1 301 251-0720; Fax: 1 301 309-0941; Email:

Michal Heron’s, Pricing Photography, 28 W 71st St, New York, NY 10023; Phone: 1 212 787-1272; Fax: 1 212 721-0844; email:

The Law of Probability is on your side if you direct your initial marketing efforts to the specialized magazines and book publishers listed in periodical directories such as PHOTOGRAPHER’S MARKET*, and other directories found on a web search. These directories list the names and addresses of hundreds of publications and websites.


Don’t be tempted to be “all things to all photobuyers. ” This is usually the first mistake the fledgling photo illustrator makes. Photo editors recognize that one photographer can’t be that versatile. Their primary concern is that they get material that’s accurate and knowledgeable to present to their readers and advertisers. The editor would prefer to work with a photographer who already knows something about the subject area of his/her magazine.

Focus on a market area that appeals to you, such as outdoor recreation, dog training, medicine, or education.

Turn over a new leaf. Get prepared for a genuine assignment by giving yourself some “practice” assignments this coming year. Using photo stories in one or two of your targeted publications as guides, duplicate the photos taken by that photographer, and teach yourself how to develop photo essays.

Select certain publications in your interest areas. All of these publications will have a web presence. To get more information about their photo needs, find the section called, “Submission Guidelines, ” or “Photo Guidelines. ”

Many specialized markets work with monthly photography budgets ranging from $15,000 to $30,000. Many spend $40,000 - $90,000 (per month – not per year). If you zero in on just 10 specialized markets, you will have, as they say in the marketing field, found your “corner of the market. ” The photo editors of these markets will consider you an important resource.

Once you have made some sales to an editor, he or she will be interested in sending special assignments your way. If you engage in your photo marketing as a spare-time endeavor, you’ll still be able to handle lengthier assignments by scheduling them on your vacation time (and as a result give yourself free vacations!).

* 4700 E Galbraith Road, Cincinnati OH 45236, (513) 531 2690, x 1226,, Contact: Donna Pohner.

Rohn Engh, veteran stock photographer and best-selling author of “Sell & ReSell Your Photos” and “, ” has helped scores of photographers launch their careers. For access to great information on making money from pictures you like to take, and to receive this free report: “8 Steps to Becoming a Published Photographer, ” visit


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