National Geographic Image Collection Shuttered
NatGeo Realizes Stock Photography is Dead
One of the enjoyable things about being in the field is the chance to meet and talk to other photographers. Today I met a young man named Ronan Donovan. Ronan has produced some beautiful articles for National Geographic Magazine. In our short conversation, we talked about the publication and how things have changed. He mentioned that National Geographic had recently closed their photo agency called National Geographic Image Collection, most likely due to the fact stock photography is dead. The Image Collection was the agency that marketed all photos shot for the magazine over the years. This was hard to hear but not completely unexpected.
Stock photography is dead
The world of natural history stock photography has changed dramatically in the last 15 years. Earning a living by selling natural history pictures was the way I produced income for 35 years. But stock photography is dead. I’ve known that for some time. But hearing that the National Geographic has found it impossible to go forward says it all.
Cinematography is the key
I’m often asked, “How do you get started in the world of natural history stock photography?” And I explain that unfortunately there’s just no way to make a living producing still photos of nature. There is still money in cinematography but not in the still photography industry. If you want a good example of how difficult this industry currently is, take a look at this article by Jim Pickerell: Don’t Reveal Your Shutterstock Earnings To Anyone. Shutterstock is one of the most successful stock agencies in the world today. But it’s successful for its owner, not its photographers. Based on the article, Shutterstock has a clause in their contract that binds the photographer from discussing their Shutterstock earnings. The speculation is that they don’t want photographers really knowing how little money they might make.
Good thing I do my serious wildlife work as a hobby nowadays. I plan to be back in the field tomorrow enjoying my time self-isolating with the animals. I shot the photo above of one of my comrades in the wild.