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Advice - Photography / Selling pictures through an agency

Photographers can also use the services of a photographic agency to licence pictures on their behalf, for a cut of the fee.

In recent years this has become less and less advisable, as one agency - Getty - has achieved a near-monopoly position. It has bought many of the smaller agencies, many of which used to offer skilled picture research services in specialised fields. It has driven down prices for the use of photos, while offering publishers "all-you-can-eat" subscription deals. It also owns, which feeds publishers' and other users' demand for pixels - any pixels, so long as they're colourful - to fill space, usually at low cost.

Word from photographers used to be that Alamy was in some ways the least-hostile agency. That does not mean they have not had troubles with it. And then of course there's the rather exclusive Magnum co-operative...

We welcome your reports of dealing with agencies to help expand this section.

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