Saturday, 24 April 2010


I wrote this post almost a year ago. I was waiting to re-sell this photo to publish it, but it has not happened. But I do it now at the edge of a post that called my attention powerfully. He has appeared on the blog BUSSINESS NEWS & PHOTO FORUM, and is entitled The Real "New frugality," Time Style. It explains that TIME MAGAZINE, nothing more nothing less, used as a cover a stock photo from iStockphoto agency and paid... $ 30! TIME usually pays $ 3,000 per cover. Thus the story of my photo would make a good comparison with the so called golden age of photography that seems more distant every day though there is not really so much in time.

The first week of August 2008 I received the monthly sales reports of one of my stock agencies, AGE FOTOSTOCK. Besides of a few photos sold to publishing houses, I noticed another one with the following references: PHOTO NUM.: 5-B86-4CAT6668-1. PHOTO USE: ADVERTISEMENT. SALES AREA: GERMANY. TOTAL AMOUNT: 228 €. The agency gets the 50% of the sales so I will be paid 114 € for this image sold in Germany for advertisement. August is, usually, a bad month for free lance photographers and still worse in this times of crisis. Everybody is on holydays, and the monthly and weekly publications have all his August’s issues prepared and ready to publish. So, is very nice to see that the stock keeps working during those months. (See my former post STOCK PHOTOS, CAPA AND THE COPYRIGHT). Though, I’m afraid, the agencies golden age is gone forever. Internet and the millions and millions photos circulating through the Net has made the prices fall down, a very clear example of the law of supply and demand.I don’t need to check the photo number in AGE’s web to find the image. I remember it perfectly. The number 6668 is assigned to a photo of dolphins I took at Barcelona’s Zoo about 15 years ago. It is part of a picture story I did for Vanguardia Magazine, but neither the story nor the single dolphin’s photo were ever published there

The story was an idea I had. I wanted to photograph the animals and their keepers, veterinarians, etc (In fact I did it before TV3, the Television of Catalonia, presented a serial called Veterinaris that had a great success). For this particular image, I have to shot from a platform, overlooking a water tank, accompanied by the dolphin’s keeper. He raised his hand and all the dolphins, together, jumped, just three times.-I can’t make them jump more because they get tired-he told me. The platform was mobile, like a basket, bending towards the tank below. I had to hold on tight with my left hand and shot my Nikon with a 28mm lens just with the other hand. I used a shutter priority program (usually a work in manual mode) and took only three photos on Fujichrome 100 ASA slide film. One of the three images came out very good but, while editing the whole work, I realized I could not use it. There were no references of the keeper, and no references of the place it have been taken.

The story was never published in Vanguardia because El Magazine, its Sunday issue, had just started to be sold together with another Spanish newspaper, and the director decided the story was too local. Thanks to the copyright, that was mine, I published it in the Avui Sunday issue.

And, years later, I published the story again in Public, a magazine where I worked as a picture editor.

I brought the dolphins photo, unpublished till then, to AGE FOTOSTOCK that is a stock agency. AGE main purpose is to get the maximum profit out of the images, and in the contract we, the photographers, sign there’s a clause that allows AGE to retouch or modify the photos digitally. In this particular case they cloned one of the dolphins; it’s the only time they have done it with one of my images, but it improved the photo a lot. I took a close look to the sales reports along the years, and the picture I labelled as DOLPHINS. BARCELONA ZOO it’s been sold till today…51 times all over the world! -although it doesn't mean that it's my best picture at all- Many times it was used for advertisements and in not habitual countries like Japan, Brazil, South Africa or Thailand.
Other bestsellers? In a new post.

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