Where do you go to licence the use of a photograph by Nadav Kander, Massimo Vitalli, Stephen Shore or Larry Fink? Gallery Stock have over 50,000 images by what Stewart Mungeam, general manager of the agency's European office, describes as "400 of the very best commercial and fine art photographers." He is adding around 3000 new images a month, "But bare in mind," Mungeam stresses, "these are three thousand amazing images, there are no fillers being uploaded. They are all really beautiful images."
© Nadav Kander
Gallery Stock fills a unique niche in the world of stock photography: "Most of our photographers have never joined a stock library before, a lot of them are fine artists and would never have normally considered stock as an outlet for their work. You can't have images that are sold as prints in some of the best galleries in the world splashed all over the place by Getty or someone. So Gallery Stock gives them an outlet for their images as an extra revenue stream and also hopefully to publicise their work but in the right way and for a respectable fee."
Mungeam admits that their fees are likely to be higher that anywhere else, but prices clearly aren't prohibitive. "We licence across the board, so editorially we generally work with the higher end publications: Le Monde, Republica, John Brown, Wardour and Penguin and then obviously, advertising-wise it's all the big agencies across Europe and in the States and across the world for press campaigns."
© Stephen Wilkes
The company, started by Bill Charles five years ago, has gone from strength to strength. The European office, based in Shoreditch in London, opened just over a year ago and new offices are planned for Germany and Singapore.
Opening the London office was a fantastic opportunity for twenty-seven-year-old Mungeam, who had previously been working for the Bill Charles agency as well as running his own framing company. His entrepreneurial flair first surfaced while studying photography at Nottingham Trent University. "I didn't get on with the course very well," he explains, "I knew I wasn't good enough to be a photographer so in my second year I went off and did my own thing”.
Part of what he enjoys about his job today is the careful process of editing work for the library, which involves working closely with photographers. "A lot of the fine art guys just have thousands of negs and contact sheets. I often go to their studio and help go through the work. It's a process that takes time and needs to be done properly. What you might like on your wall from a fine art photographer won't necessarily work as stock or translate into a commercial advertising image. Sometimes we have to say, 'I love this image and I know it's one of your most famous fine art prints, but it's just not going work as stock', most of the time it does however."
© Ewen Spencer
The quality of the work is key and not all the photographers they work with are recognisable names. "It makes a big difference for the fine art guys who don't establish big reputation until later in life. It helps on two levels, obviously we're making them money but we are also putting their work out there to be valued."
Photographers are promoted through Gallery Stock's blog and mailers, and through beautifully produced brochures, the most recent of which picked up a PDN Nikon award.
For the upcoming photographers who Gallery Stock deal with, just having their work included alongside that of photographers whose work they admire is a matter of prestige, and hopefully a way to bring in some revenue without selling out to a side of the industry that is generally looked down on by the fine art set. As Mungeam proudly points out, "With Gallery Stock it can actually enhance a photographer's reputation to be associated with a stock library."
Photo Credits: Stephen Shore , Nadav Kander , Stephen Wilkes , Ewen Spencer
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