Looking for NPN members who formerly had stock photos at Bruce Coleman

Thanks in advance if any of you can help me with this issue. Anyone involved in nature stock photography since before 2000 will remember the agency Bruce Coleman Inc (BCI). I had a few thousand 35mm slides on file in the BCI library right up until the agency rather suddenly closed. Coleman sold all their stock holdings to an overseas outfit known as Photoshot, which in recent years was rolled into a larger agency that currently is known as Avalon. Many BCI photographers, myself included, elected to have our BCI slides transferred to the new agency.

Recently I decided it was time to end my relationship with this agency, and so I wrote and asked for my original slides back. I was not happy to receive a reply indicating that they were unable to find any of my slides. All they have are 200 or so digital scans. Zero slides.

I mentioned this disturbing revelation to another pro nature photographer who, like me, had his BCI slides transferred to Photoshot/Avalon when BCI closed. Turns out he had a similar bad experience. He was able to get SOME of his slides back, but estimates that he only received about one third of his original BCI library.

There are more details to this story, but for now I just want to learn if there are any other former BCI photographers have run into similar problems with Photoshot/Avalon. If so, please contact me via this posting (or by private messaging if this forum has that capacity).

Thanks everyone—

Sorry to hear that Kerry. I’ve heard all sorts of stories about agencies consolidating and shutting down. Just glad that I’ve only ever submitted digital files.

Thanks for your sympathy, Richard.

Of course when I got started with Coleman, scanning slides was non-existent, and when it did become available, it was prohibitively time consuming and very expensive. Digital SLRs were a long way off. So submitting your original transparencies was what we all did back then. Your best defense as a photographer was to take as many frames of a worthwhile subject (so called “in camera dupes”) as possible. But with wildlife and many other subjects, often you’d only get that one perfect shot out of a whole 36- exposure roll. And if you gave it to your agent to sell, you counted on them keeping track of its whereabouts and taking good care of it so it could be sold again and again.

Off topic somewhat, but what the heck. I’ve not had any good experience with agencies. My first agent— who ran another well-known firm specializing in nature images— quietly stole around $15,000 in my commissions, money he collected from various small, out-of-the-way publications that he sold my images to. My agent hoped that I would never run into my images in these esoteric pubs and would therefore never catch on to his thievery. Unluckily for him, his wife divorced him, and her attorney forced my agent to open his books to reveal ALL his income. At that point he had to come clean to ALL the photographers he bilked, including me. I got my money and all my slides back promptly but I had to apply some legal pressure to do so.

So I didn’t have a good feeling when Bruce Coleman announced that they would be sending all my slides to an overseas agency…

Ugh what a mess. I remember when they used to publish those big source books 15+ years ago that listed tons of agencies. Can’t imagine there aren’t more than a handful now that are still doing solid business. I’ve been with Alamy since 05, their commissions have steadily dropped to 45/55 now. I haven’t submitted in over a year as a result. I’ve been with others in the past but they either went out of business or wanted exclusive representation - of which I ended up having to refer my own leads on those photos to make the sale. So I’ll never do exclusive deals ever again.

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