What is a Virtual Agency?
A Virtual Agency ("VA") makes it possible for a group of independent photographers to link their archives together and take advantage of group marketing efforts.
Because the VA is simply the grouping of multiple PhotoShelter Personal Archives together into one searchable pool, all of the photographers maintain total control of their images, and any sales are conducted directly between photographer and buyer; earnings are not shared with any other photographers. The VA was designed to give the individual photographer the marketing power of a true collective without sacrificing business independence.
Is this a "real" agency?
The Virtual Agency is very different than an actual real-world photo agency. One big difference between the two is that a typical photo agency has a staff of sales people working full-time to sell your images, and the Virtual Agency does not. However, a typical real-world agency takes a percentage of all sales to pay for the expense of having a staff of sales people - and a Virtual Agency takes no percentage of sales. The transaction is conducted directly between the buyer and the photographer, which cuts out the middleman.
A VA is invitation-only; the only way to join a VA is through an invitation after selected on quality and originality of the pictures.
The content of a VA is made up of galleries that are submitted by its members.
A Virtual Agency's search index - the images that are combed when a visitor executes a search through the VA - automatically includes all images that are contained in a public gallery in that VA. Additionally, for any member whose full archive searchability is set to "yes," any images not included in the VA but that are marked as "publicly searchable" will also be included in the VA search index.
"Virtual Agency" is a service of Photoshelter.