Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Light at the End of the Tunnel

The light at the end of the tunnel: the Internet.

Photographers are under duress

Most photographers feel under duress these days. Assignment photographers are feeling the stress of losing work to stock photography. Macro stock photographers are feeling the stress of losing work to Micro stock. Micro stock shooters are feeling the stress of traditional shooters now competing with them in Micro stock. All of us are feeling the stress of the economic downturn. Photo schools are churning out competition at record rates. Designers are doing their own work with Photoshop. The Internet is driving the advertisers away from print advertising. Corbis is lowering their royalty rates; Getty is offering Flicker photographers entry into stock…but at lower rates than their other photographers.

In the face of all these dismal thoughts I have found an oasis of happiness! Studies show that having the feeling of control (even if it is an illusion) makes us happier. As a stock photographer I am used to making images and fighting with Getty and Corbis and others to get my images accepted. Then it has been up to the agencies to market my work and hopefully collect fees and pay me my royalty. There is a heck of a lot in my career as a stock photographer that I cannot control. The result is frustration and unhappiness.

Taking control

I have, however, found a light at the end of a tunnel. I am feeling like I do have a measure of control now. The web is empowering me. I can watch the traffic to my site increase week-after-week. That feels good! I can see when people go from my site to Caf├ęPress, Imagekind, Blend, Getty and Corbis. This is all very new to me; I don’t yet know what my conversion rates are or will be. I do know this: My plan is working. My traffic is steadily going up, people are clicking on PPC ads, I am starting to sell prints, and visitors are going from my site to the agencies that represent my work.


More specifically, four months ago when I started this project I was literally getting about 1 person a week to my site. Yesterday I had almost 800. Over fifty people went on to Blend, Getty, Corbis or Kimball (stock agencies that carry my work). A couple of people went to CafePress and at least one person went to Imagekind. I also got a request from a teacher for a free print for her class, a request from an owner of a dog salon for one of my images for her signage (uh, also for free), and one person telling me I had a broken link. Oh yeah, and I made $2.37 on Google ads! Hey, pays for coffee!

As an added bonus, I am enjoying this new expanded web experience! I find I like blogging, I like learning new information, gleaning various tidbits from Twitter and getting to know other photographers through Internet interaction. Sometimes I do feel a bit overwhelmed by it all, but for the most part it is an enjoyable experience.

Replace depression with energy

Even with all the time I am spending on the Internet, I am still being more productive in making images too. Because I feel like I have control over my destiny I am invigorated. I am excited and enthusiastic and want to make more images. Depression kills productivity and creativity, and feeling like I have control replaces depression with energy.

There are so many ways the Internet can help us in our photography businesses. We can sell our images, we can create and build our brand, we can drive traffic to sites that license our work, we can learn more about our art and our craft, we can market our assignment work and we can network with others that have similar interests. For me, the Internet really seems to be the light at the end of the tunnel!


Lee said...

Inspiring stuff John. Welcome to a world that many of your peers still can't "see" like you do.

Next step, get your content off shared blogging services and onto your own property (i.e. install Wordpress on your own site).



John Lund said...


Thanks for the tip! I will look into that right away. BTW, I still don't understand a whole lot about this feel free to point out any thing you see that might need improvements! That goes for any and all!