Friday, November 20, 2009

Funny Cow Picture And A Lot To Learn

Funny Cow Pictures And Wall Decor
Every so often I create an image that just makes me happy, and this is one of them.
I had a request from a wall décor company to produce a series of  “funny cow pictures” for them to distribute as matted and framed prints. My first reaction was not exactly enthusiastic. I had a hard time envisioning cow pictures that would be of any interest in a fine art sense. But what the heck, I thought I’d give it a try. For one thing, if I were to create a series of cow pictures for the wall décor company I would retain all other rights and possibly have some good material for stock photos. Funny Holstein dairy cow stock photos, but stock photos nonetheless!

Google Searches And Cool Stock Photos
This opportunity came about because of the effort I have been putting into my web site. The wall décor company found me through a Google search. While the matted and framed prints may or may not end up being successful, this (admittedly self-proclaimed) cool stock photo was a direct result of having my work found online. Twenty plus years of selling stock images have taught me two things: First, this image will sell. Secondly, I cannot predict what images will be successful. Oh well….

Mountain Peaks, Holsteins And Seals
But getting back to that cow image. After finishing the compositing work I zoomed in to 100% to check for dust spots or other possible problems. I almost didn’t see the seals! The mountain peak in the image that the Holstein is standing on is actually a rock formation just off of ocean beach in San Francisco. When I photographed it, and during the compositing work, I never noticed the seals laying in the shadows on the rock! Like they say, the devil is in the details….

Variations, Angles And A Lot To Learn
The sky was photographed during a road trip through Colorado. The cow was photographed as part of a greeting card image.  I thought I had done a pretty thorough job of covering the Holstein when I photographed it, but now I wish I had shot a lot more variations and angles.  I still need to come up with at least a dozen more “cowscapes” and I am a little thin on cow photos and ideas. Here I am, 58 years old, having shot professionally for over thirty years, and a Photoshop user for nineteen years, and I still have so much to learn! 

Efficiency, Productivity And Strategic Thinking
I can greatly increase my efficiency and productivity if I learn to think more strategically before a shoot. The Holstein dairy cow I photographed cost me $1,200.00 to rent (including the animal trainer). If I had thought about the shoot in terms of stock production rather than in getting what I needed for a given greeting card image, I’d be in a much better place for maximizing my return on that money. But, nonetheless, I do have what I think will be a successful stock image, the end result of efforts that I have put into my web site. And maybe even more importantly, I have an image that was both fun and satisfying to create.


Cynde said...

cute! hey john, you should have a twitter link on your site.

John Lund said...


You mean I don't...hmmm, have to get on my web master!



Todd said...

It's really amazing what we find in the details, at 100%. Those small little viewfinders don't always allow us to spot the little things. The other day I was editing a photo of a large mansion, and just hanging out at the top, all alone, was a morning dove. I got a kick out of it :)

The cow series sounds like a lot of fun. But my gosh - $1200 for a cow shot? Next time look up your local farms and offer TFCD or something :) Kick in $100 and I'm sure they'd get the cow to spit nickels if you wanted them to. With the way things in the market are changing, it's a shame that budgets for shoots also have to be cut smaller and smaller. It's so much easier to throw money at a project and have everything you need all lined up. If it's worth it to line up another cow shoot, go for it - but you might just be able to line something up on a much smaller budget, even if you have to cover the travel expenses. Too bad all of the county fairs are about over, for this time of year :)

John Lund said...


$1200.00 is a lot for a cow, but I didn't mention that the cow shoot was paid for by the greeting card client. If I shoot another cow, self-financed, believe me, I will find a way to do it for a lot less!



Todd said...

Oh in that case, as long it's on their dime, who cares? :) That's awesome.