Monday, November 2, 2009

Of Elephants, Associates And Ego

A Journey Towards Success
The image above, of a huge elephant lumbering down a long road on a journey requiring perseverance and determination, is a great example of a slightly unusual way of adding to your productivity, your income and your success in stock photography. How is that? To begin with, while I photographed the elephant in Thailand, and the road in Arizona, I did not create the composite picture. This elephant stock photo was created by my associate, Stephanie Roeser. She is not an employee, and she doesn’t work for me. She is one of several individuals whom I have opened up my files to as raw material for stock picture creations.

New Ideas And Royalty Splits

Opening up your files in this way works on several levels. First, it can bring in all the new and fresh ways of seeing things, and of new ideas, that another individual brings to the table. While I had the images for this new composite, Stephanie came up with the idea and sorted through my files to find the pieces to make it work. In short, she came up with the idea, she put the time in to sort through my files, and she did the Photoshop work. We then divide the royalties on a case-by-case basis. The split can by eighty percent to her or as much as eighty percent to me. It depends on the particulars of any given project. Stephanie consults with me on possible ideas. I give some guidance and suggestions, but what she does is her show; she works at her own pace and on her own schedule.

Credit Lines, Copyright Issues And Other Problems
While I have found this arrangement to work very well for me, it is not a step to take lightly. It is essential to work out all those difficult details such as royalty splits, credit lines, copyright issues and so forth. It is also important to make sure that problems do not arise around similars since the person you decide to work with may not be familiar with the images you have already submitted to various stock agencies.  There is also the ongoing royalty split to contend with. I have a File Maker program that I put all my sales into and that automatically breaks out the royalties that I owe the photographers who work with me.  Keep in mind; ideally the images that are made will bring in income indefinitely, which means you will have to pay royalties indefinitely. This is a lot of responsibility, so you have to be sure you really want to undertake it.

Assistants, Retouchers, And Fellow Photographers
A great candidate for someone who can enhance the value of your files might be an assistant who is good with Photoshop, or perhaps a retoucher you respect, maybe even a fellow photographer who likes digital manipulation as much as, or even more, than he or she likes shooting.  If you have files that can be used to create new images, or can be enhanced to create outstanding stock images, then your partnership can be extremely rewarding for both of you.

Images, Ego And Royalty Checks
I have a number of such relationships. For me the most difficult part actually surrounds my ego. I want credit for the images I do, and I prefer not to have my name on images I didn’t do. But sometimes it just isn’t possible to keep things so separate. In the case of this elephant image, submitted to Getty, it goes under my contract and needs to be my copyright. Sometimes, as with the image Stephanie has created here, it is particularly hard because I wish I had created it!  Oh well, the royalty checks will help.


Luis Santos said...

Hi! It looks like the elephant strength is moving the road like a roller-coaster! Awesome concept like always :)

John Lund said...

Thanks Luis...but I guess Stephanie gets the credit....