Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Panic Greed And Patience In Creating Stock Photos

Whats the rush? Give your images some time to rest!

Creating Stock Photos And Image Gestation

I am not sure whether it is panic or greed, or perhaps both, that keep inserting their insidious talons into my photographic flesh (can I turn a phrase or what). You see, the problem is that I have a very hard time finishing a stock photo well. That is, taking the time to make sure every detail is a good as I can make it. I have an even harder time giving it a rest period before submitting it. Yet that rest period is incredibly important. So often I am in such a rush to finish an image and get started on the next one, and to see that first one up online and potentially earning me income, that I don’t take the proper and appropriate time to let the image gestate a bit before declaring it complete and sending it off.

The Approach That Finally Works
There are many reasons to allow for this gestation period, which I think should be a minimum of three days, and better a week, though I imagine each image would have its own optimum gestation period. Some images, like elephants, might even be best with a two-year gestation…and though that might be taking it a bit far, I have actually had images sit in a unfinished condition for that long before revisiting them and coming up with the approach that finally works. In the elephant photo above, I let the image sit (no pun intended) for a few days before I had the idea of adding the line of Pelicans flying by. It was a small touch but it adds a tremendous amount to the final image.

Separation, Detachment And Increased Earnings
A waiting period allows you to get some separation, some emotional detachment, from an image. That can be important because, at least for me, the emotional involvement and excitement of creating a stock photo (hey, I hold stock photography in VERY high regard), can hide flaws in the image from me, as well as keep me from seeing derivative versions that can significantly increase the earnings potential of my efforts. Once I send that image off, it makes submitting similar images or alternative versions almost impossible.

Feedback, Breathing Time And Significant Improvements

In addition, having a waiting period allows me to get some feedback from others on a photo. Sometimes someone will point out something about one of my stock images, a problem of some sort, that I already knew on some level, but refused to acknowledge to myself. Other times people can give me a new and fresh perspective altogether. While ultimately I have to go with my own judgment, if several others point out a similar difficulty, or possible improvement, then it certainly behooves me to pay attention. I find it interesting that sometimes my ego has a very hard time accepting another person’s point of view or suggestions, even while I can clearly see the validity of those suggestions. Having the patience to give an image some breathing time can lead to significant improvements in one’s imagery with virtually no negative consequences. Now I am off to watch some mindless television while my images “gestate”!


Cindy Singleton said...

Great advice that applies to nearly all genres of photography. I'm much more objective of an image that sits both after it's taken, and after I think it's finished.

Unknown said...

Great post, John. Acting without haste is essential. Sometimes the opposite issue arises for me. Instead of disallowing ample time for gestation, I ruminate excessively. This is where the perfect becomes an enemy of the good. Whatever our creative hindrances may be, may we all overcome them...

Todd said...

This post is so amazingly true...I can highly relate to it. This has happened to me so many times. Sometimes waiting for an image to "settle" you notice things about it that you could have improved, and so saving it for a little while on your hard drive was the best thing you could have ever done. I'm not sure it's always greed, as just trying to grow your business. To me, money is just money...but the numbers are what tell you how well you're doing from month to month. If I don't see increases over time, I'm either doing something terribly wrong, or maybe I'm not producing enough. It's all about workflow, though. Nothing but good can come of leaving images to settle for a little while. A week's wait isn't going to kill us :)

John Lund said...


I guess it is all about balance....


John Lund said...


Money is just money? Sacrilege! Wish I had your healthy outlook!