Tuesday, December 15, 2009
Flying Money, My First Photoshop Stock Photo
I noticed, when looking through my sales history, that many of my images have a very long life. The above image of flying money, which I named many years ago, Flight of the Greenbacks, is one of those long-lived pictures. It brought in just under $400.00 over the last year. Now $400.00 in a year for a stock photo is hardly what one would call spectacular, hardly worth mentioning, I suppose. But the cool thing about this image earning that amount over the last year, is that I created this image in 1990! This image was, I believe, the first stock photo I ever created in Photoshop.
Hundred Dollar Bills and Wings of Egrets
I photographed the money, a $100.00 bill, with a 4x5 Sinar camera using Ektachrome 4x5 transparency film. The wings came from a 35mm slide of an Egret in flight that I had photographed for part of a housing project brochure. I photographed the Egret using either Ektachrome or Kodachrome slide film, I don't remember which. The cloudy sky image was also from a 35mm slide. I had all the transparencies scanned on a drum scanner at a separation house. It cost me a hefty $110.00 a scan, and each scan was transferred to me via SyQuest disk.
Photoshop 1.0 And A Macintosh II
I used Photoshop 1.0 for the digital work on a Macintosh II. My machine had a whopping 32 megs of Ram and a un-calibrated 13 inch monitor. In Photoshop, back then, there were no layers, there was no history, there were no layer masks and there wasn't even a pen tool to create clipping paths (at least at don't remember one). It took me two full days to create this image, and probably a third day of just cleaning up edges. Trying to get things perfect was the difficult part. Well, that and the fact that everything took forever to do! Rotating a 30 megabyte file took over half-an-hour, and since all you could see during the duration was a bounding box, accuracy was non-existent! I don't even like remembering it. Finally, I had to deliver the image to Tony Stone Images (this was before Getty Images existed) as a 4x5 transparency output from a film recorder.
$15,000.00, Fifteen Years, And A Time Magazine Cover
Though the earnings of this image have dropped considerably, way back in the day, it earned some good money. I would guess my total returns for this image is in the neighborhood of $15,000.00. Another interesting point is that it took fifteen years from the time I created it for it to show up on the cover of Time Magazine. The people at Time isolated the flying money and added in a face to illustrate an article on what they called "The Great Retirement Rip Off".
Photoshop, Progress Bars and 3D Programs
In the early nineties I was constantly being told that you couldn't use Photoshop to do professional level work. I just smiled and went back to watching that progress bar. Actually, I should say several progress bars. You could be much more efficient with two or three machines. I remember once using the "radial>zoom>blur" filter on a photograph in an operation that took 19+ hours to finish, then it didn't look very good so I did the old "command-z". I suppose there are those out there (Colin Anderson, Shalom Ormsby and Phil Banko, for example?) who now experience those same situations doing high-end work with 3D programs.
Income Producing Assets
Every time I set about to make a stock photo, I am trying to create an image with that kind of staying power. In the well-known investment book Rich Dad, Poor Dad, Robert Kiyosaki advocates investing your money in “income producing assets”. That is how I view my stock photos, as income producing assets. I am investing my time, my money and my ideas in stock photo assets. I don’t know about you, but I find it very reassuring that those assets can still, even in these years of industry turbulence, have a long and healthy life.