Wednesday, June 10, 2009

My flickr Experiment

I am amazed at how resistant I am to trying new things! Specifically I am talking about using social media and the Internet. I believe in the Internet, I rely tremendously on technology, was a very early adopter of Photoshop and digital capture, and yet I still resist a lot of the new and even not-so-new developments.
I am writing this because I have just dipped my toe in yet another pool of water…flickr. I am not thrilled about the prospect of spending time learning something else that may or may not work for me (when I would rather be spending the time making my images). But I guess as part of my ongoing growth, and my determination to keep my career in stock photography a healthy one, it is in my best interests to forge ahead and familiarize myself with another part of this stock-photo-Internet puzzle. After all, Getty is mining flickr, I have encountered a number of Art Directors who peruse flickr, and certainly gazillions of people log on to flickr just to look at photos!

So I just opened a Flicker account and uploaded five images. In the beginning I am just uploading my funny anthropomorphic animal pictures. Most of these images are not with any agency, and the ones that are with a stock agency are with Kimball Stock where they are available as non-exclusive rights managed images. If I choose to license the images myself I can still do so.

Now What? I decided to do a search to see how long it would take to find one of my images. I searched under “massage” and “cats” since one of the images I upload was one of my “Animal Antics” images of one cat giving another a massage. Well, it didn’t take long! My image was the second one that showed up! It was however uploaded by someone else. It was also the fourth one, and the seventh one, and…a lot more times as I looked deeper and deeper, but nowhere was my name ever mentioned, and I gave up searching before I found the one I uploaded. Not exactly the most encouraging start to my flickr experiment!

It seems pointless to try and police my copyright in these cases…it will just use up my time and there certainly isn’t any compensation to be gained. What I did do was to leave a comment on several of my pirated images that the image in question was mine and that they could see more of my work at my website (I included my URL). If nothing else, maybe I can use the misappropriation of my images to help direct traffic to my site. Time will tell! If any of you have any suggestions about how to use flickr to promote your photography business, or how to deal with infringement of this kind, I’d love to hear it!

Monday, June 8, 2009

Adjusting My Strategy For Selling My Stock Photos

Adjusting My Strategy For Selling Stock Photos

In a recent interview with Tom Grill (Tom Grill Interview), perhaps the most experienced stock shooter in history, he indicated that he is shooting for RF (Royalty Free) and not RM (Rights Managed). His strategy is to provide RM quality images for the RF market thereby having the best images available for those who are looking for RF stock photos. My own recent strategy has been to focus almost entirely on Rights Managed images. But after re-reading Tom’s interview, I am adjusting my course a bit.

I am continually debating with myself on whether I am making a mistake by focusing so much on RM. The problem, as I see it, is that by shooting only RM I am eliminating a big portion of the market, probably the biggest portion at this point. To hedge my bets, and having read Tom’s advice, I have decided to send more of my new work to RF. I have to admit it makes me a little crazy! I just have a very hard time with the idea of selling my highly manipulated concept work for RF prices. I also hate the idea of selling it based on file size.

“What about Micro?” some of you might ask. First, I consider Micro to be just a lower priced version of RF. Secondly, I do worry about missing out on what, by volume, certainly is the biggest market. But the research I have done so far indicates to me that “traditional” RF, despite declining RPIs, still offers me a bigger dollar yield per image and per shoot.

Some of my RF stock photos with Blend Images have made me some pretty impressive sums of money. I have a number of images that have brought in, so far, in excess of $5,000.00 over a two and three-year period of time. I have a couple of RF shoots that have brought in $20,000 to $30,000.00 over a similar time frame, shoots that only cost me two or three thousand dollars to execute. I continually have to fight my “old school” mentality about stock and work at embracing the new realities…like them or not. But it certainly helps to have the knowledge and guidance of photographers like Tom Grill to help point the way.

The RF that I have shot has been almost entirely for Blend Images. When Blend recently began to offer Rights Managed stock I went back to doing what I love doing most, those highly manipulated concept stock photos. Now I will be sending more of those images to the Royalty Free offerings, testing the water, and hoping that the sound I hear is a cash register ahead and not a waterfall!