Saturday, January 2, 2010

Funny Animal Pics, Concept Stock Photos And SEO For 2010

This funny animal picture started my Animal Antics collection of anthropomorphic pet pictures for greeting cards, coffee mugs, and other products.

I believe it will be increasingly important to produce creative, conceptual photos that are not competing with all the other images out there.

Funny Animal Pics, Concept Stock Photos, And SEO
What does 2010 have in store for me? More funny animal pics (for my efforts with Caf├ęPress, ImageKind, Greeting Cards, and all those veterinarians and animal groomers that e-mail me seeking to use those photos), More stock photos, particularly concept images, for Blend Images, Superstock, Getty and Corbis; and more interviews and blogging. All of the above will contribute to the most important aspect of my ongoing SEO effort by providing quality content for my website.

Increased Demand, More Money, And Higher Price Points

If nothing else it should be interesting to see where the image industry goes from here. Obviously, as the economy picks up there will be both an increased demand for images and a willingness to spend more money on them, though I don’t think prices will rebound to pre recession levels. But I do expect prices in the microstock arena to increase. There will continue to be plenty of free images and a lot of very low priced ones, but as iStock has done with Vetta, there will be more offerings at higher price points. When RF first arrived on the scene the prices weren’t much higher than microstock levels, but gradually the prices grew until now, in many cases, RF prices are significantly higher than RM!

Traditional Stock, Microstock, and Fading Community
I also think that more and more there will be less separation between micro and traditional stock. After all, it is all stock, just at different price points. The trend started by Veer and Fotolia of offering stock from all categories in one place will continue. The “community” aspects of microstock will begin to fade as micro is absorbed more and more into the folds of the traditional players like Getty and Corbis, and as microstock is dominated more and more by pros and those micro shooters who excel at producing vast quantities of quality images.

Millions of Dollars And Image Theft
Another area to watch will be the anti-theft developments spearheaded by companies like PicScout, LicenseStream, TinEye and C-Registry. The millions, perhaps billions, of dollars that are being lost through copyright infringement and unfulfilled potential license fees, is just too big a piece of the pie to go unclaimed. The question is when, rather than if, image theft will get reigned in…and how much of the increased revenue will find its way into the pockets of photographers as opposed to the pockets of distributors.

Creating Stock Photos, Imprinted Products And SEO
I would probably make more money in the short term by devoting less time to my Internet efforts and SEO, and more to creating stock photos, but I totally believe that in the long term, it will be to my huge advantage to develop both my web presence and to increase my personal branding. Plus, my strategy of creating more silly pet pictures for distribution as photo imprinted products, and for increasing my print sales (through Imagekind), also relies on increased web traffic and high rankings in the search engines.

2010, An Awesome Year

So in the coming year it will be more of what I was doing in 2009. I am totally convinced that 2010 is going to be an awesome year, partly because I intend to make it an awesome year, and partly because, well, 2010 just rolls of the tongue so nicely!

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Seeing Your Photo Business With Fresh Eyes

Sometimes, to see the way forward for your business, it helps to have a fresh perspective.

Peeling Bananas
For fifty some years I have been peeling bananas. It is often a struggle. I look for anything to get a starting cut into the skin near the stem so that I can start the peeling process without smushing (come on,  that has to be a legitimate word…), the fruit. I have tried everything from a fingernail to a key, but knives work best.

Start From The Other In
I recently watched a short video on the Internet. It was about how to peel a banana.  I watched for amusement, as I already know how to perform that particular task. Uh, I thought I knew how to peel a banana. The more efficient way to free the banana from its skin is mind-boggling simple. Start from the other end!  OMG, it works so much better!

Tools, Techniques And Pain Points
I remember once, giving a demonstration at Photo Plus in New York on Photoshop. At the end of my presentation one of the people approaching me at the podium was a man who identified himself as one of the engineers for Photoshop. He said he would love to have a talk with me about my “Pain Points”, areas where I was continuing to use tools and techniques I had learned in Photoshop years earlier, and was continuing to use despite the fact that there were new and better tools and techniques. Geez, and I was passing on these “pain points” to my audience. Embarrassment!

Preconceptions, Old Habits And Fresh Eyes
OK, where am I missing other solutions to problems hiding in plain site? Where in my business am I being a slave to preconceptions and old habits?  What are the pain points in my photography business? Perhaps more importantly, how do look at my business and at my photography through fresh eyes that I might see what these pain points are? How can I re-frame my business and and be sure I am on course for my future plans.

A Different Perspective
One way to look at one’s business through “fresh eyes” is to have someone else look at your business. A little over a year ago I had my brother do just that. The fact that he was totally un-involved in the photography world gave him the ability to look at my business from a totally different perspective…and it radically altered the thrust of my efforts.  It was his observations that pointed out to me the wisdom of embarking on an Internet-centric path of SEO (search engine optimization), creating an online image database, and adding content ranging from articles and interviews to this photo blog.

An Open Mind And Objective Evalutation
If you know someone in a different line of work, who you respect, it might be a good idea to have them review your business and be open to what they might come up with. Of course, you also need to utilize your own knowledge and determine what feedback is actually of use. The tricky part is having an open mind, being able to use objectively evaluate the feedback, and incorporating any new ideas into your business.

Suggestions From Within The Photo Industry
I also welcome suggestions from those within our photo industry. It was at the suggestion, maybe I should say urging, of two of my fellow photographers, Jack Hollingsworth and Shalom Ormsby, that I began my blog centered around stock photography. I routinely seek out the opinions and ideas of my fellow shooters, but always keeping in mind that it is up to me to determine when those suggestions and ideas are germane to my own business approach. Most of the feedback I get I have either already incorporated, or have decided for one reason or another that it doesn’t work for me. The hardest part for me, as I mentioned earlier, is keeping an open mind.  Those suggestions that I have taken to heart and incorporated into my work have made a huge difference in my approach over the last year. As to how successful this new course will be, only time will tell.