Friday, December 31, 2010

Advice and Tips From Successful Photographers and Photo Industry Leaders

Crazy Bloodhound celebrating New Year's by swinging from a chandelier.
Hey, its a new year...time to relax and celebrate like this "Party Dog"!

Following is a collection of advice and tips for Photographers gleaned from interviews over the past year with successful photographers, and leaders of the stock photo industry:

Karen McHugh, Pro Sales at Samy's Camera: "Keep on Shooting".

Shannon Fagan, Stock Photographer and Former President of Stock Artists Alliance: "Again, follow your heart, and most importantly, don’t ever take ‘no’ for an answer. If you do these two things well, you’ll always have a career in visual imagery."

Scott Redinger-Libolt, Photographer and Art Director for Blend Images: "I think there is a renewed sense of hope for the Rights Managed licensing. RM built the foundation for this industry and I believe we are coming full circle to embrace it once again. My personal RM revenue has seen the least decline and the most stability over the last decade …so in the long term; I think that’s a pretty smart place to invest."

Jim Pickerell, Photographer, Stock Agency owner and industry pundit:  "Aim for enjoying what you do and giving your customers the best you can do. The rest will take care of itself. "

Stewart Cohen, Assignment and Stock Photographer, co-founder of Blend Images: "Perseverance sustains your talent.

Glen Allison, Travel Stock Photographer: "Just about every single one of us probably has our own unique circumstantial crap we are standing in at the moment, which might seem to mire us down from time to time. Can we find ways to plow through this muck and carve the path to our dream?"

Robert Henson, Director of Channel Relations and Sales at Blend images and President of PACA:  "Do you love what you do?  If you love what you do, it’ll transpire in your work.  If you’re good, there’s a market for your work.  Find someone who can help you navigate the landscape out there.  Try making some content for different channels and watch closely to see how they do for you. "

Sam Diephuis, Stock and Travel Photographer: "It’s a lifestyle not a job.  Even if you are making good money assume you are making half.  Charge what you think you are worth.  Don’t give your work away.  Work with people that you like.  Learn from mistakes. "

Rolf Hicker, Stock Travel and Nature Photographer: "Wake up! Don’t accept everything from the agencies. We are creating those pictures, not them".

Lanny Ziering, Stock Photographer and Co-founder of Blend Images, CEO of SuperStock:  "Great images have always been and will continue to be rare.  My advice to photographers is to find the intersection of what you do well and where there is demand for imagery without oversupply."

Alan Capel, Head of Content Alamy:  "A comedian once said "why are there never any new clichés?".  But often that’s what works, don’t be afraid of the cliché but give it a twist, make it more contemporary, add something that’s not been there before. Try all of this and some will hit the mark but the rest of the time you may well have to follow the tried and tested route. If you can strike the right balance you’ve got a good chance."

Quang Tuan Luong, Nature, Travel and Stock Photographer:  "Understand emerging trends in business and technology and take advantage of short windows of opportunity. If I hadn't understood the importance of search engines on the Internet a decade ago, I wouldn't be there today."

Ron Chapple, Stock and Assignment Photographer, founder of iofoto and ThinkStock:  "Early on, I had a "business adviser" tell me that I needed to transfer some of my ego fulfillment from taking a good picture to running a good business. Those words also helped me understand that we as photographers should not be afraid of the business world. Business is just a game we need to play so that we can enjoy our lifestyle."

Lee Torrens, Stock Photographer and owner of  "I’ve just finished an industry research report which took up most of my time for the past six months. In 2011 my primary focus will be shooting stock - something I’m sure most of your readers will find amusing."

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Stock Photography and Meditation

A businesswoman meditates in a yoga lotus pose in a busy crosswalk to relax, reduce stress and gain business insights and success.
A businesswoman meditates in a busy city crosswalk to reduce stress and relax.
Meditation is the practice of training one’s mind to achieve a desired mental state the purpose of which varies from individual to individual and includes such goals as bliss, stress reduction, pain reduction, spirituality, compassion, and even the attainment of wealth and business success.

Meditation Images in Stock Photography
While perusing my stock photo sales (which includes the sales of my “associate photographers”) a couple of meditation images caught my eye. Two meditating images are in our top 100 selling images in the Blend Images collection (contributing photographers to Blend Images can view online reports such as the top 100 images over the past year, quarter, month, and so forth as well being able to view continuously updated sales information). Having two meditation images in the group of top 100 selling images for our total history with Blend is very interesting. I reviewed all of the meditation images in our collection: Following is a synopsis of the kinds of images that I, and my small band of merry contributors (well…not always merry) have shot over the last five or six years.

Dog and Cat Meditation
Included in our meditation pictures are images of both cats and dogs meditating…from a Whippet meditating in a meadow, to a cat meditating while surrounded by candles…to even an elephant meditating at sunrise (or sunset).  Hmmm, we also have an elephant meditating in a Yoga pose in a Yoga studio! These funny cat and dog meditating images lend a little needed levity to what is generally a pretty solemn subject matter!

Business Meditation Pictures
Our business meditation photos range from an African American businessman meditating on a mountain peak, to an African American woman in business attire meditating on a pile of cash (U.S. Dollars), to a woman of East Indian Descent meditating in an office. Also in our meditation collection are photos of a Thai businesswoman meditating in a Bangkok office, an ethnically diverse group of office workers meditating together on the floor, and business people meditating outdoors in front of their office buildings. Meditating in front of the computer…we have it. Meditating on a conference table…yes! And we are always adding to our business meditation photos.

Meditation and Yoga Photos
No collection of meditation photos would be complete without including Yoga into the mix. We have Yoga pose meditation (and sun worship) outdoors, and Yoga-pose meditation indoors as well. We have meditating on Yoga mats both inside and outside and meditating in Yoga class too.

Unusual Meditation Pictures
We have some pretty unusual meditation photos in our collection as well. We have meditating underwater (we put lead weights in the models bathing suite bottoms to hold her down), meditating on a busy street (in the crosswalk), and new age meditating with energy waves (Kundalini rising) emerging from the meditating people.  We even have pregnant women meditating.

Best Selling Meditation Stock Photos
I admit I was surprised to find two meditation images in the top 100 sellers (total history at Blend Images) but upon some further thought realized that there is a big contributing factor. Both images were also in a Yoga context, which of course greatly increases the market for those images. In fact, as I reflect on things, it may well be that the Yoga aspect of the images actually are what made them best-sellers. Now if I could just figure out ahead-of-time which of our hundred or so meditation/Yoga photos were going to be the best sellers then I’d be cooking! Hmmmn, maybe I should meditate on it!

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Lee Torrens of Interviewed

An Hispanic businessman leans back in his office cubicle as a vast sum of dollars pours out of his computer monitor showing success in a humorous
Microstock...a road to riches or the ruination of an industry...or just another step in the evolution of the business of stock photography?

Interview with Lee Torrens of


I often turn to your site to keep abreast of what is happening in the world of Micro Stock, and I am aware that you are instrumental in putting together New Media conferences on Micro Stock, crowd sourcing and so forth. I appreciate your taking the time to share your knowledge with us. Can you catch us up on how you came to be where you are now…and the scope of what you are undertaking?

Thanks John, it’s quite a thrill to be interviewed by you and appear alongside so many of the industry voices I admire so much.  Thank you for the opportunity.

How I got here was less than deliberate. I used to work in corporate technology until I met my wife. She’s from Argentina, so I changed careers to something with more geographical freedom: website development. At the same time, my wife got into microstock; she’s a graphic designer and keen photographer. I combined what she and I were learning about microstock with what I was learning about website development and created a blog, with no real expectations for anything beyond some minor affiliate revenue dribbling in and having a place to organize my research.

At the time nobody else was really covering microstock specifically so I stood out enough to get an invite to speak at PhotoPlus Expo in New York. I arranged a sponsorship with StockXpert to cover my travel costs and prepared the best presentation I could. That was the tipping point for me in stock. I met a lot of prominent industry people who have become great friends and valuable relationships for my career, including you, John. I went to the launch party for the Photoshelter Collection. I didn’t know anyone. I introduced myself to you with no idea who you were, and now look at us!

From there I’ve been very lucky with the opportunities that have come my way and I’m now able to support my family from my various stock photo industry revenues. I started closing down my web development business at the start of 2010 (I’m almost finished). I’ve just finished an industry research report which took up most of my time for the past six months. In 2011 my primary focus will be shooting stock - something I’m sure most of your readers will find amusing. I will also resurrect my blog which I’ve neglected over the past few months. Naturally I’ll still be open for further event programming and consulting opportunities.

The world of photography is changing almost by the minute…or maybe that is by the second!  Microstock is one of the biggest forces of and/or for that change. It has grown like crazy, but now might be the time to ask if it has peaked. What do you think?

This depends on who you are and what you’re measuring. Many of the top non-exclusive microstock contributors are publicly stating that their ‘per image’ income is dropping. For them, microstock has peaked. If you look at the traffic to the websites of top agencies and the growth in agency portfolio sizes you see a very different story. For them microstock has not peaked.

We all like to draw our neat conclusions, but more often than not it’s done with insufficient data. If you can figure out who has the most data in microstock and sit down with them to chat earnings, you’ll see a very different picture than any single earnings statement or traffic chart will tell you.

One element that has peaked - and there is a consensus on this - is the ease with which people can generate revenue as a microstock contributor. It’s now a lot more difficult than it has been in the past, for both hobbyists and “professional photographers” from other disciplines.

Should we “traditional stock” shooters who have held out to this point test the waters in micro…or maybe I should ask is micro for everybody?

Microstock is definitely not for everybody, nor for every photographer, nor for every stock photographer. It’s not difficult to figure out what kinds of images will earn more revenue in microstock. Some people just don’t want to make those images.

Additionally, it’s not difficult to understand how people who are accustomed to selling licenses at thousands of dollars find the prospect of selling them for a few dollars less than appealing. It doesn’t matter whether it’s an ego thing, an attachment to the past, or just the knowledge that they won’t be good at producing high quality in high volume. Fortunately there are alternatives besides microstock.

I’d also advise against doing any “test” at all. Though there are exceptions, microstock earnings are generally crap without a large and high quality portfolio. You can’t upload a small batch of RF rejects thinking you’re going to do anything other than reaffirm your belief that microstock doesn’t work. If microstock doesn’t appeal to you and your RF / RM earnings are enough, don’t waste your time. If your RF / RM earnings mean you need to find something else, know this: microstock works for some people so a test can’t prove the business model is broken. It can only tell you whether ‘you’ know how to make microstock work or not at this time.

An important feature in micro stock is the ability to search by downloads. But that is also apparently problematic as well. It creates an oversupply of the most popular imagery by allowing photographers to determine which images are bringing in the most revenue; images which they then create more of.   I have heard that some of the top micro stock producers are pretty unhappy about this situation. How do you feel about it?

I don’t have the same issue with it as the photographers you’re talking about, and I’m not alone. The ideal of a perfect market in the Adam Smith sense is appealing and we’re getting closer with most markets for digital assets. Ultimately supply and demand will balance out. If too many images of the popular subjects are contributed, the sales will spread thinner and reduce the appeal of those subjects. If people continue submitting images of those popular subjects it’s because they’re getting a profitable return. When they stop, that’s when you know oversupply has been reached. 

Until that time, the best images will continue to rise to the top. This is because the relevance algorithms are smart and know how to promote images that sell well. They have to fight against the Downloads sort order, but they get there eventually if they are truly superior. Most agencies set relevance as the default sort order.

For the same reason, straight copies of images struggle to catch up. The original image has a sales history working in its favor both in the relevancy algorithm and the Downloads sort order.

So ultimately, while it’s possible to make money copying the top sellers, there’s much more money in improving on them. 

It has long bothered me that Royalty Free is called Royalty Free…because it isn’t. Further, it seems to me that micro stock is simply lower priced RF imagery. Now we are seeing micro stock, royalty free, and in some cases Rights Managed photography sold along side each other. Do you think this merging of sales portals will have any ramifications?

As the quality of microstock images continues to rise, it’s logical to expect that when placed side-by-side, or even mixed into the same search result, microstock images will take away from sales of RF images. Naturally this will place further downward price pressure on RF content.

This in turn will force producers and agencies to price RF content based on demand rather than their own subjective opinion of an image’s value. There will likely be a lot of resistance to this, which could be expensive. Dreamstime’s pricing structure has done this automatically for years, but within a relatively limited range.

There are some restrictions on micro stock images. In actuality they can’t be used for anything and everything…at least legally. What are some of the typical restrictions that people aren’t aware of?

Most people are aware that a standard microstock license has restrictions on print run quantity, the number of computers the image can be stored on / accessed by, and prohibiting use on items for resale (both physical and digital). All of these restrictions can be lifted through purchase of an extended license. Some of the lesser-known restrictions which can’t be purchased are:
-  images cannot be used online in an un-altered form at a size above 640 x 480 pixels
-  images cannot be used in anything trademarked or in logos
-  images containing models can’t be used in a way that implies the model supports a particular cause, political party, or point of view (among other things). A few political parties have been caught out by this restriction in the recent past.

Theft is an overwhelming problem in the photo industry. Do you think the various technologies to track images such as Tin Eye, PicScout, Copyright Registry and others will have a positive and significant impact?

Image theft is overwhelmingly common, and it’s a problem, but I don’t think it’s an overwhelming problem. The industry still survives, just like the music industry, the movie industry, and the book publishing industry which all suffer the same problem.

Revenue recovery - the business model where usage tracking allows rights managers to force take-down and payment for unlicensed usage - has limited, if any, application to RF images. As RF continues to further out-grow RM, tools such as TinEye and the PicScout ImageExchange provide more relevance. These specific two tools don’t use the revenue recovery business model (though they can be used for that too), but help people find the legal source of the images.

Their impact is certainly positive and valuable to image owners, but I don’t think the impact will be overly significant in the context of all image theft. Revenue recovery is much more financially powerful, though obviously not so great for PR.

Do you think it is important for photographers to engage in social media sites such as flickr, Facebook, Twitter and others?

If we’re talking about photographers in general, I’d have to say that it’s likely a valuable activity for most.  If we’re talking about stock photographers specifically, I’d say that no, it’s not a smart idea for *most*. There are exceptions, which I will explain.

Sometimes, watching stock photographers with social media is like watching a professional photographer shooting with their camera in automatic mode. They’re doing it but they don’t know what they need to know to do it effectively.

Let’s look at people who are not selling direct, but selling through agencies. It’s one thing to send a few excited Tweets about their latest image that just went up on Agency X. But if they’re investing ‘work’ time and real effort to drive traffic to the agency website, why are they paying the agency 80% commission on their sales?  For each five transacting customers they send to the agency, four benefit the agency and one benefits them. And that’s not counting the customers they send who end up buying images of one of the other contributors at the agency.  It’s madness!

So using social media makes much more sense if you’re selling direct. Even then, there’s two crucial things that need to happen between setting up a direct sales facility and starting a serious social media campaign:

First is measurement. We all know how to measure our stock shoots to know whether they generate a profit, but not so obvious whether all our Tweets and Facebooking is generating anything at all. It’s super-easy these days to measure this stuff. If your direct sales facility doesn’t allow you to see what sales were generated by the traffic from different sources, you need to get one that does. 

Second is SEO. It comes before social media because it’s usually more powerful (sends more traffic) and it’s largely automated, much more so than social media. Additionally, you can bolster your SEO effort within your social media activity by using the keywords that convert best for you and linking to your best landing pages.

Most stock photographers would also be better off investing their time and money in PPC campaigns before, or around the same time, as social media. PPC doesn’t have the same appeal of being “free” like social media, so many stock photographers overlook it. But, PPC is easier to scale, easier to analyze, and subsequently much easier to refine. Dollar for dollar and hour for hour, PPC done well is more lucrative than social media for most stock photographers.

But, none of this means stock photographers aren’t smart to setup the basics of social media right away, both to get familiar with the space and leverage the initial benefits of having a presence. It’s just not the most effective way to spend large amounts of time and money before selling direct, setting up measurement and doing SEO.

My blog generates revenue through two methods: affiliate revenue and direct advertising (paid for by the month) Neither of these methods can be directly linked to individual visitors, and so it can’t be linked to specific traffic sources. However, I average it all out and assign a value per RSS subscriber and per affiliate link click (separately by agency). This way I can assign a foggy-but-informative value to the traffic that comes from different places. With this I know that Twitter traffic has three times the value as my Facebook traffic; very useful information! I also know that people finding my blog from a Google search for “sell photos” are five times more lucrative that those finding me from a search for “microstock”. This is all basic stuff that stock photographers need to be applying to their online sales, SEO and social media activity.

Stock photographers also need to look at the type of visitor coming to their sites through social media, not just the quantity of visitors. Social media itself brings a particular demographic, and *how* you use social media will influence the demographics. Maybe the people they’re attracting are not the kind of people who buy photos, or just not the type that buy expensive photos. Traditional stock photo agencies have some very smart people working in them, so it’s not likely a coincidence that they’re not investing in social media nearly as much as microstock agencies.

Is microstock “leaving money on the table”?

Of course there are buyers who would pay more, but that’s irrelevant in this market today. A strategy of getting the maximum amount that a buyer is prepared to pay only works in markets with scarcity. For anyone who hasn’t noticed, since digital cameras became popular there are more photos around than there used to be. If your intention is to get as much as you can per sale, your customers will just go to a competitor. There’s lots to choose from.

For rare photos, particularly unique photos, and difficult-to-reproduce photos (that’s “reproduce”, not “produce”), there isn’t the same oversupply so you can strive to max out your customers’ budgets as much as you like. People who put such photos into the microstock market are definitely leaving money on the table.

But for the types of photos that do well in microstock, no money is being left on the table.

Is micro stock one word or two?

People who don’t like microstock write it as two words. Seriously! Next time you see it written as two words look at who wrote it. Chances are they’re not a fan of the business model. Everyone in the microstock industry writes it as one word.

John, you’ve written it both ways in these interview questions. Maybe you have mixed feelings about microstock.  ;) Hmmm…got that one right Lee!

What advice would you have for traditional photographers who are eyeing micro?

Many successful traditional stock photographers can’t cut it in microstock. Shocking as that may seem, the two markets require different skill sets for success. People have trouble crossing over, but that works in both directions.

If they’re “eyeing” microstock the presumption is that they’re unsatisfied with their earnings from the traditional market. If that’s the case and they’ve held out this long, they need to consider whether microstock is for them. I doubt any don’t already know what you need to know to make the decision. There are alternatives besides microstock. Just because they’ve always done stock or they’re setup to do it, doesn’t mean it’s the only or even the best option for them.

If they choose to get into microstock there’s three things they must do before they get started:  Read, read, and read. (a la Warren Buffet)

In the traditional stock photo market color values are clipped so isolated-on-white is actually isolated-on-250.  That doesn’t sell in microstock.  It must be pure 255.  If you didn’t know that, there’s another 50 or so similar things you need to learn before microstock stops being painfully frustrating. Read, read, read.

What advice would you have for micro stockers going forward?

Keep doing what works and adapt what doesn’t.
Raise your production values.
Quality always trumps quantity.
Don’t outsource your competitive advantage.
Get more numerical input.
Negotiate more from new agencies who solicit your portfolio.
The optimal quantity of agencies is 1, 4 or 20+.
Video is not for everybody; only those who want to drastically increase their revenue.

And what advice would you have for young photographers are interested in pursuing stock photography as a career?

Browse through top-selling stock photos. If you don’t feel you’d be happy producing that kind of photography, stock isn’t for you.

Otherwise, know that stock provides a lot of freedom with time and creativity, but it takes a lot of time and money investment to build up a to a profit you can live from. If that sounds appealing, keep stock as one of your options.

Do you see a future for Rights Managed stock?

Of course.

On the supply side there will always be rare, highly original and difficult-to-reproduce photos. These photos, in many circumstances, will earn more revenue over their lifespan being sold with RM licenses.

On the demand side there will always be clients who need the exclusivity that RF can’t provide.

I can’t see any situation in which either of those will disappear.

What are the biggest challenges facing micro stock photographers?

For full time contributors it’s efficiency.  Competition is growing. Image quantity is accelerating and quality is steadily rising. More and more people, from cheaper and cheaper countries, are becoming stock photo producers. Top agencies continue leveraging their dominance by reducing royalties. All this leads to a situation where we can no longer afford to produce photos that don’t sell well. Microstock photographers need to be more efficient in all aspects of their business to stay competitive and profitable. 

For hobbyist contributors it’s quality. The long tail is now so long that odd, overly artistic and obscure images are generating less worthwhile returns. The better money is in popular images, and that’s where the quality is now very high. Hobbyists need to produce better images that can compete with those of full time contributors.

I keep pretty decent records of my sales…but whenever I try to analyze my numbers I come to the conclusion that everything sells, duplicating best selling images does not work well for me, and trying to glean useful information from my sales is an interesting exercise, but always leads me to the same conclusion…shoot more great images.  It seems as though there are more tools for analyzing micro stock sales popping up all the time. What is it you would want to find out…and how would it help?

Most importantly it’s about what to shoot. Then there’s how to shoot it and when to submit it. The scale of sales volume and portfolio sizes in microstock facilitate statistical analysis. The opportunity to ‘shoot by the numbers’ is immense. Many of the tools available for analyzing the market or one’s own performance provide a great starting point for this sort of analysis.

What changes do you see happening now, or in the close future, in the world of stock and in micro stock in particular…?

Distribution is getting funky.  We’re seeing a trend towards free-flow of content across markets, channels and price points.

I’m hearing a few of the smaller traditional stock agencies are having trouble attracting content. Their usual contributing photographers are not getting the same size returns they did previously, so they’re not shooting anymore, or not as much. I’ve seen a few of these agencies start approaching top microstock producers, but they’re having a difficult job convincing them to contribute. The stock photo world is upside down!

The top four microstock agencies continue to gain more market power and the rest are losing power. We’re seeing this in the lowering of commissions at top agencies and the relaxing of negotiation positions in the smaller ones. This is not a positive sign for us photographers, but it is a logical reflection of the market conditions, i.e. over-supply.

Finally, I’m seeing a widening gap in agencies - both microstock and traditional - between the technology-have’s and the technology-have-not’s.  Speaking to some senior agency executives about technology can be impressive, inspiring and very educational. Others leave me scratching my head, wondering how they - and by extension, their agency - can be so unaware of what’s going on in the market. Looking at what agencies are doing with technology clarifies the picture of who’s growing and who’s shrinking.

One of the things that attracted me to stock photography over two decades ago was that success was dependent on the image…not on the individual photographer. Is that changing…is personal branding becoming an important factor in the success of an individual stock shooter?

I’m not a big believer in the benefits of personal branding for stock shooters below the very top level. Even then, many are marketing themselves much more to photographers than to photo buyers, though I’m sure it still helps sales.

For branding to be effective, a photographer’s portfolio must appeal to buyers enough for the buyer to remember their brand. That requires either significant coverage of a not-so-common subject or a distinctive style that the buyer likes. I find it amusing that people put so much effort into personal branding before having such a portfolio in place.

The bigger factor that makes stock more about the photographer and less about the individual image in microstock is agency search algorithms. The relevancy algorithms - the default search order at most microstock agencies - aims to provide quality and variety among the most relevant search results. It does this through a combination of factors, many of which are based on the performance of the contributor account, not the specific image. This makes perfect sense and works extremely well for the agency and buyer, but it does make it more difficult for a stand-out image from an otherwise ordinary portfolio to get sales.

Additionally, three of the top four agencies remunerate successful contributors more than less successful ones, through higher commissions, higher prices, or both. Together with the advantage of better search result position, the winner-takes-all effects are significant. But that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to catch up. Many people have reached the higher levels in short time periods over the past two years.

Do you think it is important for stock shooters to have websites and/or to use those sites to get more exposure for their work?

Again, not so much if they’re selling only via agencies, unless they have a unique and distinctive portfolio. There are very few examples of that.

The future of stock photography…optimist or pessimist…and why?

Whenever a market changes as much as this one has over the past decade there will be winners and losers.  In this particular change there appears to have been more losers than winners, so it’s logical to be pessimistic for the majority of people in the market.

From what I read it’s uncommon for past winners to remain winners after such big changes. There’s some clear evidence that this is the case in stock photography now too, both for agencies and producers. But, the revolution isn’t over yet.

Lee Torrens

This interview may not be republished without permission.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Thoughts on Creativity: Making That Light bulb Glow Brighter!

An Hispanic businessman is seen juggling light bulbs, one being a green energy bulb, illustrating the concept of
Enhancing creativity, and the generation of new ideas, is work, but can be done!

Creativity: The Most Important Thing
I have just completed three weeks of shooting stock photo motion (clips) with a Phantom HD camera capturing at frame rates up to 1900 per second. The most difficult challenge was that of creativity, of coming up with countless ideas that met the criteria of being useful for stock purposes, being of a nature that the slow motion was an important aspect, and that were executable with a minimum amount of resources including time, equipment and expense. Creativity was the most important element to the shoot and the most difficult for us. As such, I would like to share some of my own thoughts on creativity...and how to make the creative light bulb glow a little brighter!

Creativity is Work
Creativity is work, though those who enjoy the process might not recognize it as such (as is the case with any kind of work). The more creativity needed the more work it is. Coming up with one great idea might not seem like work, but come up with twenty, fifty or a hundred and the true nature of creativity will quickly become apparent. 

Creativity Takes Time
Creativity takes time. The subconscious is an important ally in creativity, but requires time to mull over and work on a problem. The conscious mind is not to be underestimated either, but does need work breaks, breaks that allow that subconscious powerhouse space to percolate its contributions to the surface. Creativity, for most of us, loves long hot showers, vacations on the beach, and eight hours of sleep at night.  

Creativity Demands Writing Ideas Down
A pen and paper are critical for creativity. Ideas are fleeting things, like dreams, that can disappear forever in an instant. Creativity demands that we write our thoughts, insights and ideas down as quickly as possible. I say pen and paper rather than pencil and paper, because, at least with me… and with the endeavor of coming up with stock photo ideas, a permanent list is important. The brilliant idea that just pops into our head, and is written down, may, a moment, or a minute or an hour later, seem to be ridiculous and banal. Give that idea another day, or week, or even year, and its’ brilliance can rise up again…or it can be the stimulus for something that truly is an important new addition. Write those ideas down and keep a permanent list!

Creativity is a Muscle and Thrives On Training
The creative person is an athlete. Creativity is a muscle that grows stronger with use. Make a daily habit of creative effort and in a few days or weeks the creativity will come easier, though like most athletic endeavors, not every competition will be easily won. In my own creative trials I participate in both sprints and marathons, and when I fall out of my training, that is, quit my consistent efforts for a period of time, my abilities tend to fall off.

Creativity Loves Opposites
Creativity Loves opposites. By that I mean that looking at the opposite of what one would normally expect to see can enhance your creativity. For example, a dog chases a cat instead of a cat chasing a dog. Creativity is primarily viewing relationships in new and different ways. To open up creative possibilities it can help to take, at least for a moment, the opposite view…a cat chases a dog. In one example of just such a scenario, that practice resulted in an image of a cat (OK…a rather large cat) intimidating a bulldog.

Feeding Creativity
It can be fruitful to feed creativity with a fresh flow of photos, illustrations, the written or spoken word, music and even a change of scenery. Who knows what stimulus might be the one to trigger a new and original thought. It is important to note that a stimulus might do its work unseen for quite some time in the realm of the unconscious before emerging like some long dormant geyser to the surprise of all!
Creativity Loves Acceptance and Hates Judgment

Creativity is Open
Creativity thrives on openness and is diminished, or even destroyed by judgment. Creativity requires being open to new ideas and approaches…and by being open to all ideas and approaches. Acceptance is a powerful ally of creativity whereas judgment is the destroyer of creativity. Embrace each idea as a contribution, each suggestion as possibility and creativity will be encouraged. Creativity flourishes where acceptance is the rule.

Intention Is The Foundation of Creativity
Intention is the foundation of creativity. Set the intention to be creative, to solve a problem, or come up with a new idea and then allow the space and time, put in the training and work, write down the ideas and review them, and the epiphanies will come. 

Creativity Loves Company…and Privacy
Creativity loves company, and loves privacy. The creative effort, shared with others (in an environment of acceptance) offers multiple points of view that can be a powerful stimulus. Ideas feed off of each other. But creativity also loves its private time, the safety of the solitary; creativity can be fickle like that.

Creativity Will Flourish
If intent is the foundation of creativity, then patience is mortar that binds the bricks, or elements of the creative process, together to complete the task, to generate the creative solution that is desired. Have the intent, provide the fuel in the form of stimuli, train the muscles of creativity, create an open and embracing atmosphere, write your ideas down and review them periodically, and allow time for the processes to do their work, and your creativity will flourish!

Friday, December 17, 2010

Time, Money and Investing In Stock Photo Shoots

While I have made $40,000.00 from images shot of my Jaguar convertible, I still wouldn't call it a smart investment...but's fun!"

Cats and Laptops
I am sitting here with both my cat (eleven year-old “Plucky”) and my seven year old laptop (Apple Titanium) both on my lap. Makes typing a bit awkward, but heck waiting for the letters on screen to catch up with my typing is far more annoying. Maybe it is time for investing in a new laptop!

A Scanner and a Free Trip To Denmark
Many years ago I had an Aha! Moment when my computer vendor suggested I buy a drum scanner from him. When I asked him how much it cost he answered that it was “only” $54,000.00 (but hey, it included a free trip to Denmark to learn how to use it). Of course, I told him he was out of his mind. He then asked me what I was paying each month in scans. I was paying about $1,500 .00 a month back then (early 90’s). He pointed out that the scanner lease payments would only be $1,000.00 per month. I leased the scanner.

One of My Best Business Moves
As it turned out, spending that $54,000.00 was one of the best business moves I ever made in my photography career. I upped the price I charged my clients for scans, starting selling scans to other photographers, slashed the time it took to get my scans, and really opened up the door for increased stock production. In the first month that scanner became a new profit center!

Adding Web Content and Spiking Blood Pressure
So here I sit working at an ancient laptop that struggles to keep up with my typing, is too old to ever work with my current printers, has a battery life of about two minutes, and will probably suffer some sort of catastrophic death at some very inopportune moment. Methinks it might be time to pay attention to the criteria of what makes for a good business purchasing decision. In this case purchasing a new laptop will enable me add to my web content at a much faster and more efficient pace. I am not kidding here either. The older I get the more precious I realize my time is…and waiting long minutes for this laptop to open a new web page, or switch from Firefox to Word actually is detrimental to my health as my blood pressure begins to spike!

Intelligent Purchases...and That Jag
In these economically austere times I am trying to make intelligent purchases rather than just throw money around. Spending $8,000.00 on my Canon 1DS Mark III, upon reflection, probably wasn’t the wisest thing to do…since I prefer the much less expensive Canon 5D. Oh well….   That video camera I bought a few years ago (Panasonic H200 or something like that...that I almost never used) wasn’t the smartest choice either. About six years ago, when the stock industry was cruising along at a nice pace, I bought a Jaguar XKR convertible. Now one might think that was a silly purchase (OK…it was), but at least I have made about $40,000.00 off of stock images I made using the car as a prop! But I digress.

Investing in Well Thought Out Stock Shoots is Still Wise
Now days, when contemplating an equipment purchase, I tend to balance that against the benefits of investing that money in a shoot. One thing I sincerely believe is that investing in well-thought out stock shoot is still a wise move.  In my own case I just returned from two weeks in Thailand expressly for the purpose of collecting raw material (images) for my stock composite images.  It wasn’t a cheap trip, but I am certain I will make a substantial profit from that investment. I can’t remember the last trip I took in which the images I captured did not more than pay for the trip…though sometimes it does take several years.  But, like the world’s investment markets, one should look at the stock image business with an eye for the long term.

Time, Not Money, is Our Most Important Resource
In my immediate situation, however, the laptop wins. I am going for a refurbished Mac. At this point it is a simple choice because the older I get the more aware I am that time, not money, is my most important resource.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

My Smart Phone Photography Future!

My very own funny cat trying to keep warm...shot with my smart phone!
Is this the future? My cat photographed with my smart phone as he tries to keep warm next to the heater (that is my laptop power cord in the foreground).

Video and Stills From Your Smart Phone
Hey, if the Internet is going to be where we view everything, and if print keeps fading away…and if video is overtaking stills in the stock photo arena, and I can shoot both stills and HD video from my smart phone…then I can see the light at the end of the tunnel.

The Flotsam and Jetsam of  Professional Photography
I will be freed up from lugging around large DSLRs, strobes, light stands, reflectors and all that flotsam and jetsam of what used to be the professional photography world. Hey, how many times over the years have I wished that I didn’t have to travel with all that gear?

Stock Shooter, Photo Journalist, Film Maker and Blogger
Soon, armed with just a smart phone, chock full o’ apps, I can wander around in total freedom shooting anything and everything and immediately posting it to my flickr account (confession: I haven’t even looked at my flickr account in over a year…), with a Getty option to license. I can be shooting stills and HD video, a simultaneous stock shooter, photo journalist, film maker and, of course, blogger extradonaire.

Funny Videos and a Growing Fan Base
I can sit in front of my computer at night watching pirated streaming video, popping my head up occasionally to grab a quick funny video of my cat doing entertaining or extremely cute things…which I can not only post to my flickr stream, but upload to as well to delight that part of my ever growing fan base! 

Thousands of Friends I Don't Know
I can shoot HD video of conceptual traffic shots holding my hand out my car window for an unusual perspective (though risking a ticket because, after all, I will be holding a cell phone). I will be constantly scanning the scenes around me, ever alert for suitable subject matter. No conversation will go uninterrupted; my attention will never hover with any one person long enough to matter. Who needs flesh and blood friends…I will have my computer, my smart phone, and facebook (where I will have thousands of friends I don’t know!).

10,000 Twitterers Tweeting
Twitter will be my constant companion where I can closely monitor the lives of those ten thousand people I follow…well, at least I can update those nine-thousand nine-hundred and ninety-nine twitterites that follow me (OK…right now I only have a tad over two thousand followers…but even then, who can follow two thousand twitterers tweeting…)!

Closing Old Doors and Opening New Ones
Yes, it is a new world that we find ourselves entering with technology freeing us up from all of our old constraints, closing old doors and opening new ones, offering fleeting glimpses of unconstrained possibilities and a dizzing array confusing choices. I may need personal assistant though…right now I can’t figure out how to access my email on my smart phone…oh well!

Saturday, December 4, 2010

Photographer Ron Chapple Interview

Ron Chapple on assignment in the Yukon at minus 28 degrees with his new Aerial Photography business..

Industry Leading, Innovative and Super Successful Stock and Assignment Photographer Ron Chapple Interviewed:

Ron, you got an early start in photography even opening your own studio right out of college. You jumped into stock at a good time back in 1992, and embraced Royalty Free at the right time as well.  In fact, you built up a significant collection, Thinkstock, which was acquired by Jupiter images.  Now you have iofoto, which I hear is a very strong micro collection. 

John, I really appreciate the opportunity to be interviewed for your web site. Stock Photography has been a good business over the years and provided a wonderful lifestyle, however, the industry is changing rapidly and we should all be re-evaluating our business strategy. You are providing a valuable resource to the photographic community by sharing your thoughts! 

I would venture to say that part of your success in photography is due to your openness to new ideas. Would you share your views about that with us?

Change is the only thing that remains constant. (How's that for a cliché’!) Before stock, images were acquired via assignment. Waiting for the phone to ring, sending a bid, shooting the assignment, and waiting to get paid was the business process when I started my career 30 years ago.

Within a few years, art buyers began to source images on a Rights-Managed basis. At the time, a studio strategy of creating images for sale as Rights-Managed stock was revolutionary, and controversial! I had more than a few photographer friends tell me that shooting stock was wrong. Fast-forward to current day and RM is considered the backbone of the stock industry!

With that perspective, it was just a matter of time before new stock licensing models would develop. The need for images never changed, just the pricing and delivery options. Microstock is just another business model.

I believe that if you have committed to making stock photography your primary revenue source, then you need to test and evaluate every new business model. The decision is simply to determine the business that works best for you; all choices are valid options.

I also would add that "stock" should encompass more than just licensing the rights to your images. While "Assignment" is a service business, "Stock" is a manufacturing business. There's this crazy dude named John Lund that makes crazy pix of animals doing crazy human things, then he sells them as puzzles and posters. This is manufacturing and a variation of licensing your images as stock. John smartly figured out how to extract licensing revenue from the retail end user instead of the art buyer.

You have as much, if not more, experience in pretty much all aspects of stock photography as anyone. I don’t think anybody can really say what the industry is going to look like five years from now. Many are saying the ride is over, and a few are saying that new opportunities are on the horizon.  Where do you stand on that?

John, I'm the eternal optimist. At best, the industry is in a significant transition to a business model where everyone has enough revenue to make a successful career from shooting stock. Right now, there's too much power on the aggregator/distributor side. The "agencies" decide what images to upload, what fees to charge, and how and when you get paid. While this has always been the general state of business, there was much more "give & take" 10 years ago. Agency and production strategies were planned in harmony. For example, I collaborated directly with FPG International on creating the first images of multi-ethnic children, and the first images for the gay/lesbian marketplace. (FPG was integrated into the Getty Images collection in the late 1990s.)

I do believe the ride is over for photographers (like me) who produced high-end RM and volumes of high-end Royalty-Free material. The revenues from these licensing models and from microstock cannot support the infrastructure we built to manufacture these images. While outsourcing helps turn retouching, key wording and uploading into a variable cost, the overall revenues are much lower. Our high-end production model required enough profit to take a few hits in a downturn, or to fund research into new image styles and delivery processes. We always budgeted 20% of our production expenses to shoot crazy off-the-wall images just to see how the market would react.  Those days are long gone.

There are still a few shooters who may be able to make this work, but my guess is that margins are so tight that these photographers are extremely careful about the types of images they produce and the production investment. Ten years ago, investing $10,000 into a single day of production was a no-brainer. I think you would find very few shooters willing to invest the same funds today.

Can you share your microstock experience with us, and what you have learned from it?

First, I think microstock is a wonderful opportunity for the thousands of new and established photographers who want to earn income from their images. Stock can provide a lifestyle that offers creativity and flexibility. The stock business was a huge success for my business career, and I am supportive of this opportunity for any photographer.

My studio had early success with microstock through our "iofoto" collection. While this 17,000 image collection continues to provide revenue, the numbers have dropped over 50% in the last 18 months. While some of this might be a result of the economy, I believe that most of the revenue downturn is from the overabundance of images. When we started, most micro sites only had 1,000,000 images. Now those same sites have over ten million images! The statistical chance of making a sale has decreased by 90%. Three years ago, in 2007, we made the tough decision to eliminate our in-house retouching staff, to selectively produce images at lower costs, and to outsource the workflow. All of our cost reduction measures were to no avail- revenues continue to drop, and microstock is no longer profitable for our business.

With Change being our studio mantra and discovering that microstock was not sustainable in the long term, we looked for new opportunities. As a caveat, we did make the decision to redirect our revenues to a new business instead of marketing our "iofoto" images. Perhaps if we had been more diligent, we could have propped up our microstock revenues for a longer time.

What strategies would you recommend for those who want to pursue stock photography during this transition phase of the industry?

1. Do not rely on stock as your sole revenue source.

2. Aggressively explore other ways of extracting licensing revenue from your images through product sales, bulk licensing, or value-added services.

3. Keep shooting! Produce some images for stock, but create mostly images for yourself. Don't lose sight of why you wanted to shoot in the first place.

You have experience with Rights Managed, Royalty Free and Micro.  Can you share your insights and ideas about where those different pricing structures are headed, and if any of them, all of them, or none of them offer long-term possibilities?

I honestly have not spent much time thinking about how these structures will evolve. I do think the "low price image" and crowd-sourcing are here to stay. My only conjecture is that once a search engine gets involved in licensing images, many of the current distributor channels will be challenged to offer a compelling reason for customers to visit their web site.

You are once again off into a new area of photography with your aerial business. Can you tell us about your new venture, how it came about and how it is working out?

Ron prepares for a flight in Hawaii.

The Cineflex gyro-stabilized system, with the helicopter mounts, power supplies, monitors and record decks, is a $600,000 investment...a definite "barrier to entry"!

Route map of a flight over San Francisco.

Many people may not know this, but I have been shooting aerials as a sideline to our lifestyle stock for 25 years. When I first realized that the microstock revenue growth rate was not sustainable, I started to look at other opportunities. 

Stock was experiencing a 10 year downward trend of lowered prices and decreased percentage splits to the photographer with microstock being the newest iteration. Increased volume could only compensate for some of the loss in revenue percentage. My strategy was to look for revenues with a contrarian approach. I researched the market to find a niche that would have minimal competition, offer significant barriers to entry, and be somewhat recession proof. I asked the question "What is the most expensive type of project that a client could possibly commission?" The answers weren't hard to find... aerials or underwater work seemed to occupy the high end cost of the content continuum. With encouragement from a stock house, and a friend in the helicopter business, I chose to invest in a state of the industry Cineflex HD aerial video system. 

The Cineflex gyro-stabilized system, with the helicopter mounts, power supplies, monitors and record decks, is a $600,000 investment. If I was looking for a "barrier to entry" I had found one as financing required committing collateral, a second mortgage and personal guarantees. 

Business has been excellent. While we are still in a growth/investment phase, revenues have been doubling every year for the past 3 years. We hope to break-even in 2010 with tons of new opportunity on the horizon. We ended up investing over $2,000,000 with the purchase of 2 more systems, and new platforms to carry the Cineflex. Any new business will take 4-5 years to achieve success, so toughing out those early years is hard work, always painful, but absolutely necessary.

Most of the growth has been in the international market. In 2009, 60% of our revenues came from USA clients that needed to shoot outside of the USA, or from clients outside of the USA that required shoots in the USA or other countries. Export of the Cineflex V14HD is governed by the International Trade and Arms Regulations of the US State Department, plus we need ATA Carnets for customs, and Visas to work in certain countries. We rapidly developed an expertise in wrangling complex international projects. In the last 2 years, we have completed projects in Taiwan, Kuwait, Brazil, Costa Rica, Chile, Oman, Samoa, Nicaragua, and Canada. We commonly have weeks when all of our equipment and crews are outside of the USA.

And never say never… as a still photographer, I really did not think we would be involved much in video or technical fields. Now, our studio also provides HD video editing services and we utilize Google Earth for pre-flight planning, post-flight analysis, and accurate captioning. Our team has quickly learned entirely new skills that extend the value of our aerial filming services. 

For any photographer wondering about the future, I would add that "life after stock" is a rewarding experience. The lessons learned in the stock industry lends itself well to new endeavors.

Using photography to create a rich life is of particular interest to me. From where I stand you have always done a great job of that.  Is that just the way it has worked out, or is that part of your plan?

The lifestyle was the first choice. I always wanted to travel as a young photographer, but could not afford the expense. I decided that shooting "location work" might be the travel ticket I needed over 30 years ago. I invested in a shoot at the beach with two models to revamp my portfolio to target location work. Of course now, the travel can be way too much! In the past 10 months, I have only been home for a total of 5 weeks.

But remember, when you run your own business, you can't get fired. And those things called vacation are just a dream you will pursue for many years... This change has not been without personal emotion. I went a year without shooting a single image... but I had made the commitment to Aerial Filmworks, and aerial video was our new priority.

Sleep is truly a waste of time. The opportunity to experience a new location or new emotion trumps sleep any day of the week.

Do you have a current favorite image or video clip of yours that you can share, and tell us the story behind?

I'm less motivated by a favorite image than the process that happens along the way. For me, the excitement of discovery is when the frame comes together in front of you, and you have no choice but to shoot.  As a photographer, I'm not trying to make a statement, I'm just interpreting the elements and emotions that are being revealed, and the more variables the better!

Listening to the miles of stories from people in every walk of life are the true everyday pleasures of a photography lifestyle.

It appears that for you photography is very much a team process. Can you share your approach to putting together a team?  Is your team still in place?

The team approach allows new ideas to emerge and keeps the creative process fun! A business owner must always hire people way smarter than themselves. I have always been fortunate to be in the company of really talented people at Ron Chapple Studios. When we hire new team members, I'm the last person to talk with them, and then I'm only there to answer questions. A new employee must be selected and interviewed by all existing staff first. Only after they approve a potential new hire, will I meet with the person.

Are you still producing any stock images? Stock footage?

Yes, we are producing a few images whenever we find ourselves involved with a unique image opportunity. We will likely not submit any significant volume to our microstock distribution channels. Our "iofoto" collection already contains a good cross-section of lifestyle, product and scenic images. Recently, we have been exploring bulk licensing deals for 1,000+ images at a time that have worked out quite well. The net revenue per image is low, but the overall ease of the transaction and net income are worth the effort.

We are actively producing aerial stock footage for distribution through Corbis Motion. While revenues are on an overall upward trend, we are nowhere close to a break-even level. Stock footage is way harder to sell than stock images. There's many different acquisition formats, and directors are usually looking for specific camera moves and lighting in addition to the variety of technical options. Also, many of the networks require exclusive rights which necessitate original production. 

I think that as the Internet matures, image search becomes more effective, and photographers increasingly put their work online, direct sales may be one of those up and coming opportunities. Can you share your thoughts on direct sales?

Direct sales are the future. I can easily see the photographer percentage increasing to 80% or more as the "search engines" will simply charge a transaction fee. This will likely only affect royalty-free and microstock sales as licensing is simpler.

I'm not sure about direct RM sales. This seems to be a relationship business that may remain the domain of a few select agencies as well as photographers with unique collections.

How important is the Internet to your business?  

Absolutely critical. We get 90% of our new business through internet searches. We work in multiple time zones so email and online travel arrangements are essential. We use Google Calendar for all of our scheduling, and archive everyday documents on Google Docs.

We are late to the Facebook, YouTube and Skype applications, but slowly learning how to integrate these opportunities into the business. I have yet to become a Twitterer...

Do you put any effort into SEO?

Yes! Search Engine Optimization is the most valuable part of our online efforts. We avoid glitzy Flash sites, go text heavy and update our pages frequently. We have been able to maintain the #1 organic search result for our market. Over the past few years, we have also acquired several hundred generic domains to capture natural "type-in" traffic. 

We have tried print advertising in regional and national directories with lackluster results.

Do you have any last words of advice you’d like to leave us with?

John, that is way too much responsibility! 

There's a couple of things I try to keep reminding myself every day:

First, I try to never forget why I wanted to be a photographer- and while this may be either too simplistic or too esoteric, the opportunity to explore new landscapes... visual, geographic or emotional, continues to be a driving force. The camera is like a passport, not always to other countries, but to other emotions, and to new relationships. The camera can also deliver ugly Rorschach ink blot results, but I will sweep those under the carpet for now!

Second, stock photography is a business. The most creative photographer will always lose out to the better business person. This was a stunning revelation many years ago, and really frustrating. We must learn and relearn how to be better business people. Maybe that means we shoot some images for our soul, and others for money. Early on, I had a "business adviser" tell me that I needed to transfer some of my ego fulfillment from taking a good picture to running a good business. Those words also helped me understand that we as photographers should not be afraid of the business world. Business is just a game we need to play so that we can enjoy our lifestyle.

Thanks again John!
There really is an end of the rainbow in Ron's sights!

Just another day at work for Ron Chapple!

Filming Hawaiian Airline's first airplane off the coast of Oahu..

Ron's Aerial Photography Business:
Ron's Web Site:


Saturday, November 20, 2010

Empty Rooms and Opportunities In Stock Photography

Doctors and surgeons holding power tools and wrenches as they stand in an operating room in a hospital in a medical stock photo.
A painfully humorous stock photo of surgeons with power tools in an OR came about from my having photographed and empty operating room.
Opportunity And An Empty Operating Room
It was my own little experience with the operating room that inspired me to make a series of images on the medical industry (a visit to the emergency room ended up in abdominal surgery and a five day stay in the hospital.  I had to have a follow-up operation and I sought permission to video and photograph the procedure…(well , permission for my friend Shalom Ormsby to record it), for stock photography. Amazingly enough, permission was granted. That shoot led to a medical shoot of my own after my recovery. As part of that second shoot I photographed an empty operating room figuring that eventually I would have a use for it. Over the years I have wasted tremendous opportunities by not thinking with a wide enough net. I should have photographed every room, office and space that I have used in shoots as separate shots, from multiple angles and altitudes, as both legitimate stock shots in their own right and as resources for my composite imagery.

Doctors in the Operating Room

Several months after shooting in the operating room I was putting together a shot list for a shoot centered around some business ideas. After coming up with a primary image I was looking through my archive of resource pictures trying to come up with additional image concepts when I saw the photo of the empty operating room. Of course, the first idea that came to mind was a “traditional” portrait of a doctor or surgeon in the OR.  That has been done to death of course, but even another one would probably sell. BTW, it did sell the first month it was up online…twice actually…but I digress. I really wanted to come up with something different, some that hadn’t been done before, or at least done to death.

Power Tools In The Operating Room

I remembered seeing a “House” episode on TV in during which the esteemed television doctor performs an amputation on a patient trapped under the rubble of a collapsed building. It looked as if he used a “sawsall “or reciprocating saw. That was my answer. I chose to use three different people, posing as surgeons, each a holding a different tool. We ended up using a reciprocating saw, an electric drill and a pipe wrench. I simply photographed each of the models in surgical gowns or scrubs or what ever that clothing is called, in my studio, then stripped them into the operating theater photo. The final image could work for concepts from auto repair to medical insurance to, well,  a whole bunch of things!

Medical Images and an Empty Recovery Room

I ended up with the medical photos and, with the business images included, I was able to get about fifteen different shots from the models in a few hours of work. That may not seem like a lot to shooters who manage to pump out photos in a way Henry Ford would have been proud of, but for me that represents a pretty good investment. The key to this series of medical images (I ended up with one portrait of each model in the hospital OR and the image of all three of them together holding the tools), was to have the presence of mind to shoot the room from various angles while it was empty…something it has taken me years to learn to do! As I mentioned above, the first month these images were up I had three sales (two of the “traditional portraits and one of the doctors holding tools), so I think they will do well. Now, I still have some shots of the empty recovery room….