Sunday, January 31, 2010

A Stock Photo of Chaos, and Decisions

The result of experimenting with no goal in mind, this stock photo can represent many concepts from Chaos to communications to the Internet.

Is It A Good Stock Photo?
My last blog post was about the importance of “play” in photography. The above photograph was the result of my latest playtime. Is it a good stock Photo? Will it sell well? I don’t know. I am not even sure if I am going to submit it in its current form. I do love the sense of chaos, the sense of motion and the dynamic colors. For me it can represent many different themes from the firing neurons of a brain, to interstellar intelligence, to networking, to Internet communications (it even has a kind of net-like structure to it) and much more.

City Lights At Night And Photoshop

The image is the result of two separate “play” sessions. The first one involved shooting city lights at night, and the second session was using Photoshop to combine and enhance some of those city lights.  Now I will let the image “gestate” for a bit before deciding whether to combine it with yet another image, alter in some yet-to-be-determined fashion, or submitting it as it is…or what the heck, maybe both!

Decisions: Rights Managed or Royalty Free?
Before submitting the image I will have a decision to make. Let’s assume for a moment that I decide to send it in the way it is. So would it be better as an RM image, or as an RF image? On the RM side it doesn’t appear to be the kind of image that would sell a large number of times, nor does it seem like an image with a lot of competition. One thing that might push it in the RF direction is that it could work as a background kind of image. In my experience “background” images seem to do better as RF images.

Rights Managed, Royalty Free and Misconceptions

Another point to consider: A lot of potential licensees of stock images are under the misconception that they cannot afford Rights Managed images. Or they believe that rights managed images are necessarily cumbersome to license. Yet, I am seeing a plethora of sales under $5.00 (even had one sale last month with Getty that netted me four cents!). I spoke recently with a doctor who had licensed one of my RM images through Getty, for use in a Power Point presentation, and who told me that it was as easy to license as the photograph as it is to buy just about anything online.  Nonetheless, there are a lot of people who do limit themselves to RF and Micro imagery. If I submit the image as an RM one I do run the risk of limiting the market for it.

Similars and Sisters
The final point I have to take into consideration is whether or not I have, or plan to create, images that are similars and/or sisters. If I am going to have one or two such images I can still go with Rights Managed, but more than that will push me into the RF category. Ultimately I am prejudiced towards Rights Managed because of my long history with it.  But I do believe it would be a mistake to not continue to contribute to Royalty Free as well.Some of my Royalty Free photos make every bit as much money as my Rights Managed images.  I might add, that when one of my editors/art directors makes a case for an image to be one or the other I almost always defer to their suggestions.

A Light At the End of the Tunnel

As I write this it occurs to me that the above image is also a good representation of my own thought processes as I try to find my way in this turbulent world of stock photography. In the end, you try and make as much sense of the chaos as you can and hope that there is a light at the end of the tunnel (and that the light isn’t the headlight of an oncoming locomotive!).

No comments: