A Blog About Stock Photography. John specializes in shooting stock photos including a mix of funny animal pictures with anthropomorphized pets (including dogs, cats, cows, elephants, monkeys and more), and concept stock photos for business and consumer communications. John's site includes interviews with photographers and leaders in the stock photo community as well as numerous articles on photography, digital imaging, and the stock photo business.
Friday, February 26, 2010
Cute, Funny Animal Pictures and Plan "B"
Cute, Funny Animal Pictures
More than once I have been introduced as the “the guy who creates the cute, funny animal pictures”. I have to admit, it is with mixed emotions that I hear that. As a photographer my ego can’t help but want to be known for “serious” work. However, I really don’t do much “serious” work. Further, after a career of some thirty years as a professional photographer, I have never received as much genuine thanks for creating images as I do for the funny human-like animal pictures. A week after 9/11 a United Flight Attendant sent me an e-mail telling me that one of my humorous cat pics brought the first smile to her face in a week. A week doesn’t go by without my getting at least one random phone call or e-mail from someone who is thanking me for creating those photos and bringing a smile to their face.
Millions of Pet Owners and Photo Creations
Now, with the stock photo business going through such transitional pains, I have a renewed appreciation for those anthropomorphic photo creations. I can’t help but believe that the market for products with photos imprinted on them, now made accessible by the Internet, represents a truly enormous opportunity. There are over 37 million cat owners in the U.S., and over 43 million dog owners. All I want is about ten cents apiece!
Funny Animal Pictures and Anthropomorphic Offerings
According to Wordtracker there were over 23 million searches for “funny animal pictures”. Hey, if one percent of them bought an animal print from me, and I made a mere $5.00 per print, lets see…I would make (my math is always suspect here) oh, about $1,150,000.00. If it were only so easy! But there isn’t anything easy about it. Shooting animals is certainly challenging. The stripping out of hair and fur necessary for compositing my anthropomorphic offerings sure isn’t easy. Perhaps hardest of all is attracting traffic to my site in sufficient quantities to actually provide a significant amount of revenue. But then, if it were easy, everyone would be doing it.
Diversification and Different Revenue Sources
For us photographers, stock or assignment, now is an important time to diversify. By having this “funny animal” sub-specialty I am tapping into a much different revenue source than the standard stock photo licensees. By selling photos as products, i.e. coffee mugs, T-shirts, tote bags, mouse pads and more through CafePress, I am reaching a different clientele. Photographic prints represents yet another diverse source of income that ought to be accessible to any photographer. Just like in the investment world, diversification provides an increase in security, and who knows, you just might end up liking the “plan B” more than your “day gig”!
Plan “B” and Creating Effective Stock Photos
Having a “plan B” helps me relax a bit and I think actually makes me better at my primary task of creating effective stock photos. I try and work on each aspect of my business each day, and changing tasks, such as taking a break from compositing to work on key wording, or switching from uploading images online to writing a blog entry or article, helps keep me invigorated and enthusiastic. For example, the first thing I did this morning was create a composite stock photo for Blend, followed by working on SEO strategy, then entering sales reports into my database, and finally, working on a stock photo for Getty. Now I am at home writing this blog on my laptop, and in just a few minutes it will be time to veg for a bit and watch the Olympics. Actually, that is going to happen right now…later!
I really respect both your openness and your approach, John. I did a post a while back on cats v dogs. Curious if you see the same ratios in your inbound traffic...
Been having similar thoughts John. Just for fun I did my very first "pet portrait" a few days ago and my second the day after. It is a lot more fun than I expected.
If I wanted to use these pics for stock or some other project would I need a model release?
I must admit that I cringe a bit when I see your animal shots.
However, reading your blog and the thought process behind your work has helped to keep me sane in this insane environment. Kudos to you John.
It is my understanding that animals, as long as they are not famous, do not need to be released. But I try to get releases anyway. So far the agencies have not asked me for them.
Yes, I agree these are cute animals. I had fun time watching them.
This is a frank blog. I respect your perspective. Brave enough to do this.
Yeah, I make myself nervous....
I admire Plan B. If I were to choose, I'll get this. It makes me creative in the sense that I have enough time to create.
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