Sunday, March 14, 2010

Call Me A (Stock Photo) Optimist!

Four hands come together framing clearing skies in a storm to symbolize teamwork, optimism, vision and possibilities.
Stock Photo of four hands coming together to frame clearing skies in a storm symbolizing concepts such as teamwork, vision, optimism and possibilities.

Call Me An Optimist

I just spent hours trying to figure out how to post my blog onto my Facebook fan page. When I finally figured out how it was, uh, so simple! Yikes! The Internet is great at making me feel like an idiot. Oh well….  Facebook in particular humbles me constantly. But I am sure that at some point everything will click into place. When I think back to how long it took me to figure out F-stops, depth-of-field and all that other technical stuff, well, I know all this web nonsense will eventually make sense. Hey, call me an optimist!

A Glass Half Empty, or Half Full
This whole Internet thing as had an interesting effect on me. I have always found myself getting antsy if I haven’t made an image for several days. Then, when I do make an image, it is almost like I am high for a while…it just puts me in a great mood. Now I find I am having similar addictions to blogging! If I go more than three days without posting a blog I start to feel anxious, and after posting what I think is a good blog, I end up feeling…well…good. So now I have two ways to start feeling good and two ways to start feeling anxious…kind of the glass half empty or half full kind of thing.  I think I prefer to look at it as half-full.

Winners, Losers, and Longevity
BTW, my own stock photo of “The Glass” has an interesting history.  When I created the image, in conjunction with my studio manager at the time, Tiffany Schoepp, I was sure I had a best-selling image. Then the image went two entire years with only about one measly little sale! When I was checking my sales reports a few months ago I noticed that that particular image is now up to over $4,000.00 of revenue, my share, after about six years.  Interesting, two years with virtually no sales, then a nice significant amount of revenue over the next several years. One thing that always stands out to me when I look at my total stock photo sales is the longevity of many of the images, and the significant amounts that accrue after a number of years. Of course, you can never tell which ones are going to be the winners and which ones the losers until after the fact.

New Pricing Models
Speaking of glasses-half full, I am feeling more the half-full (that is the more positive one, right?) version in regards to the old stock photo career. There is a lot of buzz about the need for a new pricing model that will better serve everyone.  While it is insanely hard to change things once they are already established, it is clear that the models currently in use are not particularly good for anyone. With RF and micro pricing the opportunity for a client to see when and where his or her competitors are using the images is simply not there, not is there a clear path to exclusivity. With RM most people find it just too confusing and cumbersome. From a photographer’s perspective, the value that an image brings to a client is not being taken into consideration in the pricing for RF or micro. The whole thing is a mess. I am starting to believe that such a mess will eventually force the industry, for its own survival, to adopt an approach that makes sense.

Reasons I Love Stock Photography
For the last couple of years I have been madly trying to figure this whole stock photo future thing out while at the same time attempting to be as productive as possible in creating new images. Yesterday I was reflecting on that while also planning a trip to Southeast Asia and working on a shot list for that trip. Such trips, which I used to do once or twice a year, really enhance the quality of my life. I have been too worried about money and the state of our industry (OK…and a little surgery) to engage in such trips lately…but for some hard-to-determine reason I am feeling a little more relaxed. If I don’t make any more images for the next six months, if I just took that time off and did something completely different, it would be hard to notice any significant difference in my income for at least a year, maybe longer. That is kind of a cool thing. It reminds me of some of the reasons I love stock photography so much. Stock photography, despite all the problems and challenges, still offers me an unprecedented amount of security and freedom. Keep in mind, I worked my butt off for seven or eight years before I reached that point…but here it is twenty years after I started that process and in spite of all the industry problems I still have a pretty nice life. I see it getting better too. I think with the end of the recession the sales of my existing body of work will climb again, and I believe the industry will find its way to a better place. There is just too much demand for imagery for the whole thing to collapse.

SEO, Social Media, and Blogging
Of course, I am really trying to help the process along through making my images more visible on the Internet, utilizing SEO, social media and, of course, this blogging thing. But I also see the size of the market out there for photos, the success that some other photographers have had tapping into the “Internet” market, and I believe that the biggest of all possibilities…the possibility that individual photographers can harness Google and other searches to link up their photos with those who want and need them, and provide a clear and simple path for licensing and/or utilizing such imagery, is currently swirling around and will eventually coalesce into a coherent form that will allow photographers to benefit immensely. I plan on putting myself into a position where I am one of the ones who will benefit.

Some Endlessly Self-Promoting Fool...and Optimism
I am now going to post this blog, then share it on my Facebook Fan page. It will be easy. Then understanding Facebook, how to utilize it well, and not look like some endlessly self-promoting fool, will all just fall into place. Hey, call me an optimist!

Post Script
It still didn't work...this blog posted to my regular Facebook page...grrr! Hey, but I am optimistic that
I will find a way to do this! Oh well....

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