Saturday, September 25, 2010
Strategies For Stock Photographers
In my recent interview with Alamy Head of Content Alan Capel, when asked if he had any suggestions for strategies for stock shooters he replied “…don’t be afraid of the cliché but give it a twist, make it more contemporary, add something that’s not been there before”. He added, “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.”
Thinking Green, Creativity in Ecology and Imagination in Conservation
I think he was right on with his advice for us stock photographers. The above photograph of a brain shaped from an energy conservation “twisty” light bulb is just such an effort. The light bulb is an iconic symbol for ideas. Further, the fluorescent replacement bulb, or “twisty bulb” is becoming a standard symbol of ecological efforts and thinking “green”. It was with that in mind, and Alan’s advice still in my head, that I spent some time coming up with an old cliché’ and giving it a new “twist” (pun intended). If I am correct, the photo is a great image for illustrating the idea of “Thinking Green”, as well as for concepts such as creativity in ecology and even imagination in conservation.
Block Buster Images and a Very Long Shot
I now have about two days worth of effort tied up in that image. At that rate I would be lucky to make 150 images a year…and those numbers probably won’t cut it in today’s market for stock photography…unless those hundred and fifty images average out to be real block busters…and that is a long shot…a very long shot.
New Paradigms, the Stock Photo Industry and Time
The proliferation of images has indiscriminately brought down the price of all photography, good and bad, easy and cheap to produce, as well as difficult, expensive and time-consuming to produce. I will place this image into a Rights Managed collection hoping to get some good sales…but also knowing that every month Getty is selling my RM images at prices that make microstock look good. Fortunately, as a long time stock shooter, I have a relatively large body of stock photo work that sustains me as I produce my new imagery. At least for now I still have the luxury of not having to pump out an ungodly number of pictures. I still have time to explore strategies to deal with the new paradigm of the stock photo industry. I wouldn’t want to be starting out right now.
Light Bulb Stock Photos and Recycled Energy
I am focused (those puns just keep on coming) on creating images that make me happy, such as the “eco bulb” above. I think it behooves me to put my energy into images that are less common and that can therefore command at least some premium…though that premium could show up in quantity of sales rather than in price per license, and that can stand out from the crowd (now there is a good stock photo concept). While we won’t know for some time if the energy I put into that light bulb stock photo will pay off monetarily, I know for sure that it is giving me dividends in creative satisfaction and more energy to recycle into my business.
Shoot What You Love…and Love What the Market Wants
Seasoned shooters have always told the young shooters coming up to “Shoot what you love”. Never has that been more appropriate. But the other half of that is “…that the market wants.” That is, if you want to make a living in photography it really helps to love shooting subject matter that is in demand. I am very fortunate to love shooting concept images of all kinds. Actually, let me amend that: I am very fortunate…period!