Thursday, April 8, 2010

A Suggestion for Earning More Money In Stock Photography

No Secrets in Stock Photography
There really aren’t any secrets in stock photography. If you make more images, you earn more money. When you make better images you earn more money. If you make images that are relevant to the market, you make more money. If you make intelligent choices in your distribution…then you earn more money.

A Suggestion: Shoot Seniors (Maybe I should say Photograph Seniors…)

You want to make more money in stock photography? Here is a suggestion: Shoot seniors. Shoot mature adults living active, vital lives. Seniors connecting with young people. Shoot seniors connecting with their doctors, nurses and care givers. Shoot seniors connecting with each other. Shot ETHNIC seniors! Shoot seniors at work, at play, running there own businesses, enjoying their grandchildren.

A Need For Seniors

There is a HUGE need for seniors. In a couple of years, for the first time in human history, there will be more people over 65 than under 18. Check out what the agencies have in the way of “mature” adult images…talk about holes! And those huge holes become absolute canyons when you check out the senior ethnic content.

“Mature Adults” Pushing Boundaries And Inspiring Us

My creative director suggested to me a couple of years ago that an image of a senior woman dunking a basketball would be a great seller. I am getting close to doing it too! I swear! So there is another category…seniors doing outrageous things, seniors breaking the stereotypes that we have of them. Seniors surprising us and pushing the boundaries…which when you think about…is part of real life today. There are all kinds of seniors busily changing our perceptions of what the “golden years” are all about. We should be out shooting them…and being inspired by them!

Simple Shots and Significant Profit

My girl friends mother came to visit us a year ago. I photographed her in my office. Simple shots…sitting at a desk, using a computer, a close of her hand in her daughter’s hand. We spent about an hour, maybe an hour and a half shooting. No make-up artist, no styling, not even an assistant. I did get a model release though! Total cost…nothing. So far that little shoot has brought in just over $2,000.00. You don’t have to make shoots into huge productions to make them profitable. That little senior shoot will be bringing me revenue for years to come.

An Active and Vital Senior Model
Yesterday I was contemplating a SCUBA diving trip…maybe to Cozumel for some drift diving, or perhaps Bonaire off the coast of Venezuela (don’t be fooled…I go diving at least once every decade or so). As I do, I started to think about how I could make the trip pay for itself…and it suddenly came to me. I can base the trip around an active and vital senior. There would be a bit of a twist though…because it occurred to me that I could be the model…arrgh…I am a senior!  I would go with my partner Stephanie. We can photograph each other enjoying ourselves in various situations and activities…from researching the trip, to packing, to traveling to enjoying the vacation itself.

Focus, Shot Lists, and Follow Through
There is absolutely no doubt in my mind that within two to three years the images we will create will not only pay for the trip, but will be generating profit. In recent years I have been able to generate considerable money from each trip I have taken. It is simply a matter of having a focus, creating a shot list, and having the discipline to follow through.

Time, Hard Work, Common Sense and Income Opportunities

You can still make a living in stock. It takes time, hard work, some common sense, and shooting for the holes in existing collections. And one big hole in every collection is in their imagery of the demographic consisting of what we refer to as seniors or mature adults. The need for that imagery is just going to keep increasing, and providing all of us with an opportunity to increase our stock photo income as well.

Monday, April 5, 2010

Photo Credit lines, Copyright Notices, and the Benefits of Big

Photo of a fork in the road, a junction where a choice must be made, time for a decsion and ensuing action.
When it comes time to choose how prominent to make your credit line/copyright notice I suggest that bigger is better!

Credit Lines, Copyrights, and Watermarks
When looking at the image shown at the top of this photo blog, what are the chances someone is going to steal it and use it on their site? I would say not likely, and certainly a lot less likely than if the photo had a less prominent credit line and copyright notice. What are the chances they will know the image is copyright protected? How about the chances of finding my site in order to license the image or see more of my work? I now believe in big watermarks!

My Name In Huge Letters
I am in the process of upgrading all my online images to have a rather prominent credit line. Originally I didn't want to clutter up my images with a watermark, you know, that photographer-ego thing, but having seen the rampant theft of my photography, I have changed my mind. Do a search for "Massage Cats" and there is my image everywhere...but almost none of them have a credit back to me (but now this one does). Besides, when I see my one of my images used somewhere on the Internet without my permission then it at least feels a little to better to have my name in huge letters across the image!

Live and Learn
This has been a gradual process for me, starting with a very tiny and unobtrusive credit line, then progressing to a larger one, and at this point really big to where it is essentially a watermark (in this case I believe bigger really is better). It is a huge task too! I have probably 3000 images left to go, and that doesn't count the over 3,000 images I have yet to migrate to my site. Too bad I didn't start off with this mentality. Oh well, live and learn.

Advertising, Promotion and Education
If someone does steal the image they will either have to put some time, effort, and skill into removing the credit line, or I will at least get some advertising and promotion out of the deal (yeah I know, on some of the images it would take two seconds to get rid of the credit line.but they still have to put it into Photoshop and at least spend some time). To me, at this point, huge watermarks and/or credit lines are a no-brainer! In a way, putting larger credit lines on your work is also an educational process. The more people see images with big copyright notices and credit lines on them the more it might sink through their skulls that images are not all free!

File Names, Alt Text and Finding Pictures
Of course, at the same time I am upgrading the file names to have more meaning for search engines, I am adding better alt text as well. Alt text is one of the key ways that search engines know what the picture is about. This is a ton of work and slow going. I sit in front of the TV at night with my laptop on my lap and watch Law and Order (or American Idol or.whatever) while I do this work. I have learned not to rush though. I believe it is better to do a good, thorough job on each image. It isn't something a "robot" can do (I know a number of photographers who are having programmers create robots to systematically "harvest" their images off of agency, but in the long-run I don't believe it will work as well as giving more individual attention to each image).

Overnight Success and Years of Hard Work

Sometimes it seems totally hopeless to have all this work in front of me. But then I remember how difficult it was to learn and do professional quality work with Photoshop back in 1990, and how much that ended up helping my career. It is hard to get around the fact that overnight success usually requires years of hard work.