Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Best Selling Stock Photos That Aren't

A man lies in traction in a bodycast in a hospital recovery room in a funny stock photo illustrating concepts such as disaster, calamity and medical issues.
This funny concept stock photo of a man in a bodycast and traction illustrating themes such as disaster, calamity and medical issues will eventually be a best seller...or not!

A Recovery Room, A Body Cast, And No Traction

I have a number of best sellers that aren't. That is, I have created a number of stock photos that I was sure would be best selling images that have either barely sold at all, or, indeed, have no sales at all. In the example here I went to quite a bit of trouble to gain access to the recovery room, have a body cast made (actually a plaster mock of one ), execute the shoot and spending the better part of a day using Photoshop to put the whole thing together (the visible patient parts-nose, eyes-fingers etc. are actually mine) and clean up the recovery room. But in this case there doesn't seem to be any traction (pun intended).

Hope Springs Eternal
So far, in the last six months, since the image went online with Getty as a Rights Managed stock photo, I have raked in a pretty disappointing $136.00. That is about one tenth what I anticipated the earnings would be in this time frame. Of course, tomorrow there could be a $10,000.00 sale (hope springs eternal) and it would indeed be a best seller. Particularly with RM images, you never know when your going to either get that one big sale, or some small shift will happen in the collective conscious and suddenly a non-seller will generate some serious revenue. I have experienced many occurrences of images that have a pathetic sales history for several years then suddenly bring in thousands of dollars. 

Hedging Your Bets
Of course, even though I was, and still am convinced, that this image is/will be a best seller, I hedged my bet by shooting various other images to go along with it. From an elephant in the recovery room to wheel chairs to a bare-assed patient wondering down the hall, this shoot is returning revenue at a sufficient rate that, even low by many stock standards, still outpaces the stock market by a considerable margin!

Make A Decision and Get On With It
I have also had my share of images that sell well from the beginning, even though I had doubts that they would be worth submitting. Stock photography is a great business for second-guessing yourself for everything from choosing the right model to making an image to begin with, to what business model to submit it to. I do know that the un-made images and the un-submitted images both tend to generate very little income (duh) and that therefore the most important thing to do is to make the decision and get on with it.  Now I am I'm off to make an image!

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Funny Dogs On Motorcyles and the Devil in the Details

A funny dog picture of a Whippet and a Pit Bull speeding down the road on a Harley-Davidson motorcycle.
A trip to Santa Fe results in a funny animal picture of a Pit Bull and a Whippet speeding down the road on a Harley-Davidson Motorcycle.

Santa Fe, Nevada Wier, Gallery Openings and Photo Opportunities
I recently traveled to Santa Fe, New Mexico to attend a gallery opening of my good friend Nevada Wier, a talented travel and adventure photographer and all around amazing person. Nevada's work on outer India was part of a three-person show at the Verve gallery. All three exhibits (the other two were by photographers Maggie Taylor and Jeffrey Becom) were great and well worth seeing...a great excuse for a little trip  (whatever excuse I can get to travel I like to take advantage of). Not only do I enjoy travel, I invariably benefit in a photographic sense from being outside my normal environment. In this case it let to funny animals on motorcycles!

Albuquerque, Harley-Davidson Motorcycles, and Funny Pit Bulls
My son Chase lives in nearby Albuquerque so I also visited him. He had just purchased a new Harley Davidson motorcycle and wanted me to photograph it, as well as his dog "buddy".  Buddy is a fine looking pit bull and appeared just as nice and as affectionate as any dog I have ever interacted with, but if you watch the news you have to be a little bit, shall we say "more alert", when in close proximity to that breed. What is it with my son, motorcycles and pit bulls?  Oh well..

Funny Animal Pictures and Buddy on a Harley

Chase is well aware of my penchant for creating funny animal pictures and suggested I do a funny photo of a animal on a motorcycle using his Pit Bull "Buddy". Well, why not?  There is a park across the street from where Chase lives so he and I and buddy did a little impromptu photo shoot. The weather was lightly overcast which is great light for shooting the parts I need for my photo composites, allowing for flipping and rotating parts as needed without creating problems in the direction and quality of the light. No harsh shadows either! Next I had him park his Harley on the street and I grabbed a quick couple of shots of it. Finally, I panned the camera at about a fifteenth and/or an eighth of a second to create a streaking background for my planned image.

Photoshop, Clipping Paths and Radial Blur
Back in my studio I created a clipping path around the motorcycle. Everything, that is, except the spokes on the wheels. I'll get back to that in a moment. I converted the clipping path to a selection, copied and pasted the stripped-out motorcycle shot into the panned background image. Then I used the rectangular marque to select the wheels, one at a time, copied and pasted them into new documents, then used the blur filter (blur-radial blur) to make the wheels look like they were spinning. I then pasted the new wheels back into place over the motorcycle. I used layer masks to blend the pieces together and eliminate the spokes (you don't see the spokes on motorcycles in motion).

Refine Edges, Puppet Warp, and the Cohesive Whole

I again used the pen tool to create clipping paths around the various parts of Buddy that I needed. After converting the clipping paths into selections I used "Refine Edges" to complete the selection, then copied and pasted the pit bull parts into the image. The new Photoshop "Puppet Warp" is a great new tool to help transform the disparate parts into a cohesive whole. The next thing you know we have Buddy-the-pit-bull riding a Harley-Davidson motorcycle down the road.  But what self-respecting Harley rider would want to be seen riding without a "hot chick", a "motorcycle mama", on the back?

Whippets,  Pit Bulls, and Lavender Scarves

I went into my files to find another appropriate dog and found a likely Whippet. I used the same procedures to place her on the back of the bike, clutching Buddy the Pit Bull tightly. To add a bit more action I found a scarf image shot long ago for my Animal Antics greeting cards, and placed it around the Whippet's neck.then used a hue and saturation adjustment layer to change the color to a pretty lavender.

Roundness, Dimension and Adjustment Layers

I added "roundness" and "dimension" to the animals by creating adjustment layers of brightness and contrast and "painting" the desired lights and darks into place. Finally, I used a combination of brightness and contrast adjustment layers and new layers using the airbrush, set to black, to add the necessary shadows.

Colorize, Copyright Concerns and a Pair of Goggles
The motorcycle is black, so to add some color I used a hue and saturation layer set to "colorize" to turn the motorcycle parts to blue. I altered the shape of the air cleaner and removed all the Harley emblems to minimize possible copyright conflicts. For the final touch I stripped in a pair of goggles onto Buddy. The image, now part of my Animal Antics series, is set to be a humorous greeting card published and distributed by Leanin Tree.

The Devil is in the Details!

One final note. After I sent the Image to Leanin Tree and had them accept it for a greeting card, I sent it to my son and let him know the outcome...I knew he would be pleased. He in turn called me up and informed me that I had not changed the color of the front fender.  Oops! As they say, "The Devil is in the Details"!