Friday, October 8, 2010
Stock Photography and the Music Business
It occurred to me the other day that the stock photography business has a lot in common with the music business. There is no shortage of musicians or photographers, but there is a shortage of those who do either discipline extremely well. In either case the chance of earning a living from such endeavors is just a tad bit daunting. That isn’t going to change…it is just going to get more challenging. That isn’t to say it’s not possible because it is possible. I am doing it…and many, many others are too. It does require what to me seems occasionally like an inordinate amount of dedication and drive. Thank god I love doing this because if I didn’t absolutely thrive on the process I would surely have quit long ago.
A Series of Portraits for Stock Photography
Part of what keeps me going is the “high” I get when I create an image that meets my requirements of applicability to the market and being fun to look at. Then I unabashedly sit and stare at my images, just enjoying them, for an embarrassing amount of time. I am mentioning this because I just caught myself staring at, and enjoying, a series of portraits I created for stock photos in the last couple of days.
Stock Shoot Out takes and Abstract Light Patterns
I have mentioned before that I believe in setting aside time to just “play” and explore and see where my imagery leads me. That time can either be behind the camera or behind the computer (or both). In this case it was behind the computer. I began by looking through the out takes of my last few stock shoots to see if something sparked an idea. I stopped at an executive portrait of an older, and very regal looking, African American model. He had this great look of self-assurance and the bearing of someone obviously in charge. I photographed him on a white background. I decided to start with this gentleman and see where I could take it. As I looked for suitable backgrounds I ran across some of my experiments with lights photographed with long shutter speeds to create abstract patterns. These abstract patterns look very “High Tech” to me, and indicative of technology, communications, the Internet and such.
An Executive Comfortable with Technology and the Future
I stripped out the executive and pasted him into one of my light patterns, then used a layer mask to fade him in and out of the lights. I ended up with multiple layers and modes that, to me, speak of an executive comfortable with technology and ready to lead his enterprise into the future. Even better…it just looks cool!
A Series of Images
My next thought was that if I could come up with a series of such images I could give an advertiser the opportunity to base a campaign around the images. I went back and found four other portraits I have done over the last few months and combined them with various other “light patterns”. It is interesting, at least to me, to note that of the five models three I found through Internet casting agencies, one sat next to me on a flight back from New York, and one is a waitress at a nearby restaurant. OK...that doesn't have much to do with the price of tea in China...but I thought I'd throw it in there anyway!
Art Directors, Designers and Rights Managed Imagery
At any rate, these strike me as images that probably won’t sell a gazillion times…and that are a bit of a stretch for an art director or designer to work into and ad or brochure. With that in mind I submitted these photos to Blend Images under the Rights Managed category. Will they be worth the effort? I’ll let you know in a couple of years!
Tuesday, October 5, 2010
Social Media, The Declining Stock Photo Market, and Anxiety!
One thing I am having a hard time doing is separating the anxiety from my work. Anxiety-inducing stimuli seem to be everywhere…at least for me. The ubiquitous and never-ending bad news about the decline of stock photography is obviously one of those factors. There are many other such stimuli constantly assaulting me as well…everything from social media to the economy to image theft.
Images on Facebook, Google Formulas and Exploding Video
Just this morning I was reading an email exchange in which the fear of posting images on facebook was being debated. Geez…I have been posting some of my blogs, complete with images, on facebook…gulp! I also just finished reading about how facebook is going to change advertising…will I get a share of that…will my images be used…or is this another step towards oblivion for advertising photographers? Anxiety! At any moment Google can change their formula and presto chango…two years of intense work might be gone! Eeek! Speaking of Google, I read this morning that they are predicting that 50% of all online ads will have video by 2015…OMG…I really have to get on the video bandwagon! It goes on and on…relentlessly.
Stolen Images, Flickr and Policing My Work
What got me thinking about this was a forum post I just read in which the person posting was requesting ideas about how to “go after” someone who had stolen his images, posted them on flickr and was offering free downloads of them. I can certainly identify with this as many of my funny animal pictures are all over the web and offered as free e-cards, screen savers, prints and more. I don’t believe many of these cases of theft are worth the effort to go after. The people infringing aren’t really making any money…and often I can’t even figure out how to contact them! If I really try to police my work it will take up every second of my time…anxiety!!!
Dealing With Anxiety
At any rate, after reading that person’s post I suddenly became aware that I was in a rather intense state of anxiety…and I certainly don’t want to live my life in a state of anxiety. The best ways I have learned to deal with my own doubts is to first become aware that I am in such a state, secondly, take a deep breath and relax a bit, and thirdly, if I still need to do something to get to a better place, do one of three things. First, I can do some exercise…preferably something fun like a good fast-paced game of Ping Pong (I kid you not…I LOVE ping pong!); Secondly, I can review my plans to stay successful. It really relaxes me to know that I have a plan in place…it gives me a sense that I do have at least some influence on my own destiny. And finally, make an image! Today, once I recognized I was in a state of anxiety, I stopped doing everything else and made the image at the top of this post. It is a photo I have been planning on doing for a while and it can work both as a stock image and for inclusion in my series of funny animal pictures. Perhaps most importantly, it makes me smile!
Think of all The Photos I Could Make!
Of course, another way I could deal with my anxiety is to stop listening to the news, reading forums and checking my e-mail. I could get rid of twitter and delete my facebook account. Wow, think of all the images I could make then!