Friday, December 31, 2010

Advice and Tips From Successful Photographers and Photo Industry Leaders

Crazy Bloodhound celebrating New Year's by swinging from a chandelier.
Hey, its a new year...time to relax and celebrate like this "Party Dog"!

Following is a collection of advice and tips for Photographers gleaned from interviews over the past year with successful photographers, and leaders of the stock photo industry:

Karen McHugh, Pro Sales at Samy's Camera: "Keep on Shooting".

Shannon Fagan, Stock Photographer and Former President of Stock Artists Alliance: "Again, follow your heart, and most importantly, don’t ever take ‘no’ for an answer. If you do these two things well, you’ll always have a career in visual imagery."

Scott Redinger-Libolt, Photographer and Art Director for Blend Images: "I think there is a renewed sense of hope for the Rights Managed licensing. RM built the foundation for this industry and I believe we are coming full circle to embrace it once again. My personal RM revenue has seen the least decline and the most stability over the last decade …so in the long term; I think that’s a pretty smart place to invest."

Jim Pickerell, Photographer, Stock Agency owner and industry pundit:  "Aim for enjoying what you do and giving your customers the best you can do. The rest will take care of itself. "

Stewart Cohen, Assignment and Stock Photographer, co-founder of Blend Images: "Perseverance sustains your talent.

Glen Allison, Travel Stock Photographer: "Just about every single one of us probably has our own unique circumstantial crap we are standing in at the moment, which might seem to mire us down from time to time. Can we find ways to plow through this muck and carve the path to our dream?"

Robert Henson, Director of Channel Relations and Sales at Blend images and President of PACA:  "Do you love what you do?  If you love what you do, it’ll transpire in your work.  If you’re good, there’s a market for your work.  Find someone who can help you navigate the landscape out there.  Try making some content for different channels and watch closely to see how they do for you. "

Sam Diephuis, Stock and Travel Photographer: "It’s a lifestyle not a job.  Even if you are making good money assume you are making half.  Charge what you think you are worth.  Don’t give your work away.  Work with people that you like.  Learn from mistakes. "

Rolf Hicker, Stock Travel and Nature Photographer: "Wake up! Don’t accept everything from the agencies. We are creating those pictures, not them".

Lanny Ziering, Stock Photographer and Co-founder of Blend Images, CEO of SuperStock:  "Great images have always been and will continue to be rare.  My advice to photographers is to find the intersection of what you do well and where there is demand for imagery without oversupply."

Alan Capel, Head of Content Alamy:  "A comedian once said "why are there never any new clichés?".  But often that’s what works, don’t be afraid of the cliché but give it a twist, make it more contemporary, add something that’s not been there before. 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."

Quang Tuan Luong, Nature, Travel and Stock Photographer:  "Understand emerging trends in business and technology and take advantage of short windows of opportunity. If I hadn't understood the importance of search engines on the Internet a decade ago, I wouldn't be there today."

Ron Chapple, Stock and Assignment Photographer, founder of iofoto and ThinkStock:  "Early on, I had a "business adviser" tell me that I needed to transfer some of my ego fulfillment from taking a good picture to running a good business. Those words also helped me understand that we as photographers should not be afraid of the business world. Business is just a game we need to play so that we can enjoy our lifestyle."

Lee Torrens, Stock Photographer and owner of  "I’ve just finished an industry research report which took up most of my time for the past six months. In 2011 my primary focus will be shooting stock - something I’m sure most of your readers will find amusing."

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Stock Photography and Meditation

A businesswoman meditates in a yoga lotus pose in a busy crosswalk to relax, reduce stress and gain business insights and success.
A businesswoman meditates in a busy city crosswalk to reduce stress and relax.
Meditation is the practice of training one’s mind to achieve a desired mental state the purpose of which varies from individual to individual and includes such goals as bliss, stress reduction, pain reduction, spirituality, compassion, and even the attainment of wealth and business success.

Meditation Images in Stock Photography
While perusing my stock photo sales (which includes the sales of my “associate photographers”) a couple of meditation images caught my eye. Two meditating images are in our top 100 selling images in the Blend Images collection (contributing photographers to Blend Images can view online reports such as the top 100 images over the past year, quarter, month, and so forth as well being able to view continuously updated sales information). Having two meditation images in the group of top 100 selling images for our total history with Blend is very interesting. I reviewed all of the meditation images in our collection: Following is a synopsis of the kinds of images that I, and my small band of merry contributors (well…not always merry) have shot over the last five or six years.

Dog and Cat Meditation
Included in our meditation pictures are images of both cats and dogs meditating…from a Whippet meditating in a meadow, to a cat meditating while surrounded by candles…to even an elephant meditating at sunrise (or sunset).  Hmmm, we also have an elephant meditating in a Yoga pose in a Yoga studio! These funny cat and dog meditating images lend a little needed levity to what is generally a pretty solemn subject matter!

Business Meditation Pictures
Our business meditation photos range from an African American businessman meditating on a mountain peak, to an African American woman in business attire meditating on a pile of cash (U.S. Dollars), to a woman of East Indian Descent meditating in an office. Also in our meditation collection are photos of a Thai businesswoman meditating in a Bangkok office, an ethnically diverse group of office workers meditating together on the floor, and business people meditating outdoors in front of their office buildings. Meditating in front of the computer…we have it. Meditating on a conference table…yes! And we are always adding to our business meditation photos.

Meditation and Yoga Photos
No collection of meditation photos would be complete without including Yoga into the mix. We have Yoga pose meditation (and sun worship) outdoors, and Yoga-pose meditation indoors as well. We have meditating on Yoga mats both inside and outside and meditating in Yoga class too.

Unusual Meditation Pictures
We have some pretty unusual meditation photos in our collection as well. We have meditating underwater (we put lead weights in the models bathing suite bottoms to hold her down), meditating on a busy street (in the crosswalk), and new age meditating with energy waves (Kundalini rising) emerging from the meditating people.  We even have pregnant women meditating.

Best Selling Meditation Stock Photos
I admit I was surprised to find two meditation images in the top 100 sellers (total history at Blend Images) but upon some further thought realized that there is a big contributing factor. Both images were also in a Yoga context, which of course greatly increases the market for those images. In fact, as I reflect on things, it may well be that the Yoga aspect of the images actually are what made them best-sellers. Now if I could just figure out ahead-of-time which of our hundred or so meditation/Yoga photos were going to be the best sellers then I’d be cooking! Hmmmn, maybe I should meditate on it!