Monday, December 12, 2016

A Rooster Crowing A Dawn Stock Photo

Rooster crowing at dawn stock photo.
A rooster crowing at dawn makes a great stock photo for illustrating the concepts of new beginnings, getting started, and important announcements.

A Rooster Crows At Dawn
When any of think of a rooster crowing we immediately picture a rooster, crowing at dawn, and standing on a wooden fence post. We also instinctively know that a crowing rooster is a signal that the day is starting and that hard working people are rousing from their beds and getting to work. As a stock image, a rooster crowing at sunrise offers the power of the unconscious familiarity that we all have with both the visual and the concepts that are represented.

A Rooster On The Road
With the above thoughts in mind a rooster crowing stock photo as been one that I have contemplated creating for several years, but have just never gotten my act together in finding and photographing a rooster. Fast forward to a couple of weeks ago when I was in Kyrgyztan on a photo trip with Jeremy Woodhouse.  We were taking a morning tour of a small village when I spotted a rooster on the road. I managed to get five or six shots of the big guy before moving on. Later, on that same trip, but this time in Uzbekistan, I got some great images of a colorful sunset.

Roosters, Sunrises, Fences And Photoshop
Back from the trip, and in my Sausalito studio, I picked the best of the rooster captures, stripped it out, and manipulated it to have its beak wide open. I dropped the rooster shot into one of the sunset shots. I used a series of adjustment layers, Hue and Saturation, Curves, and Color Balance to make the lighting on the rooster fit the background image. I found a fence shot, also photographed in Kyrgyztan…on the same morning as I photographed the rooster…stripped it out, and placed it into the composite. I positioned it to make it appear that the rooster was standing on the fence post. Again I used several adjustment layers to match the lighting and color of its new surroundings.

The Rooster In My Imagination
Finally, in my archives I selected a star field image and faded it into the top of the composite.  The whole process took several hours and a lot of fiddling with, but in the end I was able to come up with a rooster crowing at sunrise stock photo that perfectly matched the visual I had held in my imagination all of these years.

Announcements, New Beginnings And Time Issues
The crowing rooster image was composed to allow plenty of copy space and cropping options. And speaking of copy, depending on the headline and body text included, the image can serve to illustrate such diverse ideas as announcements, new beginnings and/or time issues.

Blend Images And Royalty Free Stock Photos
The next question is what to do with the image. I will be uploading it to Blend Images for distribution. I, however, am still struggling with whether to put it in as a Royalty Free image or a Rights Managed one. My heart is always with RM because I started out as an RM photographer and I believe my images are worth more money that the prices generally charge for RF…but the audience for RM images has dropped in size to a mere fraction of the audience for RF images…and Getty now routinely licenses RM images at microstock prices. Oh well.  In his case I am counting on a big audience and am submitting the rooster image to the Royalty Free collection.


Friday, April 29, 2016

The Power of Simple And Stock Photography Success

A simple image with a clear and strong message is one of the keys to successful stock photography.

Power In Simplicity
There has always been power in simplicity, and now more than ever, simple images are one of the keys to success in stock photography. Think about…just about every image is chosen from thumbnail sizes on an Internet site. An image must communicate a message quickly and clearly at postage stamp sizes to in order to be considered for licensing.

Simplicity, Clarity And Impact
As attentions grow ever shorter the importance of simple also increases. A simple image communicating on idea in an instant is necessary to cut through the constant media assault that competes for our attention.   An image is far more likely to be successful if it combines simplicity and clarity with impact.

Risk, Danger And Weak Links
While I do not yet know whether this image of the risk and danger of a weak link will sell well, I do believe the image is simple and clear. I also believe it has a stark beauty to it that makes it stand out among similar images. Just for fun, I did a search for “weak link” on the Getty site using the “best match” filter.  This image will stand out! 

Rust, Storms And Clearing Skies
Using a rusty chain accentuates the vulnerability of the metal. Having the weak link stretched out and with only one thin piece of steel still holding, adds to the drama. The stormy sky background indicates additional stress and turbulent times. The light on the chain is consistent with the last rays of the sun before the approaching storm, or for optimists, the sun breaking through clearing skies.

Copy Space And Cropping Options
Other attributes that I trust will make the image appropriate for as many uses as possible are that there is plenty of room for copy and that the image can be cropped to square or vertical as well as its natural horizontal format.

Blend Images And Royalty Free

I placed the shot with Blend Images as a royalty free photo. With Blend I can submit the image once and have it available through out the world. It will also be available on the Blend site as part of a highly curated collection (great for art directors and designers who don't want to waste time looking through a lot second tier imagery). Too, there are a ton of uses for it ranging from pointing out aging infrastructure to bringing attention to old and faltering paradigms. The list is really endless which favors the larger audience available for Royalty Free imagery. Oh yeah, and Royalty Free is simpler too…and there is power in simple!

Monday, April 25, 2016

5 Questions For Stock Photo Success

Connections, networking and communications technology are represented by this stock photo of a woman with streaming data engulfing her head.
Connection, networking and communications technology shown in an image that is easy to crop, has room for copy, and has visual impact results in a successful stock photo.

A Best Selling Stock Image
Since I created this image of a woman with the top of her head engulfed in streaming colored lights a couple of years ago, it has been consistently a best seller for me. When I created it I was hopeful that it would sell but I never would have guessed that it would be in my top 100 (actually it was my 16th best selling image out of about 10,000 images over the course of 2015).

Sales Reports And Trying New Things
I tend to obsessively scan my sales reports determined to glean information that will help me make images that sell well. But time and again what I come away with is that everything sells (okay not every single image sells, but pretty much every category does) and it’s impossible for me to know which images are going to be the best sellers.  That opens the door for me to keep trying new things (like combining streaks of light with models).

Five Questions About A Stock Image
There are five questions I ask myself about an image to try and insure the image has a chance to sell well:

1.              Does the image illustrate important concepts?
2.              Is the image a quick read at thumbnail sizes?
3.              Can the image be cropped to multiple formats?
4.              Is there room on the image for inclusion of headlines and/or copy?
5.              Does the image have visual impact?

Now no image needs to have all of these qualities, but the more of those questions get answered, “yes” the better chance an image has of being a successful stock image.

Concepts, thumbnails, Crops And Visual Impact
Connections, networking and communications technology are all concepts illustrated in this shot of a woman’s head intersecting with streaking lights, all important concepts in this digital age. I am pretty sure that at least one reason the image does well is because it can serve to illustrate multiple concepts. It reads quickly as a thumbnail, crops to square or vertical and it has visual impact. It really stands out on a page of thumbnails about “networking” or “connections”.

Eyeballs And Blend Images
I gave the image to Blend Images believing that is my best chance to get the most eyeballs on it. So far it has been licensed in India, The U.S., The U.K., Thailand, Germany, Slovenia, Korea, United Arab Emirates, France, Qatar, Canada, Taiwan and China…so far. And it’s a Rights Managed image…meaning it probably would have sold many more times as an RF image. But that is the subject for another time!

Saturday, April 23, 2016

Anatomy of a Concept Stock Photo: Ideas

Light bulbs have been used to create a human brain that represents ideas, creativity and possibly even artificial intelligence.
This light bulb brain draws on the iconic symbol of ideas and creativity but gives it added power with the new twist of making it into a brain.

Iconic Symbols In A New Light
The tried and true symbols that have been embedded in our collective subconscious, despite their overuse and cliché stature, remain powerful tools in conceptual photography. The trick is to use those symbols in new and different ways. When you succeed at doing that you, in a way, get double or even triple your bang for the buck. You get that subconscious hit, you get the quick read from a familiar image, and then you get the appreciation and boost from using the symbol in a new incarnation.

Light Bulbs Creativity And Ideas
The light bulb brain image above is a great example of just such a reworked, iconic symbol. The light bulb is still the premier visual symbol of ideas and creativity. Even when we know it has been used to death, we still know what it means.  Create a new light bulb image that we haven’t seen before and it gains a new, even stronger power to attract our attention.

Light Bulbs Brains And Intelligence
The human brain is another iconic image representing intelligence, creativity and ideas. In the case of our light bulb brain the brain form reinforces the concepts of ideas and creativity, adds in intelligence and possibly other themes such as artificial intelligence. On the humorous side of things I can see this image as a bright idea! Sorry.

Old Concepts And Powerful Ideas
By using an old, hackneyed concept, the lowly light bulb, we are able to create a new powerful symbol that can represent a number of concepts. It is a quick read at small thumbnail sizes but still provides impact at larger sizes. It is a memorable image, versatile in how it can be used and flexible in terms of cropping.

Blend Images
I delivered the photo to Blend Images. With Blend it will be available at all the major distributors and when licensed directly through Blend I will get 50% of the revenue. I expect the image to do well.  And, because there is nothing to age the image I expect it to bring in revenue for a very long time.

Monday, April 18, 2016

Creativity And New Approaches In Stock Photography

Big data,streaming data, and communications technology are all illustrated with this colorful stock photo of streaking lights and binary numbers.
Big data, communications technology, and streaming data are all illustrated by this photo of streaking lights and binary numbers.

Consistent Styles, Creativity And Fun
One of the best things about stock photography, for me, is the opportunity and rewards of trying new things. While in the assignment world there is an ongoing need to build and maintain a consistent style, but with stock there are no such barriers to creativity and, well, fun!

More Demand, Less Competition
Luckily for me I enjoy the process of coming up with commercial images of all kinds, and part of my drive to experiment is the recognition that only by venturing out into new territory can I discover images that due to their unusual nature face a healthy amount of demand and less competition than more traditional imagery.

Big Data, Information Management And Needed Concepts
A few days a go I sat down and decide to create an image about needed concepts including big data, information management, and communications technology. I decided that I would use binary numbers to start with. I created a layer of ones and zeros and began to manipulate the layer using transform and warp tools. I used a hue and saturation layer to turn the binary numbers to blue because blue is highly associated with business.

Motion, Speed And Binary Numbers
I like the flow of the binary numbers. They were starting to give me a sense of motion and speed and definitely indicated streaming data. But I wanted a more dynamic feel as well. In my library of images I have a lot of light streaks created with long exposures and camera movement. I found one such capture with mutli-colored streaks that I could align with the initial binary numbers and that would add that extra dimension of drama. Another long-exposure light capture took on an intricate net-like appearance that I added in as a background.

Thumbnail Sizes and Cropping Options
One of the challenges of this image was creating it in a way that facilitated horizontal, square, and vertical crops. Mission accomplished! It can also be used to illustrate a lot of different concepts. Besides the above-mentioned ideas it can show bandwidth, wireless communications, and even cloud computing. This big data image is also a quick read at small thumbnail sizes on the Internet…an important aspect when one realizes that virtually all stock images are now purchased over the Internet and first seen as these small thumbnail sizes.

New Styles, New Approaches And Payoffs
Now I don’t know if this will be a successful stock image. It could take me a couple of years to find out. But I did enjoy the process of putting it together, and I do believe the image will produce revenue. But hey, I’ve wrong before…. Nonetheless, I know from experience that experimenting, coming up with new styles and approaches, over the long haul, definitely pays off.

Blend Images, Royalty Free And Revenue
I have submitted the stock photo to Blend Images as a Royalty Free image. My thinking is that because the image can be used for so many different concepts with such a wide audience that it’s revenue possibilities are greater as an RF image. A final point about the revenue potential of this communications image…by submitting it to Blend Images I get the advantage of very wide distribution and, in the case of a Blend direct sale, the added bonus of a 50% royalty split.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Roller Coasters, Business And Stock Photos

A roller coster filled with screaming business people hurtles down a track in an image about the ups and downs of business.
A roller coaster filled with screaming business people hurtles down a track in a humorous business stock photo.

Roller Coasters And Business
Like roller coasters, businesses have their up and downs. The Stock market certainly has its ups and downs. Every industry goes through its cycles, and there are a lot of businesses that offer products, services and guidance to help both individuals and businesses, small and large, to either avoid, weather or even thrive on the up and down challenges they are sure to face.

The Ups And Downs of Business
It makes perfect sense then to create imagery that such businesses can use to advertise and promote those products and services, and images that magazines, blogs, and online news services can use to illustrate their offerings around such issues. It was with exactly that need to illustrate those ups and downs of business that prompted me to create an image of a rollercoaster populated with terrified, screaming executive type business people in the middle of a rapid descent.

Flexible, Timeless Stock Photos
The message is clear and a quick read even at small thumbnail sizes and the image stands up to large reproduction including billboard sizes. I composed the photo to allow for cropping to square, vertical or horizontal formats while allowing ample copy space for headlines, body copy, and even inset photos.  Part of what makes a successful image is the ease and flexibility with which it can be used by art directors, graphic designers and photo editors. Another aspect of this photo that works to its advantage as a stock image is that there really isn’t much to date it. Roller coasters will probably look like, well, roller coasters for a long time, and casual business attire doesn’t really change much either. Another important aspect of the image is fun. The inherent humor helps the image be memorable and compelling.

Creating Business Concept Images
To create this business concept image I first went to an amusement park and photographed a roller coaster, focusing in fairly tightly on the first two cars. I specifically looked for cars that were mostly empty to facilitate the Photoshop work I would have to do. The next step was to find the nine models I would need, which I did using SF I had each model come in to the studio and photographed them from a ladder to get the correct perspective. As long as I had them I also photographed each of them for a series of other images I knew I would be making…have to be efficient these days! Each model was hired for $35.00 an hour digital files for their portfolios, with a two-hour minimum. I had a list of at least a dozen scenarios for each model.

Royalty Free In Blend Images
It took about a day in total to do the Photoshop work. I stripped each of the models out by making a clipping path, turning the path into a selection, refining the selection using the refine brush on the hair. I put them into the roller coaster cars using puppet warp for small positioning adjustments. I also used a sky that I had photographed years earlier in the desert (while at Burning Man…everyone should go once).  Because it is the type of image that I think can be used by a large audience for multiple uses I put it into BlendImages as a Royalty Free image. Who the hell named RF images Royalty Free any way? But I digress.

Hanging On For Dear Life
This rapidly descending roller coaster car filled with terrified executives could be a poster image for the stock photo industry! As an aside, we stock shooters have to remember that like a roller coaster, if we hang on long enough we should be fine.
This image has been licensing well for a couple of years now (and seldom fails to sell at least once a month). Someday I will check on the revenue and be pleasantly surprised to see that it has earned many thousands of dollars…at least that is what I am planning on…in the mean time…I am hanging on for dear life!

Friday, April 15, 2016

A Changing Stock Photo Strategy For Success

A woman's head explodes in an eruption of people portraits in an image about social media overload.
In a social media overload image a woman's head explodes into individual people portraits.

The Changing Landscape Of Stock Photography
With the disappearance of Corbis, somehow being swallowed up by Getty without being bought by Getty (huh?), the continuing success of the new “tech” stock agencies like ShutterStock and Stocksy, 500px and the probable success of Adobe Stock, the landscape in our industry continues to change. For an old timer like me it is a challenge to keep up with it…but I try!

Supplemental Exposure, SEO and Social Media
More than ever, I believe, that to excel in stock photography one has to find a way to get what I call supplemental exposure for one’s work. It is a mistake to just sit back and hope/expect the agencies to garner sufficient eyeballs for your work.  It is the stock shooter’s equivalent of the assignment photographer’s necessary and constant efforts at marketing. For me that effort is coming down to SEO work on my website and the use of social media.

Participating In Social Media
I have to confess here that I have been a social media hater. I have tried, but have a hard time committing to the time it takes to engage with social networking. But that is changing. I am changing. In the past couple of weeks I have made a stronger effort to participate in social media in a several ways…and it started with Blend Images.

Enjoying Social Media
As regular readers of this blog already know, I am a part owner of Blend Images, a photographer owned stock agency. Blend Images has a great new website (check it out) that facilitates social engagement and I have started making the most of it…liking images, pinning them, tweeting them and sharing them on facebook. As much as I hate to admit it, I am starting to enjoy it!

Facebook Ads
I am also experimenting with facebook ads. They are really pretty cool. You can drill down deeply in choosing the parameters for an audience. There is great flexibility in setting up the schedule for adds, setting budgets and so forth. There are also very few options in creating the ad itself…which is wonderful! I don’t have to spend agonizing hours figuring it out. That is great because I would much rather be spending my time creating stock photos.

Website SEO
As I have done for years, I also continue to upload my images to my website with plenty of text on each page, alt text for the images and so forth. The facebook ads get my work in front of new people, the website and SEO work helps people looking for specific images find mine. Too bad so many of them are looking for free images...oh well!

A Stock Photo Strategy
At this point my stock photo strategy is to keep working on my website SEO…which is great for reaching people who are looking for an image, participate in social media which builds my brand (and that of Blend Images), and advertise on facebook…which further builds my brand and sets the stage for future stock photo sales.  Geez…I’ve been converted! Oh well…gotta go pin/share/tweet an image!

Friday, April 8, 2016

Anatomy of A Social Media Stock Image

Social Media and social networking are illustrated in this stock image combing two hundred individual portraits with a wide range of ethnic diversity, age ranges and with gender balance.
This "Social Media" stock image has over 200 individual, model release portraits montaged into one dynamic photo.

Social Media Images
Over the last several years I made quite a few “Social Media” and “Social Networking” images. This particular image is my current favorite. I believe it portrays the idea of online communities and social interactions by combining over 200 individual portraits into one image that fairly vibrates with energy. The image is quite simple, a collage of portraits, yet conveys a complexity and intricacy that is part and parcel of online communities.

Eight Years Of Shooting People
The image took me two full days to composite together…not to mention about eight years of shooting people and getting model releases. Imagine what it would cost to pull this image off from scratch! Then there is the time to upload and enter the model releases and metadata…over four hours…and that does not take into consideration all the sorting, searching and scanning time. Geez. 

Value For Art Directors
It is an image like this that REALLY offers tremendous value for art directors, designers and art buyers. Of course, just how good a value it is often makes me a little crazy. With the resources and time that go into an image like this one it is hard to see those $2.00 sales come through. Oh well….

Ethnic Diversity, Age Ranges And Gender Balance
The overlapping images with varying degrees of opacity and different layer modes, combined with the intermixed use of large and small portraits, creates a feeling of motion and energy and depth. The image crops easily to square, vertical or horizontal. Obviously there is a wealth of ethnic diversity, age ranges and gender balance. This portrait montage doesn’t just work for social networking concepts, but for a vast range of ideas from demographics to political themes to international and global business concerns.

Social Networking And Blend Images
There is an inherent interest in faces, and with over two hundred faces in this one image there is a powerful pull on viewers to spend extra time viewing. That is good news for those using the image to draw attention to their message. I placed this networking photo with Blend Images to get maximum distribution. It is a Rights Managed image because it is hard to duplicate and I have a bias for RM for images that take so much time to create! Take a moment and view all of my Social Media images on Blend’s new site!

Saturday, April 2, 2016

Anatomy of a Stock Image #1

cloud computing and communications technology are both illustrated with this stock photo featuring vivid streaks of colored lights weaving through high altitude cloud formations.
Cloud computing and communications technology are both illustrated by this image of vivid streaks of colored lights cutting through high altitude cloud formations.

Anatomy Of A Stock Image #1
This is the first of a series of blog posts I am undertaking in which I will share a stock image I have created along with the thinking and strategy behind it.

Cloud Computing And Communications Technology
Cloud computing and communications technology are the primary concepts behind this stock image created for Blend Images. When I set about creating new stock photos I try and come up with ideas based around significant need. In the cases of both cloud computing and communications technology, there is clear need. One of the challenges is, though, that such concepts are hard to illustrate. I do believe that in this case I have come up with an elegant solution.

Clouds And Streaks Of Light
Clouds, combined with streaks of light, are, I believe, a quick read for “cloud computing”, the obvious part being the inclusion of clouds in the image. I decided to have the clouds be storm clouds to help illustrate the idea of the challenges posed in cloud computing. After all, a company that needs to advertise their cloud computing products and services are doing so because they can help potential clients overcome such obstacles or difficulties.

Color, Movement, And Streaming Data
The streaks of light not only add visual interest (due to their intense color and movement), but also because they make a great metaphor for streaming data and networking. Even wireless communications can be seen in the light streaks. Energy, motion and speed are all seen in those vivid arcs of colored lights as well. What we then have is a stock image that is quite versatile in what art directors, designers and photo editors can use it for. Further, the image is also quite flexible as well in that there is plenty of copy space and the image can be cropped into any format. The image can even work as a banner ad.

Cloud Computing And Possibilities
The lights that knife through the clouds are seen weaving in and out of the cloud cover adding a sense of depth to the image.  The lines are yellow, blue and magenta and arc across the image angling upwards to the right. Having the lines move upwards adds in the idea of a positive graph and growth and further supplementing the sense of possibilities that exist in cloud computing, communications technology, and networking.

Adding Visibility
Again, I cannot predict the success, or lack of it, for any one stock image, but I am confident that I have covered the basics with this image giving it a fighting chance to stand out in a crowded marketplace and with come clear applications in mind. Some might leave at that placing the responsibility for getting adequate visibility for the shot on the stock agency. I am, however, adding further visibility by adding the image to mywebsite and blogging about it. In this brave new world of stock photography one can no longer afford to be complacent, but must, in fact, be extremely pro active in getting eyeballs on one’s imagery.     

A Cloud Computing RF Image
I chose the Royalty Free category for this image because it was relatively easy to create, can be used for a wider variety of messages, and because, well, I want to have the bulk of my stock photo contributions to be RF content because of the much wider audience for RF over RM.

Blend Images

For any of you not familiar with Blend Images, it is a photographer owned agency (disclaimer…I am one of the owners) with a cutting edge web site, a tightly edited collection of relevant and creative images, and is currently offering a 25% discount on licenses when using the promo code JL-PROMO2016. Even if you don’t need to license an image Blend’s highly curated library is a great place to browse images for inspiration…or just to enjoy the visual delight! Check it out:                            

Sunday, March 27, 2016

New stock photo website and 25% off

The sun rises, or sets, over a lake with a single drop of water suspended over the ever widening ripples in a stock photo about new beginnings, repercussions, and ideas.
New curated stock photography from BLEND IMAGES, a new website, and 25% off licensing fees for a limited time...better check it out!

Need images for print, web use or social media campaigns? Tired of the same old stock photo sources?

There is a stock photo agency that is photographer owned, has an awesome highly curated collection, including both RF and RM imagery, and has new streamlined pricing for both Royalty Free and Rights Managed uses.

Blend Images, founded by 23 leading stock photographers, has an entirely new website that makes viewing imagery a joy. It is a great place to see truly high-end photography from world-class photographers that span the globe.

Blend now includes almost 200 hand-picked photographers from all over the world. From concepts to kids to lifestyle, Blend has the good stuff without having to wade through millions of mediocre (at best) images. Blend has probably the strongest multicultural collection in the world and a library that is constantly updated with photography that benefits from the close relationships between Blend art directors and Blend photographers.

Celebrating their new website Blend Images is currently offering a 25% discount on stock licensing using the promo code JL-PROMO2016, but only for a limited time. Go on...take a peek!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

3 moves for stock photo success

Hundreds of pictures cascade down through the sky in an image about photo sharing and the quantity of imagery in the digital age.
More than ever stock shooters need to value quality over quantity, and search is fast becoming more important than the quantity of content.

Search Is King
Word on the street is that buyers are increasingly turning to boutique stock sites where they can see more quality images and have less quantity to have to wade through. Search is becoming more important than quantity…though agencies still seem compelled to promote the number of images they have. So what can we, as individual stock shooters, do about this inundation of imagery that sucks the earning power out of our own collections?

I see three things that we can do to combat the tsunami of stock photos deluging the marketplace:

Quality Over Quantity
First, focus on quality not quantity. Obviously the more great images you have the better, but now is the time, more than ever to focus on quality. And by quality I mean images that are truly needed…not the low hanging fruit that any one with a new DLSR can go out and shoot in the spare time…but rather the images that truly need some effort. The images that will rise to the top are the ones created from the effort of casting, of prime locations, and with styling and propping and careful post-production work. It is the images that rise above the ordinary that will attract viewers, rise in the search ranks because of sophisticated algorithms, and have a correspondingly long life resulting in the multiple sales that will determine the success of both the shoot and the shooter!

Promote Your Imagery
Second, promote your imagery. Whether you do it via social media, the Internet, or even printed catalogs, if your images don’t get seen they won’t earn you money. If you can generate sales directly, wonderful. In my case I don’t actually want to deal with direct sales so I promote my images via my website and direct potential buyers to the agencies that carry the work. It is working for me. I get thousands of dollars a month more because of those efforts. And remember, by driving viewers to your images on an agency site you will bring those images up higher in the search insuring yet more views of those images. The great Jim Erickson even prints a thick catalog of his stock images just like the agencies used to do back in the day. One of the few Getty photographers I know who is doing well…really well…attributes it to his facebook ad campaign.  However you do it, be proactive in getting your work in front of prospective buyers!

The Right Stock Agency
Third, pick the right stock agency(s). It is tempting to sign with any agency that sends you a nice invitation praising your work, but do your research before signing. Talk to photographers that they represent. Is that agency really working for them? Does your work fit in with the agency (Stocksy, for example, turned me down)? Is that agency on a growth path (sales…not quantity of images)? What kind of guidance does the agency offer? How challenging is it to upload your images (and do you have to do your own key wording etc.)? Be thorough…your livelihood depends on it!

Blend Images And Curated Collections
Blend Images (of which I am a part owner), for example, has what I believe is a very smart strategy. They offer broad distribution through channels such as Getty, Masterfile, Gallery Stock and many others (including imagery with some microstock agencies at traditional RF prices)...and their own tightly edited collection of images. We Blend I get that broad distribution AND the attraction to art buyers of a boutique agency.I think it is the right approach at this time for success in stock photography. But again, I also work very hard to get my images exposure via my website, and link back to both Blend and Getty. I am also stepping up my efforts to gain visibility via social media. Wish me luck!

Friday, March 18, 2016

New Streamlined Rights Managed Licensing

A businessman prepares to wrestle with a paper work monster in an image about work place pressure, excessive regulations and paper work, and business challenges.
A new approach to Rights Managed imagery offers a simpler and streamline approach to licensing imagery.

A Simplified Approach To Rights Managed Imagery
We all hate paper work and complexity, and Rights Managed imagery has a reputation for being complex and unwieldy. But that is changing.
Blend Images is pioneering, or perhaps re-pioneering, a new way to approach Rights Managed imagery (Getty tried “Rights Ready” years ago but it was still too unwieldy and ultimately was abandoned). RM, as it is known, was the original model for stock photography, but has fallen far behind in volume to RF (Royalty Free) and microstock (which is simply lower-priced RF).

High Prices And Complex Fees
Part of the popularity of RF imagery over RM is that RM has the reputation, if not always the reality, of higher price points. Of course, after getting a lot of my sales reports it sometimes seems to me that RM can underbid any RF image (RF images are sold by image size)! I have actually had RM sales in which my share came to 4 cents…more than once! But perhaps an even bigger problem in today’s world for RM images lies in the complexity of the fee structure.

Pricing RM
Have you ever gone to Getty’s site (or for that matter any RM site) and priced RM? Yikes! It is complicated, frustrating and time-intensive. I find it intensely irritating to be trying to come up with all the various parameters only to, at some point in the process, to be stumped as to what category, industry or specific application that is offered in the pull down menus fits my unique needs. You also need to know such things as the duration of the use, size of the use, print run numbers and circulation figures. It is enough to turn one to RF!

Making RM Simple
Blend Images has come up with a new approach that makes licensing RM imagery much simpler. They are offering a series of bundles of rights that greatly simplifies the licensing process. If you need exclusive use then one can talk to a sales person. There will always be a need for Rights Managed imagery…in my own case I have exclusive agreements with greeting card companies so I cannot offer my humorous animal images as RF. And many clients just don’t want to risk having their competition using the same images. Now those clients have an option that can fill their need for RM photos that approaches RF in terms of simplicity of licensing.

RM Licensing Bundles
On the Blend site you can choose either “editorial” or “commercial”. If you choose editorial you then can choose “Cover” or Digital Non-cover. Next you choose and “industry” and finally “duration”. It is even simpler than it sounds. If you choose “commercial”, you get a choice of three different bundles and a forth that includes “all commercial uses”. You gain choose an “industry” and a “duration” that ranges from one to five years. This is going to change how creatives view Rights Managed imagery!

A Discount On Your Stock Photo Licenses

And for those of you who are interested in checking the new pricing out, whether you need RF or RM, if you use the discount code JL-PROMO2016 you can get a 25% discount on any stock image you license on the Blend site. As a matter of fact, tell your friends and co workers as well (disclaimer…I too get a bonus when that discount code is used). Hey, what are you waiting for!

Friday, January 29, 2016

Ideas, The Biggest Stock Photo Challenge

A tug of war in the cloud is a visual metaphor for competition and teamwork in the cloud.
Ideas, The Biggest Stock Photo Challenge
My biggest challenge, as a stock photographer, is coming up with ideas that I believe are both needed in the marketplace and are different or better than what is already available. I believe that there are an unlimited number of such ideas out there, even though I am constantly afraid I have come up with my very last decent one.  So what are some ways I tap into various resources to generate new imagery?

Setting The Intention And Writing Ideas Down
Well, first, I spend an inordinate amount of time looking at photos. I set the intention to come up with ideas and then start looking at imagery. I Google images, I peruse my own files and I search stock photo sites. Sooner or later an idea will surface usually followed by a couple of more.  Now it isn’t unusual for me to find an idea lacking that I thought was terrific the day before…and then to find a new appreciation for the idea on yet another day.  Keeping that in mind, and the fleeting nature of ideas, I keep a pad and pencil, or word document open, and write down the ideas as they come to me.

Cloud Computing And A Tug Of War
In the case of this tug of war/cloud computing image, I was checking out my own archives. At some point the cloud image caught my eye. I made a mental note of the clouds, keeping it in mind as I continued to roam through my files. BTW, I use Adobe Bridge for that purpose. Eventually I ran across an image of a tug of war match between two groups of business people and immediately realized that I could have the competition taking place in “TheCloud”. It would create a visually interesting image with all kinds of concepts. And it is great to have a stock image that can work for multiple concepts!

Teamwork, Challenge And Visual Metaphors
“The Cloud” is becoming so pervasive with so many activities and implications that it requires numerous visual metaphors for use in advertising and editorial communications. In this case some of the possible concepts include teamwork, challenge, competition and determination. One important idea is that the cloud, like everywhere in the business world, requires teamwork, strength and endurance to succeed.

Intention, Visual Research, Execution And Distribution

Now I have no idea how successful this stock image may or may not end up being, but the technique I used to come up with it, intention and visual research (looking at images) is at the core of my stock photo business.  Come up with enough ideas, execute them at a minimal cost, and get them into distribution and success is still attainable in stock photography!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Shooting Stock For Whats Hot

A digital or virtual assistant is represented by a pixelated butler in this concept stock photo.
A virtual or digital assistant is represented in this stock photo seeking to cash in on hot concept.

Creating Imagery That Is In Demand
Part of succeeding as a stock photographer is in creating imagery that is in demand…and ideally, images that are both in demand and have less competition. One way to achieve that is by creating concept images that for new, important ideas. This image of a pixilated butler was created with just such a concept in mind; the digital or virtual assistant.

Virtual and Digital Assistants
I became aware of the growing importance of virtual assistants in a recent Kickstarter campaign I was involved in.  Successful crowdfunding campaigns invariably make extensive use of virtual assistants...and crowdfunding is hot (hmmm...more fodder for stock ideas)!  Also, as the world increasingly moves towards the cloud the use of digital and virtual assistants will no doubt increase…and the need for imagery that can advertise and editorialize about such assistants will also ramp up.

Butlers And Pixels
As I thought about how to illustrate the idea of a digital assistant I thought of a butler. A butler is an iconic symbol of service. Pixels are iconic symbols of a digital world. Combine them and you have a perfect metaphor for virtual assistants! In my files I already had a photograph of myself as a butler. I stripped that image out and put it into a corporate lobby setting. Then I “pixilated” the image by taking small squares out of the butler and repositioning them. The butler can be seen as forming from the cloud, or dispersing into a networked environment.

Vertical, Horizontal And Copy Space

The image was composed to allow for cropping to square, vertical or horizontal uses with ample copy space for the needs of art directors, designers or photo editors. The result is a flexible image that can illustrate a wide variety of concepts around digital, personal and virtual assistants. Time will tell if it actually becomes a successful stock image or not.