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!