Archive for June 2010

30 Jun, 2010 | Posted by: st

Branding is Big

If you’re in the business to sell your editorial stock photography on-line, today’s Internet world requires you to be prepared to show the world your "brand.”

Why? Without brand recognition, you’re just another picture-taker.

The Internet has established new methods of picture search and delivery – today photobuyers expect to work with specialists whom they can depend on to have wide coverage in the subject area that the buyer needs.

So how do you get recognized by the people you want to attract to be your customers and buy (‘rent’) your pictures?


The trouble with branding, we all know—is you have to have a track record before people will begin recognizing “your brand” (your specialty). It doesn’t happen overnight.

But you can accelerate the process.

The first step in branding (i.e. establishing your own brand, your own specialty) is to recognize a theme in your photography .If you haven’t yet established a primary subject area in your stock photography, if you have no consistent subject matter, theme, or style to your photos, your first step is research.

Self-research. Yes.

But don’t despair, most stock photographers tend to shoot at everything –‘across the board’ – when they are starting out.

To develop or discover your “theme”.. Ask yourself several questions” (self research). It’s an easy process.

What pleases you most in photography?

Please don’t say “everything.” If you do, you’re in the wrong camp. We’re talking about selling your photos – and selling anything “creative” takes work: research, imagination, insight and a lot of persistence and patience.

If you’re still with me, then get ready for the first stage of this self-research.

You’re mission is to establish yourself as an expert. Most people are experts in something, whether it be a hobby, occupation, commercial enterprise, or passionate side interest.
The nice thing about deciding upon your area of expertise is that just by the notion that you can recognize it, then others will recognize it, too, and be interested in gaining more knowledge from you on the subject, which means:

You can supply that knowledge in the form of photography.

And what’s really important, there’s a market for your photos in that subject area at magazines, books, textbooks, manuals, websites, and advertisements.

Your first challenge then is to recognize what you’re good at, what you really love to photograph, and then capitalize on it. That’s your “brand.”

The buyers are waiting!


Note: Keep following this series of articles published from time to time in PhotoStockNOTES. We'll show you how to brand your specialized stock photos.
NEXT: Getting Seen


23 Jun, 2010 | Posted by: photosource

Freelance Stock Photography

...on the Rise ?

The Recession is here. This one could be the biggest boon to your independent stock photo services that you have ever experienced. Here’s why:

FACT: Companies that employ staff photographers to produce the many images they constantly need, are starting to cut employees. They attempt to reduce costs where they can. In the case of their photography department, they cut the in-house staff (the pros), and delegate picture-taking to the remaining staff member who has a point ‘n’ shoot and is known as a good “picture-taker.”

FACT: The company limps along for awhile with inadequate images, missed deadlines, embarrassing situations (like a copyright suit), improper captions on images, even wrong images, and not least of all, when the picture-taker soon loses his/her job they have to recruit another in-house volunteer.

FACT: Photography seems to the layman such an easy task to perform that volunteers are always happy to offer to help. Even the boss’s wife. Reality: If you’ve ever worked with volunteers, you know their staying power is usually in inverse proportion to their enthusiasm.

FACT: In the absence of a staff photographer, a knowledgeable photo editor will turn to a professional stock agency. Two problems here: 1.) the fees of a major stock agency don’t fit the budget of the company. 2.) A general stock agency does well in supplying ‘exquisite-cliché’ images, but many times falls far short when targeted, specific-content pictures and knowledge about the content area are needed.

FACT: During a downturn in the economy – a smart picture editor looks for images from an independent stock photographer, or specialty stock agency, that focuses on the subject area that the editor’s company deals in. Only a decade ago, this kind of accelerated research into outsource services would not have been possible. Today, thanks to Google and other search engines, the smart editor/photo researcher knows where to look.

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16 Jun, 2010 | Posted by: photosource

Photojournalism Will Endure

If you have ventured into that division of editorial photography known as photojournalism, you know that it is a noble adventure. Not only do you enjoy travel and get paid for it, but you are permitted a passport into the lives of others, not only in your own country, but throughout the world.

What profession could be more exciting and rewarding?

But there are roadblocks.
Because you represent an investigative factor, you are not always welcomed – especially by political, social, military, and governmental elements that would rather not expose their own shortcomings.

So, you find yourself in a battle between your passion to tell the story and get it right, and the deterrents that would prevent you from "trespassing" into their domain.


There are also detours. If you are good at your profession, you'll be offered incentives that entice you to give up your initial interest in photojournalism and turn your talents to more lucrative areas of photography, for greater income and social status – areas like public relations, advertising photography, fashion, corporate assignments, etc.

You are not alone. A talented musician can be tempted to turn to producing elevator music; a talented music composer to TV show tunes; a talented writer to Hollywood screenplays; an established actor to performing in TV commercials.

The difference in pay scale can be tempting. In photojournalism, unless you are a well-known photographer with many credits, remuneration for your work is not much higher than for basic labor jobs (sometimes lower!).

Add to the financial challenges the fact that like any business, the publishing world is always trying to reduce expense. Often their first target is freelancers and staff photographers. I once heard an attempt was being made in Germany (Frankfurt) to reduce the employee classification of a photojournalist in a publishing house from editorial worker to clerical worker, to justify a decrease in pay.
It would seem that organizing into a union of members would be the answer for photographers. It isn't. Freelancers by their very nature are independent people and are resistant to 'organizing.' Creativity can't be organized. As an observer of freelancers over the years, I've seen attempts to unionize freelancers come along, sputter, and disappear.

For photographers, a contemporary approach to organizing freelancers into a union is to hook up with an existing union as an affiliate. For example, affiliating with the United Automobile Workers (UAW) and through them with the AFL-CIO. If we were to classify freelancers as craftsmen, or clerical workers, I would agree this might be the answer. But could you imagine a poet or painter (artist) joining a union?

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09 Jun, 2010 | Posted by: photosource

Keeping Up

Technology these days has wings -- sometimes rocket fuel. Both stock photo buyers and suppliers have learned that by paying attention they can keep up -- and by keeping up with the changes - they can survive. The good news is that the standard rules for success in our stock photo industry haven’t changed.

The photography budget for a medium-size publishing house is between $20,000 and $40,000 monthly. For a major publisher, it's twice that amount. Stock photographers who are consistent at selling their photos have learned to identify certain markets that match their own areas of interest. Once they become a "regular" at a specific publishing house, they receive a steady stream of photo requests and assignments.

One way to succeed in our new digital era is to avoid failure. Here are some marketing mistakes you want to avoid:

Number one is probably the most oft-repeated marketing mistake. Creative people tend to produce their product first and then attempt to find a market for it. This is a recipe for disaster. The Boulevard of Broken Dreams is strewn with bodies of creative people who never learned: "Find the market first, and then create for that market."
This doesn’t mean just “take whatever sells.” It means identify markets that want photos in the subject areas you like to photograph.

When you try to be all things to all people in the publishing world, with a huge variety of offerings, the photobuyer's reaction is: "No one can be that good!" Discover your photographic strength areas, and go for them. Many entry-level stock photographers try to go after the whole pie rather than a piece of the pie.
Become a specialist. Don't photograph everything you see. You'll burn out. Stay within a "segment" and become an expert in your area(s) of interest. This way you’ll earn recognition for your “brand.” Learn to speak the language of your interest areas. Become an expert in the area or a select few areas you like to focus on. You'll become a valuable resource to a specific group of photobuyers out there. If wild horses can't pull you away from your goals, you'll succeed. You'll fail or get bored if you aim for only those markets that “pay well.”

Writers rarely can get their poetry published, and even rarer is getting paid for it. Similarly, in the stock photography field, don't expect your 'artsy' pictures to be frequent sellers. Consider them your poetry. Ask yourself next time you're taking (making) a picture, "Is this for sale or is it for soul?"
Spend Sundays to take pictures that feed your soul, take nuts and bolts marketable pictures during the week to feed your family.

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02 Jun, 2010 | Posted by: photosource

Create a Trademark

& Identify Your Brand

Your photography is your trademark, once you get established.

But before you become established, a 'trademark' may very well be an important element to your success. A distinctive logo or design to your letterhead can help you start looking familiar to photobuyers -- and help your name to be remembered. As your photography enterprise progresses, you will build equity in your trademark.

When you design your symbol, or logo (as a trademark is often called), be aware of a common error: the temptation to use the obvious -- a camera, tripod, an aperture symbol, etc. You will, of course, want to choose from 'things photographic,' but try for a combination or a particular adaptation that's all your own.
Make it simple, and easy to remember. Recruit friends who are good at designing, drawing, and critiquing your work. Let them help in the decisions, based on the pointers mentioned above. Flip through the web or the Yellow Pages to see how others have tackled the question of a logo. Don't be 'cute' in your design, it will soon wear off, and could even be offensive to clients. Don't be obscure, either.

Some hints: If you are a nature photographer, choose a design that reflects your specialty. Children photographer? Choose a classic shot of yours that lends itself well to a simplified sketch or drawing. But be careful not to "date" the hairstyle or clothing.

One caution: Unless you are decidedly a specialist in only ONE category, you may not want to be too specific with your trademark design.
Example: you only photograph crocodiles. You may want to design a logo that reflects reptiles in case you expand your category somewhat.
You are building a foundation. Choose well. Your branding logo could remain with you a lifetime. Each day means you are establishing your brand of stock photography. If you change your field in the future, you will have lost the previous exposure you worked hard to build up for your original logo (trademark).

A trademark can also consist of the particular name that you give to your photography service, e.g. Johnson & Johnson.
Can another person copy (steal!) your trademark? Yes, a person can, but you have the advantage of common-law right to your name or design (or a combination of them), providing you were the first to use it.

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