Archive for January 2011

26 Jan, 2011 | Posted by: psnotes

Those Valuable Minutes Each Day

Do you enjoy selling your photos and making money? If you answer no to that question then the rest of this article would be a waste of your time. If your answer is yes, then consider this:
Time, to the creative person, is more important than money. It’s something money can’t buy -- so if you’ve been squandering your time, you’ve been tossing away your potential profits, much like the lemonade stand proprietor who, without disciplining himself, drinks his profits.
Creative people are famous for wasting time by spending it trying to make money to support their creative habit. They spend time moonlighting at a fast-food restaurant or a construction job to gain the money to buy tripods, cameras, disks, lenses. Because they take time away from their picture-taking and picture marketing, they find themselves going financially and professionally backwards.


Others squander their time on activities that have little to do with their mission of marketing their pictures. If you are a home gardener, did you ever figure out how much time you spend in your garden? One hour a day for 6 months is 180 hours. What kind of solid Market List could you build if you devoted 180 hours to your Market List this spring and summer? Once you discover which editors are out there with $10,000 to 30,000-a-month photography budgets waiting for your specialized photographs, those golden homegrown carrots won’t be so liable to distract you from operating your own real gold-making machinery.
I’ve heard all the alibis gardeners, golfers, dog trainers, hikers, and tennis players have when I ask them why they are pursuing these hobbies rather than building a solid Market List. I have a three-word reply for them: “Excuses, excuses, excuses.” This is not to say you can’t also enjoy your varied interests. Just get serious about your time management.


And finally, there is the ambitious go-getter who moonlights as a short-order cook, in-between night classes and a full time job. “I really have no time!”
This sounds like a foolproof excuse, but consider this: Just 15 minutes a day is 91 ¼ (that’s ninety-one and a quarter) hours a year! In one year a person could be well on his/her way to successfully selling their photos, if they disciplined themselves to spending 15 minutes a day on building a Market List, adding text descriptions to thise photo metadata or/and PhotoSourceBANK*, or refining those tags and descriptions. In one year they could quit that counterproductive short-order cook job (4 hours a night = 800 hours a year!) and become a valuable resource to a number of editors who have a constant need for photos in the subject areas the photographer specializes in.
How to get started: If you have a copy of one my early stock photography books, or find one on for $3.95, get it, because the marketing information in it is invaluable to you. The digital and Internet delivery information may not be right up to date in an older copy, but the marketing strategies are ageless. Review Chapter Four (pages 75-78) in "Sell & ReSell Your Photos." In four weekends, you could be off and running-- and kissing excuses, excuses, goodbye.

Rohn Engh is director of PhotoSource International and publisher of PhotoStockNotes. Pine Lake Farm, 1910 35th Road, Osceola, WI 54020 USA. If you sell your photos, check out his website. E-mail: info[at]photosource[dot]com . Fax: 1 715 248 3800. Web site: or


25 Jan, 2011 | Posted by: st

Do You Need Model Releases?

“I have photographed children and teen dancers at a local dance studio. Now I want to put the photos on display in a gallery. Does an art exhibition, or photo exhibition, fall into the editorial category as per whether model releases are required or not? What can I do without a model release form? Can I exhibit and sell the photos or just exhibit them?”
one of our readers recently wrote.
This is definitely a gray area, depending on usage of photos. For editorial usage, this concerns your First Amendment Rights, which allow you to publish (sell for publication) or exhibit – without model releases -- photos you take in places open to the public, and at public events.
Like most legal matters, privacy law is open to interpretation. My comments on the subject of model releases are always directed to the use of your photos in editorial situations, i.e. to inform, educate, or entertain (not to endorse or advertise or be associated with a commercial product or event).
A community art show or photo exhibit is not unlike your local newspaper publishing a feature photo in its Home Life section, or on its website, and falls into the editorial category.

The real test of this question about whether you should be trying to get a release for such photos of children at dance class is whether a book, newspaper, or magazine (the basic customers of editorial photographers) who would publish the photos would be the target of a legal case brought by a parent. Over my forty years of observing editorial stock photography, it rarely happens that a parent objects to their child's picture being published or exhibited – unless the picture is unflattering or puts the child in a sensitive light. No attorney on a contingency basis would ever accept a case unless real invasion of privacy is the concern.
Our USA First Amendment covers this issue.
Frivolous lawsuits of this nature used to happen, it seems, more often in earlier years, the 70's and 80's. You'd think it would happen more now-- what with all the sensitivity and fear that's prevalent in our society these days. It may be that stock photographers have become gun-shy. They believe that they will get "grief" if they photograph people in public and then exhibit the photos at a show but fail to get a model release.

What's the result if you, as a stock photographer, photographing in the area of child development, domestic violence, social issues, child abuse, child safety, child welfare, etc. - if you don't capture poignant scenes of what's happening in your community? The other side wins. The pictures are not published and corporate or governmental interests who would wish you didn't expose their blemishes would be happy.
Eugene Smith, Henri-Cartier Bresson, Margaret Bourke-White, never walked around with a model release pad in their pocket. It's the publisher who gets in trouble when an irresponsible art director uses a picture in an insensitive way in the magazine's layout, that perhaps distorts the true situation. In other words, your neighbor's child's picture is used in a story about teenage gambling. Then a parent could rightfully take that publisher to court, and probably win - if the implication is not true.
Regards a neighborhood art show or photography exhibit, when in doubt, apply the Golden Rule. Ask yourself, "does this picture embarrass a friend or neighbor?" If it does, you might choose not to show it in your exhibit.
True, there are always extenuating circumstances, and different interpretations of the law in different parts of the country. You can run up against a burly security guard demanding that you not take pictures in his shopping mall.
Well, it so happens that's where you're going to find excellent subject matter on the subject of community life. If a security guard at a public place attempts to take your camera or even hassle you unnecessarily, a call to the police on your cell phone would not be out of order, even perhaps to arrest the guard for attempted theft of your camera.
By the way, be sure to carry around a "Bust Card" in your camera bag. It's available in PDF form at /library/bustcard.html> It outlines your rights as a citizen, and is a reminder you can show to a security guard or policeman when necessary.
To be hesitant about photographing a child in public because you've heard stories that "you could get in trouble," is to deprive the viewing public of information and insight and of your talents and the way you see the world. You have to ask yourself the question, "Is this picture worth it? There's a 1% chance that it'll result in great hassle for me, and a 99% chance that it'll belong in a retrospect of my work."
If you have heard (usually from uninformed or misinformed photography instructors and photo columnists) that you need a model release for a picture of a child or adult taken in public, here's a challenge for you:
If you can document a case in the United States where a photographer was taken to court for publishing a picture in editorial usage without getting a model release, I'll reward you with a year's subscription to any service we have at PhotoSource International.
Take note that I've said, "documented." Photographers, Internet gossips, and my fellow photo columnists continually perpetuate the myth about model releases and all the trouble you can get into when taking such a picture in public. But when asked for follow-up documentation, so far (for thirty years) it has never been forthcoming. This challenge always quiets the naysayers.
So there. Photograph in public freely. Exhibit your work, and sell your child dance photos for editorial usage, in the spirit of "informing, educating or entertaining the public." No judge in a court of law is going to fault you for that if you are sincerely engaged in editorial photography. It's your right. Even more so, it's your duty to protect that right, by challenging those who would suggest it is not.

As an editorial stock photographer you are going to find much more enjoyment when you are photographing subject matter that you like to take. Learn more about how to sell those pictures at PhotoSource International and the PhotoSourceBANK, Pine Lake Farm, 1910 35th Road, Osceola, WI 54020 USA. Rohn Engh is director of and publisher of PhotoStockNotes. E-mail: info[at]photosource[dot]com Fax: 1 715 248 3800;

19 Jan, 2011 | Posted by: psnotes

The Two Faces of

Stock Photography

Who are the players in the game

of selling photos?

The players, of course, are the photographers and the buyers – but there are two separate “games” they play in, plus, the stock photos differ depending on which game they're in.

To get a clear picture of this, take a magazine and tear out all the advertisements. The photos that remain are what we call “editorial photography” [game 1]. (The ads are “commercial photography” [game 2].)
Stock photography is used in both areas, but with some big differences.

Most commercial photos are shot in studios or on contrived locations. They conform to the wishes of several parties: the client, the ad agency, and the art director(s) -- the photographer doesn’t have much say in it except to click the button.

Editorial photos meet the wishes of the editors of a magazine, book, or newspaper and/or, a photo researcher, but first and foremost the photo initially meets the wishes of the photographer. The editorial photographer has complete control of the image.

Commercial stock photos can be designed and produced by the photographer, but they are constricted by the dictates of having to conform to “what sells.” The photographer must tailor the photos to fit into commercial clients' needs, trends in the industry, and to appeal to a wide, general audience. The resulting photos are often called generic images because they can fit a variety of uses, appeal to a wide audience, and can produce multiple sales.


Editorial stock photos are produced by a different approach. Rather than appeal to the commercial needs of a client, the editorial stock photographer follows his or her own interest areas, their own needs, and enjoyment in photographing certain segments of life and culture. Examples: medicine and health, sports, social issues, travel, etc. The photographer then sells these photos to markets that use images in those specific subject areas.

Buyers in the commercial field, range from graphic design houses, to corporate art directors, to ad agency creative directors. There's much turnover in these positions, so the ability to develop a consistent working relationship with these markets is frustrating and difficult.
In the editorial field, the buyers range from photo editors at books and magazines, to photo researchers--the people who are hired by publishers and art directors to seek out highly specific pictures.
There's less turnover and more longevity with editorial buyers. Editorial stock photographers can enjoy strong long-term working relationships with photobuyers in the editorial field, -- which translates to more consistent sales.
Welcome aboard!

Rohn Engh is director of PhotoSource International and publisher
of PhotoStockNotes. Pine Lake Farm, 1910 35th Road, Osceola, WI 54020 USA. If you sell your photos, check out his website. E-mail: info[at]photosource[dot]com . Fax: 1 715 248 3800. Web site:


12 Jan, 2011 | Posted by: psnotes

Missing I.D.’s

In the process of selling photos on the Net, your images can possibly lose their identity; that is, their parent meta information. … No one then knows who owns them when that happens. They are either published without proper permission, or abandoned. You and photographers with similar photos in the same situation stand to lose revenue. Congress, they say, is attempting a remedy.

Most people feel compassion for orphans. How 'bout “photo orphans”? These are photos found in attic trunks, closet boxes, museum archives, and floating unattached in cyberspace. These photos essentially have no identity – other than what's depicted in the picture. There's nothing to indicate the photographer or the owner stamped on the reverse side or watermarked on the digital file. Nothing.

Here's the problem. A potential buyer sees an image and wants to use the picture for commercial use or otherwise. But there's no one to contact. We have an 'orphan.' So what's to be done?

Common sense says that if you're the customer, you try your best to locate the copyright owner. You document your attempts, and then after a reasonable amount of time, you give up and either use the picture (if your deadline hasn't passed), or you forget it.


This same dilemma rears its head with all sorts of copyrightable items (music, drawings, plays, illustrations, etc.).
With stock photography, publishers say they don't want a copyright infringement legal suit if they use the picture when they have no success with a reasonable search for its copyright owner. Photographers are saying that they are vulnerable because certain of their images have in some cases had the copyright information inadvertently or purposely separated from their images. Subsequently these images have fallen into the hands (sans i.d. info) of other publishers, professional and otherwise. The source properties of the image change or are changed each time a “user” publishes it, like a joke that gets embellished each time, making the rounds. No one knows who originally created the joke.
The end result, with an image, is that there is confusing photo meta data available or none at all.


Congress has been trying the last few years to see if it can't work up some legislation ( to resolve this dilemma. The whole intellectual properties community in the past, as well as stock photographers are in the discussion arena. Congressional bill was drawn up in committee and it was recommended that the Senate as a whole consider it. Although it was placed on a calendar of business, the majority party leadership determines the order in which bills are considered and voted on. Keep in mind that sometimes the text of one bill is incorporated into another bill, and in those cases the original bill, as it would appear when you study it, would seem to be abandoned. (Fun, isn’t it?)
Here at Photosource International, we take a place at the table not on one side or the other (researchers, publishers, art directors vs. photographers
and photo suppliers), but in the middle. We are the place where photo suppliers meet with photobuyers. One day we might talk about infringers on the Internet,
the next day it might be “the sharing of concepts and ideas” that contribute toward creative progress for us all.
Photo "borrowing" without permission is rarely a good thing - but there are times when someone needs to duplicate (copy) a photo because of a deadline, a national holiday, criminal trial, or other reasons - and the owner of the photo cannot be quickly found - for one reason or another.
The discussions about "orphan" photos will continue.

Rohn Engh is director of PhotoSource International and publisher
of PhotoStockNotes. Pine Lake Farm, 1910 35th Road, Osceola, WI 54020 USA. If you sell your photos, check out his website. E-mail: info[at]photosource[dot]com . Fax: 1 715 248 3800. Web site: