Archive for April 2011

27 Apr, 2011 | Posted by: st



- Is It Still Alive?

The battle cry among commercial stock photo agencies
these days is that in order to combat the threat of microstock photos (RF), "single-use" stock agencies should figure out a way to create a differential between themselves and the RF companies.

The aim of the stock agencies would be to make a distinction between royalty-free microstock and single-use commercial stock photography.
Is that possible? How can you differentiate commercial stock photos? Have you seen a commercial stock photography catalog lately? They all contain the same standard subject matter as Royalty Free discs. There's so much inbred cloning among stock catalogs and RF photo discs that the photos appear to be manufactured from the same assembly line.

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"...these changes bode well for the individual stock photographer."
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An objective viewer would find it difficult to differentiate between microstock on a "Royalty Free" disc, and what is called single-use commercial stock photography in print catalogs.


In the future, the difference between a microstock company and a commercial stock photography agency will be in the label. Nike knows this. Pepsi knows this. Target knows this. You can charge three, even ten times the value of a product, if the buyer perceives an exclusive value in the merchandise. It's called clever merchandising.

If an art director can convince his/her boss that it's better to go with a single-use stock photo (and pay ten times the RF fee), rather than risk a possible model release problem or the chance that a competitor may have previously used the same image - all parties are happy.

A clever merchandiser of traditional stock photos will emphasize that they can guarantee the exclusivity of the photo, and provide uniqueness, trend-setting value, the name-recognition of the photographer, image history, usage information, caption text, and special rights. The merchandiser will also guarantee that the buyer will have a face and a name at the agency who is accountable and accessible. An email address just doesn't cut it when you're 5 hours before production and a problem comes up.
In the history of stock photography, there didn’t used to be any such thing as bare-bones microstock photography. All art buyers went single-use "pampered-class." This is much like the early days of the airlines when every customer went First Class, which included "home-cooked meals" and attentive stewardesses.
Commercial stock agencies are beginning to ask themselves, "Do we want to offer all of these frills, or just sell images?" They see an opportunity to jump on the microstock bandwagon, but face the dilemma of deciding which of their photos they want to offer as microstock and which to continue to sell in the traditional mode.

A Rose, is a Rose, is a Rose...

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20 Apr, 2011 | Posted by: st

Getting Picky-Picky

about Photo Research

by Rohn Engh

The love affair is in full swing. Photo researchers have made peace with their computers, leaving behind the shortcomings of the last decade, redefining themselves and emerging in full computer literacy.

Today’s technology has decidedly convinced researchers that the computer is an ally.

, in order to fully capitalize on the electronic researching systems, people need to be willing to go through the learning curve it takes to adapt over to the new ways from their older and comfortable but more time-consuming and unwieldy traditional work systems.

What I’m GOING TO FOCUS ON HERE, THOUGH, are text searches.
The Internet offers two basic ways of searching for a picture: by image and by text. Since the object of a photo search is the image itself, most researchers have until recently been using mainly the image method. They are more familiar with it. They type a generic subject keyword in a search facility, and look through the images that come up. They look at dozens, even hundreds, of images from a number of sources, and eventually select a small number of images for their client to view and select.

However, image search, photo researchers have found, can be exhausting and time-consuming, especially when the researcher is required to find a very specific image, one that hits the mark exactly, rather than being able to make do with a generic image, or "schlockstock," as generic images are sometimes called.


STILL, the image search method would be acceptable in most instances if it were not for the emerging advantages that text search offers.

In its early rudimentary form on the web or on CD's, text search brought up only bottom level general subject matter -- a novelty at the time, but not all that useful to researchers. At first, up against the low cost and relative high speed of image-based search, text searches took a backseat.

Then along came advanced search engines: Google, Yahoo, and Bing. They are capable of finding highly specific keywords in milliseconds. The next step was a database that would list thousands, even millions, of words that could be searched in milliseconds by photo editors.

Here at PhotoSource International we offer just such a database. Each member photographer can list up to 6,000 words or phrases describing specific photos of theirs, through our PhotoSourceBANK. We started the PhotoSourceBANK database in 1999.

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13 Apr, 2011 | Posted by: st

Will a Domain Name Help

to Sell Your Photos?

A Domain name in the electronic world of the Internet is like a trademark in the paper/print world of commerce.

As you know, a trademark allows you to be exclusive. When you establish a "mark of your trade" ( in other words, a ”logo”), you make a visual connection between your product and your customers.

An official trademark (a design, icon, or symbol, or particular style of lettering for your name or the name of your product), registered with the Patent and Trademark Office* (also, if you choose, with your state officials) allows you exclusivity for only a specific "visual" representation of your business name.
Someone else can use the same name for their trademark, as long as it's a different product, a different “visual” presentation of it, i.e. a different style of lettering, different color, etc.*

A Domain name on the Internet, however, is somewhat different. Your domain name allows you an exclusive "text" representation. Others cannot use the same domain name. In other words, you own that combination of words--and no one else can own your title choice of word or words and/or numbers in the electronic world.

For example, if your name is Johnson, and if you and your brother go into business together, you can call your Domain name Johnson & Johnson If you get this Domain name first, before the makers of the health products by the same name. They can't come after you saying, "You stole our name!" That Domain name is yours. (And for your printed promotions, letterhead, etc., if you use a type of lettering style or font completely different from the famous Johnson & Johnson trademark, again, you can never be taken to task by the Johnson & Johnson legal counsel. Of course, they might offer to purchase your domain name. (This is all theory of course, because we have pretty well passed the time when entrepreneurs came along and aggressively bought up popular recognizable corporate names in order to sell them back to the corporation. A few court cases settled that unsettling practice during the early days of the Internet.)

Another advantage of an Internet domain name is the cost. A trademark might cost you anywhere from $245 to $900 (at this writing) depending on the legal services you hire to register your trademark. Also, expect to have to renew your trademark registration every five years.

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06 Apr, 2011 | Posted by: st


Are you a "photo selling success?" Successful marketing in any endeavor is all about knowing when to zig and when to zag; knowing who you are and knowing what your market is. Photographers find themselves betwixt and between in the transition to the “digital age.” Here are some pointers.

If you're an amateur or professional ball player, you know the secret of success: anticipation

You position yourself where instinct tells you the action of the play is going to be. The Right Place. Where’s the action heading in this “Internet Age” we find ourselves in? Where are you going to position yourself? Translation: Where should you invest your photographic time and money in the digital age?

1. KNOW THY BUYER. The under-30 art directors taking over the photobuyer scene have brought in on-line services to supply buyers with discount generic pictures. But don’t stop looking for photobuyers who will opt for your rights-managed (RM) (specific content) photos because microstock (general) photos are rarely specific enough.

2. CONTENT-SPECIFIC pictures, will always sell for higher fees (rights-managed). Most microstock pictures, which are usually more general scenes, will sell for pennies. Informational magazines and books require unique documentary pictures (rights-managed--RM). Since there are fewer of these specialized-content pictures, they sell for high fees. The massive numbers of “exquisite cliché”/generalized scenic microstock photos are low in price, because, well, there are so many of them. And the number keeps growing, but the fees are dropping.
3. SPECIALIZE. Attorneys do it. Doctors do it. Musicians do it. You do it. You are much more valuable to a photobuyer if you can match that photobuyer’s “theme” subject area with your stock files
4. ANTICIPATE. Ever notice that book stores seem to know the current trend in reading matter? Most of the time. It's because publishers, who plan their press runs far in advance, do heavy market research. You can use book stores to inspire your next (specialized) self-assignment. You'll be ahead of the game.
5. DIGITIZE. Take, scan, and manipulate digital pictures. Borrow the equipment at first, until you can buy it. But remember, the best word processing program can't produce a good story without a good author.
6. Microstock has always been around in the form of Clip-Art for decades – but formerly, there was no way to produce massive digital versions of it. Now there is. Naturally, this reduces fees. Don't fight it. Work around it, and concentrate on becoming a specialist in some area that you enjoy. You’re sure to find a publishing house that is looking for you and your talent at this moment.
7. CD and DVD are delivery methods. Like all delivery methods they will at some point become outmoded. However, your images (the content) will easily be transferred to the (Iphones, Ipads Podcast, etc.) newest on-line delivery methods. Your investment in CDs and DVDs will not be lost.
8. COPYRIGHT. You can expect we will see some new copyright laws coming. But few will be enforceable. Foreign copyright infringement is rampant. As the saying goes, "Build a bigger lock and someone will build a bigger hammer." Don’t waste time worrying about it, and put your energy to making more marketable pictures.
9. MARKETING. Your marketing methods remain unchanged: Figure out what you love photographing. Find the markets that need photos in those interest areas of yours. Meet their needs. Your buyers won't care what delivery method you use (on-line, Light-Box, CD, FEDEX, or horseback), if you deliver what they need when they need it. –RE

Rohn Engh is the best-selling author of “Sell & ReSell Your Photos”
and “” He has produced an eBook, “How To Make the Marketable Photo,” and an eCourse, “How To Market Your Photos.” For more information and to receive a free eReport: “8 Steps to Becoming Published Photographer,” visit
800 624-0266.