Archive for July 2011

27 Jul, 2011 | Posted by: st

Big Sales Are Over

Continuing Sales Are In

By Rohn Engh

Single big sales are good, but...but unless you are a full-time freelancer or studio photographer working on assignment, the days of those ‘windfall checks’ in your mailbox are just about practically over. It’s a buyer’s market when it comes to generalize stock photo sales at stock agencies and the on-line galleries.
Unless you have positioned yourself with a huge group of specialized “niche” photos with publishing companies that need your category of photos, the former single big sales are good, but...


Here’s the strategy:
Use everybody’s favorite search, Google. Find out any publishing houses or ad agencies exist that use your kind of photo category of photography. A typical search would be [for example foreign automotive]
In the Google search bar, you would type in:
Publisher magazine foreign automotive photo guidelines
(no commas are necessary)
Then make another search for book publisher.
Got it?


Quit sending inappropriate images to photobuyers. They will un-friend you and put you on a list if you do. It’s called their JUNK Mail list.
Here’s how to make friends with photo buyers. But only certain photobuyers.

Tailor your stock photo shooting and collection in a direction you love photographing.
CAUTION: Be careful. It must be a “niche” – not “general.” In other words, don’t choose nature, -drill down! …what part of nature? Animals? Which animals? Mammals, Birds, ? -- be specific.
Let’s take osprey. Use the exact Google method above to learn if there are any waterfowl magazines that feature osprey. (Just now, I found a couple Google pages for both the magazine search and the book search. ...)
Once you have a couple dozen of your favorite subject, (osprey, in this example) show off your talent by sending a disc of a couple dozen of your “osprey” pictures to the addresses you find on Google.


I know you’ve heard that photobuyers stand over a wastebasket to read their morning mail and drop arriving CD’s in there.
Why is that? Most amateurs send beautiful photos, but with no central theme., However, if you have “osprey” splashed all over your outside package and CD label, the osprey photobuyer will set it aside. If your stuff is good (technically and esthetically) you’ll get a message back from the photobuyer.
It will go something like this. “We love your work. Can we keep in on file and send you a check when we have a place for a picture?”
Your answer should be “yes”
This method is called the “Permanent File”. I address this method in my book “Sell & ReSell Your Photos” (Amazon, used, $.95) –or you might have a dog-eared, highlighted copy on your bookshelf.
Often, a photo editor will find themselves in a jam, for one reason or another, and needs a quick image that will satisfy the layout graphics person. They choose your digital photo and send you a check.
Once this happens –you’ll get on their available photographers list, and when you next go on vacation, the photobuyer will piggyback an assignment or two for you, depending on your travel destination.
That’s how stock photography for entry-level photographers works today.
THE METHOD: 1.) Choose a subject that you love shooting. (The hardships and inconveniences cease to bother you when you are doing things you love doing.) 2.) Use Google to find your markets. 3.) Start paying for that new equipment with the proceeds.

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, 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;


20 Jul, 2011 | Posted by: st

Selling Photos

In A “Down Economy”

by Rohn Engh

My marketing expert friends tell me that the way to move forward in the ‘marketing world’ has always been to look around and see how other competitors in your field are “making it.” How are they surviving?
But how do you find out who your
competitors are in stock photography,
let alone how they’re doing, if some
of them might be in another state,
or Japan, or Bulgaria!

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Who are your competitors?

Here are two ways of finding them:

#1. The ”CREDITS” method
Publishers of magazines and books usually place “credit lines” somewhere in their publication.
So the rule is, “Follow the trail...”

For example, nature photography. “ How to find out who your contemporary nature photography competitors are, and learn how they are surviving in the down economy.”

A.) Wherever – in publications, any media -- you see photos similar to the kind you usually take, these photographers are your competitors. Collect their names from the credit lines or ‘photo credits’ section of the magazines, trade publications, specialty publications, books, catalogs, text books, web sites, news releases, blogs, Internet forums, social media, coffee table books, where YOUR type of photos appear. Notice each photographer’s style and what genre of photo appeals to today’s nature photo editors (or whatever your category is.)

This detective chore can be done in an upscale book store, dentist’s waiting room, barber shop, company reception room,etc.
If you’re in a public library, be sure to use the latest books and publications, not those published in the last millennium. Corral the services of a librarian in a town or university library, to direct you to the contemporary books, reference books, and periodicals which will be useful.

Once you assemble a list of possible competitor photographers, say a couple dozen, delete any government agency photographers or chamber of commerce organizations because those photos would most probably be from federal or state public domain image submissions, and supplied by ‘work for hire’ photographers, staff photographers at the agency, or “one shot” microstock part-time hobbyists.

Assemble a list of your remaining names, which should be of current (still living) competitors, whose credits are mentioned in magazines, books, pamphlets, brochures, websites, blogs, coffee table books, etc.

B.) Make a Google search using each of the names on your list.

The photographers who are still selling to contemporary markets will appear on a Google search.
C.) From the Google search, you will not only learn the names of the publications each photographer works with, but more importantly there may be background information revealing what other ways ("NEW ways") those competitors of yours have found, to sell their brand of nature photos and other services. These ways might include real estate documentary photos, getting an extra job working for an airline or cruise ship line, starting a specialty stock agency, getting into Public Relations, doing pet portraits, photo projects through state, regional or national government/corporate grants, picture framing, weddings, producing videos, setting up an environmental portrait studio, producing web templates, selling photos for coffee mugs, doing consultant work, giving seminars, being a personal coach, publishing eBooks on nature, writing books.
D.) You can also find out how they are making sales of their photos by subscribing to their blogs, website(s), FACEBOOK fan pages, TWITTER, MySpace, LinkedIn, and other social media. The result of your research will be an insight on how your competitors are succeeding in a "down economy."

Your mission: Do something similar, or the same, but do it better.
How? That’s up to you and your competitive spirit.

#2 The Photobuyer SEARCH Method

A.) Use the search engines (Google, BING, Yahoo!,) to find out who your biggest competitors are. {The search organization of choice, again, at this time, will be Google.)
B.) Step to the opposite side of the aisle. Become a (pretend) photobuyer. Search for the kind of photograph(s) you produce. See which photographers and which stock photo agencies come up.

Very likely your results will include persons entirely new to you, including photographers from other countries.

You may not find the person you always thought was your biggest competitor, because that person is probably still sticking to 'the old way' of marketing. Avoid ‘old school’ photographers. Most of them have been successful enough in their own right in decades past, and have not pursued new ways to succeed in the field.

C.) Click on any related links to see what other enterprise(s) a photographer on your list is involved in. Check out related organizations: e.g. National Wildlife Federation, Audubon, Sierra Club, etc.
D.) Another search method is to do a metasearch using Boolean logic. A simple method to use is this:
Put a metasearch sign in front of words that must be present on your web page search. A minus sign (-) in front of a word will tell the search engine to subtract pages that contain that particular word.
A plus sign (+) on your keyboard equals the Boolean search term “AND,” and the minus ( - ) equals the term “AND NOT.” For example, in the search bar type:
nature photographer + trees +flowers –birds
Try the same search in BING and Yahoo!
By the way, this person has probably studied SEO (Search Engine Optimization) and has a FACEBOOK “fan page.” Study his/her web page source code and try for a Page 1 result on a web search for yourself.
E.) Cull from your efforts a "top ten" list of competitors of yours whose names come up the most frequently, and make an extensive Google search of each of them.

Another strategy: If your browser features it, on the upper right corner of each search, you'll see metrics (numbers) that indicate how many times your selected keywords are found. (Remember this is a popularity contest.)
Begin a ‘narrowing’ process to find your top ten competitors. (Hopefully you won’t have to deal with a John Smith or Mary Jones, to have to sift through thousands of names before you find your top competitor(s).)
Remember, the photographers you find at the top of the Google list are current, successful pros, otherwise they wouldn’t be listed.
Well, there you have it … a wide-open universe of ways to observe how to meet “the Economy” head on.

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, 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;


13 Jul, 2011 | Posted by: st

Selling Photos to History Markets

Are you a history or antiquities buff?
Good news. You don’t have to be an archaeological expert or professional historian to submit photos of historical locations and antiquities to the magazine and book publishers -- the people who are in constant need of photos of historical findings and discoveries in the world.

What do they need? Both new aspects of familiar sites and discoveries of fresh artifacts that expand understanding of mankind’s past are hot sellers.

Property release question? If you like to dip into the historical path of photo exploration during your vacations, you might wonder when you seek out ancient sites to photograph, if you need property releases.

Confusion over whether a public object or place can be photographed and published without a release, most usually is harbored by persons who come to the stock photography field through the commercial door, rather than through the editorial door. That is, they were previously photographing subjects for commercial purposes, such as advertisements, posters, brochures, etc.

Yes, property releases and model releases are generally needed for this purpose. However, when you are submitting to magazines and book publishers to “inform or educate,” you’ll seldom hear a photobuyer ask for a property or model release.

For example, photographers who have worked for a newspaper, or TV station, know that model or property releases are not needed if the photo is to be used "to inform or to educate." Conversely, photographers who have worked in the commercial, or advertising sector, e.g. corporate, advertising, and graphic art services, know that any photo used for endorsement or advertising purposes most always requires a model or property release.

If you're in a public place (whether you pay admission or not) you can photograph freely. Only if you were actually trespassing would you run into problems with the law.
However, in foreign countries you may encounter restrictions in public places that are more rigorous than in the States, so educate yourself on local rules and regulations when abroad. If you see another professional photographer there also, ask him/her.

The necessity for a property or model release is usually dictated by a photo's eventual use.

Yes, definitely take the pictures. Later, when you may sell (lease) some of them, if they are used for editorial purposes (not commercial use) you won’t need to have model releases for them. However, if you submit them to an on-line gallery, or stock photo agency, you’ll no doubt be required to submit a release, to cover situations where the photo may be requested for a commercial use.


And that’s precisely why I urge you to involve yourself instead in editorial stock photography, i.e. sales to books and magazines. Many of these markets have a $10,000 to $30,000 a month budget for photos, so why try to break in to ad agency or commercial work when a budget like that awaits you? And..without the entanglements of releases and contracts.

You'll find plenty of historical sites in this country: Carnegie libraries, county court houses, Indian mounds and so om. Many of your own photos may be of historiacal significance.

Overseas: In the case of locations such as the pyramids, the Siq, Jordan biblical sites, the Minoan palace at Knossos, Crete, or the rock Tombs at Petra, whether you are inside or outside the site, no model or property release is required if the pictures are to be used to "inform and educate" (editorial use).

Only when the picture is to be used for a commercial purpose would the publisher ask for a release. This would apply to pictures at archaeological digs, as well. Care should be taken, of course, not to interfere with the work at a site.

Of course, if model or property releases are conveniently available for the asking while you are photographing some of your subjects, you should get the releases for “just in case,” allowing the possibility for the photo to be used commercially should the opportunity arise.

Depending on the field you are in, you’ll know when it’s appropriate and beneficial to obtain a model or property release.

Here at PhotoSource International, our emphasis is on editorial photography, and most of the photo needs we publish in the PhotoDaily or PhotoLetter Marketletters are for magazine and book publishers.
About $170,000 a day is spent on editorial photography in this country. That's about 1/6 of what is spent daily on commercial stock photography.

However, while the monetary rewards in the editorial field are not as high up front as in the commercial field, other rewards abound.

For example: editorial stock photographers can afford to specialize in a field they enjoy working in. This allows them to build a deep selection of images in that specialization, making them a valuable resource to several publishers who are in that field of interest. (Book and magazine publishers specialize, too.) Although the per picture fee is not as high as in commercial stock photography, most publishers buy in volume, which often makes up the difference over the long haul. Plus you can stay with such buyers on a first-name-basis for many years. In contrast, turnover in commercial markets is much higher, requiring you to start from square one frequently with new art directors, etc.
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Some markets that are always interested in photos of historical or antiquities locations.
Note: Before you start shooting, check out issues of each publication or their previously published books, for ideas on how to put your own spin on subjects and locales the market has interest in. Also, when you are in locales that feature historical objects and locations, check out their gift shot for post cards. You'll learn what lighting and angles work best for specific items. Be sure to add your style to the shots.

History Magazine
Arcadia Book Publishing --
History Publishers --
From The Past --
Osprey Military History -- Images
PBS --

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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, 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;