Archive for November 2011

30 Nov, 2011 | Posted by: st

Can You Afford

to Make Mistakes

--in your photo marketing?

When I was in my junior year of art school at Maryland Institute, I needed money to buy Christmas presents for my family. I saw an ad from the U.S. Postal Service in the Baltimore SUN that said they needed persons with trucks to handle delivery of packages during the two-week Christmas rush.

I didn’t own a truck but I called U-Haul in the Yellow Pages and they said, “Sure , we’ll rent you a truck.”

I did the arithmetic and weighed what the Postal Service would pay me against truck rental and truck license fees and gas costs, and I figured I could do more than break even.

Everything would have gone well that snowy Christmas season back in Baltimore except for one thing.

The start of it was when I realized the rental truck would be sitting idle at nighttime. I spotted another ad in the newspaper: “Wholesale Christmas Trees for Sale.” I found out that a distributor was selling them down at the railroad yard straight out of the boxcar.

The wholesale Christmas trees were selling at a price that I could mark up 75%. This was a deal I couldn’t refuse. The truck could serve to haul the trees to sidewalk spots where I could sell them.

I hired my brother, Lynn, who was going to Peabody Music School in Baltimore, and two other fellows from art school, to sell the Christmas trees on street corners in the suburbs.

They would get a 50% commission on every tree they sold. I could use the truck to haul trees to my three corner outposts, and then to pick up my workers and their remaining trees each night. In the morning, I would hire me and my truck out to the U.S. Postal Service.

My business plan sounded good on paper. My workers were eager to earn some extra Christmas money and didn’t mind braving the cold winter winds, standing on a street corner, bundled up, ringing the brass bells I’d found in a thrift shop.
In the meantime I arranged to work ‘til 3pm each day for the Postal Service delivering packages in the ghetto section of downtown Baltimore.

This was a big, big truck and it was big enough to handle all the Christmas trees I needed for my three corner posts. After 3 o’clock in the afternoon, I drove down to the railway yard but the foreman told me the tree people were only there at night. That night I went to the dimly lit railway loading dock and found the wholesaler, who was a friendly guy, so friendly that he directed three of his men to quickly put the trees in my truck. I paid him in cash.
The next afternoon at 3pm, I drove out to my first outpost to deliver a group of trees. I opened the back door of the truck. The trees were horrible-looking – some were losing branches and looked like they’d been attacked by a blight, some were turning brown all over. Lynn, my brother, said, “You expect me to sell these?”

Life’s Little Lessons

Well, you can imagine the rest of the story. I made signs that said 50% off, or “Buy one, get one FREE...”

My brother stuck it out, but after two days, the art school students quit, not because of frostbite but because of embarrassment to be connected to my feeble trees.
I filled in for them, but by Christmas Eve, Lynn and I had sold only a third of the truck load.
I wish I could say family and friends got Christmas presents that year.

We’re taught that failing is not considered failing if when you fall down you get up and start again.

My Dad reminded me, "Every Master, has a Disater."

To take this into our realm of stock photography, it pretty much applies.

Because you’re dealing with an emotional product, your photography –it’s more than disappointing to have a buyer reject your photo submission. I’ve had it, you’ve had it. I asked a fellow stock photographer, a veteran in the field, “What did you do when you were first starting out and got rejected?”

He said, “You'll never get to second base if you keep your foot on first. You have to dismiss the idea that your photography is your newborn, your baby. You have to look at it almost like a commodity. If you can make it through that lesson, then the field is clear for you to move forward.”

I got a business lesson in my entrepreneurial experience with the Christmas trees, I think you'll agree. What mistake did I make? Could it have been avoided?
Maybe, but as with your photo marketing, some insights can’t be learned from a book or a newsletter. You have to go through the process.

Yes, there’s an emotional aspect to selling your photos, but there’s the other side of the table to consider, too. The photobuyers.

They are also emotionally charged. Many are highly creative. Many are wannabe photographers. And most of them have stressful job-meeting deadlines, and rejection themselves from publishers or advertising clients.
Take this test. Are you willing to learn the process of selling your photos, with all its opportunities for rejection, so much that wild horses couldn’t pull you away from your calling?

Then, if you are, you’re ready to survive in this field. There’s proof that you can survive. Many photographers do. You see their bylines, their published work, you see their work at exhibits and conferences. They’ve all had their tough first lessons.

And the rest of the Christmas tree story? In my next year, my senior year, my experience had shown me the path. I learned to buy Christmas trees in daylight. I learned to choose workers who couldn’t afford not to earn extra money at Christmas time. I learned it's nice to have a loyal brother, like, Lynn. And I learned the meeting of the ol’ phrase, caveat emptor.
And, yes, my senior year, everyone did get Christmas presents!

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;


23 Nov, 2011 | Posted by: st

We’ve Come

A Long Way --

And We’re Taking Advantage Of It…

Whether the number of photos in your files is large or small, it's likely you have specific photos in your stock file that certain editors at this moment are looking for.

That makes you an important resource to those specific photo editors.

And in today’s digital world, if you utilize the Internet the right way, those editors can find you and your photos.

Thanks to the global nature of the Web, photobuyers and photo researchers no longer need to look to the stock photo agency down the street for that “just right” image.
Whether a photobuyer lives in Hong Kong or Alaska, if you have a photo they need, you can make the sale.

Can you be a successful editorial stock photographer in today’s world if you’re a generalist, with photos in a variety of subject areas, all across the board? Will your sales be consistent?
It’s doubtful, especially if you place your photos with an on-line “photo warehouse.”

What's the answer?

When you specialize (Medicine, Teens, Auto Racing, Backpacking, Children, Model Railroading, etc.), when an editor finds you -- he or she usually represents a particular special interest, and if you have a deep selection of photos in his area, you've just met a photobuyer who will be a long-term customer for you.


Today, to make your work known and accessible to buyers, you can utilize the Internet by listing descriptions of your photos in a marketing site such as the PhotoSourceBANK* (a text site used by photobuyers to find photos they need.)

As a member photographer, you have your own PhotoSourceBANK pages, where you enter keywords describing photos you have available. You then respond to the inquiries from buyers looking for the kind of photos you’ve described (keywords).

Before the Internet, stock photographers faced an uphill battle to get their work in front of buyers.
Persons with excellent photography found it difficult to publish their images on a broad scale. Yes, an occasional exhibit of their work, or an expensive ad page in a stock photo catalog or magazine, would bring in some customers -- but in most cases even those sales were lucky to be a break-even proposition.


Stock photo agencies in the past, were the primary marketing recourse. But everyone has heard of the stock agency blues. You placed your slides with a stock agency and many times they gathered as much "dust" there as they did in your own shoe box at home. And don’t forget the accompanying restrictions, restrictions, restrictions: "You may not place your photos with another agency; you may not withdraw your photos before five years; you receive 30% of the sale;” and so on.

How ‘bout on-line galleries? They work like this: Photographers are able to display selections of their pictures in a "mall" along with hundreds of other photographers. Photobuyers using search engines are guided to these sites, where they may find photos that will almost fit the theme of their current project.


However, as you can imagine, the competition is huge. Instead, develop your own website or blog with your specialized photos, and let the search engines do the job for buyers to find you and the category of photos they need.
Since your site may not enjoy a lot of traffic until you build a mailing list, it’s a good idea to consider also using the text marketing sites mentioned above, the PhotoSourceBANK, which does receive a great deal of traffic from photobuyers.

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;



16 Nov, 2011 | Posted by: st


A Memorable Photo

-- using three

important "E"lements

Most editorial photographers approach their stock photography with a mission.

They have a point of view or a story to tell. They want to change people's minds or offer new insights about the environment, preservation, pets, religion, politics, alcoholism, civil rights, schools, and so on.

In a sense, they want to educate the public.

But educating the public to your way of thinking is a lost cause if you approach your mission solely with logic. As the saying goes, "Don't clutter this argument with the facts."

Plain logic very often does not win arguments. Psychologists tell us that how you say something (your body language, tone of voice, your facial expression, etc.) is much more convincing than what you say (the words).

With that in mind, when you’re ready to click your shutter, be ready to incorporate these three important "E's":


How does this apply to your stock photography? As a stock photographer, you don't "take" pictures, you "make" pictures.

In order to be convincing, your images must go beyond the visual representation of what you are depicting. In order to reach and to appeal to the widest possible audience, your pictures should evoke a mood.
A portrait of a cat, yes, evokes a mood, but a picture of a cat with a sore paw being attended to by a young teenager evokes a much stronger mood; i.e. conveys emotion.

They say the Super Bowl enjoys a TV viewing audience of 250 million. The Academy Awards presentation attracts an amazing ten times that amount. The broadcasts of the funerals of Mother Teresa, Princess Diana, and Michael Jackson drew even more.

And why is this information important to you? It reminds you that your photos not only have to be of top photographic quality, they must have emotion or entertaining value, to appeal to viewers.

Your viewers are interested in not only what information you can impart, but how you make them feel. Photo editors recognize this and will always choose a photo that allows readers to "read into a photo" over one that simply documents a landscape, a dramatic event, or disaster. Emotion, then, is an important element in each of your stock photos.


The world loves an entertainer, be it a sports figure, singer, movie star, author, politician, or daredevil.

As a creative stock photographer, you have the opportunity to weave an entertainment value into your pictures. There are plenty of ways to entertain your viewers through the use of color, humor, style, innuendo, and graphics.

I once talked with Richard Steedman, founder and director of what was one of New York's largest stock photo agencies, THE STOCK MARKET. When we discussed the "Information Age" we live in, he said, "No, it's not the Information Age, it's the 'Entertainment Age.'" What he meant by that, I think, is that we all value entertainment; it has a high priority in our lives; and today's world has more sophisticated sources of entertainment available to broader numbers of people than ever before.

Entertainment can be an escape from the woes of the world or from the doldrums, offers a break from routine, a light counterpoint to one’s responsibilities, an antidote. If your stock photography is entertaining, it increases its effectiveness and eventually its market value.


The final "E" is Excellence. Without excellent technical quality, composition, and design, your stock photos will be shut out from sales. Study photos that appeal to you in your area(s) of specialization. Figure out how the photographer achieved his/her excellent results. Use top-quality optics to evoke mood and entertain, and you'll produce winning stock photography.

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;


09 Nov, 2011 | Posted by: st

Stock Photography

.......Still Alive?

No wonder there are so many pictures available these days. And the number will keep multiplying as cameras become cheaper and better and amateur photographers and their photos become more plentiful.
The automatic controls on cameras today make it near impossible not to take a technically good picture. A pro and an amateur can each make a picture of the Grand Canyon in the right lighting and no client or customer can tell whether the pro or the amateur is the author.
So what are well-meaning pros to do about this widening competition to their talents? As actor Helen Mirren said when asked about how she landed on her feet after major busts in her career, “Just deal with it.” And that of course means, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen,” to quote feisty president Harry S. Truman.
For over forty years, I’ve watched hundreds of photographers enter the profession, stay a while, and get out. Those that stuck it out? How did they “deal with it?” Changes in any commercial enterprise come in waves. No different in photography. The survivors seem to have a common trait. They love what they’re doing. Wild horses couldn’t pull them away. They adapt. They adjust. They assess and move forward. They ride the ups and downs of the wave.

Outsiders might say, “Too bad for stock photographers. They’ve lost their market in the enormous flood of available photos today.”

But the survivors haven’t noticed. They‘ve already adapted to new ways of selling themselves and their raw talent to the public and the photobuyers. They know pictures will never go out of style, whether on walls of caves in pre-historic France or the walls of Grand Central Station in New York.

I’ve noticed a trend in photographers today, especially in stock photography. You can expect to burn and crash if you employ the selling methods and marketing model that was taught to you in your youth. Unfortunately many photographers can’t see the immense tidal wave coming their way.
The change is coming. Many stock photographers have wisely moved toward targeting their photography focus to a segment

- - - - - -- - - - - - - - - - -

Art directors, photo researchers, and photo editors prefer working
with specialist photographers.
- - -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

of the market, where they feel comfortable and “speak the language” of their clients.

They have narrowed their personal expertise down to a point where they are no longer the "generalist". They have planted their flag as a specialist, much like other professions have evolved -- medicine, education, law. They concentrate on building a massive photo collection and knowledge in a highly specific field, such as health sciences, motor sports, education, deep-sea fishing, and so on. They get so good at their “brand” that assignments build in their favor in a vertical direction for them, all in their area of expertise.
Art directors, photo researchers, and photo editors prefer working with such specialist photographers.

To cover their own tails. They know if a photographer is well-grounded in the subject area they work in, it comes through in the veracity of their work, and makes the photo editor look good. Editors and buyers now choose photographers based on what knowledge and expertise they possess in this expanding world of information.
The Digital Age has made all this happen. The annihilation of distance, the speed of delivery, a compact in-house workflow, automation in cameras, and not the least, search engines. Clients now have the capability to swiftly find the right photographer for the job through a keyword search. This has resulted in a New Era for photographers, both the veterans and the newcomers, to step forward, and move forward.

I, for one, see great things ahead for our picture-taking profession. -RE

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;


02 Nov, 2011 | Posted by: st

Can I Photograph

Public Properties?

What’s The Deal?

Mary Jacobs asked: I have some questions on what I can and cannot try and do to sell my photos when it comes to photos of archaeological sites.

I'm wondering about selling photos of things like the pyramids, the Siq, or rock tombs at Petra, Jordan, or the Minoan palace at Knossos, Crete- all of which are located in archaeological parks for which you pay admission.

I know the legalities of artifacts found on-site or displayed in museums, and these are very strict -- the rights belonging to the director of the site or the museum, but was wondering if you knew anything about structures that stand in public view (although you have to pay to get into the park to photograph them). Thank you.

A: Remember these two words: eventual use.

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

In the case of the pyramids, the Siq, Jordan biblical sites, or the Minoan palace at Knossos, Crete, whether you are inside or outside the site, or whether it's the Rock 'n' Roll Hall of Fame or the rock Tombs at Petra, no model or property release is required if the pictures are used to "inform and educate" (editorial use).

Only if such a picture would be used for a commercial purpose -- advertising, promotion, endorsment, would the publisher ever ask for a release. This would apply to archaeological digs, as well.

The confusion over whether a public object can be photographed and published most usually comes from persons who arrive at the stock photography industry through the commercial door rather than through the editorial door.

Or it stems from well-meaning but erroneous advice written by newspaper and magazine columnists who are unaware of their or your First Amendment Rights.

Photographers who have worked for a newspaper most of their career, know that model or property releases are not needed if the photo is to be used "to inform or to educate."

In contrast, photographers who have worked in the commercial or advertising sector, e.g. corporate, advertising, or graphic art services, know that any photo used for endorsement or advertising purposes always requires a model or property release.


But you live in a different world -- your photography is “editorial.” You supply the book and magazine industry with photos that “inform and educate.” So when you are at a seminar and you ask the presenter, “If I sell my photos, do I need a model or property release?” He or she should respond, “It depends on the use. If it’s for commercial use (advertising, promotion, etc.), yes. If it’s for editorial use (book, magazine, PBS TV, etc.), no.

Here at PhotoSource International (, our emphasis is on editorial photography, and most of our markets, such as magazines and book publishers, maintain an editorial focus.

About $70,000 a day is spent on editorial photography in this country. That's about 1/5 of what is spent daily on commercial stock photography. Although the monetary rewards in the editorial field are not as high up front as in the commercial field, other rewards abound.

One example: editorial stock photographers have the opportunity 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 focus on that field of interest. (Book and magazine publishers specialize, too.) Although the per picture fee for editorial use is not as high as in commercial stock photography, most publishers buy in volume, and stay as long-term clients, which often makes up the difference over the long haul.

Again, regards model or product releases, if you are taking what you consider editorial photos, if releases are conveniently available for the asking while you are photographing in a particular instance, you should go ahead and get them, as that will allow those images to be available for a commercial use if the opportunity arises. Depending on the field you are in, you'll know when it's appropriate and beneficial to obtain 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 are trespassing would you run into the law.

In the USA, trespass restrictions in public places are not as rigorous as you might encounter in a foreign country. Even in these times of heightened suspicion, security guards and law enforcement officers are usually aware of citizens’ rights when it comes to photographing in public.

But if your area of specialty is in sensitive areas such as aviation, transportation or petroleum -- watch for signs of where you can photograph and where you can't.

But keep in mind this kind of thing: here at PhotoSource International we have heard reports of some instances of security guards accosting a photographer for photographing a "sensitive" site. Later it was pointed out the same photo was available on the company's website or on Google.

Note: a cell phone call to the company's president or Public Relations officer, while on the site, usually solves the problem and gets permission for you.

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;