Archive for December 2010

22 Dec, 2010 | Posted by: psnotes

-- …for Your Photo Business – To find new clients, it’s imperative to start branching out and there are so many ways to do it. Design a postcard mailer showing your images with a short call to action for a portrait sitting, a free promotional offer, etc. If we learned nothing else from the retailers this holiday season, promotions get your attention. SURCE: Skip Cohen
TAKEAWAY: This is excellent advice for the all-‘round commercial photographer, but since this newsletter is strictly for stock photographers, keep in mind that specialization, not diversity is the route to follow.

19 Dec, 2010 | Posted by: psnotes

They Have Discovered Us

We are finding new “in-between” markets for your photography. They don’t pay those high Royalty-Free? Dose that belong here? Isn’t it? “Managed Ringlets”? prices, and they don’t want $5 microstock. They pay in-between ($110-$150 per photo) to independent stock photographers, who can supply on-target pictures for their niche.
Let us find these specialty markets for you. More and more of these photobuyers are discovering our service and we can put you in touch with them through the PhotoDaily.

Ed. Note: We’ve asked our correspondent, Dennis Light (Chicago), to recall when he broke “the film habit” and made the switch (a few years ago) to digital submissions. In the following article, he digs into his ancient exploratory notes and recalls some of the early pitfalls and hurdles he encountered when he broke into submitting digital pictures to photobuyers. We agree with Dennis that it’s not possible to synthesize into a brief article what could fill a book on this subject. But to give you a taste and whet your appetite, here are some of the phases, Dennis says, that ‘digital’ will expect of you.

A basic no-frills Primer…
Digital Submissions, The Right Way

By Dennis Light

Breaking away from film and entering the world of digital isn’t easy. But for you, the entry-level person, and me, a former computer illiterate, it’s a challenge that can be successfully met. Once mastered, you’ll find new horizons that were not available to you in the past. Here are a few principles in the order of their importance:

1. If you can get any internet connection faster than dialup, get it! You’ll save much time and frustration.

2. Calibrate your monitor -- that is, adjust your screen as close to a set standard as possible, so that your photobuyers view your images in the same way you do. Shareware programs are available, or you can buy off-the-shelf software such as Spyder 3 pro (ColorVision.)

3. Learn to take advantage of all the basic Photoshop features. (While there are other imaging software programs, Photoshop is the industry standard. It even comes in a “lite” version, known as Photoshop Elements 9.

4. For a great resource for learning Photoshop, I highly recommend joining NAPP (National Association of Photoshop Professionals – you don’t have to be a professional in order to join!). For $99/year, you get their bi-monthly magazine Photoshop User, discounts on books, workshops and seminars, and access to online video tutorials to guide you step-by-step through virtually all the things you’ll need to know how to do in Photoshop, as well as the best ways to accomplish them.
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5. Examine your images at 100% to find and eliminate dust and scratches. Adjust levels or curves (the darkness and lightness of your image). Color-correct your images. If an image is a preview (usually sent as 4x6” or 5x7-1/2”), SHARPEN the image. If it’s the hi-res version a buyer has requested for publication, keep the above corrections MINIMAL, and DON’T SHARPEN the image at all!
In the editorial field, such as magazine and textbook publishers, most of your pictures will be used at the quarter-page size. This is an advantage to entry-level photographers still learning Photoshop.
Once an image is accepted, it gets passed on to a “designer,” who has the job of making any technical improvements to your digital submission. However, if you consistently submit images whose technical quality is not high, your name will soon drop to the bottom of the photobuyer’s/designer’s list. They are not overjoyed when they have to put extra time into your digital images.
It’s no small task to learn this medium of digital photography. Reading the instructions for a scanner, or especially for your new digital camera, can mean wrestling with an English translation of Japanese “engineer-speak”! It ain’t easy. I recommend three courses of action:
1) Attend a local workshop on the product you’re interested in, presented by the manufacturer's own reps. Large local camera shops often host these for a nominal entry fee (about $10).
2) Check out YouTube or buy or rent a video produced either by Nikon School or Blue Crane. They are available at retailers such as < > It will cover all the basic controls and features in an hour. A great advantage is that you can watch with your digital camera in your hands, pausing and repeating sections as often as you need. There’s even one for Nikon scanners!
3) Buy a “Magic Lantern Guide” for your particular digital camera or flash. They are written in English, by photographers, produced by Lark Books and available at
A final reminder, which bears repeating: Make previews you’re sending to photobuyers look as perfect as you can, but when asked for a hi-res “final” image, keep necessary corrections minimal, and don’t sharpen it.

Dennis Light is a freelancer living in Chicago. He specializes in horticulture, fitness, and lifestyles.

08 Dec, 2010 | Posted by: psnotes

BIRTH OF A NICHE -- If you were to start up a local magazine, how would you do it?
First you would discern a local market waiting for your magazine. It could be local motorcyclists, birders, snowmobilers, or antique car owners. The number of proud photos on the bulletin board at their clubhouse or meeting place would indicate the enthusiasm the people would have for their sport or hobby.
Your magazine would appeal to them with articles, stories, advertisements, etc. that would encourage the members to subscribe to your magazine. You would gather freelancers or staff writers who were knowledgeable about your niche area.
And photos, where would you go for them? To save time, you would seek out photographers who specialize in your magazine’s subject area.

Keep this in mind when you decide to become a stock photographer:
on a select few areas, focus on an area where you already have an interest. You’ll become more knowledgeable as you progress, both in expertise on the subject area or areas; plus in methods of photographing the subject areas.

You’ll become a valuable resource to editors who need photos in the subject areas you specialize in. –RE

01 Dec, 2010 | Posted by: psnotes

What makes...

a marketable photo?

In other words, which photos sell and which don’t?

From our experience with editorial stock photos here at PhotoSource International, there are certain indicators that point to “good sellers” and those that won't fare too well.
The first element concerns subject matter and its relation to “supply and demand.”

You might have a wonderful picture of a hot air balloon, but if the photobuyer has 10,000 such pictures to choose from, the law of probability is not on your side. The same goes for a photo of a sea gull, a covered bridge, a fireworks display, or a little child happily eating a birthday cake. Supply and Demand.
Next let's consider the technical aspect of your photo. A first place winner in an art photography contest does not automatically qualify as a “good seller.”
For example, that wonderful photo of a child eating a piece of cake, complete with all the joy in the world easy to read in the child’s eyes, might not be a good seller if the lighting is poor, or there’s camera shake, or the resolution is poor.
A photo of two workers putting down asphalt on a stretch of road, with passing busy traffic on a hot summer day, might not win a contest, but it might be a seller in a category such as "industry."

The best guide to what type of photo sells is right in front of you on your coffee table in national magazines, photo books, and trade magazines. Usually you’ll find these elements present in good selling images:

Illustrative quality. Images that tell a story, evoke emotion, a mood, and are simple in design (not cluttered and confusing). Very often the photo can lend itself to illustrating a variety of subjects, thus extending its marketable prospects.
People. A vast majority of editorial stock photographs feature people in the photos. People involved in their everyday life. Aim to use “real people” in your photos, rather than commercial models. Editorial buyers prefer images with regular people in genuine situations. Reminder: When a photo is used for editorial purposes, a signed release from the people in the picture is usually not required by your photobuyers.
Symbol. Any icon or familiar object utilized somewhere in the photo will help orient the viewer as to what’s going on in the image. It helps to make the viewer a collaborator in the effect of the photo.

The object doesn’t have to be a clear-cut symbol, such as a basketball or a stop sign. It can be more subtle, such as a feather or hub cap, but the easier and faster the viewer can recognize it, the better.
Consider the logo of successful corporations – they are often simple, and clearly convey a message for the company.
If you are putting your photos on line to market them, keywords have become important elements in enhancing the marketability of your images.
Photobuyers now use search engines such as Google, Yahoo, BING and others to help locate the source of photos quickly. You can be the photographer they locate, if you “caption” all of your photos with effective and specific descriptive keywords (keyphrases).

Think about it: how do look for an item on the Internet? Reverse the process and imagine what keywords and phrases that you think a photobuyer would probably use to tap in to find one of your specific-content photos. Put these keywords in your photo-description listings, and do the same for all your photos. Time spent on this is well-spent; include relevant mood and situation descriptors as well as physical content listings.

Rohn Engh is director of PhotoSource International and publisher of PhotoStockNotes. Pine Lake Farm, 1910 35th Road, Osceola, WI 54020 USA. E-mail: info[at]photosource[dot]com . Fax: 1 715 248 7394. Web site: