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

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Art directors, photo researchers, and photo editors prefer working
with specialist photographers.
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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; www.photosource.com



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