OK, so you have been involved in nature photography seriously for the last few years, and you have started to accumulate a number of quality images. Maybe it is time to seek an agency, or perhaps you would rather self-market your images. In either case, the leap to “stock images” represents a paradigm shift that will require you to totally rethink your approach to photography. Rather than debate the advantages and disadvantages of various types of agencies, this article covers five specific tips for photographers that market their images or are contemplating doing so.
- Don’t always shoot for yourself- diversify.
It is no longer just about you and what you enjoy shooting. If your intent is to sell images, and you specialize in butterflies or birds only, your market will be restricted to that customer base alone. Expanding your horizon photographically will not only increase sales potential, but it will make you a better, more diverse photographer as well. Embrace each photographic event as an opportunity to expand your portfolio. I once went to SE Oklahoma for a weekend photographing birds. On the way back, a radio communications tower caught my eye, so I stopped and took a few shots. None of the bird images I got that weekend have sold, but the image of the radio tower has sold more than once. There is nothing unique or special about the image; it just happened to catch the editor’s eye on a given day. Not every image you take has to be a nature image.
- Vary composition and technique.
Editors and publishers are a finicky lot. I learned long ago that it is pointless to try and second guess them. It is better to offer them choices. Let’s say you encounter a butterfly on a nice, clean perch. Make sure your first shot is with him centered and lots of room on all sides – you have no idea how the editor will want to crop the final image. Then, take more shots from different angles, varying lighting conditions, background, and other elements of the image. It is all about choices. Case in point: Note the Red-bellied Woodpecker image. If I posted that image in the avian forum at PM, it would get numerous negative responses such as chopped bird, too much space on the left, etc. But imagine it as a two page spread in a magazine with lead-in text on the left, and you can then see the potential as a stock image.
- Maintain technical perfection.
Stock agencies want you to submit massive quantities of images; and indeed your goal should be to have thousands of images on file eventually. But, don’t sacrifice quality for the sake of quantity. Each image you create represents you as a photographer. Submit only images that are technically perfect. Prior to submitting, pull each image file into your image editor and zoom to 100%. Scroll over the image and get rid of all dust spots. If the image won’t hold detail at 100%, do not submit it. Be your own worst critic. The client deserves a high quality image; anything less can damage your reputation.
- >Think like an editor.
While it may be impossible to anticipate the specific desire of any given editor, publisher or client, there are a few things you can do to get a leg up on the competition. Put yourself in their shoes; try to think as they would. How do you do that? Pay attention trends and to what is being published. If you are marketing to a specific entity, such as a local magazine, look at back issues. Try and get a feel for the type images they like. Clients want to sell their products, period! Look closely at images in magazines, and you will often see images that at first appear somewhat mundane. In these type images 70-80% of the image will be drab or out of focus, and your eye is automatically drawn to the 10% of the image they want you to see – that is their commercial intent. As nature photographers, we strive to keep elements of the hand of man (HOM) out of our images. For stock photography, the EXACT OPPOSITE applies. People like seeing people in images, doing things, interacting with nature. So, spend more time thinking like an editor, rather than a photographer when making your images.
- Marketing 101.
Even if you decide to go with an agency, you still must market yourself. Agency sales will represent only a portion of your sales; the rest is up to you. This is the toughest issue for most photographers; they do not know how to go about marketing their own work. First: be organized and prepared. You photograph a Purple Martin today, and three years later a client asks if you have any Purple Martin images. Will you remember? Maybe, maybe not. Keyword your images and employ any one of the commercial databases available to photographers. Perhaps your goal is to get published in your state’s outdoor magazine. I will offer three ways you could go approach the task: 1). Burn 200 of your best images onto CD-ROM and mail it to the editor. The CD will likely be trashed and never viewed, as the editor does not know you personally. 2.) Create a quality Kinko’s type photo album using the same 200 images, and mail that to the editor. Chances are increased slightly, but when and why will they need your particular images? 3.) Write a 1500 word article relevant to subjects the magazine would cover. Personally deliver the article and album to the editor and introduce yourself in a professional manner. You increased your chances tenfold by cutting his workload. He can publish your article and images will little effort on his part – editors are lazy and love for us to do all the work!
Credit : http://www.photomigrations.com/articles/0706100.htm
We acame across this article by Bill Horn. It made perfect sense to share it with our readers. We hope you benefit from this information and it helps you in creating images that will fetch you revenues.
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