Changes Ahead For Image Sensors?

While much has changed in the display and distribution of images you might like to sell, there’s no question that what has remained the same in making sales is first having work that’s marketable and then catching a few breaks to get the work sold. While the following may sound like I’m telling old tales, I thought relating how I got my first ever stock sales might give an indication of what it takes to get into the marketplace and start having your images pay some of the rent.

My entrance into the stock photo market happened somewhat by accident. I had been shooting for a number of years (slides at the time) and had built up a fairly good library of work that I had labeled (yes, each slide had to have a physical label on it, not like the EXIF tagging of today). I had also been freelance shooting for quite a while on weekends to supplement my pay as a lab technician and printer, doing events, weddings, political dinners, whatever. One day I got a call to cover a local company’s construction work—and it just so happened that they were one of the companies involved in the reconstruction of the Statue of Liberty. They took me on a boat out to Liberty Island, got me up on a scaffolding on the torch—the whole bit.

It also turned out it was some sort of dedication day, with folks from the entertainment, business, and political arena on hand, as well as a boatload of kids of all nationalities waving flags like mad, the lot of them shipped out there for photo ops. Needless to say, I shot quite a bit that day, especially the kids and of course the work in progress and the celebs. (I also took shots of the World Trade Center from the height of the torch that seem haunting today.)

In those days magazines and newspapers were where photographers got to show their work, and some of the pictures I took were published in a small trade journal. Well, it so happens that stock photo agencies combed magazines, big and small, to find potential work to syndicate andsell, and they spotted my shots not only of the reconstruction and celebs, but especially of the multicultural group of kids enthusiastically waving their mini Old Glories. Those shots, it turned out, sold again and again, to textbooks and articles and various magazines, and based on those sales the agency started repping my work and looking at what else I had to offer. So all that time prepping work in my library paid off, as I already had a stock of images ready to go.

The market these days has changed radically, and finding ways to show off your images that buyers will actually see, and then getting them sold at a price that makes sense, can be a challenge. In this issue we have some very frank discussions about the calendar and greeting card market from a number of pros working in that field, as well as some great advice from a stock shooter whose approach and eye has her at the top of the game. In editing these pieces I saw how much has changed in the marketing of images, but at the same time how much has remained the same. It’s still about having images that can sell, and being able to get them in front of buyers. What has changed is the competitiveness of the market, multiplied a hundredfold because of the Internet and the fact that everyone with a point-and-shoot wants in the game. Nevertheless, photos do sell, and not everyone is giving them away, and you shouldn’t be discouraged from giving it a go.

After all, once you get your images in sellable form and organization, and have some images that will hook buyers into giving you a further look, a lucky break might be all you need.