Eliminate The Negative
Through the years I’ve observed several marketing mistakes that emerging stock photographers make. Here’s a checklist of them, so that you can see what to avoid:
THEY CREATE FIRST THEN FIND A MARKET
Creative people tend to produce their product first and then attempt to find a market for it. This is a recipe for disaster. The Boulevard of Broken Dreams is strewn with bodies of creative people who never learned: “Find the market first (in the subject focus or interest area that you like to work in) and then create for that market.”
When you try to be all things to all people in the publishing world, the photobuyer’s reaction is: “No one can be that good!” Discover your photographic strength areas, and go for them. Become a specialist in one or a select few subject areas. If wild horses can’t pull you away from your subject area(s), you’ll succeed. You’ll fail or get bored if you focus on racing after those markets that ‘pay well,’ putting subject matter in second place, rather than putting your attention to the subjects you love to shoot.
FOR SOUL NOT FOR SALE
Writers rarely publish their poetry, and even more rarely get paid for it. Don’t expect your ‘artsy’ pictures to sell. Consider them your poetry. Ask yourself next time you’re taking (making) a picture, “Is this for sale or is it for soul?”
Many creative people are known to move to a new address every few years. Photobuyers shy away from the wanderer, the vagabond, no matter how talented they might be. Buying photos is a business and they want you to be businesslike in their dealings with you, and that means being ‘reachable’ two days before deadline. Make sure you maintain a stable, dependable email address and cell phone number. If you use a business card, change the address and phone very time you move.
LOOKING LIKE A BEGINNER
If you appear to be ‘just starting out,’ photobuyers will pass you on by. They don’t have the time to hold your hand or “train” you. They’d rather spend their time with someone who is “hassle-free.” You should give the appearance of looking like a pro. As Muhammed Ali, the famous boxer, once said, “If you aren’t a champion — fake it.” Your first step is to correspond with professional-looking emails or with quality stationery, labels, and envelopes. That will help entice the photobuyer to set your material in their “priority TO DO” folder.
The controls on cameras today make it nearly impossible to take a technically poor photo. Photobuyers expect technical excellence from you. And it should match their particular guidelines. No matter how excellent your image may be, if it does not meet the reproduction quality expected by the printing and publishing industry, you’ll fail.
Do your homework. Know what your strengths are, and then photograph in those areas that you love best, where you ‘speak the language’ of specific photobuyers who need photos in those areas. They will welcome your knowledge and your photographic expertise and deep coverage of the subjects they need. Do your homework to find such buyers through Google or specialized search engines. You’ll find scores of powerful directories awaiting you, listing photobuyers who, at this moment, are searching for your talent, special skills, and subject coverage that matches the content needs (the theme) of their publishing operation.
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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 PhotoSource International and publisher of PhotoStockNotes. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org; Fax: 715 248-3800; phone: 800 624-0266; www.photosource.com
Published with permission from Rohn Engh, PhotoSource International www.photosource.com
If you are interested in marketing your photography, we would like to hear from you — Contact Bob Grytten at