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Ed Rooney

Costly Production Images?

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Are they worth doing for stock now? I'm not talking about the outtakes you might get on an assignment. I mean do you spend money to produce stock photos? I do a lot of food snaps in restaurants but I eat the food I pay for. If you travel for work, I'm sure you try to capture some travel pictures. But do you go on trips to shoot stock and pay for the trip yourself? 

 

Edo

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I do think the days of big cost production shoots for stock are pretty much over.  I knew a photographer, who back in the 80s and 90s, would build sets and hire models all for the purpose of shooting concept stock images...he would invest lots of money but the prices he got for his images, then, made it all worth while.  As for traveling to shoot stock, I still do but it has to be a place I really want to go and so I make it part vacation...often traveling with one or both of my adult kids.  I do that two or three times a years.   I do keep track of the sales from those trips and, at best, I break even on expenses (that's a win now!).  For those trips, I often use airline and hotel points to keep the expenses low.  Been doing more driving range trips lately, places 4 to 6 hours away.  Have one planned with my son this spring.  My 21 yr old son is a great traveler and we have blast doing these trips so even if I don't get any stock or sales from what I shoot, it is worth it!

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Can't justify spending £££ for the single purpose of shooting stock. But, in the tradition of Keith Morris, there are plenty of pix to be had by staying local. Recognising opportuniteis is what it's all about...

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I have bought a few props for indoor, in-my-home shoots. Things like a generic dish or two, a glass, a sundae dish or different colored place mats. I shop for these at discount places and don’t pay much.

I did go to St. Croix specifically for pictures and never came close to getting those expenses back.   It it was the first time I was ever out of the US mainland except a brief foray barely into Canada. So what I got emotionally from seeing the beaches and azure waters was worth every penny.

I’m thinking about making a few day trips after winter is done. A tank of gasoline or two will be my biggest expense. But again, like Michael, there will be some enjoyment involved, so the expense will be mitigated.

For instance, my son gave me a gift card to Cheesecake Factory. We don’t have one in Wichita, (he thought we did) so I’ll have to travel about 3 hours south to use it in Oklahoma City. (Oh, that strawberry cheesecake! 😋) About a break-even deal, but I’ll shoot stock while there and get to shop at Macy’s, which has closed down here. So I multitask.

Betty

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There was a time when I would go to Latin America for weeks at a time gathering photos and researching material for articles that I wanted to write. I also used to get occasional press trip invites from tourism boards, which were very helpful. These days I stay close to home and spend as little money as possible. Any travel photography I do is combined with vacations. For instance, I visited Montreal (my old hometown) last year and while there took my camera with me wherever I went. I did devote a couple of days to photographing specific subjects, but that didn't cost me much as I used public transportation. One has to be cheap these days... 😉

 

 

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Cheap as chips!!!!

 

California is a great place for cheap travel if you don't mind roughing it a bit. Having such great weather camping is a lot of fun. My last road trip was a little over 500miles (gas a little under$100)   I was away for 10 nights camping $11 a night ($110) I have a senior pass. I eat very well at home but when camping and on the road I save every penny I can so its not unusual to have a couple of pot noodles about 35c ea at night or a couple of trout, I guess I should figure in a couple of $ for the fishing license . The cheaper I can keep it the more often I can go. Obviously a couple of beers around the camp fire goes without saying!!!! All in all with food and beer around $300 for 10 days its not that hard to cover the cost from Alamy. Give me a night in the Sierra Nevada with a warm campfire over a hotel any day.

 

Happy trails 

 

Shergar

Edited by Shergar
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I hear you all. I have been productive, shooting stock consistently on this long, forced adventure trip I've been on. At the moment I'm jammed up with other matters. And I'm getting sick of snapping neon signs. Winter doesn't go on forever, does it?

 

I, like everyone here, have basic equipment costs. But I'm not a gear head. For me, less is more. I do plan to take a four-day trip in the spring, maybe two. Nearby Leeds and . . . ?  Ryanair to Pisa? 

 

Happy camping, Duncan!

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I don't take trips to shoot stock, but when choosing vacation destinations, I keep photography in mind. But then I've always done that, so it's about my urge to take pictures rather than about shooting stock. Naturally I have to discuss destination issues with my wife and sometimes make compromises; therefore the next trip won't be Havana but NYC. 

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11 minutes ago, Shergar said:

Cheap as chips!!!!

 

California is a great place for cheap travel if you don't mind roughing it a bit. Having such great weather camping is a lot of fun. My last road trip was a little over 500miles (gas a little under$100)   I was away for 10 nights camping $11 a night ($110) I have a senior pass. I eat very well at home but when camping and on the road I save every penny I can so its not unusual to have a couple of pot noodles about 35c ea at night or a couple of trout, I guess I should figure in a couple of $ for the fishing license . The cheaper I can keep it the more often I can go. Obviously a couple of beers around the camp fire goes without saying!!!! All in all with food and beer around $300 for 10 days its not that hard to cover the cost from Alamy. Give me a night in the Sierra Nevada with a warm campfire over a hotel any day.

 

Happy trails 

 

Shergar

At one time, travel consisted of my husband and I going on road trips in our conversion van. We slept in it, often at KOA campgrounds. We also had a pop up tent, and used it in National parks. It was a cheap way to go, and the showers were nice at the KOAs and parks.  Sometimes we pulled our fishing boat behind the van and fished for trout in a lot of states.

We bought an used class A motor home for $10,000. Used it for a couple of camping trips in-state, then took it to leaf peep in New England for 3 weeks. Came home, sold it for what we paid for it.

We just had to pay RV parks, much cheaper than hotels. Plus we had some nights free in Walmart lots, roadside rest stops, and a few pullovers in the woods. Spooky, that. Not for 4-legged threats, but 2-legged. Like the homeless man who tried to come in the door. But that was in a big parking lot after buying groceries.

Ed, your trips sound fun when spring comes. As an expat, you’ll enjoy everything you see, because it will be new to you. I get where your coming from getting tired of shooting signs.

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11 minutes ago, Ed Rooney said:

I hear you all. I have been productive, shooting stock consistently on this long, forced adventure trip I've been on. At the moment I'm jammed up with other matters. And I'm getting sick of snapping neon signs. Winter doesn't go on forever, does it?

 

I, like everyone here, have basic equipment costs. But I'm not a gear head. For me, less is more. I do plan to take a four-day trip in the spring, maybe two. Nearby Leeds and . . . ?  Ryanair to Pisa? 

 

Happy camping, Duncan!

.2A3PW4Y.jpg

 

This is Mrs Shergar on an early morning hike. Notice she is out in front. That is because we are in mountain lion country and if anything happens I want to make sure I get the shot.

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I'll very occasionally drive somewhere local specifically to shoot stock, but it's got to be a location I'm interested in seeing, maybe the autumn colours or snowdrops in woodland etc. More generally the camera accompanies me on most trips, and if I spot a photo I'll take it. We've travelled around quite a bit of Europe towing a tiny caravan, which has opened up new possibilities for photography, but I'm liking driving less and less as I get older, so those trips may come to an end. My wife is now wanting to avoid flying due to concerns over global warming. I find that my UK photos sell better than those taken on the continent, so staying closer to home isn't such a problem. If I could be teleported over to the States, I'd be up for that, but I'm  not going there by any conventional means.

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53 minutes ago, JaniMarkus Hasa said:

I don't take trips to shoot stock, but when choosing vacation destinations, I keep photography in mind. But then I've always done that, so it's about my urge to take pictures rather than about shooting stock. Naturally I have to discuss destination issues with my wife and sometimes make compromises; therefore the next trip won't be Havana but NYC. 

 

Jani, if you do go to NYC, let me know. I'll give you a few tips. 

 

 

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For many years...including the days of Kodachrome and Fujichrome like others here my holiday trips away interstate in Australia were holiday / stock shoots....My wife understood that but you had to have a balance, but i did shoot like crazy when the light was good and you were stimulated by new photo opportunities 😀 Most times i would end up paying for the trip,or close to it from sales...I would tell my wife..." hey you see when i shot that at so and so...well it sold " Yeah if i stopped for a nice lunch or had a nice dinner out and it helped keep the wife happy..

 

I still make sure i get the shots while we're away as it does cost to get to these locations...and you don't do it every day...Ok i know the flip side to this topic is...." Is it all worth it nowadays" Well like many i enjoy shooting stock regardless, so as the song goes.."can't help myself..bad habits" 😁 But like Edo saving airline and shopping reward points does help lower costs, and now that I'm retired i enjoy the hobby...i don't need to chase photography professionally anymore...Living close to the Victorian goldfields is a bonus too...my gold finds make me more $ than stock, and it does help fund trips away and photography gear..

 

Sorry to segue into another topic, but your camera outfit does come into the equation  too...I  like great gear and still haul around a full frame DSLR and 5 lenses, and i am resisting spending more on mirrorless offerings from  Canon...I still use a 5D3 and it is more than enough for stock, yes i do like the new Canon RF lenses! but hey they cost HOW MUCH!! so the reality is i have a great outfit and may only buy a 5D4 second hand...i don't need it i know, but i can make plenty of excuses for having it 🤣 But that is a choice, and there are plenty of other cameras that will cost less and suffice for shooting stock as you all know.....So back to the opening topic...i keep my costs low and enjoy taking pics, i don't look for other stock markets ,it's my choice as i enjoy photography and the Stock market is what it is...but yes i feel for professionals that have to work it much harder...

 

Maybe i will be in a position to travel  overseas to Canada and US next year....oh yes my wife's sister and brother in law live in Toronto...Ahh that would be a nice holiday / stock shoot 👍😀

 

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10 hours ago, Ed Rooney said:

Jani, if you do go to NYC, let me know. I'll give you a few tips. 

 

Sure thing. I'll start a new topic, it might be useful to many.

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No no, this would be for you only. I have good reasons not to post some things in this OPEN forum. Just let me know if and when you go and I'll put in my email address. 

 

Edo

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Today I follow Alamy's advice, and keep stock production costs low by not taking overnight trips except on holidays, when I would travel anyway. But I consider myself  retired.

 

I became serious about stock in the late 1960s when stock prices were also low. I did two things. (1) Concentrated on future stock colour needs, when stock was still mainly a B&W business. At he same time picture books were transitioning from B&W to full colour due to advances in printing technology. (2) Built a stock collection by doing 10 picture books in colour between 1970 and 1982. The book publisher advanced money against future royalties. Advances that would cover my expenses for cross Canada shooting trips.

 

When pitching a book idea to the publisher it was based on building stock. So my books had titles like "The Colour of British Columbia", "Seasons of Canada" "The Colour of Alberta", and the never to be forgotten "The Colour of New Brunswick".

 

The books sold very well for years, a colour stock collection was built with all expenses covered, my stock photo sales started during the book shoot.

 

So I took advantage of an editorial/advertising industry transition from B&W to colour. I had the book publisher finance the cost of making the colour stock collection, and pay royalties on the books as well.

 

The unusually high interest charges of the late 1970's paid by publishers on printing and advance costs, put the end to the high profit picture book. Everyone was doing picture books but there was no money in it. By 1980 stock prices had risen enough that my cash flow from stock, and books in print, allowed me to transition to editorial/advertising stock full time.

 

If I was just starting out today it would be different, but not impossible. I would first look for future photography needs due to changes in technology, and get someone else to pay the cost of acquisition.

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Ah so, Bill -- I didn't know you were retired. You're a first rate shooter. 

 

I shot B&W and did all my own darkroom work throughout the '60s. Then, when I moved to color, I almost never did anymore B&W. Tony Stone Limited, from the late '70s till the early '90s, was when I made real money with stock, shooting all color transparencies then. 

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9 hours ago, Ed Rooney said:

Ah so, Bill -- I didn't know you were retired. You're a first rate shooter. 

 

I shot B&W and did all my own darkroom work throughout the '60s. Then, when I moved to color, I almost never did anymore B&W. Tony Stone Limited, from the late '70s till the early '90s, was when I made real money with stock, shooting all color transparencies then. 

 

Thank you for your kind words Edo, i like the way you shoot stock too. I do enjoy reading the input from seasoned photographers like yourself who have been and are still successful stock shooters.Here in Australia stock photography took off in the late 80's, i started to shoot for a small Australian stock library and only really shot to supplement my freelance work so i had some success with stock sales but could have worked it harder..I know of a few Australian photographers that really worked at stock and got images into the Stock Market catalogues and the Image Bank..AGE ..ACE and yes Tony Stone....They did really well!....as the saying goes ...Make hay while the sun shines...$$ and that they did.

 

Ahh well i am happy that i eked out a humble living as a photographer..paid the bills...Today i just enjoy using the camera and now trying to add some variety to my stock folio..You have to keep the enjoyment in your work..How hard you work it is as always up to the individual....and always take time to have a laugh 😀 life is serious enough at times.

Edited by William Caram

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10 hours ago, Bill Brooks said:

Today I follow Alamy's advice, and keep stock production costs low by not taking overnight trips except on holidays, when I would travel anyway. But I consider myself  retired.

 

I became serious about stock in the late 1960s when stock prices were also low. I did two things. (1) Concentrated on future stock colour needs, when stock was still mainly a B&W business. At he same time picture books were transitioning from B&W to full colour due to advances in printing technology. (2) Built a stock collection by doing 10 picture books in colour between 1970 and 1982. The book publisher advanced money against future royalties. Advances that would cover my expenses for cross Canada shooting trips.

 

When pitching a book idea to the publisher it was based on building stock. So my books had titles like "The Colour of British Columbia", "Seasons of Canada" "The Colour of Alberta", and the never to be forgotten "The Colour of New Brunswick".

 

The books sold very well for years, a colour stock collection was built with all expenses covered, my stock photo sales started during the book shoot.

 

So I took advantage of an editorial/advertising industry transition from B&W to colour. I had the book publisher finance the cost of making the colour stock collection, and pay royalties on the books as well.

 

The unusually high interest charges of the late 1970's paid by publishers on printing and advance costs, put the end to the high profit picture book. Everyone was doing picture books but there was no money in it. By 1980 stock prices had risen enough that my cash flow from stock, and books in print, allowed me to transition to editorial/advertising stock full time.

 

If I was just starting out today it would be different, but not impossible. I would first look for future photography needs due to changes in technology, and get someone else to pay the cost of acquisition.

 

 

Hi Bill, I have relations in Don Mills,Toronto (Sister in Law ) when i was building my photography career in the 80's  they sent me one of your books as a gift...I remember that your photography was impressive then and i loved the scenery as it was so different from Australia...You have been and are still a prolific image maker...kudos to you, and you still inspire and share your knowledge....just saying

Cheers Bill

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Aside from 30 mile drives to the coast, I can hardly think of any trips when I didn't have at least enough commitments to pay for the fuel and a spot of lunch. A nice wedge in the bank more the ticket!  I took the view that if I couldn't scrape up some sort of deal, I probably didn't deserve to go. I guess some of the trips to Canada weren't covered but they were to keep in touch with Family mostly. I had a sweet deal with Air Canada for a while, but they tightened up. If I could finish up my work for package holiday brochures by the Med a day or so before my return flight they were pretty OK if I shot a bit of stock for myself as long as I had the brief well covered. Certainly to-day I wouldn't invest much in production. Pity it's come to that! Back in the days of Tony Stone, some photographers did fund substantial productions.

Edited by Robert M Estall

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I don't expect a picture of a pint of beer to pay for the beer. Not for a few years, anyway. But I'd buy the beer anyway.

In any case a picture of the pump clip is more likely to license, and I don't pay for that.

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