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Ramblings on what to shoot


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After searching for images in the newspapers for several years I got to know what they would use, and would instinctively shoot those subjects.  However, unless you can submit as live news, the rates are so poor as to be hardly worth bothering with.  My best earning photos have been semi urban landscapes and some table top photos., which is where I started many moons ago !

 

I should add that yesterday I downloaded the file of all of my sales and looked at both individual high results and accumulations where an image had sold several times.

 

Anyone else wish to contribute on this theme ?

Edited by Bryan
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Since I don't live in the UK, I've never photographed with newspapers in mind. In the past, I've tried to think mainly in terms of books. They tend to be the best clients, and they use all kinds of weird subjects, especially education book publishers. These days, I'm not doing much photography, though, for a number of reasons. I take a camera with me on outings but mainly for enjoyment. Mind you, I've had some surprisingly good sales of images captured not far from my front door. Travel images, which used to be a mainstay for me, are pretty much a lost cause at this point, not because of lack of demand, which is probably increasing, but due to the high cost of production plus low prices paid by editorial websites and the like. Oh well, it was fun while it lasted. 🤠

 

 

Edited by John Mitchell
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I'm actually quite surprised at some of the images that I've been licensing lately, a greater variety of subjects than in the past. I think more than ever the key is to be as eclectic as possible. The days of doing well as a specialist seem to have passed. There's just too much competition. I may be wrong about this of course...

 

Some of the subjects that sold for me in April -- watering cans, Canadian indigenous carving, a volcano in Nicaragua, a mosque, a stone wall, historical images, public art, a museum exhibit, and a barbershop sign.

 

 

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5 hours ago, Betty LaRue said:

Bryan, go into town and shoot storefronts. Yes, boring, but….

Betty those are the types of images used by the newspapers, particularly if a national retailer is in trouble, and I have a number in my collection. Likewise shots just showing not much more than the name and logo of a single business.  They sell, but rarely for more than  $ rates. 

 

However my best sale last month was of a street of shops within a town showing the architecture of the region. 

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, John Mitchell said:

I'm actually quite surprised at some of the images that I've been licensing lately, a greater variety of subjects than in the past. I think more than ever the key is to be as eclectic as possible. The days of doing well as a specialist seem to have passed. There's just too much competition. I may be wrong about this of course...

 

Some of the subjects that sold for me in April -- watering cans, Canadian indigenous carving, a volcano in Nicaragua, a mosque, a stone wall, historical images, public art, a museum exhibit, and a barbershop sign.

 

 

Yes maybe shooting what you find interesting is as good a guide as any and  visually pleasing is perhaps a better steer than commercially interesting. Like you I rarely go out specifically to collect images these days, I'll take the camera on a trip but may or may not find anything worth photographing.. 

Edited by Bryan
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That provoked an interesting exercise in looking at my sales since I started which goes back around sixteen plus years. In the earlier days I used to spend much of my time building a portfolio of local Churches and local landscapes with coastal and Norfolk Broads subjects. Church subjects still remain among my best sellers but I no longer go out to specifically do anything here with sales revenue decreased from $$$ to $ which makes it not worthwhile. I have to be thankful for starting when I did but wish I had done so earlier. My landscapes have also been good sellers particularly for Travel Brochures, Guides, and Calendars. Prompted probably by Covid my subjects of music related items now sell fairly well which include sheet music, album covers, and the like which have a minimal production cost. Odd sales still crop up like an outside burst pipe, wildlife road kill, road signs, and the like, which are local and do not require specific travel, just to keep ones eyes open!   

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Posted (edited)
5 hours ago, Broad Norfolk said:

Church subjects still remain among my best sellers

I hace 1529 search returns for "church"- only about a third UK and that includes cathedrals. I still add them occasionally but I've only ever licensed a few UK ones.

Edited by spacecadet
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When I started back in 2004 I was pleasantly surprised to find some photos actually sold! I aimed to try and get about 10k images on sale which at that time seemed to the amount to reach a "critical mass", ie produce a reasonable amount of sales/income per month. (Now I think that figure is nearer 15-20K images). 

I certainly for the first 10-15 years tried to take images of places/things I thought would sell - Bettys' shopfronts are a case in point. 

Now, having been there and done that, I am much more likely to go out photographing things that I like and am interested in, and if they happen to sell, then so much the better. 

I still enjoy travelling and taking images for stock, though this has been severely curtailed recently, but local attractions are interesting, and enable me to make the collection more varied and eclectic. 

Frankly I much more enjoy photographing for pleasure now, and trying to improve as a photographer, not just a stock photographer, particularly given the very low prices most images sell for. 

 

Kumar

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30 minutes ago, spacecadet said:

I hace 1529 search returns for "church"- only about a third UK and that includes cathedrals. I still add them occasionally but I've only ever licensed a few UK ones.

I find cathedrals do quite a bit better than churches, indeed one of my best earners is such a photo.  However I recently sold a small group of church photos for a mediocre sum.

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12 hours ago, Bryan said:

Yes maybe shooting what you find interesting is as good a guide as any and  visually pleasing is perhaps a better steer than commercially interesting. Like you I rarely go out specifically to collect images these days, I'll take the camera on a trip but may or may not find anything worth photographing.. 

 

Yes, that's more or less the case with me these days-- I just follow my nose so to speak, although I do keep my "commercial eye" at least partially open. Perhaps I'll get a wee bit more ambitious once the weather improves here (rainy spring).

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2 hours ago, Bryan said:

I find cathedrals do quite a bit better than churches, indeed one of my best earners is such a photo.  However I recently sold a small group of church photos for a mediocre sum.

Tend to agree, and the interiors sell as well as the exterior images

 

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17 hours ago, John Mitchell said:

I'm actually quite surprised at some of the images that I've been licensing lately, a greater variety of subjects than in the past. I think more than ever the key is to be as eclectic as possible. The days of doing well as a specialist seem to have passed. There's just too much competition. I may be wrong about this of course...

 

Some of the subjects that sold for me in April -- watering cans, Canadian indigenous carving, a volcano in Nicaragua, a mosque, a stone wall, historical images, public art, a museum exhibit, and a barbershop sign.

 

 

 

I totally agree John, the more diverse one's portfolio is, the greater the chances of sales.  Just like the other kind of stock market, a diverse financial portfolio is often a good idea.  I think my photos on Alamy are about as diverse as one can get.

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This is a most interesting question. I am a niche political photographer spending most of my time in Westminster London. I know the photographs I take will sell albeit for not much money. There is an interesting algorithm called explore versus exploit. To exploit means using what you already know I’m carry on using it. So in my case, continuing to photograph in Westminster. An alternative is the exploit factor, to go out and look for new things. The advantage is that you may well come across new and interesting things, but not frequently and with an unknown sales potential.

 

As noted above, having a diverse portfolio is the best way forward. But, a cost benefit analysis, needs to be undertaken to see if the cost of taking the photograph is worth The sales potential.

 

As also noted a careful analysis of news trends is very important if you are a news photographer, likewise what the newspapers are likely to use in a particular news story.

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1 hour ago, IanDavidson said:

......... photographer spending most of my time in Westminster London....................... having a diverse portfolio is the best way forward................

From my last few news visits into the smoke it's the random stock shots taken between locations that have sold for the greater values. On the other hand my large diverse portfolio seems to attract large numbers of low $ licences whilst other contributors with specialist travel or wildlife collections are seeing $$$ sales. Swings and roundabouts, and changes in market requirements. Between topical/news image sales I used to sell quantities of random vehicles, athletes, aircraft, royalty etc, and so during lockdown I trawled my old hard-drives to add thousands more additional varieties of those subjects, only for such sales to dry up!

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Posted (edited)

Put all your sales into a spreadsheet and patterns will emerge. 

 

I go through year-by-year image galleries of thumbnails on Photoshelter and cross reference visually with what has sold.

 

Some images have sold 20+ times - often these are banal, and as you might expect generic - shops, signs, things that are everywhere.

 

One that sold hugely a month or so ago was that bridge in Rotterdam that some billionaire wanted to have taken down for his yacht to get through - Bezos was it? (43 sales but all low fees)

 

I also add one copy of all 'sellers' into a new gallery.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by geogphotos
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2 hours ago, Reimar said:

While I've been twisting my own arm to get interested in grabbing the camera more regularly, I came across this:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U1cF9QCu1rQ

 

Soon, other than reportage, selling the camera gear may be the best way to make money at stock.  Let's hope this takes a long time to develop.

 

It used to be said that "the camera never lies." Then PhotoShop manipulation came along. Now we can't even trust reportage. AI will no doubt change everything again. Truth will eventually become a quaint, old-fashioned concept. What, me cynical? 😎

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On 01/05/2022 at 15:54, Bryan said:

I find cathedrals do quite a bit better than churches, indeed one of my best earners is such a photo.  However I recently sold a small group of church photos for a mediocre sum.

Bryan, Don't worry, when the times comes, as it does for us all, your full reward will be waiting in heaven! 😉

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On 30/04/2022 at 19:20, Bryan said:

After searching for images in the newspapers for several years I got to know what they would use, and would instinctively shoot those subjects.  However, unless you can submit as live news, the rates are so poor as to be hardly worth bothering with.  My best earning photos have been semi urban landscapes and some table top photos., which is where I started many moons ago !

 

I should add that yesterday I downloaded the file of all of my sales and looked at both individual high results and accumulations where an image had sold several times.

 

Anyone else wish to contribute on this theme ?

I rarely bother going anywhere special for photos these days. As Ian has already mentioned, the remuneration rarely covers the cost. I tend to take my Sony RX100 into work, just in case I stumble upon something on the way, and only take my Nikon kit out at weekends. There was a time when I would try and get news pics of demos and the like but Alamy, sadly, closed that avenue down some years ago. I imagine that good stock travel pics may become harder to source as stock photographers collectively decide it is not worth the cost for such low returns (will pics taken on mobile phones possibly fill the gap?). Most of the stuff I snap is pretty bland - signage, shop fronts, some location stuff. It always amazes me what actually sells! I kind of like the challenge of trying to predict what might be in vogue. Keeps the grey cells ticking over a little. 🙂

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On 30/04/2022 at 19:20, Bryan said:

After searching for images in the newspapers for several years I got to know what they would use, and would instinctively shoot those subjects.  However, unless you can submit as live news, the rates are so poor as to be hardly worth bothering with.  My best earning photos have been semi urban landscapes and some table top photos., which is where I started many moons ago !

 

I thought I would take a slightly different approach to your question...

I started out as a press photographer with local newspapers in the late 1970's and I still carry a NUJ card. I don't work for local newspapers any more (they don't pay) but still contribute images Alamy Live News, intended for national and maybe international publication.

I was at an event this week discussing the notion of 'grip and and grin' shots that the local press use ("shake hands and smile at the camera") saying that I don't take those any more, and look for 'quirky' images. My most recent image in a national paper (half a page on the back of a broadsheet) only shows the back of the heads of the 6 people in the photo.

Having spent a long time having my work rejected by picture desks, I'm now convinced that 'off-beat', 'unusual' and 'quirky' is the way to go, for me, when looking for a national newspaper publication.

So, that's my contribution to this theme. It's not what you shoot that counts - it's the way that you shoot it. Know your target market and the type of images they use - and give them what they want. By the way...that's advice I got on a freelance photography correspondence course in 1978, and it still holds true.

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I also have a very diverse range of photos on Alamy. Some that sell well but no longer worth taking are underwater, scuba diving. Expensive location and gear. My gear is now a bit past it and not worth updating so the whole genera is off for me now. Travel, not worth special trips.

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Posted (edited)

As Betty suggests, I snap a lot of store fronts, particularly the signs. I shoot street signs and all sorts of other signs too. And amazingly, I don't find it any more boring to do than the other subjects I face most days. Dusk is my favourite time for store front captures. 

 

I shoot landmarks, of course . . . and statues, alfresco diners, food, desktop stuff, and anything that catches my eye that has positive lighting, shape, colour, and suggests a caption. Remember when we looked for 'people doing things'? Now I have to look for people doing something -- anything other than looking at their mobile phones. 

 

Right now, I am in painful need of a change of scene. 

 

Edited by Ed Rooney
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10 hours ago, Ed Rooney said:

Right now, I am in painful need of a change of scene. 

 

I think a lot of us are in that position.

 

Allan

 

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