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When I started out in photography a year or so ago, I instantly created a website, a brand and logo, the whole nine yards. I dreamed of being a lone ranger in the world of photography and doing it as a business. 

 

The reality of that all crashed to earth the day I joined Alamy. Also in the months on the forums reading through the experiences of other people who are living pro's. I'm not talking about hobbyist forums where people buy kit for fun and share every picture they ever take on Flickr, but real working working pros. I quickly realised that they are a closed bunch who hardly share a thing, not even tips. I don't blame them, but I noticed they didn't even have an online portfolio, and those that did kept it short and sweet. 

 

I would ask, how important do pro's and hard working moonlighters see a website with regards to advertising your craft? 

 

I'm seeing it less and less important these days, however, I still think an identity on line is important in case an opportunity comes up (like the 3 weddings I have booked in the next year) 

 

I've been creating and managing websites for about 6 years now (another task of IT Support), but the thought of adding this personal work to my day fills me with dread, so I was going to go with Zenfolio or one of the other hosted brands. 

 

Creating your own site, if you are not all that technically minded can open your images to theft. I can delve into the web server files of most peoples websites and take any image I want. I don't, but if I can do it, then anyone can. 

 

Cheers, as always, 

 

Paul

 

 

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Hello Paul,

I think it depends on what you want to do. I see that you are booked in 3 weddings. I know some wedding Photographers. They use to tell as soon you photograph a few weddings with good results the next will come to you. People get married all the time :) and start to talk "I know a good photographer...............". I think it is one good way to get clients. Just produce quality. In this days there are so many websites of Photographers that i dont know if it is worth it if you dont want it. At least at the beginning. Maybe later when you want to extend you feel like your "name" needs to have a website ass a additional information source.

 

Mirco

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Thanks Mirco. I didn't set out to do any weddings, I kind of fell into it. I'm doing one to help out a friend, and then two people in work asked me about it so I said yes. I reckon a website for that purpose is what the average person comes to expect, however, I don't like to have a label. I might be rubbish at it, or hate it. My style of portraiture might not suit weddings so having a site long term could fall on it's face. 

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As before, it is more important where your images are than the quality of them (that should gets some comments ;-) and your own personal website is not where the action is. Marketable images in the wrong place make no sales - less marketable images in the right place will/might make sales. I would take a "will" and a "might" over a "no" any day.

 

"and your own personal website is not where the action is"  disclaimer: I am referring to general stock not commissions nor niche image collections

 

I'd echo Paul's comments and here's a pro tip from me. Shoot for the market. Forget all this "personal vision" guff. Don't shoot what you want to shoot. Shoot what is wanted. Look in magazines and newspapers. Look at how shots are composed. Why will someone buy your shot over the competition? Edit hard. A quick look at your folio shows me you have way too many similars (mainly due to the "news" coverage shots).

 

You're a year into a very long journey. I was a jobbing commercial pro when I started doing stock and it took me three years before I really knew what I was doing! So don't expect success overnight. This is a horrible industry nowadays. We're battling a reduction in prices due to over-saturation and that same over-saturation is causing a dilution effect so we all get less of the pie.

 

Shoot smarter, not harder.

 

J

Edited by incamerastock
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I only bought my web address really so I could have a professional looking email address aligned with my business name.

 

It took a couple of years to actually put anything on the front page and I haven't updated it for ages. All images are watermarked and very low res.

 

It is handy for letting possible clients see images I hope to sell them or get commissioned by putting them on a password protected area and sending them the link. I still watermark these ones though.

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Cheers for the input guys. I do have a domain as I mentioned but once its run out I'm ditching it. Feel the need to go under the radar on the net too. 

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my website brings me a *lot* of commissioned work

 

its an important part of my marketing / promotion

 

km

www.artswebwales.com

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my website brings me a *lot* of commissioned work

 

its an important part of my marketing / promotion

 

km

www.artswebwales.com

 

Your work is outstanding Keith. 

I guess it also helps if you have quality work to show folk :) 

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Cheers for the input guys. I do have a domain as I mentioned but once its run out I'm ditching it. Feel the need to go under the radar on the net too. 

How about hanging on to the domain name (pretty cheap to simply leave it domant) as you may want it at a later stage if different photographic areas outside stock develop for you.

 

I meant the hosting. I'll keep the name but the hosting package is pointless. Most sites allow a custom domain these days so re-directing is the norm. Not really with it today...

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After months of letting it languish unchanged, I have just redesigned my website. I just think you can't NOT have a website these days. Mine has gone minimal and is simply to attract attention to the links at the bottom directing people to Alamy and other places.

It's a good point made above about the email address - it sounds better if you have your own .com and if I tell someone I'm a photographer and they ask, do I have a website, I don't want to have to say no.

I have no idea how much business it generates, if any, but it's not a huge expense and it's good for my friends and family to keep up to date with what I'm doing if nothing else.

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That's a very well-stated opening post, Paul. I agree with all your conclusions. 

 

I became a pro photographer from one day to the next in 1960. (Yes, 1960, not a typo.) I've never been a hobby guy or Fine Arts photographer. I was a shooter. I had 30 active assignment years with ups and downs and joined Tony Stone Images for stock in the '70s. He was a source of good money for 16 years. When stock was film, basically, we turned over the original chromes to the agency . . . and they did everything else. Now days there is endless work in being a stock photographer, and there's no real money for most of us. 

 

I closed my own Web site because of the reasons you mentioned, Paul. I'm no longer looking for assignments. If you are looking for work today, having a site is expected, like having a business card. If I were going to do weddings, I would have a special Web site for that and portraits. 

 

Good luck to you, Paul and to all the other young people who want to be in the overall creative world today; you'll all need it. 

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I closed my own Web site because of the reasons you mentioned, Paul. I'm no longer looking for assignments. If you are looking for work today, having a site is expected, like having a business card. If I were going to do weddings, I would have a special Web site for that and portraits. 

 

^This

 

You might be having a reality check on the stock photography market as it stands today but the rest of the professional photographic industry isn't dead yet either.

 

It is much much harder to make a living now than even it was 10 years ago when I started my business but it can still be done either FT, or augmenting a salary PT. I have many friends who are FT wedding OR portrait photographers or wedding AND portrait photographers and whilst many also cover occasional commercial work as well they make a reasonable to exceptional living depending on their niche and perceived value and reputation to clients.

 

I'd say that if you are doing or looking to grow a social photography business then you not only need a good website, with excellent SEO and frequently updated blog, but also a good Facebook presence to drive additional traffic to your traditional website. Viral likes of tagged wedding or portrait images (heavily watermarked in my case) is a strong source of referral now and isn't to be underestimated.

 

If you are a commercial or editorial shooter then I'd say you could get away with a slimmer website, maybe just a strong online portfolio and contact details - but I'm even seeing a lot of the newspaper staffers beefing up their website/blogs either to keep a high profile in the industry or prepare for a move to a more B2C/social photography aspect to their work rather than as a pure editorial photographer.

 

As for a pure-play stock photographer - well you might want a site or at least a holding/splash page that you can refer people to if you are handing out business cards whilst out shooting as credibility, especially if you are looking to shoot a project of images specifically for stock and need to give them some confidence.

 

Hosting space is cheap, domain names are cheap and it sounds like you have the skills to create a website - and therefore no additional outlay for a web-designer. It would seem to be a no-brainer to at least have a basic presence and a custom email address if you don't go further down that route.

 

My main site has been around for 10/11 years. It gets a lot of Google traffic and brings me a decent amount of business even though I have stopped shooting weddings and am now predominately a niche portrait (newborns) and commercial photographer with a dabbling in stock - mainly via the news route. The associated Facebook page drives traffic to the site and I'm not advertising through print/online directory. The phone could ring a little more but it does ring across everything I do. Like you I'm capable of building my own pages, and as my only advertising medium my websites are a very small investment compared to the return.

 

As for pros helping out others. I think that you'll find photography is one of the most open creative disciplines. I see so much sharing of skills, techniques, gear opinions, locations that I wish some people would keep some it to themselves. You might need to skim more heavily populated forums and increasingly YouTube to see it but it is there. Again more prevalent in the social photography space than editorial/commercial/stock and I can see why. Sometimes you have to work stuff out for yourself, sometimes you have to earn some trust, and sometimes you gave to invest the time to find it. The easier it is to find, generally the less valuable it is.

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At this point I'm not interested in assignments or in online identity, but I did set up my own "stock" website with e-commerce through PhotoShelter a few ago. It gives me the opportunity to occasionally lease my work at decent prices and not have to pay big commissions. Last year I did quite well with fairly regular print sales and downloads, including a direct one for $650. However, this year has been something of a letdown as I've had only a handful of sales. There is no doubt that selling images on one's own is getting increasingly more difficult. Still, my PS site only costs about $20/month. Plus it's easy to maintain, and it usually manages to more than  pay for itself. Even if I'm not making much profit from it, my stock website is one place where I feel I still have some control -- an illusion perhaps -- over how and for how much I sell my work, which I think can be important these days.

Edited by John Mitchell

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Mike, you quoted me, but you seem to be directing your remarks at Paul. And you make some good points. Me, I'm retired. I'm not looking for assignments, so I have no need of a Web site. I thought I made that clear . . . but perhaps not. 

 

Ed

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Hi Paul,

 

You have to see a website as a modern day 'calling card' or 'business card'. 

 

Essentially it is essential.

 

My website really needs updating/grading but it is something that in these days is inexpensive to run and potential clients always ask for this be it weddings or reportage type work.

 

Must say that I'm pretty slack in this department but that's because I rely on a stable of clients who have known me for a number of years. For you young jocks (and good luck to you by the way ............ you're gonna need it!) it is an absolute primary important thing.

 

Best

 

Richard

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Mike, you quoted me, but you seem to be directing your remarks at Paul. And you make some good points. Me, I'm retired. I'm not looking for assignments, so I have no need of a Web site. I thought I made that clear . . . but perhaps not. 

 

Ed

 

Ed,

 

I did quote you selectively and then used "^This" to acknowledge agreement to your quoted statement.

 

The rest was entirely directed to Paul. Sorry if that didn't come across to you.

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At this point I'm not interested in assignments or in online identity, but I did set up my own "stock" website with e-commerce through PhotoShelter a few ago. It gives me the opportunity to occasionally lease my work at decent prices and not have to pay big commissions. Last year I did quite well with fairly regular print sales and downloads, including a direct one for $650. However, this year has been something of a letdown as I've had only a handful of sales. There is no doubt that selling images on one's own is getting increasingly more difficult. Still, my PS site only costs about $20/month. Plus it's easy to maintain, and it usually manages to more than  pay for itself. Even if I'm not making much profit from it, my stock website is one place where I feel I still have some control -- an illusion perhaps -- over how and for how much I sell my work, which I think can be important these days.

+1 John

Am just starting with the "new" PhotoShelter.

 

Paul,

 

I've had my own domain for years, even had my own URL when I was in Moscow.

I've been mostly out of the assignment business for more than a decade.  I still shoot

things that I feel are important and that I can license via Alamy or my other agents

or libraries and like Ed I was with Stone as well and a few others over the years.

 

My current web site is now ten years old and I am finally getting around to redoing it with

help from PhotoShelter.  For me, my domain and URL are vital if I am talking to a picture

researcher or someone in charge of an event that I want to cover.  I've sold a few high-end

signed prints to people from my URL, but I've made much more money by tracking down

publications and corporations who have copied images from my URL, without my permission. 

FYI: All images that I have on Alamy, my own URL and any of my other libraries are

registered with the U.S. copyright office.

 

In answer to your original question, YES a website is VERY important for anyone who is making

images for distribution.  There is much more to having a URL or domain and a hosting service.

I have e-mail forwarders, secure storage, FTP’s, and the ability to create private photo galleries for

picture researchers looking to license images.  My current hosting company is very very good and

for all that I get from their services their fees are quite reasonable.

 

In answer to your comment about Pro’s not sharing information?  From what I have seen on the

Alamy forum there is a lot of openness and sharing, it surprises me how much many with

Years of experience in the business are willing to share with newcomers. I will add that I think

that it has become too easy to create images and find ways to put those images out into the

public via libraries with the hope of someone “buying” (I call it licensing, I do not “sell” images) them. 

Besides my many years in assignment magazine photography and a degree in journalism, I’ve

contributed and been on contract with a number of the major photo agencies in the

U.S. and Europe (most of which are no longer with us) and it has been a real struggle to come

up to speed in this new digital world and again I do not believe that most coming into

“stock online photography” have spent enough time learning the business. 

One thing that has not changed is that “A great image is still great and can

command a healthy fee for usage.”

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Mike, you quoted me, but you seem to be directing your remarks at Paul. And you make some good points. Me, I'm retired. I'm not looking for assignments, so I have no need of a Web site. I thought I made that clear . . . but perhaps not. 

 

Ed

 

Ed,

 

I did quote you selectively and then used "^This" to acknowledge agreement to your quoted statement.

 

The rest was entirely directed to Paul. Sorry if that didn't come across to you.

 

Got it. Sorry for my confusion, Mike.  This has been a tense day here on The Street (Mulberry). They are building towards the opening of the Feast of San Gennaro tomorrow, and it's 9/11, and I had lunch with my ex-wife, who's passing through.  :rolleyes:

 

Chuck, what was the name of that good PJ agency you were with in NYC? 

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I quickly realised that they are a closed bunch who hardly share a thing, not even tips.

 

As others in this thread have said (and I notice a few I have emailed/phoned/skyped and vice versa)  we do share tips and a lot of information, but primarily between people we regard as our peers. Like any other industry its useful to keep in touch with your 'competitors' as a small piece of information that is useless to them might be the key for you and vice versa.

I was in Nashville a couple of years ago having dinner with a few music industry professionals (I was there to photograph an album creation). They mentioned a lot the 10,000 hours rule. Its a sort of unwritted rule that for anyone to start to master their craft or to truly start to earn a living at what they do, they would have to have roughly completed 10,000 hours in the role. Roughly about 5 or so years full time, something which translates in most professions.

I started off doing this part time as well but after a week realised I was never going to be full time if I continued part time and went to work for a photographer a month or two in. I got more business from him in the first 2 years than I did myself. Thats the key, he knew I was serious (had given up a very well paid job, company pension the whole nine yards) and he needed someone with a lot of experience going cheap so it worked out well.

I have a very good working relationship with what a lot of people would consider a main local competitor. Why? Well sometimes (as with next week) I need another photographer for a large job or simply to cover my contracts when I am away or busy. Someone who I know can do the job at least as well as I can. I often get people emailing wanting to start in the business asking me to pass on jobs and whilst its an easy email or throw away comment they dont understand the realities of what they are asking.

Going back to the 10,000 hour rule. If one of my major clients (a large multinational) needs a job doing tomorrow night and Im already booked am I going to ask my colleage with about 50,000 hours experience or someone with perhaps 20 hours and none of it for anywhere near this level of client with nowhere near the level of equipment required for the job.

Nobody in their right mind would do it, in any profession, so when people call us closed and grumpy they should ask what they would do in their own day jobs if someone asked them the same thing.

At the minute Im helping out three students with work experience, Im just back from Liverpool talking with mixed media students on a joint project where Im the business side of things. All of that is for my benefit, our mutual benefit.

Thats where you have to be, you have to be able to reciprocate on a level that other business people require and then they will take you seriously.

 

Going to the website side of things, as Mike says for a social business it really is crucial. For pure stock photography its probably pointless as most of your output will go to agencies. I have a couple of websites and to be honest I get the vast majority of my assignment work from word of mouth. I used to work for Getty editorial and that got a lot of contacts who know a lot of contacts and so on. I have also worked for all the major companies in one particular industry here in Northern Ireland because they all get each others PR releases and company magazines, so when they see my name they google me. I really have lost count of the number of people who have called me and asked for examples of work which one or two clicks on my website would have shown them.

The vast majority of my website use is backend and the front end is just a sort of online porfolio, which is woefully out of date and Ive had a new one since March but havent got round to updating it yet. Its not worth the couple of days downtime to get it sorted, which shows where I place the relevance of having a website....

...saying that though, having a poor website (and there were a lot of cheapo couple of pages quick online ready made for photographers packages going a while ago) and obviously being a part timer from the style, content and technical aspects of the photos will kill you not just now but also in the future. I remember one person here who had a landscape of the north coast where the sunset looked like a small nuclear accident 10 miles off the coast. Im sure I wasnt the only one who saw it and now the domain has lapsed, which says a lot.

 

The biggest advert you have in this business  is yourself but noone is really going to take you seriously or hire you (except maybe the cheaper end of the wedding scale) if you arent obviously full time. When people ring up and ask if you are available they expect a quick answer, not if your boss allows it or if you can swing a working from home day or throw a sickie because if the time slips or the participants cant make it and reschedule etc etc etc...

 

Its like running any other small business, its not exactly rocket science but it is long hard work and above all else you have to put the hours in. People here will quote you need x thousand stock images but thats more or less rubbish. I know people with portfolios 1/10 the size of mine who are earning the same or more money. I only started stock in 2004/5 as I was laid up for a while and I was working for local papers, stock was seen as a bit of a waste of time as a lot of my colleagues had tried and didnt get the returns, but as incamerastock mentions they werent shooting for the market. How do you shoot for the market, well look at whats around you and your sales. What if you dont have any sales, well see whats selling to your clients... what if you dont have any clients... Well you are probably shit out of luck at that point and stop shooting thousands until you start doing more about the market. We've all been through it and we've all learned our lessons but our lessons may not apply to you and we all continue to make different mistakes.

I was sitting in a media cafe at the World Cup in Japan in 2002. Day 2 and three US journos were giving one of their local facilitators a right earful, listing all the glitches they were coming across. One of them said 'We told you about all this yesterday and you have done nothing' and the local guy with a lot of calm and dignity said 'No sir, with respect, we fixed all yesterdays problems, these are new ones.'

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Hi Paul,

 

Simply put, having a website is the singlemost important asset to a working pro shooter (aside from gear and talent of course). It's your "brick and mortar" home on the web. Most photo editors/art directors and potential commercial clients (brides, etc.), like 99.9%, want to sample the goods before they make contact.

 

Best,

 

Marc

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Ed,

there were a lot of them and one is still in business

and a contributor to Alamy. I could tell you privately

but not in here.

 

PS my daughter was just skating in NYC and did not

have a good time there.  The next time I'm in the city

want to meet for lunch?

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Sorry about your daughter's visit, Chuck. I sent you a PM. 

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Got it. Sorry for my confusion, Mike.  This has been a tense day here on The Street (Mulberry). They are building towards the opening of the Feast of San Gennaro tomorrow, and it's 9/11, and I had lunch with my ex-wife, who's passing through.  :rolleyes:

 

 

Ed,

 

Not a problem. As much my fault - and whilst I had a frozen shoulder yesterday that hardly compares to your day...

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