Category Archives: Stock Photography

Win Win Win Photography Business Thinking

Yesterday I came across a great example of win win win photography business thinking. Let me tell you about the experience.

I like to meet with photographers from time to time. It’s a great opportunity to share ideas and experiences, and I normally leave with ideas to implement into my business. Yesterday, I had separate meetings with two photographers. Both were very interesting and valuable, and in the second meeting I came across a great example of win win win photography business thinking.


woman pulling hair

Are you tearing your hair out looking for new clients? Can you use win win win photography business thinking as an alternative way to drive your business?

What’s the background?

There are not a lot of photographers in my home town producing high quality stock images in reasonable volumes. However, I recently came across one photographer in that category. We both contribute to an Australian image library called Austockphoto. I have been following her work there and on social media. I contacted her to see if she would like to meet for coffee and to discuss stock photography, and that led to our meeting and an exchange of ideas.

 What type of photography are we talking about?

The photographer has a background in advertising and visual media and, especially relevant, she has an eye for shooting home interiors. That started when she was renovating her own home. She had found a healthy market for home interior content in the image libraries she contributes to and, as a result, she continues to add that style of content.

thumbs up

Projects where there are multiple winners are good projects

What’s the win win win photography business thinking?

Among the things we discussed were the photography projects we were currently working on. As she has found a strong market for home interiors she is actively adding to her portfolio of these images.

Where’s the win win win? One project she is about to shoot is home interiors for an Airbnb property owner. As soon as she mentioned Airbnb property images, I immediately thought what a booming market she was tackling.

So, let’s break down the 3 wins

  1. The property owner. The photographer had asked the Airbnb property owner for a property release in exchange for professionally shot images of her property. Win number 1 – the property owner gets up to date, high quality images of the property at no cost.
  2. The stock photographer. Finding new material to shoot is a stock photographers biggest challenge. This is an example of getting access to a new location at no cost. Win number 2 – the stock photographer gets to generate new images for her stock portfolio with no financial outlay.
  3. The stock customer. Win number 3 is for the customers of the image libraries. They will have access to high quality, fresh stock images at fair prices.

What’s especially exciting about this idea is that she can replicate it over and over again. There is almost an unlimited opportunity in today’s sharing economy.

plan

Can you implement win win win photography business thinking in your business plan?

Can you implement win win win photography business thinking?

Is there an opportunity for you to implement win win win photography business thinking into your business? Do you know Airbnb property owners who you could offer your services to? Are there other parts of today’s sharing economy where you could provide photography services which benefit multiple parties?

I hope this example has given you some ideas which you can implement into your photography business. Thanks for reading win win win photography business thinking.

Would You Give Your Images Away for Free

Every once in a while I receive an email asking to use one of my images for free. This happened earlier this week. The email was from a conservation organisation doing work to protect endangered species of animals. The request was to use one of my tree kangaroo images. I wonder, would you give your images away for free?

Here’s what happened

The email request provided me a link to the organisations website. I’m interested in issues around conservation so I took time to check out their site. They seem to be doing good work, and certainly had a very functional and well presented website.

tree kangaroo

This is a Goodfellows Tree Kangaroo. I don’t know if this is the image they were referring to.

There were 2 interesting things about this request:

  1. All my requests for free use of images come from animal welfare and conservation organisations. That may be because I have a lot of animal images available through image libraries. Or it may be that they have found that asking for ‘free use’ often gets a positive response, and they can save money this way. Who knows?
  2. They didn’t attach the image they wanted to use. Most requests do include the image they have found and want to use. I’m not sure if I’m too cynical, but this makes me suspicious. I do wonder whether this was a genuine request from an organisation doing good work, or was a copy and paste effort sent to hundreds of photographers?

So, my dilemma was what to do. Would you give your images away for free?

My Views

I have come across this situation before, and my opening stance is not to give images away for free. It’s not in my interests, and it’s not in the interests of other photographers. I have made exceptions in the past, but my opening position is that the user should be paying for images.

My Response

Here is my email response:

“Hi XXXXXX,

Thanks very much for your email. I checked out your website – congratulations on the fantastic work you are doing.

It’s good to hear you are going to feature the Goodfellows Tree Kangaroo. I follow the conservation efforts for them, particularly the work XXXXXX are doing with communities in Papua New Guinea.

In terms of images – I’m glad to hear you like one of mine. I hope you’ll understand that as a professional photographer I rely on royalties from licencing images to support my family, so I can’t provide it for free.

That said, I have many tree kangaroo images available to licence very inexpensively on iStockphoto. This link will take you there XXXXXXXXX

It should display prices in the local currency where ever you are. In Australian dollars it costs $13 for an individual image. If you need multiple images look at the one month subscription which lets you download 10 images for $40 (you can cancel after one month if you don’t have ongoing image needs).

I hope this helps.

Very best wishes for your work. I’ve signed up for the email updates and will look forward to the piece on Goodfellows Tree Kangaroos.

Regards

Craig”

money theme

Subscription programs make stock images affordable. I felt I did the right thing introducing this organisation to an image library where they can licence images cost effectively.

How would you handle this situation?

I feel like I’ve done the right thing by myself and other photographers. I also hope the organisation feel I’ve done the right thing by them – by introducing them to a cost effective way to licence images. The final piece of this story is just to add that my reply was sent 5 days ago. I haven’t had any response.

What do you think? Would you give your images away for free?

iStock Shutterstock Comparison

Regular readers of Beyond Here will know I have been a long time contributor to microstock. How long exactly? Well, this month takes me past 10 years of selling through microstock sites. For many of those years I was an exclusive contributor at iStock. I moved away from iStock exclusivity 6 months ago as I explained in this post Why I Dropped iStock Exclusivity. Since then I have primarily been building the Melbourne Stock Photos content. I’ve also been submitting my generic content to iStock and Shutterstock and that leads to this iStock Shutterstock Comparison.

Melbourne tourism

My Melbourne content is being uploaded to Melbourne Stock Photos

iStock Shutterstock Comparison 1 – Ease of Upload

I upload to iStock through qHero, and to Shutterstock through the Shutterstock contributor website. Both are intuitive, well designed processes which are straightforward to use. I like the keywording tools that both provide, and overall they are both easy to use. Well done iStock and Shutterstock. For me, one is not better than the other, they are just slightly different.

iStock Shutterstock Comparison 2 – Review Times

Ok. Review times is where we start to see a signficant difference. This week I uploaded the exact same content to both sites. (I find it interesting to see how the same content performs on the respective sites).

Keep in mind this is not an exhaustive, well researched comparison. This is just what I experienced this week. So what has happened? Shutterstock have reviewed my content within 4 hours for each of my uploads this week. iStock has been variable. The fastest has been 3 days, and the longest is still waiting to be reviewed after 5 days.

While it’s not likely to have a significant bearing on the long terms performance of those files, it is nice to see work being reviewed promptly. Well done Shutterstock.

iStock Shutterstock Comparison 3 – Getting New Content Live

Comparison point 3 leads on from point 2. Reviewing files promptly is important, but getting them live on the database and making sales is what really counts.

This is an area where Shutterstock seem to excel. Last night I had 4 files reviewed within 2 hours, and a sale made 1 hour later. I was surprised, as the content was not ‘news worthy’ but just solid stock material. This is not the first time this has happened, and Shutterstock appear to be excellent at getting new content in front of buyers. Well done Shutterstock.

Woman on horse

I am uploading my generic stock images to both iStock and Shutterstock

iStock Shutterstock Comparison 4 – Minimum Download Royalties

Today I received my monthly sales report from iStock. It was reasonably depressing reading with a minimum royalty received of USD$0.14. Perhaps I shouldn’t be so down beat, as I’ve received royalties as low as $0.06 in recent months from iStock.

At Shutterstock my minimum royalty per download comes from their subscription program and sits at USD$0.33 This is still a very low amount and I am going to have to have a lot of downloads to make any meaningful returns, but it is a long way ahead of what I am receiving from iStock.

Well done again Shutterstock. (If this post makes it through to Shutterstock head quarters – how about raising that minimum amount? Not just once, but year after year. Photographers would love you for it. You heard it here, you heard if first from one bloke down at the bottom of the world in Melbourne, Australia!)

iStock Shutterstock Comparison 5 – Sales Reporting

If you are a current iStock contributor you’ll have been seeing little progress with iStock’s sales reporting. Today I received my monthly sales report in text file format. Thankfully I can now upload the file to qHero to turn the data into something more meaningful. Unfortunately that ‘something more meaningful’ highlights to me the issues iStock have in getting new material in front of buyers. My old content continues to sell well, while my content from the last 12 months leaves me scratching my head and wondering if I will ever recoup the money invested in those shoots.

Shutterstock on the other hand have excellent reporting.

When a sale is made I receive notification on my smart phone. This shows me which file was sold, how much the royalty will be, and the current balance which Shutterstock are due to pay me. Excellent and immediate reporting. Well done Shutterstock.

It’s been very interesting for me to experience the Shutterstock process after nearly 8 years as an iStock exclusive contributor. The ultimate comparison will be which site has stronger sales and highest total royalty income. When I compare the tools available to contributors and my experience this week, Shutterstock is shining.

Thanks for reading iStock Shutterstock Comparison. Happy shooting!

4 Tips to Maximize Your Next Stock Photo Shoot

I have spend a good part of this month shooting, editing, and uploading to my stock photo portfolio. This included a shoot at a farm with a young woman and her horses. Experience has taught me that an authentic location like this would provide great opportunity to shoot strong images. It was a fun shoot and I’m pleased with the images. Based on that experience, here are 4 tips to maximize your next stock photo shoot.

Horse and woman

Different wardrobe helps create variety in images

Tip 1 – Have Your Model Change Wardrobe Mid Shoot

In this shoot, the model was well organised and prepared. We planned to shoot farm style images with her wearing casual clothes, and equestrian images with her wearing her usual competing outfit. Bringing the clothes and getting changed was easy for this shoot as it was held at her home. If you look at the images in this post, the lesson here is having your model bring a change of clothes can help you to produce a broader range of images. Of course, a broader range of images helps to produce more stock photo sales.

Horse barn

Different colored horses helped produce different looking images

Tip 2 – Changing Your Props Generates Variety

For this shoot, I considered the horses to be props. I hope that doesn’t offend horse and equestrian lovers!

The model had informed me in advance that she had two horses which she would be happy to have in the shoot. Fortunately the horses look quite different – one was a chestnut brown and the other a palomino. We shot with both horses, together and separately, near the barn. When we went to riding images, we used the horse the model was most comfortable riding and jumping.

You can make much more subtle changes to props which will help generate variety in your images. If your model has long hair, you can shoot with the hair down or tied up. If it is a sunny day, shoot with and without sunglasses. You get the idea. Tip 2 of our 4 tips to maximize your next stock photo shoot is to change your props throughout the shoot.

Equestrian

Shooting against a plain background produces a very flexible image which could be anywhere in the world

Tip 3 – Shoot Both Vertical and Horizontal Orientation

On Beyond Here I generally use horizontal orientation images as they look best on the blog. But don’t think I only shoot horizontal images.

Our goal in stock photography is to shoot images which will be downloaded and used by our customers. And our customers need choice between vertical and horizontal orientation images.

When I shoot vertical orientation I think about magazine covers. Nearly all magazines are in vertical orientation. They also need space at the top of the image to add the magazine name and edition details.

When I shoot horizontal orientation I think of web sites and how the images might be used online.

Tip 3, remember to shoot both vertical and horizontal orientation.

Show Jumping

The different locations shown in these images demonstrate how location can help produce different images

Tip 4 – Change Location

By changing location, we change the background of our images.

In this shoot we used:

  1. the barn area
  2. the holding pens
  3. a paddock with cross country jumps
  4. a show jumping area

These locations were all within 10 minutes walk and enabled us to create different images in each location. To maximize your next stock photo shoot consider which locations you will use, and plan for what type of image you will create at each location.

Thanks for reading 4 Tips to Maximize Your Next Stock Photo Shoot. Happy shooting!

Great Reads – The Lonely Planet Story

It is some time since I have written a post for Beyond Here recommending a book or blog. That is partly because I haven’t been reading as much as usual. That changed last week with a trip to the local library where I have borrowed a number of books including The Lonely Planet Story.

Are you familiar with The Lonely Planet Story? I love travelling, and had the good fortune to live in a range of different countries during the 1990’s. In my role working for an airline (in a non photography job) I used to travel extensively.

During that time I lived in New Zealand, Hong Kong, Singapore, Fiji, and back in New Zealand again. Throughout my travels I was a regular reader of Lonely Planet travel guides. There were others around – I remember the Let’s Go series plus Frommer’s Guides – but Lonely Planet was always the best.

Lonely Planet

(I have a much later photography connection to Lonely Planet which I will tell you about at the end of this post).

So what is The Lonely Planet Story about?

First, it’s not a photography book. Second, it’s not a business book either.

So why is it part of the great reads series on Beyond Here? The Lonely Planet Story literally tells the story of the husband and wife team who began and lead the Lonely Planet business. The book shares their love of travel and the origins of the business. It also covers the challenges they had along the way, insight into their personal lives, and the later sale of a majority stake in the business to BBC Worldwide.

Why do I recommend it?

I love to hear stories about well known businesses with tiny origins. I particularly love to hear about the passion of the founders. And I value the insight which comes from the hard work they have put in, and the ups and downs along the way.

Lonely Planet was started by husband and wife team, Tony and Maureen Wheeler. I had always assumed they were Australians but Tony was originally from England, and Maureen from Ireland. They tell a great story of arriving in Australia in the early 1970’s with 27 cents to their name. From those beginnings they built a worldwide business. What a great story!

Why might this book be enjoyed by people running photography businesses?

Many of us running small businesses have a great passion for photography and ride the daily ups and downs of a creative business. The Lonely Planet story is inspirational in that it tells a similar story of passionate people pouring themselves into their work and building a remarkable business.

The book is partly a travel story, partly a business story, and partly a life story of the founders. I found it to be a great read and think you might too. Check out The Lonely Planet Story next time you are at the library or the bookshop.

So what’s my photography link to Lonely Planet?

Lonely Planet has built a large collection of travel images for use in their guides. They also buy stock images at times, and I’m pleased to say they have bought at least one of mine. See one of my tree kangaroo images in Lonely Planet guide to Papua New Guinea.

Thanks for reading Great Reads – The Lonely Planet Story. Check out the book.

7 Early Lessons Building an Image Library

Over the last 6 months I’ve had a dramatic change in my approach to stock photography. I had been an exclusive contributor to iStock since 2010 and had a portfolio of over 10,000 images producing a steady income. The problem was, the income was steady but not growing in line with my portfolio. I wrote about some of those issues in Why I Dropped iStock Exclusivity. At that time most of my stock photography friends were expecting me to spread my portfolio among the other major stock sites. I saw that being a very similar road to being with iStock, and instead focused on building an image library.

I can probably fill many posts with things I’ve learned on the journey so far – but for this post I have limited it to 7 Early Lessons Building an Image Library.

Lesson 1 – It Can be Done!

The most important point first – it can be done! Selling images via microstock sites is not the only option. Building an image library is an option and can be done.

Encourage

Building an image library can be done!

I went from committing to building it, to having a working website in 10 weeks. I’ve learned a lot on the way and could do it faster and more effectively if I was doing it again. But, coming back to lesson 1, if you are considering an alternative to microstock – building an image library can be done.

Lesson 2 – You Don’t Have to Build from Scratch

When I started seriously considering building an image library I had assumed I would have to build the website functionality from scratch. I assumed I would need to write a brief and have a web developer write the code. Good news, I was wrong!

There are several places where you can buy pre-existing capability which is proven in running other image libraries. So it was not a case of wondering if it would work, but buying the capability and tailoring it to my image library.

It was a big short cut and time saver to find that purchasing existing capability was going to be cheaper and easier than starting from scratch.

Lesson 3 – Knowledge of Hosting and Servers will Help

I had assumed that with some common sense and patience I’d be able to work out what was needed regarding servers and hosting for the new site.

On reflection I would say that is true. I also believe I caused myself unnecessary anxiety and worry by not talking to an expert before I started! My recommendation is to find an expert in this space. They will advise what you need.

Time saver

Getting expert help on the technical side will ultimately save you time and help you sleep better!

Save yourself some sleepless nights by asking an expert about hosting and servers.

Lesson 4 – There’s Value in Taking Time to Set Up Correctly

I decided to create a new company to keep the image library business separate from my photography business. If you haven’t done this before, setting up a new company is a relatively straight forward process which an accountant can help with.

Where’s the lesson here? In my desire to get moving I bought the domain name and registered it under my photography company (not the image library company). My speed in doing that then managed to slow me down. I had to subsequently transfer the web address to the new company, and wait several days for that to happen.

In hindsight it was not a big deal. But next time I would establish the new company first and then purchase the web address.

Lesson 5 – Things Take Time

In lesson 1 I outlined that I went from concept to working website in 10 weeks. Some might think 10 weeks is fast, and others will think it is slow. During this process I have learned that things which I assumed would move very quickly can take time.

Specifically I was surprised that setting up payment functionality through the bank would take time. There was plenty of paperwork involved, followed by review from the bank. There must be processes in the background for a bank to make sure everything is legitimate, but I hadn’t expected it to take several weeks. That’s worth knowing if you are setting up payment functionality on your own website or image library.

The second area which took longer than I expected was the legal agreements. The main ones I needed were a licence agreement for the image buyer, and a photographer agreement for contributing photographers. While from a legal point of view this is fairly straightforward, lawyers are not just waiting around for customers like me. They have a range of (mostly larger) projects on the go, and mine was not the A priority. In future I’ll allow more time for the legals to be completed.

Lesson 6 – User Experience of the Website is Key

I made a mistake in launching too soon without properly considering the user experience on the website. I was anxious to move from “build phase” to “proof of concept” on my business plan, and went live as soon as possible.

Puzzle

User experience is a very important piece of the puzzle

I’ve learned that having a working website is one thing. And having a website which is appealing and intuitive to customers is another. Unfortunately that meant that the first 1000 visitors to the site had a “less than ideal” experience.

Both the look of the site and the functionality are now much improved. This will be something we continue to develop. My recommendation is don’t be too anxious to launch. Invest time in making sure your site looks great and is intuitive for your user.

Lesson 7 –  Find a Web Developer You Trust

I have complete trust and faith in my web developer. It is so reassuring to know that the person on the other end of many emails and text messages is completely trust worthy and working to make the website a success. Nothing seems to have been too much of a problem despite there being lots of things to work on some weeks, and nothing to work on in others (thanks Alison!). Having a web expert you completely trust is great for peace of mind.

I have lots more lessons learned on this journey already which I will save for other posts. Thanks for reading 7 Early Lessons Building an Image Library. If you’d like to check out progress, please head over to Melbourne Stock Photos.

 

Imagebrief Terminate Services

Almost exactly one year ago I wrote a post for Beyond Here called New Ways to Sell Your Images. It looked at a site called Imagebrief which was connecting image buyers with photographers by providing written briefs. My final point in that post raised the question Will It Be Successful? Today that question has been answered. Overnight I’ve received an email announcing the end – Imagebrief terminate services.

Plan

Their plan seems to have fallen over. News overnight that Imagebrief terminate services

Directly from the announcement where Imagebrief terminate services

“Dear Craig,

Today, we’re announcing that after six years of connecting agencies, brands and creators, we will be closing down ImageBrief’s photographer marketing services.

We’re proud of the products and apps we built, but even more so, we’re grateful for the community that enabled them to grow. More than 70,000 creators earned millions of dollars collaborating with 12,500+ global agencies and brands in 169 countries.

There has never been a better time for creators to thrive. Demand for content has increased, and the tools to create world-class creative are more accessible than ever.

Our talented team of engineers, designers, developers, and curators have worked tirelessly to make ImageBrief a success in a competitive and rapidly evolving landscape, and our immediate priority is to help you transition to other services to support your business.

In the coming days, our team will be in contact with you directly with detailed information about your specific account, license history, and services. Over the next week, we recommend logging into ImageBrief to download and retain your license history and related assets. Further details can be found in the FAQ’s below.

We want to thank you for your participation and loyalty, and look forward to working with you in the coming weeks to ensure a smooth transition.

Sincerely,

Team ImageBrief”

How Will This Impact Individual Photographers?

I had submitted images to a handful of briefs but it was a tiny part of my business.

I know 2 photographers who invested significant time and energy working on briefs for Imagebrief. They were positive about the financial returns they received. Those photographers also felt the briefs directly connected them with the buyer, and gave them a better understanding of the needs of the image buyer.

They will no longer have Imagebrief as a source of income or ideas.

money

Multiple sources of income is an asset to any business

What Can We Take From This?

The email from Imagebrief doesn’t explain why Imagebrief terminate services. I assume the business model was not a financial success.

This reinforces the challenge of working with an online business. If it is not going well, that is very difficult for a photographer to know. I doubt any photographers were wholly relying on Imagebrief for their work and income. If they were, they have very short notice for finding alternatives.

As a business this reinforces the value of having multiple sources of income.

What Other Outlets Does a Photographer Have?

There are significant challenges with the stock photography model and distributing through major stock agencies. However, this is still an easy way to access a global market of image buyers. If you’ve got the time and the commitment to produce a high volume of images, stock photography is still an option.

With the announcement of Imagebrief terminate services it also reinforces to me the value of a photographers relationships in their local community. There is always a pipeline of work, both commercial and domestic, where people want to deal with local people who they know and trust.

map

Investing in local relationships helps produce a pipeline of business

I recently did a shoot for a dentist who runs his own practice. Ironically, he wanted images which did not look like stock images (!) and featured himself and his staff. He asked me to do the work as he knows and trusts me. He didn’t get quotes from other photographers, and he paid my invoice within 3 days of receiving it. That was great value from a strong relationship built over time. Have you been investing in relationships in your local community? Is it providing you a pipeline of work?

For more reading about Imagebrief Terminate Services see this post on PetaPixel – ImageBrief Shuts Down After 6 Years of Trying to Disrupt Stock Photos

qHero Stats Feature

Since early 2017 I have been using qHero to upload images to iStockphoto. It is a very easy to use application (and it also makes the key wording process straight forward). In February 2018 they have announced 2 enhanced features. The first is that they now offer a retouching service. To me, that was interesting but it is not a service I plan to use. And this week they have announced a qHero stats feature.

Now the qHero stats feature is very interesting! Regular readers of Beyond Here and iStock contributors will know that providing good reporting has been lacking on iStock for several years now. (It seems strange that 10 years ago when I first started contributing to iStock you could tell in real time what was selling. 10 years on and now the contributor only finds out at the end of each month what has sold.) That’s not a great experience for a contributor and is one of the reasons why I dropped iStock exclusivity.

help

The qHero stats feature is a big help in analyzing the performance of my iStock files

The qHero stats feature doesn’t provide real time stats, but it is very easy to use and does provide useful information.

How to set up the qHero stats feature?

  • Step 1 – you need to be a qHero user. If you aren’t already, set up your free account on qHero.
  • Step 2 – at the top right of the screen is an option to choose stats, profile or logout. Click on the stats options.
  • Step 3 – you are now in the qHero stats feature. In the top left is a button to “upload sales reports”. These are the reports which you first need to download from Getty Images ESP site. It is a very simple process to download the text file from ESP (under My Performance / Royalties / Export). Save it somewhere on your PC, and then upload the text file to qHero. It is that simple – it took me less than 5 minutes to do that for all data since beginning of 2017.
  • Step 4 – you are now set up with your sales data in the qHero stats feature. Easy.
Woman

If I upload my shoots in batches I can tell at a glance how each is performing using qHero stats feature

What does the qHero stats feature tell me?

The qHero stats feature immediately calculates from your data – the number of downloads, and then provides analysis for each batch you’ve uploaded. That includes the $ return per batch, return per file, and return per download. Reports are available for ‘all time’, ‘last month’, ‘this year’, and you can also create custom reports.

At a glance the data tells me immediately:

  • What is selling and what isn’t
  • How much I’ve earned from an individual batch
  • Which batch is earning higher or lower amounts

And that insight immediately helps me to focus on producing the type of content which is producing the best returns. Nice!

service

qHero stats feature is a step forward in service for it’s users

Any weaknesses of the qHero stats feature?

I’ve just started using this feature and I see immediately:

  • the data is split by files uploaded using qHero and ‘other’. If you have always uploaded using qHero this is great as all your data will be available to analyse. I’m a long term iStocker and most of my files were uploaded before qHero existed. So only my more recent files have the useful stats of this feature
  • if you are not a qHero user this is no good to you! So if you were considering using qHero the qHero stats feature is another plus for it.

In summary:

I like the qHero stats feature! It provides immediate insight into the financial return of each shoot, and helps me to focus on producing images with the highest likelihood of a strong financial return. Well done qHero!

 

Use Events to Drive Business

I often hear photographers discussing (or complaining!) that they don’t have enough paying clients. My response is to ask what they are doing to generate more business. And generally the response is a blank stare which implies ‘isn’t my website and social media presence enough to have people knocking down the door?’ No, it’s not. People have lots of pressures on their time and money – and will only shoot with you if you give them a compelling reason to do it now. There are many ways to drive additional business. One way is to use events to drive business. Read on!

Australia Day

Special events drive sales of stock images

What do you mean events?

By events, I mean special occasions. Demand for a range of products and services picks up very predictably when these events occur. Let’s take an example. What do you think happens for sales of chocolates and roses every February? They boom just before Valentine’s Day! And they boom just before Valentine’s Day every year! It’s predictable.

How can you take advantage of that? Have you considered offering a couples shoot before Valentine’s Day? Or sell a gift voucher for the couple to shoot with you after Valentine’s Day? Do you get the idea? You use the event to create a reason for the shoot to happen now.

Want More Examples?

Regular readers of Beyond Here will know I shoot a lot of stock photography. Do events help sales of stock images? Yes! A resounding yes! Here in Australia there is a peak in sales of Australian themed images just before Australia Day at the end of January.

How do I capitalize on this? I shoot Australia Day themed images in October and November, and have them available in my stock portfolio by early December. That’s almost 2 months before Australia Day and ready for the increase in demand.

And there are lots more events during the year which drive similar spikes in demand. Think about Valentine’s Day, Mothers Day, Fathers Day, and your national holidays. Could you use events to drive business? I’m sure you could. It just requires a little planning and a compelling reason for clients to have the shoot now.

How can family photographers take advantage of this?

Lots of photographers specialize in families and portraits. Here’s how I recommend you make the most of events.

Australia Day

Got a national holiday coming up. Can you use events to drive business?

Events Specific to Your Clients

Once you have a client base you can generate your own ‘events’ by focusing on key moments for your clients. What are some examples? Your clients anniversaries and birthdays are obvious places to start! If you have a gap in your shooting schedule, contact a client who has a birthday next month and offer them a special for a shoot plus prints in time for their birthday.

Even better is when you have remembered your clients children’s birthdays. Offering a tailored shoot on the kids birthdays will show your clients you care (and really listened!) and can offer something unique to them.

Events Which Apply to ‘the Market’

If you don’t have an existing client base to tap into, use events which have broad appeal.

How about special family packages:

  • for families right before school starts
  • during the school holidays
  • for kids birthdays
  • before Christmas

These are all straightforward ways to use events to drive business. If you are waiting for clients to contact you because you have a great website and post regularly to social media – you may be waiting a long time. Grab the initiative and use events to drive business.

Shooting Moving Objects

Over the last 2 months I have been working with 5 other photographers to build a new image library. I didn’t know the photographers before we started the project, and it has been fun and challenging to work with them. One area that has become clear is that there is room for improvement in shooting moving objects. I have ‘grown up’ shooting sports and wildlife and selling prints. In that environment the images have to be in sharp focus. The 5 photographers are all younger than me and have ‘grown up’ in the era of Facebook and Instagram where there is less importance on fundamentals like having the image in really sharp focus. So here are a few pointers for shooting moving objects.

Focus Mode and Focus Point

Below is a straightforward lifestyle image of a woman walking across the road. This image can be very boring if she is standing still. Having her moving adds an energy to the image. So how do we maximize the chance of having her in sharp focus? Firstly we shoot in continuous focusing mode. I use Canon equipment, so on my Canon camera bodies that is AI Servo mode.

woman walking

Use continuous focus mode and a single focus point to maximize your chance of a sharply focused image

Choose a single focus point to tell your camera where the focus should be. In this case I pre-selected this point before we walked across the road, and I aimed it at the model’s eye closest to the camera.

Shutter Speed, ISO, and Depth of Field

For the shot above I wanted to blur the people in the background so I shot at f2.8. It was an overcast but bright morning, so I used ISO400. I knew at this ISO and f2.8 it would mean I could keep a fast shutter speed which again helps keep sharp focus in the image. The shutter speed in this image was 1/1600s.

In older DSLR bodies I would be very careful about raising the ISO as it would result in grain in the image. But with modern DSLR’s this is not a concern, and is not a consideration at ISO400.

What Shutter Speeds Should You Work With?

The answer to this question is to practice extensively. I know from taking thousands of images of moving objects what shutter speeds maximize the chance of a sharply focused image.

Of course the speed the object is moving has an impact on what shutter speed you will need. Again, from experience, I know that in the case of the image above any shutter speed at 1/400s or faster will give me a good chance of a sharply focused image.

Woman crossing

An image like this will have greatest chance of being in sharp focus if you shoot at 1/400s or faster

In the case of kids sport – I have shot many basketball games and know that 1/800s might not give me sharply focused images when the kids are running at full speed. At 1/1000s or faster I have a much better chance.

And for fast moving wildlife like the grey headed flying fox below, I’ll be aiming to shoot at 1/1600s or faster.

Shoot A Single Frame or Multiple Frames?

Like everything in photography (!) the answer is up to you. I like to shoot multiple images to give me choice among the images and as ‘insurance’ if one shot is out of focus. I shoot images of fast moving objects in burst mode and shoot 3 or 4 images each time.

Flying fox

This image was shot at 1/2000s to freeze the action of this fast moving flying fox. It was shot in burst mode.

If you are serious about your photography and committed to producing sharply focused images you’ll need to master shooting moving objects. Think for a moment about the possible scenarios – sports, live music, lifestyle portraits, stock, wildlife, wedding, events. The list goes on. If you can’t shoot moving objects well you are going to significantly reduce the options for earning money from your photography work.

I hope these quick pointers will help you with shooting moving objects. Next step – lots of practice! Happy shooting.