How to Ruin Potential Sales

Lately I seem to be particularly sensitive to poorly targeted promotions which leave me feeling like a number rather than a client or partner. I’ve called this post ‘how to ruin potential sales’ as the people who send me these promotions are ruining their chance of me buying from them.

So What Are We Talking About?

Yesterday I received an email promotion from qHero. If you aren’t familiar with qHero – they are a business which offer services for stock photographers. I have been using qHero to upload stock images to iStockphoto since early 2017. More recently they started offering a stats feature and a retouching service. You can read about that in this post – qHero Stats Feature.


Flinders Street

I shoot a lot of Melbourne lifestyle stock content, so am a potential customer to qHero retouching service

What Was the Content?

Taken directly from the email, here is the offer from qHero.

“Retouching Special – 50% Off

With the summer over us, we feel that at least you should get to enjoy the sun. We know how much time and effort retouching takes, and it seems even longer during the summer. Whether the time is spent on managing retouchers inhouse or outsourced, or even worse doing the retouching yourself, it is guaranteed to keep you out of the sun.

We offer you 50% off on up to 200 files in retouching.

Convert the time saved from retouching, into time in the sun, makes it an easy choice. We are happy because we get to show you how awesomely easy it is to manage retouching directly in the tool you use already for uploading.

All you have to do is to use the promo code XXXXXXXX when ordering. This promo is valid until August 31st 2018, and as always we would love to hear what you think after trying our retouching service.”

Why is This Going to Ruin Potential Sales

This is going to ruin potential sales as it is poorly targeted!

I live in Melbourne, Australia where it is currently mid winter. It’s dark, cold and wet. At this time of year we spend more time indoors, and I spend some of that time doing post production work.

The idea of “convert time saved from retouching into time in the sun” is a nice idea, but would require me to book airline tickets and head to the airport! Hello Queensland or Fiji!

weather Melbourne

Today was a maximum of 12 degrees celsius in Melbourne. It’s not exactly summery right now!

What’s My Take Out from the qHero Email

I understand that the bulk of qHero customers will be in the northern hemisphere where it is currently summer. However, as they’ve sent me a summer promotion in the middle of winter it leaves me to think:

  • they don’t care about customers in the southern hemisphere
  • qHero don’t want customers in the southern hemisphere
  • they don’t have much attention to detail. (It would be ironic not have much attention to detail for a retouching service!)
  • although I have 10,000+ images at iStock and have uploaded more than 300 batches of images through qHero, I am just another ‘anonymous user’ to them

So, unfortunately qHero have ruined the chance of a sale by sending me a poorly targeted email promotion.

What Can We Learn

I am a believer that every business, big and small, can learn from experiences like this. I run a one person photography business, and many of the readers of Beyond Here are also running one person creative businesses. We have an advantage over big businesses because all of our customers are local. There’s no chance of me sending a summer promotion to a customer in mid winter (unless they have moved overseas without me knowing!) While it’s not likely that local businesses can make this ‘mistake’ there are lessons to learn.

Female tram traveller

Right now it’s cold in Melbourne. People are wearing coats and hats. Not quite the right time for a summer promotion email

Key Take Outs

I see three key take outs from this experience.

Number 1 – Personalize offers where possible. Being offered a summer promotion in the middle of winter tells me this is a mass mailing to a large number of people. Immediately I know that it is not targeted to me. Small business owners who really know their customers won’t make this mistake.

Number 2 – Know your customer. In this case, it seems qHero haven’t taken the time to really know their customer. I can’t remember whether I provided location information when I signed up for their upload service. I expect I didn’t. But I have uploaded more than 300 batches of images to iStock through qHero ….. and more than 290 of those batches would have the keyword “Australia”. A similar number would have the keywords “Melbourne” and “Victoria”. It would be fair to assume that I live in Australia based on those numbers. And right now in Melbourne it’s definitely not summer.

Number 3 – Don’t treat everyone the same. This point is similar to point 1 where we can learn to personalize offers. I wonder if qHero segmented their users based on how often they upload through qHero? or how many batches they upload? It feels to me like they didn’t, and that reinforces the lesson – don’t treat everyone the same.

The Wrap Up

I hope there are some key messages in here which will help your business and will make sure you don’t ruin potential sales. If you have had a similar experience, please share it in the comments. And finally, if the good people at qHero ever read this post, I think your upload and stats services are great. In your promotions I’m much more likely to buy something if you make me feel like a client or a partner. Thanks for reading ‘How to Ruin Potential Sales’.

Thoughts on Shooting for an Hourly Wage

Next weekend I will be shooting a Cheer Leading and Dance Competition for a national sports photography business. This has come about after I photographed the Australian National Gymnastics Championships and, via a series of circumstances, was put in touch with the sports photography business. They saw my gymnastics images and asked me to shoot for them at the cheer leading and dance competition. For this ‘job’ I’ll be paid an hourly rate, while the sports photography business will do all client liaison and post production. That’s very different for me, and has lead me to consider my thoughts on shooting for an hourly wage.

Gymnastics

This opportunity has come after I photographed the Australian National Gymnastics Championships.

How’s the Event Photography Going to Work?

Cheer leading is a fast paced, action, team sport. The event will be held at a major indoor venue in Melbourne, Australia (Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre). I’m familiar with the venue as I’ve shot basketball there.

Each performance will be covered by two photographers positioned at different points inside the stadium. One will use a 24-70mm lens to ensure coverage of the team formations, while the other photographer will shoot close ups using a 70-200mm lens.

Who Provides the Gear?

The sports photography business provide all the equipment – including cameras, lenses and memory cards. It’s going to be strange for me to shoot an event using someone else’s gear! I’m glad that they are using Canon equipment as I’m a Canon user and will be familiar with the cameras and lenses.

So  what are my thoughts on shooting for an hourly wage?

Camera and lens

The sports photography company will provide all equipment.

The Pros of Shooting for an Hourly Wage

I can think of lots of pros for doing this job. In brief, the main pros I see are:

  • there’s no risk. I know exactly the financial return before I shoot the job.
  • my focus can be on creating strong images as there’s no client liaison to do. I enjoy getting to know my clients and to understand what they want. I also enjoy being able to focus on creating strong images. It is going to be refreshing to focus solely on creating strong images next weekend.
  • there’s no post production involved. I generally don’t mind post production work, but it is time consuming and often brain-numbing! I am really looking forward to being able to enjoy the event and hand over the images to the sports photography company to do the post production work.
  • payment will be prompt. The sports photography business pay photographers within 7 days. I have certainty about income, and payment will be prompt.
  • doing a good job will lead to more events. Like everyone, the sports photography company wants good people working for them. I know that a job well done will lead to more events in future.
Australian money

The sports photography business are taking all the risk. I have certainty about income, but won’t make a lot from this job.

The Cons of Shooting for an Hourly Wage

Everything has pros and cons, and I can see cons to this job too. They include:

  • I won’t make much money. While I’m expecting it to be straight forward, the hourly rate is not high. The sports photography company are taking the risk and will also reap the reward of a job well done.
  • I don’t make any extra for doing a great job. In my normal client work a great job will lead to more prints or albums. That will lead to extra income. In next weekend’s event income is fixed regardless of the standard of the images.
  • This work is irregular. This weekend is good timing for me. It’s mid winter and my wedding work is quiet. I know that if I do a good job there will be opportunity to photograph other events. I also know these events are irregular and generally on weekends. That’s not always going to suit.
Female gymnast doing floor routine

I will be focusing on creating strong images

Summary Thoughts on Shooting for an Hourly Wage

I’m looking forward to being able to just concentrate on creating strong images and let the sports photography business worry about everything else. I don’t think I could do this type of work all the time as I would miss the clients liaison and the financial upside of doing a great job.

That said, I can see the benefit of doing this work to supplement my usual income sources. I’m expecting it to be a lot of fun and a relatively low stress job. I’d like to shoot this type of event during the quieter times of the year.

So for now, I see it as a useful additional income to my business. I’ll be doing my best to shoot strong images so that the sports photography business ask me to shoot for them again.

Do you do shoots like this? What are your thoughts on shooting for an hourly wage?

Tips For Photographing Babies

One of the things I have enjoyed from Beyond Here is the connection to other photographers around the world. Today’s post comes from guest poster Ishita Gupta. Ishita is based in India and is in the process of establishing her photography business focusing on baby and kids photography. Please see her website here, and read on for her tips for photographing babies.

When you have a baby at your home, all you do is click lots of pictures and take videos. You love to save all their moments with you let it be the first step, the first birthday, the first smile, the first grin etc. Here are some Tips for Photographing Babies to take the best shots and cherish them forever.

baby1. Be ProActive in Clicking

We cannot predict babies so, therefore, keep clicking rather than waiting for that perfect pose or moment because somewhere in 20-30 consecutive shots there will be one perfect shot.

2. Keep Them Engaged

When capturing babies, you may need to “engage with them” to elicit a reaction. This can be playing peek-a-boo, making funny faces, or making funny noises etc. There are so many ways you can get a baby to smile.

3. Make it Memorable

To take memorable pictures try to capture the baby with family and friends. Siblings, especially if they are close in age make a perfect happy photograph – get them playing, eating, interacting together. Let the kids do what they want to. Take the photos from a distance, so as not to disrupt them.

4. Go for Multiple Angles

You get better shots if you try different angles in each pose. You never know when you get a great photo by varying your angles.

There are many tips on photographing babies, but the most important is to be Natural and fast.

Some Technical Tips

Baby’s age is an important factor while shooting as the poses will depend on how comfortable they are. Though every baby is different, generally, the age of the baby can dictate how the session will run.

Little babies can more easily take curly positions than older ones.

babyBabies up to 2 Weeks

I strongly encourage parents and photographers to schedule sessions when babies are under 2 weeks of age. At this age babies stay asleep longer, are easy to position in curl up poses, and usually have their feeding time set.

2 Weeks or More

There are parents who want take a session with their baby who is older than 2 weeks. When you have a session with an older baby, you’ll need to focus more on the props of the baby, awake/slept, dresses, bucket or handheld shots. It might not be easier to position them in curly poses. Some parents are interested in cute/creative photos of their baby so that is when props are important.

No Matter What. Baby Should be Safe!

  • Baby Photographer is one of the best and cutest jobs in the world and for you, baby safety should always be number one priority. 
  • Everything you use for the shoot, including bucket poses, clothes, and even prop shots should all be done with safety in mind.
  • Babies are very quick in their reflexes, and instantly they can roll over. Don’t take chances; be safe! 
  • Keep a close distance between you and the baby at all times.
  • You should sanitize your hands as well as props constantly.
  • Baby should never be left unattended.

Thank you Ishita for your guest post for Beyond Here. You are the first guest poster from India, so that is something worth celebrating! We wish you well as you start your business. Thanks again for contributing Tips for Photographing Babies, and welcome to the Beyond Here community.

5 More Lessons From Photographing Gymnastics

Coming hot on the heels of 5 Lessons from Photographing Gymnastics – here are 5 more lessons from photographing gymnastics. I learned these while shooting the Australian Gymnastics Championships in Melbourne, and hope you can use these in your own sports photography. So, what’s first in 5 more lessons from photographing gymnastics?

hand stand

Look to photograph specific skills on each apparatus

Lesson 6 – Look to Photograph ‘Skill Execution’

Gymnasts learn different skills at different levels of gymnastics. As an athlete progresses up the levels they can execute more difficult activities. Among the high speed action of gymnastics championships are specific skills. Look to shoot these skills as they are meaningful to gymnasts, coaches, and gymnastics fans.

Lesson 7 – Photograph the Details Outside of the Competitive Performance

In a gymnastics competition there are lot of opportunities to shoot elements of the event outside of the actual competitive performance.

This is where a photographer can shoot very unique content. All photographers will shoot the spectacular tumbling runs in the floor routine, but it is the unique details around the competition which will make your coverage of the event stand out.

Gymnastics bar routine

Gymnast preparing for her bar routine with chalk on her hands

There are opportunities to shoot content where:

  • the athlete is preparing to compete
  • you capture the emotion after a gymnast has completed the routine
  • there is interaction between gymnast and coach
  • there is interaction between gymnasts

Look out for these opportunities to shoot unique content. It is this detail that spectators can’t see from their seat in the grandstand.

Lesson 8 – Shoot Bursts at Fast Shutter Speeds to Freeze the Moment

Below is a unique image where I’ve managed to create the illusion of a headless gymnast! This was taken during the floor routine during one of the gymnasts tumbling runs. If you look carefully you’ll see that the gymnasts head is not visible except for a tiny part of her chin. This kind of image is unique as you can’t see this with the naked eye.

lay out flip

This image captures an illusion of a headless gymnast

Your best chance to achieve this type of shot is with high ISO, fast shutter speeds, and shooting in burst mode. When I looked at this image on the back of my camera during the event and was amazed to see the illusion of the headless gymnast. I thought that was very unique – but then managed to produce the same type of image with different gymnasts. And the more I studied their floor routines, the higher my chance of recreating this shot.

Pay attention to what the athletes are doing, and then shoot in burst mode at fast shutter speeds.

Lesson 9 – Use Different Backgrounds to Create Different Effects

The spectators sat on the sides of the main gymnastics floor which meant it was straightforward to shoot images with the crowd in the background. I like that style of image as the presence of the crowd helps define this event as the national championships not a local club event.

Gymnastics bars routine

The black curtains at the end of the gymnastics floor enabled me to shoot a different style of image

At the ends of the gymnastics floor were large black curtains to separate the warm up area from the main arena. I hadn’t expected to be able to isolate the gymnast against plain backgrounds like this. It was fun creating different styles of images against different backgrounds.

Lesson 9 of my 5 more lessons from photographing gymnastics is to use different backgrounds to create different images. Is this something you can use in your sports photography?

Lesson 10 – Use Different Angles to Isolate Action

This image was shot during the warm up phase with athletes and coaches behind the apparatus waiting for their turn. I shot a range of images where the other people were visible in the image – it documented the event as it happened.

beam routine

Getting a low angle enables me to isolate the gymnast against the background during warm up

I then experimented with different angles and lenses to create different styles of images. I like this low angle perspective. We have no distracting people in the background. What are we left with? An athlete doing her warm up, isolated against a plain black background. What the spectators saw from the stands was a lot of activity on the floor. What I saw in this image was like the athletes perspective – oblivious to all the activity around them and focused on their own performance.

Experiment with angles to create different images.

Thanks for reading 5 more lessons from photographing gymnastics. I hope you can apply them to your own sports photography. If you’d like to learn more about gymnastics check out the Gymnastics Australia website.

5 Lessons From Photographing Gymnastics

I recently had the opportunity to photograph the Australian Gymnastics Championships at Hisense Arena in Melbourne. I have shot a lot of basketball and netball over the last 5 years, but the chance to photograph gymnastics was something new. It is refreshing to shoot something new, like I posted about in Fresh Perspectives on My Hometown. Before the championships I studied gymnastics photos, and then had a great time at the event. I learned a lot about gymnastics photography too. I have 10 lessons which I will share over two posts. So first, here are 5 lessons from photographing gymnastics.

Gymnast doing split leap

Gymnasts combination of athleticism, flexibility and strength produces images not seen in other sports

Lesson 1 – Gymnasts Athleticism, Flexibility and Strength leads to Unique Images

As this was the Australian national championships the standard was very high. The athletes have typically spent 10 years or more training to achieve this level. That means they are great athletes able to execute difficult gymnastics skills. I’m not sure why that surprised me (!) but the gymnasts had a tremendous combination of strength, flexibility and balance. That lead to a range of unique images which aren’t present in other sports. You’ll see examples in the images on this post.

Lesson 2 – Lighting can be Challenging

Like in any indoor sport relying on artificial light, the level of lighting can be problematic for a photographer. I was fortunate that this venue is a world class venue with good lighting. That said, because the action was fast moving, I was still shooting with ISO between 1000 and 2000 to keep shutter speeds at 1/1600s or faster.

Lesson 3 – Warm Up Provides Additional Photo Opportunities

I was fortunate to be guided by one of the athlete’s families about gymnastics images. These athletes have typically competed in a range of state and national championships most of which have photographers covering the event. Those photographers typically focus on the actual competition.

Gymnastics beam routine

This warm up session on the beam provided a unique opportunity to shoot against a black background

Lesson 3 from my 5 lessons from photographing gymnastics was not to overlook the warm up. It is a key part of the event for gymnasts and is rarely covered by photographers. Look for opportunities to shoot the warm up as well as the competition.

Lesson 4 – Prepare your Equipment for Fast Moving Action

Lesson 4 is obvious to gymnastics experts! The action is very fast moving. I have shot a lot of basketball in poorly lit stadiums, but I hadn’t appreciated that the action in gymnastics would be much faster than a typical basketball game. While a basketball game might have fast and slow elements to the game, there really aren’t any slower tempo parts to gymnastics. There is plenty of time preparing, but once the athlete is going it is very quick.

To freeze that action you need equipment which will let you focus quickly and shoot at fast shutter speeds. I mainly shot at f2.8 to keep shutter speeds above 1/1600s. Prepare your equipment with the fast speed in mind.

Lesson 5 – Floor Routine is Where Gymnasts Really Express Their Individuality

I was covering the women’s artistic gymnastics competition. That involves 4 different apparatus – the vault, uneven bars, beam, and floor routine. Within all of those, a gymnast has the opportunity to both execute the skills and express their personality. That said, it is the floor routine where they have the greatest opportunity to express themselves.

Gymnast floor routine

The gymnasts can really express their personality in the floor routine

How does this impact images you’ll shoot? Extensive planning has gone into all elements of the floor routine, so gymnasts are just as interested in the expressive poses as they are in the spectacular leaps. Don’t overlook these moments to capture images which are unique to that gymnast.

Thanks for reading 5 lessons from photographing gymnastics. I’ll follow up with 5 more tips in a separate post. Just before I wrap up this post, if you are a photographer in Australia look out for the national championships dates and venue on the Gymnastics Australia website. It was an excellent event which I would recommend to other photographers. Thanks again for reading 5 lessons from photographing gymnastics. Happy shooting!

Shooting Wildlife Images Alongside Beyond Here Readers

Yesterday I had a unique experience – I was shooting wildlife images alongside Beyond Here readers. That’s a first! Bob and Rae are from California, USA and had read my post Favorite Wildlife Photography Locations. Looking back on that post, I wrote it in the first 3 months of Beyond Here. That’s a long time ago now, way back in mid 2014. It must have been meant for Bob and Rae as I even spelled ‘favorite’ with the US spelling!

Fruit bat

There is a large group of Flying Foxes at Yarra Bend Park meaning we could shoot a variety of images.

Background

Bob and Rae contacted me a few months ago. We shared ideas on good wildlife photography locations for their trip to Australia. I made some suggestions for Melbourne and around Victoria, keeping in mind that transport can be tricky when you are in a foreign country where the locals drive on the opposite side of the road!

Fast forward to this week. They arrived last Sunday and contacted me by email. By chance, I had a fairly light week planned and had time to join them at Yarra Bend Park to photograph the large group of grey headed flying foxes which roost there. How cool. Shooting wildlife images alongside Beyond Here readers from the US.

Fruit bat in mid airYesterday’s Shoot

We spent a few hours exploring the park and shooting images of the flying foxes. Bob found it a unique experience as he is used to small bats, not large flying foxes. The grey headed flying foxes are active during the day, so Bob was able to get a range of images. That included everything from bats hanging upside down sleeping in the trees next to the river, through to groups of them in flight.

We had a lot of fun and it was unique to be shooting wildlife images alongside Beyond Here readers. (It also helped Bob justify bringing his 200-500mm lens on a 16 hour flight to the other side of the world! You know you love your photography when you can justify that!)

The Wrap

It was a lot of fun meeting Bob and Rae and showing them around one of my favorite wildlife photography spots. It never occurred to me that writing Beyond Here back in 2014, I’d some day be shooting wildlife images alongside Beyond Here readers from the other side of the world just 15 minutes from my home.

fruit bat flying

Grey headed flying foxes have a large wing span

Bob and Rae are in Melbourne for another few days before exploring parts of New South Wales and Queensland. To you both, thanks for making time to say hello and explore Yarra Bend Park together. I hope your images from yesterday are good, and that you have a great time in Australia.

Thanks for reading shooting wildlife images alongside Beyond Here readers. Happy shooting.

 

Fresh Perspectives on My Hometown

Last month I had a unique photographic opportunity. I had previously worked with a young woman who is training to be a commercial pilot. Several years ago we had done a successful stock photo shoot. We’ve kept in touch since then, and last month she asked if I would be interested in a scenic flight over my hometown, with her as the pilot of course! I jumped at the opportunity for fresh perspectives on my hometown.

Melbourne scenic view

Fresh perspectives on my hometown. Melbourne and Albert Park Lake from 1500 feet.

Flying is very weather dependent and on our first attempt we had to cancel due to the hazy conditions and their impact on visibility. We rescheduled for 3 days later, and although the conditions were still hazy, we were able to fly.

pilot and aircraft

My pilot and aircraft

My expert pilot completed the necessary paperwork on the ground and we took off for a 40 minute flight around Melbourne. We headed from Moorabin Airport toward the Westgate Bridge, then flew around the north side of the city including great views of the MCG and Melbourne Park. We completed this circuit twice. I was grateful for several delays as air traffic control asked us to circle more than once. It gave me the opportunity to photograph the views, and the pilot in action.

Melbourne Cricket Ground

Seeing the MCG from above was unique

I shoot a lot of Melbourne lifestyle stock images and seeing the city from above was unique. I appreciated the fresh perspectives on my hometown. It was refreshing to shoot content which was completely new to me.

Aerial shot of Albert Park Lake

Looking down on Albert Park Lake

Reflections

On reflection, it is easy to get into a photographic rut where we shoot similar content all the time. I find this with wedding photography and also with my stock photography. Do you find this too?

It was good to shoot something new – something I didn’t know well. It was refreshing to be a ‘beginner’ at aerial photography and to see things in an entirely new way. Making multiple laps of the city gave me time to experiment with several angles and subjects. It was fun.

New Perspectives

This gave me fresh perspectives on my hometown. Do you need a fresh perspective? Have you considered shooting something completely new?

Female pilot

The pilot expertly guided as back to home base

Regular readers of Beyond Here will know I shoot a lot of kids basketball. I find I can get into a rut with basketball as well, as I know the game well and know the best spots to position myself. This week I’m going to shoot something new again – a gymnastics competition. I’m fully expecting that being a beginner at gymnastics photography will be fun and will help me experiment in ways which will help the other shoots I do.

Thanks for reading fresh perspectives on my hometown. I hope you can find something new and challenging to shoot this week. Have fun!

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!