re: Last Couple Photography Posts

As of this morning I had over 30 comments about the posts on photographers that I did. The posts were meant to be a private joke – just mine. I wanted to see how far I could turn up the volume on the few idiots posting comments about a story they didn’t have all the facts about. These commenters were like emotional balloons waiting to pop. They reacted with bizarre, and usually anonymous comments that really showed their anger at what’s becoming the sad state of pro photgraphy over the last 20 years.

I’ll address a couple things that came up in comments:

I wanted the photo in the sense that – I saw it. It would work at 200 pixels wide when I shrunk it. I asked. I was rejected. I thought I’d give her another chance because I could easily choose another photo from any of 10 different sources that wouldn’t have a link to her site and a mention of her business name. She still didn’t get it. It took me about 15 seconds to read her last email and that was it. I dropped it and went on to the next option. I looked at Getty, Dreamstime, and Flickr Creative Commons licensed photos.

Some of you made it seem like I was dying for this mediocre photo and that wasn’t the case. Did you SEE the photo? I didn’t ask her for a high resolution image – it was a 72 pixel shot on the site. It wasn’t a fantastic shot to begin with. It was convenient and I could have helped the girl out by using it. When she chose to charge for use of the photo to advertise her own business I found another business and another photo.

Who shoots themselves in the foot by charging someone to do something good for their own business? Apparently I know someone that does now.

It wasn’t a huge issue to me – but to all of you that latched on to a piece of the story, whatever piece you heard – you became reactive and posted some ridiculous comments.

I understand the frustration of being a photographer and competing with stock agencies. For about a year I considered returning to pro photography. Eventually I realized, the world is fast moving away from commissioned / assignment photos. There will always be successful photographers doing it – but the percentage of photographers making a living creating images that sell for more than even $20 each has really fallen off over the last decade or two.

I chose the easy way… shoot whatever I want, whenever I want – with a slant toward producing photos that would sell well in stock agencies and forget about trying to convince people to hire me as an advertising or travel photographer. I don’t enjoy that side of photography much, the business side. Stock makes it easy to dump my good photos somewhere and make a few pennies. Photography is a hobby now. It’s very difficult to make a go of it as a profession.

There are photographers that are making a living shooting stock photography. It’s a horrible way to go about life, cranking out a couple thousand photos a year, editing, tagging them, uploading them – only to see a percentage never even get past the screeners that don’t seem to have a clue sometimes. Now the stock agencies are getting very competitive. When I joined Dreamstime they had 1.7 million photos I think. Now they have more than 4 million. I’m surprised my images are still selling, but what about when they get 10 million? 100? It will get to that, and this is just one agency – not even the biggest.

It would be way too frustrating for me to keep chasing the dream of being a shoot on assignment photographer, and I don’t think it’s a good option for myself. Some of you might be doing it now – living the dream. I know it doesn’t feel very secure where you are and you’re afraid of the dream turning horror-show. I think that must be the reason for the tone behind the comments.

It’s depressing as hell that photography has come to this for most people. If you’re sticking it out and trying desperately to eek out a living as a pro photographer I wish you luck. It’s a much harder existence than it used to be when the majority of the world’s children and adults didn’t know how to go full-manual with their film cameras. Now the camera takes care of everything with shooting modes they can choose. A flower means macro. Depth of field preview is instant. Years ago the common person didn’t know where to develop or sell their photos, now they don’t have to develop them and they know where to sell them – though for just a couple dollars for rights.

I was disappointed in a way when the whole world became able to produce good photos. I knew it was a matter of time before the value of a photo would drop like a lead Leica.

A career in photography is still possible for those that bust their ass to make it work. You’ve gotta love it more than anything else though because there are trying times ahead even for those at the top. Is it going to get easier for professional photographers to continue doing what they love as a career?

Only more difficult. Everything is changing. Some photographers will adapt and continue creating photos that are in demand and charging high prices. They will always be there. Someone must be producing new photos that the world wants. Graphic designers are cranking out the most amazing images at for instance. Some of them sell better than camera-taken photos. What’s next? Taking photos with pieces of the photo animated and the rest static? I don’t know what’s next, but for most pro photographers the road will get much more difficult. Is it time to be realistic and start looking at alternative careers or ways to adapt to the trends?

By the comments I received there are still a lot of you out there trying to make it work. Good for you, I hope you do. Really – the last two posts about photography were meant to be funny. The latest was meant to egg-on the first couple idiots that commented – anonymously of course. I knew I could really fuel the fire by posting again and not letting anyone comment.

I’ll go back through the comments and try to verify email addresses and urls – to see if there is anyone that didn’t post anonymously. If I find some, I’ll approve the comments.

To the rest of the anonymous commenters – why would you waste the time to write something as a response to a post you disagreed with and then not use your name and real email address? Everyone knows my name. I’m not anonymous.

Do you think you’re going to post anonymously on my blog so I can let you rip me a new one? Do I owe you a forum to spread your nonsense? This is my forum. I spread my nonsense here. If you disagree with something I say – use your name and email and post a comment. If you resort to calling me a name – do you think I’ll post your comment? The mentality of some people posting comments approaches that of a spider monkey. Don’t bother to comment if you can’t say anything someone wants to hear. Don’t read this blog if you don’t like it. You won’t be missed.

Your Digital Photos Aren’t Worth ANYTHING

I had a weird experience the last couple days and it got weirder today.

I wrote a small company on a very small island and told them I liked one of their photos they use on their site. I also told them I was writing an article about the island and would mention their small business favorably and put a link in the article linking to their site AND another link on the photo with credit to them and a link back to their site if they would allow me to feature the photo in the article.

This was not for ThaiPulse incidentally, but no matter – could have been for any site.

The girl co-owner, a Brit, writes back that she couldn’t let the photo be used without charging for it.

I thought she didn’t understand so I wrote again to clarify everything. It’s in the best interests of her business to be mentioned – didn’t she “get it”?

She got it, at least she thought she did – but, in the next email back she wrote again – that the article is worth more with a photo and she’d need to charge for it.

Let me explain further. The shot has nice color. That’s about it. It is only about 400pixels by 250 and not high resolution by any means. Anyone or a monkey could have taken the photo – it’s just that the perspective seen is from high above the ground.

I have access to Getty images for free. I have credits at enough for hundreds of photos – basically free. Or, if you equate credit to dollars – I have the $3 it would take to get a photo of the island from the same or much better perspective.

I like to help small Thai businesses that I like, that I believe in. For free. I don’t make any extra money writing this article, I’m paid a salary at the place I was writing for. It’s not freelance… anyway…

Your digital photos (and mine) are not worth squat in today’s market. Everyone and their kids has a digital camera and are capable of turning out remarkable photos. Gone are the days when I worked in New York City as a photographer and spent hours prepping a scene or a model to take photos that were worth something more than $3 at Dreamstime. Those days are WAY gone.

Apparently someone is still telling the world they can make money with their digital photos. It’s a novice way to enter into online sales of some sort. Something everyone can do to have a business online. Everyone wants the easy money online.

There isn’t any easy money in digital photos. Not even if you put together 100 photos that make people fall down semi-comatose and suck wind for 10 minutes because they can’t wrap their minds around what they just saw.

I have 700+ photos online at stock photo agencies. I know how to shoot a photo. I have some good photos. I was a professional at one time. I make about a dollar a sale on my photos – high resolution shot with amazing care and precision.

A dollar.

The best photographers in the entire world are putting billions of photos online at stock agencies because that’s where the buyers are. Not NYC, not Chicago and L.A. They are online and they want a photo for about 3 dollars.

The best chance anyone has for making money on digital photography these days is to make all of your photos “Creative Commons” licensed (see flickr’s CC info) and put your credit in the form of a URL directly on your photos so that some people will come back to your site.

That’s about it. There’s too many calendars. There’s too many coffee mugs with photos. You’re aren’t anything special unless they’re naked people doing weird stuff. Even then, there is such a glut of por—-n online that those photos too are dropping down to the couple dollars a shot rate.

Digital video is another story. Creating something unique digitally is another story. Writing stories – is another story.

Digital image money making is dead.

If someone writes you to say they are writing an article about your town and they are mentioning your business in the article – favorably, and with a link back to your site from the article, and the writer would like to use one of YOUR photos in the article WITH a link back to your site. Count them – that’s 2 links.

You should: (multiple choice)

A.) Tell the writer your photos are not free and you will charge him for them.

B.) Understand that you are getting free advertising and offer the writer 25 more photos you have that you haven’t posted online yet.

C.) Tell the writer you have enough people coming to your small business, but thanks for the thought.

D.) Write back as fast as you can, “YES, USE MY PHOTOS, THANK YOU FOR THE LINK AND MENTION!” and quickly invite the writer to use your service gratis for a 2-day stay if he’ll write 2 more articles about your business over the next couple weeks.

E.) Go back to watching Thai soap operas and thinking about how to make your skin whiter.