I had spent the entire day walking around downtown specifically to shoot pictures for stock. I'm trying to grow my portfolio to where it can generate a nice side income every month. I took a picture of an office building. I also shot a bridge going over a river. There was a construction site so I photographed a MEN WORKING sign.
During the entire day I kept thinking "What is STOCK?" Why do I see small portfolios with huge sales while large portfolios have virtually no sales? All you have to do is keep uploading and the sales will come, right?
All I had to show for an entire day of shooting was three pictures. I actually spent most of the time in the city park trying to get a shot of one of the resident squirrels who live in the trees over there. A killer image of a squirrel surely would get me noticed in the world of stock.
However, it was a tough day. Right next to the park a building caught fire. To top it off, there was a bank robbery with shots being fired and people running for cover. Combined with the noise from the construction site, the squirrels were skittish and unwilling to come down for the peanuts an old man on a park bench had brought to feed them with. All these things interfered with me from getting good pictures. Firemen, emergency vehicles, police everywhere, smoke from the fire, is it no wonder I failed in getting a great picture today?
When I got home I sifted through the mail, most of which was junk. There was an ad for a new senior center in the neighborhood. One picture in the brochure was a closeup of hands playing cards. Another was a shuffleboard grid with people in the distance and kind of blurry. You don't need model releases for those kinds of pictures but I'm too young to be thinking about senior activities so I threw the brochure away. Another brochure was for a lawn service. A nice friendly man was shown spraying a lawn with fertilizer and weed killer. There were before and after pictures of a blighted lawn and the final results after proper care. I live in a condo so I don't have to worry about lawn care. Besides, I was on a mission to get good stock images and I was upset about the squirrel situation today.
The next morning I sat down to relax with the Sunday newspaper. The Sunday newspaper isn't like it used to be, it's full of ads and very little newspaper. There were ads for new windows, roofing, fashion, food, auto service, you name it. I processed my three pictures from the day before and uploaded my building, bridge, and road construction sign for review. All the time I kept thinking about "What is STOCK." The ads in the newspaper came in handy as I used the advertisements to protect my desk while eating breakfast. All those annoying pictures of commercial crap! What a waste of newspaper space!
I resolved to try again to get the picture of the squirrel so I got my gear and was thankful the bus didn't take long to arrive. It was a nice day so waiting wouldn't have been too bad. The entire exterior of the bus was painted with an ad for a local university. Inside there were placards above the windows advertising for different kinds of products and services. Some of the pictures were actually well done, catching your eye and telling the brain instantly what the ad was all about. Well, fine, but I didn't need a plumber or a lawyer, I needed STOCK pictures for my portfolio and I was going to photograph one of those squirrels or else! The plumber ad was kind of cool, though, a dripping faucet with a hand holding a wrench, good composition and lighting, but I'm a photographer.
Make that P-H-O-T-O-G-R-A-P-H-E-R.
During the bus ride I continued to think what STOCK really is. I had asked for a critique on the web site, and people said I should focus more on commercial type images and try to think of concepts Buyers might be looking for. The bus goes by a billboard with a Back-To-School ad with an image of books and school supplies. I notice it's another well done photograph but I think about how a cute squirrel picture will get toms of sales. If the light is right maybe I can get a good image of another office building.
When I get to the park, all I could do was groan at the tons of people and crowds. It turns out a National Guard unit is returning home after two years of being overseas and they were having a parade. Veterans from all recent wars marched along, bands were playing, people were waving flags, and there were outbreaks of hugs and kisses as loved ones finally could be together again, they rushing into each others arms and crying.
You know the rest of the story; the squirrels remained hidden in the trees and I was once again robbed of having any kind of opportunity from getting a good photograph.
I stomped away in anger.
I spent the Sunday photographing buildings. Later I went down to the bridge; I photographed the sides of the bridge, looking up the bridge from each end, and I photographed a boat going under. I figured I would have close to 30 pictures of the bridge from different angles and probably would have 2, 3, maybe even 5 "Editor Choice" pictures from the work I did so all was not lost for the day.
On the bus ride home I stared at the placards wondering "What is Stock?"
Great blog and a nice portfolio! Even I wanted to shoot a squirrel, too, but I noticed a beautiful pelican sitting on a branch and I quickly prepared the camera and took a picture. Well, is not he beautiful?
If only you hadn't seen the squirrels! ;) If I had that kind of a trip with firefighters all around, a man in the park feeding squirrels and veterans marching, I'd surely have gotten 30 good shots. I regret these things sometimes. I was just like you mention in the article. Yeah, WAS. Now I'm just a little better.
I'm surprised you built up a big port and huge sales even though you're not a full time photographer. I barely get time... :/
I hate to tell you this, but your squirrel did finally come out of the tree, and he kept walking in front of me. I finally took his picture, although I was really trying for something else. But he kept bothering me. He posed next to pretty flowers, when I said "cheese". And with no shame I uploaded it, thinking he is rather cute--maybe somebody will actually buy him. The image is now a level 3.
Great blog, Wisconsinart!! You are giving a great example of how some of us can waste a lot of time on the pretty squirrel photos, when actually the "stock" photos are all the stuff you were giving examples of seeing on the bus, in the newspaper, etc. THOSE ARE THE IMAGES THAT SELL! Concepts! Concepts! Thanks for writing.
Nice article! You have a nice portfolio and a lot of sales. If I were you, I would have probably taken pictures of the firemen putting out the fire, the burning places, the national guard's returning... All that moments. I realized all good moments and beautiful objects sell.
This article has been read 1833 times. 7 readers have found this article useful. Photo credits: Wisconsinart.
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