Primary Images versus Secondary Images

posted on 23rd of september, 2010

Which would you rather have? A hundred images that will earn 100 sales per year or ten images that also have the potential for earning 100 sales each year? That is the difference between Primary and Secondary images.

Primary images are those "winners" in your portfolio that have steady sales and slowly climb up the levels. Secondary images therefore are the ones that sit for a long time before they ever see a sale, and that's IF they will ever see a sale.

What is a Secondary image? Essentially, they are snapshots, images well covered in the database, or images that are average or below average in how they communicate a concept. Many Secondary images are actually extremely well done photographs but still may never get a sale because of competition.

If you're standing in front of the Great Pyramids of Giza, are you going to refuse to take a picture because it's been done before? Are you going to resist uploading the image to DT? Of course not! You're going to take that picture and you're going to add it to your portfolio but you should also know the image is probably never going to sell unless it's superb compared to the competition.

Primary images generally are of a subject with little competition, show great imagination, or are just extremely well executed. And they sell and keep selling.

Can you imagine what your sales statistics would look like if all your poor sellers and duds sold as well as your best sellers? That should be your goal in stock, trying to hit a home run every time you upload an image.

That is, of course, easier said than done. You're still going to upload those common vacation pictures and snapshots. And you should because a percentage will sell and the greater size of your portfolio, the greater percentage that will sell.

Regardless, the point of this dissertation is this: many times your photography is limited when on vacation or doing whatever. But when you have an afternoon that is going to be spent shooting stock, you have a choice: Is the time going to be spent shooting Secondary images or are you going to try to hit a home run? People continue to upload the same images day after day, isolated tomatoes, someone talking on a cell phone, or a generic building from downtown.

For the time you spent shooting, was it really worth it to get that picture of the tomato? You will make tremendous progress with stock when you realize there is a difference between Primary and Secondary images and use your shooting time working on Primary and uploading Secondary images only when they are quick opportunities because you were in a certain spot at a certain time.

Going back to the original question, which would you rather have, ten images versus one hundred images where each set will earn 100 sales per year... The answer is... you want both! Collectively that's 200 sales each year! However, when you have the time for serious stock shooting, work on increasing those Primary images. Wouldn't it be better to have 100 primary images instead of the ten?

It's a simple concept you've heard before: Maximize your potential. So... step away from the strawberries, put them back into the refrigerator, and let loose the real photographer in you!

Tags: images sell stock
Comments (11)

Posted by Xiaofeng123 on October 18, 2010
I am the second.
Posted by Melonstone on September 25, 2010
Thought provoking blog that encouraged a review of my port to assess my uploads and think forwards!
Posted by Wisconsinart on September 24, 2010
Wisconsinart, another good enrty! I like your blog. But, you seem to be developing an unhealthy hostility toward pictures of tomatoes.

The isolated tomato has become a stock cliche. Stack of coins, sky and clouds, and the list goes on. For the time you spend on shooting images like these, you could probably make more money looking for aluminum cans along the highway. It's just amazing how many photographers have yet to realize that.
Posted by Saje on September 24, 2010
Wisconsinart, another good enrty! I like your blog. But, you seem to be developing an unhealthy hostility toward pictures of tomatoes.
Posted by Kittycat on September 24, 2010
Very good article. Thank you for sharing. I have had some images in my portfolio for four years that did not sell. I donated them and they are flying like hot cakes. I have my images key worded . Actually one person bought a free image so it must have been he was going to sell this image as a card or for a book cover and I would say that was a secondary image. So I guess i better start shooting more primary images. :)
Posted by Jdanne on September 24, 2010
My blueberry photo got a sale just after 4 views being online for a few days.

For me it was a typical "secondary photo" but what really counts is the buyer's view.
Posted by Roberto1977 on September 24, 2010
Nice and useful blog!
Posted by Cristalloid on September 24, 2010
hmmm.... how about putting the camera into the refrigerator? LOL
Posted by Neerajarora on September 24, 2010
I agreed. Strawberry photographs are very common now. We should try mangos, grapes and other fruits. LOL. You have given me a new thought. It is bit hard to work only for primary photos but if it becomes practice, Yes, you will think only on that track. Thanks for the article.
Posted by Mani33 on September 24, 2010
Nah! I like to take my chances with whatever comes up on my mind! I prefer to look my port back & say okay time to donate some for free or to re do this! Cheers ;)
Posted by Joezachs on September 23, 2010
OK I have kept the strawberries back in the refrigerator.
Now where did I keep my Camera.

Comments (11)

This article has been read 3570 times. 7 readers have found this article useful.
Photo credits: Atman.

About me

My greatest passion is landscape and fine art photography. However, stock does provide a challenge in itself. I enjoy coming up with new ideas and concepts and learning new techniques. In the end, each compliments the other. The things you learn from one can apply for another and you grow with the craft. I have over 30 years experience with different kinds of art and freelance endeavors and have yet to become tired or bored with finding new ways to exercise the creative side of me. Thank you for visiting my profile and I hope your time here will be a reward in itself. I am located in Wisconsin... [Read more]

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