Saturday, 31 January 2009

Licensing images for sale - Royalty Free (RF) vs. Rights Managed (RM)

Right, it's coming to the end of January and I'm predictably not on-track to meet my target of £250 for the year. This is not unexpected of course, as at the start of the year, I'll have a smaller pool of photos in my microstock portfolio, than later in the year, as I start adding to them. In fact, as I have on average 20 photos uploaded on microstock sites, adding only 2 more each month should mean I'll hit my target (ok, so it's not that easy, but the principle holds!).

Anyway, one thing I've started to understand a little more in the last couple of weeks is licensing of photos for commercial use and whether it means there is a parallel way to generate income... (Thanks to Simon (an excellent wildlife photographer), who popped into my office recently and encouraged me to look at this in a little more detail.)

Microstock is licensed as Royalty-Free (RF) and this means although I retain the copyright, the buyer can pretty much do what they like with the image - other than sell it on. This potentially is a great result for the buyer, as they pay peanuts for an image. There is a lot of comment written about whether microstock has completely devalued the more traditional higher-priced RF business model. My view is that as supply of images has increased (amateur photographers have access to quality cameras and ability to upload), the price will inevitably reduce (as there isn't the equivalent increase in demand from buyers). No point in fighting it, as it's common sense.

Alongside RF though, is another licensing model, called Rights-Managed (RM). This is where the buyer is licensed an image for a particular usage, run (e.g. number of prints of the advert) and geography. This will work out significantly more expensive than microstock for a buyer, but they have the advantage of knowing how/if the image has previously been used (although, personally don't quite get this, as RM doesn't mean it has to be exclusive to a particular agency, so can't be that easy to track). Suffice to say, you can't license an image as RM, if it's ever been licensed as RF anywhere else... meaning my current RF microstock sales can't be sold as RM. But, I can split my portfolio across RF and RM.

The best way to try out Rights-Managed seems to be Alamy. So, as for all the other sites, a contributor has to pass their quality requirements, so I've submitted four images for them to review (ones which I always thought were a bit too special to flog via microstock!)... We'll see how far I get.

In summary then, my approach is now double-pronged:
  • Keep adding a couple of photos a month to the microstock sites as Royalty-Free - and hopefully sell at least a couple each day
  • Try and pass Alamy's quality control and then submit some images as Rights-Managed. I have no real expectation of making a sale... but a bit more hope than if they were on my hard drive!

Sunday, 25 January 2009

Microstock Sales Success - 25th Jan

Some good news - a couple of the shots I took of Canary Wharf a couple of weeks ago have been accepted by a few sites and I've sold a couple already:

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Microstock Sales Success - 13th Jan

From my small selection of images I submitted on Shutterstock* late last year, a few sales in the last 24 hours:

$0.25 per sale... not a lot, but I'm hoping it adds up!

Sunday, 11 January 2009

Out and about with my camera - 11th Jan

After a bitterly cold start to 2009, there was a glimmer of sun and warmth in London this morning, so I was determined to get out and about with the camera. The cloud cover came in mid-afternoon, but I still managed to get a few snaps of:

I'll sift through them when I get a chance and see if any are worth keeping!

The boom in digital photography

Not many years ago, it would have been very difficult to imagine it was possible for an amateur to even think about making money from photography - that was left to the full-time professionals, with prohibitively expensive kit and years of experience. Luckily for us, digital photography has changed all that... and here's some reasons why:

  • Digital cameras mean you can instantly review your images whilst you're still 'on location' - you can then realise what you've done wrong (e.g. really should have remembered to have taken the lens cap off), correct it and try again
  • , take 100's of images and delete the bad ones and re-use memory cards. The cards I use and recommend are SanDisk CompactFlash 4GB Extreme III Memory*. So no more changing films, waiting for processing and then realising the mistakes being made
  • The pace of technology change (helped by good competition between manufacturers) means better quality cameras are being launched all the time, with new features working their way down the range; For example, Canon have just launched the remarkable Canon Digital SLR Camera EOS 5D Mark II*, with amazing video capabilities. As this becomes mainstream, this technology will shake things up even more for the professional
  • Image editing has become mainstream software. Most (all?) new cameras come bundles with some software which will work well. (The latest version of the software I use is Adobe Photoshop Elements 7 (PC)* - there is a ton of stuff you can do to make your images more marketable)
  • As prices have dropped and it's become easier to take photographs (although perhaps not good photographs!), there are now a raft of good magazines and books out there to help you improve
  • The web 2.0 phenomenon which promotes contributions from everyone and community spirit has launched great sites to share your photos with others and admire their work - Flickr being the best known, with a specific focus on photography
  • The drop in prices for home PCs, data storage and broadband connectivity
  • Pretending credit card debt might just go away on its own

What other changes have helped make digital photography so popular?

Friday, 9 January 2009

And so the journey begins...

Hello - my name's Richard, I'm 31 and live in London, UK. Like many, many other amateur photographers with a digital SLR, I've recently started to wonder if there's a way to make a little bit of extra cash from my hobby? This blog will document my journey and if you're like-minded, I'd like to take you along with me!

Together, I think we've got a fighting chance of:

  • learning how to be a better photographer
  • sharing hints, tips and techniques about how to edit our photos (I use Photoshop Elements and Photomatix)
  • letting each other know where the most useful resources for photographers are on the Internet
  • understanding the world of stock agencies, including microstock sites
  • finding out what we should be spending money on to improve our photography and what is a waste
  • giving ourselves a real incentive to get out there and do some photography
  • building a network of friends with whom we can share our best work
  • having fun!
So, before we start, we should set ourselves a target. I'm based in the UK (and given exchange rates, I wont be leaving anytime soon!), so I'm going to set my target of earning £250 in 2009. I have no idea if that's realistic or not, except I know it's a lot more than I've earned to-date (so far, I did photos for a friend's wedding - NEVER again - and have sold a handful of photos on microstock sites like Shutterstock*, Dreamstime* and iStockPhoto*).

Why don't you set yourself a goal too and together, we'll help each other on the way to achieving it.