Tuesday, June 23, 2009

RM attitude

In the current downturn in stock sales, shooting what I call “me-too” images won’t make the cut. To be successful a stock photographer will have to go back to RM roots to produce unique images. It doesn’t matter if the images are intended for placement in RF or micro. It only matters that they are produced with an RM attitude.

I used to tell potential RM stock shooters that they needed to picture the sales process involved in the selling of their images. The selling price of an RM image is negotiated between a salesperson and a client. If the image is unique, for whatever reason, the salesperson could demand a high price and stick to it. On the other hand, if the image was good but something similar could be procured elsewhere, the negotiation process would stagger and the sales person would have to back down. Both the sales person and the client know the uniqueness of the images. That uniqueness is the crux of the negotiating process. Successful RM is a unique image.

Most images today are sold in an RF fashion – meaning no negotiating. Nonetheless, image glut (i.e. The over stuffing of similar images into the image marketplace.) has put severe downward pressure on image sales. The majority of image purchases do not need a “unique” image. In such cases micro has provided an almost free alternative to buying an RF shot. There is a lot of “me-too” imagery out there, particularly in micro.

Stock photographers who will survive the current financial debacle will need to understand and shoot to an RM standard. And the keyword, as mentioned above, is uniqueness. When you are looking through the viewfinder, ask yourself: If a salesperson was on the phone with a client, would he/she be able to ask top dollar for my image because it is unique -- or is it similar to one of a thousand others available elsewhere? If you can’t answer the question, you are in the wrong place. If you can’t answer it in the positive, you may need to rethink your career.

These are tough times. I am not being pessimistic here, just realistic. Quality, now more than ever, will out. Despite the doomsday attitude prevalent in the current financial crises, sales of stock images will not go away and some stock photographers will continue to make substantial sums, but an RM attitude is absolutely necessary to a "go-forward" successful career.

1 comment:

  1. I'm listening to your interview with Beate and Jack after reading this. This is great 'food' for me. Your mastery of the numbers has always been interesting, but this qualitative information on how to approach the shots is even more important to me in my current stage of development.

    Thank you!
    Thom Gourley