This is a photography site with a photographic gallery and advice on image processing software, cameras and lenses, a photography blog, and a range of photography ebooks written for the beginner in photography and the advancing amateur.
Reactions to what is happening
in the world of photography.
WHAT IS A PHOTOGRAPHIC IMAGE WORTH
Following my thoughts in the previous blog, I wondered just what is a photographic image worth?
The obvious, and not very helpful answer is: "Whatever someone is prepared to pay for it".
There are many freelance photographers who turn this around and only chase the photographs that they know will command a large fee. However, there are many more who take photographs for their own creative joy and hope that their creativity will generate enough income to make photography self-supporting.
What then are the features of a photograph that make someone want to pay to possess it? (I am excluding wedding photography.)
Here are a few ideas:
- it shows a subject in which they are interested or find immensely appealing
- the image is created with imagination (it is a bit different from the run-of-the-mill rendering of that subject)
- there is an additional 'quality' about the image (in landscape photography this is often the result of a special kind of light falling on the landscape scene)
- the image processing is performed competently and does nothing to prevent the viewer from making a full connection with the image (i.e. focus, exposure, depth of sharpness, and so on are all sublime contributors to a pleasing whole)
Whilst good luck plays some part in the process of acquiring a saleable image, above all else, it is experience, competence, and perseverance that makes for a desirable image. All of this takes time, and providing enough time can be expensive.
So, the 'value' of an image is made up of several things. These include its desirability, the competence of the photographer, and the time taken to achieve the final image.
It is impossible to put a monetary value on some of the contributory elements in the making of a saleable image. However, the photographer knows how much time has been put into capturing and processing the image, how much it cost to travel to get the image, and so on. These are tangible numbers, and in a commercial situation, the aim is to recover those costs and add a 'profit' element to allow for living, re-investment, repairs, insurance, and all the other overheads from which a photographer cannot escape.
What then is the "right" price for the image shown above of Castle Rigg, a stone circle on the margins of the English Lake District?
You can see for yourselves the value I have arrived at by going to the Premium Images page on this web site.
Am I being crazy? May be I am - time will tell.
What I am sure about is that I am no longer prepared to accept that our best photographs are only worth peanuts!
THE PHOTOGRAPHIC STOCK MARKET IS GETTING CROWDED
In the early 2000's I started to submit images to two very different stock libraries. Then, as now, a great deal of effort and time was spent on submitting fully captioned, heavily key-worded, well-processed images. However, this effort was well rewarded in terms of the income that was generated.
Unfortunately, this is no longer true.
The effort is no less, the image quality has improved (in step with hardware and software advances), but the income has come down.
This appears to be the direct consequence of two major factors: (1) the number of images now available to a client has increased dramatically, and (2) many stock libraries sell images at very low prices. (They have adopted an old adage 'Pile 'em high and sell 'em cheap'.)
The latter trend, in particular, has done photographers (and possibly photography) no favours whatsoever. It has damaged the earning power of fully committed professional photographers, and may well have made it difficult for some to operate a viable business.
On the other hand, serious amateurs do earn enough to enable them to improve their equipment or to acquire new photographic experiences.
So, do we ride it out, and accept that returns will be low for the amount of effort expended, or do we find different ways of bringing our images to the buying public?
One way is to turn the whole process on its head whereby we look for the purchaser (of our imagery) rather than waiting for them to find our images.
Take the above example of the entrance to the winter gardens in Sheffield (UK). Who is likely to be wanting this image? Perhaps it is the local Council for their publicity or as an illustration in a report. Perhaps it is the local Tourist Board or agencies promoting South Yorkshire. I very much doubt if they would find this image on a web search of the stock libraries. The alternative is to send a copy to each of these bodies and make them aware of its availability.
Our marketing has to be more proactive.
WHICH CAMERA FOR YOU?
Whenever I give a talk on photography the one predictable question is: "Which camera do you use?"
I must add that this question usually comes from a male member of the audience!
Men like equipment - ladies tend to like the picture!
Take the photograph above.
Was it taken on a compact camera, a DSLR, a mirror-less system or a bridge camera? Or, just maybe it was taken on a camera phone.
Whatever the type of camera, which make was it? How big was its sensor? Did I use a system lens or a third-party lens?
And so the man-questions go on.
It really does not matter.
All that matters is that whatever I used was adequate for the purpose(s) intended.
So, when you next think about your camera and your desire to change it for "something better" - think instead about whether or not it is able to meet all of your photographic needs. If it does - why change? If it does not - think about which type of camera will, and then think about the price.
Out there there is a camera for you - just make it the one that does all you ask of it, and does it well.
As for the photograph taken in Nepal, the answer is none of the above. It was taken on a film camera and scanned for digital reproduction. That was perfectly adequate for the purposes I had in mind.
However, if you do want some advice on cameras please have a look at the information in the Gear Zone.
LET B&W PHOTOGRAPHY
AID YOUR CREATIVITY.
In recent years there has been a renewed interest in creating black and white images.
Frequently this is achieved by converting a colour image using digital image processing software. At times this has generated rubbish, at others it has resulted in some remarkably powerful images.
My own experience has been that a B&W image can be more powerful than its colour starting point. However, it is ALWAYS the case that if the starting point is inadequate then no amount of digital manipulation will generate a good B&W image.
The software review pages have identified those programs that provide B&W image processing.
The Bullet Point book on Black and White Photography provides a fuller description of what is now possible with image processing software.
I leave you with this image of the setting sun over Ladybower Reservoir (Derbyshire, UK) which was converted to Black & White from a colour original.