A few days back I received an email from Flickr Curators about adding my photos to their new service called Flickr Marketplace. My first was reaction was "Wow, there is a Flickr Marketplace?" and my second reaction was "I wonder how much it pays?" After reading into it a bit the details were pretty fuzzy still, but I did figure out that they are paying the photographer 51% of each sale (license?) which is more than other stock agencies pay out but still quite a bit less than a photographer could make selling their own work. Honestly I don't have a lot of hope that this will be any different than say 500px Prime or other photography sites trying to generate a profit not only for themselves but for the photographer, albeit they are taking care of themselves first.
So, after doing a Google search I came up pretty empty on answers. I believe it's still in beta mode, and without any clear definition or launch date it seems right now they are curating photos they believe are worthy to launch and going from there. Part of what bugs me is the photos they wanted to add of mine all had the watermark, so I'm not sure how much attention they are paying. More than likely they're just trying to fill the photo tank at this point to get started.
Without a lot of details, I gave permission because I see it as one more stream for revenue and if it doesn't do anything I didn't lose anything. But if anyone out there has any more info or experience with this I'd be glad to hear from you.
Photography is a double edged sword these days. Never has it been easier to grab a camera, take a picture and let the world see your great work in the blink of an eye. Never has it been harder to monetize your images to produce an income that is sustainable for earning a decent living as a photographer. There are plenty of avenues to generate to be sure. One can go through stock agencies to earn cash each time a photo is purchased, earning a small commission on what they sell. A photographer can sell digital images to a customer without having to do any work at all at the point of sale. A photo can be licensed by various media. Or, a photo can be printed and sold to a customer. This is probably the most widely chosen path in order to generate a sale.
So the question to be dealt with today is, can a photographer still make money by selling prints?
Why wouldn't they be able to? Well, the world has changed in such a way that images are everywhere, and in the palm of people's hands instantly. Smart phones have cameras that produce better images every year, and since most everyone has a smart phone they use those cameras to produce tons of images. Instagram, Snapchat and other applications have made sharing those photos so easy, and the photos are so free flowing that a picture has become somewhat of a commodity over the last few years.
This doesn't mean prints can't be sold though. The picture above is of a print I sold to a customer who had their photo matted and framed and wanted to show the finished piece off to me. This meant the person who bought the print had an emotional investment in it. It goes from being just a photo to a work of art that has value to the person who bought it. This print now hangs in their home, for them and their friends and family to see everyday. It produces a kind of happiness that a photo shared on Facebook can't match. It's this kind of connection that leads me to believe that a person can still do well selling prints provided they can sell them at a price that makes it worth a photographer's time and money.
The trick is finding the customers who connect with the photo and possibly the photographer's vision. This isn't an easy thing by any sense of the imagination. Sure, it may seem easy to upload a digital image to various print on demand sites and wait for the money to roll in, but the reality is the money won't roll in unless you're well known. Ultimately, it will depend on the photographer and their marketing skills as to how easily they find their target customers. Using online resources, local shows, word of mouth, social media, etc are avenues that all have to be explored in order for prints to be an income source.
So, can money be made these days by selling prints? I think so, but it's getting tougher each day. How much money is up to how hard the photographer works outside of taking the photograph.
With temperatures taking a break from the chill of winter and rising into the upper 60's on Saturday, January 17th I figured it would be a good time to go out and see some sights and try to cure a little bit of the cabin fever. So we traveled up Route 66 to the northeast from Oklahoma City and ultimately making our way to Foyil, OK before we called it a day.
Our first stop brought us to Pop's, a popular current day stop along the way where they have several hundred, if not more, flavors and brands of soda in addition to a small diner that serves burgers and shakes. We stopped outside and caught a picture of the over-sized soda pop outside.
Just down the road, we made a stop for a quick pic of the famous Round Barn in Arcadia. It was so beautiful outside and the sunlight was just right so the colors really popped.
Afterwards we traveled to the northeast along Route 66 and I was really surprised at the lack of sites along the way. If it weren't for the businesses in town reminding you that you were indeed along 66, you wouldn't be able to tell it from any other highway. We stopped in Chandler for a quick photo of the sign on the Interpretive Center that I felt turned out pretty well.
Next up was going through the small towns and then getting to Sapulpa where we stopped to eat lunch. Highway 66 turned into I-44 for a short while through the Tulsa area then broke off at Catoosa, where is where we made our next stop at the Blue Whale. It was easy to access and offered the opportunity to climb in, up, and around it. I climbed on top of the tail but since I'm terrible with heights I felt like a good breeze could blow me over into the water so I kept pretty low. We walked around the outer edges of the pond and we got about halfway around when the trails started to tail off into thorny bushes.
About 20 minutes later we stopped at the totem poles just outside of Foyil. The totems aren't really on Route 66, but actually on Highway 28. There were several totem poles and the artwork on the poles were pretty cool. It was worth spending about 15 minutes looking around and soaking up some sun while we were there.
All in all it was a great day to get out and travel into an area of the state that we hadn't spent a lot of time in. There were other attractions like the Motorcycle Museum in Warwick that we didn't choose to stop at although it could have been an interesting place to spend time. There were plenty of diners along the way and although traffic was a little heavier at times than I would prefer the roads were nice, and there are spots along the highway you can see where the old road went through. Well worth spending an afternoon learning about the Mother Road.
It was just a regular warm summer night, not much going on just watching a little TV and hanging out. Storms were expected to form, but nothing severe, just your regular garden variety thunderstorms. As one developed and moved into the NW part of Yukon, OK I peeked out and saw quite a bit of lightning associated with it so I thought it would be a good time to grab a couple of lightning pics. I drove down Highway 66 about three miles and turned to the north and stopped in the exact place I captured some of my most dramatic storm shots and a weak tornado just a couple of years back. This time I was facing west, and the sun was just beginning to set as the storm moved in, creating this orange glow that mixed into purple and indigo as if it were a real life painting. At the same time, lightning bugs were swirling around in the warm air, like little green glow sticks floating around. All of these came together in the photo I named "Lightning Bugs" meant as a play on words due to the bright strikes of lightning in the background. I didn't know it at the time, but the photo would become the most popular, most shared and most purchased photo of 2014. It just goes to show that some of the best photos can be captured on the least expected days.
I traveled to the north in 2014 much more than I had in years past, one because I had the goal of making as many storms as possible, and two that's where the storms were this year. On this particular day, the Denver Cyclone had developed to the east of town promising a decent chance or tornadoes and a sure chance of severe weather. The storm churned and rolled to the east, with each moment looking more and more likely it was going to put down a tornado. As it moved past the airport, I moved with it watching its every move. It went from having tentacles in the front of it to morphing into a cell with a teal hue that rolled upon everything. Alas, as 2014 went it didn't produce anything of significance other than some beautiful storm photography. This photo was particularly interesting as a wall cloud hovered just above a small farm house, creating an intense but mesmerizing scene. This makes "May Thunderstorm" the number two photo of 2014.
Yellow and green fields, teal and earth colored storms, massive inflow winds. That's what makes the Granite, OK storm #3 in 2014. The storm started near Wellington, TX and made it's way into Oklahoma, developing a huge wall cloud and an ominous look as it moved to the northeast. I was able to make my way into the middle of a field between the rain and lightning strikes, duck down and catch the waving wheat at just the right moment. It was a beautiful sight to see in person, and changing like a shape shifter from one form to the other. Eventually it made its way to the east, but not before yielding many beautiful photos and burning its way into one of the best memories of 2014.
May 7th, 2014 featured a tornado warned storm near the small town of Henrietta, TX featuring a beautiful mesocyclone twisting above the flat Texas plains. Together with my chase partner Eddie O' Neal, we had initially set up in southern Oklahoma just to watch the developing storms quickly speed by. Further to the south, a larger cell had formed and this one was creeping in relation to the others around it. We decided to zip down about 60 miles and once we got across the Red River we came into view of this beautiful beast, a storm that has the structure maybe seen once or twice all season. The day came with its challenges though. I left my tripod unattended for just a moment when the inflow winds pulled it to the ground, initially damaging my 10-22mm lens. The replacement costs for these are pretty high, and I wasn't looking forward to buying another, but after messing with it a bit I was able to set the focus ring back in place and all ended up well. This photo was shot during the time the ring had been dislodged so it had a higher degree of difficulty than other photos, but it turned out well. The amazing structure of the whole storm, the beauty and the challenge of getting it earns Grandeur the #4 photo of 2014.
The #5 photo of 2014 is a close shot from the Great Bend, KS shelf cloud that was featured as the #6 photo of the year. As this massive storm moved to the east the layers were more defined and a lightning strike added a bit of flare. Orange and purple hues framed the clouds and the inflow winds pulled the plant life towards the storm sending the eye straight to the subject. It was a photogenic storm and quite the chase day.
As a storm chaser, the ultimate goal is a tornado. Most chases are defined by whether or not you got a tornado, and on good days it depends on how many. Then there are the other days when it's just not in the cards. June 14th, 2014 was one of those days. Storms developed near the town of Stockton, KS and drifted slowly to the northeast, meanwhile I was set up just west of Smith Center, KS. I quickly moved SW to intercept the storm and watched it develop from a basic HP thunderstorm into a well sculpted beauty with a clear flat base. It was moving so slowly I could ramp up the creativity capturing several images of this storm with a number of foreground subjects, including this one with the waving wheat. It's one of the most defined cloud photos I have ever captured. The detail providing so much depth it really speaks to what I love about storm photography. This makes it the #6 photo of 2014.
On May 11th, 2014 there were two areas that gave chasers a shot at a tornado, one being SE Nebraska and the other being Central Kansas. SE Nebraska was the expected hotspot, where the parameters presented the best chance while Kansas was kind of an afterthought, considered a secondary target by most. On my way up I-35 I had reached a point where I had to make a decision on where to chase and went with my gut. This took me to the Great Bend area. Fortunately storms formed quickly near Dodge City, but were moving quickly to the northeast so I traveled west and got to the storms near Burdette. After sticking with this original storm another storm had formed further south near the Oklahoma border and I was actually on the way to that storm another developed just southwest of Kinsley. It developed a nice wall cloud quickly and actually produced a couple of funnels that never quite reached the ground. Once this storm went through the Great Bend area, one final cell developed to the south and produced an awesome shelf cloud with a bubbling top, the one captured above to be the #7 photo of 2014. Personally this is one of my favorite photos of the year because this shelf cloud had a little bit of everything: The orange and pink coloring, bubbling mammatus, and was so massive that it commanded your attention. This day produced a lot of great photos for my catalog and this one was one of the top photos from the day, and #7 of the year.
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