Lori Carey Photography

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Fortnight lilies and other thoughts

Guess I'm a little behind on my postings again. I have just been so focused on getting files prepped and submitted to PhotoShelter so I can get a decent sized portfolio up and running. I've been concentrating right now on identifying unique subjects that I have in my archive that are under-represented (or not represented at all) in the collection. Lucky for me I have quite a few subjects that have not yet been covered. Then I've been ruthlessly editing, which seems to be paying off since my approval rate is at 90% which seems to be very high compared to the stats that other photographers have been posting, although it does make me wonder if I'm editing too tightly. Then I've been locating my layered psd files, converting to Adobe RGB and saving the file as a jpg. (My website hosted on Smugmug needs sRBG and a sharpened file for printing, so now I have two separate versions of jpeg files for each image...add up the storage needs now - one original RAW file, one layered psd file, and two different jpeg files...)

Then comes the most time consuming and headache-inducing part.

Research, captioning and keywording. Hours and hours and hours of research, captioning and keywording. I posted today's photo because it exemplifies perfectly the issue. It is a macro abstract of a flower in my garden, processed with the Orton Effect. I have never known what type of flower this is, so today I set about to find some answers. Now, I didn't even know where to begin except that I thought it might belong to the lily family. A search of a few lily websites didn't yield any results and actually made me think I was heading in the wrong direction. I took a detour towards the alstroemeria family but that help either. Deciding to start with the basic I googled "garden, flower, purple, yellow, white". After sorting through hundreds of results I found one photo of this flower, but it was only identified as an iris. Hmmm...that just didn't seem right to me. I felt like I was at a dead end.

Finally in desperation I went to a stock photo site and searched for "flower, purple, yellow, white" and sure enough, there were three photos of the flower. I clicked on the first one and saw that it was identified as "A purple, yellow and white flower". Can you believe it? This is on a macro site, not a micro stock site! Thank goodness the next photo had the proper identification for the flower - it is a Fortnight Lily. I googled that and found the latin name and other common names (African Iris and Morea Iris...so I guess the person who identified it as an iris wasn't really wrong after all), as well as a bunch of stuff to use for keywording. Fantastic, now to think of a proper caption and 30 or so keywords that some one might use to find an image that looks like mine.

Now imagine the same process for every single photo that gets uploaded. Some people do it the easy way and don't worry about keywording until after they've been notified that the image is going to be accepted, but I've been very disciplined about making keywording a part of my usual workflow for over a year now. Unfortunately a stock collection requires more, better and different keywords than I had been using on my personal site. It's forcing me to think more like a photo buyer. And now I see that obviously some people don't worry about their caption, so I guess that saves them a bunch of time too. But it's been said time and time again that taking the time to write a proper caption and good keywords drastically increases the probability of a photo being sold (sorry, licensed).

And now I've been realizing that I really need a bunch of new field guides. All of the ones I currently own are for the eastern United States (except my two bird field guides).

Then of course, once an image has been approved there is another whole set of information that must be completed before the image can "Go Live"; attributes, pricing, further refinement of keywording, uploading of releases...(note to self - I need a better filing system for my releases).

Hours and hours and hours.

When I had a bunch of images approved earlier this week I realized I'd better devise some sort of system to keep track of what photos I had with PhotoShelter. And ideally (I'm thinking positively here) I would want to track how much each image earned, who it was licensed by, etc. If I decide that this is working for me I'll probably eventually end up purchasing Cradoc's photoBiz, but I'm not ready to commit that kind of money right now. I flirted briefly with the idea of creating a database but then realized it would take me hours to create all of the forms, etc. to do what I needed. I ended up just putting together an excel spreadsheet for now with all of the appropriate data for image. It's not an ideal solution but it will work for now. Sort of. And it takes a lot of time to fill in all of the data once an image has been approved and I'm preparing it to go live.

So many new thoughts running through my head the past two weeks. What a learning experience this has been.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Dead Pool

So here's the thing. I've been working on prepping my files to submit to PhotoShelter, keeping an eye on the image requests and the regular stock needs updates and I notice that they are looking to fill the gap for nationally recognized musicians. I've got some great photos of some music legends, so I chose a few and start prepping them. As I'm doing this I'm checking out the musicians' websites and realize that the live performance photos they all have are really not the greatest photos. Some of them are pretty bad. What's with that?

Anyway, as I'm working on my images the thought comes to me that these people are all in their mid-70's to early 80's, and the real value of my images would best be realized if they were to die. Seriously. Right now everyone is looking for images of Tim Russert. If you have a good photo of Tim Russert you're sitting on a mini gold mine.

So for a minute there the evil, business-minded part of me secretly hoped that one (or all) of these guys would croak so my photos became more valuable. But then I remembered how much I enjoy listening to their music, how absolutely awesome these guys are in a live performance still at their age, and how I could only wish to have that much energy and enthusiasm at that age. And I realized that I'd rather have them still around so I could continue to enjoy the gift they have to share with us. God bless them.

Nothing after the jump.

And here is the rest of it.

Saturday, June 14, 2008


What am I so excited about? Opportunity! I love opportunities.

Last week I decided to take the plunge and submit a portfolio to a stock agency. Not a micro-stock agency, a real one. And not a takes-everything-submitted-as-long-as-it-meets-technical-requirements agency, either. I went with one that puts every image through editorial review and if they don't think there's a market for the image, no matter how well technically executed, they won't accept it. A lot of people have a hard time understanding how they could reject an outstanding image, but if they don't think it will sell it's not getting through.

So I am super excited to announce that yesterday I was notified that PhotoShelter has accepted my portfolio and I have partner with them to handle the commercial licensing of my images. PhotoShelter has two levels of creative stock photography - Pro Stock and Contemporary Stock. Creative Stock is what I call the flickr look that a lot of us old school peeps just really don't get - you know, the weird angles, limited depth of field, to a lot of us older folks they look like snapshots that we would never consider submitting as stock. But there is definitely a market for them, although I don't know how long it's going to last. PhotoShelter's marketing campaign was built around their Contemporary Stock - images you won't find anywhere else. There was a lot of chatter in the on-line world about the Contemporary Stock because a lot of people just didn't get it. To be honest, I only sort of get it, but I do see it being used in commercial advertising so there is definitely a market for it. I wasn't too sure if my style of work would fit in over there. However PhotoShelter's recent sales reports show that a much greater percentage of sold images are coming from the Pro Stock category and they are now actively soliciting Pro Stock images. Good timing for me, since all of my images have been accepted in the Pro Stock category. Their Pro Stock is subject to much more stringent technical requirements and is more of what most of us consider traditional stock, so it's nice to have that validation of my technical execution and I think that Pro Stock has more long-term viability.

PhotoShelter is a relatively new player in the stock market business, but they are working with some really big names in the stock buying market. I was certainly impressed with the names of the publications who licensed images through them last quarter. As their collection grows they are getting a lot tougher on submissions than they had been in the past, which is causing a lot of angst among many of their initial contributors but is actually one of the reasons I decided to go with them. It seems that early on they would accept a submission to fill in a blank in their collection. Now they will only accept a submission if it is better than what they already have on file, and contributor's acceptance rates have been declining (or you could say that reject rates have been increasing). I've got to say that I wholeheartedly agree with every example they've given in their newsletter, so right now I am very comfortable with their editorial review. The hope is that as the requirements become more stringent, the quality of the collection increases.

So it's a good thing that I'm not out on the trails this weekend (a summer cold did me in this week) because I'm working on prepping my submissions so I can put up a sizable portfolio, and that is a lot of work...working my way through 260GB of images, converting the color space, fine tuning the captioning and keywording...endless.

I've been given the opportunity and now the onus is on me to compile a salable body of work. My biggest challenge is going to be that I have not been shooting a lot of people images that have model releases, so I'm either going to have to find a way to make that happen or just recognize that most of my stock falls into niche markets with much lower demand. Opportunity is a wonderful thing; it's all up to me to make things happen.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Postcard - Solana Beach

Haven't been out on the trails in a couple of weeks - too busy catching up on other parts of life. I *finally* took that train ride along the coast I had mentioned in a previous post. When Ed and Mary invited us to a wine tasting down in San Diego, Mary had the great idea of taking the train. Very cool! Hassle-free, relaxing, no traffic and friendly service. The train will definitely be an option for us now, especially if gas prices continue to increase.

Anyhoo, as soon as we arrived in Solana Beach the first sight to greet our eyes was a pink fuzzy bicycle belonging to the one and only John Halcyon Styn. (You probably don't want to click the link if you're one of my ultra-conservative friends; Halcyon is exactly what makes you guys think that everyone in California is going straight to hell. However if you're into things like Burning Man and you're not already familiar with Halcyon, check out some of his sites. His flickr stream shows that he's actually a pretty good photographer, and I loved his BM photos and videos). I'm sure he was hanging around Fiesta del Sol somewhere, but these days I wouldn't even look twice at a guy with pink hair.

I know it almost looks like I did selective coloring on this photo, but it's just due to the June Gloom and grimy concrete. Pink really pops when everything else is gray.

Seeing Halcyon's fuzzy pink bike was a good reminder of how important it is to be who you want to be, not who you think others want you to be. Bringing that into my photography means taking and making the images that I want to make, and not worrying about what I think other people think they want to see. The more I learn to embrace this philosophy, the more satisfying I find the art of creation.

Nothing after the jump.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Postcard Las Vegas

Had to run to Las Vegas the other day - 3.5 hour drive to spend 3 hours out there and then drive 3.5 hours back. Good thing we love road trips! Didn't want to lug my real camera, but I did think to take my little point and shoot that I hate so much. It's only 4 megapixels, the "on" button is temperamental and it chews through batteries like you wouldn't believe. I'm seriously thinking about picking up a G9.

We had lunch in Jasmine at the Bellagio, which gave us a spectacular view of the Fountains of Bellagio every half hour. So I took out my hated point and shoot to see what it could do shooting through the glass balcony doors (they wouldn't allow us to open the balcony doors because the water spray would blow into the restaurant). Not too bad, all in all a suitable one for the scrapbook.

If you've never been to Las Vegas or never had the pleasure of seeing the Fountains of Bellagio, it is the one thing on the Las Vegas strip truly worth seeing. It is a choreographed water and light show; beautiful during the day but absolutely magnificent at night. Here is one of the better YouTube videos I found with the fountains dancing to the duet of Sarah Brightman and Andrea Bocelli singing "Time To Say Goodbye".

Nothing after the jump.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Never enough time...

I still find each day too short for all the thoughts I want to think, all the walks I want to take, all the books I want to read and all the friends I want to see. ~John Burroughs

I've been taking advantage of the June Gloom for some nice soft and even outdoor lighting - nature's own softbox.

Nothing after the jump.

Monday, June 2, 2008


It has ever been my experience that folks who have no vices, have very few virtues. ~Abraham Lincoln