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.

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