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.