Thursday, February 11, 2010


There are words and then there are KEY-words. As you know the basis of all image searches is keywords. The importance of keywords cannot be understated when it comes to having customers find your images.

When keywording your images ask yourself: What exactly does this image represent? Look at each image carefully and think of all the words that relate directly to it. Then use those words to keyword your images. Creative keywording is appropriate for some images but not others. Take an image of a heart for example. You can use the keywords Cupid, Valentine's Day, romance, and of course, love. In this case creative key wording works well. Now take an image of a puppy. The keywords dog and puppy fit but 'puppy love' does not. Image searchers in need of love images do not want to come across an image of a puppy in their quest for the perfect image of love.

Thus, you can see how choosing the appropriate keywords is extremely important in landing your images a home. Think about it: Keywords are what lead image seekers to your images. And, once they find an image targeted to their specific keywords, they are more apt to download it.

People will search for your images using specific, targeted keywords. Make sure they find them.

All said and done, it all comes down to the right words for the right images.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Take your ego out…

I’m continually amazed at how artists and their work are so entwined, although I shouldn’t be. Prior to coming to PhotoSpin, I spent 20 years as a commercial photographer and remember all too well those sinking feelings of rejection when I didn’t get chosen for a project or someone didn’t like my work. Let's face it, it hurts both your ego and your wallet.

I find that it's just as difficult to reject artists' work as it is to have my own work rejected. But that's business. It's normal for the artists to take the rejection as a personal front against them, unable to separate the business from the art. Here at PhotoSpin, we can't accept all the images from potential contributors, so you have to learn to ignore your ego and don't take it personally. If we sign you, that means we like your work but that doesn’t mean we are going to accept it all. We need to maintain a certain image quality that our customers have come to expect and your images need to meet that quality in order for us to accept them. If they don't meet our quality standards they will get rejected.

When your work is rejected let it be an inspiration to create even better work. And remember, it’s your work that got rejected, not you.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Why be specific with your image descriptions?

The image description field is a very important tool that contains most of the keywords used in image searches. The descriptions should describe the image as much as possible. When a customer is searching for a specific image such as the New York skyline, the words 'New York skyline' become the key search terms and the description field is the first read field in the search. Thus, the images containing the words New York skyline in the description will be the first to appear in the search results. Many artists try to get cute with their descriptions thinking it will get their images noticed when in fact it does the opposite. In some cases they turn the descriptions into a titles such as "Magic of Broadway" or "It's My Kind of Town" which will cause the images to result in a lower return than if they used image specific keywords. The images will get buried and, in some instances, become the result of a search for an unrelated image . For instance, when a customer performs a search using the keywords "small town" or 'magic', they will be frustrated when the search results in a man performing a magic trick or a barn out in the country instead of images depicting the New York skyline.

Your photos and illustrations deserve specific descriptions to get them noticed. To get the best search results stay away from cute titles and put in descriptions that fit your images. Using cute titles and descriptions not specific to your images will only frustrate you and our clients.

Here are some solutions that will help you gain better search results:
1. Be very specific-If the image is of a young couple embracing describe it 'young couple embracing'. Do not title it 'puppy love'.
2. Use exact descriptions- Name the city or landmark. If the image is of Mount Rushmore then name it as such. Do not describe the photo as 'American Heroes'.

As you can see, descriptions are very important and affect the way your images come up in searches. Thus, the more information you can provide the better. Customers rely on descriptions and keywords when searching for specific images. So, the more specific you can be in your descriptions and key words, the better chance of having your images found and the more chances you will have at getting a sale.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Rejected Images, Part 2

As our image collection grows, I want to point out several reasons why images get rejected and help our contributing artists better understand our rejection policy. Currently, about 50% of the images submitted to PhotoSpin get rejected, even though they may be posted on other stock companies' web sites.

Here's some reasons why:

- Images that do not serve a purpose get rejected. The images need to serve a purpose beyond being nice photos.
-Images that do not have a good resale value get rejected. The images that sell are ones that have a resale value. In another words, how can the customer use the image? Good lighting, composition, and design increase the resale value of the image. Flower close-ups are not very exciting unless extremely well done.
-Vacation images that do not create a statement about a specific location will get rejected. Photos or snap shots that do not create a statement about a location make it difficult for the customer to search for a quality image that shows a sense of place.

Images are our business and we want to offer our customers targeted and compelling images. If our images do not keep our customers searching, they'll get tired and move on to competing sites.

Our standards are very high for a reason, we want to keep our customers happy. Thus, we only accept the best. Our customers have come to expect this and we will continue to maintain a strict upload policy to ensure the integrity of the site.

I hope this helps.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Holiday Mad Money

Sorry, I've been MIA regarding writing this blog.

I can blame it on personal problems but, the fact is, I've been distracted with all the current events: the global meltdown, the downturn in the advertising and marketing communities, etc. When you look around it can be very depressing seeing what is happening and, as optimistic as I try to be, I got caught up in the malaise of it all. The gloom was lifted a bit today by a stroke of genius, actually an idea I got from a local hairdresser in my neighborhood.

This hairdresser and her coworkers are promoting themselves by offering Halloween make-up and hairstyles to drum up business. I popped in the salon to see how their promotion was going and found out that they have 40 people signed up to get their make-up done. Not bad. So, this got me thinking: If hairdressers can promote themselves in unique ways so can photographers, make-up artists, and stylists during what is traditionally a slow time in the industry. Why not get a little creative and offer your services during this holiday season?

Here's some ideas:
Make-up artists- Follow the lead of the hairdressers mentioned above and do Halloween make-up and /or offer to do people's make-up for Christmas and New Year's parties, holiday weddings, etc.
Stylists- Offer in-home holiday decorating and holiday 'party' decorating for offices, etc.
Photographers- Shoot stock: Set up a small outdoor studio and as the kids come by with their parents shoot the images and have them sign releases. They may not sell this year but they just might next year. The added benefit is you'll get to know some families that might want to participate in future photo shoots.

So, the next time you're feeling depressed about what's happening in the economy, write down your skills and talents and get creative. There are hidden opportunities out there, you just have to look for them.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

To Crowd Source or Not To Crowd Source?

Now that's a question...

Crowd Sourcing – Crowd sourcing is a neologism for the act of taking a task traditionally performed by an employee or contractor, and outsourcing it to an undefined, generally large group of people or community in the form of an open call.

To put this in advertising terms- Large corporations or companies asking designers to create completed works with the hope of a future payoff. For most of the designers contributing works of art designed specifically to the corporation's specs, it's an unrewarded competition as only one designer will become the winner and walk away with the prized paycheck. I see how corporations benefit from crowd sourcing: By getting a large group of hungry artists to develop an ad, logo, or marketing piece for free and only paying the one that actually wins the competition. The rest of the designers walk away with hunger pains and homeless works of art. Crowd sourcing nullifies the idea of proving your value to clients in hopes that they will come back to you for future works. Those clients will more than likely crowd source their next projects. I got a taste of this type of thing first hand. When I started out as a photographer, I worked with an up and coming agency (not to be named). As their client base grew and the work began getting noticed they became inundated with photographers looking to work with them. My good deal was about to come to an abrupt end as these photographers indirectly created a competition of sorts. The agency eventually wanted to see my portfolio and select the best artist for the job. When they realized they were my biggest client they asked me to cut my fees to do them a favor on a small project. Desperate to keep them as my account, I reluctantly cut my fees. Once I let the proverbial Genie out of the bottle, my fees never came back up to the original fees until after I quit doing jobs for them and was asked back by a former client to work on their specific project. There are many reasons why artists might choose to participate in crowd sourcing. They might be trying to break into an industry, attempting to create portfolio pieces, or just striving to stay creative and productive in slow times, as the idea of doing something has to be better than doing nothing all. While these might seem like good thoughts, the fact is there are better ways to make money and spend your time.

As in years past, artists today are getting squeezed due to bad economic times and crowd sourcing is taking today’s economy to another new low. Don't become a victim of crowd sourcing and walk away hungry. Use your talents to create pro-bono work for community and non-profit needs. Develop projects that you can be proud of for your neighborhood, community and portfolio. If you're looking to create revenue, create generic logos and designs that can be sold as stock. You'll get paid for your efforts and get your name and/or studio out to new possible customers.

Quick recap:
Reasons why artists participate in Crowd Sourcing:
Possible pay check
Ability to break into a new business
Stay busy in slow times

Reasons why not to participate in Crown Sourcing:
It’s a competition with no real winner; the majority of artists get nothing for their work
Damages your reputation: A client isn’t going to reward you with a new project
Time lost in creating artwork without the promise of payment

However you elect to work, consider a long-term plan.

Crowd sourcing is short-term thinking and your chances of winning the prize are slim to none.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Copyright Education

It’s come to our attention that several photographers do not understand copyright laws. So by permission from Cathy Aron, executive Director of PACA (Picture Archive Council of America), I have posted a link entitled Copyright Education on the PhotoSpin site. Our goal is to educate not only the photographers we represent, but all photographers interested in selling stock images commercially.

Here is one tidbit of info I feel is most helpful:

As a service, PACA members have compiled a list of properties and objects that may cause problems if shown photographically. Some of the properties and objects are alleged to be covered by trademark, others by contract (i.e. the terms by which a photographer was granted access to the property). PACA does not have a position as to whether the use (either commercially or editorially) is in violation of any applicable laws, but merely advises users to seek advice from their own legal representation to determine if any additional permissions are required under the circumstances. The list is not intended to be a complete listing of all subjects, but merely ones that particular members have brought to our attention.

The Cadillac Ranch (sculpture of Pink Cadillac sticking out of the ground like Stonehenge)

Interiors of the New York Stock Exchange (ok from the street), the Pacific Exchange, the Mercantile Exchange,
Commodities Exchange and Chicago Board of Trade

Rolls Royce car and logo/hood ornament

Disney's Epcot Center and Disneyland—including any depictions of the Disney characters

The Lone Cypress tree at Pebble Beach, California

Hollywood Sign

Mystic Marine Museum

Williamsburg and its re-enactment actors/performers

Newport Mansions

Coca Cola World

Rock & Roll Hall of Fame

The Mississippi, Delta Queen and Natchez paddle steamers

Rockefeller Center – all buildings and sculptures

Olympic Athletes, Logo and torch

Hollywood Walk of Stars, Chinese Theater

Pro Sports teams and insignias

Maserati Car

Porche Car

McDonald's Arches

NASCAR images

Biltmore (Virginia house) and San Simeon Estate

Beverly Hills Sign

Busch Gardens

Sea World (Florida & California)

Universal Studios

Oscar Award Statue

The British Concord

The Louvre & I.M. Pei's Pyramid

Major League Sports

Indy 500 race

The Grand Ole Opry

The TGV (French high-speed train)

Chevrolet logo/hood ornament

Mustang Horse Logo

Thunderbird Logo

Barbie – the dolls, name and any product

Dartmouth College and the "tower"

San Diego Zoo

Eiffel Tower at night (the lighting design is copyrighted)

Japanese Bullet Train

Exterior of NY Stock Exchange (we have heard the exterior is now problematic)

Vehicles with recognizable designs (Jaguar, Porsche, Lamborghini, etc…)

Emmy and Grammy award trophies

Swan Boats in Boston's Public Gardens

The Flatiron Building, NYC

The Chrysler Building, NYC

The New Orleans Superdome

If you’re a working Photographer selling stock images I highly recommend you become a member of PACA. The information you’ll receive about the stock industry will more than pay for your annual dues.