Is your scenic portfolio filled with sunsets, covered bridges, waterfalls, and hot air balloons? It may be no surprise to you that competing photographers have taken many of the same images. If a photo buyer broadcasts a call for a picture of a hot air balloon, he can expect to be bombarded; that’s why, when looking for a generic scenic, he has learned to go to a stock agency for those standard shots. In the industry, such images are called “clones.”
Photo buyers at ad agencies and publishing houses go to stock houses for generic shots for the same reasons you go to a Wal-Mart rather than four or five mom-and-pop stores: a large selection to choose from and time-saving, one-stop shopping. Attempting to sell your standard shots directly to a photo buyer will generally be met with disappointment. Photo buyers want to deal with the comfortable source of a familiar agency or a handful of photographers they’ve worked with before.
They don’t want the time-consuming and unpredictable task of dealing with an individual photographer they don’t know, with the added trouble of processing lots of additional photos. They don’t like to “train” someone; they want a hassle-free transaction.
The way to break through is to give them something they can’t get by choosing the comfortable option. Don’t try to be all things to all people. Expand your portfolio in special categories of your own. Examine your personal interest areas, whether outdoor recreation, education, medicine, gardening, dogs, etc. Photo buyers will come to consider you as a valuable resource for these “working” photos.
Developing your markets in your areas of interest will make you an expert to the photo buyer. We all like to go to an expert when the situation is important — and that’s how you want photo buyers to feel about selecting you as a supplier. If you specialize, you’ll become a valued resource when your areas of coverage match their needs. So don’t be content to shoot clones; be an original.
[tags]Rohn Engh, photography tips[/tags]