Don’t Sell Pictures; Sell What Pictures Do


A picture isn’t worth very much. Everyone has lots of them. They clog computer hard drives and spill out of boxes. Children cut them out of magazines (or download them from the Internet) and paste them into school projects that will be discarded in a few days.

A picture isn’t worth much. But what a picture does — what the right picture does — can easily be worth thousands, tens of thousands, hundreds of thousands, even millions of dollars to the company that uses it.

The picture is almost always the first element of an ad, brochure, magazine cover or Web page that registers with a consumer. It is the handshake, the first impression. It is what cuts through the visual clutter and captures a consumer’s attention.

In the vast majority of communications efforts, the picture is the difference between reaching a target audience or failing to reach it.

Since designers and art directors are judged by their product, pictures also play an important part in defining their career paths. For many creatives, the effective use of pictures equals success.

But image distributors and photographers continue to sell pictures rather than benefits. As long as they do, stock image prices and assignment rates will continue to drift downward.

To halt this decline, image distributors and photographers must constantly remind customers that they get much for dollars spent on good pictures.

It is time all of us focus on commercial and editorial photography’s most fundamental marketing message: Great pictures make companies a lot of money. Even at the highest prices, pictures provide incredible financial returns.

[tags]photography tips, photography business[/tags]


5 Responses to “Don’t Sell Pictures; Sell What Pictures Do”

  1. I have always said, you sell emotion, not emulsion. J

  2. I'll have to remember that line, Jeffrey

  3. Reminds me of another famous line - clients buy pictures not because they like the image but because they need the image.

  4. Thank you for nice article!

  5. Do novelty pictures sell well or does it have to be quality.

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