Put Your Images in Hotels with Farmboy Fine Arts

(The following is excerpted from 99 Ways to Make Money from Your Photos, by the editors of Photopreneur.)

Stock companies serve newspapers and magazines, ad companies and Web sites. But they aren’t the only people who need images. The hospitality industry uses photography to decorate its walls, and interior designers can sometimes use photography, too.

Farmboy Fine Arts is a Canadian design company that provides artwork primarily to the hospitality industry, placing images in hotels around the world. Their clients include Sheraton, Westin, Marriott, Trump, Caesars and Hyatt, as well as many independent boutique hotels.

How It Works

For photographers, the firm operates in much the same way as a stock company. Photographers are free to send in their images, which are then made available to clients.

When a sale is made, the photographers are paid a royalty and a commission for each image licensed and for each time it’s used. One photograph used in multiple places in a hotel then would generate multiple payments.

Farmboy’s Stockyard Collection — its inventory of submitted images — is divided into six categories: abstract; architecture; landscape; lifestyle; organic; still life; and technology. The company tends not to accept images that are too “stocky.”

When you submit your work for review, Farmboy will tell you what sort of imagery works best for them so that you can narrow down future submissions. In general, Farmboy is looking for artistic works — the kind that are the most fun to produce and the hardest to sell.

Sometimes, Farmboy issues call-outs for specific types of images demanded by a client. For example, the company recently has been looking for city-specific images as well as works that are “edgy,” “conceptual” and “art-driven.” Photographs submitted as a result of a call-out and not used by the client are placed in the Stockyard collection.

Farmboy Fine Arts provides a rare opportunity for photographers looking to earn money from their artistic images. Their open submission policy means that anyone can submit images for review, and there’s certainly a sense of satisfaction that comes with knowing that your photos are hanging on a wall in a hotel somewhere.

Modest Commissions

But the rewards may be relatively low. Farmboy pays a commission based on its own gross profits. Photographers have reported incomes as low as $25 for each image and only $2 or $3 for each room in which the image is placed.

Farmboy might deal with art and sell to big clients, but the prices and bulk deals it strikes may make it the microstock version of commercial art photography, rather than a large commercial gallery.

And any images submitted also have to be exclusive. While you can sell an image submitted to Farmboy as a print, hang it in a gallery or exhibit it in a show, you can’t license the image in any other way. If an image doesn’t sell, though, you can remove it from Farmboy and try to license it elsewhere.

So while Farmboy Fine Arts is an opportunity to make money from your artistic images, it’s unlikely to make you rich — and it might tie up images that could be licensed to other buyers.

Getting Started

Farmboy Fine Arts asks that photographers submit a selection of 10 to 20 low resolution jpegs to [email protected] together with their contact information, or simply send them a link to their Web site/online portfolio.

As always, if you’re sending a link, make sure that the portfolio you’re showing them is geared towards the sorts of images that Farmboy Fine Arts is looking for. There’s little point in showing them your portfolio of senior portraits.

They will then let you know which of your styles works best for them and, assuming that your images are accepted, offer you an agreement. You will receive an artist code and can begin submitting high resolution images. After that, it’s just a matter of waiting for the sales to come in.

Tips for Success

1. Submit Often

According to Todd Towers, Farmboy Fine Arts’ president, photographers who license the most images through the company tend to be those who submit the most images and cover the largest number of subjects. Quality always counts, but like a stock company, with Farmboy Fine Arts, quantity counts too.

2. Do the Call-Outs

Whenever a company issues a call-out for images, it’s always worth paying attention. It’s a bit like entering a competition, but at least this is a competition which you know is going to award a prize. Best of all, even if you don’t win, the images stay on file and might net you a sale at some point in the future.

3. Try It Out and Pull the Pictures If It Doesn’t Work

There are no fees for submitting images to Farmboy Fine Arts, but if the images don’t sell, you won’t be able to license them anywhere else. On the other hand, if the images are just sitting on your hard drive, they’re not going to sell anywhere else anyway.

One strategy then is to submit your images to Farmboy Fine Arts and leave them there until you spot an opportunity elsewhere. At the very least, they’ll be in the running to earn you money.

8 Responses to “Put Your Images in Hotels with Farmboy Fine Arts”

  1. You liken this to "the microstock version of commercial art photography". In my opinion the microstock industry has wrecked havoc with the business of selling photographs. To see a version of it promoted here is disappointing.
    While there are examples of photographers making good money from microstock, far more photographers are suffering from the general devaluation of photography that microstock has brought about.
    There are many options for your pictures beyond "just sitting on your hard drive" or giving your images to microstock.
    I reccommend setting up an account with Photoshelter (or similar), start your own little agency, get in touch with clients. No reason to let Farmboy make a living from your photography while you are not.

  2. Very nice article, I've never really thought of using my photography in the hospitality industry, but I do see photography all the time in hotels I stay at. This is an interesting concept and if they are looking for more artsy shots this might be a good avenue to look into. Thanks for the info.

  3. I agree with Frederik Naumann completely. The current trend toward acceptance of microstock as another vehicle of the stock industry is lazy, inactive thinking. As a stock photographer for 15 years, I have seen first hand how microstock has forced traditional agencies to lower prices, hurting the revenue stream of photographers who have spent their lives learning and applying their craft to the highest level. Web sites that purport to inform the profession should be taking a more proactive approach in educating the public about the shortfalls of microstock, not promoting companies that follow the microstock model.

  4. Nice article. Glad I found this site. I've always thought my cloud pictures would work as hospitality art.

  5. I aggree that this kind of microstocking is killing photography. But this model is becoming more and more popular in every segment of photography. And it is really hard to take any action against them.

    If Farmboy for example has exclusive deals with a large enough segment of the hospitality industry and their customers are satisfied with the quality they get there then it is almost totally impossible to compete them. You may have a PhotoShelter or similar photo selling site with standard prices if they are used to Farmboy (or any other microstock site) it seems unlikely they even check your site out....unless you have that special photos to offer, or they have such a special wish. But unless their comitment to a specific topic or photographer is very solid it seems more possible they choose on a budget basis.

  6. Whatever your opinion of microstock (and there have been many posts here warning of its dangers), it's probably worthwhile for all photographers to be aware of the various business models and approaches that are getting traction in the marketplace -- as well as the range of viewpoints that photographers have about these models. Excerpts from the Photopreneur book are posted in this spirit.

  7. Too much - for TOO Little - clearly a rip off

  8. What a rip off, I feel sorry for the photographers represented by that shoddy deal...exclusive contract for pennies, screw that. Just another microstock site with the failure to share value with its contributors, IMO. Like anything you pay for quality...people don't buy real fine art to fill their walls, they buy it because it strikes something in them.

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