Category Archives: Stock Photography

Stock images and publishing rights provided by Jim Crotty of Picture Ohio, LLC

The Art of Photography on Hilton Head Island | Being Persistent

UPDATE 12-24-13: Since writing this post I have returned to living and working near Dayton, Ohio. I now provide photography services, print sales and lessons/workshops from my farm home in Beavercreek Township, Ohio

Visitors to my studio on Hilton Head are always amazed to find out that the 30″x40″ canvas prints on the walls are indeed photographs. I think it’s because most people are not accustomed to seeing photographic prints with such detail in that size. When it comes to fine art nature photography for the discerning buyer of art, I honestly feel I have some of the best images of nature and landscape subjects captured in and around Hilton Head Island. I’m not being boastful. That’s not part of my personality. In fact those who are closest to me and know me the best are becoming more and more agitated that I’m not boastful enough when it comes to marketing and promoting my work.

Hilton Head Island is a tough market when trying to sell fine art photography. There’s a “closed loop” so to say that often has more to do with factors other than the quality and originality of the artwork. But I keep going at it, chipping away. I may be more on the quiet side when it comes to sales and marketing but I do have determination.

The following web galleries – links listed below – were recently updated with images captured as recently as last week. It’s one thing to view an impressive photograph on a computer screen. Were quality can be accurately measured as how well these images reproduce as large format prints. Anyone who has seen my prints will attest to the fact that my photography more than measures-up.

All of the images presented in the following online galleries are available as fine art prints crafted by a lab that caters to professional photographers. I’ve been working with this lab for over six years now, and their attention to detail is second to none, so much so that another more well-established professional photographer here on Hilton Head recently contacted me to find out the identity of that particular lab.

Gee, I wonder why ?

Hilton Head Digital Art Photography –
http://gallery.me.com/jimcrotty#101088

Hilton Head Fine Art Nature and Landscape Photography –
http://gallery.me.com/jimcrotty#100854

And not only impressive looking large format prints but stock licensing as well. My nature and landscape photography of Hilton Head Island and the surrounding area can serve as excellent additions to local business web sites, print advertisements, brochures and even billboards. The images on the web site, brochures and billboards for Hilton Head’s newest attraction – Zip Line Hilton Head at Broad Creek Marina – is almost entirely Photography by Jim Crotty, both stock and assignment.

 

Letting it Fly | Stock Photography and Creative Commons

It’s funny how the inter-connectivity of social media marketing can foster discussions and trains of thought that can have a direct impact on how you do business. For photography and photographers social media has been the game-changer when it comes to marketing and promoting work and services. It’s a powerful tool, no doubt, but if not careful the tool can begin to manage the craftsman rather than the other way around. Case-in-point: piracy and image licensing. This is why David Esrati’s (Dayton Ohio “websisteologist” who helped me discover the power of business blogging with WordPress) latest tip on a new WordPress plug-in caught my attention. It’s called Compfight and what it does is allow WordPress bloggers to search Flickr for stock photography based on keywords, however, the images selected are all listed as “creative commons” usage rights. Basically, instead of managed rights with licensing through the photographer the images can be legally posted on other sites and blogs with often the only requirement being a credit listing and link back to the originating photographer. To see it in use I’ve posted several of my own images within this blog entry using the Compfight plug-in. It works pretty well and the back links are included seamlessly.

The use of this plug-in immediately brings-up the argument for, or against, allowing creative commons for images posted by professional photographers. The argument against goes along the lines of “anyone who copies and re-posts images should be paying stock licensing fees” and that photographers who allow creative commons with attribution are “giving away their work for free.” However, I’m beginning to see the merits of the argument for creative commons, especially since Pro Photographer Trey Ratcliff lit a wildfire with his Google+ article on why he allows  such widespread usage. Not only that, but he also advocates against the use of watermarking logos or copyrights on posted photographs. Another pro shooter who admire and follow, Scott Bourne with photofocus, soon picked-up on what Trey was getting at and followed suit.

Basically online images are going to be “pirated” and copied no matter what types of precautionary tactics are employed by the photographer. The reasoning behind of “just let them go” is that those individuals who copy and post to their Tumblr and Pinterest pages will never be worth tracking down and fighting in the legal arena and the usage is more often than not non-commercial and innocent. If the photographer is smart in how he or she prepares web-ready images, the photographs will be low-resolution JPEGs sized for looking nice onscreen and but when sent to a desktop printer quickly reveal the difference between web-ready and print quality. Custom export settings in image file management programs such as Lightroom and Aperture make it easy to manage appropriate versions, whether going up on Flickr and a blog or to a printer for a 30″x40″ on canvas. The additional argument is that the casual “lifter” is often not part of the photographer’s target market to begin with.

The paying clients are going to be the heavy-hitters who have it as their standard practice and policy to pay for stock photography that’s destined for editorial and/or advertising use. Granted there have been a few glaring exceptions but the vast majority go into the stock photography game knowing full well the rules and penalties. Sure they’ll often search Flickr but when they find what they are looking for they know best to contact the photographer directly and begin the negotiating process.

This is why I recently re-set the permission on my nearly 1,200 images posted to my Flickr page as “Creative Commons – Attribution, Noncommercial, No Derivative Works.” In a way I’m “letting them go” but with a “light line.” I’ve dramatically increased the potential for commercial/editorial reach and visibility with what in actuality is minimum risk. The one thing that I still do though is include my watermarked logo. For one thing I like my logo, thanks to the pro talent of April Sadowski @ AIBrean Studios. It conveys the message that these images are indeed the work of a professional and helps advertise my brand. When it comes down to it, isn’t that the primary purpose of social media MARKETING ?

Are my images on Tumblr and Pinterest ? Sure. All over, including my own Tumblr page “It’s All About the Light.” Heck, one of my images – a street scene I captured in midtown Manhattan back on June 2010 – has been re-blogged and “liked” on Tumblr over 4,000 times. Has there been advertising or editorial usage without my knowledge ? Nope. If there is I will find out, but almost all of those re-postings are from teenagers who’ve visited Times Square. Fun. No biggee. Let it go, because something much bigger may come back my way down the road.

Does this mean I can give away my photography for free ? Absolutely not. It’s merely a more evolved approach toward social media when it comes to professional photography and understanding the target customer, whether that be for fine art prints, stock licensing, workshops or assignment work. In fact I still link to my policy via my Flickr about page regarding requests for donations. Re-post one of my images to your personal blog or Pinterest page? No problem. But ask me to donate usage to promote your organization, product or service, when you are paying for other support services, and then I will be happy to negotiate fair and reasonable usage terms that we can all be happy with.

Choose your battles and practice good karma. Eventually it’s all good. You just need to be careful not to make it TOO good for the other guy.

Water Dance
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Jim Crotty via Compfight

The Last Sunflower by Jim Crotty
Photo Credit:
Jim Crotty via Compfight

Lighthouse Interior by Jim Crotty
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Jim Crotty via Compfight

Patient Hunter by Jim Crotty
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Jim Crotty via Compfight

Surf at Sunrise on Hunting Island by Jim Crotty
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Jim Crotty via Compfight

Halloween Pumpkins by Jim Crotty
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Jim Crotty via Compfight

NovemberMoonwithMatFW.jpg
Creative Commons License Photo Credit: Jim Crotty via Compfight

 

 

Photography and Stock Image Licensing

Previously I was using kind of a “third party administrator” for sales of stock image licensing to most of my images. The monthly fee just simply wasn’t worth it. Hence I’ve returned to directly managing all of my stock image estimates and sales, and like the page on my web site that describes my commercial photography services, I don’t provide a standard rate. That’s too restricting, especially for the photographer. Each project and client situation is unique given the intended usage, distribution, print run, medium, etc., therefor estimates are provided only after I’ve had an opportunity to speak with the potential customer and ask him or her a series of questions.

My new page regarding stock image licensing includes several of what I call ‘stock strips’ – samples grouped according to my most popular stock subjects, including Dayton skyline and cityscapes, wildlife, avian, Ohio landscapes and holiday images. These are also designed to be printed as 4″x8″ direct mail or leave-behind prints.

Also, I’m discovering that more and more publishers and agencies are fishing the waters over on flickr. Nine out 10 times they will contact the photographer of an image they are interested in using without mention of their stock fees or offer of compensation. They simply throw-out the usual “we’ll give you a credit listing” in attempt to take advantage of a photographer’s desire for “the big break.”

I strongly encourage photographer’s everywhere, whether amateur or professional, to stick to their guns when it comes to being paid for usage versus a simple credit listing, or less. Even in the case of most so-called “non-profits.” If the organization has a payroll and they pay for utilities, advertising, etc., then they can – and should – pay for image licensing. A photographer’s time, skill and knowledge go into the crafting of each image.

Stock Photography of Dayton Ohio by Jim Crotty

Avian Stock Photography by Jim Crotty

Flower and Garden Stock Photography by Jim Crotty

Holiday Image Stock Photography by Jim Crotty

Stock Photography of Ohio Landscapes by Jim Crotty

Wildlife Stock Photography by Jim Crotty

Photo Published on Cover of Ohio State Parks Magazine

I’m happy to announce that one of my photographs has once again made the cover of Ohio State Parks Magazine. The most recent issue – fall/winter 2009 – features an image I captured while in Hocking Hills State Park during a weekend in early November. I was there with my two favorite fellow sojourners when venturing out to the woodlands and hollows of Hocking, my daughters Emma and Chloe. Over the last five years this is the fourth issue one of my photographs was selected for the cover of Ohio State Parks.

Ohio State Parks Magazine Fall 2009 with Photograph by Jim Crotty
Ohio State Parks Magazine Fall 2009 with Photograph by Jim Crotty

With all the emphasis currently on our system of National Parks, thanks to another exceptional series airing on PBS by Ken Burns, it’s easy to overlook the beauty and the gifts offered through our local and state parks. I’ve visited and photographed many National Parks, including Great Smoky, Grand Teton, Glacier, Zion, Capital Reef, Bryce, Arches, Canyonlands and Rocky Mountain. All of these strikingly beautiful parks present natural scenery that is beyond breathtaking, there’s no doubt. However, it’s the local, visual treasures found here in my home state of Ohio where my creative spirit and nature-loving soul feels the most at home. Especially Hocking Hills. That’s where my love for nature and landscape photography first took flight during a winter hike with the nature photography club from the Dayton Museum of Natural History (now Boonshoft), so long ago when I was 13 years old.

The State Parks in Ohio are now under a considerable amount of pressure to reduce services and cut costs. It’s a shame. If our National Parks are truly “America’s best idea,” (did you know that Ohio has a National Park ? It’s Cuyahoga, between Cleveland and Akron) then state and local parks and natural areas are the second best idea. In some ways these smaller versions of their big cousins are even more important to protect and preserve due to the fact that they represent places where most people make “first contact” with the beauty and wonder of nature. I’ve always said that the City of Dayton’s best recreational asset is the Five Rivers MetroParks. Considering the shrinking population and economic base in the Dayton area, we are VERY fortunate to have a relatively large number of local parks which are easily accessible, well-managed and each in their own way, provide the essential connection to the healing powers of our natural environment.

A Tale of Two Mornings

From the back deck of my home I have a wonderful vantage point of the eastern horizon, perfect for capturing sunrises during the summer. Still my all-time, personal favorite location for dawn and sunrise photography is the hilltop behind the Inn at Cedar Falls in Hocking Hills. My back deck in Centerville is a good subsitute when I’m not there at the Inn in what I and others like to refer to as a “sacred place.”

Sunrise for landscape photography is a pure pleasure that I relish in. The peaceful beauty can not be matched. It’s God’s way of saying to us “here, another blessing of a new day, to start again, to renew.”

The following two images were captured in the cool stillness of dawn on the early morning of Monday, August 3d, 2009. I was well up before the light began in the eastern sky. I was greeted with the sight of Sirius (the brightest star in the sky) following my old friend of winter – Orion. The first harbinger of the cooler, golden days of autumn has arrived.

Photographer Jim Crotty captures the pre-dawn sky
Photographer Jim Crotty captures the pre-dawn sky
Sunflower Photograph by Dayton Photographer Jim Crotty
Sunflower Photograph by Dayton Photographer Jim Crotty

And then again what a difference a day makes. Pre-dawn this morning, August 4, 2009 and I’m awakened by the most spectacular show of lightening and sound of thunder seen yet this year. From the covered safety of my kitchen window I set-up my Canon 1D Mark III with a Canon 28-70mm f.2.8 lens on the tripod and fired 30-second exposure after 30-second exposure, hoping to capture just the right lightening strike. The following image came closest to what I had in mind –

Lightening Photograph by Dayton Ohio Photographer Jim Crotty on August 4 2009
Lightening Photograph by Dayton Ohio Photographer Jim Crotty on August 4 2009

Here again I’m reinforced with the belief that the artist captures best that which is closest to home, and oftentimes the most striking of nature and landscape photographs result from the subtle and oftentimes overlooked beauty that lies just out the front or back doors. This coming Saturday, August 8th, I will be presenting more images and talking about how the best photographs can be obtained just outside in one’s backyard at Dayton’s Wegerzyn Gardens. This is a one and half hour program on the basics of nature photography, being offered free to the public through Five Rivers MetroParks. It’s also a follow-up to the same program I presented to about 40 people at Wegerzyn on July 11th. The problem is that since then an article ran in the Dayton Daily News (with the headline error of “Local Artist to Present Free Workshops” – Five Rivers does; Jim Crotty does not), along with the fact that my number was given to register versus that of the Park office, my phone has been ringing off the hook. I’m estimating the turn-out to be twice that of July 11th. There’s only going to be so much I can cover in such a short amount of time to such a large group, but I will do my best.

My own, full-day workshop on nature and landscape photography is set for September 26 at Cox Arboretum. The fee is $89 per person and the group is limited to 20 people. That particular program filled within two weeks of announcing the details and I now have a waiting list 10 people deep. The good news is that I will be working on the details on another, similar full-day program at Cox, possibly on nature  and landscape photography in the winter. I’m thinking about a Saturday in January or February, 2010. The best way for people to receive an early notice and get signed-up is by registering for my e-mail newsletter.