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.

 

A Tale of Two Nights | The Ethereal Between Sky and Sea

In this area of South Carolina, on the far bottom “corner” of the map, more often than not it is the dance of light between sea and sky that result in the landscape photographs that have the most visual impact and strongest emotional connection between photographer and viewer. Actual “land” is kept at a minimum. Just a sliver of shoreline or beach or perhaps a wandering marshland. Horizons are minimal. The eye of the landscape photographer is pulled skyward, or below along a watery expanse of ocean or estuary. Sometimes rules are broken and the thin line of horizon is stretched right across the middle of the frame, in those moments when there’s a balance in the dance of light and color from above and below.

April through May along the coast of South Carolina is only matched by October through November in the quality of light for landscape photography. It has always been during those times when I find myself in the midst of sea, sky and light that literally takes my breath away. I’ll stand wide-eyed in unbelief of the beauty that I find myself within. I grapple with camera, lens and tripod while thinking “yes, this is what I’m meant to do. There’s a reason I’m here to capture this.”

Last week presented two of those experiences, on successive evenings at sunset. What was truly fascinating was the contrast between the light and scenes captured while on the water Thursday evening to the photographs of Friday at sunset. Thursday was a storm front passing overhead with shapes, shadows and filtered light that changed the color on the waves to something I’ve never seen before. On Friday calm prevailed in the sky with the hypnotic stare of an enormous full Moon rising over the Atlantic while the waves of a high tide in spring reached all the way to the forward edge of the dunes.

Grace. That’s what keeps coming to mind when I think of the experience of being present in these places and in those moments of ethereal light. Whether on the coast of South Carolina or in the Appalachian foothills of Southeastern Ohio or the high desert and mountains of New Mexico. Grace through gratitude for the opportunity to be lost within the light.

Thursday evening, April 5 2012, on Broad Creek | Hilton Head Island:

 

Friday evening, April 6 2012 @ Burke’s Beach | Hilton Head Island:

 

Lost in the Shadows | Photography of Remnants Weathered and Worn

The abandoned homestead in the high desert of the Cabezon Peak Wilderness Area of New Mexico. The only sounds being the wind and the occasional Raven. Weathered and worn I love discovering and photographing the small details that when combined tell a much larger story – a story of an individual or family out on the edge of civilization. Perhaps more appropriately the details combine to form questions. Who lived here ? Why did they leave ? What happened ? Why did they choose to live so far out in the middle of nowhere ?

Sometimes the photographer, in capturing textures and compositions that catch his or her eye, inadvertently plays the role of detective and evidence gatherer. Scraps of clues left on the desert landscape. Maybe the real story is forever lost to the shadows and seasonal light that graces the scene of what remains, day after day. The slow working hands of time return to the ground and air the evidence of memory and a life lived.

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

 

 

Gift of the Good Light | Spring Nature Photography on Hilton Head Island

Spring came early to Hilton Head Island. What normally would be considered May weather conditions has settled-in here in the Low Country of South Carolina, and with it has come some incredible light, particularly at sunrise and sunset. The gift of the good light awaits the photographer who gets up early and stays out late. The following are images I captured during the weekend of March 17 – 18, 2012 with locations that include Broad Creek, Broad Creek Marina and Burke’s Beach Park.

“A great photograph is a full expression of what one feels about what is being photographed in the deepest sense, and is, thereby, a true expression of what one feels about life in its entirety”. ~Ansel Adams

In the Light of New Mexico | Enchanted Indeed

I was blessed with an incredible week photographing the nature, landscape and history of north central New Mexico. The locations I visited and photographed the week of March 4 – 9 included Corrales, the Sandia Mountains, Santa Fe, Bandelier National Monument, the Jemez Mountains and the Cabezon Peak Wilderness Area.

Thank you Roch Hart of New Mexico Jeep Tours. A great friend and inspiration. I met Roch three years ago during my first visit to New Mexico, when attending the annual summit in 2009 for NANPA (North American Nature Photography Association) in Albuquerque. I will be working with Roch and his touring company in preparing and presenting a photography tour and workshop planned for the last week of October 2012. I can guarantee and unforgettable experience with access to scenic areas that most of the public do not know about and in some cases has not been photographed before, including amazing Pueblo rock art and ruins, ghost towns and landscapes that easily rival those of the National Parks in southern Utah.

During the coming weeks I will be working on the program agenda and outline as well as pricing. We’re going to limit the group to nine participants due to number of Jeeps available (be prepared for fun but bumpy rides) but this will also allow for more in the way of one-on-one personal coaching and instruction on topics such as composing for the landscape, macro and close-ups, isolating elements, abstracts in nature, skyscapes and much more. Also, most meals will be included and I know from personal experience the dedication and commitment to outstanding customer service of New Mexico Jeep Tours. Details coming soon. If you’d like to be added to an early notify list for when the details on the New Mexico Photo Tour and Workshop are announced, please email me and I will be happy to do so.

Me in the Cabezon Wilderness Area of New Mexico. Photograph by Roch Hart of New Mexico Jeep Tours.

Sunrise at the Chocolate Turtle B&B in Coralles, New Mexico.

 

Fine Art – Stock – Commercial – Portrait – Workshops