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The Economy of Stock Licensing

Lesson 35 from: Photographing America's National Parks

Ian Shive

The Economy of Stock Licensing

Lesson 35 from: Photographing America's National Parks

Ian Shive

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Lesson Info

35. The Economy of Stock Licensing

Lesson Info

The Economy of Stock Licensing

People are asking how do you establish your the cost of your photos and services when approaching an agency? So are the who establishes sure the price the agency establishes the price ultimately, which is why figuring out what agency you want to be with his important that said the agency pricing is really built after decades and decades of stock licensing and industry standard practices of this is sort of where it all ended up a ce faras certain pages now that said there are two types of images that exists in the stock photography world, but we're going to get into that because there are rights managed and then there are royalty free we've kind of created a our own licensing model call right specific because why not? You know, let's hone in on something a little different and that's actually done very well for us and that's how tandem I think has been so successful but essentially the two are rights managed the prices they're usually hire royalty free, they're much lower and ultimately...

and we're going to explain the difference between the two ultimately it's a decision that you is a photographer I need to make a ce faras what's the most appropriate for you and your business j p walk us through what the economy of stock licensing how do you make money on it? Money we why don't we get into it officially not obviously I'm going to speak for condom because of course that's what I know every agency is different I do just want to get that quick idea eso and um we secure five year right to sub license the creative work our photographers and film makers traditionally this work is either created on assignment for a client that that individual might already worked with you know their own personal projects or a lot of people obviously just go out and produce you know stock photography for the stock sales marketplace once and once it is in our archive basically becomes available for clients to find images that helped their campaign that they're working on our you know illustrate their editorial story basically we then help connect the box and then all that you know so basically the image takes place to chicago's own expense it's a minute to an agency for licensing we find a buyer here a tandem it's a clean fifty fifty split great so what makes a great stock photo then we've gotta cover this already a little bit but maybe you could quickly go through it and just talk about all these different categories so so first one and I know in touched on a lot of these three other day but I do want to touch on him from more of a sales perspective and so is in showcase. We have location, subject action activity, emotion, feeling, brand message or editorial illustration uh moving first to location I know that you like ugo members location where you shooting? Is it relevant to the magazine reading audience in the product purchasing consumer? If so does your image provide a sense of place? This image takes you there even if you've never been a glacier national park you can look at this image and pretty much know that it's in hey jay, how many times is this image this single image sold? I I would say that this image is definitely one of your iconic ones and what does that mean? Give me a doll. What do you think dollar amount wise? You think five six, seven thousand dollars at least oh, uh well over well over yeah from a single women but yeah, I don't even know at this point it's done very well and I'm willing to share that about my own work with everybody says the way you understand that you know, this is a business that can make money you know and that that image has been very successful but in the end it's iconic it shows the location gives a sense of place. I got lucky in the sense of capturing a moment but I was also prepared to capture a moment and it's paid off in the world of business yeah, and then the big thing with location is, you know, doesn't put outsider in your shoes you know, does it take someone who's never been there to that location doesn't give a sense of place, doesn't bring them there. You know, I saw one image, I think in the critique that was that upon with the pond elise. And I think that was a big thing that you guys kind of threw out there is just really didn't have a sense of place that didn't pull you in in any manner to connect you to that experience. The poor pollen really subject. This is, uh this is a photo I took in a y this is a wonderful guy sambo, who gone the second he works with the nature conservancy and took us out to this valley and showed us traditional culture. Tell me about why this is subject and how it works. J p so when in regards to subject, you know, are you telling a travel story? Are you telling a conservation story? Is your imminent image include a person or doesn't include people? Is it authentic to the market and or the story you want to tell? Does it tell the wildlife story? Does your subject make the experience more approachable? Or pour that pull the consumer further away. Obviously a big thing here in california right now is the drought and the way you capture that could be entirely different depending on the photographer that makes that image for some people, it might be a dry creek bed where there's no water and you can see the mud cracking, you know, for others it might be someone trying to pump water out of the well was nothing coming out. You know, how do you basically put your subject in that photo and capture it in a manner that someone who's never been to that location or never seen that they understand the story without even reading the caption? What about action activity? Does your image include inaction activity? And first and foremost is that action or activity relevant? I know in our world we worked with a lot of the sports, some are more popular than others, and those are the things you kind of need to understand. You know, height surfing is not as popular as skiing or snowboarding, so if you choose to shoot heights or thing that's fantastic, and if you're passionate about it and know the market, you can be successful. But are you going to be a successful someone that shoots skiing, snowboarding and rock climbing? Maybe not because those markets are much broader those opportunities no sports so it sounds like managing your expectations was really important as to the realities of what your subject is if he only photograph I irises for instance a single flower you probably have a very limited market where is it you're photographing luxury hotels of the world? Your market probably got a lot broader, right? Yeah and the actual activity as well I mean, does this does this change of perception or does it garner excitement? You know, is this an image that someone could look at and actually want to go do that? Because if not, then it might not sell that's especially important in the nature travels on earth, right? Exactly exactly. You know, you might you might have a beautiful limit of a beach, but if there's nothing that kind of places you in that moment or no activity kind of value and then why are you going to go there? What about emotion and feeling? I mean, we've talked a lot about that for the course of this is ah, one of my nose it's a favorite photo buying I absolutely love it on dh here's why I've never been channel islands, but in this instance it doesn't even matter I can look at that image and help exactly what that feels like, you know, her eyes or clothes she's in the moment you know what that is everyone in that in this room this audience knows that feeling you don't ask to be on the channel islands you don't have to be in yosemite you could be by a creek and the worst part of town in close your eyes take a deep breath and you feel great and you relate to it and that's why that image great sales because it doesn't just sell for the channel islands right itself with the channel lines, but it could sell for anything that that emotion represents for anything because that is an emotion that anyone can relate to, no matter whether they're extremely active there's someone who enjoys just relaxing on empty doc it doesn't matter you don't have to be a baker you don't have to be you don't have to be an explorer you can look at that photo and know exactly what that feeling is like and do your best to felipe do it and that's why as a lot of application in commercial market because basically it's in the day it's all about connecting your consumers to a field authentic no feeling and bring a message which really is message or illustration your last category there exactly so big thing that you and I talked about a lot it's very prominent these days his authenticity on brand message you know you might create a beautiful image, but if it doesn't if it doesn't support a message or illustrate a story is it ever going to sell? You know, maybe so maybe not at the end of the day you know, people are buying images to tell a story too bring a brand message, you know, to the market so how can this you know, I know yesterday it was mentioning a lot about stability you know, this image right here this could find a ship okay? Stability and a an evolving market because you can see the river flowing but in that one moment that individual model is very statement another you know, a rock climbing shot might showcase uncertainty, you know, because you don't know if that next step's gonna be there or not. What kind of message or illustration does your photo give? And it doesn't always have to include a person you know, sometimes it could be quite a creek that lends itself to a greeting card and a nice quote just makes you happy it makes you feel relaxed and comfortable I understand that be able to look at your photos and stay what is the message? What is this illustrating? You know, as I mentioned, the drought earlier there's a lot of different shapes and forms that image could take illustrate that in each person's gonna have a different perspective on how that is a mystery let's talk about to get started we we go through and I think one of the things we talked about was obviously specialization we've talked about specializing in the sense of, you know, focusing on your own backyard but j p maybe you could talk about how else can you specialize? Certainly from a business perspective especially the point that you have with developing your business plan and finding your sweet spot what does that mean? Well, you know, I kind of like to say it's like, you know, find that sweet spot of passion, determination hard work and skill basically and, you know, maybe mixing a little preparation as well but you know I understand your business plan and find that sweet spot understand where you fit in, you know, right out of the gate you know you're not gonna get published once and then the the next you know ansel adams that's that's a gradual growth that you need to build up too. So you need to understand where that sweet spot is for you because everybody starts out from someplace different understand, you know, it does all kind of streamline back into understanding your driveway, right understand this strength of your body of work understand and wives different you know, we work in a cluttered and overcrowded industry with very low berries or barriers of entry and you know why? Why are you unique and how is your vision and style different so once you've sorted all that out, why don't we take people into the steps of how to reach out let's? Start reaching out? And what do those look like? Yeah, well, so, first up for your transition that I mean one thing I do want to say in terms of finding your sweet spot. What I do mean by that is being precise. If you're a nature photographer, do you shoot landscapes? You shoot wildlife backcountry, is it? Maybe people are scene ix mountains or coastal children and families. You know, all the sun now. I just listed three to five different categories that are included under a nature photographer. Yeah, I understand who you are and what your goal is and what your specialty is. You know, it's one thing just to be a nature photographer, but it's another thing to be a nature. Photographers that captures, you know, human interaction and conservation area. So you really bring up a good point because, uh, I know attaining what we're talking about, our photographers will mention a person's name. And when we mentioned their name, it's immediately equated with a particular type of photography. You know, we mentioned such and such, and we see oh, yeah, skiing photography. We mentioned another person we talk about lifestyle and it's certainly multigenerational I've got a friend, all she does is focus on wildlife, specifically baby animals remember when I was first starting my career, I met a guy all he photographed was whooping cranes that's it one species, but did it around the world, and I'll tell you something, whenever the top outlets in the world wanted to do a story on whooping cranes, guess who they called now? Does his market be small? Yeah, mark it's really small, but the opportunities when they come are really great, and he has identified from a business perspective that that is what he wants to dio on bit's all about personal choice in that way. But the specialization is interesting, and I would say our most successful photographers are not really generalists or super broad, but are those that have really specialized in some sort of, ah, niche or genre? Many of those genres aren't necessarily a simple saying, skiing. But photographer we've talked about justin, for instance, is genre is still almost a look and feel to the images as much as it is the subject matter exactly, and I mean even just think of skiing, I don't know his last years in the audience or not, but there's back country skiing there is skiing on the groomers there being with families they're skiing the side country there's resort lifestyle there's apparatus being all these different categories could have an individual photographer attached to each individual one of course they're going to give yourself time to grow into these roles and you can expand out as your career you know it gets stronger and your work and stronger but you do need to start somewhere that specialized in true to you and true to what you know all right so how to reach out let's go back to that all right. How do you how do you begin to reach out? We got people reaching for potatoes here on this one. How do you grab those potatoes and see the new jersey came out of me? You hear that? Anybody else here that I'm uniting it this entire time? Alright. How ready to start reaching out walker's through these? This is my life. This is great advice. You always got to develop a starting jack teo each person it's going to be a little bit different. I'm not going to tell you how to make a starting checklist, but I will give you a little bit of the outline of where to start um outside influence in advice I know ian throughout this thiss workshop has been talked about the feedback loop I think that is some of the best advice that's out there as your body of work been reviewed by a third party of a friend and an editor or a family I personally I grew up in ohio my dad he's not the most cultured individual I'll be the first to admit I hope he's not watching I actually hoped he is watching but he's not the most cultured individual but what I do as I like to use him as my feedback loop just recently we got a beautiful set of skiing imagery I sent my dad key frames within three minutes I got an email back saying john paul I haven't skied in twenty years but I'm already looking at flights for this one so now I know if I can get my dad to react that way to a ski image I know the market who knows and appreciates skiing is gonna love it even more and now I'm on to something and now I have something that not only is he excited about I'm excited about and I know confidently that the market will be excited about um I always like to tell people to take advantage of your local networks you know similar to what I just said if you're showing the briefs that your coffee shop you work and they don't like it chances are a photo editor won't either people are honest if someone if someone you see on the street doesn't like your shot, chances are the buying mark it probably won't won't like it either, and you need to be honest with yourself, it's not about saying well, but you don't get it because here's, what I did and here's, what I'm going for these are the people that are buying the max. You should never have to explain why your photograph is good or compelling. Other people should understand it by looking at it, and you should say, hey, what do you think? Honestly, you know, give that caveat not, you know, here it is on my phone, I just took this. What do you think? But here is this is this is important to me start your conversations and this is important to me. I'm thinking about making a career change or think about, you know, when I'm finished with school, I really want to do this type of photography. What do you honestly think of this work and don't sit there and say when somebody says, oh, well, I had a really care for it too much it's little dark, well, it's a little dark because it was raining and I really couldn't see the button. If you have to say that it's urine that you're you're heading already in the wrong direction, that's a very difficult spot. I think it does very well earlier where, you know, people made a point to tell you that they had to hike eight miles in the rain, get the one shop, but the one shot wasn't that great, you know, the fact that you're starting out with that that already shows that you don't have confidence in your creating have confidence in the working you're creating and make sure that you do before you even start. Yeah, you shouldn't have to give a some sort of a caveat to the work, for sure. Let's continue, what else? So I kind of touched on this earlier, but know your product two specialty in one simple sentence. I'm a landscape photographer based in bozeman, montana, that specializes in capturing families and conservation great point that's much better than saying, I'm a landscape photographer, but I like nature. Oh, wow, life, but I could shoot skiing and I could shoot travel time travel story amount of people to get it, but I also do like shooting people now all the sudden you're scattered, it happens all the time he and has witnessed this before. We get a lot of phone calls and a lot of emails from clients who say I just got a phone, a phone call from a photographer is works pretty good, but his voice message was a twenty minute ramble he couldn't articulate exactly who he was or what he does well it's sort of the elevator pitch essential was their elevator pitch exactly exactly yeah or I like the escalator pitch somebody's going up one way and you're going down and as you pass you have to pitch how do you do that concise when you when you run into an old friend who's known you for years who doesn't need to hear the long winded version of what you do and they say hey how you been what do you do what's your response to that? Chances are you say I'm I'm actually working on this personal project where I'm capturing local character characters in my community because with the jennifer ship identification that's going on our community's evolving and I'm capturing that every day now your concise you're to the point obviously that wasn't the most articulate on my end but that's not my job that's the job of the photographers to understand now they could be articulate about their work and passionate about it you mentioned this conversation actually makes me think of something to which is a lot of photographers may have two completely different careers they may be doing wedding photography to make money but their passion is in nature photography and they're starting that so it's easy where my first career so to speak had nothing to do with photography it was very easy to transition without diluting my brand but if your first career quote unquote, is let's, say something other than nature photography or national park photography, you now have two different photog, a few businesses that sort of conflict and could be very confusing to people and understanding. Well, who are you anywhere you about? Because, ah, big magazine specialising in, you know, photographing the world in the natural world is not going to buy her hot wanna hire a wedding for they want to hire people that own that space that's ultimately what we're getting at on dso what I've seen a lot of people do is have to completely different brands to different websites. One piece of advice, j p I know that we often hand out is the best brand you have is your name. I've seen a lot of people who name their business, you know something, something, stories of photography or whatever, you know we're big big cactus photography or whatever that's going to stick people were going to pick up the phone and not talk two big cactus there get unless that's your name, of course, which I probably just insulted some guy named big cactus somewhere, but anyway, they're going to call and say, I want to talk to ian shine. It's ian ssh I've photography that is your best brand but that can be confusing so you have to make a decision early on if you are a wedding photographer and you're trying to get in a nature photography, don't put both portfolios on the same site separate them at least even if you're using your name on both. You may want to consider doing a two names, so maybe it's you know a white wedding photography by ian ssh I've and then there's just ian shy photography and then it's a nature portfolio don't try and mix and match those it may be confusing it's not the worst thing in the world, but I have heard a lot of negative feedback from clients who say, I don't know what this guy's about is trying to do everything. Yeah, well, I don't think this is where I say, you know know your product in specialty in one simple sentence that one simple sentence might be different to the ten different clients you're approaching. Yeah, but be ableto have that one sentence ironed out before you and how it relates to that client you say I'm a wedding photographer to scott kirkwood at national parks magazine examples that the wedding in a national park in which case you know then that might work here it all the time when you know I work in a outdoor magazine and I keep getting this one, photographers, fashion portfolios. We've never run a fashion photo, and we never will. All right? I don't understand why I'm getting it, and not only am I not going to call him back, I've blocked his name from my list.

Class Materials

bonus material with purchase

Field Guide to Photographing the American Wilderness
Icons of Nature Keynote
National Park Photography Intro and Setup
Photo Editing Keynote
10 Steps to Processing Perfect Star Trail Images
Business of Photography Keynote
Gear Guide

Ratings and Reviews


I have taken quite a few courses with createlive and this was by far one of the best. Ian is a fantastic teacher and remarkable at describing what he is doing and his thought process clearly. There is so much good information in this course, I definitely plan on buying this class. Not only is Ian a great teacher, but he also seems to genuinely want to help other photographers and see them succeed. You can tell he cares more about seeing good pictures of nature than anything else. I cannot recommend this course enough. Whether you are a beginner who shoots landscape photography as a hobby or a professional who already specializes in landscape photography, this class has something to offer and will expand your skill set. Can't thank Ian enough and I hope he does another course soon.


Ian is a great teacher and it is great when some one who "can do", can also explain how he does it. Clearly, his experience and commitment are why he is good at what he does. There is a lot more to a great photo than getting the camera settings and filters right. Ian did his best to help us understand what to look for when "working the scene" and finding a good composition without distractions. A great course. Thank you, Creative Live and Ian Shive.


Amazing course. Ian Shive is a wonderful teacher, as well as photographer, and it all comes across. I was glued to my computer for the entire 3 days when the class was live, and just had to purchase it so I don't lose any of it. The bonus materials alone are worth the purchase price. I've got a trip coming up soon and will have the opportunity to put some of what Ian said into practice; and love that I can have it with me on my portable devices so I can refresh my memory and reinforce it all. Great to have on a long plane ride. If you are on the fence, get off that fence and go purchase this great course!!! You won't be sorry. My thanks to CreativeLive, and Ian Shive for giving us this wonderful opportunity to not only learn, but to actually be in the field with Ian.

Student Work