More of the same, please!

Here’s a valuable tip for those of you who are trying to venture into commercial photography: do more shots of the same scene, just slightly varying, and publish these shots whereever you think a potential image buyer might see them. When your portfolio is good, you will soon receive inquiries like this:

I found your picture of Petra standing at John Ford’s point in Monument Valley on the web. Do you have any other cool shots from this scenario that you would be willing to submit to us for prospective use in our magazine? I’m looking for cool shots of young healthy adventurous people at this vantage point for an upcoming story… Do you have anything of this same girl but more pulled back to see more of the scenery? I look forward to hearing back from you…

See, these guys are soo tired of wading through endless photostreams of so-so pictures. If they see almost what they are looking for, they’re gonna call or send an email.

As photographers, we often tend to look for the ultimate photo, the best, the one-and-only. And if we find it, we publish just this single photo. But this is not what the market wants. The market (i.e. photo editors, agencies, or end consumers) wants variety. They want more of the same, but different. They want a selection of the best. In times of digital photography and almost free digital distribution (e.g. through Flickr) it is not a problem any longer to offer that kind of variety. It is much more costly to do a shooting than to develop and distribute the photos.

Here’s a recent example from my Nova Scotia set. Seven photos taken on a beautiful morning at the harbour of Digby, a place that does not offer the same beautiful sunset every morning. There are some wide angle shots, some tele shots, some panoramas – you get the idea. Obviously, the height of the rising sun offers variety, too. Do I really want to think about which one is “the best”? Nope. I know that they are all good, and so I can offer them all to the market.

All photos Copyright © 2009 by Mark Zanzig/zettpress

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