Every once in a while I get the urge to go back over my files and “glean” some stock images from them. For example, I have hundreds, probably thousands of travel pictures, some of which are, even if I say so myself, spectacular. There are also a great many images that were rejected by one or two agencies and that, with a little “tweaking”, just might make the grade.
I bring this up because I just came across a folder of some travel photos that I think are really outstanding, but don’t have a stock agency home at this point. Yet, I am resisting that impulse to go through those files, find those gems, and get them out. I have to ask myself this important question, (Courtesy of motivational guru Brian Tracey…and I suppose a great many others), “What is the most important thing I can be doing for my business right now”. I can tell you from experience that going through old files and “gleaning” images isn’t that! For some, going through those travel images might make sense. But my travel images are largely unreleased, and as good as they may be (at least in my mind); there is no shortage of good or even great travel stock photos already out there.
Usually what happens is that I spend an entire day tracking down old model releases, trying to figure out caption material and/or dealing with imperfect files in Photoshop. Then the files get rejected, or at the end of the day with my enthusiasm waning, I begin to realize that my material really isn’t that great (or it probably would have been sent in and accepted long ago), or that the photos are not particularly unique or relevant to the market. Then I start feeling frustrated over having wasted my precious time in the first place.
In a slight variation of this theme, a few weeks ago the idea came to me of a businessman “riding a tiger”. I had once rented a tiger and shot a number of images of him with 35mm Ecktachrome. Now since I moved my studio a few years ago I haven’t even looked at a slide. I have about ten file boxes filled with those 35mm plastic sheets of what, 20 slides each (when I moved several years ago I threw away several garbage cans of old slides). I spent a very long day climbing up a ladder, struggling in not killing myself getting those heavy boxes, un-labeled in my moving haste, down and then scanning each slide sheet for Tigers.
I never did locate all my tiger images, but I did find one that looked like it would fill the bill. I had the image scanned as a hi res file. In years past I would have scanned the image myself, but last year I sold my fifteen-year-old $54,000.00 drum scanner for $2,000.00 and felt pretty lucky! I got the image back opened it in Photoshop and…yuck! It was soft and grainy. Marginal. I don’t want to do marginal work. I still want to create that image, but I think I am going to have to rent that tiger again.
Right now, with the glut of images, stock and otherwise, and the almost unfathomable daily increase in those pictures, my time is way better spent in either thinking up and creating fresh new photographs that are needed in the marketplace, or in getting my images in front of more potential users.
Getting back to the gleaning analogy, what would provide you with a better return, harvesting a crop of great new photos, or gleaning through those kernels that slip through the cracks and are left in the field?