The power is in my archive
Posted on September 29, 2009
Jose Canseco and Mark McGwire pose for a picture as the Bash Brothers in Oakland, California on July 25, 1987. (Photo by Brad Mangin)
If you are reading this story that means you have found my latest website. This new site is the latest evolution of my freelance photography business that has it’s roots way back in 1986 when I was a photojournalism major at San Jose State University. Over the last 23 years I have shot countless great athletes performing in numerous exciting ballgames. I started out shooting color slide film and am now shooting all digital. I have been through many changes over the past 20 plus years, but the biggest evolution that has changed and improved my business has been the Internet.
I started using the Internet in 1994 when I signed up for an AOL account. Websites were very basic as the decade progressed and it was a big deal for a photographer to have a website of any kind. Just being on the web was a big deal, allowing possible clients to see a basic online portfolio. My leap onto the web was facilitated by my good friend Joe Gosen who built my first site in 1999 with Adobe PageMill. Thanks to Joe my site was very successful as it did a great job of housing my online portfolio. This site served me well for many years until technology began to change for the better and the business became more competitive.
By 2006 I had a shiny new website by liveBooks that did a beautiful job of showing off my portfolio, but I needed more to grow my business. Like many other photographers out there I was sitting on a huge volume of images, both analog and digital, that I owned. Sure, some of my stuff was scattered across many different stock agencies, but the arrival of new Internet companies like PhotoShelter opened up a world of new possibilities. Should a website do more than show off a portfolio like on online dig me tray? The answer that I learned rather quickly, with some prodding of my good friend Grover Sanschagrin was a resounding YES!
It was now possible for me to add a searchable online archive of my stock images to my own website, allowing me to license images to editorial clients who were seeking unique content they could not get from the usual agencies. Luckily I owned most of everything I had ever shot, so I had thousands of images that I needed to get online. I spent one awful winter editing and captioning over 240 baseball games shot over a three year period. I needed to come up with a new workflow so I would stay up to date and edit and caption each game immediately so I would not fall behind.
After I got all caught up with my digital files the next thing I needed to do was dive into my chrome library and get a bunch of those images scanned, captioned and uploaded into my ever-growing archive. In the past few years I have had over 5,000 chromes and a few hundred negatives scanned into 50 megabyte TIFF files for my online archive. The more stuff I put up on my archive the cooler it gets! As of now I have over 33,000 images seachable from my site and that number grows almost every day.
Being an independent photographer with a powerful stock library online is a very liberating thing. These are my pictures. No one can ever take them away from me. More and more clients are coming to me for unique images as they start moving away from the larger stock agencies.
If you are a freelance photographer who owns their copyright and you do not license images through an online archive built into your website you are a moron, plain and simple. The business really sucks out there now. You need to do everything you can to separate yourself from the pack. In the future more and more image buyers will be coming to independent photographers who are easy to deal with and have a searchable online stock library. As this change comes I will be ready for them. Will you?