I have been asked what I do with the photos I take. Well, to get some perspective at one stage I had circa 25,000 photo files on my desktop PC. Is that all you say? A couple of years back these were all imported into Adobe Lightroom, my photo editing application of choice. This was the beginning of some sort of semblance of order. The sheer volume of photos however created a bit of a nightmare when it came to searching for specific images. Fortunately Lightroom has several cataloguing options including sorting by year, or by camera model, or lens used etc.
It was apparent from the beginning that there were many duplicated images as well as images that were just not worth keeping. Over time I have sliced and diced my Lightroom photo catalogue down to around 15,000 images at the present time, a reduction of some 10,000 images. This is ongoing work and as I get time I will continue to cull photos that from my purely subjective viewpoint don’t make the grade.
Many of what I regard as prime images are now also copied into folders in Lightroom with titles such as Sunrise, Sunset, Beach, Street, Landscape, Family etc. This has further helped simplify searching. I have also started including the automatically generated photo file number with photos loaded on my website. This further helps find the file quickly when I receive inquiries for canvases, prints, or .jpeg files.
The key photo management strategy for me then is to keep reviewing and culling photos not worth keeping. When I take new photos. I firstly download them to an iPad, review them and delete the rejects and then load the rest to Lightroom in RAW (unprocessed format). Once in Lightroom, I review again and cull all but what I think are the best. I may initially take and download dozens of photos but ultimately keep only one, two or three. You have to be ruthless to avoid being overwhelmed.
I limit the number of images on my website gallery in order to ensure the pages are not slow loading and also so as not to overwhelm viewers with choice. If someone contacts me and asks if I have other photos with a specific element, say for example someone surfing while standing on their head, or dancing in the street then I will look through the Lightroom catalogue, select any contenders, copy them to a folder and send them (in low resolution) to the inquirer.
My experience indicates canvases are preferred over framed prints, certainly for larger size images. I can appreciate that sometimes a frame can be a distraction and the glass over a framed print can also be annoyingly reflective. In the end it comes down to personal choice and the look people want in relation to their own décor. Framing is also often more expensive.
At home, we have recently embarked on a project to freshen up the interior using a white variant (double alabaster) for the walls. This immediately takes the eye to what is mounted on the walls. We have quite large canvases of beach scenes in the living areas. Initially we were thinking framed images but the canvases look great. I’m not a fan of wrapping the image on canvas around the sides of the frame. You potentially lose an essential part of some images. I prefer to have white or black sides to the canvases depending on the colour and mood of the image. It’s personal choice.
Canvases often come in lighter or heavier weight. Light canvases have a smoother glossier surface while heavier canvas has a more textured surface. My personal liking is for the light canvas. We also have a couple of my photos enlarged and in frames. This is one, which I think suits framing.
The good thing about hanging my photography at home aside from the satisfaction of seeing my own work is that it is a helpful means for people to see for themselves and visualise how they may look on their own walls. Sort of a mini-gallery (with the emphasis on mini).
I have always wanted to present and offer a quality product and with this in mind I have to know that canvas and print providers produce a quality end product true to my values. I got caught out one time by having two canvases for myself done by a supposed New Zealand supplier only to find they actually send the image files to China, have the canvases manufactured in China, no doubt at very low cost, and then shipped back to New Zealand. Needless to say the quality was dreadful. Even the frames were bendy plastic. I threw both in the trash. Lesson learnt.
This year after being asked numerous times, I thought it would be worth testing the market with a 2017 calendar. My concept was for it to be comprised of purely local coastal images as feedback on Facebook and Instagram indicated those images to be the most popular. I think you have to stick to a niche or a signature photography and the coastal Bay of Plenty especially around Tauranga has become my signature. Signature photography is where you develop a particular style and/or subject matter and it becomes recognisable as probably one of your images.
For the calendar, I sought advice from other photographers on suppliers. I had a sample calendar manufactured and was thrilled with the quality, the faithfulness of colour reproduction and the cost for larger printing quantities. I posted a grid of calendar images on Facebook and Instagram to gauge initial interest and knew very quickly this project was a goer. Without promoting anywhere other than on Facebook and Instagram I have found walls for approximately 300 calendars, many overseas to the USA, UK, Ireland and even Russia. This has been well beyond what I envisaged and the feedback has been 100% positive.
I have also sold .jpeg files for commercial use, for personal use, and for two ‘kitchen splash backs’.
My photography is a hobby, for my enjoyment and the enjoyment of others. Over time through a lot of hard work it has as a bonus started earning some money periodically. This is nice as there are so many costs including the camera equipment which in my case totals some 6kg when combined in a backpack (which is another cost). There is planning, travel and time in seeking out the location and determining what is to be photographed. Then there is the processing and editing time, the cost of editing software, the cost of a PC powerful enough to run good editing software, the cost of having a hosted website, the time involved in posting images and responding to comments and inquiries etc. A course in Complete Professional Photography last year also cost over $1000.
Having my images adorn peoples walls is quite humbling. They won't be found in any shop and its unlikely you'll see them in the neighbours home. I'd probably have retired young if that was the case :)
Until next time .............