Always be on the look for interesting images

One lesson you should take to heart – you never know when a chance shot will turn into a nice little earner and so you need to always be ready (with your camera) for those chance encounters. What do I mean by this? I was driving down a small road near my home when I saw a burned out cabin by the side of the road. I’d never really noticed it before, but now it was a burnt out wreck surrounded by yellow tape. I pulled off the road, got my camera out and took both wide and close shots of the damaged building. I removed a few company names on the yellow tape and submitted to all agencies in July this year. Well, early results were not great! One image sold for $0.22 on iStock in August and it looked like they were destined to sink into the “useless shots in my portfolio” collection! Then, early this week I saw two sales of the images on Shutterstock:

The two images sold for $75 each as Single Sales!

More than compensation for the small amount of effort to take, process and upload them! I must admit that I don’t always take these opportunities and sometimes kick myself for not doing so. I was driving through the desert in Southern California earlier this month and saw three men on horses with cowboy hats riding slowly into the distance across the desert floor. I thought about the opportunity – rear view so no model release issues, bit of dust from the horses hooves – but by the time I decided it would have made a good shot I had driven too far and so I ignored it. Probably a mistake, but I will never know!!

On another trip to a local waterfall, I saw this collapsed house:

As you can tell, this time I did stop and will get this online soon – you never know when someone will want some storm damaged or water damaged home pictures!


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Nice post, Steve. We can drive ourselves crazy trying to come up with unique concepts and using the best of light, but sometimes the most random of images captured spontaneously may check all the boxes for a client as in your example! 2 x $75 – impressive!

Great advice to always carry your camera everywhere.

Yes, to some extent you have to just accept that some images you take will just not sell, but then an occasional sale comes along that you would otherwise have missed.

wow! 2 sales of 75 dollars on Shutterstock. I havent ever had a sale for that amount there. You are right though about always being ready to take a shot. Unfortunately I can think of more examples where I have missed the opportunity rather than taken it!

So would this be considered and editorial shot because it’s recognizable property? I struggle with this all the time.

    I don’t think there are any straightforward answers to this! I start from the point that you cannot assign a point of view to a person without their consent (which is the basis of getting model releases for commercial uses). And so clearly recognizable property that a member of the public could reasonably link to a person and hence form a view that the person owning that property is agreeing with the product or service being advertised needs a release. This property is just a wreck however, and is not identifiable as being in any particular country, never mind a town or city which is recognizable. So even if this was used by an insurance company, say, then how would any member of the public be able to identify that the property belonged to Joe Smith and Joe Smith was agreeing that Nationwide Insurance would have paid him immediately for his damage? So it isn’t the property itself that has rights – it is either clarity as to who the designer of it (the architect) is or a clear linkage to the owner that is needed to make it editorial. Hope that helps.

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