I jumped a bit on my chair the other day, when I saw this book cover.
I could immediately recognize the lighthouse pictured there as Portland Head Lighthouse, a location I had visited and photographed two years ago. The perspective and the style of the image, with the long exposure blending the waves crashing ashore into an indistinct mist, was so familiar to me that, for a brief moment, I thought they had used this image of mine without telling me.
On closer inspection, and disregarding the obviously photoshopped ship and light, one can see some obvious differences, like the fact that their image was taken from a slightly different point, a bit closer to the lighthouse, and that the tide was higher when I took mine. There went my hopes of suing the publisher for a big lump of money.
However, this discovery got me thinking. It is clear that my image is just as good as the one they used. I even made my own replica of the cover, using my photo. I only spent a few minutes making it and I’m not that good at graphic design, but as a general concept, I think it would work just as well, wouldn’t it?
So the question that arose in my mind was: Considering I have images that are as good, if not better, than the ones used on the book of two bestselling authors, why did they use another image, instead of mine?
The obvious answer is the one that every aspiring professional photographer should ponder every single day: It doesn’t matter how good our images are. If you are not putting them in front of potential clients, nobody will buy them.
We think of ourselves as artists, but the sad truth is that the ones who are commercially successful are not those who make the greatest art, but those who can present decent and sometimes not-so-decent art to the people with the money and the inclination to make a purchase.
With this in mind, I have recently started putting my work up on ImageBrief. It is still early to say whether this is a good move, but the future seems promising.
My dear readers, what are you doing to achieve commercial success? This is assuming you are chasing it and not just shooting for your own pleasure. If you have experiences to share, please leave a comment below and let’s get the conversation started.