Editors Note: The markets are tough these days and making large multi-image Rights Managed sales in the face of a formidable Microstock market is no easy task. When we hear about it we want to feature it so when we caught wind of Southern Oregon photographer Sean Bagshaw’s large project with a bank, we asked Sean if he would share the story behind the project and how he handled the details.
Hi Sean. Congratulations on such a large project with a local bank in your area. It looks like they used a lot of imagery from your files. How did they find you?
Thanks Charlie! In this case they were already familiar with my work and looked me up. I am fortunate to be one of very few photographers doing the kind of work I do in my small corner of Southern Oregon. The combination of specializing in imagery from my local area and being very active in keeping my images in the public eye through my website, social media, blog, galleries, exhibits, news articles and so on has created a situation in which many local businesses are already familiar with my photography. When it comes time for them to find images for a project they often seek me out. It takes a lot of ground work to be in that position but it is nice when the calls come in.
What sort of images were they looking for?
The new marketing and branding campaign that they developed is centered around the theme “Living Local”. They were looking for images that were iconic of southern Oregon and immediately recognizable to their members. They wanted the imagery to connect them in an inspiring way to some of the most beautiful and loved locations in southern Oregon. This is a very rural area and people have an appreciation for the natural beauty they see every day. The design team had a list of local icons they wanted images of such as Mt. McLoughlin, Table Rocks, the Rogue River and Mt. Ashland.
What were their needs as far as products and image placement?
They completely redesigned their entire brand from the ground up for this project and needed to place images on just about every kind of marketing material you could imagine. So far they have created large interior and exterior wall murals and window wraps, placed images on the website, produced wall calendars, brochures, business cards and post cards, used them on credit and debit cards and wrapped vehicles and ATMs.
In my career, as I came across large projects like this, I always tried to negotiate or offer a deal to be the exclusive provider of imagery. Did you have to compete with other photographers to capture the account, and if so how did you do that?
Initially the credit union was searching around for images where they could find them. Once they contacted me they were very excited about the quality and the variety of local images that I had to offer. They ended up using a couple images from other photographers to fill in a couple of spaces, but the fact that I was local and also had the best collection of local images meant that 90% of the job went to me. I often give price breaks when multiple images are licensed to encourage clients to use more of my photos, but in this case they already knew they wanted an assortment of my images.
How many images did they end up using?
Initially they licensed about eight images for use in the biggest parts of the campaign such as wall murals, vehicle wraps and window wraps. Over the next few months they came back to license additional images for more targeted uses such as business cards, post cards and on the web.
Were they looking for specific images for specific products?
They very carefully chose images that fit their branding scheme and could be used in a variety of placements. Several of my images have been used in multiple products to help give the brand continuity. While they didn’t need a particular image for a specific product, it was important that the images could be used in multiple placements and that all of them would support the “Living Local” slogan.
I would assume that one of the biggest challenges with a project this huge is the licensing and pricing. How did you handle that?
This is always the hardest part of any job. I’m constantly trying to walk the line between getting paid a fair market value, keeping my business viable and accommodating tight budgets in a weak market. This can be particularly difficult in a place like southern Oregon. The market here simply doesn’t support the prices one might get in a more metropolitan area. I think there are a couple reasons for that. One is that being so far removed from urban business centers most local business people don’t have a gauge on what it costs to license photography in the rest of the country. As a result photography is never properly factored into the budget. Second, the cost of doing business here is actually lower, so all goods and services can be had at a lower rate. For example, a friend who is an engineer just moved back to the area after working for several years on projects in Arizona. He was amazed to find that large building projects here can be completed for about half of what they would cost elsewhere.
This credit union is a good sized local business and so they actually had money in the budget for photography. I’m always amazed how often business don’t budget for photography, but that’s for another discussion. In all negotiations I start by asking specific questions about how the images will be used and for how long. Very often the initial inquiry is for a single use, say a wall mural, but upon further questioning you find that they also want to be able to use the images in other ways as well. Once I have a very clear idea of the types of use needed then I ask what the budget is or what they would expect (hope) to pay for such use. Next I refer to several photo pricing resources, including Getty Images and FotoQuote, to come up with an estimate. This estimate is almost always outside what the client was hoping to pay, and yet well inside the going rate for other regions. From here we usually work toward a middle ground with me coming down to accommodate a local business and them coming up and/or accepting fewer rights or images than they originally wanted, realizing that they are getting a better price and nicer images than if they went with a large stock agency.
In this case I felt very good about where we ended up. Even though it was less than a bank in LA might have paid it was one of my larger sales for the year, and they have been back to license additional images since then. They were able to get the images and uses they needed and stay within their budget. Everybody was happy in the end.
In a really tough market for outdoor and nature photographers, it is nice to see beautiful nature photography used so extensively. Are you seeing an increase in inquiries and sales?
I am seeing an increase in inquires and sales. Part of this I attribute to the fact that my business is still in its early stages (6 years isn’t much time in the photography world) and my footprint is still expanding. However I also see signs that the economic environment is improving a bit and companies are starting to spend money on marketing and décor again. Finally, I have a hunch that the prevalence of landscape photography being seen by the public, due to digital photography and increased access via the Internet, is creating more interest, appreciation and need for really top level outdoor images. I’m hoping that stunning images of wild and natural places are becoming more powerful, relevant and marketable than they ever have been.
Thanks for taking the time to share this fabulous project and a really sweet image sale.
My pleasure! Thanks for the great service you do sharing valuable information with professional photographers.
You can see more of Sean’s work at www.outdoorexposurephoto.com
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