Photo courtesy of Discfree.com.
I sold my first photograph last month. For $500 I gave Choice Hotels the rights to a photo that I took of the Grand Lake Theater in Oakland for a national advertising campaign for one year. Maybe you’ve seen the commercial (although if you read my blog there is a good chance that like me you haven’t seen a television commercial in years). The commercial has a family throwing out cue cards to the tune “I’ve Been Everywhere” by Johnny Cash. You know the song, “I’ve been to Reno, Chicago, Fargo, Minnesota, Buffalo, Toronto, Winslow, Sarasota, Wichita, Tulsa, Ottawa, Oklahoma, Tampa, Panama, Mattua, La Paloma, Bangor, Baltimore, Salvador, Amarillo, Tocapillo, Pocotello, Amperdello, I’m a killer…”
I suppose selling out side by side with the Man in Black is probably not the worst way to go. I might think that Cash’s side of the sell out was more with Johnny’s heirs than Johnny except I still recall a little diddy he did for Taco Bell back in the day when he was still alive. Of course in today’s world when even Bobby Dylan is hawking lingerie and selling his special edition CDs at Starbucks you truly might say the times they are a changin’.
What’s interesting to me about selling my photo though is not the $500 that I was paid for it but the fact that in this case a national advertiser bypassed the traditional stock photography houses of Corbis and Getty and found me directly as an amatuer photographer through the internet. I suspect it was Google’s image search where they found the photo. For a while there the photo that they used in the commercial was on the first page results for the term “Grand Lake.” Subsequently Google seems to have dropped that particular photo but for a while it generated a lot of hits to my page via their image search.
It seems every few months Google reindexes their photos and a bunch of my previous photos get dropped and a bunch of my newer ones get picked up. I’m still not sure why or the rhyme and reason to one’s Google Image Search Page Rank, but I seem to consistently be up there.
I suspect the $500 that I was paid for the photo is probably less than a national advertising campaign’s real value but it’s what they offered and I was more interested in the process than I was the money. But it does bring up an interesting point and that is will the advertising community begin to move away from the stock houses of places like Corbis and Getty in favor of a large growing pool of cheaper quality work by amateurs? Especially as Google and Yahoo refine their image search technology and places like Flickr and Webshots begin to offer tagging technology that competes with professional photography meta data this may increasingly be the case.
The question is will advertising firms increasingly look away from the traditional world of stock photography in favor more cutting edge, and also perhaps cheaper, online sources.
Although I haven’t seen the commercial yet, discfree.com saw it last night on the World Series of poker and took the above digital photo of the commercial for me. The original photograph is here. By the way, the commercial seems to have a repuation for being somewhat annoying and is included in an epinions article on TV ads which just won’t go away.