Everybody’s A Photographer – Right?
According to the most recent reports, there are 5.2 billion smart phones in use with 4.2 billion of those equipped with cameras. Photo and video sharing apps are the fastest growing smart phone app category. by Bill Dahl
Yahoo estimates that 880 billion photographs will be taken in 2014. In terms of social media sites, FLICKR has 8.5 billion images, Shutterfly 20 billion and Instagram over 1 billion. 70 percent of all Facebook activity is related to photo posting. Photos attract 53 percent more likes on Facebook than any other posts. Photos are shared more often than any other content posted.
The increase in smartphone sales has wreaked havoc on the sales of compact and DSLR cameras. The sale of compact cameras has plummeted from 147 million units in 2012 to under 60 million units in 2014. Global sales of DSLR cameras have been reported to have fallen over 25 percent during the same timeframe. Some of the planet’s most recognizable names – Canon, Nikon, Fujitsu and SONY – have suffered double digit declines in their stock values due to this phenomenon. So – everybody’s a photographer today – Right?
The New Visual Imagery Reality
As one industry declines, new industries emerge and values appear where they had been virtually non-existent. From a commercial standpoint, business use of digital visual imagery has never been more robust – and more strategically important. The internet and social media platforms have created a new reality for businesses and organizations of every stripe – a fresh, robust, professional visual imagery appearance is now a fundamental requirement to compete effectively in our digitally dominated world. This is as true for a small company’s Facebook presence – as it is for a multi-national corporate conglomerate website.
Take a moment and look around Facebook at the visual imagery that inhabits the pages of companies and organizations you’re familiar with. You’re destined to come away with a few common impressions:
1. That’s really awful.
2. That’s okay.
4. Why would they post that image?
5. That’s the same image that’s been on there for eons.
6. That’s interesting
7. WOW! – That’s really great!
The point is this: the management of the visual appearance of a professional digital media presence continues to evolve. Some sites are vastly better than others. Clearly, some companies “get it” while others don’t. So – what am I to do as a business owner or someone who is responsible for championing a new, vibrant, vitality in the visual imagery appearance of my organization’s on-line presence? Well, everyone’s a photographer – right?
The stock photo industry is estimated to generate over $3 billion in revenue in 2014. Many companies and organizations have an agreement that affords them “pay-to-play” access to these image libraries – where they pay a fee for the use of any one image. These companies include Shutterstock, Getty Images, Dreamstime and the like. Then again, this can get pricey.
Sourcing Local Visual Imagery
Perhaps, your company is one who prefers to have a more local/regional flavor or accent to your visual digital media appearance. Where do you go to obtain these images? You have several choices:
1. Call your son or daughter to bring down their smartphone and click a few pics. Well – maybe not.
2. Ask colleagues, business associates and friends if they have a recommendation for you.
3. Google Your City Photographers – The search results are likely to bring up photographers who have actual brick and mortar studios. Some are also graphic designers and/or ad/PR agencies. Your search results are also likely to include enterprises that have moved or are out of business. Again, this can get pricey.
4. Use Facebook to find a local photographer whose work you truly appreciate. For example, if you live in Oregon, check out groups on Facebook like Oregon Photographers or Oregon Photography. Peruse the postings until you find somebody whose talents and perspective you like. Contact them via FB messaging. Get a link to their photo library(ies) or website. Skype with them. Call them. Meet for coffee.
Frankly, some of the best photographers in Oregon (and any other area) will not be found in the yellow pages, via a Google search, passing by their local storefront, or by subscription to a stock photography site. You’ll find them participating in photography groups on Facebook. Here are 12 common characteristics you should look for regarding this type of photographer (four of whom I will profile below):
- They are experienced and passionate about what they do.
- They use professional DSLR photography equipment.
- They rely upon post-production software to refine the images they create. This requires possessing the computing horsepower to render the same.
- They have hundreds, oftentimes thousands, of followers on social media.
- The images they share on-line receive likes, hits and views in the hundreds of thousands – to the millions (over time). They have an established following on multiple social media platforms. They are well-regarded in the photography artisan community.
- Their images are protected by copyright and all rights for the use of their images are reserved. They can sell to you.
- They possess image libraries that contain superb images for your company or organization.
- They would love to meet with you and discuss your needs for visual digital imagery – and show you additional samples of their work – that will likely exceed your expectations.
- Their pricing is very competitive.
- Their imagery provides the local/regional and seasonal flavor you desire.
- They are sources of visual imagery you can depend upon to change out your digital imagery on a local, seasonal basis.
- They are “pros” in every sense of the word – fun to work with – incredibly creative – and local.
Allow me to introduce you to a few of these digital visual imagery artisans from Central Oregon.
Nick Braun – Bend, Oregon
Nick has lived in Bend for 14 years. He’s worked in machine shops, manufacturing, landscape and construction, fabrication, as a climbing shoe re-soler, designer and operator of LineCam Systems LLC. Nick has been a hobbyist photographer for many years, but just recently started taking photography more seriously as a business venture.
Nick’s gear: Canon 5D Mark III, Canon 17-40mm f4 lens, Canon 50mm f1.8 lens, various ND, polarization, and UV filters. He uses Adobe Master Suite, Photoshop, Lightroom, PremierPro-AfterEffects, Imagenomic noise reduction software, LightRoom, Timelapse Pro, and Photomatix Pro 5. Nick’s not certain what his specialty is. He’s enjoying exploring the multiple facets of photography. He most frequently shoots landscapes, action sports, time lapse and long exposure images.
According to Nick, “One of the big reasons I love Central Oregon is this; “if you travel in any direction from Bend for 30 minutes, you will find yourself in a different type of terrain, geology, and habitat – even climate. We live in a cornucopia of landscape awesomeness! Beauty surrounds us in 360 degrees. I love to sell my work! What Central Oregonians need to understand is the high density of “must go there” shooting locations we have. I know tons of photographers who travel specifically to Central Oregon just to shoot. It seems that photography does indeed make up an important part of our tourism industry. I can’t count the number of people I have met on-line who have made the trek to Central Oregon after viewing images on the internet of our area.”
Nick belongs to a number of photography groups on Facebook, such as Oregon Images, Pacific Northwest Creative Photography, Pacific Northwest Photographers, Oregon DSLR/SLR Film Photography, and Oregon Photographers. He also contributes images to other websites like Smugmug and 500px. Nick enjoys time-lapse photography, night sky photography, long exposure creativity, landscape photography, and astrophotography. He spends about $1,500 a year solely on gas to get to different locations to shoot…and a bunch more on gear. Nick’s imagery garners hundreds of thousands of views on-line each calendar year.
What do photography aficionados need in Central Oregon? Listen to Nick: “We need a real photography shop here! Professional gear and pro development, and maybe even a rental house for gear. All we have is big box retailers, and their gear selection sucks.”
Jason Brownlee – Bend, Oregon
Jason is in the visual imagery business – graphic designer, photographer and video production.
Jason is a Bend native. He considers Central Oregon a “photographer’s nirvana” due to the vast and diverse natural beauty of the area. He enjoys shooting landscapes, people, portraits and products. His work has garnered 600,000 views on Facebook alone in the last year. Combined with other websites, his photography on social media platforms has earned close to one million views in 2014.
Jason shoots with Canon gear and edits primarily in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. He watermarks the images he posts on-line. He licenses his images and is now offering a 2015 calendar adorned with his work.
Jason is of the opinion that Central Oregon photographers are an overlooked dimension of marketing Central Oregon as a place to visit and/or live. He spends “too much” on photography each year. “We need a decent photography shop in Central Oregon,” declares Brownlee emphatically.
Jeff Bryant – Bend, Oregon
Jeff has lived in Bend for 22 years. He’s a single dad with two kids. He earns his primary living in the hardwood floor installation/restoration industry. Views of Jeff’s imagery solely on Google + have 662,942 views. His best work can be viewed on Facebook at www.facebook.com/exquisiteoregon.
Jeff uses a Nikon d7000 camera body outfitted with any number of lenses: Tokina 11 – 16mm f2.8, or a Tamron 35-75 f2.8. He uses Lightroom 5 as his primary editing software and specializes in landscapes – although portraiture is growing in demand.
According to Jeff, “Whether its mountains, lakes, rivers, rock climbing, Central Oregon has a lot to offer. The sunsets here are completely amazing. The view of the Cascades from Bachelor to Jefferson never gets old. Sparks Lake is one of the most photographed locations in Oregon. Photographers from around the state come to get their chance to shoot the reflection of South Sister and Broken Top in the lake.”
Jeff feels local photographers play an important, often overlooked role in Central Oregon (a guy with over 660,000 views of his shots should know). “I believe the Facebook page Visit Bend does quite well in sharing the images of local photographers. Why wouldn’t they? We capture the beauty of our region and love to share our work. Thus, people from other states and regions see our area and want to visit or relocate here.”
Dave White – Alfalfa, Oregon
Dave graduated from Mountain View High School in 1979, after moving to Bend in 1972. He works as a driver in the sanitation disposal industry.
Dave shoots with a Nikon D810 accompanied by 14-24, 24-70, 70-200 and a 300mm lens. He does his post-shoot processing in LightRoom 5. He adores landscape photography and night shots. Dave’s images garner several hundred thousand views a year. One image alone garnered over 63,000 views on Facebook during 2014.
For Dave, “Central Oregon has so much to offer – from the high desert to the mountains, it’s just an amazing part of Oregon. It never gets boring – especially with the change of seasons. Between the amazing rivers, mountains, all the outdoor sports, boating, skiing, backpacking, and cycling – the list just keeps going on and on. It’s an amazing place to live.”
Dave agrees that photographers, as a group, are overlooked in Central Oregon. “I think we are overlooked but sites like Visit Bend do an amazing job sharing our images and link back to us. Everybody wins!”
In 2014, Dave has spent over $5,000 on photography gear and averages about $300 per month just on fuel expenses alone.
You can view Dave’s photography work at www.davewhitephotography.com and https://www.facebook.com/davewhitephotography
Yes, the landscape for digital photography has changed dramatically over past few years. Change will continue. Like any industry, the technology, products and applications will continue to be transformed. Yet, one fact remains a certainty: the use of tasteful, refreshing, eye-catching, attention-grabbing, locally flavored visual imagery to distinguish your organization from the competition is a necessity. It’s vastly more important today than it was a few years ago. You just have to look in the right places to find what you require…places you may not have thought to consider without articles like this one.
As you consider the strategic necessity to improve your Company’s visual digital media appearance in 2015 – give serious consideration to relying upon the work and skills of yet another hidden treasure of the High Desert – The Visual Imagery Artisans of Central Oregon.
Dig a little – You just might find your company’s digital imagery diamond in the rough for 2015 – and beyond – right here in Central Oregon. Embrace the reality that we live in a world where clicks, views, followers, shares, links, impressions, time on site, and likes are an integral part of a successful business strategy today. The value of local talent that serves as a source of digital visual imagery that separates your company from the rest is a precious commodity.
Remember: Not everybody is a photographer.
Make 2015 a Made in Oregon year for your company.