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Author Topic: No-Cost Aerial Photography  (Read 5373 times)

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« on: October 30, 2011, 18:18 »
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Hello everyone!

I am quite new to all this and have a pretty slim portfolio at this point (my largest being DT at 35 uploads) and I am looking for some advice from the people who have been around for a while. I've seen people talk about aerial photography and mostly how it costs too much to be worthwhile, but here's my situation: I am a traffic watch pilot who flies around in the Seattle-area in the late afternoon everyday at 1,000 to 1,500 ft and I own a Canon 60D.

So I have the opportunity to do a lot of aerial photo work at basically no cost, question is, should I bother? Do aerial photos sell? This early on, I have a hard time differentiating whether it is a lack of photographic skill, exposure or the right content (i.e. not aerial) that is keeping sales low.

My passion is flying and I love taking pictures while I'm up there, so I am hoping that I can make a little off of them. Just wondering if I am trying to dig a well in a desert here..

Thanks in advance for your thoughts!

Here are links to my portfolios:
http://www.dreamstime.com/Stepheng101_info
http://footage.shutterstock.com/g/stepheng101
http://us.fotolia.com/p/202592999


« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2011, 18:55 »
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I think you could do well with aerial photos.  Its not something that lots of people are going to be doing.  Get a lot more photos in your portfolio and some should become good sellers.  It can take time to get results.  Most of us only have a small percentage of our portfolios that make most of the money.  Its sometimes surprising what sells and what doesn't, so build a bigger portfolio and then see what works for you.

« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2011, 19:44 »
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I think you could do well with aerial photos.  Its not something that lots of people are going to be doing.  Get a lot more photos in your portfolio and some should become good sellers.  It can take time to get results.  Most of us only have a small percentage of our portfolios that make most of the money.  Its sometimes surprising what sells and what doesn't, so build a bigger portfolio and then see what works for you.

Great thanks! I've noticed I'm getting more views with photos of corporate jets and of intersecting roads and highways. This may be an impossible question, but did you find there to be a "tipping point" where things started gaining momentum at a certain number of uploads? I'm sure it comes down to taking the right pictures and having a few good money makers, but I wonder what the average is.

« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2011, 20:00 »
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I can't imagine there is a huge market for random aerial views of Seattle.  You may make sales here and there, but nothing large.

« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2011, 20:17 »
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Your work looks good, the problem as mentioned by sjlocke and that it is limited to Seattle, as you said you have more view on more generic pictures like intersections. But I think it is worth a shot:)
are you on Pond5 as well for footage?

« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2011, 20:22 »
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You have a niche that many of us could only dream about.  Certainly give it a try.

Oh, and pictures of your cockpit, instruments, and other airplane interiors should also be considered.

Good Luck!

« Reply #6 on: October 30, 2011, 20:29 »
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Your work looks good, the problem as mentioned by sjlocke and that it is limited to Seattle, as you said you have more view on more generic pictures like intersections. But I think it is worth a shot:)
are you on Pond5 as well for footage?

I appreciate it! That's what I thought, how many people are going to want an aerial waterfront view of Seattle? I'm hoping I can keep it up with closer shots of generic things like you mentioned - intersections, housing developments, industrial shots, etc.

Hmm..no haven't heard of Pond5. I just looked it up, seems interesting. So far I've only put up videos on Shutterstock, but I got a little bummed out with 29 uploads and 0 views or downloads. Are you on it? Have you had much luck with stock footage?

« Reply #7 on: October 30, 2011, 20:32 »
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Hi Stepheng 101
I also take aerial photos. The ones I take for microstock, I take on the way to and from aerial photo assignments or mapping projects. That about the only way i think you can make money selling aerial photos for microstock. As To what aerial photos sell best- I am still learning. As to how many photos it takes, I have heard the figure of 500 to 1000 before you can expect steady sales.Leaf has done some surveys that have some interesting figures.You  can see my photos on DT under jackA. Good Luck!
Smiling Jack

« Reply #8 on: October 30, 2011, 20:40 »
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My knee jerk reaction is sell anything like aerials in the RM market, or directly, and make sure you get some decent $$$ for it

« Reply #9 on: October 30, 2011, 23:33 »
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Stephen,

I sell footage on Pond5, Clipcanvas,Shutterstock and revostock. Pond5 is my best seller by far and it is for many people so I recommend you try them, here is my referral link if you want to use it http://www.pond5.com/index.php?ref=ldambies

Good luck!

I wrote this blog entry a while ago about footage:http://microstockexperiment.blogspot.com/2009/09/from-still-to-motion.html
« Last Edit: October 30, 2011, 23:37 by MicrostockExp »

« Reply #10 on: October 31, 2011, 04:05 »
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My knee jerk reaction is sell anything like aerials in the RM market, or directly, and make sure you get some decent $$$ for it

+1

City views are a problem on micros, anyway, with logos etc needing to be hunted down and deleted.

lagereek

« Reply #11 on: October 31, 2011, 04:53 »
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Out of all my aerial shoots over the years,  the only ones that sell are industrial sites, oil-rigs, etc, with PR, ofcourse. Aerial shots of large passenger-ships and oil-tankers, out at sea, etc.
Apart from that, not much demand,  but interesting to have in your port. Since no cost is involved, you got nothing to lose.

« Reply #12 on: October 31, 2011, 05:26 »
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I think you could do well with aerial photos.  Its not something that lots of people are going to be doing.  Get a lot more photos in your portfolio and some should become good sellers.  It can take time to get results.  Most of us only have a small percentage of our portfolios that make most of the money.  Its sometimes surprising what sells and what doesn't, so build a bigger portfolio and then see what works for you.

Great thanks! I've noticed I'm getting more views with photos of corporate jets and of intersecting roads and highways. This may be an impossible question, but did you find there to be a "tipping point" where things started gaining momentum at a certain number of uploads? I'm sure it comes down to taking the right pictures and having a few good money makers, but I wonder what the average is.
It was a bit easier when I started in 2006, much less competition.  The more I uploaded, the more my sales grew.  Then I noticed some subjects sell better than others and I worked on getting more of them.

Anything with logos or trademarked, you could try selling as RM on alamy.  They take even longer than the micros to get sales but they can get much higher prices.  They pay 60% commission, a nice change from some of the sites I use.

Pond5 sell a lot more video clips than Shutterestock for me and they have more lenient reviews.  My referral is in my signature but it hasn't been clicked for a long time :'(
« Last Edit: October 31, 2011, 05:28 by sharpshot »

« Reply #13 on: October 31, 2011, 07:07 »
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My knee jerk reaction is sell anything like aerials in the RM market, or directly, and make sure you get some decent $$$ for it

I totally agree.  RM is best for niche photos like yours.

« Reply #14 on: October 31, 2011, 15:44 »
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stephen,

I think you have a nitche there, and I suspect Microstock isn't your only or best option. There was an outfit up in Alaska this summer, selling aerial photography as postcards and large wall posters of various cities, including the one I was in. I didn't buy any, but the temptation was definitely there.  But like any type of landscape photography, being in the right place, at the right time could mean the difference the photo anyone can get and the spectacular one. And I don't know how flexible your schedule is, how wide a range you have, etc.  Time of day, etc.


« Reply #16 on: October 31, 2011, 16:08 »
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Hi Stephen,

Go big!  Create an event!  Go downtown and pass out flyers to get a big group of people to form a human message at Gasworks park.  To be in the pic, everyone must sign a model release.  A human sign that says 99%, maybe a peace symbol, exclamation point, question mark, etc. 

You would need some assistants on the ground but I think it could be done and with all these guys down there with no real focus or direction right now the opportunity is there if you are willing to take it.  I'm in Seattle as well and would love to help out.

Sounds like a cool idea! I think the 99% would have the biggest bang for the buck! I'd be around the world in a heart beat.


« Reply #17 on: November 01, 2011, 15:27 »
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Hi Stephen, I just have a horrible vision of you flying over Seattle and taking pictures at the same time -how does that work exactly!
Seriously, you have a great opportunity that many of us here would envy. Whether you go the Micro route or RM Macro I wish you success. Regards, David.

« Reply #18 on: November 02, 2011, 17:25 »
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stephen,

I think you have a nitche there, and I suspect Microstock isn't your only or best option. There was an outfit up in Alaska this summer, selling aerial photography as postcards and large wall posters of various cities, including the one I was in. I didn't buy any, but the temptation was definitely there.  But like any type of landscape photography, being in the right place, at the right time could mean the difference the photo anyone can get and the spectacular one. And I don't know how flexible your schedule is, how wide a range you have, etc.  Time of day, etc.

I've actually been thinking about this more lately, seeing about selling prints and postcards or something. I got some shots of downtown Seattle at sunset last week and every building was reflecting off the water while the ferry was approaching. I'd put it up here, but I'm not quite sure how. It was a really lucky right time, right place thing and I don't think it would have a lot of value as a stock photo, but I could see it as a postcard or print. I have no idea how to get started in the photo prints business though, maybe it's as simple as calling or emailing gift shops or the tourism board or something.

« Reply #19 on: November 02, 2011, 17:35 »
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Hi Stephen, I just have a horrible vision of you flying over Seattle and taking pictures at the same time -how does that work exactly!
Seriously, you have a great opportunity that many of us here would envy. Whether you go the Micro route or RM Macro I wish you success. Regards, David.

It took a bit of googling before I found out what RM means, but I see what you all are talking about now. :P I suppose it is worth a shot. I tend to be rather self-critical and wouldn't think any of my pictures could make it to Getty or Corbis, no harm is seeing if that's the case.

As for flying and taking pictures - not as hard as you'd think, you just have to pay attention. :) JackA might agree with this, but a friend of mine who is also a pilot and photographer would get asked this periodically and he'd just say "trim and rudder!" (essentially meaning if your using your hands to take pictures, then fly with your feet!)

« Reply #20 on: November 02, 2011, 19:44 »
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stephen,

I think you have a nitche there, and I suspect Microstock isn't your only or best option. There was an outfit up in Alaska this summer, selling aerial photography as postcards and large wall posters of various cities, including the one I was in. I didn't buy any, but the temptation was definitely there.  But like any type of landscape photography, being in the right place, at the right time could mean the difference the photo anyone can get and the spectacular one. And I don't know how flexible your schedule is, how wide a range you have, etc.  Time of day, etc.

I've actually been thinking about this more lately, seeing about selling prints and postcards or something. I got some shots of downtown Seattle at sunset last week and every building was reflecting off the water while the ferry was approaching. I'd put it up here, but I'm not quite sure how. It was a really lucky right time, right place thing and I don't think it would have a lot of value as a stock photo, but I could see it as a postcard or print. I have no idea how to get started in the photo prints business though, maybe it's as simple as calling or emailing gift shops or the tourism board or something.

I'll PM you some ideas. Check your mailbox on here.

« Reply #21 on: November 03, 2011, 10:53 »
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Yes Stepheng 101 friend is right.Once the aircraft is trimmed up, flying with your feet is easy. If the aerial photos are in places with congested aerial traffic , I take along another pilot mainly to watch for traffic.
Smiling Jack

« Reply #22 on: November 03, 2011, 23:29 »
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Yes Stepheng 101 friend is right.Once the aircraft is trimmed up, flying with your feet is easy. If the aerial photos are in places with congested aerial traffic , I take along another pilot mainly to watch for traffic.
Smiling Jack

You probably have a great opportunity to get a lot photos of different places. While it's nice that I fly low, I'm always in the Seattle-area so there's only so much to shoot. Not a bad idea on bringing along a second pilot! I try to do most of my photo taking in controlled airspace and between traffic-scanning intervals. Whatever the case, between flying and taking pictures, it's good to remember which is more important. :P

Very cool to hear there's another commercial pilot trying to make a buck on microstock! Do you fly a 172 for your mapping work? I've been curious about getting into that since working at an FBO one summer when Desert Winds Air Service came in to do some photo mapping for King County. If you don't mind me asking, what's that like? QOL, hours flown per month, etc?

« Reply #23 on: November 04, 2011, 02:37 »
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Your best RM option is probably Alamy.com. There are too many hurdles at Getty and probably at Corbis, too, for someone who isn't an established photographer. It is likely to take a long time to sell anything but at least you could get a decent value sale when it comes.
If you are only going to send those shots there, then it may be beneficial to supply them as exclusive-RM. I think they let you sell some images as exclusive to them and others on a non-exclusive basis.
You could try to get into Getty via their arrangement with Flickr - but beware of the terms of their agreement, that allow them to downgrade anything and put it into Thinkstock. Or you could get on Getty by paying them $50 per picture to send to "Photographer's Choice". I've heard of some people making a good return on the $50, but more often of people who struggle to get their money back. Again, you need to read the terms and conditions carefully, you never know what might be in them.


 

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