Here at Nativestock Pictures, everyday a client will call in or email me a photo request looking for hard to find images. My photographic niche is Native American culture and lifestyles. Most photo researchers will first of all go to the cheap guys such as the Royalty Free route. With no luck an image buyer will then try searching for an image with the big boys such as Getty Images or Corbis. With no luck in finding any photo close to what they need a researcher will then go to the specialist on the subject matter at hand.
For instance, this past week one of my clients was in desperate need of a Native American family with a child interacting or riding a horse. After the photo researcher spent hours looking online she realized that this was a job for a specialist. Hence, coming to me "The Indian Country Photographer". Why am I and other photographic specialist the last on their list to contact? Is it they think there's a better picture out there in the vast ocean of stock photos or is it budget? Or is it they just plain don't like working with mom and pop or small potatoes businesses? Or do they find me cranky and difficult to work with? I hope not that last reason! Any how, I was able to send her a selection of over 30 images on just that one search for a Native Family and Horse.
Because of the economy and cut backs, my pricing per image use has dropped considerably. Back in the 80's I made more on selling an image than I do 20 years later. Only stock photography and long distance calls have relatively dropped in price in the past two decades. For obvious reasons, such as closing my door and going out of business, I can't afford to give my stuff away. Nor can I compete with the pricing of Royalty Free of $1 per image forever, where ever, when ever. But I can match most budgets.
Here's where the monopoly game begins. It's called negotiation. I want to sell my image for the most money I can possibly charge and the client wants the image for the absolutely lowest they can get it for.
My photo files contain all together over 150,000 images that all relate to First Nations tribes and culture. With 10% of this collection available as digital files for research on my website. I work alone so it's a slow process getting new images off the harddrives and up on the web for sale. I know my collection better than anyone so I always offer "FREE RESEARCH". But most of my clients like to do the Sherlock Holmes investigation themselves, although I advise that they call me up when looking for images. Not only do I specialize in the culture but also American Indian history, artifacts, dwellings, locations, ceremonies, recipes, politics, yada yada yada.
So next time any of you photo researchers are looking for an image that screams specialist for a specific lizard, rose, aircraft or tribe you might want to think about googling for a photographer who only shoots the subject that what he/she is passionate about. Yes, we still exist! For the most part, we are friendly, efficient, informational and can deliver quickly. However, here's the downside, specialized photographers can be over obsessive, too passionate, mister know-it-all's and far too happy to help you out.