As part of my Ask Ron series, Phil Cola asked what is my top selling photo in terms of revenue, and what was the location, setup, logistics etc.
It is a great question – I know I’m always fascinated by the annual issue of Photo District News (PDN) in which the major stock agencies share the same information on their most successful image from the prior year. My most successful images draw on some similar parallels that I will touch on below.
By the way, Phil Colla is an excellent photographer – he was one of the first photographers I knew who had a blog, I have been following his very informative blog for years. If his name looks familiar here, you may remember Phil and I shared a chartered helicopter for a flight over San Diego earlier this year.
So interestingly enough, the above photo is the top performer thanks mainly to one large sale for a Nature Valley billboard ad campaign. It has sold a few other times, but its success is because of this one sale. In fact, our top 5 (maybe more) grossing images are all because of a single sale. That tends to skew the number. Maybe tomorrow I will post our more popular sellers in terms of number of times sold.
Now to answer Phil’s questions about the setup and logistics. Considering all the really amazing places we travel to, you might think there could be a great story here, but there really isn’t much to it. This is a little pond within the city limits of my hometown. In June there is a short period where the greens just rock. (We are getting close to that time this year) I also knew that in the same month this pond gets hit with some really sweet evening light. So I waited for a nice evening, drove down there and grabbed this photo – I was probably away from the house for about a half an hour as I worked the last light of day, then came back home.
So what does this have in common with other top stock revenue earners? For one, I’m always surprised as to how many of the images in the annual PDN article are landscape images. I would say 4 of my top 5 earners are landscape images as well. I wouldn’t have guessed that – I have always thought model released outdoor activity images would be the big winners.
The other thing that surprises me is that it seems like the best selling stock landscape photos all have nice light, but not the rare, dramatic light that draws all the ohs and awes on photography forums. Supposedly, the largest stock sell ever was an image of a green wheat field with a blue sky along with a nice cloud overhead – it is the photo that accompanies all Window XP computers. My image has some similar traits – bright warm blues and greens, but not some dramatic sunset or other light. This holds true for my other top earners as well.
Since I have shared with you my hits, it only seems fair that I share some of my misses as well. My misses are photos where I spent a fair amount of time and money and thought I really had a winner – but then the photo never sold.