Bill Bachmann - Part 2: Remember the Joy

Posted on 12/3/2009 by Jim Pickerell | Printable Version | Comments (2)

Bill Bachmann, author and publisher of Remember The Joy—How To Have a Successful Career in Photography and Have Fun Doing It, says: “The best part of my life is that I shoot what I love. Everyone should do that!”

In his lectures, Bachmann seeks to motivate photographers to emulate his path to success. “We all are very good at shooting subjects we love. I teach photographers how they can take that love and make a very good living getting better assignments and producing stock. The key is simply having the right image in the right hands to sell to the right client for a price based on usage. The photographer’s job is to produce the images. Great agents will find the sales venues for them.”

“The only real way to have a career and find success in the stock photo business is by getting a fair return for your work. That fair way is rights-managed licensing. There are a very, very small number of people in the world doing at all well selling microstock or royalty-free. They would do so much better if they had the confidence to sell their images as rights-managed—and get a lot more money for each usage. Traditional royalty-free at least has a chance for success. With microstock selling images for $1 to $2 each, you must have an assembly line of shooting and you cannot afford to take any time to make the images really special. It is definitely a numbers game,” Bachmann continued.

“Many photographers who have read my newest book or attended my lectures are making $20,000 or more per year from stock sales and will do even better as they get more and more images into their new agencies. They have pride in their stock work, because they are selling pictures at a fair price, for specified usages, and not giving them away.

“One of the problems with the industry, Jim, is that you tell photographers they should try a little of this and a little of that in starting with royalty-free and microstock. The problem with this is three-fold.

“First, it waters down the stock world with more entry level microstock images available for buyers. Buyers love to have images for $1. They’re great for client budgets, but it hurts creators of the imagery because they can not make money to cover their production costs at $1.00 to $2.00 per sale. Everyone gets screwed in selling for tiny monetary sales.

“Second, and you never mention this, is that all those images that go into microstock or royalty free can never be pulled back into rights-managed licensing. They are out there cheap and next to free, forever. That is a shame for artists who want to build a career. Microstock is fine for the car salesman that wants to say he is published… but not to build a successful business.

“Third, if you want to really be a photographer, you must add expenses for new camera equipment, your salary, car expenses, office, computers, upgrades, even retirement into your business gross sales. You can’t make that happen by practically giving imagery away. You are adding to the problem without really thinking of the correct solution. If only photographers would read my new book and start out correctly, they could have a career that brings a great deal of success and pride.”

What about Bachmann’s advantage of building a huge collection of images over 29 years and the fact that photographers just starting out are not likely to have the same success?

Bachmann responded: “The biggest stumbling blocks for photographers are that they either think the market no longer exists or that they don’t have enough imagery to make a dent in the market. While 18,000 images may sound like a lot, if they start with 1,000 and send them to 10 agencies, they can start making really good money. The secret is to take the first step and then the next. Most of our lack of success is self-initiated.”

He continued: “In my book, I suggest lots of ways to start today and get over the hurdles in your head. You don’t have to have as much imagery as I do to be successful. You don’t need my seven-figure stock sales to survive. Some people would be happy with an additional $50,000 per year income from stock as a supplement to their other income, or an extra $100,000 per year in retirement. This is possible if you place good images in multiple agencies. Remember, you don’t need to make a lot of money from every one of your agencies. If you only made an average of $5,000 per year from 10 agencies, that is an extra $50,000 per year in income. It grows exponentially once you really get my system down and work regularly at it. The good news is that big sales (not the depressing $1 ones) do make all of us want to work harder… success breeds success.

“You just need to get started and shoot great, timely material. All the old images of cell phones, computers even swimsuits are not good today. Any new photographer can start with the newest cells, newest computers and modern clothes and get images into agencies that will sell right along with the big boys.

“The problem is where to send them and how do you know what sells? In the book, I talk a lot about research to find the agency that is a fit for you—that sells the type of imagery you are good at shooting. Don’t send your best bird pictures to an agency that wants medical imagery. If you shoot great and unique images, agencies will want them. Many portrait photographers are passing up a goldmine. They have great looking families, or great looking high school seniors, and they are letting those great models leave the studio without shooting stock. Once you start thinking stock… just ask if you can shoot several teens together with iPods, cell phones, pizza, etc. Do a teens-hanging-out model-released lifestyle stock shoot. Ninety-nine out of one hundred people will be thrilled and set it up for you. That is gold! You will have lifestyle imagery that no one else has.

“Even wedding photographers should get model releases and ask if they may use the images for stock, especially if the photographer is shooting modern editorial weddings.  I get requests for that and don’t shoot weddings, so I have none.

“The simple answer is: ‘If you build it, they will come!’  If you shoot modern, beautiful images and research carefully, you will find agencies that can sell them,” Bachmann concludes.

What else is in the book?

In both Remember the Joy and his workshops, Bachmann discusses the pros and cons of royalty-free, microstock and rights-managed types of sales. He tells photographers how to find agencies and when and how to approach them. He talks about workflow and how to get images out to agencies. He shows a useful numbering system and how to arrange shoots for the most profit. The book also has chapters on how to market your work to get better, higher paying commercial assignments and how to find and approach such clients. Several chapters discuss how to work on foreign assignments and how and why Bachmann did what he did to get the needed result.

Bachmann shows his all-time best selling images and discusses why they are great sellers. One of his images earned over $400,000 in stock sales and many others have topped $100,000. Bachmann provides details on how photographers can realize sales returns like these by creating images they love.

The theme of Remember the Joy is shooting what you really love and making money at it. Bachmann’s goal is to show you how to change your life in photography and be successful in today’s tough world with computers and lower prices for images. According to Bachmann, “there is no other book on the market that gives so many real secrets of success in this competitive business. Once the reader has finished his book, and understands the techniques presented, there is no reason he/she can’t make 500 times the price of the book in stock sales the first year.”  


Copyright © 2009 Jim Pickerell. The above article may not be copied, reproduced, excerpted or distributed in any manner without written permission from the author. All requests should be submitted to Selling Stock at 10319 Westlake Drive, Suite 162, Bethesda, MD 20817, phone 301-461-7627, e-mail: wvz@fpcubgbf.pbz

Jim Pickerell is founder of www.selling-stock.com, an online newsletter that publishes daily. He is also available for personal telephone consultations on pricing and other matters related to stock photography. He occasionally acts as an expert witness on matters related to stock photography. For his current curriculum vitae go to: http://www.jimpickerell.com/Curriculum-Vitae.aspx.  

Comments

  • Bill Bachmann Posted Dec 3, 2009
    After all the "gloom & doom" stories that prevail, I finally am able to say positive things.

    Photographers... We all can make a difference and maintain our careers by just getting a fair return on our images! Do not give your talent away because you feel you HAVE to do it!

    Thanks, Jim, for interviewing me and sharing a positive view with others. I want people who LOVE photography to be able to do it as a career and not just part-time while they have another career. That is my goal.

    Bill Bachmann
    www.billbachmann.com

  • Thom Gourley Posted Dec 3, 2009
    This is great inspiration, Bill! Thanks for giving this interview a providing a positive message for us aspiring shooters.

    Thom Gourley

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