So you want to be on a book cover – A guide.

So you want to be on a book cover. Perhaps you’ve seen other photographers accomplish this but you’ve never quite known how. Maybe you walk through the stores scrutinizing and studying every book. I know I did. It has always been a dream of mine to be on a book cover. Growing up, I was very shy and never had a lot of friends, so instead I read. Getting lost in each character was a comfort. I lived for the smell of the old paper pages. My favorites were used text books and poetry because you could get such an understanding of the previous owner by the writings in the margins.

536349_432018960156029_1977656461_n So how exactly do you go about getting your work on a book cover? When I was starting out I took to my book collection and made a list of publishing companies so I could start emailing them one by one. I wanted to see if there was an opportunity for me. I sent nearly thirty companies my portfolio and asked them for tips. The ones who did reply said all of their cover art is licensed through a stock agency. I’ve always tried to live under the philosophy of, if opportunities are not coming to you, go seek the opportunities. If you are at a point now where you don’t have a lot of exposure and you haven’t started receiving licensing requests on your own, joining a stock agency is a fantastic way get your work licensed relatively quickly. If I have thousands of photos laying around on my hard drives, why not put them out into the world and see if they will make me some money? Since I signed on with my agency in 2011, I have been published on nearly thirty book covers internationally.

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A stock agency is a go between for you and the client. You give the agency the rights to license your photos for you. Unlike in self licensing where you have to be your own lawyer, negotiator, and collector, the agency provides all of that for you. An agency is responsible in providing the clients, contracts, and pricing. All you have to do is upload your photos, keyword them, and wait for an email with an invoice for your payment. Easy stuff! However, they take a portion of the proceeds for their work unlike self licensing where you get 100% of the profits. But with self licensing, you have to wait for the client to find you.

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Picking the right gallery. 

Percent – There are a few things I consider when trying to figure out if an agency will work for me. How much of a cut am I going to make? I’m not going to want to choose an agency that is going to give me 15% of the profits. I’m going to go with an agency that is going to give me half or better.

Selectivity – When you join a stock agency, you are giving an agency the right to license out your images on your behalf. In that, once your images are uploaded you don’t have a say on what they are going to be used for so long as the agency, and subsequently you, are paid. I’m more of a fine art photographer who has taken a lot of weird self portraits. I’m going to choose an agency that is going to specialize in book covers, album covers, and the like, instead of choosing more of an anything goes situation where my face could be used on a billboard advertising the latest in scientific advancement in feminine products or something equally as embarrassing. Unless you don’t care. Then more power to you.

Portfolio – Does your portfolio fit with the agency’s clientele? Are they selling for high end advertising? Are they selling to publishing companies for covers? Are they looking for shots of the latest news? What kind of work are they looking for? I want to maximize my potential for profit by putting the right pictures with the right agencies.

Your rights – I want to work with an agency that isn’t gong to take the rights to my photos. Just temporarily borrow them to license them for you, generally in a three year contract. Stock agencies should allow you to sell prints of your work, showcase in galleries, appear in magazine with your portfolio, and merchandising. To ensure exclusivity with the clients most agencies ask that you do not license an image via self licensing or upload same or similar images to other agencies.

Exclusivity – If you have uploaded a photo, you can not then sell that photo on your own or with another agency. This is to ensure to the client that when they purchase an image it will be only on that book in their country. Are you getting a lot of your own requests to license a particular photo? Don’t upload it. If it’s a personal piece you would like to have more control over. Don’t upload it. I’m always concerned about uploading my conceptual work with an agency because I get licensing requests on my own. So I’ve taken to uploading my travel and candid photos. Some agencies even take smart phone photos. Point being, if you have photos lying around, why not see if you can put them to work more effectively. Screen Shot 2014-12-07 at 8.01.14 PM Marketing – How well does the agency market your work? Is your work accessible? I like to stick with the smaller more specialized agencies because my work has a better likelihood of being seen in an agency with 600 photographers, than an agency with 60,000.  MOSCD375_90s-Smooth-Grooves_1500 So after much careful consideration you’ve decided on an agency that is going to give you a fair share of the profits, is going to work well with your portfolio, and you are keeping the rights to your photos! Fantastic! Now, how to you increase your chances of your work being chosen by clients?

How to increase your chances. 

Upload often – The bigger your library the better you’ll do. You want to saturate the market. This will show the client and the agency that you are continuously updating your portfolio. The agency is going to want to market a photographer that is constantly bringing in new work. You’ll have a more diverse portfolio for clients to choose from.

Keywording – Keywording is the best opportunity you have to get your work seen by the clients. Increase you chance of discoverability by keywording effectively. If a client has a book about a girl on a swing, they are going to search for a girl on a swing. If your photo is of a girl, put girl. Is there a swing set? What is the mood of your photo? For example if I had a photo of a girl in the woods in a blue dress in the winter. I will keyword like: girl, alone, woman, alone, young, nature, forest, brunette, scared, eerie, scary, blue, dress, snow, ice, frozen, winter, dark, moody, mysterious. Anything I could possible use to describe the photo.  Screen Shot 2014-12-06 at 8.46.38 PM Do your research – Go to the book stores, check out the new releases, and see what is selling. Keep up with the latest trends and be aware of what your agency is going to want.

Keep your releases on hand – You can upload photos without a release but there is a possibility it will dissuade the client due to liability. They don’t want a model coming to them with a lawsuit for the feminine product billboard just as much as you don’t. So make sure you have your permissions in line before you upload. IMG_6137 There are no words quite accurate to describe the feeling of walking into your local bookstore and having a little scavenger hunt to find your latest book cover. I love being able to hold something tangible in my hands and say, I had a part in this. It’s really fun when a book does well and you can see some of the promotional material. A self portrait of mine was licensed for a best seller that has sold more than 140,000 copies in the UK. I have photos I licensed on books being sold at Walmart. Posters of a book was life-size in a subway station in The Netherlands. It’s kind of a fun little thing.

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And a book even made it into a Kindle Fire commercial! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=87K6PwKMEd4

A weekend at Lulu’s – Part two.

We took a small adventure to North Hampton, Massachusetts with Lulu’s lovely sister and her friend Marcel. Although I grew up in Massachusetts, I usually stayed towards the coast and never really ventured west. It was nice to visit such a quaint and beautiful New England town. The streets were lined with small shops and amazing food! luluday2-00692luluday2-00858luluday2-00711luluday2-00855luluday2-00856 Our first stop for our sleepy Saturday wanderings was a local Italian bakery where we indulged in cheesecake and coffee. luluday2-00707 luluday2-00706 luluday2-00700 luluday2-00694  luluday2-00696 luluday2-00697 luluday2-00698 luluday2-00704 luluday2-00699 Then we headed off to the Botanical Gardens at Smith College where they had the most incredible collection of plants from all parts of the globe. It was so beautiful. And the best part was, it was free! I always feel calm and at peace among the flowers and trees so it was nice to have that little bit of warmth and happiness on the cold winter day. There was so much to see and smell and take pictures of. It was magical. I fell in love with the lanterns. luluday2-00712 luluday2-00713luluday2-00854luluday2-00714luluday2-00715luluday2-00760luluday2-00756luluday2-00768luluday2-00773luluday2-00716luluday2-00717luluday2-00718luluday2-00747luluday2-00740luluday2-00750luluday2-00753luluday2-00754luluday2-00757luluday2-00761luluday2-00762luluday2-00763luluday2-00765luluday2-00766luluday2-00767luluday2-00769luluday2-00770luluday2-00771luluday2-00772luluday2-00774luluday2-00775luluday2-00776luluday2-00778luluday2-00780luluday2-00783luluday2-00786luluday2-00787luluday2-00789luluday2-00792luluday2-00793luluday2-00794 The tropical room was my favorite filled with palm and cacao trees! Just walking into the room caused my lens to fog up from the humidity. luluday2-00796luluday2-00797luluday2-00798luluday2-00799luluday2-00805luluday2-00808luluday2-00826luluday2-00828luluday2-00829luluday2-00830luluday2-00831luluday2-00832luluday2-00833luluday2-00839luluday2-00841luluday2-00844luluday2-00846luluday2-00849luluday2-00851 We ended the day at a lovely little noodle house for cups of hot green tea and wonderful bowls of tofu curry! luluday2-00859 luluday2-00862 And an exclusive before and after of my latest photo! before

A weekend at Lulu’s.

Lulu is the best kind of friend. The kind of friend you can show up at her door crying and she will welcome you in with hugs, kitties, tons of vegetarian snacks, and honey lavender tea. The kind of friend that will color in coloring books with you and watch reruns of The Golden Girls and will let you cry for hours if you needed to. I am so thankful to have such a strong female figure in my life. Her cute Vermont apartment is warm and sunny and filled with things so uniquely Lu. I took the back roads the four hours from Maine to Vermont and was so happy to see it took me through the beautiful White Mountains of New Hampshire.

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The sun sets through the windows in the living room creating the most beautiful light rays.

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In Lulu’s backyard are the cutest horses. She fed them carrots and I got to pet them.

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Chippy was a bit of a bum biter.

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And right across the street there is a farm with sheep and alpaca!

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I don’t think they like me very much.

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Lulu really is something special. She is a breath of pure joy with one of the bravest most kindest of hearts.

A walk in the woods with the Sony A99

I was leant a Sony A99 by one of my dearest friends and I was just able to take the opportunity to try it out. Even with the kit zoom lens, I was impressed by it’s quality and how easy it was to use it. I’ve always been a Canon user, so it was nice to get myself acquainted with a different brand.

I really love the A99. From it’s moveable LCD to digital viewfinder to peaking focus and duel SD slots it makes the user experience delightful. It’s giving the Mark III a run for it’s money on deciding of which camera I would like to upgrade.

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Behind the scenes look at “Haven”

“I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.” – Thoreau

Here are some behind the scenes and a nice walk through the foggy woods in Maine. I wanted to create the piece “Haven” as a way to find my connection to nature again. I’ve been thinking a lot lately about Thoreau’s quote and what it would be like to be one with nature.

We had spent some time wandering around the woods in my backyard when we stumbled upon a mossy stump in the middle of a clear patch of forest. It was so foggy, quiet, and peaceful, I knew I had to create something there. I wanted to play on the idea of camouflage. That maybe if I stood still long enough, nature would take me back. I’ve been longing for solitude and wanting to feel connected to nature again.

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Behind the scenes shots of making the evergreen wings.

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