Author Topic: Authors crowdfunding custom stock photography? What do you guys think?  (Read 1053 times)  

Online abgwriter

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Hey, guys!
I've been following up on the discussion happening in The What's Needed in Stock Images for Photographers Thread, started by Melody Simmons (http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,253093.0.html), and it got me thinking about something.
As a photographer and cover designer, I've been forced many times to take my own images for covers due to the lack of good images in the regular stock sites. This is the exact thing we've been discussing in Melody's thread. However, the problem with doing this is that setting a studio, hiring models and buying/renting all the costumes and props is way too expensive for a one-time shoot. A proper fantasy shoot with historically accurate setting, props and costumes lands you in the vicinity of $500.00 expense, without counting studio, equipment cost and time of the photographer's that goes into taking and editing the images to make them cover-ready.
So my question is this, has anyone thought about crowdfunding the images they need?
From Melody's thread, it seems to me that many different authors have overlapping needs, so I wonder, what do you think of an option that lets several authors pitch in and crowdfund a custom photo shoot for a photographer, in exchange for getting first choice at the resulting images?
Let's discuss a hypothetical case:
A group of romance authors want to have more images of bi-racial couples. They contact a photographer and pitch in a set amount (let's say $50.00, times 10 authors = $500.00), and agree with the photographer to fund the project, including hiring the models ($500.00 would hire you two couples for a couple of hours, enough to get some 50-100 images per couple), and paying the photographer's expenses. Once the shoot is done, the authors in the group can get complete access to the resulting images and take as many as they need, in a first choice basis, before the photographer releases them into the regular stock sites.

Advantages of this method:
FOR AUTHORS:
Authors could get the images they want, exactly the way they want.
For their contribution they have access to as many images as they need (and only pay a flat fee at the beginning).

FOR PHOTOGRAPHERS:
The photo shoot fees are taken over by someone else, but he gets to keep the images and add them to his portfolio.
After the pitching authors have taken their pick, the photographer can publish the image in stock sites and make money from them. 

Does that sound like something you would be in for?   
« Last Edit: July 12, 2017, 01:41:08 PM by abgwriter »
 

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Offline ShayneRutherford

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Re: Crowdfunding cover desing?
« Reply #1 on: July 10, 2017, 01:23:34 PM »
I'd totally be into that.
     

Offline brkingsolver

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Re: Crowdfunding cover desing?
« Reply #2 on: July 10, 2017, 01:28:09 PM »
I have done my own photo shoots, but I have the advantage of occasionally being able to shoot in Russia with very inexpensive models. I've thought about asking authors if they would be willing to pitch in on the expenses.

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Re: Crowdfunding cover desing?
« Reply #3 on: July 10, 2017, 01:36:14 PM »
It could even be done as Kickstarter projects. Depending on the contributed amount authors could have more control over the shoot, like choosing a specific pose or color of the clothing.
I've been dying to make some accurate fantasy photos for my covers but a regular simple cloak and tunic look is up of 100.00 to purchase, and that's without any elaborate or specific ornaments. Not to mention a sword or bow and arrow prop. For a single person is a little bit of a expense, but divided it could work really well
 

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Online abgwriter

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Re: Crowdfunding cover desing?
« Reply #4 on: July 12, 2017, 01:26:27 PM »
So I guess it wasn't that good an idea after all  :(
 

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Offline ShayneRutherford

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Re: Crowdfunding cover desing?
« Reply #5 on: July 12, 2017, 01:35:43 PM »
Maybe people didn't see it the first time? Or maybe change the subject line a bit - people might not realize from the title what you're actually asking about.
     

Online abgwriter

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Re: Authors crowdfunding custom stock photography.
« Reply #6 on: July 12, 2017, 01:40:41 PM »
How about now? ::)
 

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Offline ShayneRutherford

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That might help. :)
     

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Could be a good investment, depending on genre and demand. 

If buy-in isn't too high, I'm sure you'd find lots of takers for specific shoots, but there would need to be a lot of transparency involved, not just "going to do some fantasy stuff now" for instance.  Authors tend to have specific needs for their covers and can be discriminating.  Investing on a chance the work will fit their needs might seem like a big risk, depending on price, etc.

As well, a really iron-clad agreement about what images can be used for and how many "copies" or however they put it, so there's no weird gotchas about only on ebook and not print covers, or only up to 500 uses and then the prices go sky high.  (A person worries less about that with the stock sites, but a photographer selling photos could be a concern, unless it was clearly stated and agreed upon.)

But definitely, reputable dealing and good communication all rounds could bring some steady work for photographers and good image options for authors.

The first few times would be a proving ground, and if it went well, there would be a lot of demand, IMO.

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That's why I suggested Kickstarter. You get a certain amount of accountability through the site, and there's always the certainty that if the project is not fully funded, the photographer won't pocket whatever money was made.
I think NeoStock terms that were discussed in Melody's thread are a good starting point. Also, from personal experience with photo shoots, we can calculate what would be a fair amount, and authors can also check the places where costumes and props are rented, so they know the cost upfront (for my own shoots I've been looking at http://www.victorianchoice.com/shop/pc/home.asp and http://www.historicalclothingrealm.com/ but it will be a long time before I'm able to afford it  :P :P :P :P)
I think the whole project been managed by authors, and rooted here in KBOARDS will keep it more exclusive and advantageous.

Example:
Kickstarter campaign for a Fantasy Custom Photography (AMOUNT NEEDED: $500.00 - $750.00)
Theme: Elves (LoTR-like makeup and costumes, including bow and arrow, dagger and sword props).
Setting: Studio (Black background & Chroma Key background)
License offered: Standard License (500k copies in print/ unlimited digital exposures)
Initial Buy in: $50.00
Kickstarter levels:
Basic ($50.00) - Contributors can choose as many images they need from the bulk.
Medium ($100) - Contributors can choose as many images they need from the bulk. Contributors can ask for specific poses and camera angles. 
ETC.

 
 

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Offline RRodriguez

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If I'm understanding this correctly, I think it would be very difficult to do? Even if a group managed to come together and agreed on what type of outfits and makeup they want the models to wear, I think would be quite complicated as even within something like "princess ballgown" there is still a ton of variety and people can be very particular about what they might want to be used, especially if they're the one footing the bill. Not to mention the models themselves might not appeal to everyone. I know that sounds rude, but from what I've seen, a majority of people want attractive models, no matter their race, and there's such a huge range as to what people find attractive or envision their characters to look like. Would they even get a say? Would they just be stuck with whatever models were available for the shoot? What if they look nothing like anyone in their book and they can't even use it? I know with sites like Shutterstock I do get very annoyed at how few models I can find that appeal to me, but at least I have thousands to look through as opposed to a tiny handful that I have to pay for.

Sorry, I'm not trying to be negative  ??? But I just think it would be difficult to pull off in a way where everyone is happy and actually gets some use out of it.
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Online abgwriter

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If I'm understanding this correctly, I think it would be very difficult to do? Even if a group managed to come together and agreed on what type of outfits and makeup they want the models to wear, I think would be quite complicated as even within something like "princess ballgown" there is still a ton of variety and people can be very particular about what they might want to be used, especially if they're the one footing the bill. Not to mention the models themselves might not appeal to everyone. I know that sounds rude, but from what I've seen, a majority of people want attractive models, no matter their race, and there's such a huge range as to what people find attractive or envision their characters to look like. Would they even get a say? Would they just be stuck with whatever models were available for the shoot? What if they look nothing like anyone in their book and they can't even use it? I know with sites like Shutterstock I do get very annoyed at how few models I can find that appeal to me, but at least I have thousands to look through as opposed to a tiny handful that I have to pay for.

Sorry, I'm not trying to be negative  ??? But I just think it would be difficult to pull off in a way where everyone is happy and actually gets some use out of it.

That's what I opened the thread for! So we can discuss the feasibility of the idea. And about your concerns... you do make a valid point. I guess there will have to be a certain standard the models would have to meet, and the package info could include physical traits such as hair color, eye color, ethnicity, etc. However, it's my understanding that taste doesn't wary that much beyond hair color, eye color and body type, unless you want something really specific. The stock images themselves tell me that. How many times have you seen the same model featured in different covers by different authors? One of the things I was thinking about when the idea came to be is this girl: http://faestock.deviantart.com/
I've seen her face featured in everything from romance to sci-fi, to fantasy, and it's mainly because her shoots feature very detailed clothing and accessories. As I see it, physical traits can be altered easily enough in Photoshop, but you cannot alter the model's position or turn their jeans and t-shirt into a regency ball gown without heavy (heavy!) work.
I guess if it were done, the shoots would have to focus on getting those things the authors most need, like position, costumes, bi-racial couples and all the things that are been discussed (quite successfully) in Melody's thread.   
 

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Online Janeal Falor

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This has me totally interested. Whether or not I would actually do it depends on a lot though. I think that some good concerns have been raised. I'd also worry that I'd end up having the same couple & clothing on someone else's book, just in a different pose. I know you can get this a lot with stock photos though too, but it would be a concern all the same.

I would be excited about a shoot was done with what I need, and being able to use three different images for some books I want to relaunch with new covers. The trilogy really could use new covers. So I guess, I'm tentatively game, but it would depend a lot on how things ended up working out. I'd almost want to see the model(s) and clothing choice before hand. Or at least a good idea. Whether it happens or not, I love how you're thinking outside the box to try and make something happen.

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Online abgwriter

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This has me totally interested. Whether or not I would actually do it depends on a lot though. I think that some good concerns have been raised. I'd also worry that I'd end up having the same couple & clothing on someone else's book, just in a different pose. I know you can get this a lot with stock photos though too, but it would be a concern all the same.

I would be excited about a shoot was done with what I need, and being able to use three different images for some books I want to relaunch with new covers. The trilogy really could use new covers. So I guess, I'm tentatively game, but it would depend a lot on how things ended up working out. I'd almost want to see the model(s) and clothing choice before hand. Or at least a good idea. Whether it happens or not, I love how you're thinking outside the box to try and make something happen.

That's actually a very good suggestion.  ;D ;D ;D
Since we are deciding on a theme anyways, it wouldn't be a stretch to divide that theme into visuals  ::)
For models we could bring their images and hourly rates into the mix and factor that into the overall cost, and for costumes and props, we could decide before hand exactly which items would be used. That would also ensure transparency, because the photographer cannot advertise one thing and then show another (perhaps of lesser value) in the final project.
The only problem with that would be availability of the models. Since they won't be hired until the funding goal is met, the model you select may not be available once you have the funding. Although since Kickstarter only gives 1 month for a project to finish, it might not be that much of a problem after all. Definitely something to consider  ::) ::)
 

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Online Janeal Falor

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That's actually a very good suggestion.  ;D ;D ;D
Since we are deciding on a theme anyways, it wouldn't be a stretch to divide that theme into visuals  ::)
For models we could bring their images and hourly rates into the mix and factor that into the overall cost, and for costumes and props, we could decide before hand exactly which items would be used. That would also ensure transparency, because the photographer cannot advertise one thing and then show another (perhaps of lesser value) in the final project.
The only problem with that would be availability of the models. Since they won't be hired until the funding goal is met, the model you select may not be available once you have the funding. Although since Kickstarter only gives 1 month for a project to finish, it might not be that much of a problem after all. Definitely something to consider  ::) ::)

That would be awesome! I can see it being hard with availability of models though. I worked with a photographer once before (which totally rocked!) and ended up having to wait a few months to get the model I wanted because of scheduling conflicts.

I didn't know that Kickstarter had a one month to finish a project. That would be nice because we wouldn't be waiting forever for something to come through.

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Online abgwriter

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That would be awesome! I can see it being hard with availability of models though. I worked with a photographer once before (which totally rocked!) and ended up having to wait a few months to get the model I wanted because of scheduling conflicts.

I didn't know that Kickstarter had a one month to finish a project. That would be nice because we wouldn't be waiting forever for something to come through.

Projects in Kickstarter can last up to 60 days but 1 month is the standard.
And yeah, I do think choosing costumes and elements beforehand will be better, but the models will create the problem  :(
 

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I've been in love with the idea of hiring my own photographer and models for a while now. It can get expensive, which is why it's currently out of reach for me. I think this is a neat idea, though I'm not sure it'd work for most authors.

For me, the appeal of hiring people rather than buying stock photos would be having a unique model or couple on my covers. It's not so unique anymore if anyone can buy the image -- especially in a genre like romance where every book and teaser wind up using the same photo.

Maybe I'm daydreaming here, but I think it'd be cool if there was a website where authors could crowdfund photoshoots OR search through freelance models and photographers for exclusive photoshoots. Staci Hart, for example, hires her own photographer and models for her covers and no one else gets those rights. It'd be amazing if I could go to a website, see photographers' and models' rates, and put together a package within my budget but still end up with a unique image.

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Offline ShayneRutherford

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Maybe I'm daydreaming here, but I think it'd be cool if there was a website where authors could crowdfund photoshoots OR search through freelance models and photographers for exclusive photoshoots. Staci Hart, for example, hires her own photographer and models for her covers and no one else gets those rights. It'd be amazing if I could go to a website, see photographers' and models' rates, and put together a package within my budget but still end up with a unique image.

I tend to think this would be fairly expensive. As soon as you start talking about exclusive rights, that tends to jack the price up.
     

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I've been in love with the idea of hiring my own photographer and models for a while now. It can get expensive, which is why it's currently out of reach for me. I think this is a neat idea, though I'm not sure it'd work for most authors.

For me, the appeal of hiring people rather than buying stock photos would be having a unique model or couple on my covers. It's not so unique anymore if anyone can buy the image -- especially in a genre like romance where every book and teaser wind up using the same photo.

Maybe I'm daydreaming here, but I think it'd be cool if there was a website where authors could crowdfund photoshoots OR search through freelance models and photographers for exclusive photoshoots. Staci Hart, for example, hires her own photographer and models for her covers and no one else gets those rights. It'd be amazing if I could go to a website, see photographers' and models' rates, and put together a package within my budget but still end up with a unique image.
Ok, what you speak of is definitely not unheard of, in fact many trad pub authors do it. But the expense pretty much makes it implausible. :(
Let me explain a little bit of what goes on and the approximate rates (from a photographer's point of view):
1 - The photographer needs to procure a studio setting for the shoot ($50.00/h approximately)
2 - He needs to hire models ($100+ per hour each)
3 - He needs to procure the costumes and props for the shoot (anywhere from $100 to $1000, depending on complexity of the items)
4 - After the shoot he needs to clean and fix any mistakes in the images, including lighting, tilting and noise, before releasing them. ($5.00 per photo, market standard)

A regular session needs to last at least 2 hrs in order to get a decent amount of workable images (50 to 100).

Let's do the math:
2-hour studio session -- $100.00
2-hour contract 1 model -- $200.00 / 2 models -- $400.00
Props and costumes (if a simple, everyday clothes shoot such as romance, UF, thriller or Contemporary) -- $100.00 / (if a specialized costume shoot such as historical fiction, high fantasy, sci-first or steampunk) -- $500 - $1000.00
Amount of images selected: 20 -- $100.00 editing fee.

That way, per shoot a photographer could end up with expenses anywhere from $500.00 to $1500.00. If they get to sell the images afterwards they may be able to make their money back, but if they don't, then the commissioning party would have to take care of it (without talking about actually paying the photographer hourly rate, whatever it is).
It's a little (a lot!) steep for a budgeting indie author.  :-\
 

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Bumping because I think this is an awesome idea more people should think about.

Also, question. Do you think we would get all the pictures the photographer took or only the ones we wanted and she could use the rest as she saw fit? I just ask because when I worked with a photographer before, I got to pick one photo and if I wanted more than that, I had to pay more money for each one.

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Online abgwriter

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Bumping because I think this is an awesome idea more people should think about.

Also, question. Do you think we would get all the pictures the photographer took or only the ones we wanted and she could use the rest as she saw fit? I just ask because when I worked with a photographer before, I got to pick one photo and if I wanted more than that, I had to pay more money for each one.
Hi!
In a lot of cases the photographer does offer a particular number of images you have to adhere to. However, I think in this case we should leave it in an unrestricted amount, to add more value to the writer's initial contribution. Most authors write trilogies anyways so most of the time they will pick three or four images and that's it, perhaps a couple of more if they want to use them for promotional purposes, but the point is, it will not be like an author will take 50 images for himself.
Photographers set up a number of images to maximize profits, since most of the times customers always purchase more than the initial agreement.  ;)
 

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Offline elizabethbarone

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Ok, what you speak of is definitely not unheard of, in fact many trad pub authors do it. But the expense pretty much makes it implausible. :(
Let me explain a little bit of what goes on and the approximate rates (from a photographer's point of view):
1 - The photographer needs to procure a studio setting for the shoot ($50.00/h approximately)
2 - He needs to hire models ($100+ per hour each)
3 - He needs to procure the costumes and props for the shoot (anywhere from $100 to $1000, depending on complexity of the items)
4 - After the shoot he needs to clean and fix any mistakes in the images, including lighting, tilting and noise, before releasing them. ($5.00 per photo, market standard)

A regular session needs to last at least 2 hrs in order to get a decent amount of workable images (50 to 100).

Let's do the math:
2-hour studio session -- $100.00
2-hour contract 1 model -- $200.00 / 2 models -- $400.00
Props and costumes (if a simple, everyday clothes shoot such as romance, UF, thriller or Contemporary) -- $100.00 / (if a specialized costume shoot such as historical fiction, high fantasy, sci-first or steampunk) -- $500 - $1000.00
Amount of images selected: 20 -- $100.00 editing fee.

That way, per shoot a photographer could end up with expenses anywhere from $500.00 to $1500.00. If they get to sell the images afterwards they may be able to make their money back, but if they don't, then the commissioning party would have to take care of it (without talking about actually paying the photographer hourly rate, whatever it is).
It's a little (a lot!) steep for a budgeting indie author.  :-\

Definitely steep, which is why only trad publishers and the bigger indie authors are doing it. I guess I'm dreaming of an ACX-like platform for authors, cover designs, photographers, and models. There could be different options for different budgets and needs -- including the crowdsourcing option. I love the idea of collaborating, but definitely wouldn't want anyone to get the short end!

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Offline AriadneBeckett

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I could be interested. The questions I have are:

- Can we save a copy of all of the photos (not knowing what poses I might want in the future), or am I limited to picking just a few? I personally would want access to all, especially if they're all going on stock image sites eventually.

- Would we be able to request poses ahead of time to make sure we got what we needed out of the shoot?

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Definitely steep, which is why only trad publishers and the bigger indie authors are doing it. I guess I'm dreaming of an ACX-like platform for authors, cover designs, photographers, and models. There could be different options for different budgets and needs -- including the crowdsourcing option. I love the idea of collaborating, but definitely wouldn't want anyone to get the short end!
Details definitely need to be clearly established for any sort of partnership to work, including this. ACX has the option of shared royalties, which is always a choice for the author, but in the photography world, not so much, since photographers work with licenses that can last a very long time or yield an unlimited number of exposures. Because of this, the pricing strategy is significantly different.

I could be interested. The questions I have are:

- Can we save a copy of all of the photos (not knowing what poses I might want in the future), or am I limited to picking just a few? I personally would want access to all, especially if they're all going on stock image sites eventually.

- Would we be able to request poses ahead of time to make sure we got what we needed out of the shoot?

Answer #1:It's easy enough to create a cloud gallery all people involved with the project can access at any time. The standard procedure is to place the images pre-editing in this online gallery and then go ahead and edit and clean the ones the client selects. In this case, the gallery would be private for the contributing authors and they could review it any time they want to chose their images. I would advise however not to take too long (don't disappear for a year and then come asking about your pictures) because photographers normally takes thousands of images a year and create one such gallery for virtually each costumer. It wood be easy to get confused, especially if the crowdsourcing projects become frequent. The safest bet would be to keep all the activity related to the project within a determined period of time, to avoid conflicts.

Answer #2: I outlined some examples on the top about perks associated with different levels of contribution. Choosing specific poses and clothing could be one of them. However if it were to be done we would discuss a baseline and go from there.
 

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Offline Melody Simmons

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Sounds interesting but there are certainly complications. One would be to get authors to agree on what they wanted, and what if in the end someone is not happy with the results? Then if 10 authors have access to the same images, plus afterwards they are made available widely too, it sort of defeats any type of  exclusivity.

Also, who is the organizer? That person will probably need compensation too, and I'd really not like to be in their shoes as I have a feeling it will be hard to get everyone to agree on poses, clothing, the model etc.
« Last Edit: July 17, 2017, 08:03:13 PM by Melody Simmons »