What do photographers want most? Do they want to sell their photos and enjoy the income that their talent can bring? Or is it enough simply show their pictures to as many people as possible and bask in the acclaim and praise of their peers? In practice, of course… photographers want both, and they want them as much as possible. Being told time and time again that your photos are wonderful, that you’ve done a great job and that you definitely have a photographer’s eye never gets old.
But there’s no more powerful proof that you’ve got it what it takes as a photographer than finding someone’s name at the bottom of a check. And spending the money is nice too.
The problem is that it’s much easier to persuade people to look at your pictures than it is to persuade someone to buy them. When it comes to sharing your photos, there’s a whole range of different channels to choose from. While galleries might be the most prestigious way of showing your pictures, you’re likely to pick up more image views on a website, on a popular blog and on a well-networked Flickr stream.
And now you can pick up millions of views – every day, provided your images are good enough — by submitting them to CoolIris.
10 Million Image Views a Day
CoolIris, once known as PicLens, is a browser add-on that allows users to surf the Web graphically. The News category, for example, appears as a scrolling, three-dimensional wall of thumbnails. Choose one thumbnail and the image expands to fill most of the screen, revealing a caption and a link to the news page on which the photo appears. Instead of choosing content according to the headlines, Internet users can find what they want based on images. So far, the application has been downloaded 10 million times and is used by photo enthusiasts, as well as tech types and “avid mainstream media consumers,” says the company.
One of the channels that CoolIris offers is called Photos of the Day. While some of the images in that channel are sourced from premium providers like AFP and Getty, since March 6, 100 photos each day have been selected from user contributions submitted by photographers through the company’s Flickr group. Selections are made on the basis of quality and relevance, and the top photos are released throughout the day within hours of being submitted.
According Laura Holmes, Product Manager of CoolIris’s Discover Channel, and Discover Team Member Maria Ignatova, the thumbnails that appear in the channel’s Photos of the Day are viewed a total of 10 million times each day.
“Photos of the Day allows you to display your photo in a beautiful 3D environment along other very high-quality photos,” they told us. “Submitting your photos to our Discover channel exposes your content to millions of users worldwide.”
That’s all very enjoyable, of course, and CoolIris’s Photos of the Day wall is certainly eye-catching, impressive and attractive – a good place to have your pictures seen. But none of the photographers whose images have appeared on the wall has told CoolIris that they won a sale as a result of the appearance, and the group discussions are quiet on that point too.
Nor does CoolIris pay photographers whose images it chooses, so the wall effectively functions as an elite extension of Flickr – a place to show your photos to as many people as possible and enjoy the warm fuzzies that come from knowing you have talent.
But when your photos are good enough to stand alongside those created by the professional news photographers of AFP and Getty, surely that means they’re also good enough to be sold.
Making the Most of the Image Wall
The sales can’t be made on CoolIris itself – the application doesn’t provide a way for viewers and photographers to communicate directly – but there are a couple of ways to turn your appearance on the wall into a licensing agreement or a print sale.
The first is through the caption. Photos of the Day takes the original title of the image as the caption. Those titles are usually entirely descriptive, such as imfreelykeely’s “Does your delectation come from 92/65” or Kathy~’s “Reflection of a Sunset.”
Although those sorts of description tell the viewer something about the image, they don’t tell potential buyers what they really want to know: whether the image is available for licensing or printing. It wouldn’t take a great deal of effort – or harm the viewing experience too greatly – to also mention in the title that the image is available for purchase. “Reflection of a Sunset (Available for licensing and purchase)” isn’t a major change to the image but it could make a big difference to the results of placing the image on the wall.
The other way of making the most of a CoolIris wall appearance though is even easier. Because the images are taken directly from the Flickr stream, clickthrough data is recorded and counted.
“You can see how many times your photo has been viewed because every hit within Cooliris counts as a hit on your Flickr page stats tracker.”
As long as you have Pro membership of Flickr, you’ll be able to see how often an image is clicked and which kinds of images generate the most views. Even if that particular photo doesn’t sell then, you can see which subjects generate the most traffic flows through your Flickr stream as a whole.
In theory, the more people who see your images the more sales you’re going to make. In practice, it doesn’t always work that way. The more people who see your images, the more comments, praise and confidence you’ll generate. But you’ll still have to take steps to pick up the sales.