Robert M. Braley Jr. is an established photographer specializing in travel, nature and documentary images.
Born in 1951 in Georgetown, Washington D.C., then moving to Southern California in the late 1950s and to Alaska in 1985 he has retired from the United States Air Force and Federal Civil Service in 2008.
As a certified Historian and Historical property custodian with the Alaska Air National Guard, the Museum of the United States Air Force and United States Army museums, Robert has a unique interest in photographing old military sites, structures and equipment.
Fine art photography is created in accordance with the vision of the artist as photographer. Fine art photography stands in contrast to representational photography, such as photojournalism, which provides a documentary visual account of specific subjects and events, literally re-presenting objective reality rather than the subjective intent of the photographer; and commercial photography, the primary focus of which is to advertise products or services.
Travel photography is a subcategory of photography involving the documentation of an area's landscape, people, cultures, customs and history. The Photographic Society of America (PSA) defines a travel photo as an image that expresses the feeling of a time and place, portrays a land, its people, or a culture in its natural state, and has no geographical limitations.
Photojournalism is a particular form of journalism (the collecting, editing, and presenting of news material for publication or broadcast) that employs images in order to tell a news story. It is now usually understood to refer only to still images, but in some cases the term also refers to video used in broadcast journalism. Photojournalism is distinguished from other close branches of photography (e.g., documentary photography, social documentary photography, street photography or celebrity photography) by complying with a rigid ethical framework which demands that the work be both honest and impartial whilst telling the story in strictly journalistic terms. Photojournalists create pictures that contribute to the news media, and help communities connect with one other. Photojournalists must be well informed and knowledgeable about events happening right outside their door. They deliver news in a creative format that is not only informative, but also entertaining.
Stock photography is the supply of photographs, which are often licensed for specific uses. It is used to fulfill the needs of creative assignments instead of hiring a photographer, often for a lower cost. Today, stock images can be presented in searchable online databases. They can be purchased and delivered online. Often, these photographs involve people, and are produced in studios using a wide variety of models posing as professionals, stereotypes, expressing common emotions and gesticulations, or involving pets. Other common stock photography niches include images related to travel and tourism, as well as conceptual photography.
The exclusive right of photographers to copy and use their products is protected by copyright. Countless industries purchase photographs for use in publications and on products. The photographs seen on magazine covers, in television advertising, on greeting cards or calendars, on websites, or on products and packages, have generally been purchased for this use, either directly from the photographer or through an agency that represents the photographer. A photographer uses a contract to sell the "license" or use of his or her photograph with exact controls regarding how often the photograph will be used, in what territory it will be used (for example U.S. or U.K. or other), and exactly for which products. This is usually referred to as usage fee and is used to distinguish from production fees (payment for the actual creation of a photograph or photographs). An additional contract and royalty would apply for each additional use of the photograph.
Photos taken by a photographer while working on assignment are often work for hire belonging to the company or publication unless stipulated otherwise by contract. Professional portrait and wedding photographers often stipulate by contract that they retain the copyright of their photos, so that only they can sell further prints of the photographs to the consumer, rather than the customer reproducing the photos by other means. If the customer wishes to be able to reproduce the photos themselves, they may discuss an alternative contract with the photographer in advance before the pictures are taken, in which a larger up front fee may be paid in exchange for reprint rights passing to the customer.
There are major companies who have maintained catalogues of stock photography and images for decades, such as Dreamstime and others. Since the turn of the 21st century many online stock photography catalogues have appeared that invite photographers to sell their photos online easily and quickly, but often for very little money, without a royalty, and without control over the use of the photo, the market it will be used in, the products it will be used on, time duration, etc.
Commercial photographers may also promote their work to advertising and editorial art buyers via printed and online marketing vehicles.
The contract may be for only one year, or other duration. The photographer usually charges a royalty as well as a one-time fee, depending on the terms of the contract. The contract may be for non-exclusive use of the photograph (meaning the photographer can sell the same photograph for more than one use during the same year) or for exclusive use of the photograph (i.e. only that company may use the photograph during the term). The contract can also stipulate that the photographer is entitled to audit the company for determination of royalty payments. Royalties vary depending on the industry buying the photograph and the use, for example, royalties for a photograph used on a poster or in television advertising may be higher than for use on a limited run of brochures. A royalty is also often based on the size at which the photo will be used in a magazine or book, and cover photos usually command higher fees than photos used elsewhere in a book or magazine.
A checklist for success in online print sales.
1. Select your best work to make and sell prints. Make sure it is of the highest technical quality for printing. It should be scanned or photographed properly, sharp at 100% view and free of cropping errors. Be sure the signature is not cropped off, is not in a plain block print font, and is in proportion to the image. Do not put a business name or website name on your image. There is a market for everything but you have to ask yourself if someone is going to want to display this proudly in a home or place of business. By the same token don’t hold back your unique and special talent. If you are not sure of what technical quality is, then get someone to help.
2. Use an avatar that is representative of you or your work. It should not offend or put off any potential customers, but rather project a positive image. A smile is always in style.
3. Post up a bio that describes who you are as an artist and the type of art you make. Avoid mentions of childhood love of art and other statements that are fairly universal. It should mention what is special or unique about you and your art. If this is hard just keep it short and basic.
4. Use titles that are relevant to the work. Descriptive titles are best for searches and people looking for specific things. Poetic titles work well at shows but not so much online. A bit of both in one is best. If you prefer poetic titles, consider using descriptive subtitles or visa versa for better placement in the internet search engines.
5. Make descriptions that include information about subject and location, if it applies. Some buyers need verbal assurance of what the subject is. Remember they are often buying for others. Internet search engines use descriptions for indexing and ranking. The main keywords should be used in a sentence here. Use more than one sentence. Research your subject, but don’t copy directly from Wikis. Be an expert on your subject and location if there is one. Feel free to tell a story here.
6. In the keyword section, add all tags that a searcher might use to find the image. This includes subject, location and style. Include secondary subjects if they are visible in the artwork or photo. Add your name so the image will show up in a search that includes both your name and another tag. Don’t add words that are not relevant but don’t eliminate yourself from any searches either. Research and use all synonyms. Be both specific and general. For plants and animals use all common names and scientific names that apply. But don’t use ones that don’t apply. Remember that people use different words in other regions. Learn the slang and the jargon!
7. Organize your art into Galleries aka Collections on your home page at FAA/Pixels. If you have a lot of images, set the default view to Galleries. Keep the image view in order also. Don’t assume viewers will start at the home page and find your galleries. Order is basic to all presentation and selling. Keep in mind the first few images are shown on every page so choose carefully which they are.
8. Buy your own work and show it off. Know your product. Let people you know see your prints. Display your work in your home. Take prints everywhere. Display some framed work in the community.
9. Use social media. Use more than one but be consistent with at least one. I use Twitter, FB, Pinterest, G+ and Youtube. There are many more.
10. Network online with potential customers. Participate in non-art forums, especially where people share the same interests that inspire your art.
11. Develop contact lists and email lists. Stay in touch and let people know when you have something new.
12. Get your own web site or at last a domain name. If you use the AW here get your own domain name for it.
13. Post links to your home page, galleries and images from sites other than FAA. This not only reaches more people but helps with your ranking in internet search engines.
14. Set goals for both creating and marketing. And keep a positive outlook. Results don't always come fast.
15. Look for other opinions, help and advice. Artists are an independent bunch, but sometimes another opinion can help. Especially when going in new directions in art or marketing. If you are new to showing and selling, you should have your work critiqued by those more experienced, before it is even uploaded. Search the forums for answers to basic questions.