I joined Fine Art America back in the summer of 2011. I didn’t know what to expect. At the time I was just coming off of an exclusive contract with Dreamstime the stock agency to product images for the commercial market. Bright, happy, clean photographs to be used to sell products. The exclusiveness of the contract meant that I could not sell my images anywhere else except directly through my own gallery.
Well, my experience with Dreamstime was a great learning experience. I learned how to technically create images with perfect focus, little shadows and no noise. Technically great but artistically, kind of boring. When it was time to move it to different directions I said good by to the contract and took a financial hit that took me at least six months to recover.
I put my images up on several print on demand outlets including DiventArt, Red Bubble and Society 6 in addition to Fine Art America. I also started building a Rights Managed portfolio on Arc Angel for the book cover market.
At first I had no idea what I was doing in the fine art market. I selected a group of images I felt were “fine art” and put them up like it was a gallery show or something. I left them there and moved on other things. Later I figured out that fine art means “stuff people want to put on their walls” and this was liberating. I started to craft a style with elements that I like. Simple and clear images (I learned this from the commercial work) with a pinch of nostalgia and vintage feel and style.
Style is a no no in the commercial stock world for the most part. They reject anything with an artistic look. Deep shadows, shallow depth of field, black and white, HDR, toning, texture – these are all the things that will get you rejected from the world of stock. Yet in the fine art arena these are things that people who buy art to display love to see. So I blended the two influences.
The third ingredient I learned to add is storytelling. A bit of mystery, intrigue and cinematic story telling is what the book cover market is looking for and so does good photography. I’ve been developing this aspect of my photography both for my Arc Angel portfolio as well as my fine art offerings and it seems to be working.
I just had my 100th (and then right after 101, 102, and 103) sale on Fine Art America which brings me great joy because unlike the microstock world, the fine art world actually pays an artist for their value. Fine art is where an established artist can actually make a decent return on their work and it feels like I’m headed in that direction.