I took this photo last Friday morning, as it happens on the last Friday of summer in 2013. I woke up early, tried to go back to sleep, but then thought about the fact that there was a large storm expected over the weekend, and this might be my last chance to get a good sunrise photo for a few days. So I dragged myself out of bed (I hate mornings) and went out to photograph. I knew the Coupeville Wharf would be a good area to get some good images as the sun rose, so I drove the 7 miles from my home over to the waterfront area of town. I made a total of 61 images hat morning.
After returning home, I dumped the images into my Lightroom catalog, poured a cup of coffee, and began my initial sort and edit. This image jumped out at me as a potential keeper, but the initial RAW file was rather drab. After applying a few edits – cropping, spot removal, tonal adjustments, I had this image on my screen. I went ahead and posted the image on my Facebook page for my friends to see. Now, I’m not very prolific on Facebook – I have less than a hundred “Facebook friends”, but I am connected to about 150 other photographers of various skill levels through a FB group called the Photography Network.. So I was surprised that within 15 minutes of posting I already had a buyer asking to purchase a print. That was followed quickly by a second and then a third buyer! I was ecstatic! What a great compliment to a photographer for someone to be willing to shell out some hard-earned cash for a framed print of my work.
I quickly got to work making 6 x 18 prints, using my Canon Pro-100 printer. I then went out to my studio to cut mats for them, and frame them in handmade frames which I had on hand (I also am a woodworker and make my own custom frames). I was able to close 2 sales and deliver 2 prints that very day. From clicking the shutter to actual sales in less than 12 hours! Fantastic.
Riding that high, I decided on a whim to submit my image to one of the local TV stations that encourages viewers to submit photos to their Weather Page, and occasionally selects one to feature on their evening news broadcast. That evening I watched eagerly to see if my picture made it, but on that particular day they chose not to include a viewer photo. However, the weather page did have a nice comment from another photographer, and my own Facebook post of the image had garnered about 75 “likes”, 4 “shares” and plenty of nice compliments, so I was happy.
Two days later I saw my photo pop up on Facebook again, this time shared by a friend who had seen it on the TV station’s Facebook page. Pleasantly surprised at this, I clicked on the link to the TV station’s page, and was astounded to see that my photo had already gathered 1701 likes! Not only that, but it had been “shared” 380 times, and there were another 75 comments, nearly all complimentary. WOW! I’d never dreamed of reaching that many people. If 1701 people “liked” it, how many people saw the image but didn’t bother to click the “like” button? How many others were reached by the 380 people who shared my image on their own Facebook timelines? I have no idea, but it’s possible over 10,000 people saw my photograph through that single submission to the station’s weather page.
The question now is how to turn those views into print sales. Several of the comments asked about buying a print, and I sent a personal message to each of those commenters inviting them to check my website. Although my photo is tagged with a watermark indicating my copyright and website info, it was not as prominent as it should have been – a problem I have since corrected for any future online posts. Some of the responses suggested that viewers – at least some of them – had no compunctions about saving my image as a jpg on their own computers for use as electronic wallpaper or even for making a jigsaw puzzle. This is one of the drawbacks of posting images online – some people will always rip them off without even considering that it is art theft, but those same people are never going to buy a print from me anyway.
Time will tell if all the attention will result in increased sales, but certainly the buzz has created more interest in my website, and at least one personal friend responded by ordering a large canvas print of the image. More importantly, it has opened my eyes to the possibilities engendered by accessing social networks with large followings like local news stations. I’ve learned to post only low-res jpegs that look good on-screen, but won’t make a decent print for those who grab the image from the internet, and I learned to make my website info more visible on the print itself without totally dominating the image.
One of the best lessons is the power of the internet and social networking. My friend Tom Trimbath teaches courses on harnessing the power of these networks – I’m going to have to make time to attend some of them.
A quick postscript: For those interested in purchasing a print, I have them available on my website at http://www.photowhidbey.com. I’m printing this at 6″ x 18″, framed to 12 x 24 for $75, or you can purchase a 12 x 36 canvas gallery wrap for only $95.