In a business whose’s products (pictures) have become a commodity quickly it’s interesting to explore photography that can resist this trend. Photography that is difficult to replicate, requires special access, uses complicated techniques or simply needs a very special take on a subject matter. Here’s such an example.
Trey Ratcliff is a pioneer on HDR Photography, which stands for High Dynamic Range. On his website it’s described as: ‘… a post-processing of taking either one image or a series of images, combining them, and adjusting the contrast ratios to do things that are virtually impossible with a single aperture and shutter speed.’ Ratcliff also uses a number of other techniques that make his pictures stand out. One of the images became the first HDR photograph ever to hang in the Smithsonian Institution in D.C. The website Stuckincustoms.com is the number one travel photography blog in the world with over 50 million views. This video contains a sample of the photography and the slideshow a few more, the Smithsonian picture is the one with the fireworks. On Ratcliffs website you can find over 600 of these very special pictures.
What other ways are there to create truly compelling pictures that stand out from the crowd and are difficult to replicate? And, following that, how do these images get monetized?
Ratcliff does it by giving away images for free for non-commercial use and licensing for commercial usage. He also sells high-end prints, like the one unpacked below. This is what he says about monetizing his content in a Petapixel interview last year:
‘The website makes money from advertising, licensing, and partnerships. We also sell tutorials, ebooks, and this sort of thing too… Most everything on the website is free, but we have a few things on there for people that just can’t get enough. I think it’s a great model…’
This looks like a classic case for the ‘Freemium’ model where products are given away for free while add-ons and special services are sold to true fans. Food for thought.