As the digital age continues to permeate every aspect of our everyday lives, I recently had to ask myself: When did my photographs become digital assets?
Back in the day, a photograph was a photograph. We could stash the original negative or transparency away in our files while various copies of it were circulated in an effort to make a sale.
Then the digital age arrived, and slowly our photographic world began its relentless change. For anyone able to access one of the very pricey original digital cameras, the quick transmission and distribution of images suddenly became easier. Computers improved, the internet improved and the world of photography changed even more. Before we knew it, it was very easy to distribute an unlimited number of camera originals to as many outlets as we wanted! Of course this carried with it the possibility of unwanted distribution and copyright infringement, but still the digital age was viewed as making our jobs easier and our output more efficient.
Still the improvements continued and computers, cameras and full function photo websites became available and affordable to anyone who wanted one. The laws of supply and demand kicked in and the prices for our photos began to plummet. Not really a good or bad thing if looked at objectively, just the way things are.
One day, a couple of years ago, I came to the realization that my photos were no longer photos, but were now “digital assets”. I was conducting a search on the internet for software to catalogue my digital images when I was struck by the fact that this software was not called photo management software our photo cataloging software. It was called “Digital Asset Management” software. In other words, my photographs were, in the eyes of these programs and the programmers who created them the same as a word processing document or an entry in a digital address book database. My labors of love had been reduced to string of numbers that could be quantified and recalled by the asset management program in response to an input query.
At first I was taken aback by this realization, then, the more I though about it, the more liberating the concept felt.
Here is the way I’ve begun to view my “digital assets” on the internet. If power, influence and even income on the internet all begin with traffic to your internet offerings, it makes sense that the right kind of “assets” could pull more traffic, resulting in more power, influence, and income for the person who controls these assets. Therefore, if I take one of my images, digitize it, annotate it with well thought out titles, captions, and keywords, I’ve converted it into the kind of digital asset that I can plug into my management program to pull traffic to my site. If I have thousands of these assets, I should have more traffic. In fact, the more images I employ as digital assets, the more traffic I should have to my site.
Now, the number of assets I have, does not address the question of the quality of the images from which these assets were created. The quality does not matter, however, as a larger number of assets will still draw more traffic. So, in this day of affiliate marketing, online advertising, pay per clicks, etc, a crafty online marketer who also happens to be an average or even below-average photographer could create a hug database of images which could draw traffic to a site which he could use to create more income than if he were trying to market his images as stock photography, especially in this day of declining stock photography value.
So in this age of “digital asset management” just think of what a talented online marketer who also happens to be a talented photographer could accomplish!
It was February 1984 and I was covering NASCAR “Speedweeks” at Daytona International Speedway for United Press International. I ended up being assigned to cover pit road for all the races that week. I was OK with that, reasoning that if there were no crashes in the races, pit stop and checkered flag shots would be the photos that would be moved on the wire. SInce I was on pit road, I figured I was in good shape to get a few photos transmitted, which was good since I was being paid per picture on the wire.
The week started out crazily, with Ricky Rudd tumbling violently out of turn 4 during the Busch Clash, a race for the previous year’s pole position winners. From my spot on pit road, I could not see turn 4. I did, however, hear a huge collective gasp go up from the grandstands and as I turned to see what was happening, the whirling, twirling, flipping T-Bird of Rudd came crashing into my field of view. I managed to raise my camera and fire a few frames, I couple of which were moved on the UPI wire. The week wore on and the problems in Daytona’s turn 4 continued, with a Goody’s Dash Series car spinning off turn 4 and onto pit road, striking a fireman who was working in the pits (his injuries were not life-threatening), a spectacularly violent and fiery crash involving Jim Hurlbert and Natz Peters during Friday’s Consolation Race for drivers who had failed to make the Daytona 500 and Randy Lajoie’s end over end turn 4 crash during the Busch Series. I seemed to be a magnet for the action all week and managed to get several action shots moved on the UPI wire.
By Sunday, TV commentator Ken Squire was calling Dayton’a Turn 4 “Calamity Corner” and all eyes (and cameras) were focused on the corner. The green flag fell and I was at my pit road post. After a week of carnage, Sunday’s 500 miles passed without incident. For the week, I had produced $200 worth of photos for UPI, and I was ecstatic that my photography career seemed to by taking off. Calamity Corner has not been tamed, however, as over the years the final turn at Daytona’s famous speedway has seen more than its share of action, even claiming the great Dale Earnhardt in 2001.
1984 Daytona 500 results
POS START DRIVER NO. MAKE LAPS STATUS PTS.
1 1 Cale Yarborough Chevrolet 200 running 185
2 29 Dale Earnhardt Chevrolet 200 running 175
3 26 Darrell Waltrip Chevrolet 200 running 170
4 7 Neil Bonnett Chevrolet 200 running 165
5 3 Bill Elliott Ford 200 running 160
6 6 Harry Gant Chevrolet 200 running 155
7 14 Ricky Rudd Ford 199 running 146
8 9 Geoffrey Bodine Chevrolet 199 running 142
9 11 David Pearson Chevrolet 198 running 0
10 33 Jody Ridley Chevrolet 198 running 134
11 13 Phil Parsons Chevrolet 198 running 130
12 2 Terry Labonte Chevrolet 198 running 132
13 24 Lennie Pond Chevrolet 197 running 124
14 17 Ken Ragan Chevrolet 197 running 121
15 40 Sterling Marlin Chevrolet 197 running 118
16 19 Dean Roper Pontiac 196 running 115
17 41 Jimmy Means Chevrolet 196 running 112
18 20 Greg Sacks Chevrolet 195 running 109
19 25 Dean Combs Oldsmobile 194 running 106
20 37 Clark Dwyer Chevrolet 191 running 103
21 42 Mike Alexander Oldsmobile 187 engine 100
22 36 Connie Saylor Chevrolet 186 overheating 0
23 23 Doug Heveron Chevrolet 173 ignition 94
24 38 Ronnie Thomas Chevrolet 173 rear end 91
25 28 Buddy Arrington Chrysler 170 connecting rod 88
26 12 Dick Brooks Ford 158 accident 85
27 18 Ron Bouchard Buick 158 accident 82
28 31 Joe Ruttman Chevrolet 146 accident 79
29 8 Benny Parsons Chevrolet 108 cylinder head 76
30 27 Rusty Wallace Pontiac 95 accident 73
31 34 Richard Petty Pontiac 92 camshaft 75
32 30 Tommy Gale Ford 69 engine 67
33 10 Tim Richmond Pontiac 66 cracked head 64
34 4 Bobby Allison Buick 61 camshaft 66
35 22 Bobby Hillin Jr. Chevrolet 60 engine 58
36 21 Dick Trickle Chevrolet 53 ignition 55
37 16 Lake Speed Chevrolet 46 push rod 52
38 5 Buddy Baker Ford 30 vibration 49
39 32 A.J. Foyt Oldsmobile 24 suspension 46
40 15 Kyle Petty Ford 21 engine 43
41 35 Trevor Boys Chevrolet 17 engine 40
42 39 Dave Marcis Pontiac 3 engine 37
BC Pix Photo of the Day - Images by Brian Cleary
BCPix.com, the home of the online photo archive of Florida-based freelance photographer Brian Cleary, has launched a new slideshow website aimed at casual online photo browsers.
The site, which can be found at: BCPix.com Slideshow Homepage, takes advantage of the excellent embedded slideshow creation tool found on Photoshelter, which houses Brian Cleary’s ever-growing online photo archive.
The idea behind the site is based on the thought that there are many internet browsers out there who don’t want to invest the time and effort it takes to search and scroll through an online photo library and who might prefer to take more of a “couch potato” approach that would involve clicking on a link then sitting back and enjoying a self activated slideshow on their computer screen.
Thanks to the incredible Photoshelter interface, the slideshow watcher can hover his or her mouse over an image for caption info and click on any image to go to that particular photo in the archive to check print and download availability and pricing.
“I’m essentially putting my entire career online in a slideshow format”, says bcpix.com owner Brian Cleary, “I like the idea that this site will expose more internet users to my photography, not to mention the fact that this will ultimately provide more traffic to my online archive.”