When did my photos become digital assets?

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!


About BCPix.com Privacy Policy

www.bcpix.com is the online home for the photographic archive of Florida-based photographer Brian Cleary. At this portal not only can you search and browse an ever-growing collection of photography covering more than 30 years, but many of the images are available for online purchase as editorial images, commercial images and/or personal use prints.