Wednesday, March 25, 2009
Years ago when I was in Siberia, our group took a day trip from Lake Baikal to a little village called Zarechye. A man who lived there carved wonderful things out of wood. As his wife beamed and offered us fresh carrots from her garden, P. (I only know him now by his initials on the back of my clock) proudly showed us an album. In it were photos sent to him by his customers. We saw clocks on walls in France and carved roosters on shelves in Canada. He was happy to sell the things he made - I'm sure it's how he made a living, though the prices seemed incredibly cheap - but what he wanted most from us in return was a photo. He wanted to see his pieces in their new homes.
I know how P. felt. This week, a transaction was completed that has been in the works since my birthday back in November. A design firm in Melbourne found one of my pictures on Flickr, and wanted it for a bank's head office in Sydney. To be honest, I would have been tickled simply knowing one of my photos was off somewhere Australia ... but they offered to pay me for it, too. I guess that's how these things work.
Funny thing about the photo itself: I don't think it's that good. I'm not going for false modesty here - it's fine, but I wouldn't have picked it out as anything special. The power line bugs me. I've taken better. I guess it was just a picture of the right thing that they found at the right time. So, it was time to do business.
I had no idea what I was doing, of course. They wanted a version of the image with a specific DPI value, suitable for blowing up. I had to Google DPI. They needed an invoice and a signature for a limited license agreement. Having never created an invoice in my life, I had to find a template online. I figured out how to scan documents and save them as PDF files through a color copier. All told, I learned a lot. The money was a bonus - a pretty damned nice bonus, to be sure. But what I really wish I had is a photo of my photo in its new home. Is it on a wall? On an official website or document? Filed in a cabinet?
Photography is no more than a hobby for me. I've never taken a photography class. I don't have a serious camera. My Flickr site isn't a portfolio; it's just a bunch of photos. That being said, I like taking photos. I like capturing a good shot. I like sharing the shots I've captured, and I like it when other people enjoy them or find them useful. So I'm proud that someone wanted my photo, and that they wanted to use it in a capacity where other people will (hopefully) see it and enjoy it. I think that's pretty cool.
(By the way, a year ago today I was still in New Zealand. Seeing Split Enz in Wellington, as a matter of fact.)