Content With Your Content?
Discover the in's and out's of shooting, publishing, and marketing your own content by John Mason of John Mason Studio and Cool Piranha Content.
I've spent 15 years working as a photographer in the UK adult business, working in the studio, girls' homes and locations like the Seychelles and the Mediterranean. I've shot more girls than you can shake a stick at and, while I'm a relative newcomer to the adult Internet biz, I do know a few things about images, and I've read a lot of crap on other webmaster resource sites which I think need addressing.
So far, the publishing industry in the UK has yet to wake up to the advantages of digital photography. There are only a couple of adult photographers working with digital, and only one magazine using it in any great amount. Even now, the technology and means to apply it is a problem. About a year ago, I went out and bought a Nikon D1 digital camera to go with my existing Nikon 35mm kit. The images it created were almost acceptable for publication, but with the arrival of the Nikon D1X, things have improved tremendously.
I guess one of the main things I have to get across to anyone shooting content for a website is this: why make that website your sole source of revenue in terms of image sales? Think about it for a second: where did you traditionally get your content from? That's right, a content provider who had scanned in images supplied by an adult photographer. So why do you just shoot content for your own website when you could potentially earn revenue selling those same images to a magazine or picture library? The money you've outlaid on model fees would be accounted for almost immediately, so that your images then become free, to all intents and purposes.
The problem with working with digital cameras is that the vast majority of American publishers aren't interested in digital material. In the UK, we're still only partway up a very steep learning curve, so I tend to double shoot every set and scene I do, 'backing up' on film, if you like. That way, I've got transparencies ready for the publishers and, if they can't use them, a full set of images that I can burn onto CD-ROM and use as instant content.
As part of Cool Piranha Inc., having instant content is extremely useful. I'm involved with two sites; my own, www.johnmasonstudio.com and www.coolpiranha-content.com so I can maximise my sales and use of images. My personal website gets immediate updates of all my latest work, and they are then passed on to Cool Piranha Content for sale to other webmasters. And then they're published in adult magazines here in the UK. Now that's maximising earnings and profit potential!
In a worse case scenario, where you're only shooting on a cheapish digital camera with no room to sell those images to adult publishers, don't immediately discount the idea of also making that content available to other webmasters. You don't have to pass it on straight away; leave it for a couple of months so that you retain a level of exclusivity on it and, when you rotate your content, make it available for sale to others. You'll be surprised at how quickly you can recoup your costs that way.
That's Business 101 done, now the photography.
One of the reasons I got involved with a content company was because I was tired of the way photographers were represented on the Internet. It seemed strange to me that most adult snappers simply sold their images to content libraries and then wandered off into the distance, counting their 25 cents. Then a few people interested in buying images approached me. They didn't care how old the material was, they were only interested in price. And so are the photographers who sell to them. Seemed to me that if you wanted good quality content, the only way to guarantee it is to shoot it yourself, and that's not an option for a good many adult Webmasters. A lot of you aren't photographers and you're too busy sorting your sites out to want to go through the nightmare of booking a model and then waiting for her to turn up, shoot her, pay her and hope that the images will be good enough.
That's where Cool Piranha Content came in. Surely, I reasoned, there was a better way. And there is. CP Content works with the photographers. We don't buy the material from them outright, we sell it for them transparently; they see the orders and can even fulfil them themselves, if the urge takes them. Alternatively, we sort out the discs for them. To my knowledge, we're the only people in the UK working this way, which is why we have so many top-flight UK adult photographers on our books already. The other advantage is the models. Because we're working with recognised photographers, we get material that's both unpublished and published. Photo sets from Swank, Hustler and so on are all available to us, along with European web favourites like Linsey Dawn McKenzie, Jo Guest and others. On top of that, there's the instant content, shot the way I work, as previously described.
I've read a couple of features on working with models, and they all made me laugh. The most important thing to remember when working with any model is that they're human. Okay, they're naked and they may have a cucumber stuffed where the sun don't shine, but that doesn't mean they're your sexual plaything for the day. Some will be, sure, but for the vast majority of girls, modelling is just a handy way of earning some extra money. Treat them like people, respect their feelings and if there's something they're uncomfortable with, let it go. Push the issue and you'll end up with crap pictures. And you want to avoid that.
Likewise, you want to avoid having a site where every image looks the same. I appreciate that most of you don't have access to big studios, backdrops and high class Italian furniture (that's why you buy content in!). But you can still give your site variety whilst shooting material yourselves. If you can afford it, buy a couple of flash packs and experiment with different lighting techniques. Use on-camera flash for your amateur style work, or to add a touch of realism to hardcore shoots. Beg, borrow and hire other locations. Use your friends' apartments so that your members don't get sick and tired of seeing your garage wall in every shot! Get friendly with your local second-hand furniture store and see if he'll let you borrow cheap bits of furniture to liven your sets up. Talk nicely to the lady at the lingerie store and tell her you'll give her a credit on your site if she gives you some lingerie to use. Think ahead.
Structure your work. If the girl you're shooting pictures of has a great ass, shoot loads of ass pictures! Likewise her boobs, if she's stacked. Even if your site doesn't feature either niche, you can either start a TGP to feed off of, or sell it as content to someone else! Every image you shoot and every image you buy should have a multiple use. If it isn't, sooner or later your accountant's going to want to know why!
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