I'm joining SuperStock Images by Tim Trautmann

I'm excited to announce that I have been invited to join SuperStock Images to be an image contributor. SuperStock is a stock photo agency that prides itself on providing the best images and motion footage from around the world to license for editorial and advertising use.

I always have been hesitant to join a stock image agency. Over the past twenty years, the image market has been in a race to the bottom. First, it was a battle between then Microsoft owned Corbis and Getty Images. Throughout the years, the market consolidated. Then, cheap royalty-free image libraries moved from a niche to become the dominant method of selling and distributing stock photos on the internet. This change reduced potential earnings from such images dramatically while the cost of producing high-quality stock photography remained roughly the same. 

Last week, in another hostile move towards image creators, Getty Images announced that it is phasing out rights-managed distribution almost entirely in favor of royalty-free licensing. Unsurprisingly, Getty's customers want more for less. 

While this very welcome news to image buyers, it is another step to devalue our work as photographers and to reduce our ability to generate meaningful income from stock photography.

Not surprisingly, this announcement generated a great deal of discussion amongst professional photographers. On one such threat on ASMP Oregon's Facebook Group, SuperStock came up as an agency that is run by photographers, and that is still striving to provide licensing models that work for both image buyers and creators.

After doing some more due diligence, I decided to apply with SuperStock to become a contributor. I didn't expect to get a response right away, but I did get a positive reply very quickly. I signed the contributor agreement on Friday. Now it's time to begin with the hard work to identify images in my catalog and research and produce new material that is suitable for stock photography.

SuperStock offers rights-managed and royalty-free options. SuperStock also provides a reasonable percentage that allows creators to have a fair share of the profits.

In theory, this arrangement should give creators an incentive to invest more in their image productions and to produce high-quality images and in turn, to be rewarded with higher earnings.

I'm joining a gang by Tim Trautmann

When I started assisting photographers in San Francisco in the late nineties, I first learned about the value of professional associations such as APA and ASMP. I always believed that there is strength in numbers and that it is critical for humans with shared professional passions to join together.

For over seventy-five years, ASMP has been providing a community that is standing up for and educating America's top photographic talent.

Earlier this year, I joined the Oregon chapter of ASMP as an associate member. The local chapter is a fantastic community of passionate professionals that regularly meet to organize educational and social events. There is also a thriving Facebook group where members and nonmembers alike can join in a regular discussion of the latest developments in the industry or ask for advice on a particular photo business problem.

Over the last few months, I have become more and more of an active participant in the Oregon chapter, and I am delighted to announce that I have been invited to join the Oregon chapter's board.

I feel honored, and I'm excited to help strengthen our community in this leadership role. As a member of the board, I hope to help advocate for stronger intellectual property protections for independent creators as well as to communicate ASMP's mission to colleagues and the general public alike.

Together, we are stronger.

Moving in by Tim Trautmann

I couldn't be more excited to announce that I will be sharing a beautiful studio space with Tom Rooney in the central eastside of Portland. Having access to this fantastic workspace opens up a wealth of opportunity to work on personal and commercial projects that require adequate studio space to create amazing photos.

A new beginning by Tim Trautmann

My love for photography started at an early age. My mother is an avid amateur photographer, and therefore I have always been surrounded by photography, photographic equipment, and high doses of excitement for photography. Such enthusiasm, as anyone can attest to, is very contagious. And so, my love affair with photography and the moving image sprung to life early.

I got to play with broken cameras.

I got to play with broken cameras.

I spent hours studying our extensive collection of Time-Life books on the subject. When I was old enough to experiment in my mother's darkroom, I was in there. At first, it was just messing around with the enlarger, the timer, looking at negatives. Eventually, my mother showed me how to make basic prints. Gently sliding the exposed photo paper into the tray filled with photo developer and watching the image emerge was an enchanting experience for me.

Over the years, I went through several phases of pure photographic obsession, followed by stretches of creative blocks.

In the nineties, I tried my first stab at getting into photography as a professional. I volunteered my help for my college newspaper. I tried to absorb as much as I could about the business. Eventually, I started to assist some professional photographers in the Bay Area. I even asked for studio manager positions and participated in the San Francisco chapter of APA to learn more and spend more time in this business.

San Francisco circa 1997. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I tried.

San Francisco circa 1997. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I tried.

Eventually, the financial burdens that come with living in one of the most expensive regions in the country took a toll on me, and I retreated into the safety of working in lucrative tech.

Twenty years have passed since my last try with professional photography. My excitement for photography has not waned. I am more excited about this field than ever.

Over the past year, while still being employed, I have spent my free time to hone my skills. I have observed the photography market, and I have worked through different business plans and creative approaches.

The economic outlook for professional photography is still quite grim. The proliferation of digital cameras and smartphones has practically made everyone a photographer. Due to the rise of social media, intellectual property infringements are more common than ever. Art buyers' budgets are shrinking. The pressures of demand for more for less by potential art producers are continually increasing.

Any logical analysis of the current state of the industry will undoubtedly produce the same result: Don't enter this field. It's not worth it.

Passion, however, is not based on logic. As someone that believes that this is our only chance at living, other factors need consideration that is not as tangible as a profit and loss statement. Living your life to the fullest means that one has to follow one's dreams. For more than twenty years, I have done what was logical. I have worked in a booming industry that at times rewarded me with a generous salary. Sometimes I worked on an exciting project; many times, I was executing on other peoples' choices.

As of today, I'm following my dreams and aspirations. I submitted my letter of resignation with my employer two weeks ago. And I'm happy to announce that today, I'm starting my new career as a freelance photographer.

The next few years will be extremely challenging for me. I'm well aware of the grim reality of my newly chosen profession. But I'm looking forward to giving this my best. It's going to be a lot of work and equally fulfilling.

Seen here with my very first medium-format camera, a Fujifilm GFX 100.

Seen here with my very first medium-format camera, a Fujifilm GFX 100.

Feel free to contact me should you have any photographic projects for me. I also welcome messages of encouragement and business referrals.

Onwards and upwards.