When the phone rings, be ready

Thomas E. Witte got a surprise lesson in preparedness when his cell phone started ringing much more than usual. He didn’t know it, but one of his images was suddenly, without warning, in demand. It was the photographer’s dream — to shoot a picture that could be sold over and over again, maximizing profits and making him thankful that he kept his copyright.

But in the fast-moving world of publishing, you need to deliver the image quickly to get the sale, and although Witte was getting the calls, he was on the road, away from his desk and disconnected from his archive. He had no way to deliver the product.

After Witte’s images of Danny Graves and his performance-enhancing contact lenses appeared in The Sporting News, numerous publications wanted to get their hands on his images. He was sitting on exclusive images, and he could demand a premium price.

“Twelve people called where I couldn’t help them because I was nowhere near my computer,” Witte said, “Five of them in one day.”

Of those twelve, seven were on a tight deadline, and couldn’t wait, so they ran the story without the photo. Two of them were able to hold the story until another publication date entirely, which resulted in Witte giving them a normal (non-premium) rate for their inconvenience. Three of them weren’t facing such a tight deadline, and Witte was able to get back to his office in time to send the images.

“I figure I lost $2,256,” Witte said, “Give or take $300.” His losses would have paid for 100GB of storage on PhotoShelter for four years.

Today, Witte’s images of Danny Graves and his contact lenses are available for licensing on PhotoShelter, here:


He’s ready for those calls now.

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Allen Murabayashi is the co-founder of PhotoShelter.

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