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A few years ago I was in search of a logo and photos to decorate a gourmet cheese shop I was opening. After weeks of deliberation, I decided I wanted my logo to be a really cute mouse with cheese. I thought I could use the mouse as a spokesperson of sorts. I even named him Roquefort. “Try the Cotswold, all the mice in England swear it’s the best!” I’m embarrassed, but you get the idea. As a photographer, I began planning how I would set up a session in the studio to capture the perfect image. No problem finding the perfect cheese, but I ran into difficulties in casting the role of the mouse. I suspect you think I’m kidding, but I spent days trying to catch one. I succeeded once, but he was more the Quasimodo type rather than the Brad Pitt I was looking for. I think I could have lived with that, but he had great difficulty in learning his lines and was constantly trying to leave the set. That’s when I decided to search the online stock agencies. My search for “cheese” yielded thousands of entires. “Mouse” wasn’t as popular, but I still wound up with a huge group to search through, and most of those were really rats who were mouse wannabes. To narrow it down, I looked for “mouse with cheese” and finally “white mouse with Swiss cheese on white”. The on white allowed me to isolate the mouse and paste him wherever I chose. I confess, I half expected to see a photo of the sandwich I had just described. The results were stunning. The top one became my number one choice. You can see it below here. And here is it in my store logo… I even bought several others featuring the same mouse taken by the same photographer, that I used in my store as well.  Here’s an example: What lessons can be learned from my experience? First and of singular importance is that you can photograph absolutely anything and someone somewhere will want it. I suspect my find was taken by a photographer with a mouse for a pet and he was just taking pictures using what he had available. Look around you, there isn’t anything that you can’t photograph for stock. And the more esoteric your choice, the fewer competitors. Second, good keywording is vital. This is true from both the buyer and seller’s viewpoint. Savvy buyers get very specific in their search, as I did with white-mouse-with-swiss-cheese-on white. From a stock shooters stand point, the better your keywording, the greater likelihood you’ll find a willing buyer. In fact, the only way your photos will show up is because of keywords. No keywords = zero views. And the better you get at using descriptive keywords, the better your chances for not just getting seen, but getting seen by someone who wants what you have to offer. Finally, I realized that photographers who think beyond the boundaries have the best chance for finding a unique shot. I call it the “what goes with that” approach. Let’s take a simple shot of an apple as an example. You could spend an afternoon getting a great shot of a nice red apple. But think about what goes with that and expand your horizons: Apple with a worm, apple pie, rotten apple, one rotten apple in the barrel, the apple of your eye, and on and on and on. Once you start, you could spend a week with just that one subject. Finally, for those who care, I drove the mouse to a local park and released him. On top of that, I let him keep the cheese. No mice were harmed in the making of this essay. Share on Facebook

[Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can turn your pictures into cash in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.  Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Selling Photos for Cash: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]

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