An Interview with Danita Delimont
During the last week of Advanced Intensive, our Career Training students were lucky enough to be visited by Danita Delimont, founder and owner of Danita Delimont Stock Photography. During her time with the students, she provided a lecture and viewed a selection of images each students prepared for her. The insight she provided each student was invaluable and further exposed them to the realities of working in the photographic industry. After Danita returned to Washington from her whirlwind tour of Missoula and the surrounding area, she was nice enough to answer a few questions for the blog.
Q. You have been in the image licensing business for decades. How did you get started?
A. It all started on the Amazon….
I’ve been licensing stock photography since 1980 when I was working for a photographer that I’d met on the Amazon River while working for an expedition travel company. Wolfgang Kaehler was taking photos of the passengers going ashore in their rubber zodiac boats, tromping through remote jungle villages and cruising up inner tributaries. Wolfgang had a darkroom in his ship’s cabin and would develop the best prints of the day & then post them on a board for the passengers to see and buy throughout the course of the trip. Wolfgang soon moved to Seattle where Society Expeditions was headquartered and my husband and I set him up in a house down the street. He traveled the world, photographing for the company’s brochure and marketing needs, while I researched new remote itineraries and wrote the brochures. Before too long we started our own business with me working as a commissioned rep, interacting with clients and sending out photo requests. When I look back at how I came to be involved in this business, it’s those early experiences that I remember that changed the course of my career.
Q. Were you and are you a photographer as well?
A. I took dark room photography classes in college but I never really wanted to be a “photographer.” There’s a lot of technical detail involved, which doesn’t hold my interest. I have no patience for it. I’d rather talk to people.
Q. Tell our readers a bit about the structure and day-to-day operations of Danita Delimont Stock Photography. How many people are on your team? What roles do they play? How much time do you spend looking at images vs. traveling vs. being on the phone?
A. We have five people on our team, two of which have been with me for 8 and 5 years respectively. They each have their own role but we all work together to make a cohesive team. Savanah, who has earned our Office Manager title, keeps me sane and focused and manages the major software program functionality and image-partner content distributions, as well as taking care of the billing and invoicing and submissions to clients. Jeff has tackled the footage world, and works with our footage submissions, and photo requests. Julia works on photographer submissions, checking for metadata, captions and looking to see how well the images are cleaned up (or not). Keith works with processing the images to the website, and keeping our computers managed and up to date. Everyone works a little on Photoshop clean up. Excel is a major program that we all use and I would recommend anyone interested in this business know it well.
I review upwards of 20,000 images a week sometimes. Then the selects lists are sent to the photographers for the high res images. We process between 2-3,000 new images to our website a week. I am out of the office on business during the normal course of a year 4-5 weeks, depending on trade shows, conferences, client calls, etc. We’re not on the phone as much since most people communicate via email these days. I spend 2-3 hours every morning going through my email, which comes in from all over the world. Between globally-based clients, image partners in different world markets and photographers in the field or living in different countries, we have a very mixed bag of international communications!
Q. How many photographers do you represent? How many images?
A. I have contracts with about 300 photographers and we have around 600,000 images on our website.
Q. Our Career Training students were lucky enough to have you spend some time with them discussing stock photography and reviewing portfolios. Have you visited Missoula and RMSP before?
A. I’ve never been to Missoula before so it was fun to be there. I found the warm hospitality of the people inviting and even had someone I sat next to on the plane offer me a ride to my hotel. I took an extra day and drove around Flathead Lake, visiting the National Bison Range, Ninepipes and other stops along the way. After seeing everyone’s portfolio photos from those places, it was fun to see them firsthand! What a beautiful setting it was in too, with the gold and yellow trees in their autumn splendor, and the Mission Mountains as the backdrop. Also, when I checked into the airport, there was a down-home Chili Feed going on as a local fundraiser. When did you last eat a TSA officer’s homemade Jalapeño/Guinness chili, or even have a choice from six others? It was great to see such community spirit, everyone vying for the best recipe!
Q. Overall, how would you rate the students’ interest in stock photography? Did you get the feeling that none, some, or every student wanted to pursue it in some way?
A. There seemed to be a lot of interest in stock photography. I think everyone’s heard of “microstock” but not that many knew much about RM (Rights Managed) or RF (Royalty Free). This is part of the last few years’ changes in the industry. The “younger” generation that is just now in college have very little idea of the history and transition that the stock photo industry has undergone. The most important thing for me was to impart an understanding that clearly outlined the differences between the licensing models so that people could make informed decisions on how they might want to categorize their images for licensing. I also got the feeling that there were a few students that didn’t really know much about stock photography at all. I hope what I had to offer was interesting and informative in some way for everyone.
Q. For those students that are serious about shooting stock, what kind of advice do you have for them as far as getting started upon graduation?
A. Pay attention to keeping your images processed regularly, with captions and keywords entered in the metadata consistently. If you get too far behind you’ll never catch up! Keep your sensors clean and blow up your images to 100% when cleaning them up. When pursuing an agency for representation, make sure you have your sample images ready to show and follow up immediately and be patiently persistent. There’s a reason that old saying “out of sight, out of mind” has been around for a while. It’s true.
Q. Now for the hard-hitting question…. how do you like your coffee? decaf? cream? sugar? never touch the stuff?
A. Starbucks French Roast, black please!
If you have questions or comments for either RMSP or for Danita, you are encouraged to post them in the comments section below.