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Interview with Photographer Jim Erickson, Owner and Creative Director of Erickson Stock

Stock photographers aim to offer more affordable and faster photo acquisition solutions by offering customers a wide portfolio of photos from different concepts related to many different topics. Jim Erickson, who started his photography career in 1979, provides ready-to-use photos to his customers with Erickson Stock which he founded. I talked photographer Jim Erickson about his career and Erickson Stock.

Friday, March 29, 2019

Jim Erickson

Jim Erickson


by Melisa Kaya

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Almost all companies design catalogs, reports, price lists, or promotional brochures throughout the year, but not all of them have big budgets for photographs to be used in these documents. Taking a family, nature, or city photograph that the company wants to use to describe its vision is a costly process. At this stage, stock photography comes into play. Stock photography resources allow customers to choose from thousands of ready-to-use, low-cost photos. Jim Erickson, who has over 40 years of professional experience, is a photographer who specializes in stock photography. He founded Erickson Stock to present his portfolio of stock photos. Erickson Stock has been offering users ready-to-use photos from different perspectives on different topics. I talked with Jim Erickson, Owner and Creative Director of Erickson Stock, about his career, stock photography, and Erickson Stock.

Jim, before talking about Erickson Stock, I would like to learn more about you. How did your interest in photography begin? What is the most special aspect of storytelling by photos for you?

I didn’t choose photography, it chose me. The world makes more sense to me when I can access it visually instead of intellectually.

Early on I fell in love with the work of photojournalists like Eugene Smith, Robert Frank, and Henri Cartier Bresson. In front of their lenses were mostly everyday people, in images that told a story and revealed what it means to be human. They seemed to capture the emotional world, told so clearly to the camera.

When did you get your first camera? Do you remember the first photo that you shot with it?

Growing up in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, I first picked up a camera when I was 15-years old. It was a 35mm ranger finder, a Minolta Highmatic 7s. The image was of my older brother screaming down a hill in Eau Claire on his Triumph 650. It was all about speed.

Photo by Jim Erickson

Photo by Jim Erickson

Could you tell us about yourself? Who is Jim Erickson?

I guess I am an artist. What drives me to create is chasing the truth with my camera and freezing in a moment in time, freezing a feeling. A “swish” or a snapshot of a moment where we feel joy and can be connected. I want to share the message that we are all on a journey of incredible beauty, even in the everyday.

How did you decide to pursue a career in photography? What inspired you to establish your own studio?

I started my 40-year career working for the Raleigh News and Observer in North Carolina. What inspires anyone to be in the creative field has to be just a little bit of crazy, and the desire to be the best has always been in the back of my mind. Maybe that’s ego or fear of failure. Ultimately I think I’ve run my own studio and stock photography company, ericksonstock.com because I wanted to control. There’s some more crazy right there.

Photo by Jim Erickson

Photo by Jim Erickson

You like travelling. How has exposure to different cultures affected your photographic approach?

What I like about traveling is, seeing something new and feeling inspired. The Greek word for “inspire” is to breathe in. So it’s like inhaling new ideas, new color palettes, different costumes, warm water. This makes me want to run out and get a camera. Whenever I shoot, whether I travel or not, I’m always looking at what to eliminate. So when you start with good ingredients, your pie is always going to turn out.

Could you tell us about Erickson Stock and your team?

At Erickson Stock, we have a small staff and use Freelance Editors and IT Consultants. We are located in northern California and there is always a positive vibe in the studio. Some say our website is gorgeous. I hope so. We’ve put a lot of work into it. The “art part” always has a prominent place in how we approach our work.

What kind of services do you offer to your clients?

We are a great resource for anyone who wants unique stock photography that is not stocky, but captures real and authentic emotional moments. Perhaps, more importantly, we are like a small advertising agency. We can write, shoot and produce great brand identity video for a really competitive price. Just call and tell us your dream, and we’ll go back behind the curtain and make stuff and pull the curtain back.

Photo by Jim Erickson

Photo by Jim Erickson

What is a stock photo?

A stock photo is anything that can be used to communicate and idea or feeling that you can buy the rights to.

Could you tell us about the advantages of using stock photos for businesses? Why should they prefer stock photos?

The advantage of buying a stock photo is that much of the risk of creating content is gone. The approval process is shortened, there is a cost saving and you get to go home early.

In addition to our collection of 70,000 images, Erickson Stock offers narrative stories on video that are character driven. As contrasted with other video stock sites that offer collections of unrelated clips, we have roughed in the idea, cast the characters and directed the spot to tell a larger story from an everyday event. Like having a birthday, paddling on Lake Tahoe or surfing with your daughter.

This means all you have to do is pick a story from the hundreds we have made, and add your story or voice over. They all have an emotional connection that you can finish off with your own take on how it relates to your brand.

We think once people work with our video narratives they will think twice about creating assignment content. We back these stories up with real production chops, so if you don’t have an agency but want a big league look and message, all you have to do is call. We’ll help fill in the gaps.

Photo by Jim Erickson

Photo by Jim Erickson

In which categories do you offer stock photos?

We offer collections in categories such as Family, Business, Travel & Leisure, Animals, Landscape and Seniors & Aging. Our collection is small but you can find a lot of everyday life in it. We also specialize in Seniors, the most underserved, underrepresented subject of our digital world is our aging population. Which, coincidentally, is in tremendous demand.

What are the differences between Royalty Free Photos and Rights Managed Photos? How can a business owner decide to the right one for them?

The reasons you would buy Rights Managed imagery over Royalty Free, is that you know where it’s been and you can block where it’s going. If you are dealing with a multi-million dollar brand, it’s good to designate that the same image won’t appear in your competitor’s ads.

As a point of difference, the Rights Managed collection is tighter and will have better image quality, but the most important point is that each image is unique, which means when you show up to the party with the right suit or dress, no one else will be wearing the same one. And if you buy well, you’ll look better then everyone else who bought their photo from a megastore for $3.00. It is after all, all about image. Finally, it’s like buying fair trade, and Royalty Free is not sustainable for many artists.

Photo by Jim Erickson

Photo by Jim Erickson

Could your clients use the photo they buy in any publication, catalog, website, ad or other platforms?

We are here to serve our customers needs, we want you to use our stuff everywhere. Royalty Free imagery comes with unlimited usage, Rights Managed and Video is sold by specific use.

Is it possible for abroad clients to buy a photo from Erickson Stock and use it them in their own countries?

Yes. Erickson Stock can be purchased internationally. We have an eCommerce platform available via our website ericksonstock.com for Royalty Free images, and provide quotes for Rights Managed Imagery and Video Clips.

Could you inform us about pricing? Which factors determine the price?

Our Royalty Free images sell for $500, and include unlimited usage rights. For our Right Managed Images and Video Content, we believe in individualized attention and price this content based on usage. We can also help pull more images if you need help there too.

Photo by Jim Erickson

Photo by Jim Erickson

What should customers pay attention to when choosing and buying stock photos?

I am a believer that “all images are not alike”. The power and beauty an image possesses are in the eyes of your customer. So, the best tool in choosing the right stock image is already apparent, just open your eyeballs and feel the force.

How do you protect the rights of your works in this online era?

All our images are copyright protected and we watermark each image. We still believe that most people and businesses are honest and respect the hard work of the artist to create an image that moves the human spirit.

What advice would you give to photographers who want to pursue a career in stock photography?

The market is flooded with content and the only people who can move their career forward are those who are passionate about the visual language. I didn’t choose photography and film, it chose me.

What is your favorite photograph that you have ever taken?

My favorite pictures are of my two boys. Monet said, “paint your own back Yard”.

Father of Jim Erickson - Photo by Jim Erickson

Father of Jim Erickson - Photo by Jim Erickson

I agree with Mr. Monet.

What do you think about social media? How can our readers follow Erickson Stock?

Social media is a beast unto itself and is probably another chapter for another interview. Readers can find us on Instagram (@erickson_stock) and Facebook (@ericksonstockphotography)

What is next for you?

I can’t stop making pictures, and can’t stop making videos. The camera has always been a way to explore the world and meet interesting people. I’ll keep doing that, what else is there?

Anything you would like to add that I haven’t asked?

I look at myself as a curator. Which has its roots in Latin, and means caretaker of the soul. I think that’s my life’s work.

Thank you Jim for your time.

For more information, please click here to visit the website of Erickson Stock