Something besides insurance fraud.
April 26, 2010 1:30 PM   Subscribe

What should we do with over 10,000 pictures of food?

Actually, it is probably much more than 10,000 individual shots, and 9 or 10 times that if you count all the outtakes. Everything is on 4x5 chrome. 12 years of shooting. Almost one ton of film (not exaggerating). The majority of the shots are Food + Wine-esque, food on a plate with a napkin and fork, all shot for national publications.

The obvious answer is "upload to Getty" but the expense of scanning and retouching is getting to the point where it will soon outweigh the sale of stock, since stock prices are steadily dropping.

So - what would be a creative use for all these photos? Something outside the box. Way outside the box. Any ideas?
posted by infinitefloatingbrains to Media & Arts (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Hawk them to restaurants in the area, as unique fliers or postcards for events.

Sell them in lots on eBay (though the going rate for random lots may not be worth enough for you, ranging from $1 to $25 per 100.)

Sell them on Craigslist.
posted by filthy light thief at 1:38 PM on April 26, 2010

Some web sites seem to be offering $0.08 - $0.09/ scan range for even relatively low volume of 1000 images. I'm sure that it could be cheaper with your volume.
posted by zeikka at 1:46 PM on April 26, 2010

Donate them to the Schlesinger Library, which is the archives that holds the papers of (among others) Julia Child and M.F.K. Fisher, along with one of the most amazing cookbook collections on the planet.
posted by gyusan at 1:50 PM on April 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

I'm imagining a wickedly awesome high-quality music vid on vimeo, slickly produced, where the food is constantly morphing into other food in unexpected ways, with a bass-heavy Benny-Benassi-like track behind it. One of those videos where people watch it and go... "woah, that was trippy and amazing, they must have had to take, like, 10,000 pictures of food to get it right!" and somebody else chimes in, "no, man, you're crazy, nobody would do that, that would take forever!"

But it probably wouldn't be cost effective to scan all the pics and hire a design company to make something astounding with so I'll keep dreaming.
posted by The Winsome Parker Lewis at 1:54 PM on April 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

My motto about anything (not just photos) is: if you can't eat it put it on a wall. Fits double here.

Now to find the right wall. How about an ugly cinder block thing in the basement of a hospital? Someone will want them, someone really needs them. Or just find a university with a library program. All those MLS candidates need something to do (because who knows what they will do once they have the degree.)
posted by Some1 at 1:54 PM on April 26, 2010

This answer is probably not as "outside the box" as you'd like, and it's off the top of my head.

I'm wondering if it would be worth setting up a DSLR/macro lens/lightbox copy station and getting some really cheap mindless labor to shoot digital dupes of somewhere between a couple of thousand "selects" and all of them. this would basically be an assembly line process. I'd leave out any images with unreleased people or property, etc.

Then, generate a set of low res files, watermarked appropriately, and upload them to flickr. No spotting, retouching, or finely tuned color correction.

Note in the comments, description, or whatever, that all rights are reserved and include your contact information as well as the fact that they're from 4x5 originals (attention getter) and available on demand.

If a legitimate buyer wants to use something, they know where to find you, and at that point you could scan or otherwise dupe and clean up the specific images on demand and negotiate the rates as usual.

Two caveats:

1) I have zero experience ever selling any images this way.
2) A properly masked and color balanced light table with this copy set-up will give you digital files which are amazingly good, and the process is far, far faster than scanning.

My overall suggestion is based on the presumption that every second you have into this project needs to be super cost efficient, which rules out having them scanned and cleaned up by outside vendors, or submission to microstock agencies, etc.
posted by imjustsaying at 2:18 PM on April 26, 2010

Response by poster: Some web sites seem to be offering $0.08 - $0.09/ scan range for even relatively low volume of 1000 images. I'm sure that it could be cheaper with your volume.

While it seems cheap using those metrics, the reality is that it just isn't that simple unfortunately. And these are medium format - most reputable places charge $1-$2 per chrome.

The stock process goes something like this:

Sort through the archive, pick the best shot, label the chrome, prepare for shipping, ship, pay for scanning, receive returned film, re-file film in archive, time-consuming retouch of the digital image, prep image for uploading, tag with metadata + keywords, specify rights, then finally upload. It is a lot of work. And then the stock house only accepts half the images. And then sells them for cheap. The math just doesn't work out.

Great suggestions so far! Donation is a great idea, even to donate to an artist who might use them in a project. Something to give them a new life, instead of just being a waste of space.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 2:27 PM on April 26, 2010

The price to scan might drop sometime in the future.
posted by delmoi at 2:41 PM on April 26, 2010

Maybe contact an art school and see what they suggest? They might have the labor to scan things less expensively, or might have some crafty method of repurposing them.

Also: are you looking to make money off of this, or just have them go to some good use?
posted by filthy light thief at 3:16 PM on April 26, 2010

Best answer: Sell them for a small donation each, all proceeds go to fight world hunger? Yes, for a small act of charity, you too can be one of the 10,000 people in the InfiniteFloatingBrain You Can't Eat A Photo meme/project/effort.
posted by The otter lady at 3:35 PM on April 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

So they are slides - not a reverse image, is that right? Then I would make folding screens with the top 1/3 glass, afix the slides in a kind of collage. And sell the screens to high end restaurants as decor. And when people walk by them it will make them hungry. Or I would make some kind of classy hanging light with the images on some kind of frame so the light shines through the images. Sell to restaurants.

No, no, this is better : there are a LOT of people interested in food photography right now. The profession seems glamorous especially to foodies. Make a faux light table with a glass top and embed the slides in a casual way with some other ephemera like fake instructions from a fancy magazine to the photographer, receipts for props, etc., everything to make the fake table look like a real, professional food photographers light table. then sell it to rich people or restaurants.

And I would buy a few slides for hunger charity fund raisers. I like that idea.
posted by cda at 4:24 PM on April 26, 2010

Instead of getty, look for a food-specific stock house (no recommendations...I don't know food photography). With that sort of archive, they might be willing to buy the whole lot, or share the cost of scanning or something.

Or, piggybacking on exploiting the foodie market, maybe you could figure out how to make high-end blank recipe books and embed the chrome in the front cover as a see-through, somehow. That's a lot of work...
posted by msbrauer at 5:11 PM on April 26, 2010

Best answer: At the risk of repeating myself, please consider donating them to an institution that documents cultural history - food history in particular. Consider what you have: a collection of commercial photography, covering one subject area, over a decade, created for and published in national media - this is the sort of corpus that scholars of material culture, food history, advertising history, fashion history, publishing history, photography history, etc. would consider a goldmine.

The crafty suggestions are great for one and twos of random images, but when you have a comprehensive collection of something like this, it would be really sad to see it all dispersed and made into tchochkes.
posted by gyusan at 5:24 PM on April 26, 2010 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Thanks so much for all the great answers. Wow - seriously amazing outside the box ideas. You guys rock.
posted by infinitefloatingbrains at 6:04 PM on April 26, 2010

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