I haz it.
Or so I'm told. I'm also told that "I've arrived."
I, you see, yours truly, your humble Writer just sold his first photograph. To a for-real magazine for for-real money. Outfreakingstanding!
A few days ago an email arrived claiming to be from the Sierra Club magazine's Photo Editor asking about usage rights for one of my Flickr photos. My first thought, being a good internet tubes user was that it was a hoax, some sort of come-on. But, being curious, I checked it out. I emailed the person asking for permission to use my photo, and the email bounced back. Thinking for sure I'd foiled some sort of major phishing plot I went to the Sierra Club's website and emailed them on their general contact email address. I included the email and asked if I'd been phished.
Turns out I hadn't! The nice gentleman wrote me and cc'd the editor and we started talking. Seems in their May/June 2009 issue they're running an article on marine pollution, specifically by nurdles.
Now, until just a few short months ago I had no idea what a nurdle was. No clue. A year or more ago Tracy and I were walking the tracks at one of our favourite train-spotting places, and there parked were a line of hoppers, each with its fill/empty valves open. Spilling out of one was a huge 'puddle' of these tiny white plastic pellets, millions of 'em. I had Tracy scoop up a handful and I took a few photos, then she blew them out of her cupped hands and I took a few photos. Uploaded them to Flikr and pretty much forgot about it.
Well, those little dealie-flops are nurdles, or pre-production plastic pellets. Those are shipped by the trainload to plastics plants who melt them down and turn them into, well, everything plastic, and I'd gotten a nice, clear photo of them. It seems these things get into the water supply, fish eat them (thinking they're small fish eggs or other good things I guess,) fill up with them, can't digest them, can't pass them, and therefore die of starvation with their stomachs full of little plastic pellets.
Months and months ago I was contacted by a Wikipedia editor who was doing a page on nurdles, and they asked to use the photo. I agreed, it being on a Creative Commons License--they can use it as long as they credit it to me. Which they did, and the hits on that photo started rolling in. I think to date it remains one of my top five most-viewed photos on Flickr, right up there with the Mark V diving helmet and diver I photographed at Vortex Springs, Florida and the gurnsey cow riding a unicycle.
After all that hooplah someone at the Sierra Club saw my photo (the nurdles, not the cow) and asked to buy the rights to it for use in a magazine article! A 1/16th page-size photo, plus use on the website in the article. See the above. We emailed back and forth, and I agreed. Sent the invoice off this afternoon.
The best part? I'm getting paid for it! Not a king's ransom, no, but then again it's not a photo of, say, Lincoln being assassinated. BUT, it's a start, right? I never thought that taking a photo of something as innocuous as some plastic pellets could lead to a very small paycheck!*
Today, nurdles. Tomorrow? Paris Hilton being assassinated in a theater!
* What's really funny about all this is that I've always thought that Tracy would be the one who sold the first photo of the two of us. It's been said before, and I agree totally, that while I have most of the nuts-and-bolts of photography down pat Tracy has The Eye. She looks at the world through that lens differently than the rest of us, and that to me makes her by far the better photographer. But hey, I've been wrong before, right?