Roadside Cross, Indre, France [Alamy image ref. B4CJFN]

Sometimes, when driving along a deserted country road and thinking aloud – actually I usually think and speak aloud in French to myself as a form of learning amusement (but that’s beside the point) – I catch in the corner of my eye something slightly unusual which makes me slow… and perhaps stop. This scene was such an occasion… a simple but elegant wooden cross, slightly tilting, as if it had resisted the winds for many years and next to it, rather incongruously, a modern traffic sign with just “6T” as information.

Now I know that “6T” means there is a weight limit of six tonnes for larger vehicules traveling along such a narrow, minor route, but what I don’t know is why an editor searched for such a combination – when I have many other images of religious wooden crosses taken at many road junctions in the very Catholic country which France is – chose a particular roadside cross whose calm environs were visually desecrated by a modern traffic sign. Perhaps that was the attraction, the odd juxtaposition, or perhaps the “6T” has a relevant significance in the Bible, or another religious symbolism, which I don’t know about.

Incidentally, my “essential” keywords for this particular image were “roadside, religious, wooden, cross, France” with the other main keywords being “leaning, tilting, weathered, split, wood, crucifix, road, sign, 6, six, tons, tonnes, weight, limit, Le Blanc, Buziak” (I include just my surname – not “Ed Buziak” – in case clients search all of Alamy just for my images with my name as the searchword).

Whatever, it was licensed “RF” – and no, that’s not ”Republique Francaise” but ”Royalty Free” which is a licensing method I’m generally abandoning in favour of being completely ”Rights Managed” and which carries, again in general, although there are no generalities in this game, a higher payment for most usages. However, in this case that impression was turned on its head. Last week I had an RF sale in mid-single dollar figures – albeit for a tiny image file and probably for someone’s personal website and for which I should actually be thankful that the person decided to go the proper, ethical and legal route and pay for the image use -unlike many others who grab and paste from others’ websites – whereas this sale was for a larger image file (although still not huge) and licensed for hundreds of dollars.

Overall it has added to a very good month for me with Alamy… August 2011 was (then) my best month ever after four years with the agency, but September has exceeded the previous month by a good margin. Do I think the world economy is in crisis? Not on the current showing with my image sales I don’t, especially when my past year’s earnings have basically doubled the previous four year’s cumulative total!

Scientology leather-bound book. [Alamy image ref. BMX73M]

I don’t know much about Dianetics or Scientology – apart from the usual inferences about “cult” status that are bandied about and the connection with celebrity actors such John Travolta and Tom Cruise – except that the founder of the organization, L. Ron Hubbard, was also a science fiction writer, traveler and quite a good photographer in his own right. When only 17 years of age he captured the seven turns of the Great Wall of China in a rare photograph shot near the Nan-k’ou Pass. He also amassed a superb collection of photographic equipment made into a permanent display at Saint Hill Manor at East Grinstead in West Sussex.

To continue the photographic connection, I was given the above leather-bound special edition of the Dianetics manual by a well-known Nikon dealer in the UK as thanks for an article I used in a photo magazine I published many years ago. Although I browsed through a few pages – and quickly realized the subject didn’t interest me – I thought the attractive leather cover and logo made it a nice looking book worth photographing for Alamy. My other thought was that there was a very good chance the subject – being controversial – would come up in searches on a regular basis… which has proven to be correct as this image, and my other more detailed shots of the logo or symbol have been zoomed a few times.

There’s probably a good market for unusual or many other special edition book covers, especially when obviously made as quality presentation editions. Amazon announced this week that their sales of e-book downloads for the Kindle e-reader have outstripped their sales of paperbacks for the first time. How long before all real books become collectors items?

Used recently as a photo in a retail book (print only) with a print run up to 50,000, 1/4 page 3-year license under my “Beaux Arts” pseudonym.

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