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Archive 2011 · Developing myself into a stock photographer
  
 
krason
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p.1 #1 · p.1 #1 · Developing myself into a stock photographer


Hi All,

I've set a goal for myself to become a stock photographer and develop my ability to take quality images that are usable and sell-able as stock. I've submitted to a site for entry as a stock photographer and had the images rejected. While this is dissappointing, I know I have a lot of room for photographic growth and I don't expect to transform into a photographic expert over night. But I also think I'm getting much better.

So I'd like some feedback from this crew. Here are the three samples I submitted recently. I'd like honest and direct criticism and comments, without being mean. I haven't found any mean on this FM yet, just wanted to be clear. :-)

Any thoughts on ways to improve the images themselves are most welcome.

I'm willing to accept that the stock photography website I submitted to may already have enough of these type of images. So imagine for a moment that you were looking for stock photos of these subjects, would you accept or reject these and if rejected why?

Thanks for looking and commenting, it's all part of my process of growth, thanks for participating.

Kevin

I also have a photo of the day blog that I've been doing for the last 3 months. Comments are always welcome there as well:

Photo of the day





Diving Board in the Morning Mist







Mayan Calendar Lit with Flashes and Photoshopped background







River Scene from Montana - Perfect Day




Dec 19, 2011 at 07:19 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #2 · p.1 #2 · Developing myself into a stock photographer


When I think @ stock photography, I think @ keywording and imagery that conveys such keywording.

In the case of the slide, it is an interesting image, but imagine a local swimming pool contractor that wants to make a new brochure for marketing. He goes to a stock agency and searches for pool & slide. He is looking for imagery that people looking for swimming pool slides will IMMEDIATELY recognize & identify with, hopefully to create a mood of "fun in the sun" ... rather than an image that is interesting.

This isn't to say that the slide image doesn't have a place for use ... but to point out the relationship between imagery & keywording is an important one.

Also, images that have the ability to be used for different layout/crop and/or copy (text) have consideration as well. Imagine needing to crop the Mayan calendar ... it would ruin the shot.

Stock photography is an animal unto itself with its own set of rules & agenda ... one that I've never played with, but researched into years ago. I'd suggest a bit more insight/research into the way that the "stock" industry works would be helpful. You might post (or search) a related question over in the Pro Digital Forum.

Also, pick up a copy of the Photographer's Market and you could contact some agencies that are looking for new talent ... asking them what their criteria / expectations are / inquire if they would be willing to provide you some feedback.

NOTE: I just realized that the image is of a "diving board" not a "slide" ... hence, the significance of IMMEDIATE/STRONG "recognition factor" in the imagery for commercial use.



Edited on Dec 19, 2011 at 09:47 PM · View previous versions



Dec 19, 2011 at 09:02 PM
Da5id
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p.1 #3 · p.1 #3 · Developing myself into a stock photographer


Good for you man.

First off, don't worry about being rejected by the $12 an hour employees paid to screen images. They get a ton of rif-raf and poor images and often barely even glance at the entries.

I once had a photo rejected from iStockphoto... it was one of a series that also happened to be on the back cover off a photography magazine that month. Guess it wasn't good enough for their $1 downloads though. So, yeah, just remember the politics and taste behind some of these decisions may or may not have anything to do with the quality of your images.

A good idea is to look at "themes" that are lacking and shoot a series on that. You can see how many downloads there are of a certain images in a category. For instance, let's say "social networking" is something that people are buying a lot lately... come up with some clever ideas on how to convey that concept and then shoot them.

Hope this helps.

-Dayvid




Dec 19, 2011 at 09:04 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #4 · p.1 #4 · Developing myself into a stock photographer


+1 @ themes.

Taking a look at your site, I noticed that you're shooting with a D7000. Some agencies are pretty restrictive to wanting imagery only from "non-consumer" camera's. I'm not saying that you can't take nice pics with such a camera, but that can also be a "weeding" out criteria for the agency ... there are some technical/subtle differences that might come into play with different agencies. I know that some agencies are VERY RESTRICTIVE @ what camera they came from (or used to be) ... one in particular not even allowing for a 5D, i.e. 1D series only (in the Canon lineup models).



Dec 19, 2011 at 09:43 PM
krason
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p.1 #5 · p.1 #5 · Developing myself into a stock photographer


HI Rusty and Dayvid,

Thanks for the thoughts and insights. Unfortunately I'm a few stock photo sales away from being able to afford a D3. :-) The website I'm submitting to does have minimum image dimension restrictions, with strict rules about not upsampling the images. I'm curious how I could find out if they are bias'd against consumer cameras.

The website I'm looking at has a pretty clear list of themes they are interested in, so that's a great idea to focus in on those.

Does anyone have any comment on the photos themselves?

@Rusty - From your comments the only criticism I could see is that while photo 1 is artistic it doesn't fit into the normal context one would want to stock a diving board. And for the mayan photo it's too processed already and doesn't leave room for the designer to work with it.

Any other comments? It sounds like I might just need better subjects.

Thanks,

Kevin



Dec 19, 2011 at 10:02 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #6 · p.1 #6 · Developing myself into a stock photographer


Even with an "artistic" image ... there's likely marketability there ... but my broader point is that STOCK photography is all about MARKETING (imo). This comes in the form of the end user ... AND ... in the form you who/how you are marketing your images.

Killer images that miss the marketing aspect wind up being worthless ... from what I've heard & read, those that have more of a "laser" marketing (than just general stuff) have much more success. As with many photograhic business endeavors ... it's 90% business, 10% photography (or something like that).

For many folks, the business side is their achilles heel, not their photography per se. They don't have a good grasp on the needs of the industry they are trying to service, and what they need to do to provide meet/fulfill/exceed those needs. It's more than just taking "good" pictures.

+1 @ themes ... i.e. do your homework to assess the needs of the industry, or develop a niche/expertise/style.

One area of stock that caught me by surprise a bit was "agriculture". Not something that you'd typically associate with "pretty pictures" ... but it is a sub-industry that I never really gave much credence to. That is but one example. Do some research, decide on a direction ... then attack with the gusto of a viking and the tenacity of a pit bull.

I had a pretty good book a few years back on stock photography ... can't remember it's title now, but I'm sure there are plenty around.

I'd start with Photographer's Market ... check out stock agencies, contact a few to get some insight and work toward their needs / standards. If you stuff isn't meeting the needs/standards (no matter how good) ... it's easy ammo for the reject pile.

HTH ... GL

Edited on Dec 19, 2011 at 10:35 PM · View previous versions



Dec 19, 2011 at 10:30 PM
Ben Horne
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p.1 #7 · p.1 #7 · Developing myself into a stock photographer


I don't think pursuing stock photography is a very wise idea these days. Everyone and their mom has a quality camera now days, and they are also willing to give their work away for free. I think you would be much better off focusing your time and effort toward a more viable type of photography -- unless your stock photography is your passion, and you really aren't all that interested in making any money.


Dec 19, 2011 at 10:35 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #8 · p.1 #8 · Developing myself into a stock photographer


Ben Horne wrote:
I don't think pursuing stock photography is a very wise idea these days. Everyone and their mom has a quality camera now days, and they are also willing to give their work away for free. I think you would be much better off focusing your time and effort toward a more viable type of photography -- unless your stock photography is your passion, and you really aren't all that interested in making any money.


It's definitely a 'crowded field' ... but there are folks that have "cracked the code" so to speak. Again, check out some of the Pro's in the other Forum. You can probably get some better insight and dialouge with those who are SUCCEEDING at it ... moreover than someone (i.e. me) who decided to "pass" on it.

Here's a link to get you started.

http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/topic/1035478/0?keyword=stock#9836169



Dec 19, 2011 at 10:37 PM
chipiii
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p.1 #9 · p.1 #9 · Developing myself into a stock photographer


Hi,

I partly agree with Ben that is not a very good direction right now. I think there will always be a market for microstock and the other side VERY highend licensed images, it's harder than ever. I tried the microstock route last year and couldn't get enything accepted. The issues were mostly content, but occasionally quality and we dissagreed. I know a local guy thats has been succesful at it and his acceptance rate is half of what it used to be. He shoots mostly studio food shots that sell well. His other shoots are setup shots with office settings and models looking to break in dressed in buisiness apparel. He sets these up with 2 or 3 other shooters to share the costs.
If you go to the microstock blogs you will find that even most of the highly successful stock shooters rates and revenue are down from the haydays.
Microstock is very tough these days, he shoots and submits contstantly.
I may try again this year but I will do more research and completly change my tactics. Good luck.

Chip



Dec 20, 2011 at 12:14 AM
T-bone1
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p.1 #10 · p.1 #10 · Developing myself into a stock photographer


Kevin,
Opinions are like ***holes. Everyone has one, and this is just mine. Take it for what it's worth!
So you know where I'm coming from and can evaluate my opinion worth, let me state that I have the opportunity to look at stock photography all day in my job. I am an underwriter for a large credit card processor, and among many duties I perform, one is to evaluate websites for merchant accounts to determine Visa/MasterCard compliance and a host of other things.
My suggestion, and what I would do if I shared your same vision, would be to pick a particular field of commerce and rack your brain for ideas and concepts which would most represent what you anticipate the merchants in that field would choose as images to represent their business image and products/services. I don't want to encourage you to be too unique either, as the images are all fairly, well, ...stock. As you seem to be finding out, the stock agencies appear to like the images to fit in a little box, yet be exceptionally presented in regard to lighting, processing, and of course the technical aspects of ppi, dimension, etc. I think I've seen every possible image of the fake phone representative and "business team" you can imagine. They are, however, very professionaly shot in studios with perfect lighting.
So, in a kind tone, I ask you where you would place your three images above? They're not really the type of images one would expect to see used for stock (at least in my experience).
I encourage you to pick a field which would interest you, and just start going through the internet on Google and reviewing websites for the photos used. Gain a perspective of what appears to sell, and note those qualities.
Again, ONLY my opinion and how I would attack this venture. I'm sure many others might wish to attest to a totally different approach, and some may even be successful at it as I write these words.
My best wishes to you for success on your path!
-Tim



Dec 20, 2011 at 01:22 AM
 

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krason
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p.1 #11 · p.1 #11 · Developing myself into a stock photographer


Hi All,

Thanks for all the insights. Maybe I should broaden the topic. How do people make money at photography?

I don't think I've given up on stock photography yet, despite all the advice to stay out of a very full sector. But I do appreciate the thoughts about finding a niche. That seems to be the trick in any business area find an unfulfilled need.

At the end of the day, I'm having fun, which is why I'd love to find a way to make some money at it. :-)

Thanks,

Kevin



Dec 20, 2011 at 03:19 AM
cgardner
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p.1 #12 · p.1 #12 · Developing myself into a stock photographer


Nearly everyone who owns a decent camera at some point thinks about selling their photos to defray the cost of feeding their habit. I went down't that road 40 years ago, starting to sell my PJ work in college then going to work for a top wedding pro for a few years. The latter took all the fun out of photography for me and it took years to recover.

Shooting for stock isn't a bad idea as it will help hone your shooting skills. You'll know they have improved when you start selling your images. The only bad part of the idea is thinking you'll get rich, or ever defray the cost of your gear doing it ...

As for other ways to make money with a camera the traditional route is to exploit social contacts by shooting for friends and family, but when you branch out and start shooting for hire with strangers there's the reality check of needing to establish a legit business, get insurance, pay taxes on your equipment, etc. That's the point when many, after investing a lot in gear, decide "Gee, maybe this is more fun as a hobby.." That's pretty much the case with any avocation you try to turn into a vocation. All the non-shooting aspects of running a business trump the fun shooting part.



krason wrote:
Hi All,

Thanks for all the insights. Maybe I should broaden the topic. How do people make money at photography?

I don't think I've given up on stock photography yet, despite all the advice to stay out of a very full sector. But I do appreciate the thoughts about finding a niche. That seems to be the trick in any business area find an unfulfilled need.

At the end of the day, I'm having fun, which is why I'd love to find a way to make some money at it. :-)

Thanks,

Kevin




Dec 20, 2011 at 02:14 PM
dmacmillan
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p.1 #13 · p.1 #13 · Developing myself into a stock photographer


krason wrote:
How do people make money at photography?

By and large they don't.

Are you talking movie ticket, popcorn and Coke money or actually trying to do photography as a main source of income?



Dec 20, 2011 at 06:38 PM
dmacmillan
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p.1 #14 · p.1 #14 · Developing myself into a stock photographer


cgardner wrote:
As for other ways to make money with a camera the traditional route is to exploit social contacts by shooting for friends and family, but when you branch out and start shooting for hire with strangers there's the reality check of needing to establish a legit business, get insurance, pay taxes on your equipment, etc. That's the point when many, after investing a lot in gear, decide "Gee, maybe this is more fun as a hobby.." That's pretty much the case with any avocation you try to turn into a vocation. All the non-shooting aspects of running a business trump
...Show more
True that. Well said.



Dec 20, 2011 at 06:40 PM
AuntiPode
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p.1 #15 · p.1 #15 · Developing myself into a stock photographer


cgardner wrote:
Nearly everyone who owns a decent camera at some point thinks about selling their photos to defray the cost of feeding their habit. I went down't that road 40 years ago, starting to sell my PJ work in college then going to work for a top wedding pro for a few years. The latter took all the fun out of photography for me and it took years to recover.


A few years in the portrait biz did the same for me. For a few years after that I hardly touched a camera. If you aren't very careful, making your photography into a business is a good way to turn a passion into a bothersome chore.



Dec 20, 2011 at 07:19 PM
RustyBug
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p.1 #16 · p.1 #16 · Developing myself into a stock photographer


RustyBug wrote:
someone (i.e. me) who decided to "pass" on it.


I think those who are "succeeding" at stock photography, are doing so as an "adjunct" to their other photographic business ... more so than as a main revenue stream. The uncertainty and inconsistency of it doesn't bode well for it as a main source. Rather, I'm inclined to think of stock more like steadily putting money in a "piggy bank" that can pay dividends over time.

Back in the day ... you needed to have probably 10,000 GOOD images before stock was even an option. Now, with the prolific number of cameras and the number of people contributing to the massive inventory of stock imagery, it is a bit like playing the lottery ... unless you are well defined and well developed ... then it has more of a "piggy bank" investment for those who stay the course with a well disciplined, long term approach.

Not trying to dissuade ... just trying to be realistic at what to expect / not expect. Again, defer to those who are shooting stock for better guidance.




Dec 20, 2011 at 07:31 PM
Kaden K.
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p.1 #17 · p.1 #17 · Developing myself into a stock photographer


Kevin most people I know that come to photography with some level of seriousness have art goals in mind and as they fall short, eventually and "accidentally" settle for stock image sales if they are reasonable.

I am puzzled and surprised with your goal right off the bat. What motivates you? Aside from the monetary impetus that is.

Frankly, this as a goal is akin to someone soul searching for a profession that motivates one in life and out of a whole world of possibilities one would decide that being an undertaker would be it. (Nothing personal to undertakers)



Dec 22, 2011 at 07:02 AM
Imagemaster
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p.1 #18 · p.1 #18 · Developing myself into a stock photographer


Most stock photos are used by clients that want to sell their product. Look at your three images and ask yourself what product each of your images would sell.

#1 - I can't think of any product this image would help to sell. Technically, the image is not level.

#2 - Again, what product? Technically, it is cropped too tightly. Clients and photo editors prefer to have images where they have their own cropping possibilities.

#3 - Sorry, not being mean, but this image is just plain boring. It is poorly composed and has no focal point of interest.



Dec 23, 2011 at 05:40 PM
cgardner
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p.1 #19 · p.1 #19 · Developing myself into a stock photographer


Most product photography is custom shot to show the product being sold. Stock photos are more typically used editorially to illustrate stories or concepts. For example this came in the mail today....

http://super.nova.org/EDITS/Stock.jpg

T Rowe Price isn't trying to sell pencils, it's trying to convey the concept of diversifying one's portfolio by purchasing more T Rowe products. Why out of all the possible choices to illustrate that did the designer pick that image? Likely because it was colorful, fit the format of needed for a cover, and conveyed the message in a clever way with generic objects most people would relate to and was tagged with the key word diversity. Other stock photos in the newsletter included shots of a hand calculator, a night scene of the Santiago, Chile skyline and a scenic shot of Bali, Indonesia. I worked for years managing Global Publishing Services for the U.S. State Department and most of our photos were sourced from stock agencies for similar editorial use, not literally selling a product.




Dec 23, 2011 at 09:37 PM





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