City Stock Photo Shoot Explained

I am shooting an extended stock photography series on Melbourne lifestyle. This is a project that I have been running for 2 years now, and is work that I fit in around client projects. With winter looming my client work slows down, allowing me to shoot more stock.

I’m always surprised when other photographers ask me about how I organise and complete these shoots. So here it is – a city stock photo shoot explained.


Step 1 – Finding Models. I enjoy meeting and shooting with new models. I wrote this post about finding models using ModelMayhem, StarNow, or Facebook groups. For this particular shoot I used StarNow (I wrote about that in StarNow My First Experience) where in excess of 200 models applied to be involved.

Serious hipsterStep 2 – Finding the Right Look. With each application on StarNow comes a link to the models portfolio. While I had a large number of applicants, the StarNow website makes it easy to work through portfolios to decide on the right look for the shoot. In this case, I went for a young, male, hipster look.

Step 3 – Helping the Model Understand the Style of Image. Step 3 involves helping the model understand what type of images I am trying to create and what they should expect in a stock photography shoot. On StarNow there is a messaging service where you can contact the model. I used this to contact some of the shortlisted models and provided links to a lightbox of similar images and a link to a post I wrote called What Models Should Know About Stock Photography Shoots. I also asked the model to get back to me to let me know if they are interested in the shoot now that they have more information.

Step 4 – Organising Shoot Logistics. For this shoot I exchanged messages with the model both on StarNow and via text message. We organised the shoot to be in Melbourne CBD and met at Flinders Street Station – a destination easily accessible by public transport. I planned the locations we would shoot in advance so that we could get variety in the images we produced during this 2 hour shoot.

Man and ParliamentStep 5 – Meeting and Confirming Details. When I first meet the model I like to confirm that the model understands the type of images we are aiming to produce. I often shoot to a brief from iStock and Getty Images, and in this case I went through the brief with the model when we first met. We then completed the model release and sorted out payment. With payment made, model release completed, and a common understanding of the types of images we planned to shoot – we were ready to get started.

Step 6 – Conducting the Shoot. When I do stock photo shoots I like to work closely with the model and to discuss what is, and what isn’t, working. I like to start the discussion and feedback early. So I find a location near where we meet to begin shooting. That enables us to get started promptly and for the model to relax. At this first point I review the images with the model and we discuss what we like and don’t like. This helps create a common understanding and sense of teamwork in the images we produce. From there, we work our way around the different shoot locations, reviewing images together, and re-shooting where necessary. After 2 hours we were done, and another enjoyable stock photo shoot was done.

Step 7 – Post Production and Uploading. I like to download all the images on the same day as the shoot. I then make minor post production edits in Lightroom and upload a handful of images to iStockphoto. This is primarily to make sure I haven’t missed anything on the model release and so I know that the image library will accept both the release and the images.

I have never had a problem with my model releases, but if I do, I’m confident I could go back to the model promptly if I need any further information from them.

This shoot was done on a Saturday. I uploaded 5 images that evening, and they were approved overnight. They were available in my portfolio on the Monday morning. I expect to have between 80 and 120 images in total from this shoot for my stock portfolio. I will edit and upload the remaining images over the next few weeks.

Step 8 – Follow Up with the Model. I like to follow up with the model to thank them for their time and expertise, and for them to be able to see some of the final images. In this case, I text messaged three images to the model the day after the shoot, and posted several to my Instagram account where he could also see them. When the entire shoot is available in my stock photo portfolio I will send him a link so that he can see the final images.

And that is a wrap on this stock photo shoot.

I hope ‘City Stock Photo Shoot Explained’ helps you understand the process I use, and will be useful in planning your own stock photo shoots.

 

StarNow My First Experience

It’s leading into winter here in Melbourne, Australia which is a period where my wedding photography slows down and I spend more time shooting images for my stock portfolio with iStockphoto and Getty Images. In this post I wrote about how to find models for this type of project. In the past I have used ModelMayhem for most of my castings and Facebook groups for others, but I have found them increasingly difficult to get reliable models. For the first time I have posted a casting on StarNow and so this post is to share – StarNow my first experience.

Melbourne tram

I found the listing process challenging but have had a strong response

What is StarNow?

From their website StarNow’s goal is to “connect talent with casting professionals”. It was started by 3 New Zealanders who were living in London, and today their website has a leading position in UK, Australia and New Zealand, and a growing presence in USA, Canada, Ireland and South Africa.

How did the listing go?

In my previous experience with listings on ModelMayhem the process of getting your casting live is intuitive and straight forward. With StarNow it wasn’t – and I should say, that this was the only part of the process which hasn’t been smooth. Everything except this step has been great.

With the casting, the process is not entirely intuitive (at least not for me!) and I didn’t provide all of the information they required. I then received an email from StarNow explaining this, but it wasn’t clear what I needed to do to meet their requirements and get the casting live.

After several emails over 5 days, the issues were resolved and the casting went live. This casting was for a Melbourne lifestyle photo shoot – I plan to do 20 of these shoots over the winter months.

Melbourne

I have had a very positive response with StarNow my first experience

What has the response been?

The response using StarNow has been very strong. After 3 days I have 193 applications giving me a very large selection of models to work with. This is a much stronger response than I have received with my previous listings on ModelMayhem.

With such a large number of good quality applicants the challenge is going to be to select who to work with! This is a really good problem to have and I’m glad I put this listing on StarNow. So that has been StarNow my first experience. If you are looking for models or actors to work with on your next shoot I’d recommend investigating StarNow.

Two Great Sayings Photography Business Owners Should Know

This week I attended a workshop run by a business development expert. He was helping one person businesses put together a plan to grow their business. He had a lot of content and some useful exercises to take the participants through. Among the gems of wisdom were two great sayings photography business owners should know. So what were these two pearls of wisdom?

Juggling

Juggling a lot this week? See if these business insights can help you.

Insight #1 – It’s About Progress, Not Perfection

This saying came from an example being given by the presenter. The business owner was producing active wear for everyday people trying to get fit – not for elite athletes like Nike and Adidas present in their advertising. As soon as the presenter shared this saying I knew it could be powerful for one person photography businesses. Many of the photographers I work with seem to expect it to be easy and get frustrated that either their images are not winning awards, or their business is not as profitable as they hope (and sometimes it’s both). Patience and perseverance are key.

If I use a photography business example, if you are trying to generate a $100,000 per annum profit in your photography business this can seem overwhelming when your current profit is $20,000 per annum. Rather than focus on the $80,000 shortfall – can you see the power in focusing on progress not perfection? Increasing business profits to $40,000 the following year is a 100% improvement and a huge accomplishment – not a $60,000 failure.

Money

Business success rarely happens overnight. It’s about progress and taking steps forward.

And if we use a photographic image example, mastering a new post production skill and being able to produce a wider variety of images is a major step forward. You don’t go from being a novice to being an expert in one week, or one month, or one year. Again it’s about progress, not perfection.

Be kind to yourself. Focus on making progress this week.

Insight #2 – If You Don’t Have a Marketing Budget You’re Not Really in Business

This insight was a wake up call to the participants at the workshop and will be a wake up call to many of the photographers I talk to and work with. The presenter outlined that word of mouth is the very best form of advertising you can have, but expecting that to fill a pipeline of work – particularly if you are relatively new in business – is not realistic.

His point was you have to be deliberate about your marketing and set aside a budget for it, if you are serious about business success.

He went on to explain that your budget could be in time or money. For example, if you have no money, you can invest time in marketing. You can contact 5 possible new business clients per day to see how your business could serve them. You can spend 2 hours per day researching stock photography trends so you can better meet the market demand. To be successful with this strategy you have to be deliberate, and invest the time if you expect the return.

Plan

Make a marketing plan and commit time or money or both to grow your business.

Once your business is established hopefully you will be busy servicing your clients. While you do that your advertising can help attract new clients (remember, don’t just rely on word of mouth no matter how busy you are). In this scenario you need to set aside a monetary budget each month to keep driving your pipeline of future clients. While you look after your clients, your advertising attracts new inquiries.

I got a lot out of the workshop. I hope these two great sayings photography business owners should know are helpful to you and will help you challenge and develop your current marketing approach. Thanks for reading two great sayings photography business owners should know. Let’s focus on progress in business and in photography this week!

Why Visit Wedding Venues Beforehand

This week I visited the venue for a function I will be shooting in 2 weeks time. I’m really looking forward to the function. It is for a lovely couple at a beautiful location on the Bellarine Peninsula in Victoria, Australia. The venue is a vineyard which has a well presented functions area, lots of grape vines, a rural outlook, and 4 wheel drive access to a private beach. It was a long drive for me to visit so, why visit wedding venues beforehand? The answer is obvious – to get the best result for my client!

Wedding photography

This venue had a private beach with 4WD only access. It was great to visit and plan shots here.

But when I am visiting, what am I looking for? Here’s the top 5 things I want to achieve:

  1. To know where the best shots will be made. I don’t make it up as I go when shooting weddings or events. I like to visit beforehand to understand what the possibilities at the venue are, and to develop a shot plan. To do this, I walk around the venue, both indoor and outdoor areas, and imagine the possibilities. I also ask the people at the venue where they think the best photo spots are, and then I ask ‘what are the undiscovered photo opportunities here?’. It’s amazing the insight the venue’s staff can give you.
  2. To develop a wet weather plan. Most of the weddings I shoot are in spring, summer and autumn and are likely to have outdoor opportunities for making images. I plan for both good and bad weather. When the weather is bad, you will see how well prepared the photographer is!

    outdoor function area

    All function spaces are different and visiting in advance lets me plan.

  3. To check out the function area. When it comes to functions and speeches I like to know how the room will be laid out and any strengths or limitations of the space. From this I will develop a plan for where I intend to operate from, and where I would like my second shooter positioned.
  4. To best prepare myself for the day. This only comes with experience, but I have learnt that I work best when I am working to a plan. I like to think through the photographic options and plan the timings. Knowing I have that plan in my head let’s me relax and enjoy the time with my clients and their guests. So, one of the key reasons for why visit wedding venues beforehand is actually for me. I know that I will do a better job for my client if I’ve visited and planned.
  5. To meet the venue staff. Staff at venues are a wealth of information. They can make suggestions, tell you about images previously made at their venue, show you shots made there, and add their own suggestions. I take the time to listen to their input as I’m planning the day. In the event of bad weather, having an existing relationship with the staff can be a huge help. They will often go out of their way to help show off their venue in the best possible way even when the weather doesn’t cooperate.
Beach

I take images on my smart phone to help with planning each shot and thinking through the timings.

They are the top 5 reasons for me as to why visit wedding venues beforehand. And so when do I visit? I know lots of photographers who wait until the day before the wedding or event. To me this is a risky option. You never know if you are going to be unwell, have an urgent last minute job to do, or have another emergency come up. I like to visit the venue 2 weeks before the wedding or event. And I try to visit at the same time of day that I’ll be shooting the key images. That gives me a better understanding of exactly where the sun will be, and how I can make best use of the natural light.

I hope Why Visit Wedding Venues Beforehand has been helpful to you. Best wishes with your weddings and events.

Delivering More Products Per Customer

Running a successful photography business is not easy. It’s hard when you are getting started and you struggle to find your next client. And it’s hard when you have worked hard for 2 years and find you need to spend all your accumulated profits to upgrade your equipment. And I’m seeing more and more photographers who have been operating for years but are struggling to make the profits they feel they should be making. This post looks at how to help them increase margins by delivering more products per customer.

Australian money

Delivering more products per customer will help grow profits

Before we look at delivering more products per customer, let’s consider the options open to the photographer who has been in business for several years. They have plenty of work, but are not making the profits they think they should be making. While they love the work they do, they resent that they are working very long hours, juggling multiple different clients at a single time, and every time they feel like they are getting ahead financially, another bill arrives.

Our photographer has several options. They could:

  1. Do nothing, and continue to work long hours and make sub standard profits. Unfortunately a lot of photographers choose this option, and complain all the way.
  2. Increase their number of clients. This option isn’t very appealing to the already tired photographer but it is what they have done for years. Some choose this path, and work harder and harder. Unfortunately, this often produces more and more resentment and only slightly more profit to the photographer’s business.
  3. Increase their prices. In this scenario our photographer can continue to shoot the same number of jobs per year but charge more per job. This is a legitimate strategy and one that many successful photography businesses choose. They know how many jobs they plan to shoot in a year, and continue to lift their prices year on year.
  4. Increase their profit per job by delivering more products per customer. In this case our photographer looks to increase their profits not by doing more jobs, or raising prices, but by delivering more products per customer. Think about the profit made by the ‘shoot and burn’ wedding photographer provide electronic images only to the customer. Now, compare that the the photographer who is providing electronic images, prints, canvas prints, thank you cards, and albums to their wedding clients. Who do you think makes the most profit? It’s the photographer who provides more products.

There are other options a photographer could use to increase their profit, but these are the basic choices. As you consider what is best for your business, keep in mind it’s not a matter of choosing one strategy or another. To really turbo charge the profitability you could do several of these strategies at once. This year I’m aiming to use options 3 and 4 at the same time. Many photographers will use options 2, 3 and 4 all at once.

Pile of canvas prints

Canvas prints are popular with my family and wedding photography clients

So how do we go about delivering more products per customer.

For regular readers of Beyond Here you will know that I don’t believe in a formula – but that each photographer needs to find methods which suit them. That’s the case here too. That said, here are some strategies for you to consider while you decide what is right for you.

Strategy 1 – Make samples of the products you wish to sell and show them to clients when they are booking. I used to take 40x60cm canvas prints with me to clients meetings. Guess what product was really popular? Yes, the 40x60cm canvas print. Now days I’m taking 60x90cm canvas prints. Guess which product is really popular? Yes, 60x90cm canvas prints and that is great because the margin is about 50% more than on the smaller print. Make some samples and take them to show clients. You’ll be amazed how clients choose the exact product you’ve shown them.

Strategy 2 – Provide ideas and options for your clients. Today I delivered 3 8×6 inch leather bound wedding albums to one of my clients. They plan to keep one for themselves and gift one to each set of parents. What a lovely idea. It’s an idea that came from my suggestion in one of our early meetings. They saw great value in a priceless gift for their family, and I managed to increase my profit on that job. Win, win.

wedding album

I always show sample albums to potential wedding clients

Strategy 3 – Make suggestions at key times of the year. How much additional profit do you think you could generate by contacting all of your clients in September each year suggesting products they might to use as Christmas gifts? From my experience, simple ideas like this are gold. They solve a problem for my client – for example, getting a present for their spouse – while increasing the profits of my business.

Why do I choose September to do this? It leaves me a few months to make sure I can deliver the products in December, and every year I have at least one client who wants to do another shoot before Christmas.

canvas print

Birthdays and anniversaries are great times to contact previous clients

Strategy 4 – Contact your client on important dates for them. Here’s a recent email I sent to one of my clients. It uses the same strategy as number 3, but uses events which are unique to my customers. “Dear XXXX, I’ve just realized that YYYY’s birthday is just a few weeks away. At the time of your shoot I know you loved this image (image attached to email). I have a special deal with my canvas print supplier and can get you a 60x90cm print for $ZZ. Would you like to get one for YYYY’s birthday? I’ll be placing the order next Wednesday, so appreciate if you can let me know before then. Thanks, Craig”. This type of offer generally does well and takes just a few days to go from email to order to delivery.

There are 4 simple strategies to help you in delivering more products per customer. As you review the profitability of your business, is this a strategy that can benefit you?

Developing Multiple Photography Income Streams

Reflecting on the week that has just passed, I’m feeling grateful for the range and variety of activities my photography business offers. I don’t like shooting the same type of thing all the time, and this week confirmed for me that I’m making strong progress in developing multiple photography income streams. Let me tell you about that range of activities and see if it is relevant to your own photography business.

So, here it is – the week that was – and the 7 different income streams it produced.

Income Stream 1 – Wedding album. Just before Christmas I shot a lovely church wedding for a couple in Melbourne, Australia. Since then I have delivered their images and canvas prints, and this week I designed their wedding album. I’m pleased to say that this couple are doing it right – they have ordered an album for themselves, and one for each of their families. That’s three albums in total. I’m looking forward to delivering them soon. Developing multiple photography income streams takes time, but this type of printed product (wedding albums) is an obvious extension to my core activity of wedding photography. Do you have the opportunity to add printed products for your existing clients?

(To see more images from this wedding please visit my website at Craig Dingle Photography.)

Bride

Can you create an additional income stream by providing printed products for existing clients?

Income Stream 2 – Corporate Portraits. This week I shot corporate portraits for a local businessman. He is starting a new role and needed images to be added to the company website. I shoot these in my home studio which makes it an easy and convenient job. Does your business come up early in the Google search results for photographers in your area? Do you have resources (like a home studio) that can be used for extra shoots like this? Can you make yourself available at short notice to meet the needs of a client like this?

(If you are interested in creating a shooting space at home, please read How To Build a Home Photography Studio).

Home studio

I shoot both corporate portraits and product shots in my home studio.

Income Stream 3 – Product Photography shoot. I don’t do many product photography shoots, but I have one client (who I met at a wedding) who regularly asks me to shoot images for their website or for advertising purposes. Often it is a short notice request – like this week’s shoot. They needed a small range of images for an advertisement they are preparing. I don’t get a lot of excitement from shooting products, but I like this client a lot, and I appreciate the regular work which comes from them. Are you cultivating regular clients who know they can rely on you?

Income Stream 4 – Uploading Stock Images. I shoot and upload stock images on a regular basis, and although this has been a quiet week, I have been uploading images from a recent shoot. This doesn’t produce any income today, but builds my stock portfolio which will produce an income for years into the future. Can stock photography form part of your business income? Can you utilize down time to build your portfolio and generate a future income?

(I am a strong believer in stock photography to produce a regular income for photography businesses. Read more about that in Why I Shoot Stock).

Businesswoman sitting on the ground

Adding to my stock portfolio helps create a future income stream

Income Stream 5 – Editing Images. This week I was asked by another photographer (and reader of Beyond Here!) to assist with editing her images. It was in a style, and with a tool, which she was not familiar with, and so I have edited the images for her. This is the first time I’ve generated income by editing images for another photographer. I don’t see myself doing this often, but I appreciated the chance to help another photographer deliver a quality outcome for her client.

Income Stream 6 – Selling an E-book. If you are a regular reader of Beyond Here you will know that stock photography makes up a significant part of my photography business income. I wrote an e-book called Build a Five Figure Income in Your Spare Time to encourage photographers to get into stock photography. I have priced this very affordably, and it is regularly downloaded by people wanting to generate an income from stock photography. I had one sale this week, which made a small contribution to the week’s income.

Income Stream 7 – Selling Stock Images. In Income Stream 4 I covered the work I did this week uploading new stock images. They are unlikely to be downloaded immediately but will produce an income in the future. In the meantime, the 8500+ older images in my stock portfolio will continue to be downloaded and produce an income today. While the income per download is small, it is encouraging to know that buyers are purchasing my stock images every day.

So that is ‘the week that was’ in my photography business. It produced 7 different income streams. I hope that reading Developing Multiple Photography Income Streams has given you some ideas for your own photography business. Happy shooting!

Making Good Stock Photo Shoots Exceptional

As I’m writing this post for Beyond Here, iStock is going through some ‘teething’ pain in its unification with the Getty Images enterprise submission platform (ESP). The long awaited first lot of stats were delayed, were then ‘under-whelming’, and then needed clarification. What is an iStock exclusive photographer to do? I’ve decided to focus on something more positive and share a recent studio shoot. It was a shoot which went really well and so I’ve called it – Making Good Stock Photo Shoots Exceptional.

I have worked in corporate environments for more than twenty years and have developed a good sense for the type of image which will be useful in a corporate environment. For that reason, I regularly shoot business themed stock images.

Business frustration

There is strong demand for business themed images which communicate a clear message

From time to time I look for new models to work with – as was the case in this shoot. I generally do my first shoot with a new model in the studio so I can assess whether the images will be popular, and whether there is a good working relationship. That leads to knowing whether it will be worthwhile to progress to a shoot which involves higher cost (like hiring a specific venue).

For this shoot we worked in my small studio.

So what goes into making good stock photo shoots exceptional? An exceptional stock photo shoot for me is when you can produce a wide variety of effective images in a short space of time. And how many images is that? This will vary by photographer but for me, an average shoot of this type will produce 60-70 images for my stock portfolio. This specific shoot produced more than 120 – making it exceptional. Here are 5 tips to fast track you from good to exceptional.

Tip #1. Use changes of wardrobe to create different looking images. In this shoot we used 2 simple wardrobe outfits – one dark suit and one light suit. As you’ll see from the images on this post, a very simple change of wardrobe can create very different images.

Whistleblower

A simple prop like a whistle can be used to produce specific messages in your stock images

Tip #2. Use simple props to create variety and communicate a message. There are a limited number of images you can produce if you are just relying on changed facial expressions to communicate a message. Simple props can enhance the theme you are going to create. I have a range of them on hand, and generally use the props the model feels most comfortable with. You can see them in the images on this page – my glasses even suited her nicely!

Confused

I expect this type of image to do well as stock. It communicates a message and can be used in a wide variety of situations.

Tip #3. Real emotions make strong stock images. This tip comes down to the ability of the model, and the ability of the photographer to help the model express genuine emotions.

In this shoot, both the photographer and the model liked to work quite quickly. We went through a series of poses and props before we started working on images expressing frustration and confusion.

This model was really good at expressing those emotions, and so we spent a little longer than usual shooting this type of image. I expect images like these to do well as stock, as they effectively communicate a message and will be relevant for a wide variety of situations.

Inspiration

Black backgrounds can help an image stand out on a white website

Tip #4. Use Different Backgrounds to Create Variety. I shoot the majority of my studio stock images against a white background as that gives a designer the most flexibility in how they use the image. Greater flexibility means greater potential uses, and that means more downloads.

But I also shoot on different backgrounds to create different looks. In years gone by stock images were mainly being used in print and usually on near white backgrounds (the page).

Today, stock images and most extensively used online, and specifically on websites which can be any color background.

To meet this need, I’m shooting more images on black backgrounds as well, which often help the image stand out on a white website.

Tip #5. Very literal messages do work in stock photography. In the past it was often images which were subtle in communicating a message which did the best as stock images. That was mainly because they could be used in a wide variety of situations. Today, there is a growing trend for stock images which communicate a very literal message doing well. I see these used most commonly as the lead image on blog posts where the author is trying to grab a readers attention with the image so that they will continue and read the text. So, I have started to shoot stock images with very literal messages as well.

Decisions

She’s choosing love over career, a very literal message

This was a really fun, enjoyable shoot which produced a large number of images for my stock portfolio and helped me demonstrate these 5 tips. I hope these tips will help with your own stock photography projects.

If you are new to stock photography, there is an extensive number of posts on Beyond Here to help you. Here’s one to begin with, Starting in Stock Photography. Thanks for reading Making Good Stock Photo Shoots Exceptional. Happy shooting!

iStock Unification One Week Along

Photographers who contribute to the microstock site, iStock, have been going through weeks  and months of change. This culminated at the beginning of February 2017 with the ‘turning off’ of the old methods for uploading still images as part of the unification with the Getty Images site. I outlined those changes in this post. So, how is iStock unification one week along? And what do we think the future holds?

money

Contributors are all hoping these changes generate more income for the artist.

Gaining Access. As an exclusive contributor I was in the first group who were to be sent emails to gain access to ESP (Enterprise Submission Platform). Unfortunately my email didn’t arrive when promised, but I knew why. Four years ago I experimented with video, and have the grand total of 50 video clips in my portfolio. Video contributors were invited to join ESP approximately 2 years ago. (I can’t remember the exact date as I was no longer contributing videos). So Getty Images figured I already had access to ESP, when in fact I had deleted their email without ever using it.

Getting Help. So, what did I do to get help? And what can you do if you need help? There is a Facebook group for ‘iStock Exclusive Contributors’ where Brenda and Chris (who work for iStock) are actively helping contributors. I posted a note in there, and within a few hours Brenda had me sorted out and able to use ESP. What if you are non exclusive? There is another active Facebook group called ‘iStockphoto’ only. I’d recommend posting any issues in there and seeing if iStock staff or other contributors can assist.

Help

If you need Help, try the Facebook groups for iStock contributors

Uploading in the New World. There are now 3 options for uploading still images to iStock. They are to use ESP itself, to upload through Deepmeta, or to use qHero. I had always uploaded to the site directly, so in preparation for the change I researched qHero. It seemed to be a simple tool to use, and I have begun uploading using qHero.

Changes in the Upload Process. qHero is a straightforward tool to upload, keyword, and submit images. I find it easy to use and quite different to uploading to the site itself. Key benefits I see are – you only need to upload the model release once and can use it on multiple files, and you can keyword multiple files at the same time. Both these changes will save me time in the uploading process. They make it particularly easy to upload and keyword multiple files from the same shoot.

File inspection. So far 5 of the 10 batches of files I have submitted have been reviewed. The review times have been approximately 48 hours for each of these batches. This is slightly slower than the norm for exclusive contributors but has been explained by iStock as due to training needs for image inspectors.

File display. Of those 5 inspected batches none are yet visible in my portfolio. I am not alarmed by this (yet!) as the files were approved in the last 48 hours, and iStock have indicated it might be slightly longer than usual for files to become ‘live’ in portfolios. Hopefully that starts to happen late this week.

File Editing. For one of my batches the inspector asked me to update keywords. I was able to edit that detail easily within ESP itself. I’m glad to say that was a simple process. I found that at first ESP looked a bit daunting, but after some time exploring it, the tool is logical and simple to use. So don’t be overawed – once your files are within ESP, editing and updating is straightforward.

sale

I’m hopeful that the changes will bring real benefits to buyers and sellers, and iStock won’t have to resort to sales to drive traffic

What’s Next? Within ESP there is currently no download or royalty detail. The first time this data will be available is due around 20 February 2017. While you can’t see any data at the moment, you can see the framework for more detailed information than has been available in the past. That’s encouraging and I’m looking forward to that data being available.

Other comments. Overall my transition and experience of iStock Unification One Week Along has been positive. I see real benefits in the improved functionality of being able to upload and keyword batches of files from the same shoot. I typically upload about 100 files per month. In the last week I have uploaded more than 100 files for the week alone. The new tools are definitely going to make submitting and keywording content simpler.

Concerns? While it’s nice that images submitted in the ESP world have been approved already, that’s meaningless until they are available to be downloaded. I’m waiting to see how long it takes from image acceptance to image display. On a separate note, I’m optimistic about what the reporting will bring come 20 February 2017.

That’s my experience of iStock Unification One Week Along. How is your experience? Which tools are you using? Are they helping your workflow?

8 Steps to Start Your Freelance Photography Business

Today’s post comes from guest poster Kylie Glover. Connect with Kylie on Twitter. Kylie is based in Sydney, Australia and writes about small business for Authorflair from her personal experience. She has been part of successful start ups in Australia and New Zealand and is motivated to share her insights and writes for several publications in Australia and abroad. Thanks for your contribution to Beyond Here Kylie. Here are 8 Steps to Start Your Freelance Photography Business.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and when it comes to freelance photography, it couldn’t be more true. It’s easy to forget that behind every stunning shot of the sunset washing over the Golden Gate Bridge, there’s a shutter, lens and focus working in synergy to faithfully capture the moment. One photo could be the difference between whether someone decides to jet set halfway across the world to one destination or to another.

SunriseHere are eight considerations that will help you get your feet off the ground when it comes to kick-starting your freelance career.

Step 1 – Start Planning Your Business

“by failing to prepare you are preparing to fail” – Benjamin Franklin

Before your photos feature on the front of Lonely Planet, it’s important to visualise the steps you’ll need to take to get there. In other words, planning is a must. To make sure you’re thoroughly prepared, consider things like basic start-up costs, and scope out the market to check how much other photographers typically charge so you can set competitive pricing.

Will you give clients the option of giving deposits, or will you expect a full upfront payment? Will you deal in cash, or accept credit card payments? What are the risks associated with each of these decisions?

Step 2 – Establish Start Up Funds

Unless you’ve a hidden pool of money ala Scrooge McDuck, it is a wise idea to make a small investment. This usually occurs when small businesses set up bank loans, but let’s say your application with the bank is rejected, or you want to explore the market. There are plenty of other methods to kick-starting your dream.

One increasingly popular method of fundraising in today’s digital world is online crowdfunding, through platforms such as Kickstarter, GoFundMe, and Indiegogo. The idea behind these services is pitching your project to the public, and placing your trust in them to determine whether it is something worth paying for.

Step 3 – Figure Out What Tools You Need

Pro photography gear is a substantial investment, to create high quality shots that stand out from the crowd, you’re going to need some high end equipment and a good basic knowledge of photography. An artist is only as good his tools, so break down all the essentials from tripods, lenses, and filters to top editing software. Sometimes it might be tempting to go for lower price range equipment, but in the long run it could very well end up costing you more. The most important thing of course is the camera itself. Check out travel blogs, books and magazines, and decide which style suits you best. Then hunt down the camera used to take those pictures, and get snapping.

BridgeStep 4 – Editing Your Shots

So you’ve taken that perfect shot of the Eiffel, and it’s ready for publication. Well, almost. The next steps include enhancing the photograph by warming/cooling the image, sharpening/blurring key areas, heightening the intensity of various colours and whatever final touches you feel give your work an edge. You might already be familiar with some basic editing techniques, or even the majority, but newer versions of favourite software programs release almost every year, offering updated versions with more powerful editing abilities. Well known photo editing software programs like Adobe Photoshop or Corel’s PaintShop Pro have affordable one-time purchases that are great for when you’re starting out.

Step 5 – Legal Lingo

One of the most important things to get on top of well before you’re in operation is safely navigating through any legal requirements first. After you’ve finalised your business plan, it’s time to pick your business structure. Are you a sole proprietor, or a corporation? Do have a partner going into this business? Next, come up with an available business name and register it. Lastly, don’t forget about tax obligations! Your accountant is your best bet for assisting you with that and making sure you don’t attract any unwanted fees.

Step 6 – Getting the Right Insurance

Photography is an art form, so naturally, you must organise insurance for both your product and equipment, but make sure you also insure for any unforeseeable/accidental injuries. These are generally covered under general/public liability insurance, which will act as your legal buffer when things go wrong. If you’re thinking of handing over the business somewhere along the line, you might want to consider life insurance, too.

SunriseStep 7 – Don’t Sell Yourself Short

Rule of thumb says most businesses won’t really take off until the three-month mark. Within that timeframe, you’ll need to spread the word about your product and convince the world about why it’s so great. Should you immediately lower your pricing if clients don’t bite?

Absolutely not. Apart from web and radio ads, a tried and true method for boosting sales is incredibly basic: word of mouth. Establish meaningful relationships with your clients, and show them you are very passionate about delivering the best quality photos. Finally, believe in your product.

“What a man thinks of himself, that is what determines, or rather indicates his fate “- Henry David Thoreau

Step 8 – Be Inspired

Inspiration is often depicted as a fleeting, curious phenomenon and has become the subject of many books and presentations over the years. The truth is, there’s no secret, everlasting well of inspiration that somehow runs dry. Inspiration for the perfect shot can be found anywhere, anytime.

As humans, we place a lot of undue pressure on ourselves to achieve constant perfection, and thus may not take risks because we are afraid of ‘failing’. When you feel seeds of doubt start blossoming.

“Inspiration exists, but it has to find you working” – Picasso

Launching a new business can be a frightening prospect, especially when it centres around your greatest passion. But with the proper legal and financial planning, adequate preparation of equipment, and enough self-belief that your product is worthy, the road to success is well within reach.

Thank you again Kylie for your contribution to Beyond Here. These 8 Steps to Start Your Freelance Photography Business will set people off on the right foot!

iStock New Beginnings Week

This week marks the end of an era and new beginnings in the stock photography world. iStock, one of the original microstock sites, is changing the back-end technology used to run its site. What does this mean for iStock contributors? Read more about the iStock new beginnings week.

If you are an active contributor to iStock you will be well aware of the changes going on with the site. You should have received several emails over the last 6 months explaining the changes, the implications, and the timelines. If you are an occasional uploader, then this brief summary might be useful.

plan

iStock changes in February 2017 mean contributors will need to re-plan how they upload and track performance of their files

What’s changing? iStock is ‘retiring’ its legacy uploading system and replacing it with the system used by Getty Images (and also currently used for iStock video contributors).

So what does that mean? It means that – if you have been uploading directly to the iStock site – the way you do that will change from February 2017. You will no longer upload directly to the iStock site, but instead through a Getty Images application called ESP (or Deepmeta or Qhero, more on those in the next paragraph). Between 1 and 3 February 2017 you will receive an email from iStock / Getty Images which provides details for ESP.

What if you currently upload using Deepmeta or Qhero? Many contributors use Deepmeta as their way to upload and track their files. More recently Qhero has been available as a tool to upload your images. The upload process remains unchanged for Deepmeta and Qhero.

Do you really need to know about ESP? Yes, as a contributor you do need to know about ESP. As well as being a tool to upload images, it will also be the place where you find data about downloads and royalties. So, look out for the that email this week, and make yourself familiar with the ESP tool.

What else? If, like me, you are an active iStock contributor the past month has been very frustrating. During the current changes, stats about downloads and royalties have not been available. To a degree contributors have been ‘flying blind’ in January 2017. That all ends in February 2017 when details will be available in ESP. Here’s hoping it is a smooth transition and a success.

Thanks for reading iStock new beginnings week. I hope it goes smoothly for you and that the new world is an improvement for both contributors and buyers.