Tag Archives: microstock

5 Stock Photography Predictions for 2018

As 2017 draws to a close I have been giving thought to what the new year will bring in the fast changing world of stock photography. Stock photography makes up a considerable portion of my business, and it’s a part of the industry which has changed significantly in the last 5 years. It’s now possible to shoot stock images on your phone and upload them to your image library immediately. There’s options to shoot news worthy current events and upload them while the event is still happening. And there’s the inevitable decline of studio shots on a plain white background (thank goodness!). I’ve wrapped up my thoughts into 5 Stock Photography Predictions for 2018 and outlined what we, as photographers, can do to make the most of these trends.

Prediction #1. The Major Image Libraries are going to Continue to Compete on Scale and Price.

When I say the major image libraries, I’m referring to the big microstock players like iStockphoto, Shutterstock, Dreamstime and Adobe. Their business models are built around offering a huge number of files in one place.


SelfieFor customers, this can be good as they can get all of their image needs in one place. For photographers, it can be very difficult to make your images show up in this vast sea of high volume and low quality images.

Photographers who want to compete using the major microstock libraries to distribute their images will need to keep production costs low and volumes very high. (That sounds like a path to hard work and limited creativity to me).

Prediction #2. Subscription Programs are Going to Continue to Drive Prices Down.

Subscriptions have major benefits for image libraries. With the customer paying the same amount per month, the image library can accurately predict their income in future months. And of course if the customer doesn’t use all of their subscription for the month, most libraries are keeping the customers money and not having to pay a royalty to photographers for that month. That can make it a profitable business for the image libraries.

Subscriptions are very attractive to image libraries and they compete aggressively, particularly to win large clients. Unfortunately subscriptions have also driven down the royalty received per download by photographers.

For the photographer to do well financially in this model – again they will need to keep production costs down and volumes very high. Urrrggghhh.

Prediction #3. Customers are Going to Demand a Better Solution

Predictions #1 and #2 are an extension of the current trends in the stock photography market. It is leading to an influx of ‘low production value’ images. And that influx is in high volumes. Photographers are adding more images in the hope of making up for the reduced royalty per download.

santa hat

Customers are no longer looking for generic images

So where’s this all heading? It is making it harder and harder for customers to find the type of image they need in a short time period. They are getting frustrated with the amount of time it takes to find the image to meet their needs. It’s only going to get worse as the large libraries pass 15 million, then 20 million, then 25 million files.

I’m predicting we will see continued frustration for customers, leading to them looking for alternative solutions.

Prediction #4. There Will be Growing Demand for Authentic Stock Images

What do I mean by ‘authentic stock images’? Several years ago there was a time when a ‘generic’ stock image was enough for a buyer. A generic image would help tell their story. We are seeing those days rapidly pass, with much less demand for studio shots on a white background. What are we seeing instead? We are seeing demand for ‘real life’ settings and ‘real life’ people. We are talking about much less of ‘beautiful models in studios’ and much more ‘everyday people in everyday situations’. I recently heard a saying which sums up this trend – less perfection, more authenticity.

What can photographers do to capitalize on this? Shoot images which communicate ‘less perfection, more authenticity’ and you’ll see your downloads grow.

Prediction #5. The Rise of the Niche Image Library

Prediction #3 says customers are going to look for alternative solutions to their image buying needs. They no longer want to wade through thousands of images to find the one they need. And unfortunately, the major libraries have a lot invested in their current solutions. I predict we are going to see customers, in growing numbers, rejecting those solutions and looking elsewhere.

And where will that be? It will be with niche image libraries. Libraries which don’t offer every image type – but they do offer high quality, relevant images for their niche.

What type of niche am I talking about? It could be anything. It could be country specific. I have started uploading my own files to a library which specializes in Australian content – you can read more about my rationale for moving away from the microstock sites here. It could be industry specific (like tradespeople, or mining, or healthcare). It could be content specific (like wildlife photography).

And these libraries will charge higher prices than the large microstock players do.

Coffee shop

Less perfection, more authenticity. Real people in real situations.

How will niche libraries justify higher prices? By saving customers time in looking for the images they need. Customers will save time using multiple websites from niche libraries. They’d rather do that than spending hours wading through pages and pages of images with the large microstock players. And with higher prices come higher royalties for photographers. And with higher royalties comes more money to invest in shoots, which leads to greater creativity, which leads to better images.

Ultimately it will lead to niche libraries having unique and superior content to the big volume libraries.

How can photographers benefit from this prediction? I’m convinced that niche players and higher prices are the way forward. Photographers would do well to research who those niche libraries are and begin a relationship with them. If you shoot wildlife images, start looking at the niche wildlife libraries. If you shoot urban lifestyle images, look at niche libraries that specialize in this content. You get the idea.

As an aside – how might the major microstock players benefit from this trend? They could be the source of disruption to their own business! Rather than wait for a niche player to grow and get traction, the major players could start niche libraries themselves. Much like the major airlines launched ‘low-cost’ off shoots in the late 1980’s, the major image libraries have the expertise and resources to start the niche libraries themselves. (If you are a Getty Images executive reading this – remember you heard it here first! From one bloke down at the bottom of the world in Melbourne, Australia. Your choices are to watch others do this, or lead the change. Be bold. Disrupt your own business model).

2018 is going to be another challenging year in stock photography. Thanks for reading 5 Stock Photography Predictions for 2018. We’ll check back in 12 months and see how accurate they were! Happy shooting.

 

Shooting Lifestyle Stock Images

In Melbourne, Australia it is spring (though today sure doesn’t feel like it!) It is a time when our weather starts to warm up and we move into daylight savings. This year over spring and summer I am adding to the stock photo series I started last year focusing on Melbourne lifestyle images. This is in response to a brief from Getty Images, which encourages photographers to shoot authentic images on location. This post covers my most recent shoot and is all about shooting lifestyle stock images.

Melbourne

We started this shoot at Flinders Street Station, in instantly recognizable Melbourne location.

Planning. Melbourne is a vibrant and cosmopolitan city down here at the bottom of the world. I have been building a portfolio of lifestyle images like the ones displayed in this post. One of Melbourne’s distinctive features are the cafes and restaurants in the laneways of the inner city. They are part of what sets Melbourne apart from other Australian cities and these were the primary locations I used on my latest shoot. Shooting lifestyle stock images is a lot of fun, and having a plan of what and where you are going to shoot is an important first step.

Finding the right model. To find models for this series of shoots, I placed a casting call on Model Mayhem as I outlined in this earlier post. So far I have had 10 models express interest in this type of shoot giving me a reasonable selection. For this shoot, I worked with Julia. We exchanged messages on Model Mayhem followed by speaking on the phone about the shoot. I generally try to meet the model before the shoot so that we can talk through the details, but on this occasion it wasn’t possible and we made do with a phone conversation.

Melbourne

Degraves St is a classic Melbourne laneway in the city

Hair, Makeup, Wardrobe. When I’m shooting lifestyle stock images I generally ask the model to look after their own hair, makeup and wardrobe rather than having a hair and makeup artist and stylist involved. This keeps production costs down and generally the model is comfortable doing their own hair and make up and wearing their own clothes. I am aiming to shoot authentic and realistic images, and being comfortable with their clothes and look helps the model to relax and be authentic.

Logistics. For this shoot we organised to meet at Flinders Street Station in the city. Before we started shooting we had a coffee in Federation Square which gave us time to discuss the shoot and to sort out model releases, invoice and payment. The shoot was then conducted over 2 hours. During this time we started shooting at the front of Flinders Street Station and then walked to Degraves Street, Southbank, Southwharf, Webb Bridge, and we finished by the NAB Building at Docklands. It was a relaxed and easy shoot where we enjoyed Melbourne city and produced a range of useful Melbourne lifestyle images.

Melbourne

In our 2 hour walk around the city we shot at Seafarers Bridge near Southbank

Post Production. When I’m shooting stock images I put time and effort into planning the shoot and composing shots. I also try to keep post production time to a minimum. This usually involves importing the RAW files into Lightroom and making minor adjustments to white balance, cropping, brightness, color, and highlights. This typically takes a few minutes per file. (The most time consuming part of this process is selecting which files I am going to use and which I will delete. The actual editing of each image is a quick process).

Uploading and keywording. The shoot is not complete until the files have been uploaded to the stock photography site and keyworded. I generally do this in the evenings over several days. As an exclusive photographer with iStock for several years I have the process relatively streamlined and spend just a few minutes keywording each image. Where I am uploading a series, I copy and paste the keywords to reduce time and then make minor adjustments to keywords for each file.

Expectations. There is strong demand for authentic images which feature real locations (it’s one of the reasons I enjoy shooting lifestyle stock images). In the case of Melbourne, the city has a population of approximately 4 million people and features several national and world sporting events like the Australian Open Tennis, the Australian Grand Prix, the AFL, NRL, and A League soccer games. At present, there is also fairly limited competition for this style of image. For those reasons I expect sales to be strong, particularly around the time of the major sporting events.

Thanks for reading this post – Shooting Lifestyle Stock Images – I hope it helps your own stock photography.

Lamington

Simple Stock Photos Using Everyday Items

Shooting useful stock images doesn’t need to be a complicated process or involve high production values. This weekend I’ve had my photography plans disrupted by bad weather in Melbourne, and so I did an opportunistic stock photo shoot on Saturday afternoon. This post is to show you how to shoot simple stock photos using everyday items.

Lamington

Lamingtons are a traditionally Australian cake

The subject. The subject of this shoot was part of our weekly grocery shopping! My wife had bought a large packet of lamingtons. According to wikipedia “A lamington is an Australian cake, made from squares of sponge cake coated in an outer layer of chocolate sauce and rolled in desiccated coconut.” If you live in Australia, I’m sure you know them. If you don’t, it’s worth coming to visit Australia just to try them! They are fantastic.

Why would these have value as a stock photo? The lamington is traditionally Australian. That makes them a good subject and I expect sales of these images to peak around Australian public holidays – particularly Australia Day near the end of January. To add to the “Australian-ness” I added several Australian flags to the image. Again, this is to enhance the appeal of the images around Australia Day and to tie the image directly to Australia. I have gathered a lot of stock photography props over the years, including these little Australian flags on a toothpick. If you want to buy some – look for them at two dollar shops or general merchandise stores. A packet of fifty will cost around three Australian dollars.

Lamington

The flag adds to the Australian theme.

Lighting and Background. These shots were lit with 2 lights – one above the lamingtons and one to the side. It is a simple lighting structure and could be achieved using off camera flash and light from a window. In this case it was shot in my home studio using two continuous lights and soft boxes. (See this post for How To Build a Home Photography Studio). Any white background will work for these shots, and I had the subject on a white plate to catch any of the coconut when it fell off.

Lens and type of shot. I used just one lens for this shoot, the Canon L series 100mm macro. With this lens it is possible to shoot extreme close ups, as well as shots which take in the whole of the subject. To create images which have the most flexibility for the buyer, I shot both vertical and horizontal, some with flags and some without, and others with a varying number of flags.

LamingtonTime commitment. This type of shoot is straightforward and doesn’t take long. I started by taking the lamingtons from the kitchen, and returned them after the shoot 25 minutes later. If you plan your lighting and background in advance, setting up, shooting, and wrapping up can be done in a very short period of time.

Post production. I made small adjustments to the RAW images in Lightroom – increasing contrast, whitening the whites, increasing the saturation of the blue color, and cropping where necessary. Again this is a simple process and took about 2 minutes per image.

The purpose of this post was to show you that it is not complicated or expensive to create simple stock photos using everyday items. Thanks for taking the time to read this post. Happy shooting.

Tips to Building a Strong Stock Photography Portfolio

I have been contributing images to a stock photography website since 2008, and have spoken to many photographers about making stock photography a part of their business income. I’m pleased to say that many have added stock photography income to their business. If you are already making money from stock photography or are considering getting into it, here are ten tips to building a strong stock photography portfolio.

Tip 1 – Communicate a clear message or concept. Stock images which communicate a clear message or concept are the most popular. Don’t fall into the trap of shooting random images. Decide on a theme and then create images which communicate a clear message.

bullying

This very simple concept is one of my most successful stock images.

Tip 2 – Create flexible images. Often as a stock photographer I won’t know exactly how a buyer wants to use my image. So I shoot with some flexibility to ensure the image is useful to the buyer. That might be allowing extra copy space so that a designer can add text, or to not shoot too tightly so that the designer can crop the image to suit their page layout. Shooting with some flexibility will allow more buyers to use your images. That means more sales for you.

Tip 3 – Look for a niche where you have an advantage. Everyone has an niche that others don’t have access to. It is a matter of finding that niche and then turning that niche into strong images. I have an example from wildlife photography. Some people believe wildlife is too competitive to be profitable as stock. I’ve had a different experience. I live in Melbourne, Australia about 20 minutes drive to a large group of flying foxes. I’ve been visiting them for years now and have developed an extensive range of flying fox images. Not everyone has access to a location like this. It has become a profitable niche for stock images, and sales peak each year near Halloween.

Flying fox

Consider what niche you may have, and how you could capitalize on it

Tip 4 – Maintain a steady upload pace. Success in stock photography is a long term game. It is a business model that rewards continuous, steady effort. To do that you need to operate at a pace you are able to sustain. For some that may be five hundred images a year, for others it may be two thousand images per year. Whatever level you are able to contribute at – focus on establishing and maintaining a steady upload pace.

Tip 5 – Variety counts. Shooting a wide variety of material gives you the best chance to achieve sales steadily throughout the year. You may be tempted to specialize in Christmas themed images, but if you do that, you will have 2-3 months each year with strong sales and 9-10 months with limited sales. Cast the net wide. Shoot a wide variety of themes.

Tip 6 – Expect to have images which never get downloaded. Every stock photographer has images which are unsuccessful. I have over eight thousand images in my portfolio and have hundreds which have not ever been downloaded. So when this happens to you, don’t panic. It is part of the game and process of being a stock photographer. Some files will be successful and others will not. Don’t stress. Learn the lesson and move onto the next concept.

Money problems

The strength of your concept and how well it is executed is important. The gear you use is not.

Tip 7 – It’s not about your gear. Purchasers of stock photos are really interested in the image and whether it fits their purpose. They have no interest at all what gear you used to make the image. So if you are starting out, don’t let not having the best pro quality gear hold you back. If you can create useful images, it doesn’t matter whether they are made using a pro quality DSLR, a cheap point and shoot, or even your phone. (See this post for a different take on this subject.)

Tip 8 – Organize your files well. Like any type of photography where you are handling large volumes of images, it is important to be well organised. There will be times when you need to go back to old files or want to check the camera settings or date the image was made. Take time to plan for how you will organize your images.

Tip 9 – Develop a manageable workflow. Stock photographers deal with large numbers of files. It is important to develop a strong workflow that sees the images coming out of your camera, through post production and uploaded onto your stock photo library quickly. I like to finish editing one shoot and have started uploading it before my next shoot. To do that I need to be very efficient to avoid having a computer full of images which never make it into my stock portfolio. Develop a workflow which suits you, and sees images being added to your portfolio at regular intervals.

Tip 10 – Research in advance. Take time to plan your concept and your shoot. Part of this time should be spent in researching what files currently exist. That will give you a feel for the level of competition and the uniqueness of your concept.

Thanks for reading these ten tips to building a strong stock photography portfolio. Stock continues to be a steady income earner for me, and can be for you too. For more information please see this post on Why I Shoot Stock. Best wishes.

Great Reads – Taking Stock

Are you ready to tackle the new year? Is this year going to be the one where you turn your photography hobby into a serious venture? Is stock photography going to play a role in your business? If you are looking for a great book about stock photography I highly recommend Taking Stock by Rob Sylvan. It is the subject of this review, Great Reads – Taking Stock.

There are not a lot of books available specifically on the subject of stock photography. Rob Sylvan’s book stands out among them.

Taking stock

I highly recommend Taking Stock by Rob Sylvan if you are serious about stock photography

What is it about? Taking Stock is a book of just over 200 pages filled with insight from Rob Sylvan. The book was published in 2011 and draws on Rob’s extensive experience working at iStockphoto from the early 2000’s. Rob’s reputation is well known to people who have been long term contributors to iStockphoto (like me!) where he used to be both a contributor and an admin.

The book’s subtitle is “make money in microstock creating photos that sell” and that is exactly what it is about. If you are looking to make money in stock photography, this is a must read.

What can you expect? Taking stock covers all topics to understand and succeed in stock photography from the history of stock photography, to what equipment you will need, to the different types of licences in stock photography. There are an extensive number of examples of successful images with commentary on why they are successful.

I particularly like the examples he provides from a range of stock photographers, not just his own. In each case he provides an example of a successful image with the photographers commentary. It is a powerful way to highlight successful images and draws on the authors wide network of stock photographers.

If you are new to stock photography, you will enjoy the sample images and details about the number of times they have been downloaded, and how much money this has generated in royalties to the photographer. It will show you how financially successful a single image can be.

The book is several years old now, so don’t expect it to cover today’s trends in visual imagery. But the principles and examples Sylvan provides are still relevant and it is well worth reading.

Outcomes? If you want one single resource to help you understand the stock photography world, Taking Stock is an excellent book. Most importantly it draws on the experience of people who have been working in the stock photography industry. Learning from your own experience is the best teacher, and learning from someone else’s experience isn’t far behind.

For me, I’ve considered why some people are successful in stock photography while others are not. Within this book, Sylvan sums it up nicely – he says that successful stock photographers are ‘highly motivated, self directed learners’. That sums it up. He doesn’t say they are brilliantly creative, or have photography qualifications, or use certain equipment. He says they are highly motivated, self directed learners.

If you study the work of some of the most successful stock photographers you can see the development in their portfolios. They keep learning, and their images keep improving. So don’t think you have to be a genius to succeed.

If you are highly motivated, keep learning, and apply what you learn – you will succeed in stock photography.

Rating and Recommendation? 10 out of 10. Highly recommended.

Kick off the new year by reading a book that will set you up for success in stock photography.

Thank you for reading Great Reads – Taking Stock.

A Step By Step Guide to a Studio Stock Photo Shoot

Many of the posts on Beyond Here refer to the benefits of stock photography as a part of a professional photographers total income. It is also a great place to start for people who want to become professional photographers. That is how I got started. Perhaps you are working on your camera skills? Or you are still refining your workflow? Or perfecting your post production skills? Or building your experience? Stock photography is a great way to build a portfolio and generate an income while you are perfecting your craft.

Getting started in stock photography can be daunting which is why I have written posts to help photographers get going. Please see Starting in Stock Photography, Simple Stock Concepts and Why Stock Photographers Should Crash Their Cars.

I regularly get asked about how to set up a stock photography shoot. So here I run through the process from my most recent shoot. I’ll cover everything from planning to completion, in a step by step guide to a studio stock photo shoot.

Strategy

Simple props can help communicate themes in stock photography. This image concept is business choices.

Step 1 – Develop a Theme. To prepare for your stock photo shoot you need to first develop a theme. I am working on an extended series for my iStockphoto portfolio around ‘women in business’. It is a very large market – and also a very competitive one. For this shoot, I focused on shooting a series of corporate business woman images – the concept can work for people looking for images of female entrepreneurs, executives, business coaches, corporate regulators, I’m sure you get the idea. One of the advantages of shooting stock images like these are that they are very flexible and have multiple potential uses.

Business Woman

To find a model, have a look at ModelMayhem or a Facebook group.

Step 2 – Find Your Model/s. Now that you have a theme, you need to find a model. This is easier than you think. If you do not know someone who has the look you need, there are places to find people interested in stock photo work. Two good sources are ModelMayhem or Facebook groups in your area. I live in Melbourne, Australia and there is a very active Facebook group called ‘Melbourne Models and Photographers’. Check whether your area has a similar group. Write a brief of the requirements and ask for expressions of interest.

Step 3 – Put Together Sample Images. To enable you to prepare well, the next step is to put together a series of sample images. I do this to help me clarify the style of image I want to create, and to share that vision with the model. For this shoot, I emailed a link to the model who was then able to view the sample images and understand what was required for the shoot. This included the type of wardrobe to bring, and the appropriate style for hair and makeup.

Step 4 – Organize the Shoot Details. This step is being clear on the logistics of the shoot. For this shoot we organised a morning shoot to start at 9am and finish at 10.30am. Be sure to be clear with the model on the time, location, and any additional details – like parking or transport. I also like to confirm in writing the timings, and the requirements for wardrobe, hair and makeup.

Step 5 – Prepare Equipment in Advance. Step 5 is to prepare the equipment for your shoot in advance. At the time of your shoot, you want to be able to maximize your shooting time, so you need to be ready in advance. This includes having your studio space clean and tidy, lights set up, camera batteries charged, memory cards cleared and ready to go, and lenses on hand if you plan to change lens during the shoot. For this shot I used the 70-200mm and 24-105mm lenses. They were both cleaned in advanced and placed close to the shooting area so I could change them easily. I use a range of props to help communicate different themes. I place these on a  table near the shooting area so they are readily accessible, and enable me to move quickly between different themes without interrupting the flow of the shoot.

Business Woman

Different wardrobe can help you produce a broader range of images.

Step 6 – Brief the Model. Briefing the model is important to make sure the photographer and the model have a common understanding. To do this, the photographer needs to be clear on what they intend from the shoot.

Avoid the ‘get in front of the camera and we’ll see what happens’ approach. This is not likely to produce the results you are looking for.

For this shoot, the model and I swapped email before the shoot to clarify the requirements. Then I printed the sample images and we went through them together before we began shooting. Twice during the shoot we stopped for a break for us to check the sample images to confirm our understanding of the style of images we were trying to create. Take time to brief the model. You can’t assume the good ideas in your head have been understood by the model if you haven’t taken time to discuss them.

Business Issues

Use different emotions to communicate your message

Step 7 – Conduct the Shoot. Thorough preparation through steps 1-6 should make sure your shoot goes well. In this case the shoot was a 90 minute shoot in a studio environment. By using different props and wardrobe we were able to shoot a range of different images in a short space of time.

When you are shooting, keep in mind that not every shot has to be a happy, smiling shot with the model looking directly at camera.

There is a large market for all sorts of different emotions communicated through the image. There is a place for the happy, confident image. There is also a place for sad, depressed, bored, stressed, anxious images. Speak with your model to make sure you develop a range of images from the shooting time.

Business Woman

Don’t overlook the importance of appropriate keywords.

Step 8 – Edit and Upload Images. As a stock photographer, having an efficient work flow is very important. I typically like to have all images from the shoot reviewed, edited and uploaded within a week of the shoot, and when possible, before my next shoot. I find that working promptly through the editing and uploading process helps my workflow by getting through to the end of the project promptly and letting me get on to the next idea.

If you have done a good job on steps 1-7 this work can be undone if you don’t use appropriate keywords for your image. Keywords are how you image will be found by potential buyers. Don’t overlook the importance of keywording as part of your editing and uploading process.

For the image shown here the keywords I use are – business woman, corporate business, female, one person, caucasian, business suit, arms folded, brown hair, adult, white collar worker, professional occupation, smiling, expressing positivity, studio shot, vertical, isolated, isolated on white, young adult, business person, business, waist up, brown eyes, looking at camera, white background.

Female business executive

Remember to provide feedback to your partners at the end of the shoot.

Step 9 – Feedback. Producing stock images is a collaborative effort. In this shoot it was between the photographer and the model. In other shoots there may be more than one model, a hair and makeup artist, and a stylist.

Step 9 is about providing feedback to your partners in the shoot. It is important to close out the shoot with feedback on what has gone well and what could be better, and to seek that feedback for yourself.

From this shoot I provided a link to the images in my stock photography portfolio so that the model could see the final product. It is important to me that the model sees them, as she did a very good job and I would like to shoot other stock concepts with her. Don’t overlook Step 9 – provide feedback to your partners.

Thanks for reading a step by step guide to a studio stock photo shoot. I hope this has been useful in describing the steps in a stock photo shoot, and will help your shoots to run smoothly.

Inside a Stock Photography Shoot

I am in the process of shooting a series of stock images of business people. This is a very popular category of stock images, with continual demand for fresh content. Images like these are used extensively in websites, brochures, corporate communications etc. You can probably imagine, this is a very big market. So this post looks behind the scenes, and takes you inside a stock photography shoot.

Stress

Lighting is important. The model needs to be well lit, with a pure white background

Lighting. Once you understand how to light images like these, it is straight forward to produce a wide variety of business images. And equally, if you make a mess of the lighting it can be very hard to produce usable files. For this shoot I used a lighting set up very similar to what I outlined in this post. It has one off camera flash to the left of camera, fired by a remote trigger through a shoot through umbrella. In this case it was a 43 inch umbrella. The model is lit with just the one light. The background (a white muslin backdrop) is lit separately through another off camera flash, again fired by a remote trigger (you can read more about the triggers here). This ‘blows out’ the background so that it appears completely white. That flash unit is placed between the model and the backdrop.

Space. It’s a misconception to think you need a large studio space to be able to shoot these kinds of images. The room this image was shot in is 3.2m wide and 6m long. The backdrop is 3m x 3m and just fits across the width of the room.

Smiling business woman

Makeup, wardrobe and posing are key to effective images.

Wardrobe, Makeup, and Posing. Wardrobe, make up and posing are very important in shooting this style of image. The model needs to be believable and realistic – in this case she needs to look like a professional business person. For this shoot we used two different colored shirts – one white and one blue. We also took images with the jacket on and jacket off. That helped provide a range of images – some of which look more formal, and some which look more informal.

The brief for her makeup was ‘light and natural’ which she did very well. It helps to reinforce the ‘real business people’ theme.

Posing is also important for this type of shoot. When we weren’t using props we focused on a ‘natural and confident’ look like in this image. Because of the studio setting and the beauty of digital photography we were able to shoot and review each image until we got the right look. While this image is very simple it has flexibility – the model could be anything from corporate executive to a home based entrepreneur.

Shoot Length and Process. This shoot took 90 minutes and that is fairly typical of my stock photography shoots. I find that is long enough to get a range of images, but not too long that the model or the photographer get bored!

We started this shoot with straight forward poses like the one above and then move to more specifically themed images using props. Mid shoot the model took a wardrobe change giving us the opportunity to assess the images taken up to that point and to plan how to make the most of the remaining time.

Corporate Whistle Blower

Corporate Whistle Blower. This image uses a sports whistle as the only prop.

Post Production. I aim to keep post processing to a minimum on stock photo shoots. I import the files to Lightroom, check for sharp focus, set the white balance and make minor changes to color saturation and contrast. Importantly, I make sure the background is pure white. This is a short process which takes 1-2 minutes for each image.

Where to from there? I complete model releases and look after any paperwork with the model before we start the shoot. That means that after post production, the file is saved as a JPEG image. From there it is uploaded to iStock (along with model release form). It then goes through an inspection process and, assuming it passes, is added to the stock database and is available to be downloaded. That’s it – inside a stock photography shoot.

Note, the model in this shoot is Klara. She is an up and coming model in Melbourne, Australia and is originally from Frankfurt, Germany. She is a great person to work with. See her current work here.

Thank you for reading ‘Inside a Stock Photography Shoot’. If you would like to receive regular emails from Beyond Here, please add your email address in the sign up box in the margin of this page. Thank you.

 

Why Be Exclusive on iStock

This week I have had two separate people asking me questions about where to contribute their stock images. I see many benefits in being an exclusive contributor to one site. And that site for me is iStock. So, why be exclusive on iStock?

First, for anyone not familiar with iStock – it is one of the best known microstock photography websites. It is owned by Getty Images. I have been contributing to iStock since 2008, and have been an exclusive contributor since May 2010. (You can read an introduction to stock photography here).

When you start on iStock, you begin as an independent contributor on a royalty rate of 15%. Your royalty rate can increase as you have more downloads of your files. When you reach 250 downloads, you qualify to become exclusive if you want to.

Save time

Contributing to many stock sites can be time consuming. Being exclusive can be a great time saver.

Why be exclusive on iStock? For these 6 reasons:

1. Higher Royalties. As an independent contributor your royalty rate starts at 15%. As an exclusive contributor that immediately jumps to 25%, and can go as high as 45% depending on your downloads and ‘redeemed credits’ (I will save an explanation of redeemed credits for another post). The point is iStock pay higher royalties for exclusive contributors.

2. Different Collections. Independent contributors files go into a collection called Essentials. These files cost 1 credit each. Exclusive contributors can also have files in the Essentials collection, but their new files default into the Signature collection. Signature collection files cost 3 credits, so again, exclusives can earn higher royalties by having files in a higher priced collection.

3. Better File Placement. Where your files appear in search results is driven by a complex algorithm. One factor is whether the contributor is exclusive. Exclusive files will generally, but not always, appear before independent files giving them a better chance of being downloaded by the buyer.

4. Time. Uploading and key wording images to multiple different sites is time consuming. While there are tools available to make this process easier – for me, I enjoy spending more time shooting or relaxing, and less time uploading and key wording.

5. Faster Inspection Times. Exclusive files have their own inspection queue which generally has a turn around of less than 24 hours. Its nice to upload files knowing they will be reviewed promptly, and displayed in the search results soon after.

Australian dollar

Being exclusive offers higher royalties and access to different collections

6. Getty Images. Files from the Signature+ collection are automatically mirrored onto the main Getty Images website. To get files into the Signature+ collection, exclusive contributors can nominate them at the time they are submitted. They will then be inspected for inclusion in the Signature+ collection. Having files on the Getty Images website is an additional place for your files to be downloaded from. The Getty Images royalties is a significant and growing part of my monthly royalties.

So, why be exclusive on iStock? Those are the 6 reasons for me. Exclusivity has worked very well for me, and helped stock to become a key component of my photography income. I am happy to answer any questions on iStock exclusivity – please leave a question on this post. Equally, if you have experience to share with Beyond Here readers, please use the comments section under this post. Thanks for reading ‘why be exclusive on iStock’.

Why Stock Photographers Should Crash Their Cars

Let’s just clarify one thing up front in this post, I am not really suggesting you have an accident in your vehicle! I don’t want you to cause any damage, get hurt, or run into problems with your insurance company! I want to make a point as you consider subjects for your stock photography portfolio, and hence the title ‘Why Stock Photographers Should Crash Their Cars’. Read on, I will explain.

I have written blog posts for Beyond Here on a range of subjects related to stock photography. It has been very exciting that many readers have opened stock photography accounts and are now turning their hobby into an income. In the age of digital cameras and the internet, generating an income through stock photography is open to nearly everyone. If you are reading this blog online and you have access to a digital camera, it is open to you.

If you haven’t read those posts, you can find some of them here.

When you are starting in stock photography it is easy to think that your stock images need to be outstanding or very creative. I have found that isn’t the case, and that well lit ‘every day’ images have a market.

That point was reinforced to me this week, when this image was downloaded from my iStock portfolio again. To date, it has been downloaded over 150 times and has generated over US$700 in royalties.

Car Accident

Successful stock images need to be useful not outstanding

So how did this image come about? Unfortunately this is my car! Several years ago it was accidentally backed into the front fence outside our house (not by me!) leaving a dent in the side of the vehicle. I took some shots thinking they were potential stock images which could be used by businesses in the car repair or car insurance industries.

This specific image was taken several weeks after the accident, when I had been out shooting sunrise images. The space in the car park, and the morning light, created a more useful image than the ones I had previously taken in my drive way.

This has turned out to be true and the image has sold steadily since I uploaded it in 2010. At the time I made an insurance claim and, after I paid the policy excess of A$500, the insurance company had the vehicle repaired. It has generated just over US$700 in royalties which, based on today’s exchange rate, is the equivalent to around $900 in Australian dollars. So it cost me $500 and has so far generated $900 in royalties, and that’s why stock photographers should crash their cars.

The point is that successful stock images don’t need to be high impact, creative images – they need to be useful. If you keep looking for everyday useful images you will find that potential stock images are all around you. Shoot them in good light conditions and you will be building a stock portfolio which generates royalty income every day. Thanks for reading ‘why stock photographers should crash their cars’ and please don’t go out and have an accident. Drive safely!

Request Your iStock Payment Today

Pay Day

21 January 2015 is the final day to make an iStock payment request

iStock, one of the best known microstock photography sites, is making changes to its payment frequency. Instead of being able to request payment once a week, from the end of January 2015, payments will automatically be made once per month. So, if you would like to request one more payment, request your iStock payment today.

What are the key dates? Wednesday 21 January 2015 is the final date to request a payment.

What then? After January 2015, money left in your iStock account at the end of each month (above the minimum payment threshold) will automatically be paid to you on the 25th of the following month. For example, if you have $376 in your iStock account at the end of February, this will be paid to you on 25 March.

What do you need to do? To make a final payment request, do that today (21 January 2015). To receive the automatic monthly payments beyond January 2015, you need to register how you want the payment to be made and your tax details. You can enter these details on your account after 22 January 2015 on the iStock website.

Thanks for reading ‘Request Your iStock Payment Today’. If you are an iStock contributor I hope this has been useful to you. If you are not an iStock contributor and would like to learn more about stock photography please see this post – Starting In Stock Photography.