Celebrating Being One of the Best Microstock Blogs

I have a love – hate, on again – off again relationship with writing this blog! It is exciting to see Beyond Here make this list of the best microstock blogs.

Today I’m celebrating Beyond Here making a list of best microstock blogs

Why Love – Hate, On Again – Off Again

Writing a blog is for me is a little like stock photography. There are times when the ideas flow, there’s lots of reader feedback, and it’s easy to generate new content. And there are other times when I struggle to come up with new ideas, or execute them in a way that generates quality content.


2020 has been particularly challenging when for a good proportion of the year here in Melbourne, Australia has been in coronavirus lockdown.

That has meant that the normal flow of ideas from being busy and shooting lots has not been there.

My recent microstock content has focused on coronavirus themed images

Using World Events to Drive New Ideas

New ideas have not flowed easily this year, and financial motivations have been challenging. See this post about changes at Shutterstock which negatively impact contributor’s earnings.

However, the smaller amount of new images have been very successful. Content relating to coronavirus and the world wide pandemic has been hugely popular, and will continue to be so. Make the most of this. Get a face mask for your model and think of stock themes!

Celebrating for Now

As we are coming out of virus lock down in Melbourne, Australia and heading towards summer I’m busy working on rebuilding my sports photography business.

I’ll celebrate Beyond Here making the list of best microstock blogs and begin planning my stock content for 2021.

Reading

There is great content on the list of best microstock blogs. I encourage you to read them and see how the content can be applied to your own microstock efforts. Thanks for reading this post. Best wishes.

Timeless Business Reminders for Surviving Tough Times

Around the world photographers, and many other industries, are feeling the business impact of the coronavirus. Where I live in Melbourne, Australia we are currently living with a curfew between 8pm and 5am, a limit of one hour out of home per day to exercise, and restrictions on the distance you may travel from home. Difficult times. It’s been a time to reflect on these business reminders for surviving tough times.

Many photographers are feeling the financial squeeze due to the coronavirus pandemic

Reminder #1 – Keep Overheads Low

It is now 6+ months since the coronavirus meant social gatherings and sporting events are cancelled to protect the health of the community. This has been impacting all types of events and photographers. While we hope the coronavirus is not with us for long, it’s a great business reminder to keep overhead costs low. We never know when business revenues will turn down, and I’m grateful to not be struggling with an expensive studio or office space when revenues have dropped.

Reminder #2 – Be Careful with Debt

Right now is a difficult time to have debt. Revenues have dried up, but debts still need to be repaid. Given the widespread impact of the coronavirus, many lenders are currently being flexible with loan repayments, but this will not last. Eventually, those with debts will need to repay them. Be careful with debt. In tough times, it is better to be operating with reliable old equipment than to have just borrowed money to buy the latest camera body or lens.

Many piggy banks are empty as the economic impact of the pandemic continues

Reminder #3 – Cash Reserves Provide a Buffer

Having some cash in reserve provides greater ability to survive tough times. Remember this when times are good, and tuck some cash away to help survive when times are not so good. While these business reminders for surviving tough times are not rocket science, it’s only in the tough times we find out how well our businesses are really running.

Reminder #4 – Be Flexible

In good times, it is wise to focus on the work you are best at. In tough times it’s smart to be flexible. My business mainly shoots sports. In Melbourne, there have not been community sports events for 6 months now. We are surviving be being flexible – selling prints, doing baby photo shoots (when restrictions allow), redesigning client’s websites, shooting stock images, and generating income outside photography. While it’s not easy, we will survive and sport will return. Can you be flexible and find new income sources?

Reminder #5 – Stay Connected to Your Customers

It is difficult times for everybody. Now is a terrific time to show you care about your customers, and connect with them. Can you generate reasons to be in contact with your customers? Are there ways you can assist them right now? In my own business we continue speak with sports clubs and update via our blog even though there is not a lot to say at the moment! Check out our blog over on Melbourne Sports Photography.

Thanks for reading these timeless business reminders for surviving tough times. These times will pass. Keep going.

Ideas for Coronavirus Themed Stock Photos

Here in Melbourne, Australia we are 3 weeks into a 6 week, level 4 restriction phase due to coronavirus. Under these restrictions we are only allowed to go out for 4 reasons – to do essential shopping, to exercise for 1 hour per day, for medical needs, and for education needs. As you can imagine that makes work as a photographer very difficult. With the absence of client contact and sports, I have been finding it difficult. I haven’t been very productive, and have only shot a limited amount of stock content. If you are looking for some inspiration, here are some ideas for coronavirus themed stock photos.

Lifestyle Themed Images

Ok, first up in our ideas for coronavirus themed stock photos is lifestyle images. Where I live we have restrictions largely keeping us at home, so I have not shot any of these recently. However, if you have greater freedom than we currently do (!) consider stock images of people going about daily life. Grab a face mask and have your model go about daily life – travelling on public transport, going to work, taking the dog for a walk etc.

An example of lifestyle images is in this previous post on Beyond Here, Shooting Stock Images During the Coronavirus Shutdown.

Medical Themed Images

I have seen some very well executed images of drive through virus testing facilities. There is high demand for this type of stock image so consider drive through and testing based in a medical facility.

Business or Economic Themed Images

This is where I have focused most of the (few!) stock shoots I have done in the last few weeks. There is already a significant impact on the global economy which is likely to worsen in coming months. Some economic commentators are predicting a recession which will be the biggest economic downtown since the great depression of the late 1920’s and 1930’s. Wow! I expect there will be strong demand for images which capture the economic impact of unemployment, financial difficulty, recession, depression, property crisis, and difficult economic conditions.

Business or economic themed images are likely to be in demand for several years

Things That are New

We are starting to see unique things appearing as a result of coronavirus. While out walking the dog I have been noticing how many parked cars have face masks hanging from the rear view mirror. Have you been noticing things like that? Can you turn those ideas into stock images?

Thanks for reading these ideas for coronavirus themed stock photos. I hope that it has been helpful, and prompted ideas for how you might create popular content during this difficult time. Keep well. Happy shooting.

When Will Normal Return?

2020 has been a challenging year for so many industries across the world. The cancellation of sports events has had a major impact on my business. We can see light at the end of the tunnel with junior sport recommencing in July 2020. But the recent outbreak of coronavirus in Victoria has cast doubt on those dates, and left many people wondering, when will normal return?

Right now there is a lot of preparation for the return of sport. But will the recent second wave of coronavirus put back those plans?

Surviving the Coronavirus Shutdown

I have spent most of the last 4 months shooting stock images, family portraits, personal projects or organizing my images and filing systems for a time when we return to normal. It has been a challenging time and not one I’d like to repeat soon! (see background Shooting Stock Images During the Coronavirus Shutdown)

I’m eagerly looking forward to the return of sports events, so that we can get back to photographing live sport. Like many sports fans, I was optimistic that time will be in July 2020. Now that date looks not so likely.

Although pro sport has re-commenced, Melbourne’s major stadiums remain empty with crowds not allowed

We are experiencing a spike in new coronavirus cases which looks likely to delay a return to normal.

Contingencies

I wish we did not need to think about contingencies! However, it now seems the global health concerns may be with us for some time. We may need to consider our short term plans more closely, and focus less on ‘when will normal return’.

What are your plans? Are you hoping for a quick return to normal? Or an extended time of implementing contingencies?

Shutterstock Makes Major Change to Earnings Structure

This week there has been a significant development in the microstock photography industry. One of the largest players upset many of it’s contributors by revamping their royalty structure. Read on to learn more about what’s happening and the reaction as Shutterstock Makes Major Change to Earnings Structure.

What is Shutterstock Announcing?

Shutterstock is announcing a major change to it’s royalty program for contributors. Previously contributors received a fixed amount for each subscription download depending on their level. The minimum royalty is currently USD$0.25. This week’s announcement moves away from a fixed amount to a percentage (also with different levels).

Contributors reactions have been angry with many proposing boycotting Shutterstock

How have Contributors Reacted?

Contributors have reacted negatively with a fear their income will be reducing. Most controversially, contributors percentage will re-set to the lowest level on 1 January each year. Regardless of your portfolio size and previous level of success, every contributor will re-set to 15% royalty at the beginning of each year.

When will the Changes Take Effect?

The changes will be effective from 1 June 2020. Although it seems barely believable, Shutterstock is introducing a major change with less than one week notice.

From this date, contributors percentage royalty will be based on the level of sales achieved so far in 2020. It will then reset to the minimum 15% from 1 January 2021.

Thoughts?

I have liked the certainty which previously came with a fixed royalty per download. If anything, it provided an incentive for Shutterstock to increase prices over time as this would expand their margins.

Unfortunately it seems they are interested in the same model as Getty / iStock who sell high volumes at very low prices, which in turn means very small royalties per download for contributors.

I believe contributors fears are well founded, and expect we will see a decline for contributors revenue per download.

Many Shutterstock contributors have already de-activated their portfolios in protest at this weeks announcement. We wait to see if and when Shutterstock responds.

Subsequent News

Earlier today another microstock agency, Dreamstime, announced an increase in royalties for contributors. The timing of this announcement can only be in direct competition with Shutterstock as they seek to benefit from the discontent Shutterstock has created with contributors.

Where to From Here?

I am going to wait and see what happens to royalties during June 2020 before deciding what actions to take with my small Shutterstock portfolio. If you are a Shutterstock contributor, what are you planning to do?

Thanks for reading Shutterstock Makes Major Change to Earnings Structure.

Delays with Microstock Image Inspection During Pandemic

Looks like I was speaking too soon! In this post My Microstock Experience During the Coronavirus Pandemic I was outlining that microstock seemed to be largely business as usual. That seems to be changing with delays with microstock image inspection during pandemic. Shutterstock and Adobe Stock have been communicating likely future delays, and my most recent submission at iStock has taken longer than normal for inspection.

What Are We Seeing?

On three of the major microstock sites I contribute to we are seeing image inspection delays and communication to expect slower inspections.

My most recent submission to iStock has taken 10 days to pass through the image inspection process. That’s nearly double the usual time frame. I don’t expect that was anything to do with the images – they were simple wildlife shots like the ones shown here – and more likely reflects quantities and operational challenges during the pandemic.

What about the Immediate Future?

Both Shutterstock and Adobe Stock have issued communication that contributors can expect to see delays in image inspection. To date, my own submissions have been reviewed relatively quickly by both sites. I am impressed that their image inspections have been so prompt up until now. It seems that may change in the near future.

Shutterstock today have put limits on uploads so that all contributors files can be pass through inspection in a timely manner.

So What?

I’m not sure there really is a so what here! Be patient. Inspections are continuing. Try to shoot stock content which is relevant and not too time sensitive.

Thanks for reading Delays with Microstock Image Inspection During Pandemic. Keep safe. Keep patient.

My Microstock Experience During the Coronavirus Pandemic

I am making the most of the current lock down situation to add to my microstock portfolios. The three microstock sites I upload to are iStock, Shutterstock, and Adobe Stock. Here is my microstock experience during the coronavirus pandemic.

Image Inspection Times

All three microstock sites continue to operate ‘business as usual’ with both uploading and downloading available. It is impressive that there isn’t any real business interruption, though both Shutterstock and Adobe Stock are indicating there may be an impact on inspection times.

My microstock experience during the coronavirus pandemic has largely been ‘business as usual’

I am uploading daily to each site and to date my experience is:

  • Shutterstock – inspection is taking 24-48 hours with files available in the database very soon afterwards
  • Adobe Stock – inspection is taking 3-4 days
  • iStock – inspection is taking 6-8 days (note, I am an ‘independent’ contributor to iStock. I am expecting that exclusive contributors file inspection is faster).

Sales of Newly Approved Files

My newly added content has been a mix of historical files and newly shot coronavirus themed images (discussed more in this post Shooting Stock Images During the Coronavirus Shutdown).

My experience with newly uploaded files is similar to my usual microstock experience:

  • Shutterstock – new files are selling well, particularly those with a pandemic theme
  • Adobe Stock – new files are selling well, and slightly better than my usual experience
  • iStock – unfortunately iStock only reports once per month so at this stage I don’t know how well new images are selling. iStock is well behind the other two agencies in the information it provides to contributors
Social distancing is a popular theme right now

Total Sales

It is still early days in the new ‘pandemic world’. Without full data yet available it seems my overall microstock sales are down on usual sales numbers. I am expecting this to be the case as the overall business activity in the economy is below the normal level.

What is your microstock experience at this time?

Thanks for reading about my microstock experience during the coronavirus pandemic. Happy shooting.

Shooting Stock Images During the Coronavirus Shutdown

It is very challenging times right around the world as we deal with the coronavirus. Here in Australia the government is encouraging people to stay at home and only go out when absolutely necessary. I recently wrote a post called Coronavirus Realities for this Photographer. Today, it’s shooting stock images during the coronavirus shutdown.

Background

We had a small amount of advance notice that there will be restrictions in daily life as the world tries to ‘flatten the curve’ in growth of coronavirus cases. During this small window I was able to do one outdoor coronavirus themed stock photo shoot. I also made a visit to the craft shop to stock up on supplies which I could use in stock photo concepts.

Shooting stock images in the coronavirus shutdown. I was able to do one outdoor themed shoot recently.

Early Feedback

There are currently a lot of coronavirus themed images being added to microstock sites. To date, I have been concentrating on local themed images like the one above. Why? Firstly, because it is relatively easy for me to shoot this style of image, and secondly there is very little competition. Encouragingly, there have been immediate sales on each of the microstock sites where I submit images.

From Here?

Now, with daily movement restrictions increasing, I’m not expecting to be able to do outdoor shoots in the near future. The increasing requirements around ‘social distancing’ are going to make this impossible in the short term. So where will I focus? I built a small home studio several years ago and am planning to shoot a series of simple stock images there.

There is strong demand for coronavirus themed stock images right now

What Can You Shoot?

Right now is a unique time to be able to shoot specifically themed images. The whole world is reporting on the virus, and there is high demand for relevant images.

You don’t need a studio to shoot coronavirus themed stock images. With the large push to stay at home, work from home, social distancing, and ‘flattening the curve’ there is real opportunity to use your own home surrounds to shoot relevant images.

Final Thoughts

In a world turned upside down I am grateful for the small amount of revenue coming in through stock photography. All my booked jobs for the next 2 months have cancelled, with no current time line for when normal activities might resume. In the meantime I’ll be staying home, keeping safe, and doing what I can with stock imagery.

Social Distancing is a theme to consider for your stock photo shoots

Thanks for reading Shooting Stock Images During the Coronavirus Shutdown. Good luck!

Coronavirus Realities for this Photographer

Wow, we are living in interesting times! Right now many events and activities around the world are facing cancellation or suspension as we try to halt the spread of coronavirus. This is already having a major impact on all industries and is clearly impacting photographers. In my business, all my jobs for the next 2 months have been cancelled or are likely to be cancelled. Here are the coronavirus realities for this photographer.

Coronavirus is having a major health and business impact around the world

Immediate Impacts

The response from health officials and governments has been significant this week. Here in Australia, gatherings of over 500 people are being discouraged. This is causing the cancellation or postponement of major events. As the majority of my work is in sports, the cancellation of many sports has meant my pipeline of jobs for the next 2 months has disappeared.

How Long Will this Last?

I wish I knew! With 2 weeks left in the local school term followed by Easter holidays I can’t see any change being likely until at least the end of April. I really don’t know what to expect from there. I am now planning for an extended period without major sporting events.

What to do in the Meantime?

The cancellation of sports events will have a significant impact to my business. To keep busy I am planning to shoot stock images and upload them to my online portfolios. My income from stock is well below what it has been in previous years but it is steady and comes in every month. Unfortunately I don’t know how long this challenge is going to last, but for the next few weeks I plan on creating stock images relevant to the current health crisis.

What will that look like?

I am conscious of helping to reduce the spread of coronavirus by limiting social interaction. For me that will mean shooting stock images in my home studio. I can see I’ll need a break from that at some point (!) and plan to visit wildlife areas close to home.

Do you have an action plan in place to get through the next few months? These are the coronavirus realities for this photographer. What are they for you?

Helpful Resources

If you’d like to look into stock photography please check out

Featured Photographer Sally Jacob

Today’s featured photographer on Beyond Here is sports photographer Sally Jacob. Sally is originally from Yorkshire, England and is now living in Melbourne, Australia. Read on to learn more about sports photographer Sally Jacob.

Background

Sally, tell us about Sally Jacob Photography and your work in sports photography …

Well, it’s always been about sports photography. I have done a bit of food photography, I spent some time publishing a recipe book with my mum. Just sold our 400th copy. Woo! I worked a season in Greece photographing holidaymakers participating in sports activities and portraits. I’ve always been most interested in sports photography. I recently gave up hospitality work to devote myself to photography full time, mainly for Melbourne Sports Photography. I’m from England where I shot a lot of local football and since being here in Australia have found it fun learning Australian Rules Football whilst photographing a lot of junior games. I have just been photographing a lot of basketball, which was another new sport for me, which has been fun.

Junior football celebration. Sports photographer Sally Jacob.
Image copyright Sally Jacob

Deciding to Pursue Sports Photography

How did you decide you wanted to be a sports photographer?

I did skydiving while at school and was fearless! There was a guy jumping alongside me photographing it. I thought what a cool job and that’s when I decided how fun it would be to be a sports photographer. Following a photographer, Christian Pondella, I just couldn’t quite believe that photographing in the mountains was his job. How cool.

I went straight from college to university to study Press and Editorial Photography at Falmouth University and got into photographing the local rugby for the paper, which I found a lot of fun and I learnt a lot about how to shoot sports. Currently I’m thinking a lot about how to get access to big sporting events, whilst trying to build up my range of equipment. I can tell I still have far to go however I moved to Australia a year and a half ago and have felt a huge amount of encouragement and am learning everyday.

Favorites

Which are your favorite sports to photograph?

Anything outdoors! Tennis is currently number one. I grew up with tennis and had a great time at the Australian Open this year. I didn’t have media access but still managed to get some shots on the outside courts of some top players. This was a huge highlight for me and has made me realize how much I want that accreditation.

Close up of squashed tennis ball. Sports photographer Sally Jacob.
Image copyright Sally Jacob

Challenges

What challenges do you come across as a young sports photographer?

I guess finance is a big challenge. The top gear is really expensive for anyone but I haven’t got a lot of savings or money! Older, more experienced people are constantly telling me that there’s no money in sport photography anymore which can sometimes be off putting when you’re about to put everything you’ve got into a new lens. But then again, I guess the fact I am young, I don’t have a mortgage or family I need to provide for . I do love to travel though, and maybe the job could help with that.

The Future

What opportunities do you see?

Well, every year I hear more and more stories about women in sports, and women working in sports. It seems like there are so many more opportunities out there for me than there perhaps would have been in the past. It was great to watch some tennis this year at the Australian Open and see a good handful of female photographers.

Looking forward, which are the sports you’d most like to shoot in the years ahead?

Well, the Australian Open tennis is something I can’t stop thinking about. So that’s a goal for the next year. In the future I’d love to shoot the Olympics and the winter Olympics would be pretty cool. I still feel I have far to go and need to work out what I need to do to reach these goals, but I’m feeling ambitious these days!

Australian Open tennis, sports photographer Sally Jacob
Image copyright Sally Jacob

Advice

What advice would you give to aspiring sports photographers?

Shoot, shoot, shoot. Always ask for feedback and take it on board. If you are new to sports photography, start with a sport you know – it’s easier to shoot something if you know what’s about to happen. Don’t be afraid to shoot in tight. And just have fun with it, play around, try a different perspective.

Thank you for reading about Melbourne based sports photographer Sally Jacob.

(Editor’s note – I have known Sally for the last 12 months and have done work with her for Melbourne Sports Photography shooting basketball, Australian Rules football, diving, cheer leading and dance, gymnastics, and cycling.)