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Author Topic: Cost of Photography  (Read 7680 times)

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« Reply #25 on: May 26, 2011, 15:39 »
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Very Well put Lisa.
You should save this reply as a template.


« Reply #26 on: May 26, 2011, 15:39 »
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Thanks lisafx,

Very helpful and I really do appreciate the thoughts.  The siituation is that my career (that I'm currently in) is kind of winding down, probably won't be able to continure in this field much longer.  I'm approaching retirement age and amy looking to hopefully suppliment income with photography.  Not looking for get rich quick or anything close to that, I don't mind putting in the work if I know what work needs to be put in.  My problems stem from being basically clueless when it comes to the agencies and some of the phrases and terms that the "pros" throw around because they all understand them.  Could I take some classes, yeah probably but again, that's cost which will be taking from the little I have for retirement so I'm trying to learn by reading, and using tools like lynda.com and the like, plus what you folks are willing to share.

« Reply #27 on: May 26, 2011, 15:56 »
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so on the refector do you mean something like

http://www.adorama.com/WEPBRFK40.html

ShadySue

« Reply #28 on: May 26, 2011, 16:13 »
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so on the refector do you mean something like

http://www.adorama.com/WEPBRFK40.html

I got one of these from ebay - but I almost never use it either. I have used the diffuser bit when (seldom) doing still life stuff.

« Reply #29 on: May 26, 2011, 16:21 »
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so on the refector do you mean something like

http://www.adorama.com/WEPBRFK40.html

I got one of these from ebay - but I almost never use it either. I have used the diffuser bit when (seldom) doing still life stuff.


Thanks for this post, I just bought one from ebay for $10 US.  LOL

helix7

« Reply #30 on: May 26, 2011, 16:32 »
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...Could I take some classes, yeah probably but again, that's cost which will be taking from the little I have for retirement so I'm trying to learn by reading, and using tools like lynda.com and the like, plus what you folks are willing to share.

For photography skills, yes those things are helpful. Even classes would be helpful. Just remember that there is a whole other side to this, a business side in which you need to handle the logistics of a photography business, manage scheduling, models, etc. You also need to know what makes a good stock image, what subjects are both in-demand as well as not overly saturated in the market already, and how best to manage your images (keywording, workflow, etc). None of those things will be taught in any photography class.

Not to talk you out of your plan, but since you're basically getting in on the ground floor anyway, maybe you'd consider something other than photography? My logic is this: Photography is already extremely competitive in microstock and the number of folks working in the field is huge and growing all the time, especially as experienced photographers test the microstock market. Other areas of microstock are less saturated, video being one of them. Maybe you could upgrade that T1i for the T3i and shoot HD video clips for stock. You're already going to be spending some money on new equipment. If I were you, that's what I'd do. Just my 2 cents though. :)

« Reply #31 on: May 26, 2011, 17:22 »
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Webbing, I looked at your shots on Canstock and what you need to do is study really carefully how to light objects. The lighting on your apples and tomato was way below the going standard and that means they won't sell (or get approved on most sites)

You don't need to use flash at all, you can often get good results with one light and a reflector to fill in the shadows. If you use a hot bulb instead of flash the exposure takes a bit longer, that's all (and, of course, you need to set the white balance correctly). You can use white foamcore board as a reflector, too.
Lighting is all explained in the book "Light, Science and Magic" but it still takes lots of practice to get to grips with it.

Also, a completely free goldmine of information on lighting is available at http://www.strobist.blogspot.com/

If you are to have any hope of making serious progress on the micros you have got to work like mad on your lighting skills.

And Lisa's right.

« Reply #32 on: May 26, 2011, 17:51 »
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As a quick example of how a reflector (very similar to the one you just bought) changes a shot, here's an example of something I did a while back for IS's critique forum (click for a larger size:



You can make a huge difference with just a reflector. Also, with putting something in the shade and then using a fill flash - see this example of a shot with and without fill flash.

If you need a second reflector, a piece of white foam board works very well.

PaulieWalnuts

  • You talkin' to me?
« Reply #33 on: May 26, 2011, 17:51 »
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I should have posted this over here.  Sorry.

How do you folks afford to do this.

Camera 1000+
Any lens 500+ (with a coupld of exceptions)
A stupid Flash 400+
Tripod 200+
Monopod 100+

I can't keep up, is there something I'm missing or is this just about right?  Is this really this cost prohibitive or am I just not finding the bargains that allow me to get started?

It depends on what you plan to shoot and how serious you plan to be. Examples... If you're shooting nature you probably won't need flashes. If you're only shooting people you will probably need to invest a significant amount in lighting. Every style has different needs.

I noticed you're shooting wildlife. If you plan to make any more than paying your monthly phone bill you may want to research stock a bit more and see what subjects sell well. Unless you have access to something unique, like a dodo bird, this is a tough area to make money with.

Some people can do okay with an entry level DSLR, cheap lenses, and frugal accessories. But if you want to be one of the people making top money you're going to need to fork out top money to compete. You don't really need anything else than what you have. But as you step up your game you will at some point be thinking to yourself "I really need..."
- Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop - $1,000
- Good Lenses - Thousands
- Monitor Calibrator - $200
- Better Monitor - $200
- New Computer or Major Upgrades (larger hard drive, more memory) $1,000
- External Backup Drive(s) - $200
- Printer/Scanner - $200+
- Multiple High Quality Memory Cards - $100+
- Training - $200+
- Extra Battery - $50
- Props (food, model clothes, etc) - $$$
- Models - $$$
- Travel (gas, tolls, parking) - $$$
- Time and money invested in rejected images - $$$
- Time and money invested in accepted images that don't sell - $$$

Beyond that you could easily spend thousands of dollars more on strobes/lighting, studio, accountant, permits, business insurance, and accessories.

People with the right combination of skills will likely succeed. You won't know if you're one of those people until after you dive into it and see how you do.

ShadySue

« Reply #34 on: May 26, 2011, 18:51 »
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I noticed you're shooting wildlife. If you plan to make any more than paying your monthly phone bill you may want to research stock a bit more and see what subjects sell well. Unless you have access to something unique, like a dodo bird, this is a tough area to make money with.
Note also that if you have something unique or unusual in natural history, micro isn't the place for it. Firstly, they don't make allowance for the natural conditions in which certain organisms live, and you'll either get lighting rejections or you'll have to make it look totally fake to get past their 'lighting standards'. Secondly, serious natural history buyers don't generally use the micros. There are two pics of one of the rarest birds in the world on iStock, taken in a collection (I doubt very much if a photo of the bird in its natural habitat would have avoided a 'poor light' rejection) and they haven't sold once, possibly because general buyers have never heard of the bird, and serious buyers know the lighting is wrong.

« Reply #35 on: May 26, 2011, 20:53 »
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The wildlife I really shoot for me, not for microstock.  I thought the squirrel might work that's why I submitted him.  But generally I don't submit wildlife.

« Reply #36 on: May 26, 2011, 21:58 »
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Honestly Webbing, if you have a full time job and it supports you, this is not something you should be looking at to replace it.  The people who are making a living in microstock all either got in early and grew with the industry like Lise, Sean, Yuri, and some of us lesser named folks, or else were full-time photography pros and transitioned some of their work into micro, such as Jonathan Ross, Lagereek, Daniel LaFlor, etc.  

Even with constant work it will take several years to get your skills and your equipment up to where the current pros are.   The bubble is already bursting, due to fierce competition and some agency incompetence/greed.  By the time you are able to compete at today's quality level, it will have gotten that much harder, and the pie will be sliced that much thinner.  

Sorry to sound discouraging, but since you said yourself that the things that you didn't know were what hurt you, these are some things about the microstock industry that you should know:  The days of inexperienced people jumping in to learn on the job, and making it to living wage as a microstock pro are over.  Even some people who bought the hype and "quit their day job" a couple of years are now having to go out and find real jobs.

As I said in my last post, if you are looking at this as a hobby, it's a great way to learn photography and maybe pay for some of your gear in the process, but it isn't a gravy train.

On your gear question - you don't need a monopod.  For studio lighting, you can get a couple of clip-on 1000 watt halogen shop lights at Home Depot for very cheap.  White sheet is a perfectly acceptable backdrop.  For outdoors, a 5-in-1 reflector is great, both for adding reflected sunlight where you want it, and/or for blocking sunlight where you don't want it.    Of if you don't want to spring the $60 or so for the reflector, you can use white foam core from Michael's for a couple of bucks.

Hope that helps.  

Edited because the darned auto-fill changed all my F T's (meaning full-time) to Fotolia :(
Anyway to turn this feature off?  It annoys the daylights out of me!

Well said, this is the way I see it too.

lthn

    This user is banned.
« Reply #37 on: May 27, 2011, 04:27 »
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it's a great way to learn photography and maybe pay for some of your gear in the process, but it isn't a gravy train.

oh jesus, please noo... most of microstock hardly has anything to do with real photography. Technically it's 50% photoshop bonanza, and anyway, the last thing I would suggest to anyone is learn to shoot people and portraits f.e. thru microstock where basically everynone is floodlighting and overexposing prettypeople with blatantly fake expressions, repeat 100000000 times. I looked at some of my earleir portraits, and I realized how much better they are. Many are impressionate, soulful and show character. The style microstock forces on ppl in is extremely restrictive and anything but an advancement in photography.

On your gear question - you don't need a monopod.

Actually IMHO monopod is a decent workaround if you don't have expensive equipment. You can walk around with a modell and shoot techincally ok pictures in natural lighting, without any other gear, even if the level of lighting is far from ideal. Just shoot in a nice attractive enviroment, and learn what kind of (mostly ambient) lighting looks good on ppl.

lisafx

« Reply #38 on: May 27, 2011, 16:54 »
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oh jesus, please noo... most of microstock hardly has anything to do with real photography. Technically it's 50% photoshop bonanza, and anyway, the last thing I would suggest to anyone is learn to shoot people and portraits f.e. thru microstock where basically everynone is floodlighting and overexposing prettypeople with blatantly fake expressions, repeat 100000000 times. I looked at some of my earleir portraits, and I realized how much better they are. Many are impressionate, soulful and show character. The style microstock forces on ppl in is extremely restrictive and anything but an advancement in photography.


Sorry, I don't think he said anything about wanting to shoot portraits.   Anyone can benefit from learning better lighting techniques and better composition, regardless of what they are shooting, or whether it is for microstock, fine art, or personal pleasure. 

Once you get basic lighting technique down, then you can decide whether you want to flatten it to get the "stocky" look, or make it more dramatic for other types of effects.  But first you have to learn and get comfortable with the tools you have available to you. 

Besides, there is a great abundance of more creative stuff on the micros.  Not everyone is shooting just stereotypical stocky looking images.  The reason that it appears that way is because, sadly, that's what sells the most, and it is what dominates the front of the searches. 

lisafx

« Reply #39 on: May 27, 2011, 16:55 »
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Thanks for this post, I just bought one from ebay for $10 US.  LOL

Congrats on your bargain hunting :)

JoAnn's examples in the garden really illustrate the difference a simple reflector can make.

lagereek

« Reply #40 on: May 28, 2011, 02:00 »
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oh jesus, please noo... most of microstock hardly has anything to do with real photography. Technically it's 50% photoshop bonanza, and anyway, the last thing I would suggest to anyone is learn to shoot people and portraits f.e. thru microstock where basically everynone is floodlighting and overexposing prettypeople with blatantly fake expressions, repeat 100000000 times. I looked at some of my earleir portraits, and I realized how much better they are. Many are impressionate, soulful and show character. The style microstock forces on ppl in is extremely restrictive and anything but an advancement in photography.


Sorry, I don't think he said anything about wanting to shoot portraits.   Anyone can benefit from learning better lighting techniques and better composition, regardless of what they are shooting, or whether it is for microstock, fine art, or personal pleasure. 

Once you get basic lighting technique down, then you can decide whether you want to flatten it to get the "stocky" look, or make it more dramatic for other types of effects.  But first you have to learn and get comfortable with the tools you have available to you. 

Besides, there is a great abundance of more creative stuff on the micros.  Not everyone is shooting just stereotypical stocky looking images.  The reason that it appears that way is because, sadly, that's what sells the most, and it is what dominates the front of the searches. 


Too true!  terrible abscence of real photography!  not the contributors fault though, its the buyers who dictates, todays incredible lack of quality thinking and "the cheaper the better" attitudes, dictates the entire Micro market and frankly the entire RF market as well.
PS, etc, have done us lots of favours but man! it also brings tons of garbage.

lthn

    This user is banned.
« Reply #41 on: May 28, 2011, 06:26 »
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oh jesus, please noo... most of microstock hardly has anything to do with real photography. Technically it's 50% photoshop bonanza, and anyway, the last thing I would suggest to anyone is learn to shoot people and portraits f.e. thru microstock where basically everynone is floodlighting and overexposing prettypeople with blatantly fake expressions, repeat 100000000 times. I looked at some of my earleir portraits, and I realized how much better they are. Many are impressionate, soulful and show character. The style microstock forces on ppl in is extremely restrictive and anything but an advancement in photography.


Sorry, I don't think he said anything about wanting to shoot portraits.   Anyone can benefit from learning better lighting techniques and better composition, regardless of what they are shooting, or whether it is for microstock, fine art, or personal pleasure.  

Once you get basic lighting technique down, then you can decide whether you want to flatten it to get the "stocky" look, or make it more dramatic for other types of effects.  But first you have to learn and get comfortable with the tools you have available to you.  

Besides, there is a great abundance of more creative stuff on the micros.  Not everyone is shooting just stereotypical stocky looking images.  The reason that it appears that way is because, sadly, that's what sells the most, and it is what dominates the front of the searches.  

It was about learning photography in general. Microstock is not photography in general, just microstock, one of the most restrcitive industries ever.

"Not everyone is shooting just stereotypical stocky looking images."

yep, not everyone... just almost everyone... and it's not even the buyers preference, just a mindless perversion of standards by clueless amateurs hastily made inspectors by the siteowners. The telltale sing of an amateur is geting overzealous on standards and psuhing them over the limit. Pros know that 'not liking noisy images' for expample, doesn't mean getting an epileptic seizure from discovering a sigle dot of noise in the corner and rejecting everything, because they know that:

1. only hard noise is actually visible in print, especially in 4 color process. (most amateur photogs made inspector are 100% clueless about these things)
3. @ web size it doesn't matter
4. noise is not a problem. noise can even fit a shots mood... ugly, kitschy pictures are a problem
5. live and let live, or you ruin the business
« Last Edit: May 28, 2011, 06:28 by lthn »

lagereek

« Reply #42 on: May 28, 2011, 07:33 »
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Yes ithn!  we know that, so did Sarah-Moon and so did the Impressionists, especially Seurat and Monet. However in a world where technical merits is the only criteria, never mind the commercial and creative aspects,  what do you expect?  even worse this is what non-creative buyers want, no quality thinking what so ever.
I once searched "worker" in one of our agencies, up came this guy holding a spanner, hard-hat and all, all isolated on white and for the first entire 2 pages! i.e. 2 full pages of the same guy with a spanner, moving an ich for each shot.
I pointed it out to the agency and ofcourse they changed it, but still!

Not the contributors fault, I bet the majority would love to get in deep into the media, its buyers, fresh amateur buyers whos imagination doesnt stretch further then an outside toilet.
« Last Edit: May 28, 2011, 07:39 by lagereek »

cascoly

  • Photography, travel & online games at cascoly.com

« Reply #43 on: May 29, 2011, 12:31 »
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if you're coming from a field other than photography, think about what aspects fyour current skills can help you in your new field - eg, i'd done computer analysis, database and internet programming for 30 years, so those portions of my photography business didn 't require outside help.

also, any costs you have for your new business are tax deductible, so it's effectively a 15-30% discount  - you just have to show a profit eventually - check the IRS online for details.  and, early on, you probably won't need a tax advisor if you're willing to read about schdule C, etc. and you have ZERO employees

that said, it IS tough, and getting harder, but if you're looking at it as a supplemental source of income, it's still possible.

« Reply #44 on: June 20, 2011, 13:29 »
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So, in other words.  I'm not missing anything other than a lot of time.  I've only been "really" trying to do this since Dec. of last year.  I've got a Canon T1i, 18-55, 75-300, and a 50mm, no flash (other than the built in one), a table top studio with 2 little lights, 1 tripod.  But if I can't sell some stock don't know how I'm going to be able to afford to buy anything else.

You need to learn what sells and what don't. A lot of reading and researching needs to be done, then a lot of trial and error if you are not too familiar with different camera techniques, but in the hand it always pay off. However you will not be able to move up the first year unless you spend a decent ammount of time dedicated to this each week. There is no magical solution to earning money ;p

« Reply #45 on: June 20, 2011, 13:59 »
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Quote
Very helpful and I really do appreciate the thoughts.  The siituation is that my career (that I'm currently in) is kind of winding down, probably won't be able to continure in this field much longer.  I'm approaching retirement age and amy looking to hopefully suppliment income with photography.  Not looking for get rich quick or anything close to that, I don't mind putting in the work if I know what work needs to be put in.  My problems stem from being basically clueless when it comes to the agencies and some of the phrases and terms that the "pros" throw around because they all understand them.  Could I take some classes, yeah probably but again, that's cost which will be taking from the little I have for retirement so I'm trying to learn by reading, and using tools like lynda.com and the like, plus what you folks are willing to share.

Hi - I'm in a similar position - finished full time employment last June and have been doing some consulting on a part time basis on the side. I  got into microstock after the "golden age" that Lisa mentioned (about 3.5 years for me), and I started with the Canon 40D and built up from there as I got more income. I learned a lot about photography (get a lot of magazines, and they are tax deductible), I learned a lot from this forum, and I made a lot of mistakes. However, with perseverance and time, you can build a reasonable side income. Nothing that you can use to replace full time employment (at least not in the US), but easily enough to cover all your equipment and a reasonable amount besides. It is hard work though, although if you take images of things you like, and enjoy the process, then it is very worthwhile. I find I am always on the look out now for that stock shot as I travel my own area, and, from time to time, travel further afield.

I know the group will expect this of me now, but you could always invest in a good eBook. Getting Started in Stock comes to mind, available from my web site!!

Good luck!

Steve

« Reply #46 on: June 20, 2011, 22:09 »
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I think it is pretty hard for someone starting from scratch to jump into micro with both feet.

I started out with a single canon 10D and nothing else.  I borrowed some lights for a couple shoots and made a home-made  reflector i used in other shoots.  I had a single cheap lens.

Then I did a couple weddings and bought a 'real' reflector, then got a part time job doing real estate photogrpahy and bought a cheap wide angle lens.  Eventually I upgraded that lens, bought another, upgraded my camera, bought a second body.  I made a big splurge once and bought my first strobe set, bought more lenses, a battery strobe, most recently a scrim jim from westcott.

So all that to say, I built up my equipment pretty slow (perhaps too slow) and just purchased what I could afford when I could afford it and when I needed it.  I have had a large monitor on the 'to buy' list for a long time, as well as a 85mm lens but have put off buying them because I have had other things the money went too.  I don't think taking out a loan to fund microstock shooting is a good idea.

There is a lot you can shoot with a reflector and camera, many pros use only this equipment for expensive wedding shoots and such.. so buy what you can afford and use your imagination for the rest.

Uncle Pete

  • Evidence please...

« Reply #47 on: June 20, 2011, 22:48 »
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FYI: I have invested over 13,000$ in equipment for our photography bussiness.
And 80% of the stuff I got was second hand!


I was looking at ebay stuff, but in a lot of cases it goes for more than the same piece new.  Thanks though that give me an idea of where it's going.


Best place I've found for used equipment at reasonable prices, with transparency for sellers, so you won't get scams or misrepresented junk is FM Forums. Last three used lenses I bought there and a used camera. Sold my 400mm f/2.8 in days. Had people lined up to buy it...

http://www.fredmiranda.com/forum/

Otherwise, tripod? What's a tripod? Banned most places I shoot and just last weekend, they made monopods restricted. Not in the pits, victory lane or anywhere pre-race. Some idiot must have done a three stooges routine and tripped someone, because I used mine for over ten years. no troubles. Tripods are virtually banned everywhere except photo holes and outside the fences. And I can't seem then as useful there anyway?

But like people who are talking table top shop, I work outdoors in crowds. Everyone has different needs for what they choose to shoot. Keep that in mind. Match the equipment as best you can to your major area of interest.

« Reply #48 on: June 21, 2011, 02:21 »
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I might have missed a comment you made, but thanks.  I'm shooting every day, but mostly first thing in the morning and then some wildlife stuff in the afternoon.  Sun's not setting till 8:30 or so my time so I'm not getting too much at night.

Wildlife doesnt (generally) sell well. If you are going to succeed in microstock, you can't just shoot what you like, you have to shoot what sells!

(Oh, I saw someone already pointed out that for you. But they are right; an hour spent on wildlife is an hour less spent on something that will sell)
« Last Edit: June 21, 2011, 02:28 by Perry »

« Reply #49 on: June 21, 2011, 04:05 »
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Perry: wildlife doesnt sell well on MICROSTOCK. It doesnt mean it doesnt sell well at all. Microstock is very very small, cliche and snapshit oriented market. ALWAYS keep that in mind! Any creative or unusual photo will be very likely rejected and ANY tight niche pics will NOT sell well on micro. Or better say tight niche pics could earn 100x more on more pricy markets...

PhotoDuneMicrostock Insider

 

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