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Author Topic: New to Selling Images and could use a bit of advice  (Read 2580 times)

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« on: April 23, 2017, 00:06 »
Hello, Im new to selling photos but not new to photography... so if you dont mind I would like to ask a couple of questions

Ive been looking over a lot of sites and have submitted a good photo or photos to get past the preliminary test phase and for everywhere I have tried I have passed...

Beyond that from what I've been able to gather so far, QC is an interesting case... Seems from the forums that none of them are very consistent in their QC, in fact one person I spoke to said that what will pass at Alamy for instance will fail adobe at times, and what passes at adobe will fail at alamy... and what fails some places will pass in the same place a month later with no editing to what you originally submitted...Which brings me to Question Number 1

1. Is there any good guide I should go by when submitting to the various locations?  Also if you get failed at lest say adobe stock... is it actually safe to submit it again later, edited or unedited... or would that be image spamming?  Basically where should I draw the line when an image gets failed... do I edit it, try to resubmit... etc  That is assuming of course that it is a decent picture :)

2. Also... Other than the exclusive sites, are there any that are better avoided?  I was thinking of going for shutter, 123rf, alamy, adobe, getty, and probably the other top/middle earners according to the list on the right side of this forum.

Next question for experienced people. 

3. How do you organize your image files and such... I have been using lightroom but keeping track of what is submitted where and earnings may get troublesome... I dont need exacts but just some tips so I get started on the right track from the start.

4. As for editing of files... From what Ive gathered, and I may be wrong, alamy does not mind creative removing background, changing backgrounds, going black and white etc.... whereas adobe stock from what they said to me when I asked this question was that they want NO editing other than to brighten things up or very minor changes... they claim they will fail any obvious edits such as black and white and such because that was up to the customer to do not me... I personally disagree with that idea in that if the customer whats a black and white photo that is what they will buy... not one that takes extra work on their part but alas I do not make the rules.... so which sites allow editing and which dont?  Its amazing how uninformative some of these FAQs are lol

Anyway I would appreciate any advice you can give me on those questions and any other tips that would be good for me to know going into this.  I love photography, I dont plan to get rich selling stock photos but I wouldn't mind a small income from my passion :)  I do a lot of nature walks and pictures of animals and landscapes and everything really so if I'll be doing it anyway I may as well try to get something from it :)

Oh, 1 last question for you guys on the actual photography part... Ive learned to set the ISO, shutter speed, and aperture for each location I find myself taking pictures... I was talking to a professional photographer the other day and he said for the most part he leaves the camera set to auto.  I have never done this and am curious if you guys have?  I always just assumed the camera would get the settings wrong... I may try to leave it in the cameras hands sometime but out of curiosity do you guys set your stuff manually or do you allow the camera the job?

I typically use a Canon EOS Rebel T4i  If I am taking wildlife pictures I usually use a 400mm lens But I have others as well depending on what mood Im in :)

Oh... and 1 last last question :)   As I said I usually use the above camera and I am guessing I already know the answer to this question but are the cheaper smaller cameras say 1-200 dollar sorta cameras good enough for any of the stock sites? 

I ask cause sometimes it just isn't practical to get my normal camera out and shooting at the drop of a hat so I was curious if I carried around a pocket size camera would they pass QC ... anywhere really... I saw on alamys faq about sensor size neeing to be over 1" but are they the general rule about contributing and if so are there any exceptions?

For instance for household family get together and such I use my Wifes camera normally which is a samsung wb35F  its pretty compact and actually gives decent pictures for what I use it for.... would that camera pass QC anywhere?  I would love to buy say a Fuji X100T for having a small camera that is good.. but honestly I dont have a spare grand to throw at a camera at the moment :)  So I ask about the camera that I have at hand lol  I also have a Nikon Cool Pix L20 that I somehow inherited but it is similar to the samsung.

Anyway thanks for any answers, tips, and advise anyone can provide.  It is appreciated :)

« Reply #1 on: April 23, 2017, 02:53 »
Hello !
The only advise I could give you is that the more profitable time will be the one you spend with the things you experiment yourself, including this forum...
I would be very happy to speak with a "professional photographer" who tells me he sets to auto... It would make my day...  ;D
« Last Edit: April 23, 2017, 02:58 by Oligo »

« Reply #2 on: April 23, 2017, 03:44 »
Yeah I have a feeling I'll do a lot of experimenting before all is said and done lol

And as for the auto settings, I'm glad I'm not the only one who found that odd... I mean just for aperture how would the camera know if I wanted just the subject in focus or if I wanted the background in focus as well...

But ISO I dunno, maybe the camera can tell? I never tried it so I honestly didn't know if I was doing something wrong for years lol  of course I dont change ISO TONS... mostly just aperture, shutter I mostly leave alone as well as most my pictures are done in similar light and without a tripod, but still none are set for automatic

« Reply #3 on: April 25, 2017, 11:35 »
Yeah I have a feeling I'll do a lot of experimenting before all is said and done lol

And as for the auto settings, I'm glad I'm not the only one who found that odd... I mean just for aperture how would the camera know if I wanted just the subject in focus or if I wanted the background in focus as well...

But ISO I dunno, maybe the camera can tell? I never tried it so I honestly didn't know if I was doing something wrong for years lol  of course I dont change ISO TONS... mostly just aperture, shutter I mostly leave alone as well as most my pictures are done in similar light and without a tripod, but still none are set for automatic
I tend to shoot in apeture priority as normally control of DoF is most important to me. If I'm struggling for light I usually change apeture and not often ISO...probably because my camera is not at the top level where noise is less of a problem...thats not in studio scenario for which I use manual. My partner is not a photographer and I mostly set fully automatic for her .....I reckon for 90% of the time it works well. (too well for my sensitive male ego sometimes ;-))

« Reply #4 on: April 25, 2017, 12:14 »
The settings depend on the situation and how much time you have.

Av mode is very common for professionals, but also Tv mode for wildlife where you need a certain shutter speed but the lighting conditions can change faster than you can change the settings. It's usually a matter of a second or less.

Mostly in controlled situations (studio/landscape/slow things) would full manual be the best way to go.

On my 5D with Magic Lantern I tend to use the ETTR mode a lot (expose to the right) as this usually optimizes image quality. It's kind of like the Av mode but uses the actual histograms for metering. Not ideal for situations where the light changes really fast as you need a calibration image. Ideal for day-to-night timelapes though.

« Reply #5 on: April 25, 2017, 12:35 »
full auto for 25 cent a pop seems like a good plan.


« Reply #6 on: April 25, 2017, 13:11 »
When shooting wildlife (my main subject), I usually use aperture priority, because like Paws99, depth of field is more important to me. I often have to crank up ISO (5DMk2), because light here, and in rainforests etc isn't great.
My reactions aren't up to working in full manual in fast moving situations. If yours are, no problem.

Bear in mind that wildlife is commonly supplied. It's almost certainly nowadays not worth posting less common species on micro (low supply, but lower demand with low prices); there was a time when iS (exclusive) was a fair compromise for that, but not nowadays with subs and worse. It's an uphill struggle there nowadays even to get the species names made searchable.
« Last Edit: April 25, 2017, 13:34 by ShadySue »

« Reply #7 on: April 25, 2017, 14:18 »
Regarding QC/inspection. You're right that it varies a bit from site to site - that's entirely reasonable as most have their own preferences for acceptance beyond technical adequacy. What's less delightful is that a site varies a lot from time to time and most don't have any sort of formal process for challenging a decision (which, if done right, can be a way for the agency to monitor the performance of their inspection process; that has been done in the past, but is gone from the microstock agencies now).

If you fail QC at Alamy you really need to go improve your technical camera or editing skills. They don't curate for content, just technical issues - in focus, decent level of noise, no wild editing that has degraded the image quality. You should expect 100% of your images to pass at Alamy - but while learning the ropes, upload small batches (5 or 10) as they'll fail a whole batch if one fails.

Shutterstock has in the past had decent inspection, but after lurching around a bit (there was a fail almost everything phase) and allowing contributors who can pass 1 of 10 on their initial submission, they now seem to accept virtually everything unless you don't have adequate releases.

Some sites have stricter similars policies than others - Dreamstime was nutso about this, but may have changed (I don't bother uploading there any more even though I still sell what's there).  Many sites used to be very strict about resubmission of a reject without making any changes (it could get you banned) but lots of people seem to do it and don't get banned, so I wouldn't recommend it. If you submit to 8 agencies and 7 accept an image, the problem is likely with the agency, not the image. If 5 of 8 reject an image, go figure out what's wrong with it and fix it.

I would stay away from Deposit Photos - do a search here to see the many controversies they've been involved with over the years.

As far as organizing and uploading; some people use tools to do that, others just a workflow. Lots of articles to read

I don't know any site that frowns on creative editing unless you're talking about editorial work, where you can't do it - clean the sensor spots, adjust tonal range and you're done. Most sites don't want you submitting multiple variations of the same shot, and with a few exceptions, encourage color over black and white.

Good luck

« Reply #8 on: April 26, 2017, 06:14 »
1. Varies from site to site. Shutterstock you can just reupload it immediately and get a different result. Some clearly check previous rejections against newly submitted content and will just auto reject the new upload. I suspect this is a combination of a bot automatically checking the image size, thumbnail or name but perhaps the moderators look at the most recent rejections too. In the case of Fotolia if an image is rejected (even if for the wrong reasons) reuploading it immediately never seems to work but if it's a couple months later it sometimes does. Best bet is to open a ticket about it as I've usually had them accepted when re-reviewed. iStock used to be a nightmare since contacting support was really the only way of getting a rejected image online (and they'd reject anything that looked even remotely similar in the thumbnail if submitted in one batch) but recently they just seem to be accepting everything without fail. If you are getting 'similar image' rejections then upload the images separately after the first lot have already been accepted.

2. Depositphotos I still submit to for some reason but the sales are literally like 1% of some of the bigger ones and with the constant FTP failures and site upload failures I don't know why I still bother. Dreamstime I personally gave up on because the image preview quality was dreadful and definitely hurting sales, support is awful, forum moderators are worse and you have to wait 6 months before removing your whole portfolio. Alamy is a total pain to submit to as you have to add totally unnecessary data that other sites don't use like splitting keywords into separate fields based on importance. They are different to the other sites on that list too as they are far more catered towards occasional big RM sales than frequent small RF sales so it could be years before you see any sales there with typical stock content. Probably best saved for really high quality content that is exclusive to them (no one is going to pay $200 for an image that is $2 elsewhere). Pond5 and Canstock had slightly worse submission systems than the other sites and I didn't see any sales after trying them for a couple months with a couple hundred images. I've heard that Pond5 really only sells well on footage.

I would prioritise starting with Shutterstock, Fotolia and iStock. 123 was seeing good sales but has dropped a lot recently for me but it is also very quick to submit to since you don't have to select categories or anything and they rarely ever seem to reject content so it is worth using. One time the site bugged out and duplicated the 200 images I had uploaded three times... they still accepted all of them regardless and left me to pick through the duplicates and remove them. Bigstock is simple enough too, maybe about 10% of Shutterstock earnings per month.

3. I use Xpiks to keyword and submit content to multiple sites so you don't need to try to remember where you've submitted files to and where you haven't. Just do it all at once. You can then rename the folder 'uploaded' or keep things in a folder called 'to upload' but generally if I've keyworded something I've also uploaded it so it isn't an issue. On most sites you can leave the content in the editor without submitting for at least a month before it gets deleted and some have no time limit so you can always upload it all now and then actually go and submit it a handful of images at a time over a couple weeks if you want. After adding the metadata in Xpiks drop the files into DeepMeta since iStock is awkward and doesn't use regular FTP programs and requires a lot of tedious box checking to 'disambiguate' keywords. I drop in a blank file or two with each batch to paste keywords to, strip them down to the ones common to all the images and then paste them into them. Saves some time re-checking the same keywords over and over for similar images.

4. I don't think editing is a problem anywhere unless you are uploading editorial content. You are almost always going to get a better image that will sell more with some adjustments to the RAW image rather than just going with a jpg right out of the camera. Things like not removing dust spots from the image can get it rejected too so I can't imagine any site saying no editing fullstop. What they don't want is the same image a hundred times with different filters applied or horribly over-sharpened images. I have heard complaints of some sites rejecting black and white versions but your best bet is probably just not to upload the B&W and the original colour version at the same time and not to upload a black and white version for absolutely everything - some images aren't going to benefit from it. If you upload the black and white versions a couple weeks or maybe a month later you might find they increase the sales on the older colour content too by directing people there from the related images.

That's a good rule of thumb in general. If you got 50 great photos of some animal or other all of which you think are different enough and could sell in their own right then it's not a great idea to just dump the whole batch online at the same time as most will just get buried in the results or won't get looked at because there are too many. Upload 10 a week over the course of a month and you're constantly keeping content in the new search results and getting more exposure.

I find auto rarely produces optimal results unless the lighting conditions are perfect. I like to take a shot on auto, check what settings the camera used for that image and then use that as a baseline and adjust from there. Auto has a nasty tendency of wacking the ISO up way higher than needed and giving grainy shots that could be avoided - at least on my camera.

I tried out a couple 100 range pocket sized cameras as my mother wanted something simple. The Sony Cybershot I think was the first one and that was awful, 20MP was clearly way too high for the small sensor. Unusable images in anything other than bright sunlight and even then poor. Got a Canon something or other instead, same sort of price, and that is better but very few of the images would be stock worthy compared to a DSLR. The image sensor is just too small. I think to get something decent you really need to shell out the same kind of money as you would on a DSLR base at least.

« Reply #9 on: April 26, 2017, 06:47 »
....Alamy is a total pain to submit to as you have to add totally unnecessary data that other sites don't use like splitting keywords into separate fields based on importance....

Just a note: Alamy submission process has recently changed and now it's really smoother than before.
Just upload and pass QC and the images are on sale, even if you can later add "supertags" to improve discoverability

« Reply #10 on: April 26, 2017, 10:03 »
QC varies hugely - I started out with several agencies to decide which I wanted to stay with, and there sometimes seemed to be no rhyme or reason to who would pass what. I used to use Shutterstock as my benchmark as they were the tightest at the time so if it passed them, it was good to go with the others. I've not had a problem anywhere with creative editing, as long as you make the effort to do it properly. A lot of big selling photos are very creatively done indeed !
If you are outside of the States, beware Fotolia's payment system. Because of the overseas territory I am in they refused to use Paypal to pay me, and they actually gave me $0.57 per credit instead of the $1.40 paid by the client. They haven't updated their  currency exchange for a very long time and refuse to do so, so I felt very cheated by that.
Wildlife is the main area for myself and my friends, and you would be surprised at how many photographers in that field shoot on auto all the time - if you are in a situation where you think you might miss the shots because you don't know your controls backwards then stick with the auto until you are 100% comfortable. I have found that the more dangerous, unpredictable or fast-moving the wildlife, the more the tendency toward auto. I stand to be corrected but in my experience, my friends that are horrified at the thought of shooting on auto are often wedding/portrait/landscape pros, and you will find that the wildlife guys can be a lot more forgiving. At the end of the day it is whatever works for you.
I haven't got a high-tech organisation system, my backups are on 3 different hard drives so I just keep them filed by subject matter and if you aren't submitting hundreds of files at a time it's easy enough to remember what has gone where. For earnings I just check on the sites every couple of weeks - an advantage of not using too many agencies !

« Reply #11 on: April 26, 2017, 13:50 »
Already stated by others but, I wouldn't think that any "professionals" trust auto (or maybe it's not lack of trust but lack of control) but, sometimes when it's too bright out to see the * screen I'll toss it in one of the priority modes and hope for the best. The only advice I can give is just to have fun doing what you enjoy, there's no use having too much fuss for a couple quarters a day. Good luck man!


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