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Author Topic: Portfolio critique requested, thank you :)  (Read 1121 times)

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« on: January 04, 2019, 09:36 »
Hello, and happy new year!

Well I have been uploading to microstock sites slowly for about 9 months now and have got up to 300/400 on most of the major sites. I'm quite pleased that I can definitely see an improvement in my work from the initial batches I submitted (in fact some I am pretty embarrassed to have submitted now - but a lot were accepted so there we are!!).

I'm not making many sales, although I know most of my work is not very stock-y so this is to be expected. Time to be brave and ask for critique! Some comments would be useful to help improvement, if anyone would be so kind? I'm not expecting to make my fortune, just a bit of pocket money for camera gear really :)


« Last Edit: January 04, 2019, 09:56 by sshoults »


  • Author of best selling "Get Started in Stock"

« Reply #1 on: January 04, 2019, 10:03 »
I think the most important question you should ask yourself is "what is the use case for this image?". Before you press the shutter ask - what story am I trying to tell, and then think about how someone (the buyer) will use this image to tell their own story.

Many of your images are just photos of things or places that are OK in themselves (many a little bland), but it is hard to think of many ways that they could be used to illustrate an article - let alone be used to promote some sort of product or service. Can you see them as the lead image on a company website? Why not? Think about those questions and you will make big strides.


« Reply #2 on: January 04, 2019, 10:20 »
Bland? Ouch! Well I did ask! Hahah.

Ok, thanks for the comments, that is useful. Largely I am shooting for myself though, I don't really have time to go out and shoot solely for stock - so it's a case of selecting from the shots I've taken, those that might be suitable/accepted for microstock. Seems I won't make much progress this way though!

Clearly I need to start challenging myself a bit more.

Thank you


  • Author of best selling "Get Started in Stock"

« Reply #3 on: January 04, 2019, 10:27 »
Sorry!  By all means shoot for yourself and your enjoyment but even when you are doing that, try to think about the story you could illustrate. You have some pictures of long grass in a London park - maybe there could be a story in the future (after Brexit when the country is really poor...) about how park maintenance is cut back in some major London parks - so how could you illustrate that? More focus on the long grass, unkempt look - that sort of thing. So you have moved from taking an artistic picture of the grass to one where you deliberately think of how the picture could be used and take some like that.



  • Author of best selling "Get Started in Stock"

« Reply #4 on: January 04, 2019, 10:28 »
And, of course, with the story in your mind, you need to describe and keyword it so that someone finds it to illustrate that story!


« Reply #5 on: January 04, 2019, 10:38 »
Interesting - thanks, I will try to look at it from a different point of view.

« Reply #6 on: January 04, 2019, 11:05 »
Interesting - thanks, I will try to look at it from a different point of view.
Steve will give you great advice! Your port is a bit like mine.. stuff I like rather than geared to selling. In the past that was OK but in the current environment its hard to earn like that

« Reply #7 on: January 04, 2019, 11:41 »
In addition to Steve's suggestions - figuring out what the image would be saying to a designer trying to put something together - think about the space in the image.

For stock, your image is often a part of something in the end, and if your image isn't usable in a design - cropped too tight is the most common problem - it won't be licensed. One example I noticed was your "Mind the Gap" image. You've cut off the letters on either side; a little bit of space either side would have made the image suitable for lots more uses.

You have a beer stein, vertical only and cropped tight. If you'd also had something as a horizontal with some out of focus stuff (not distracting, but suitably blurred background) I think it would be more usable as stock.

There are very few hard and fast rules, but horizontal images tend to work in many more cases than verticals, so trying to shoot both can be helpful. You have a Scottish fishing village with boats, vertical only. I'll bet there was also a great horizontal shot to be had there too.

Once you have the camera and the other gear, shooting a few extra shots when you're taking some for yourself costs you next to nothing but your time, so perhaps just expand your shots a bit with some stock uses in mind. One for you, one for stock, so to speak :)

Stefan Dahl

  • Formerly known as Uber Images

« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2019, 12:12 »
So the good thing is that it looks like you are always carrying a camera! That is a good starting point when the subject you want to sell is like it is in your portfolio.

The bad thing is, that there are many really really bad images in your portfolio, both in subject, framing and postproduction.

So - If you want to improve, then I think the first step is to stage your pictures way more. Stop with the random snapping away, and spend time planning a picture with commercial value. "Random" pictures takes weeks in the same spot to just happen ;)

When you shoot the stuff you do, then shoot it with more space. Your files are in generel way tight framed.

And of course you gotta ask yourself if this is a hobby, or if you want to approach it serious as a business. Two different animals :)

Keep grinding and you will get there.

Best luck :)



  • Author Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock & Blog

« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2019, 12:47 »
Agree with all the above.

I've managed to select one of your images that has some potential as a stock photo. Since nobody is identifiable and no logos/property, they rightly accepted it as commercial, which means that it can be used in a variety of subjects, such as:

- Editorial on train delays, over-congestion / rush hour
- Public Sector could use it within one of their reports about transport or even something sociology related
- Some brand can use it to put their logo about shoes, trousers, bags
- Train company to use it on an ad about how excellent their service is
- Etc, I could go on all day in that it's a quite versatile image and there are even some usages of some of my images that completely baffle me.

The concept is strong but the execution was weak since there's no motion blur and you're cutting peoples' limbs off which in both literal and photographic terms is not a good idea. Nevertheless, an easy enough shot to re-shoot and you can even set up your gorilla-pod with ND filter for a long exposure for more action.


« Last Edit: January 04, 2019, 12:52 by Brasilnut »

« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2019, 13:20 »
Thanks all for the very useful feedback.

Re: the tight cropping, that is definitely something I am trying to improve on, adding 'copy space' and flexibility. Having spent most of my photography life being trained to 'get closer' it's a tricky one to un-learn!

Is it worth taking down the really bad ones? Or does it not make much difference?


« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2019, 13:24 »
Re: the tight cropping, that is definitely something I am trying to improve on, adding 'copy space' and flexibility. Having spent most of my photography life being trained to 'get closer' it's a tricky one to un-learn!
Take and submit both tight-ish crops and files with copy space: different strokes!


  • Author of best selling "Get Started in Stock"

« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2019, 13:30 »
I never take down any photos - partly because it is work and partly because there is a small chance someone will buy it one day. As far as I know, no agencies penalize you for having poorly selling images in your collection.



  • Photography, travel & online games at cascoly.com

« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2019, 15:30 »
adding to other comments - you're reducing sales potential by close cropping -- eg, the wellies & tyre  - designers often use objects from several pix and wouldn't be able to use objects with pieces missing -- so again - take 2 - one close cropped, another pulled back slightly with complete objects

« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2019, 11:17 »
Thanks everyone, I've got plenty to work on!

I'll take one thing at a time I think, and begin with working on getting more 'space' into my shots. The idea of one with space and one close crop/detail is good - as well as 'one for me, one for stock'.

Thank you all for your help.

« Reply #15 on: January 05, 2019, 15:04 »
horizontal images tend to work in many more cases than verticals

They also display better on most of the sites.

« Reply #16 on: January 06, 2019, 10:23 »
Your images are too dull. You have to lean how to get them to pop up ...!

Enclosed just a quick example.  :)


« Reply #17 on: January 06, 2019, 11:24 »
horizontal images tend to work in many more cases than verticals

They also display better on most of the sites.
Square tends to display best, but there doesn't seem to be as much demand for square format.
Anyway, you can now take close up, space included, horizontal and vertical of many subjects.

« Reply #18 on: January 20, 2019, 15:23 »
Looked at your port. I'll tell ya what I said a few 100 Times to others out of the many 1000's of critiques I've given and answers Pulled from doing stock since 1968 and shooting 61 years and teaching for 10. "You need to start Making Photographs and Not Just Taking Pictures that anyone can do" . Stop with the verticals as said, at best... shoot Horizontal and If ya have to for some reason..... cover the subject closer with a vertical but Place it far away from the Horizontal. Like another page.. when You submit horizontal a Buyer can Make a vertical or any other format from It. submitting vertical leaves no room to do anything and you have closed off any Value whatsoever.. Backyard flowers will Not sell. Your Port is filled with Low usage Images. I saw nothing that was Unique. Heres another quote. "I know, without a doubt There are 50 Unique Images Not More than 75 ft from where your sitting Right Now" Your Job is to see them.

Commercial Photography Is certainly Not for everyone.Thank God....LOL. It takes another skill level to make Images with Value if making any Money is your goal.Getting accepted Nowdays is the easiest thing you can do...Sadly. selling is difficult, selling well is a artform.

My advice would be to delete as many as you can. especially all verticals....Then. take a month, Make a List of everything that Interests you Because thats what will help you Become Unique. Just walking around is not gonna get it done My friend. then......When you have a list I want you to Take another Month and search all those subjects and see where the BAR is set. And simply do as well and You might do a Lot Better or you may Find Out this isn't for you, which should make No difference for your enjoyment Of Taking Pictures. Making Money is another Game completely and it is a game trust me which very few know how to Play... And seriously requires a commercial Mindset. Stock is far down the List Of what I do to earn a Living. The changes have become another discussion altogether.

I would also Include people doing what people do called Lifestyle. That doesn't mean another silly Pic of 3 Office workers behind a computer that was done to death 14 years ago. people having Fun,Seniors,Kids whatever.People in any form has always been #1 and Probably always will be.

Im doing Micro since the beginning. I only Have 6900+ Images. why is because I have Just about every category. from food to Bugs,to landscape all Over the country,to Glamour to animals to Hard hitting emotions and scenarios Of Racism to depression to Joy and so on and so on. I shoot what turns me on  Because I've never met one person from a gallery Curator to a stock Employee or anyone else that knew what will be Popular or sell.!!!I probably never will. I know folks doing this with 50,000+ Images that can't sell Much and I also Know quite a few with 500 that do better that most here. My Music Copyrights,Extremely Old clients,Galleries,Set decorators and My agent are what I live on. stock Is simply going away from greed,Indifference and management decisions. I don't submit anywhere near as Much as I used to. other things to do and much more lucrative.

So...In conclusion Take the High road even If certain well Known sites don't anymore, Submit Only what you consider your best and try your best to make a difference. And When You learn something.....Share it. And good Luck.

« Reply #19 on: Yesterday at 10:10 »
All your images looked like to me as they are straight from the camera with no post processing or image adjustment. I think you need to improve your editing skills more. I mean, they are not bad but they could be much, much better.


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