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Author Topic: Cost of Photography  (Read 14019 times)

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« on: May 26, 2011, 12:38 »
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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?
 
 
 
 


« Reply #1 on: May 26, 2011, 12:46 »
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It is not big deal, really. In my experience - working for a few agencies shooting fashion on mannequins and accessories (boring stuff) - after a month I can afford a basic pro camera with macro lens.

« Reply #2 on: May 26, 2011, 12:53 »
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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?
 

Well, you asked! Here is how: you start in 2005 with a Canon Powershot G2 and eventually (in a year or so) earn enough money to buy Nikon D200 with a 18-200 mm lens, then you don't like the quality of images with that lens and you sell it and you buy (in a year or so) a 17-55 mm one, 105 mm macro and 70-200mm one, then your D200 starts showing burnt out pixes from abuse and you sell it and get D300, and meanwhile you're replacing your homemade cardboard-and-foil reflectors with nice Lastolite ones and buying Nikon flashguns with softboxes for them, and then you realize you need a bigger resolution camera and you fork out on D3X and then you realize you don't have a proper space to shoot and you buy a loft just to use for your studio.... Easy!  ;D

« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2011, 12:59 »
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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.

« Reply #4 on: May 26, 2011, 13:02 »
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Camera 1000+
Any lens 500+ (with a coupld of exceptions)
A stupid Flash 400+
Tripod 200+
Monopod 100+

First camera: D60 + 18-55 (300EUR)
Lens: 18-200 Sigma (200EUR)
Tripod: 30EUR
Monopod: never had one!

regarding strobe lighting I only got them one year and half later, I had some continuous lights for 100EUR

Second camera: D90 (600EUR - 250EUR (D60 sold) = 350EUR)
Lens: left the Sigma and got a mint 18-135 from ebay (130EUR) and new 50mm (100EUR)
Tripod: still the old "video"
Strobes: around 1100EUR
« Last Edit: May 26, 2011, 13:13 by luissantos84 »

« Reply #5 on: May 26, 2011, 13:17 »
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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.

That's far from ideal but you do already have enough gear to make a lot of money from stock photos. What's harder to get than the gear is the technical skill to use it to its best advantage and the ideas that pay off.

You'll struggle to make money if you do table-top work shooting subjects that everybody has already done and not being up to the standard of the best of your competitors.

« Reply #6 on: May 26, 2011, 13:24 »
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Also for those of us that started 5 or 6 years ago when the competition wasn't so fierce it was pretty easy. Nowadays it is a lot more difficult to get established enough to make a lot of money.

« Reply #7 on: May 26, 2011, 13:27 »
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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? 

To get started at what?  Photography as a hobby?  If you're looking to enter the business of microstock, don't forget things like tax advisors, business insurance, computers, software, etc. etc.  etc.  So, yes, it does take a time and money investment.

« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2011, 13:28 »
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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.

That's far from ideal but you do already have enough gear to make a lot of money from stock photos. What's harder to get than the gear is the technical skill to use it to its best advantage and the ideas that pay off.

You'll struggle to make money if you do table-top work shooting subjects that everybody has already done and not being up to the standard of the best of your competitors.


So bascially, stick with what I have for now and slowly pick up gear going forward?

« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2011, 13:31 »
0
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? 

To get started at what?  Photography as a hobby?  If you're looking to enter the business of microstock, don't forget things like tax advisors, business insurance, computers, software, etc. etc.  etc.  So, yes, it does take a time and money investment.

I wasn't, I was really just talking about the equipment costs.  Seems like you need most of the equipment in order to produce anything that you could sell as microstock and every new piece of equipment is a stinking fortune.

« Reply #10 on: May 26, 2011, 13:41 »
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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.

That's far from ideal but you do already have enough gear to make a lot of money from stock photos. What's harder to get than the gear is the technical skill to use it to its best advantage and the ideas that pay off.

You'll struggle to make money if you do table-top work shooting subjects that everybody has already done and not being up to the standard of the best of your competitors.


So bascially, stick with what I have for now and slowly pick up gear going forward?

Yes. Better gear would make things easier for you but you need to at least prove to yourself that you can make microstock work for you before you invest more. Once you get a better idea of what the potential is, you can decide where to put your cash (a basic lighting kit might be the best next step, as long as you are shooting RAW and correcting for CA using the Canon software).

A top photographer would produce a mountain of good selling shots with what you've got if he had to. The difference is that he would know the business and have a great grasp of lighting and composition. Those are the most important things.

I started to upgrade once I saw money flowing in but before I had made enough to cover what I had already bought. It does involve expense but it is a very modest investment for starting up your own business.

However, I might never have got anywhere if I had started now, it is a lot harder and you have to be working to a pretty professional standard just to get acceptances at the sites which matter (which are the top tier ones in the sidebar on the right).

« Reply #11 on: May 26, 2011, 13:49 »
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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!

« Reply #12 on: May 26, 2011, 13:51 »
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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.

« Reply #13 on: May 26, 2011, 13:58 »
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now Yuri will enter and will say I have spent 300k EUR

seriously I see you havent noticed my comment (actually yesterday too) but like I have said and some on this topic you need to shoot more and get better and get pictures approved, your gear is more than enough

« Reply #14 on: May 26, 2011, 14:03 »
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I use Yongnuo flashes (55-75$ a piece) and they work remarkably well for me. I get them off ebay. Softboxes are around 100$ a piece (80x80cm versions) and umbrellas around 12$.

All that was bought with my stock income and I might switch to a new camera, but the 5d mk2 is still expensive for my taste. :)

lisafx

« Reply #15 on: May 26, 2011, 14:04 »
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It really depends on whether you are looking at this as a hobby to have some fun with and maybe sell a couple of pictures, or as a full on business.  

For a hobby, your equipment is enough.  Work on learning to use it the best you can.  As your skills grow, you will slowly add equipment that you need to take it to the next level.

If you are viewing this as a business and expect to see a substantial return in a short time, then you need to spend the big bucks to get your gear up to what the competition is using.  Even then, if your skills are not enough, you will have trouble making it, and that money will have been wasted.  

My suggestion is take it slow and work on improving your lighting and composition skills with what you have available.  

« Reply #16 on: May 26, 2011, 14:06 »
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now Yuri will enter and will say I have spent 300k EUR

seriously I see you havent noticed my comment (actually yesterday too) but like I have said and some on this topic you need to shoot more and get better and get pictures approved, your gear is more than enough

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.

helix7

« Reply #17 on: May 26, 2011, 14:19 »
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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'm a hobbyist photographer, so take this advice lightly. :)

I think you could actually spend less and still be just as well-equipped for microstock work. If your T1i cost a grand, you got ripped off. A lot of folks like to pair the T1i or T2i with the 50mm 1.8 lens and it performs exceptionally well, and costs just $99. You can cover the cost of that by selling the kit lens that came with your camera. I just ebayed my T2i kit lens for $125. You could get away with a cheaper lighting kit. For stock of course some good off-camera flash and lighting is ideal, but it's not an absolute requirement. I use a $12 tripod. Again, certainly not ideal but it works well enough. Do you really need a monopod? I'm just asking, I have no idea if a monopod would be considered "essential" equipment.

You can do a lot with inexpensive equipment. I think maybe you're looking at unnecessarily expensive stuff that would be nice to have and maybe very helpful for shooting stock images, but it's not required.

That said, I'd also consider getting the idea out of your head that you need to make money to buy new gear. If you are serious about turning this into a business, you may have to treat it like one and invest in the business before it's turning a profit. And if the sort of things you want to shoot can't be done with the gear you have, you may need to find another way to fund your business.

« Reply #18 on: May 26, 2011, 15:01 »
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You forgot to list Photoshop.  What's it running at these days, $700 maybe?

« Reply #19 on: May 26, 2011, 15:03 »
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Sorry probably should have been a little more specific.

No I paid 639 US for my T1i

The figures I was throwing out were ballparks, intended to be thought provoking not actual figures.

I have a cheap tripod as well and the table top studio was 50 US so again cheap.  The concern I'm having stems from critiques of my photos, using natural light being too dark, need fill, can't do that with built in flash need external light, etc, etc, etc. And a 430ex for my Canon is 400+ new, might get one on ebay for 350 or so, or is that not the cheapest way to go.  As I say, I hate the things I don't know.

I bought a Domino's Pizza franchise several years ago, and it was the things I didn't know that bankrupted me, I don't want to repeat that mistake again.  I have a full time job, but I'm not getting any younger and would really like to turn this into a real business but I'm not sure how I can afford the necessary equipment.  That's the point of this whole thread.  I make a pretty good living and I can't afford all of this equipment so I'm not sure how others can.  Are business loans involved, family trusts...

Some advise like, you don't really need that, but you can't live without this, but you don't have to buy and expense one you can buy this one really cheap to get you by till you can afford the good one... That kind of thing.

Sorry this is so long.

« Reply #20 on: May 26, 2011, 15:04 »
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You forgot to list Photoshop.  What's it running at these days, $700 maybe?

Yeah, I've got that.

« Reply #21 on: May 26, 2011, 15:06 »
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I bought a Domino's Pizza franchise several years ago, and it was the things I didn't know that bankrupted me, I don't want to repeat that mistake again.

Off topic, but isn't buying a franchise supposed to set you up with everything you need to be successful at it?  Locations, instructions, menus, etc.?

« Reply #22 on: May 26, 2011, 15:09 »
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I bought a Domino's Pizza franchise several years ago, and it was the things I didn't know that bankrupted me, I don't want to repeat that mistake again.

Off topic, but isn't buying a franchise supposed to set you up with everything you need to be successful at it?  Locations, instructions, menus, etc.?

Oh, now that's funny.  I was told after the fact that the home office looks at every new group of franchisees as "the next group of bankruptsys"  Yes, in theory that's true.  But it's the "clear the parking lot of snow yourself, cause a service is too expensive", "Idealy you need 2 insiders and 1 driver, for a day shift, but you can do it with 1 inside and 1 driver".  etc. etc. etc.

ShadySue

« Reply #23 on: May 26, 2011, 15:09 »
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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?
 

I hardly ever use my flashes, tripod or monopod, so basically you could start - and continue for years - with a camera and lens. A better lens has IS, so less use for the tripod. Of course the real, rather than 'perceived' need for the tripod depends what you're shooting. I obviously have to use it for still life type shots, but I do very few of these. IME, subject movement is much more of a problem than camera movement. YMMV.

lisafx

« Reply #24 on: May 26, 2011, 15:25 »
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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 FT :(
Anyway to turn this feature off?  It annoys the daylights out of me!
« Last Edit: May 26, 2011, 15:29 by lisafx »

« 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

  • On the Wrong Side of the Business
« 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 »
0


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 »
0


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 »
0


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 »
0
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 »

« Reply #43 on: May 29, 2011, 12:31 »
0
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 »
0
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

steheap

  • Author of best selling "Get Started in Stock"

« Reply #45 on: June 20, 2011, 13:59 »
0
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 »
0
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.

RacePhoto

« Reply #47 on: June 20, 2011, 22:48 »
0
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 »
0
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 »
0
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...

michealo

« Reply #50 on: June 21, 2011, 04:37 »
0
With the high cost of equipment you are probably better off investing in the shares of companies like Nikon and Canon and reinvesting the dividends, rather than starting out in microstock

« Reply #51 on: June 21, 2011, 05:41 »
0
Photo gear has never been cheaper than now.

Shank_ali

    This user is banned.
« Reply #52 on: June 27, 2011, 13:55 »
0
Just a quick comment about a reflector/diffuser.I dont own one yet!
My first expierance using this piece of kit was on Brighton beach shooting a family during an Istockphoto Lypse.I was composing a shot of a family and i had Carol Gomez(fellow istock contributor) diffusing the sunlight up to my right.I was just going to take a shot and Andrew Johnson(fellow istock contributor) positioned the reflector.I was looking through the viewfinder when the sunlight reflected up upon the family.It was certainly a WOW moment and realised then how an inexpensive piece of kit can transform a portrait.
The cost of photography to myself is minimul...My upgrade of kit,i'm on my 4th DSLR in 3 years,is payed for by the money earned from shooting microstock.

« Reply #53 on: June 27, 2011, 18:11 »
0
Photo gear has never been cheaper than now.
I don't know about that. In 2004 a Canon EOS 1v top-of-the-range pro film camera cost about $1,000. That's a lot less than an EOS 1DS MkIII. The price of the lenses seems to have gone up since then as new bells and whistles are added.

ShadySue

« Reply #54 on: June 27, 2011, 18:41 »
0
Just a quick comment about a reflector/diffuser.I dont own one yet!
My first expierance using this piece of kit was on Brighton beach shooting a family during an Istockphoto Lypse.I was composing a shot of a family and i had Carol Gomez(fellow istock contributor) diffusing the sunlight up to my right.I was just going to take a shot and Andrew Johnson(fellow istock contributor) positioned the reflector.I was looking through the viewfinder when the sunlight reflected up upon the family.It was certainly a WOW moment and realised then how an inexpensive piece of kit can transform a portrait.
I've got an inexpensive diffuser and a couple of reflectors, it's the assistants to hold them which I can't afford!

microstockphoto.co.uk

« Reply #55 on: June 28, 2011, 00:37 »
0
First camera: Olympus E510 on ebay, 300
Lenses: the start kit (not so sharp, but free) then bought better ones with first earnings
Flash: never used, till I bought strobo lights
Monopod: there are (wobbling) tripods for 20, or even better walls, benches, tables, etc... for free
---------------------------
TOTAL initial cost: 300

Ed

« Reply #56 on: July 12, 2011, 10:03 »
0
Just re-registered in the forum after about a 3 year absence.....had to respond to this thread....

Here's my thoughts....

I started in October 2005.  I went out and bought a TON of equipment - a lot of it I didn't need.  I submitted to a lot of microstock agencies and I dabbled into the world of traditional stock.  I made some money, I lost some money.  In April 2008, my step-father passed away and I sold about $30,000 US in equipment for about $12,000 so I could help my Mom pay the bills.  She needed the money quick and it was all I could do to help.

At that time, I had three bodies - a 30D, a 40D, a 1Ds MK II, Quantum Q-Flash, three 580-EX, lots of L glass, etc., etc., etc.

About a month ago, I started uploading old images again and I started shooting again.  Photography is something I HAVE to do - it's a great outlet for me and it's a calling.

Here's what I've learned from my experience....

1) Microstock is not the only market for images - find your market.  If you like to shoot events, find an organization near you that will give you access to shoot, then market prints and small sized electronic images (so they can post them on Facebook) to the participants.  Image quality doesn't have to be exceptional.  If the events are newsworthy, then find an agency that will market those same images as editorial.  If you like to shoot wildlife, then spend a year shooting, put together a 200 image portfolio, and apply to Animals! Animals! or any other stock library that specializes in wildlife.

If you want to shoot architecture, then get a Sigma 8-16 lens and get friendly with your local real estate agents.  They'll only pay you $50 - $75 for their cheaper listings but you can market the images on their "staged listings" as stock after they pay you to take the pictures.  If you have a friend in real estate, he or she may even allow you access to homes so you can build your portfolio and get practice.

2) Equipment can be expensive, but it can also be relatively cheap.  One thing I learned the first time around is I prefer fast glass - I had to buy the slow glass first to learn this though.  The first time, I had a 17-40, a 24-105, a 100-400, a 70-200, a 16-35, a 100mm macro, etc., etc.  Consider renting equipment before you buy to learn what you like.  One of my favorite lenses is a first generation 50mm f/1.8 that I picked up on eBay - Adorama had the newer version in their used area last week for $65.

I was shooting a rodeo at an indoor arena over the weekend.  The lighting sucked.  A friend was with me and we had all access press passes.  The friend was cussing up a storm on Saturday because the lighting was so bad, we couldn't get a good shot of the running horses.  She was shooting with a 4 year old Canon Rebel and she was blaming the camera because she wants a 7D and I was shooting with a 7D.  When I told her to change focus settings from AI Servo to One Shot, and then I handed her the faster lens (canon 50mm f/1.8 ) she started seeing better results.  It's not the price of the euipment - it's learning how to use it for the situation at hand.

3) You don't need a carbon fiber tripod or a 430ex for your camera.  You can get a cheap (in price) set of Bogen 3001 or 3021 tripod legs used for about $50 and a good tripod head for about the same.  You don't need to spend $200 on a tripod.  Heck, you can get an aluminum tripod from Target or Walmart for about $40 with head to get you started.

Instead of a 430ex, why not start with a Vivitar 285HV?  Amazon sells them for $90 and it's a great flash - recommended by photography schools everywhere.  It's manual (doesn't have TTL) but once you learn how to use flash, you can upgrade to a 430ex and cables or add a pocket wizard so that you can use the Vivitar for a second flash (fired remotely).  With a single flash unit - you can shoot outdoor portraits in full sunlight without a problem.

You can get a Vivitar 285HV for $90, a "strobist" light stand and umbrella kit for $42, and a required PC cord to your camera for about $8 and you've got a terrific flash setup for $140.

http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00004TVSP
http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B004HR0M4Q

That's $260 less than your estimate for a "stupid flash" - for that amount, you could have a two flash setup.

There are a lot of folks that started with nothing - and coming back after a few years, I think the comments about "it was easier in 2005" are unwarranted - mostly because back in 2005 people were saying the same thing about folks like Webking or LisaFX or anyone else who put their best foot forward and busted their butt to develop their skills and learn the business - learn the market.

Some things to keep in mind......

AndresR started with a digital rebel and Photoshop
PhotoEuphoria started by saving money for a cheap camera and shooting people using her closet as a studio

Heck, there used to be a guy on this forum THESUPE187 or something similar that started with illustrations and learned as he went along.

The bottom line is you need to learn the craft by doing it.  Join a local camera club and go out on their outings and learn from seminars at the club.  Nobody here can tell you how to be successful because everyone's success is simply based on hard work and a passion to do this.

P.S. - you also need to ignore a lot of what you read on forums.  Everything from the folks at the finance sites like Rich Dad or Frugal Dad or whatever touting you can get rich quick by selling photos to the people on photography forums whining about this or that - get out and shoot, learn to use your camera, and find what works best for YOU.  The only doors that are going to open for you in this business are the doors that you take the time to open - don't be afraid to knock on those doors.

Ed

« Reply #57 on: July 12, 2011, 10:06 »
0
Oh yeah - forgot to mention...those that think a monopod can't be useful, here's a video you can watch (that may save you money on a lightstand)

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=szMmeOiz1Bg[/youtube]

tab62

« Reply #58 on: July 12, 2011, 12:17 »
0
Hi Webbing,

You and I started the same time and you are asking some very similar questions that I ask as well.

For your lighting check this out

http://www.mpex.com/browse.cfm/4,14648.html


very affordable and so easy to use. Get the V4 triggers as well with these strobes. I also have the Canon T2i camera with 17-55mm and 28-135mm lens. I like the 28-135 for most of my stock shots. The 17-55 lens is good for landscapes which I am starting to do. Also do you have any family or friends that are students? If so, you can get Photoshop CS5 (Full Version) for less than $200. Keep those costs down. 

Good luck and just enjoy shooting with small expectations - you will be happy in the long run...

Tom


 

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