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Author Topic: Has Microstock made you a better photographer?  (Read 16213 times)

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« on: May 01, 2009, 12:19 »
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Many claim that shooting for mirco has made them better photographers.

This may well be true for many, even though I feel that one should not even attempt to submit if one feels theirs skills are sub par.

I came from the old school days of film. I was working by my fathers side in a darkroom at the age of 5 and had my own darkroom by the time I was 12.

I had learned the rule of thirds, the inverse square law, proper metering, hyperfocal distance, reciprocity failure, relationships between depth of field & f-stop/focal length, push & pull processing, dodging and burning etc., long before many of the people running microstock sites were even born.

No, Im not 110 years old now.

So, has micro made me a better photographer?

Well yes, IF being a better photoshopper counts as being a better photographer. What I have learned is to be hyper critical of every file @ the 100% pixel level. I have leaned that the grain we put up with and even sometimes emphasized from the film days is a major no-no. I have learned not too push a file to extremes that induce artifacts even for the purpose of artistic expression.

What is your conclusion?
Has becoming a microstocker indeed made you a better photographer?




« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2009, 12:33 »
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Well yes, IF being a better photoshopper counts as being a better photographer. What I have learned is to be hyper critical of every file @ the 100% pixel level. I have leaned that the grain we put up with and even sometimes emphasized from the film days is a major no-no. I have learned not too push a file to extremes that induce artifacts even for the purpose of artistic expression.

I could not agree more with this paragraph. I am still Photoshop newbie so I hope Lightroom will evolve to provide more editing aids so I do not have to become a graphics designer in order to sell on microstock.

WarrenPrice

« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2009, 12:38 »
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I'm learning a different way to approach "objects."  I guess that makes me better?  Or, maybe just more approaches to crappy pictures?   ;D

« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2009, 12:42 »
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I think it is

« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2009, 12:46 »
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Microstock has made me a much better photographer, no doubt!

Know more about Photoshop than I do about photography (no formal training). It would be a good idea for me to take some night classes at the university to learn more about photography basics or at least buy a good book. There are also a couple of photography clubs in my area that could be useful and fun.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2009, 12:49 by epantha »

« Reply #5 on: May 01, 2009, 12:49 »
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Definitely true. It also makes me want to learn even more.

batman

« Reply #6 on: May 01, 2009, 13:34 »
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Definitely, I wouldn't have gone this far with Photoshop without microstock.
But then again, I am now looking at CA where once there weren't any  ;D
It's a double-edged sword !

« Reply #7 on: May 01, 2009, 16:17 »
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I think I was better before I found microstock.  Quite often now I am thinking about how much a photo will make, instead of just trying to take the best photo I can.  Sometimes I don't take a photo of a subject because I think it wont make money.  That is really annoying and I am trying to get out of that habit.

« Reply #8 on: May 01, 2009, 16:53 »
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Before microstock I was a serious amateur - camera club member - shooting film. Went digital, joined an online digital camera club (PassionForPixels) and read an interview with hidesy by Perrush, and joined istock. Shooting for stock has forced me to pay more attention to the technicalities, to take more effort over correct exposure and composition (yes those shadows really do detract from the image), to try new genres and to invest in better equipment. I used to do a lot of walk-around photography, record shots mostly, and now I'm much more conscious and creative with my image-making. I even joined the istock Steel Cage community to stimulate my creativity, as creative artistry is one of my weaknesses. So in almost every respect being involved in microstock has encouraged me to improve as a photographer and as an artist.

ETA: And as for Photoshop...well, I've won 5 battles in the cage.
« Last Edit: May 01, 2009, 16:55 by averil »

« Reply #9 on: May 01, 2009, 17:07 »
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I am a better photograph than I was back in the film era.  But I'm not sure if it is because of stock photo or because of the digital cameras I bought to do stock...

As we all know, digital photography gives you the possibility to see instant results and this is what made me better.

On the other hand, as SharpShot said, I tend to take only stock style photos, leaving behind the artistic side of photography...  Do you remember when noise was called grain and when we worked hard to make that cool grainy black and white shots?

Claude

« Reply #10 on: May 01, 2009, 17:29 »
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Yes Claude, I do remember grain.

As far as instant feedback goes... Don't forget Polaroid!
When shooting super expensive sheets of view camera film (up to 8x10 inches) we always shot a Polaroid first to check things out.

batman

« Reply #11 on: May 01, 2009, 17:36 »
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I am a better photograph than I was back in the film era.  But I'm not sure if it is because of stock photo or because of the digital cameras I bought to do stock...

As we all know, digital photography gives you the possibility to see instant results and this is what made me better.

On the other hand, as SharpShot said, I tend to take only stock style photos, leaving behind the artistic side of photography...  Do you remember when noise was called grain and when we worked hard to make that cool grainy black and white shots?

Claude

Yes, yes Claude, so agree. How we would also choose between Kodachrome 25 and Ektachrome 400 for the grain, to suit the impression of the image. Also the choice between Fujichrome and Agfa
to get that green blue versus the reds. A lot of variety and thinking of tonal colour to compliment the image. Whereas in microstock it's all neutral or else wham, rejection.
Sharpshot, I think it's a pity that you think microstock 100%. I just separate myself between assignments and micro. And of course, shooting for myself on weekends or travel, not even thinking about money. But then again, I may be in a different situation in that I don't live with microstock earning, and probably won't want to. Not unless it gives me that Lambo, lol.

Good insights both of you guys Claude and Sharpshot. And of course, Claude, on film we don't have to worry about painting over the sky. Kodachrome 25 just brings it out gorgeous or 4by5 slide , ah, glorious. BUt it cost us an arm and a leg just to do test shots , until Polaroid came, remember ?
Nostalgia.

batman

« Reply #12 on: May 01, 2009, 17:40 »
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ha ha nosaya, my response crossed yours and we both ended with remembering Polaroid, what a coincidence, or are we just thinking one mind, lol.
And thanks to Ansel Adams who was the one who worked at Polaroid before he became the great Ansel that everyone adored.

lisafx

« Reply #13 on: May 01, 2009, 17:41 »
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Absolutely!

I am much better able to produce technically good images.  If you can meet the microstock standards for noise and focus you are way ahead of what photojournalistic or event photography requires.  Also, I have learned way more about lighting and working with models.  

And of course there is the much better gear it has helped finance :D

tan510jomast

« Reply #14 on: May 02, 2009, 19:06 »
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no, i already knew how to use the camera (all formats 35mm-8x10 view) since i was 15 after working in a commercial studio as an apprentice photographer assistant and retoucher, with one of the top photographers in the capital.

but i am better at emptying 5 pints of Guinness in 15 minutes after meeting Atilla  ;D

« Reply #15 on: May 02, 2009, 21:19 »
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It helped me to produce images which are better technically, and learn how to avoid pretty mundane (and now obvious) errors. It made me look critically at technical aspects of an image, which I didn't even think about before. So - yes, in that sense it helped.

But did it make me a better photographer ? Define "better photographer" first. If we assume that photography is (still) an art for the large part - then not. But, as with everything else, one needs to be proficient with technical aspects of the job before attempting to excel. Overall, no regrets.

« Reply #16 on: May 02, 2009, 23:41 »
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It helped me to produce images which are better technically, and learn how to avoid pretty mundane (and now obvious) errors. It made me look critically at technical aspects of an image, which I didn't even think about before. So - yes, in that sense it helped.

But did it make me a better photographer ? Define "better photographer" first. If we assume that photography is (still) an art for the large part - then not. But, as with everything else, one needs to be proficient with technical aspects of the job before attempting to excel. Overall, no regrets.

Im totally agreeing with this statement

« Reply #17 on: May 04, 2009, 03:03 »
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I think I was better before I found microstock.  Quite often now I am thinking about how much a photo will make, instead of just trying to take the best photo I can.  Sometimes I don't take a photo of a subject because I think it wont make money.  That is really annoying and I am trying to get out of that habit.

Agreed.

I used to enjoy just taking pictures and posting them on photo.net for S&G's.  Now before I ever push the shutter I always think will this photo get rejected, does this convey a necessary commercial purpose, what about CA, what about noise?  I was actually more liberal taking pictures with film than I am now with digital...

« Reply #18 on: May 04, 2009, 05:30 »
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In some ways yes it has, I have learnt a lot more about lighting composition etc. In other ways no, I used to enjoy taking "pretty snapshots" and selling them as greeting cards....then I learnt about viewing at 100% and in some ways to me "ruined" shots that I was happy with and had sold well as cards, and made a great print.

I have come to terms with the distinction between the two types of pics that I now take.

« Reply #19 on: May 04, 2009, 06:30 »
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Technically I'm much better at every aspect although in part that is simply due to practise as I now take many times more photos. Most importantly I can generally see issues before I've clicked the shutter rather than being disappointed and puzzled only later when I see the results. I've also tackled far more subjects too.

The bad news is I hardly ever take pictures just for the joy of it as I've become almost 100% oriented around the stock potential. The landscapes that I used to do took a lot of time and travel costs but of course are unlikely to sell much __ so now I rarely bother. When I'm on vacation I tend to take relatively few images as I can't be bothered to lug a heavy pro-DSLR & lenses around (it's too much like work) and I hate the results from P&S cameras. I bought the G10 recently but think I'll probably sell it at a loss on eBay as I don't like using it.

My attitude has completely changed towards my work too. The 'value' of an image now is determined by the market, even in my own eyes, whereas once it was the aesthetic quality. I'd much rather take an image that will generate a few $100's than one that I can hang on the wall. I earn 100% of my earnings through my camera nowadays so I suppose it is not that surprising that my attitude has changed. I still love doing photography but maybe in a different way.

batman

« Reply #20 on: May 04, 2009, 07:50 »
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ah, the things we prostitute ourselves for 30cents. 
an art student squeegeeing windshields once laughed being told about microstock, and said she makes 25 cents per car , as her boyfriend  a busker on stilts playing his flute at the underground told me he makes over 200 dollars a day just being there once a week.

i am sure we could all contribute to a best selling paperback entitled, "how i blinded my artistic soul for 30 cents"   ;D

I think I was better before I found microstock.  Quite often now I am thinking about how much a photo will make, instead of just trying to take the best photo I can.  Sometimes I don't take a photo of a subject because I think it wont make money.  That is really annoying and I am trying to get out of that habit.

Agreed.

I used to enjoy just taking pictures and posting them on photo.net for S&G's.  Now before I ever push the shutter I always think will this photo get rejected, does this convey a necessary commercial purpose, what about CA, what about noise?  I was actually more liberal taking pictures with film than I am now with digital...

graficallyminded

« Reply #21 on: May 04, 2009, 08:08 »
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Heck yes.  If you keep shooting for years and you don't get better, you're doing something wrong.  Some shooters just get into a comfort zone.  Never try anything new or anything they're not used to.  Practice makes perfect, but in photography or even design none of us will ever achieve that "perfection" that we're trying for.  I think I am my own worst critic.   

« Reply #22 on: May 04, 2009, 12:12 »
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Has becoming a microstocker indeed made you a better photographer?
Definitely yes. I can only second what Lisafx has said:
Absolutely!

I am much better able to produce technically good images.  If you can meet the microstock standards for noise and focus you are way ahead of what photojournalistic or event photography requires.  Also, I have learned way more about lighting and working with models. 

And of course there is the much better gear it has helped finance :D

« Reply #23 on: May 04, 2009, 12:28 »
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Better in all possible ways.   Not only shooting more, Im reading more and Ps more and better.   The bad thing is I hunt noise and artifacts everywhere ;)  Go to Mp for example, were lots of traditional photographers stay and vote on each others noisy ( but good artistically) images.   I have to tie my hands there. 

« Reply #24 on: May 04, 2009, 17:52 »
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I don't think I am a better photographer, but I do know something completely different than I used to.  So I would see it has widened my photographic abilities.

Microstock obsession about perfect noise/CA/focus/artifacting is not necessarily a good thing.  I still think it is a bit insane.   :D


 

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