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Author Topic: Can I do microstock? Should I?  (Read 12085 times)

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« on: April 06, 2008, 09:55 »
Hi everyone.

I'm an amateur photographer, still exploring several subjects of photography.
Ive been looking into microstock photography to offset some of the expenditures of my hobbie. I'll make it clear: I'm not thinking of making a living with photography.
I presently have a Panasonic FZ18 and a collection of roughly 4000 pictures so far.
I've been looking into some microstock sites and the requirements from contributors. It seems that the technical demands are very high.
Very huge files, requiring a lot of pp.

I don't do photographs of people (aside from friends/vacations) or food.
So... I'm inexperienced, have a not so great camera (althouhg I love it) and I dont do many of the more requested subjects...
Should I give it a try anyway? Is there any chance my pictures will be accepted?

« Reply #1 on: April 06, 2008, 09:57 »
Is there any chance my pictures will be accepted?

Unless you post a link to a full size picture somewhere on the net, no one can tell you if your pictures are up to it.

« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2008, 10:01 »
Well it doens't hurt anything to give it a try.  You can always try and submit your best 50 shots to Dreasmtime and Fotolia to test the waters, see how many they accept and if you get any sales.  You won't earn tons on only 50 images, but you will get an idea if it is for you or not.

If the images are accepted and you want to pursue it more, I would then apply at Shutterstock and Istock and see if you can get in.

« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2008, 10:48 »
Heres a few, randomly chosen shots. These are not necessarily the most interesting in stock photog terms. But do comment or their technical quality. Is it possible I can get photos accepted or are am I still way off what is needed.
Check this gallery (theyr a bit small... to be quick):
newbielink:http://picasaweb.google.co.uk/edourado/Samples [nonactive]


« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2008, 10:59 »
My opinion is that you have a good eye, but most are too dark. Bright images with vibrant colors are what to shoot for.

« Reply #5 on: April 06, 2008, 11:00 »
nope. those examples are not stock quality. also you can forget about Shutterstock and istock without having dSLR camera (noise, purple fringing....)...

you can always visit some stock agency and look at best selling photos to see what goes.

those that you put as examples are not good. underexposed, if nothing else. and your subjects/composition are not to much "stocky"

remember, they dont want artistic images, they want pure soul-less stock commercial photos. think as a buyer. why would you buy those images for?

« Reply #6 on: April 06, 2008, 11:14 »
If you're not going to put a lot of time and effort into it these, days, it probably isn't work the trouble.

« Reply #7 on: April 06, 2008, 11:18 »
If you want to go to stock you have to be prepared about taking  different pictures that you normally do and have a commercial eye.
I think it is an excellent experience but like said before it takes time !
Good luck

« Reply #8 on: April 06, 2008, 11:51 »
I would agree that the images look dark.  The one with the most stock potential is the one of the deer, but it is a shame it is cropped to tight.  Designers often want to do the cropping themselves, so I would guess either a clear head shot or the whole body would be the most usefull.

When images are from a point and shoot (lesser quality image file) it takes even less for them to get rejected than a higher quality file.

but if you want to get into stock don't let all this disappoint you.  You may have other better images, or you can always work towards taking more stock type images.

« Reply #9 on: April 06, 2008, 13:45 »
Thanks everyone for your input.
I realize those pictures really aren't very commercial ones.
I suppose people, food, product photography, industry/enterprise/corporate image are really very commercial and in demand.
Anyway, photos that convey messages or feelings are also very usefull I think, and a real challenge to make.
I dont want to dedicate mysself to stock really. But as I am still exploring different aspects of photography I dont mind giving a go at apparently less artsy photos.

I think the deer, the rooftops and the strawberry photo are photos that can have commercial value. Albeit with different cropping, colors. I think I may have some more along those lines.
Does the lower range camera kill any chances for these photos? I know that Dreamsite sells some small images, would it really show at those sizes (<800 px).

Are the images really too dark? In general or for stock in particular?

« Reply #10 on: April 06, 2008, 14:06 »
Yeah, they are quite dark.  Some worse than others.  Some just lacking on contrast.

picture #4 is especially dark.

The deer picture could easily use a little contrast boost.  I hope you don't mind i took the liberties to do a few second edit.  The deer (being the subject) should have both good blacks and whites in it.  The way you had it - it only had black, but the white on the deer only reached a muted gray color, instead of the white it should have been.

« Reply #11 on: April 06, 2008, 16:51 »
It does look better... :P
Thanks for the advice.

« Reply #12 on: April 06, 2008, 17:41 »
My advice as a newbie in stock photography.. I started in february with much worse images than yours. But I had an agenda, and I will do everything I can to reach my goals. My love to photography keeps me going. If you have the same feeling (and I think you have it because you came at this place) than you should try. Find some photo editing software, post small versions of your images here to hear some critique and advices. After it upload it to stock sites and I am sure you will make it. I started wit 10 maybe useful 4mpix photos...you have few thousands, so I am sure you can find some good photos there

« Reply #13 on: April 07, 2008, 09:46 »
I think that if you enjoy taking pictures and are interested in microstock, then you should give it a try.  Uploading to Fotolia and Dreamstime costs nothing and there is no review process, so all you have to lose is a little time up front and then see how it goes.  So what if some of your pictures get reject, or many of them, you will get free professional criticism.  I felt the exact same way as you when first thinking about microstock and thought why not give it a try.  the stuff I uploaded at first was pretty sad, but I feel I have steadily improved because of the reviewers and now I get regular sales.  A website that helped me immensely was http://www.sprintingturtles.info.  It has some good tips on where to start out and what things to do from the beginning to help.

One of the biggest things and nearly the mistake I made, is don't upload 15 or 20 pictures, wait 2 weeks and decide...wow no sales, this isn't going to work.  Get enough pictures out there and enough time to really see if it will work.  Good luck to you.


« Reply #14 on: April 07, 2008, 12:06 »
My opinion is that you have a good eye, but most are too dark. Bright images with vibrant colors are what to shoot for.

Sure, about six months later and NOW you tell me!  ;D

Bright with vibrant colors should be on the list of what sells in stock. It's not the magic bullet, or the only thing that sells well, but it's way at the top of good advise.

Cropping is kind of mystic science. My first photos were often rejected for "not close enough" reviewers telling me to get the subject to fill more of the frame. Then I started cropping close and I got some rejections that were like people above have said, didn't have room for copy. Good Luck! The answer is somewhere in between.

« Last Edit: April 07, 2008, 12:09 by RacePhoto »

« Reply #15 on: April 07, 2008, 12:54 »
IMO go for it, you have nothing to lose (except some time) and everything to gain.  Shooting for stock almost surely will make you a better photographer, both with technical know how and eventually the financial means for better equipment.

If I can offer a piece of advice, take the "too arty" warnings with a grain of salt.  I heeded those at first and ignored using most of more artistic shots.  Eventually I gave some of my better ones a try and thus far they have had the highest acceptance rate of all my shots and they sell decently too.  Though they are not my cash cow shots (that 10% that makes 90% of your income), they are being purchased and my most recent one that I uploaded to SS is getting hot with several DL's in the last few days.  There isn't a huge market for them but I know that it is what I am best at and when buyers find them, they do stand out from the crowd and are unique.  Color is important though, very few shots work as a B&W for stock, I have a few, but they were almost B&W to begin with, the use of B&W was more of a way to avoid fringing and off pixels than actually done for artistic reasons.

« Reply #16 on: April 07, 2008, 15:24 »
Just a few comments.

The Panny cameras are notoriously noisy. I normally shoot Nikons, but do have a Panny LX2 and a FZ50 for fun and strolling about when I don't want to carry a big ear bag (sorry - camera junkie). I really like them for different uses and have gotten a good amount of photos accepted off of both cameras, but you REALLY have to watch the noise, especially in the dark areas. Always shoot RAW if you are not already doing so because it will give you better latitute in post to clean it up. For jpegs to pass the exposures will really have to be spot on.

Your pics are dark - yes agree with the above comments.

The comment about "soul less" - yes. What they seek is pretty sterile and in a lot of cases pretty boring. Go on the services you are interested in and search their top sellers. You will be surprised. My best seller is a real estate sign on a post with a blank white placard against a blue sky.

There is nothing to be lost by trying though and you can also get good advice here. I would start off with Dreamstime maybe because you don't have to go through the "10 photo inquisition" like Shutterstock. If they are good they just take them.


« Reply #17 on: April 07, 2008, 17:10 »
I like your pictures.  As others have already noticed you do have a good eye. 

I agree with leaf that the deer picture has commercial potential.  There are plenty of images on the micros that have less commercial value than some of yours.  They may not be selling lots though. 

IMHO your biggest obstacle is your camera.  Really, there is no way to get the kind of technically perfect images required from a P&S camera.  I started microstock 3 years ago when the competition and quality standards were way less than they are now, and most of the images I shot with my (at the time state of the art) Sony F707 were rejected for noise.  The ones that made it through took so much time in post processing to make them acceptable that it wasn't worth the effort.

If you want to shoot stock these days you really must have the proper equipment, and that includes not only a DSLR, but also a good quality lens.   Add to that some lighting equipment (ideally strobes, but at least a good hot shoe flash system with extension cord and diffusers), and invest the time to learn how to use it all, then you will be able to produce the quality images necessary to compete in the crowded world of stock photography...

« Reply #18 on: April 07, 2008, 17:22 »
You don't have to limit yourself to "commercial" stuff.

I shoot everything under the sun that interests me.  Sure it doesn't sell as well as the more business oriented stuff, but I enjoy it so I keep shooting.  Inevitably, somebody needs it and buys it.  So each of my images may not sell super well, but they do sell - so I guess I make up for it in numbers.  Royalties have paid for my gear several times over, and justify my gearhead purchases - so I can't complain.

And most importantly, I enjoy what I shoot (lots of vacations, nature, editorial / events, abstracts, etc). 

« Reply #19 on: June 07, 2013, 21:48 »
Out of interest how many photos do you guys end up having on each stock site?

« Reply #20 on: June 08, 2013, 05:50 »
I think most of the regulars here have portfolios with thousands of images. 5-8000 seems to be the norm among my friends.

It all depends on how much time and effort you put into it. The world of stock photography is not really waiting for newbies.

The people that make the real money are either professional commercial photographers who shoot stock between assignments or very ambitious amateurs who have worked hard on their skills to reach the level of a pro.

I think the advantage for amateurs who explore stock is that you are forced to become very professional in your work. You dont just need to invest in more and better gear, you also have to develop a professional level post processing workflow.

It is a very big difference if you shoot for yourself and for fun or if you are shooting with a customer in mind.

Even normal students of photography struggle with the requirements of a good stock file. I teach a class on stock photography here in Germany and the students are always surprised how strict the agencies are and how much you need to learn if you want to make money with stock.

But I think there is so much to learn by doing stock, it is definetly worth it to explore the genre.


« Reply #21 on: June 08, 2013, 11:12 »
OLD thread alert, I end up reading 5 year old posts and didnt understand why people were advising to join IS.  :)

« Reply #22 on: June 08, 2013, 17:13 »
I was caught out too!!!! This seems to be happening a lot I know its my own fault but is there a way of making old threads more obvious?


« Reply #23 on: June 08, 2013, 18:12 »
Yeah, read my response and thought I must be losing it, I don't remember writing that. Five years ago? wow

gillian vann

  • *Gillian*
« Reply #24 on: June 08, 2013, 20:17 »
I wonder how he got on?

« Reply #25 on: June 08, 2013, 20:35 »
I really didn't notice. There have been several newbie threads, so this somehow made sense.


  • We Have Exciting News For You
« Reply #26 on: June 09, 2013, 07:03 »
I'd like to know how it worked out for them five years later.


  • There is a crack in everything
« Reply #27 on: June 09, 2013, 07:14 »

« Reply #28 on: June 09, 2013, 09:11 »
There are PFs for "edumad" on Fotolia and DT. Also a link from a DeviantArt page for the same username to a Flickr page.

Looks like the same person. Same camera.  Some recent activity. . .


« Reply #29 on: June 09, 2013, 09:13 »
My opinion is that you have a good eye, but most are too dark. Bright images with vibrant colors are what to shoot for.
Haha, must have been a scary moment. Like, 'huh when did I write that... hmmm, cant remember. I better get on to my doctor now'.

« Reply #30 on: June 09, 2013, 17:19 »
... deleted ... someday i'll learn to read the date
« Last Edit: June 09, 2013, 17:23 by cascoly »


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