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Author Topic: Friends and family who want you to teach them stock photography  (Read 9373 times)

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PaulieWalnuts

  • We Have Exciting News For You
« on: January 07, 2012, 06:46 »
0
This ever happen to you?

They see your work. They find out micro is open to anyone. They take pictures too. They can be a stock photographer!

Then they start asking questions. A lot of questions. About where you sell your images. What kind of DSLR to buy. How to use a DSLR. How to use Photoshop. What sells/doesn't.

What do you normally do?


« Reply #1 on: January 07, 2012, 06:50 »
0
tell them it is really easy. Just have a good camera and submit photos. Who needs to learn more. They enjoy the new camera and can compete at the next wedding they go to with the official photographer.

ShadySue

  • There is a crack in everything
« Reply #2 on: January 07, 2012, 06:54 »
0
This ever happen to you?

They see your work. They find out micro is open to anyone. They take pictures too. They can be a stock photographer!

Then they start asking questions. A lot of questions. About where you sell your images. What kind of DSLR to buy. How to use a DSLR. How to use Photoshop. What sells/doesn't.

What do you normally do?

Depends if you want to encourage or discourage them.
If you want to test how interested they really are, show them some of your 'niggly' rejections and see how they react to that. I find most people are put right off.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2012, 07:02 by ShadySue »

« Reply #3 on: January 07, 2012, 06:58 »
0
Give them a 10K shopping list.

« Reply #4 on: January 07, 2012, 07:00 »
+1
I find the interest soon wares off when they find out there's a lot of learning and work involved.  I have given some people a bit of advice but they aren't interested when they see that it's not as easy as it looks.  It's a lot harder starting now than a few years ago with sites rejecting more and the increased competition.  Commission cuts have made it harder to make money and I wouldn't recommend doing this to anyone now.

rubyroo

« Reply #5 on: January 07, 2012, 07:44 »
0
In my case, the interested relative was already a film photographer back in the 80's (he had studied photography at college back then).  He'd been doing quite well with portrait work,  but had set it aside for various life-reasons.   I just told him the realities of digital and microstock from my own experience - negative and positive.  I also explained that the best way to learn what's required and what sells is by just taking the plunge and seeing how his own work would go down with the agencies and the market.  Then I offered to sell him one of my earlier DSLRs.  

This guy's a very independent middle-aged man though.  If my young nephew, struggling to find a life path were to ask me, I'd probably teach him photography skills and Photoshop, buy him a camera and supportively hold his hand until he had the confidence to stand on his own.

I'd say it depends on the person, how much they want from me, whether I feel their need justifies my time (or whether they're someone who always wants everyone else to do their work for them)... it's a case-by-case judgement in my view. 
« Last Edit: January 07, 2012, 07:48 by rubyroo »

PaulieWalnuts

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« Reply #6 on: January 07, 2012, 07:47 »
0
Depends if you want to encourage or discourage them.

Good question. I always want to help friends and family. But...

What if they have little or none of the basic skills needed to get started and will require a ton of hand holding.

Or what if you find they're planning on submitting stuff that's in direct competition with your work?

rubyroo

« Reply #7 on: January 07, 2012, 07:52 »
0
What if they have little or none of the basic skills needed to get started and will require a ton of hand holding.

Go to the library and gather up the prospectuses from local adult education colleges (or whatever they're called where you are).  Point out that there are short one-evening-per-week courses that last 6 to 10 weeks.  Very affordable.  Tell them they'll learn more and better that way than if you teach them yourself.  Give them the prospectuses to take away and think about.  Put the ball back in their court.

This will also test how serious they are.  If you end up with a nightmare of lost time and frustration over someone who turns out not to be serious at all, it'll drive you crazy.

ShadySue

  • There is a crack in everything
« Reply #8 on: January 07, 2012, 08:02 »
+2
Depends if you want to encourage or discourage them.

Good question. I always want to help friends and family. But...

What if they have little or none of the basic skills needed to get started and will require a ton of hand holding.

Or what if you find they're planning on submitting stuff that's in direct competition with your work?

That's when you show them the really, really picky rejections (the ones that have no bearing on any real world use).
If they still want to go on, it's up to you. For basic skills, if you don't want to teach them, recommend a book or a class (real or online). If in direct competition, tell them the harsh truth: agencies go out of business, they can change the rules to suit themselves and disadvantage you, all the other competition already there, how hard it is to get a foothold nowadays.

It probably depends on the person,how much you want to help them and whether they're likely to stick it.

I think in the old days, someone who came to photography totally fresh as an iStocker, for example, probably progressed faster than people who had been at it in any capacity for any length of time, so took longer to accept the rejections. Nowadays, it is harder for everybody to break in, and especally those new to photography. If they don't have basic skills, why would they even want to do microstock.

Think of it this way too: if you were a doctor and someone wanted your advice on becoming a doctor, you wouldn't be taking them on as an apprentice. OTOH, if you shoot studio stuff and could do with an assistant, your decision may be different again.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2012, 09:21 by ShadySue »

« Reply #9 on: January 07, 2012, 08:37 »
0
I helped one guy get started. He had a good eye to start with, but had to learn a lot the technical stuff and stuff particular (peculiar?) to stock. I gave him quite a lot of time really, I used to see the guy socially, so stock was the main topic then, plus I gave him several tutorials, "phone support", critique. etc. etc. He does something else in the photographic field now, I don't know how he's doing at that. Stock wise he doesn't look as if he's doing much. I don't even see or hear from the guy any more.
 
The other example I had was a member of my family asked me about doing stock, so I told them about iStock, what I knew about the various other options, and told them if they wanted any help to ask. (This was before the first guy incidentally) Next thing I heard they had applied to iStock, been rejected, and had said about the rejection "They don't know anything about photography there"
Yeah, right!

Personally I shan't be doing anything like either of these again.
 

« Reply #10 on: January 07, 2012, 09:07 »
0
never happened with me mainly because I told them how hard it is, the perseverance you need, how things change so quickly like royalties and overall stat of stock, millions and tons of togs too.. they have also better jobs (+ money), the ones I quit

apart from that if any wanna join I will help them out, I will show them first the ton of work that is needed to get pictures ready to upload, then submit on agencies, then grow on the searches and then some sell other no.. (and not to mention the investment on camera, strobes, lens)

« Reply #11 on: January 07, 2012, 09:08 »
0
Stock is a funny business. I've given no end of advice to all sorts of people, including a couple of news photographers with international reputations, but none of them has managed to make more than a pittance out of it and not for want of trying. Microstock looks like a pretty simple proposition. Apparently, however, it isn't.

RacePhoto

« Reply #12 on: January 07, 2012, 10:05 »
0
This ever happen to you?

They see your work. They find out micro is open to anyone. They take pictures too. They can be a stock photographer!

Then they start asking questions. A lot of questions. About where you sell your images. What kind of DSLR to buy. How to use a DSLR. How to use Photoshop. What sells/doesn't.

What do you normally do?

Friends don't allow friends to become MicroStock addicts! ;)

I know I'm not shooting things like you do (which means mine aren't as good or marketable) but if someone new wants to get started, my view has changed. I used to say start at the bottom and work up.

Why put them up on the lower sites that sell nearly nothing, and have being accepted be good enough? I'd send them to IS or SS and tell them, if they can get accepted there, they can send photos anywhere. It seems that the two most difficult sites are also the top earners and the lower sites it might take your friends a year or two, before they get enough downloads to get any return.

Start at the top ten and work top down. Make good quality first and the sales will follow, everywhere. Otherwise people can get things at sites that make the pros $10 a month on 1000 files and find they are making as a new person, 50 cents a month. Oh boy only five years and they can cash out for $30...

Go to the top from the start. It's also a way for someone to see if they can make it. I'd say start with IS, get approved, get maybe 20 pictures up and see what passes and what doesn't then apply at SS. When they get a collection of 25 approved shots on IS and SS, add another agency, FT, DT, BS and another and another. It will be a breeze with a good approved collection.

Oh and of course have them use my referral link for SS. That's an automatic!  ;D

Short version: Give them the link to the forum and tell them to start at IS. If they can work there, they can get in pretty much anywhere. There are enough helpful people here to coach beginners. Oh wait, better yet, send them to IS and the IS forums. Only the survivors will make it through the basic traning course.
« Last Edit: January 07, 2012, 10:10 by RacePhoto »

ShadySue

  • There is a crack in everything
« Reply #13 on: January 07, 2012, 10:18 »
0
Apparently the books by Rob (Sylvan) and Ellen Boughn are pretty good, though I haven't read them myself. A quick shuftie at Amazon shows there are some others too.

microstockphoto.co.uk

« Reply #14 on: January 07, 2012, 10:53 »
0
I used to tell everyone about microstock. Now I try to be more careful as it's a huge waste of time both for me and my friends in most cases (not everyone is fit for a microstock way of life).

In the few cases I still decide it's worth it, I help them choose their pictures for the Shutterstock test. Sometimes it's difficult to find 10 good pictures. Game over.
Sometimes they don't pass the test. Game over.

If they pass the test, they can usually go on mainly on their own and I am very glad to help them occasionally.

ShadySue

  • There is a crack in everything
« Reply #15 on: January 07, 2012, 10:58 »
0
Friends don't allow friends to become MicroStock addicts! ;)
True, too true, for so many reasons!  ;D

« Reply #16 on: January 07, 2012, 11:22 »
0
For friends or family I'd give them as much help and advice as I could. What surprises me is that I have never been asked. Although several of my family have plenty of free time (and could certainly use extra cash) it seems that they dismiss the idea of themselves doing stock photography out of hand.

I think RapidEye has probably nailed the explanation. Microstock seems simple to many of us but not to most others. I guess we should be grateful for that. I have to say I wouldn't want to be starting now though. With the skill level I had (or didn't have) in 2004 I couldn't have got a foothold in today's market.


« Reply #17 on: January 07, 2012, 12:56 »
0
I would:

1. make a list of all the equipment they need to buy.
2. make a list of the different agencies they can sell at, with urls. Suggest they read through the forums and other areas of each site, including the contributors agreements, so they have an idea of what is required.
3. make a list of the software they might like photoshop or lightroom
4. suggest ways to learn that software: college classes, classroom in a book, online help like lynda.com, etc.

See how interested they are if they have to actually spend their own time and money doing these things, or if they think that you should give/help them with all of these things that are your business/career. Then ask if they would be willing to give away stuff from their business or career.

If friends/family ask me for graphic/web design of a small project, like a party invitation or an easy one page website, I might do it. If they are expecting me to teach them what took me hundreds of hours/years of training and money out of my pocket to buy/learn, no.

It's ok to point people in the right direction and make suggestions. To me, it's not ok to do it for them.

rubyroo

« Reply #18 on: January 07, 2012, 12:58 »
0
Cathy's sounds like the perfect answer to me!  :) 

rinderart

« Reply #19 on: January 07, 2012, 13:13 »
0
I would:

1. make a list of all the equipment they need to buy.
2. make a list of the different agencies they can sell at, with urls. Suggest they read through the forums and other areas of each site, including the contributors agreements, so they have an idea of what is required.
3. make a list of the software they might like photoshop or lightroom
4. suggest ways to learn that software: college classes, classroom in a book, online help like lynda.com, etc.

See how interested they are if they have to actually spend their own time and money doing these things, or if they think that you should give/help them with all of these things that are your business/career. Then ask if they would be willing to give away stuff from their business or career.

If friends/family ask me for graphic/web design of a small project, like a party invitation or an easy one page website, I might do it. If they are expecting me to teach them what took me hundreds of hours/years of training and money out of my pocket to buy/learn, no.

It's ok to point people in the right direction and make suggestions. To me, it's not ok to do it for them.

Perfect answer.

« Reply #20 on: January 07, 2012, 13:15 »
0
I recently had a friend of a friend who wanted to talk about turning an interest into photography into selling stock. I did a Skype chat for about an hour, sent her e-mail with links to some resources for learning more. I didn't mind that level of involvement.

I do find that people who ask for help fall into two general groups - those who are willing to help themselves and those who expect to be spoon fed. I will generally do a lot to assist the first group and nothing for the second. Getting rid of those who want everything done for them I typically do by giving them some set of things they need to do before asking the next question. As they're typically not going to do those things, they don't come back. If they do, I just wait longer and longer between answering each e-mail.

A long time back, someone in the SS forums who had seen me answer a question for someone about a rejected image asked if he could e-mail me his image to fix it for him. I still can't believe the nerve of someone asking that of a stranger, but I replied that he'd learn nothing by having someone else do it, so he'd need to give it a try himself. Never heard any more. I bet if you gave someone an assignment to take and edit 10 different images as if for the SS application and to come back to you when they had those in a Dropbox folder, on a DVD or on their website for you to review, you'd weed out the serious ones from the time wasters :)

« Reply #21 on: January 07, 2012, 13:38 »
0
Give them a 10K shopping list.

That is what I do. I give them a long shopping list, a list with an introduction to copyright problems, court cases about model releases, a link to the istock critiqueforum with a long, long list about artifacts, overfiltering, chromatic abberations, I recommend a school with a two year photoshop class etc...a link to the microstockgroup and a list of the 10 major agencies pointing out that they all have different criteria to submit photos.

Usually it ends right after they read the list.

ShadySue

  • There is a crack in everything
« Reply #22 on: January 07, 2012, 13:43 »
0
Give them a 10K shopping list.

That is what I do. I give them a long shopping list, a list with an introduction to copyright problems, court cases about model releases, a link to the istock critiqueforum with a long, long list about artifacts, overfiltering, chromatic abberations, I recommend a school with a two year photoshop class etc...a link to the microstockgroup and a list of the 10 major agencies pointing out that they all have different criteria to submit photos.

Usually it ends right after they read the list.

Oh yes, the copyright problems. Forgot about that: that's a great filter too. I tell people about the iStock photo that got rejected (years ago) because when zooming in at about 400% you could, with the eye of faith, discern YKK on the zip.

« Reply #23 on: January 07, 2012, 13:49 »
0
Apparently the books by Rob (Sylvan) and Ellen Boughn are pretty good, though I haven't read them myself. A quick shuftie at Amazon shows there are some others too.

Yes they are good.  I suggest these to the people asking questions.  If they get through the books then they are serious enough that I wll give them more help.  Usually they don't get through the books due to lack of committment.  That is my answer #1.

Answer #2.  If this is just a conversation I wll talk for an hour or whatever.  It is interesting to see how far I've come since 2003 with my responses.  It's also interesting for me to have to formulate opinions that then should be applied back to my own experience.  I never am concerned about kick starting my own comptetitor as I find most people do not have the longevity needed to make Microstock work.

I gave a Microstock talk to the photo club of which I am a member. I had a couple of people come back for more discussion later.  But I have yet to learn of anyone who actually took a stab at Microstock after that session.  Maybe I told to many hard luck stories? ;-)

« Reply #24 on: January 07, 2012, 13:59 »
0
hope they will never end up here checking our comments :D

« Reply #25 on: January 07, 2012, 17:00 »
0
If someone want me to show him something, i just ask him to show me his ten best pictures.

Then I show him his pics defects and what he need to remove. Most of the time, the Photoshop part is the most discouraging.. 

« Reply #26 on: January 08, 2012, 00:22 »
0


ShadySue

  • There is a crack in everything
« Reply #27 on: January 08, 2012, 06:41 »
0
Another thing would be to show them all the great pics which get accepted but don't get sold (much) on micro, either because they're not really what stock buyers are looking for or because they just get swamped by the competition. I saw one only this week by a poster here which I thought was fantastic and really useful, yet it had only sold a handful of times - and I can hardly imagine the two reasons above applied.

lisafx

« Reply #28 on: January 09, 2012, 14:17 »
0
Wow, you guys are really nice people.  I don't bother tutoring people to take my job.  In fact, I am kind of insulted when some relative or acquaintance assumes that just because I make money in microstock, it's super easy and they can do it with their new digicam or entry level plastic DSLR.  I don't assume that just because my cousin is a successful chef that I can do it because I get compliments on my spaghetti sauce  ::)

The rare occasions that people in the real world express interest in getting into stock photography, I suggest they try Shutterstock, Istockphoto, and Alamy.  I tell them to submit their very best work.  Beyond that, they are on their own.  The few that have bothered to apply have all been rejected.  They see it's not as easy as they thought and give up.

Early on, on Istockphoto, I used to give advice to newbies on my creative network.  Unfortunately, several of them began using my portfolio as their personal source of inspiration.  About the third time that happened, I stopped my "mentoring" activities.  

SNP

  • Canadian Photographer
« Reply #29 on: January 09, 2012, 17:07 »
0
Give them a 10K shopping list.

yeah, that cuts their interest short pretty quickly. and if it doesn't, the few family members and friends who have thrown a few photos up on iStock lost interest when their first five files didn't garner sales. people don't realize how much work it takes to establish yourself.

« Reply #30 on: January 10, 2012, 02:55 »
0
you could offer to submit their work for them and take a sustainable 85% of the earnings. ;)

« Reply #31 on: January 11, 2012, 00:03 »
0
I've discussed stock with those who seemed to be interested in selling their work. They're usually shocked to hear that their sunsets over the ocean vacation snapshots would never sell. I give them the IS web site and ask them to study the categories and let me know which ones they wanted to focus on. I say that they could probably make some money if they could do better, more creative photography in those areas and do it for $1 payments. No, I've never had a second discussion with any of them.

lisafx

« Reply #32 on: January 11, 2012, 10:28 »
0
I've discussed stock with those who seemed to be interested in selling their work. They're usually shocked to hear that their sunsets over the ocean vacation snapshots would never sell. I give them the IS web site and ask them to study the categories and let me know which ones they wanted to focus on. I say that they could probably make some money if they could do better, more creative photography in those areas and do it for $1 payments. No, I've never had a second discussion with any of them.

Perfect Lou!  I'm gonna try your method next time :)

ShadySue

  • There is a crack in everything
« Reply #33 on: January 11, 2012, 10:54 »
0
I've discussed stock with those who seemed to be interested in selling their work. They're usually shocked to hear that their sunsets over the ocean vacation snapshots would never sell. I give them the IS web site and ask them to study the categories and let me know which ones they wanted to focus on. I say that they could probably make some money if they could do better, more creative photography in those areas and do it for $1 payments. No, I've never had a second discussion with any of them.


Perfect Lou!  I'm gonna try your method next time :)


On the other hand, they might check for themselves and think, "I could do that!", in Pollyanna mode.
http://www.istockphoto.com/search/text/sunset%20ocean/source/basic#1e3066eb
http://www.shutterstock.com/cat.mhtml?searchterm=ocean+sunset&x=9&y=13&search_group=&lang=en&search_source=search_form

Tryingmybest

  • Stand up for what is right
« Reply #34 on: January 12, 2012, 12:12 »
+1
Speaking as an microstock illustrator who also works for microstock photographers on the post-production/submission side, I'd tell them it's grueling, takes a full-time amount of attention and you better adjust your lifestyle to very low standards. However, the reward of full control and the reward of not being at the mercy of 1 client for your projects, is almost worth it.  8)

This ever happen to you?

They see your work. They find out micro is open to anyone. They take pictures too. They can be a stock photographer!

Then they start asking questions. A lot of questions. About where you sell your images. What kind of DSLR to buy. How to use a DSLR. How to use Photoshop. What sells/doesn't.

What do you normally do?

« Reply #35 on: March 16, 2016, 09:55 »
0
I thought this had some interesting points and wondered what people think a few years later, so thought I'd revive this old topic rather than start a new one.

I've had several people I know via Fine Art America, professional photographers and advance amateurs from photo groups I belong to, as well as family members ask me about stock photography. I've written up a two-page summary of the different sites, trying to be encouraging while managing their expectations, and have offered to review their first 10 for shutterstock and first 4 for Alamy. I also suggest that they check out fotolia/Adobe and dreamstime. And I give them a link to this forum so they can get a broader perspective and appreciate the downside.

I don't send them to the low earners but all of these people are good photographers and should be able to get accepted, though whether they will keep up the hard work to actually make any money at it is a different story. All of them are looking to do it on the side and not as a main source of income. I don't think I'd encourage anyone to try and do this full-time.

Some of these same people have gone out of their way to help me with pricing and advising me what to offer clients when I do portraits and parties - I started out shooting for local magazines so taking on portrait work was a change for me. And many people in various forums have shared great advice about stock photography, so I'm more than happy to help. There's so much competition out there with 70 million photos that I don't get hung up on whether they'll be shooting the same type of work as I am.

Anyway, curious what you all have to say. At Easter I'll be reviewing some photos with my sister-in-law who is finally poised to take the plunge, so when I saw this old thread it piqued my interest.


« Reply #36 on: March 16, 2016, 09:57 »
+1
Nobody I know has ever expressed any interest in doing stock photography.  Friends or family.


ShadySue

  • There is a crack in everything
« Reply #37 on: March 16, 2016, 11:13 »
+3
Hahahaha. I'd just show them my earnings for 2015 on iS compared to previous years. Not much more to say - people were generally shocked to hear of what I earned on iS even when it was E+ and Vetta etc; no one is interested in stupid 25c subs.
We must be mad.

« Reply #38 on: March 16, 2016, 11:49 »
+1
The camera manufacturers must be including information in the box.  "This camera will pay for itself!"

You see people on the FAA forums posting three crummy photos and then asking "How can I increase my sales?"

Shelma1

« Reply #39 on: March 16, 2016, 12:53 »
+1
Recommend the classes you took/school you attended or whatever else you did to learn how to be a photographer. For me as an illustrator, 4 years of college studying art history, color theory, design, illustration, photography, sculpture, life drawing, painting, cartooning, then night classes after graduation in humorous illustration and cartooning...and of course, being"artsy" from childhood and taking lots of art classes in high school to prepare for college acceptance. Then investing in a Mac, software, taking more classes to learn Illustrator, reading and taking the "test" at iStock to be accepted, studying keywording, staying on top of design and color trends....it's a long, boring list. I'm sure their eyes will glaze over, as my sister's did when she asked me to teach her how to "do advertising."

Or you could just show them this post. ;)

Oh jeez. Just realized this thread is from 2012. And here I am responding to the op.
« Last Edit: March 16, 2016, 13:17 by Shelma1 »


 

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