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Author Topic: Model on white background: still viable?  (Read 13802 times)

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« on: May 01, 2013, 20:15 »
0
Hello,

I'm trying to get into stock photography and have been researching on profitable/commercially viable subjects to start. Seems like "people" is one of the top seller. I have several questions in regards to this:

1- I'm wondering if images with models on white background in scenarios such as hold a bag of grocery, business & medical setting, beauty/spa etc still in demand given this type of photo is everywhere? Or the market constantly need this type of image and hopefully with a new model/face?

2- What's the return on such a shoot? I estimated around $1-1,500 up front cost (model, hair & makeup, studio, and retouching - I work in fashion so I can style). In return I'd like to get around 50+ images per session (multiple scenario, multiple angles). Can I make that money back with in 6 month or less, given it's well executed?

3- How do you handle the model payment? I'm leaning towards 1 time payment, instead of percentage base on sales, so it's a clean break. Otherwise I can set it at once every 6 month I cut a check to the model based on sales. What's the best?

Any insight and/or experience you can share would be greatly appreciated!

cheers.


tab62

« Reply #1 on: May 01, 2013, 20:25 »
+1
Hi Rgphoto-

Question 1

Here is the first page (popular) on Shutterstock with the keywords 'Business People' see link below

http://www.shutterstock.com/cat.mhtml?searchterm=business+people&search_source=search_form&lang=en&search_group=&safesearch=1&prev_sort_method=newest&sort_method=popular&page=1


Not too many on just white.

Now lets do search of 'People and Medical'

http://www.shutterstock.com/cat.mhtml?lang=en&search_source=search_form&search_tracking_id=uAUOGvcBWwFMT5xrOOyDig&version=llv1&anyorall=all&safesearch=1&searchterm=people+medical&search_group=&orient=&search_cat=&searchtermx=&photographer_name=&people_gender=&people_age=&people_ethnicity=&people_number=&commercial_ok=&color=&show_color_wheel=1

Still not that many on just white background.


Now "People and Spa"

http://www.shutterstock.com/cat.mhtml?lang=en&search_source=search_form&search_tracking_id=cn8HQpiaDxJH4bDvuZvDSg&version=llv1&anyorall=all&safesearch=1&searchterm=people+spa&search_group=&orient=&search_cat=&searchtermx=&photographer_name=&people_gender=&people_age=&people_ethnicity=&people_number=&commercial_ok=&color=&show_color_wheel=1

Not too many on white either. 

Cannot really address #2 but that seem a bit high for just starting out. Maybe use your family or friends to keep the initial costs down to see if it produces sales. The Stock companies have told us that they want regular (Believable) people instead of fashion models. I know a few companies that want more male models instead of women as well.

#3  Always pay up front and not against your sales- talk about a pain to track against your sales as well. Remember a good seller will go on for years thus you can see the headache involved if you go by the commission to sales things.

Hope this helps...

T

« Reply #2 on: May 01, 2013, 20:35 »
+5
2- What's the return on such a shoot? I estimated around $1-1,500 up front cost (model, hair & makeup, studio, and retouching - I work in fashion so I can style). In return I'd like to get around 50+ images per session (multiple scenario, multiple angles). Can I make that money back with in 6 month or less, given it's well executed?

If you're spending more than $100, you're not going to make it back.

« Reply #3 on: May 01, 2013, 20:42 »
0
Thanks for your reply tab62!

Yes, I looked thru a few sites with my proposed scenario but white background is most feasible now due to location cost.

I'm willing to pay for a good model for a profitable return, my estimation includes model fee. Want to play, gotta pay.....

Agree with you about up front payment. If I choose to pay based on percentage, it would be for 12 month only, with 2 payments at 6 and 12 month interval, based on the shoot date, not publish date. After that, I want to be clear of any further ties - and hopefully continue to profit.

cheers!

tab62

« Reply #4 on: May 01, 2013, 22:08 »
+2
Rgphoto-

Listen to Sean's comments since he is very knowledgeable/experienced in the model  usage.

« Reply #5 on: May 02, 2013, 04:41 »
0
My portfolio is almost all isolates of models on white. Mostly men as market is saturated with women. Singles don't sell well. If you want to be successful you need to do groups!

« Reply #6 on: May 02, 2013, 10:44 »
+2
2- What's the return on such a shoot? I estimated around $1-1,500 up front cost (model, hair & makeup, studio, and retouching - I work in fashion so I can style). In return I'd like to get around 50+ images per session (multiple scenario, multiple angles). Can I make that money back with in 6 month or less, given it's well executed?

If you're spending more than $100, you're not going to make it back.

That's not entirely true, you can spend over $100 on a shoot and make it back, but I will say this, you won't break even spending $1,500 to produce only 50 white background style shots. Don't even try that.

If you're gonna drop over $1,000 on a shoot - it better be a location shoot producing more than 50 shots.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2013, 10:48 by cardmaverick »

« Reply #7 on: May 02, 2013, 10:50 »
+2
That's not entirely true, you can spend over $100 on a shoot and make it back, but I will say this, you won't break even spending $1,500 to produce only 50 white background style shots. Don't even try that.

If you're gonna drop over $1,000 on a shoot - it better be a location shoot producing more than 50 shots.

That's what I meant.  Sorry if it wasn't clear.  There's a guy on IS with thousands of white bg shots.  I don't think he gets many sales at all.

« Reply #8 on: May 02, 2013, 10:55 »
+1
Paying models on a % is really only feasible with ONE site. You'll go nuts doing that with micro, assuming you get sales.

« Reply #9 on: May 02, 2013, 11:07 »
+1
Yes, I looked thru a few sites with my proposed scenario but white background is most feasible now due to location cost.

You can shoot in a white background and then add backgrounds later in PS. You should start building a background library to do that.

And regarding the idea about paying models based on sales, in the long run you'll spend more time tracking down sales then shooting new images.

« Reply #10 on: May 02, 2013, 11:31 »
+1
Yes, I looked thru a few sites with my proposed scenario but white background is most feasible now due to location cost.

You can shoot in a white background and then add backgrounds later in PS. You should start building a background library to do that.


I wouldn't recommend composite backgrounds for micro. Too much time required, and most people suck at compositing.

What do you think a location goes for?

All the top selling "people pics" are location shots. Very few white background shots ever become high sellers. If you want to separate yourself from the pack, location shots are a must, not an option.

« Reply #11 on: May 02, 2013, 11:37 »
-1
.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2014, 14:12 by Audi 5000 »

« Reply #12 on: May 02, 2013, 11:39 »
+1
No.

« Reply #13 on: May 02, 2013, 11:42 »
0
.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2014, 14:12 by Audi 5000 »

Poncke v2

« Reply #14 on: May 02, 2013, 11:43 »
0
No.

Of course not. What a redundant question.

ShadySue

  • There is a crack in everything
« Reply #15 on: May 02, 2013, 12:02 »
0
It has to be the 'right model'.
Although buyers say they want natural looking models, they in fact don't. They want American-looking models with perfect skin, whitened teeth and whites of eyes, conventionally 'beautiful' features. Even older models have to be unusually attractive to sell well.
Other models sell, but nothing like as well.

« Reply #16 on: May 02, 2013, 13:36 »
+2
A while back I actually did a little experiment - shot some white isolations and then composited a few, uploaded them and then compared after many months. In every instance, the location composite version outsold the white isolation, by a far margin - even though the composites were actually uploaded a few months later... With that said, a GOOD composite just takes too much time and in the long run costs far more than just shelling out up front for a real location to work with. Also keep in mind that no one will buy a bad composite... so you can't just rush them thinking that they will sell.
« Last Edit: May 02, 2013, 14:00 by cardmaverick »


« Reply #17 on: May 02, 2013, 13:56 »
0
Rgphoto, I'm a newbie to the microstock (Started in January this year) and first of all, from my point of view if you pay 1500 for each session it will be very very hard to get it back, why? Altought it could be stellar shots you would had to compete against great names in the Micro world (Many located in the forum) plus a lot of clients like to deal with specified photographers due to their unique style. So in general view and unless you have a unique style that pop's from the rest or you have a huge library then you will have a hard time getting some revenue out of a single session. I have a few models not top models unfortunately but they are rather cheap, some are friends others I give them a free portfolio in exchange of a session (That really cuts out the cost) ,having to paid a hairdresser that can do all sorts of things besides hair, like manicure or make up it also cuts the costs. But about the viability of the white background I can't really help you that much but from the point of view of the more experienced I think they are right outdoors have been selling a lot more.

Just my 20 cents. Hope it helps.

 
 

« Reply #18 on: May 02, 2013, 14:00 »
0
I would assume Sean would pick one of the better photographers who does a lot of isolated on white shots to make his point and the people that do it well get a lot of downloads.  Look at Lisa with around 3,000 isolated on white or the guy with 300,000 sales he has 17,000 isolated on white images or look at Yuri with 1,000 isolated on white.  Anyone can shoot bad shots and not get sales but that can be said about every single subject and doesn't add anything to the discussion.  Speaking of adding nothing to the conversation, thanks for chiming in.

These aren't the best examples - they are all people who got started a long time ago. The guy on IS with the 320K sales has been active on IS since 2002 - that's 11 years.

Let me repeat it one more time.... 11 years of production and sales. Find someone of similar portfolio size and history with mostly location shots and I'm sure you'll see a stark contrast in numbers.

« Reply #19 on: May 02, 2013, 14:03 »
+1
2- What's the return on such a shoot? I estimated around $1-1,500 up front cost (model, hair & makeup, studio, and retouching - I work in fashion so I can style). In return I'd like to get around 50+ images per session (multiple scenario, multiple angles). Can I make that money back with in 6 month or less, given it's well executed?

Among those who publish their numbers in blog, it appears there is a base line of about $1 per image per month as return within microstock. That is, if you are established at the agencies at higher than the starting royalty levels. And there are no guarantees to get that return.

Based on that you're looking at a potential return of $300 over six months with 50 images. But probably you'll end up with less, especially when you're just starting.

I do agree, a shoot worth more than $1000 should be on (a good) location and with more than one model to pay off. But even then you're likely to see no break even for more than a year.

« Reply #20 on: May 02, 2013, 14:14 »
0
.
« Last Edit: May 12, 2014, 14:11 by Audi 5000 »

« Reply #21 on: May 02, 2013, 17:42 »
0
Thanks everyone for your advise!

Great point on location and group shots. Unfortunately I'm in NYC where location is even more expensive than a plain studio so I'll have do some location scouting, or find another solution. Compositing can get tricky, I better master it before I make an attempt.

I definitely agree casting is very important. While I will not hire an agency model due to cost and logistics, I'm willing to allocate a chunk of my budget to find a commercially viable model.

Also the cost includes retouching. While I can handle almost all of my retouching, however if I do shoot beauty, I'll have to farm out the skin retouching.

Thanks again for all your help, I truly appreciate it!

« Reply #22 on: May 02, 2013, 17:46 »
0
@MFCA

Thanks for sharing your insights. Luckily, I do have someone I worked a lot with before that can handle both hair & makeup to cut cost. And I will take your advise and offer images as part of payment.

« Reply #23 on: May 02, 2013, 17:56 »
+1
Also the cost includes retouching. While I can handle almost all of my retouching, however if I do shoot beauty, I'll have to farm out the skin retouching.

For micro, you can not outsource something like skin retouching.  And it doesn't really require it either, imo.  I touch up a few blemishes and do some blur.  You can do that.

You need to keep costs low.

« Reply #24 on: May 02, 2013, 18:10 »
0
Thanks sjlocke, I didn't know outsourced retouching is not allowed. That'll cut the cost down quite a bit.


 

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