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Author Topic: Which ONE company would you contribute to as a newbie?  (Read 18630 times)

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donding

  • Think before you speak
« Reply #50 on: January 16, 2010, 10:08 »
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If I don't make a cent on my photos during this little adventure, that's ok with me. The thought of complete strangers looking at and buying my photos sounds thrilling, so I want to try it.

I also want to learn and grow as a photographer, and take even better pictures. This method seems like a good way to do it, since it really seems flexible time wise.

Then you should join flickr, or another website when people comment on each other's images.  Licensing stock imagery is a business that should be taken seriously, even more nowadays then a few years ago. 

once more, wise old Mr Locke has hit the nail on the head...
yes, flickr is where you should start .
Personally I wouldn't recommend flickr...I've had problems with people downloading or copy and pasting those photos. I took the ones that matter off there.


« Reply #51 on: January 17, 2010, 02:12 »
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If I don't make a cent on my photos during this little adventure, that's ok with me. The thought of complete strangers looking at and buying my photos sounds thrilling, so I want to try it.

I also want to learn and grow as a photographer, and take even better pictures. This method seems like a good way to do it, since it really seems flexible time wise.

Then you should join flickr, or another website when people comment on each other's images.  Licensing stock imagery is a business that should be taken seriously, even more nowadays then a few years ago. 

I can only second that. It seems to get more and more popular to use microstock as some sort of photocourse. Dont get me wrong, I dont know you, and I dont know your images either, so please see these lines as some sort of general statement.

I have been an inspector at an agency quite some time ago and you wouldnt believe your eyes what images are uploaded. The word snapshot is rather farfetched for these.
So here is my advice:

  • Try to get an honest opinion (which isnt all that easy) of your friends and families whether the like your images and what could be done to improve them
  • If they like your work you could assume that youve got some talent, (which definitely not everybody has just because he/she thinks so - remember all those casting shows on TV??? Theres nothing wrong with not having talent singing, modelling or photography - you usually have some other talents and should concentrate on these to be successful) . Go and read some books on photography or take a course or something similar
  • Once you did that look at images your really like in magazines or elsewhere. Try to figure out how the images were shot (what makes it stand out, how was the light set up and which perspective did the photographer use).
  • Again ask the friends that have been honest with you from the beginning wether you have improved.
  • If you did, start uploading to the biggest agencies iStock and Shutterstock

Please be aware, that when someone takes the direct route and just uploads to an agency expecting to learn from their rejections, he will not only be much slower in his learning process. Unless he is a very very talented photographer he also exploits others. He uses the time of inspectors and therefore the time and money of the agency without paying for it (as long as you dont produce sellable images). I think nonone of us has an idea of how much it actually costs the agencies to review all those images that are just uploaded with the goal of learning from rejections. That increases the image prices in the longrun, which is good to some extent - but as long as its solely done to cover the costs for the increasing number of rejections theres no benefit for contributors. So in fact that someone does also exploit other photographers that invest a lot of time and money into the business venture microstock (btw: people submitting just for learning also slow down the approval process). Most of them are more than willing to share their knowlodge in other fields, writing blogs and helping in forums, so please value their help.

OK, thats my 2 cents - once again this is not adressed to anybody personally, just a general statement - here I stand waiting for the first stone to be thrown.

ShadySue

« Reply #52 on: January 17, 2010, 05:59 »
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Nataq's points are valid, but your friends/relatives won't be much use to you [1] unless they're already submitting at the agency/ies you're considering. I haven't seen the images Nataq says "you wouldn't believe your eyes what photos are submitted", and I'm not talking about these. I'm talking about perfectly competent ones which nevertheless have a few artifacts, or are taken in flat light (if that's normal in your area) or contrasty light (likewise), a logo which you need to zoom in to see etc.
Lots of the world's iconic photos wouldn't be accepted onto iStock for all sorts of reasons, and now I sit at camera club competitions thinking stupid things like "The light's too flat" or 'there's a shadow over the faraway eye of that eagle" etc, which are irrelevant in the real world.
So, everything that Nataq says, and then some.
There are many featured articles on iStock - you could usefully spend time studying them. Maybe some of the other agencies have similar, I don't know.
The NYIP website has some basic free-to-access 'how to photograph' articles which are very useful at the composition and technique levels in their ezine: http://www.nyip.com/photo-ezine/ezine.html and podcasts http://www.nyipodcast.com/.
Health warning: the hard info in these articles/podcasts is padded out by an insane amount of waffle. I used to copy and paste the text, cut out the waffle and keep the hard facts on my hard drive for reference. It's there, you just have to find it!
[1] Plus I doubt if I've ever had a friend or colleague not moving in photos circles who doesn't tell me "Your photos should be in National Geographic", so generally take their good opinions with a pinch of salt.
Another useful site is www.betterphoto.com, though nowadays they are mostly about plugging their courses, which I haven't taken, so can't comment on. They have free to access articles indexed here: http://www.betterphoto.com/allAbout.asp. I was an active member there for about a year before joining iStock. I'd say what was most useful there to me was recognising that American general taste for images is different from UK general taste. Since the US is probably the source of most stock buyers, that is very useful. They have monthly photo challenges, and the ability to feed back on each other's images, though it does tend to be of the 'wow, fantastic' variety. But overall if it's just improving your shapshots, that's a far better way to learn than iStock rejections, which tend to be very vague: my most frequent rejection nowadays is:
"We found the overall composition of this file's lighting could be improved. Some of the technical aspects that can all limit the usefulness of a file are:

-Flat/dull colors
-Direct on-camera flash and/or flash fall-off (bright subject, dark background)
-Harsh lighting with blown-out highlights that lack details and/or distracting shadows
- Distracting lens flares
-Incorrect white balance

For information about iStock lighting standards please see:
http://www.istockphoto.com/article_view.php?ID=524

For more information on iStock Lighting Standards, please see:
http://www.istockphoto.com/tutorial_2.2_lighting.php

Related Articles:
Lighting and Shadows:
http://www.istockphoto.com/article_view.php?ID=46
Setting up your own home studio:
http://www.istockphoto.com/article_view.php?ID=14
Custom White Balance:
http://www.istockphoto.com/article_view.php?ID=95

Decent Exposure:
http://www.istockphoto.com/article_view.php?ID=40

If you require further explanation regarding this rejection, please visit our critique forum for immediate peer to peer feedback. To visit the critique forum please see:
http://www.istockphoto.com/forum_threads.php?forumid=26 "

... which in my case always means flat natural light. So you can see that most of the links, useful in themselves, are of little use to help me to avoid similar rejections in future. (the only thing they could say is 'don't submit outdoor pics 95% of the time from where you live"). That's not to say that the articles on studio work aren't useful in themselves (READ THEM!). But don't imagine that any critique will be personal to your image. All the rejections are pretty general, with loads of links which don't apply to the actual image you got rejected.
The critique forum is good, and you will get personal critique. But @OP, to be honest, if you really don't care about whether you sell or not, iStock isn't the place for you. It exists as a commercial business to sell photos. There are other places to learn, even free/low cost. Maybe others can post here some examples of any I don't know about?
« Last Edit: January 17, 2010, 06:56 by ShadySue »

« Reply #53 on: January 17, 2010, 06:10 »
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istock claims to be pretty profitable ATM, despite amateurs wasting their time 'learning'. Was a time when their content chief JJRD spoke of istock as a place to 'grow photographers'. Add the fact that a contributor has to pass an acceptance test (3 images at a time) before being able to contribute in quantity (like, 15/week) and I don't think too much inspectors time is being wasted by newcomers.

ETA: I've read a lot of photography books and tutorials, been a member of a camera club and field naturalists club with lots of excellent photographers and I can say that most of the rejections on stock sites are unrelated to other areas of photography. Stock photography is a very particular style  and courses don't tend to teach how to shoot to a particular style unless it's a fine art style that doesn't sit well with producing components for a larger design.

One of the most instructive things I've ever done as far as learning stock style is to have a look at yuri's portfolio (on istock) sorted by age, from the earliest images to the latest. Some of his early stuff wasn't that great, but he developed his style over time. Same for lisegagne.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2010, 06:37 by averil »

« Reply #54 on: January 17, 2010, 08:11 »
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istock claims to be pretty profitable ATM, despite amateurs wasting their time 'learning'. Was a time when their content chief JJRD spoke of istock as a place to 'grow photographers'. Add the fact that a contributor has to pass an acceptance test (3 images at a time) before being able to contribute in quantity (like, 15/week) and I don't think too much inspectors time is being wasted by newcomers.

I dunno.  I keep seeing plenty of threads from newbies who "love rejections" because it helps them grow, and how great iStock is as a "learning experience" because they knew nothing about taking pictures.

ShadySue

« Reply #55 on: January 17, 2010, 08:20 »
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istock claims to be pretty profitable ATM, despite amateurs wasting their time 'learning'. Was a time when their content chief JJRD spoke of istock as a place to 'grow photographers'. Add the fact that a contributor has to pass an acceptance test (3 images at a time) before being able to contribute in quantity (like, 15/week) and I don't think too much inspectors time is being wasted by newcomers.

I dunno.  I keep seeing plenty of threads from newbies who "love rejections" because it helps them grow, and how great iStock is as a "learning experience" because they knew nothing about taking pictures.

I think it certainly used to be that people with little experience could be moulded into iStock's ways more quickly than those with a lot of experience in other fields of photography, who know that sub-optimal photos are often used to great profit elsewhere and railled at the thought of images, being sold for so little, have to be pixel perfect. They probably had a steeper learning curve than those who only know where the 'take' button was.

« Reply #56 on: January 17, 2010, 09:06 »
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I dunno.  I keep seeing plenty of threads from newbies who "love rejections" because it helps them grow, and how great iStock is as a "learning experience" because they knew nothing about taking pictures.

well pointed out, Mr. Locke.
could that be because those who gave them this impression   were many years ago themselves clueless about photography and they were able to become "stock photographers" simply because  microstock was a fledgling , and
as you pointed out initially , Mr. Locke, it used to be easier to get their pictures approved . repeat "USED TO BE".

which is why there is so much emphasis every year on them buying next year's model to "make better pictures for micro stock" ?    ;)
« Last Edit: January 17, 2010, 11:04 by PERSEUS »

« Reply #57 on: January 17, 2010, 09:17 »
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I think it certainly used to be that people with little experience could be moulded into iStock's ways more quickly than those with a lot of experience in other fields of photography, who know that sub-optimal photos are often used to great profit elsewhere and railled at the thought of images, being sold for so little, have to be pixel perfect. They probably had a steeper learning curve than those who only know where the 'take' button was.


that may be also a very good point, but  i tend to agree more with Mr.Locke's point of view.
« Last Edit: January 17, 2010, 10:52 by PERSEUS »

« Reply #58 on: January 17, 2010, 11:16 »
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could that be because those who gave them this impression   were many years ago themselves clueless about photography and they were able to become "stock photographers" simply because  microstock was a fledgling ,

Good point again, that sometimes timing is everything.

« Reply #59 on: January 17, 2010, 15:26 »
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what ever happened to people reading books and using common sense and study practices? Somebody mentioned using flickr to learn earlier in this thread. I'm not sure if I would recommend that .. considering that there are a billion photographers on there that don't have a clue. It seems you would risk learning bad habits and then have to break them later.

donding

  • Think before you speak
« Reply #60 on: January 17, 2010, 15:31 »
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what ever happened to people reading books and using common sense and study practices? Somebody mentioned using flickr to learn earlier in this thread. I'm not sure if I would recommend that .. considering that there are a billion photographers on there that don't have a clue. It seems you would risk learning bad habits and then have to break them later.
I agree I wouldn't use flickr. Ever Tom, Dick and Harry puts photos on there and besides there is the problem with people cutting and pasting or downloading your shots, thats why I removed all of mine. Also if you plan to ever go exclusive with iStock you'd have to remove them anyway.

« Reply #61 on: January 17, 2010, 16:08 »
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The problem I had with IS is that everything takes s-o-o-o long - like 2 weeks for a review - and when you're getting started you want some fast feedback.  So I suggest SS, although it's almost all 25 cent subscription sales.  Not only do they review quickly, you'll probably make a lot more sales there, initially, than you would at IS.   After about a year I've found SS has really fallen off while IS makes me a lot more money with half the portfolio.   But at the start, all the feedback from SS was helpful.

I think if I ever really did something in stock and had a big portfolio, I'd drop SS and their cr@ppy 25 cent sales, and go exclusive somewhere - but who knows, that's a long ways off if ever.

« Reply #62 on: January 17, 2010, 16:45 »
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The real point is more along the lines that if you get rejected for your photo being too blurry and out of focus it honestly doesn't teach you anything. It tells you that you're image is blurry and that's all.

It doesn't teach you about glass quality, focusing or operation. Was the blur created from using a soft lens that will never produce micro-acceptable images to begin with? Did you simply focus on the wrong area in the frame given your subject matter? Were you maybe shooting at 1/60 on a 300mm telephoto at full zoom? Were you shooting a single subject too close with an aperture of f/1.8? Were you shooting multiple subjects too close with an aperture of f/5.6? Should you have braced your body during the shot? Should you have held your breath? Should you have used a tripod? Should you have altered your shutter speed? Should you boosted your ISO (which I never recommend)? Changed your aperture? Switched to an appropriate lens? Added another light source?

The rejection notice didn't teach you any of this and it is not designed to teach you this. Instead of uploading thousands of bad images and expecting to learn from it people should focus on learning how to take a good photo in the first place. Until then they are simply not ready. Microstock is essentially a career. Regardless of how much money you make, you are trying to produce income therefore it is a job. The goal of a job isn't to make a couple bucks and waste a lot of time doing it.

Shooting, keywording, managing and uploading takes a lot of time .. why waste that time when you could "seriously" be learning?

« Reply #63 on: January 17, 2010, 19:42 »
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You won't even be accepted on istock or shutterstock if you can't shoot a sharp image. I think the major lesson to learn is shooting stock images - images that play well in designs. How many stock images would you be happy to frame? How many art images would be usable stock?

« Reply #64 on: January 19, 2010, 04:19 »
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Thank you all for your comments!
You've all given me much food for thought, and awesome tips that I will definitely try out soon!!!

Well, I am glad I initially thought of microstock a good way to learn, or else I would have never stumbled upon this website which has such a wealth of information and learning tools!!

« Reply #65 on: January 19, 2010, 09:11 »
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I'm a bit of a newbie myself, but from my limited experience, I would have to go with Shutterstock...I'm not making a killing, but I get some downloads almost every day.

« Reply #66 on: January 25, 2010, 13:26 »
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If you can pass the initial photo evaluation, I would say Shutterstock...but if you decide on another agency, I would log into the Shutterstock forums.  They are really helpful!


« Reply #67 on: January 25, 2010, 15:08 »
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Quote
Shutterstock has very good forums with great photographers willing to help sell you their book or photo course........

I've adjusted microstockphoto.co's statement above, this is the best forum for advice, and generally the folk here won't try and sell you anything.

As for which site to join, if you only want one and are doing this part time go with iStock. But I repeat what some others have said, ignore the hype you've probably read and do your own research.

Ditto

If you drop into the SS critique forums be prepared for the following

1. Expect to have a salesmen knock the wind out of you with the intention of undermining your confidence, low confidence about your photography skills will leave you wide open for future product and service sales.  After all you are in dire need of said salesman's help if you wish to succeed.
2. Expect to have a PM which asks you to call said salesman on your dime so that he can screen your ability to pay and drop a few encouraging words about your potential as a stellar photographer if you are smart enough to buy said product or services.
3. Expect warm and fuzzy comments on the SS forums about your skills if you support the above purchases
4. Expect continued encouragement by said salesman to help promote said product and services, if you help promote said salesman's product and services you can rest knowing that you helped leave future newbies open to the above predatory sales attacks
« Last Edit: January 25, 2010, 22:24 by gbalex »

« Reply #68 on: January 25, 2010, 15:20 »
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If it's really only the one then I would go with iStock. assuming that you're good because they'll give you a really hard time if you aren't. And if you do Ok you can always go exclusive a little later down the line.

If the prospect of iStock sounds a little duanting then I'd opt for shutterstock. By far the fastest turnaround and not so picky once they've accepted you.

« Reply #69 on: January 26, 2010, 01:52 »
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If it's really only the one then I would go with iStock. assuming that you're good because they'll give you a really hard time if you aren't. And if you do Ok you can always go exclusive a little later down the line.

If the prospect of iStock sounds a little duanting then I'd opt for shutterstock. By far the fastest turnaround and not so picky once they've accepted you.

the more I think about it, the more I agree

« Reply #70 on: January 26, 2010, 16:09 »
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 i have basic kit  cannon450 and mainly shoot with 55-250IS ,started last april ,   when i submitted everything on hard disk, soon realised i was wasting my time, i shoot mainly for rf123 and bigstock  and have 59 and 21 images accepted respectively,  3 accepted with dreamstime ,  and a total of 4 sales(witwoo) 3(rf123) 1 (dreamstime) and use rf123 and bigstock  as quality control, 
id love to produce a photobook of  my sales,  lord knows how long that will take,    but my local college are offering free digital course 10 week, i start thursday,  its very fortunate i have a day job,  but i will keep plugging away

« Reply #71 on: January 27, 2010, 16:19 »
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This is such a great thread for a newb to read through (which I am).  I couldn't have found a better assortment of opinions on this topic.  What is interesting to me is that there is not a consensus.  What worked 5 years ago might not work today.  What works for Person A may not work for Person B (for many reasons).  Etc.

What readers can learn is that there are advantages and disadvantages to each approach.  They can then use this knowledge to pick what will work best for them.  That's why this thread is so good.  It's all right there for you.  Take the information and make an informed decision that will work for you.

Thanks to all of those that contributed!

« Reply #72 on: January 27, 2010, 16:28 »
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From my experience, a few months after joining this forum as a newbie, you have to aim for IS and SS

I started out by contributing to the low earners until I was confident I could meet IS/SS standards. I am now signed up with both and, to give you an example, the 9 images accepted by SS as part of my application generated 11 downloads in 24 hours. Those same images haven't sold once in 3 months on low earner/new sites.

donding

  • Think before you speak
« Reply #73 on: January 27, 2010, 16:35 »
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The low end, low earner sites really are a waste of time. In reality their acceptance of every picture you upload doesn't teach you what will sell and what won't. You learn more by joining the bigger sites and that still doesn't guarantee big results...but it helps one learn alot about the composition, lighting...ect..ect

« Reply #74 on: January 27, 2010, 18:04 »
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I'd say SS. Cos you get results very fast and it motivates you further. If my pictures didn't start selling there I probably wouldn't stay in MS business. Other sites just took took too long to get going.


 

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