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Author Topic: Portfolio critique, and few thoughts how to progress  (Read 2313 times)

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« on: November 09, 2022, 14:00 »
0
Hello all,

I have been creeping around for a while, made few posts, but never really introduced myself.
I am 36 years old czech guy living in The Netherlands since 2014, doing stock last few years, but it has been only last 2 years since
I delved into it on a slightly more serious level. I figured out only recently that me being an INTJ, metalhead, and antisocial outsider, this is really the
best hobby for me, only I feel like being a decade or two late to make a living out of it (with the comissions tanking fatally) Anyway, just few days ago my port at SS reached 1000 photos (and in few months time I should reach that as well on adobe and istock). That made me to evaluate a bit, and think about the future.

As of now, with port of 1000 (and bit less on other 5 agencies) my monthly average in last 3 months was 83 dollars.
I would love to keep shooting stock in any case, but as you can imagine, I would like to squeeze some cash out of it along the way.
So, here is my port: https://www.shutterstock.com/g/milos+ruzicka
I would love to hear some honest and constructive critique. I am all self-learnt, no photo courses, no friends photographers, and it is more than likely I am still making some beginners mistakes.

On the top of that, I had these ideas for the future to maximize my profit:
- do more videos (I got only few, and it is all taken with smartphone, didnt really master the video with my Sony A7IV+Tamron 35-150 f2-2.8 yet, shamefully)
- do timelapses (I live in Amsterdam, and I was thinking about finding some slightly elevated spots with good view on the landmarks)
- do more model released photos (selfies basically, I got almost no friends, so idea of asking someone to be a model for me is just unreal as much as I would love it)
- do more sets (I used to submit one photo only, while now I know it does not hurt to submit more of the same subject, different angles, slight changes)

Does anything of it make sense ?




« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2022, 02:33 »
+5
Welcome to the forum.

I am sure there are plenty of other tips people can give you, but after a first glance these are the two suggestions for improiving your port that popped into my mind:

- keywording and titles. Take this image for example:
https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/skyline-amsterdam-south-agricultural-field-animals-2210434507
You named it "Skyline of Amsterdam south with agricultural field and animals in the foreground". If you want customers to find what they are looking for, you need to describe your images as accurately as possible. Here the obvious seems to be missing: Sheep and cows. You just name them "animals" and I don't see sheep or cows in the keywords as well. It seems like a no-brainer that sheep and cows are the main subject of the image, so you should name them.
This is not a major problem in your port. Most images seem to be described quite accurately and keywords are okay, but I still see room for improvement. This one for example is missing the important keyword "squash": https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/pumpkins-price-tags-on-sale-dutch-2199437709
I assume the Dutch language probably only knows one word for pumpkin, as does my language, but in English many of what we would call a "pumpkin" in our languages are actually squashes. It seems like a minor thing only, but you should really make sure to include every relevant keyword.

- photo editing. In microstock it is very important that you images stand out from the mass of millions of other images, especially if you don't have unique subjects that hardly have any competition. A lot of your images seem a bit "dull" color-wise. Your landscapes often have a kind of haze, even when the sky seems blue and I think a lot of them would profit from a bit brighter colors. I am not sure what you use to edit your images, but most programs, even the cheap or even free ones, should have an easy option for enhancing colors a bit.

« Last Edit: November 10, 2022, 02:36 by Her Ugliness »

« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2022, 03:19 »
0
Devotio777, stop taking photos at all, don't waste your time on photography. In the photo you will not earn normal money. Shoot only video. That's all that you took in the photo, shoot now on video. Get yourself a tripod, gimbal. Yes, you can hire models and shoot them however you like, but models are a cost and you have no income. Therefore, shoot videos without models for now, and only videos.
If you are not satisfied with your camera, I can also recommend the Panasonic GH6, an excellent camera for drains. But the camera is not the main thing, the main thing is to constantly shoot videos so that the size of your portfolio grows to 6000 and more videos.
Look at my posts, I wrote on which stocks you need to upload a video or where you should strive to get.
That's all.

« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2022, 03:24 »
+1
When shooting a video, the main thing is that there is no stupidly static video. There must be some action in the frame or you must pan the camera slowly.
The main tools of a videographer are tripod, gimbal, slider. On GH6 I can shoot a lot handheld, the camera has a good stabilizer.
If you shoot at home, you need light. You can make your own soft boxes from cardboard, or you can buy them, they are not expensive. But I think that's all you have.

« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2022, 03:58 »
+9
Here is another advice: Do not take advice from people who basically do nothing but complain about their microstock income on the forum. Obviously they are doing something wrong.

« Reply #5 on: November 10, 2022, 04:45 »
0
Her Ugliness, is this a stone in my garden? Where and when did I complain about my general income?
And the fact that I participate in topics that interest me is my right.
Don't write lies.

« Reply #6 on: November 10, 2022, 06:36 »
0
Welcome to the forum.

I am sure there are plenty of other tips people can give you, but after a first glance these are the two suggestions for improiving your port that popped into my mind:

- keywording and titles. Take this image for example:
https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/skyline-amsterdam-south-agricultural-field-animals-2210434507
You named it "Skyline of Amsterdam south with agricultural field and animals in the foreground". If you want customers to find what they are looking for, you need to describe your images as accurately as possible. Here the obvious seems to be missing: Sheep and cows. You just name them "animals" and I don't see sheep or cows in the keywords as well. It seems like a no-brainer that sheep and cows are the main subject of the image, so you should name them.
This is not a major problem in your port. Most images seem to be described quite accurately and keywords are okay, but I still see room for improvement. This one for example is missing the important keyword "squash": https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/pumpkins-price-tags-on-sale-dutch-2199437709
I assume the Dutch language probably only knows one word for pumpkin, as does my language, but in English many of what we would call a "pumpkin" in our languages are actually squashes. It seems like a minor thing only, but you should really make sure to include every relevant keyword.

- photo editing. In microstock it is very important that you images stand out from the mass of millions of other images, especially if you don't have unique subjects that hardly have any competition. A lot of your images seem a bit "dull" color-wise. Your landscapes often have a kind of haze, even when the sky seems blue and I think a lot of them would profit from a bit brighter colors. I am not sure what you use to edit your images, but most programs, even the cheap or even free ones, should have an easy option for enhancing colors a bit.

Thank you Ugliness, but hey! sheep and cows are there, in the keywords... but yeah, you are definitely right there is a room for improvement. I recently started experimenting with adding more keywords than I used to (while keeping them relevant) and it is probably a good idea to think about synonyms (I sometimes use google trends to compare two words, to see how popular they are, it is fun!)
I am using lightroom for editing. When it comes to that haze and dullness, I have a suspicion that you are talking about the pictures I have taken either on a gloomy day, or around noon, when the sky is bland and colorless, and in that case I usually use masking selectively on the sky, push the sliders, so in the end instead of completely dull sky there is just some color, but as you can imagine, once the weather conditions are bad, there is only certain amount of improvement possible, and almost everytime I tried sky replacement, I was not satisified with the result (plus it takes a lot mof time).

« Reply #7 on: November 10, 2022, 06:57 »
0
Devotio777, stop taking photos at all, don't waste your time on photography. In the photo you will not earn normal money. Shoot only video. That's all that you took in the photo, shoot now on video. Get yourself a tripod, gimbal. Yes, you can hire models and shoot them however you like, but models are a cost and you have no income. Therefore, shoot videos without models for now, and only videos.
If you are not satisfied with your camera, I can also recommend the Panasonic GH6, an excellent camera for drains. But the camera is not the main thing, the main thing is to constantly shoot videos so that the size of your portfolio grows to 6000 and more videos.
Look at my posts, I wrote on which stocks you need to upload a video or where you should strive to get.
That's all.


Yeah, I know money is in the video nowadays. I enjoy taking photos much more, but at the same time I see video as exciting new thing to learn and do.
I think my Sony A7IV is pretty good for video, but there is a lot to learn, have to find good tutorial about picture profiles, quality settings an all the rest.
As a fun fact, I recorded few videos with my smartphone last weekend at the airport, where climate activists broke in to the airport terrain through the fence.
There were some pretty dramatic moments and I thought what else should sell if not this... but to my disappointment I only sold few stills, and only for cents.
I guess in this particular case it would have been smarter to contact some news directly, the same day I took that footage.

Brasilnut

  • Author Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock & Blog

« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2022, 07:10 »
+1
I can see the climate change protestor stuff selling and hopefully you're also putting them up on other agencies, including Alamy.

Terrestrial timelapses and videos are OK but nowadays would highly recommend you get a drone + qualifications now as will give you an edge on the competition.

« Reply #9 on: November 10, 2022, 08:01 »
0
I can see the climate change protestor stuff selling and hopefully you're also putting them up on other agencies, including Alamy.
Terrestrial timelapses and videos are OK but nowadays would highly recommend you get a drone + qualifications now as will give you an edge on the competition.
Drone videos don't sell well in my opinion. Yes, and in the cities of Europe you cant fly a drone, it will be taken away and a fine will be issued. Also, the drone is an expensive thing that is easy to break or lose.

« Reply #10 on: November 10, 2022, 08:02 »
0
Devotio777, if you are interested in the money, not the process, then do not shoot the editorial, few stock agencies accept editorial, and it sells very poorly. Waste of time. Yes, and you can get on the head, and the camera will be broken :).

« Reply #11 on: November 11, 2022, 07:12 »
+3
You say that you live in Amsterdam - so my advice is to take advantage of it. The bestsellers from Amsterdam must have thousands of downloads, but I see no photos from the historic center of Amsterdam in your portfolio. Go to some famous scenic spots in Amsterdam and try to get them in the best light possible.

« Reply #12 on: November 11, 2022, 07:48 »
0
You say that you live in Amsterdam - so my advice is to take advantage of it.
Marijuana for example.  8) From cultivation to consumption (smoking)!

« Reply #13 on: November 12, 2022, 12:19 »
0
There is some money to be made in stock , but it is a numbers game.  The more images the better your chance of sales.  Also, when shooting, try to keep in mind "what kind of customers will this image be useful to?"  For instance, your shots of Amsterdam would certainly apply to the travel industry, so make sure you keyword them with words like travel, travel destination, landmark, and such.  Shoot more close ups, details usually sell well. one of my popular shots was of french fries cooking at a local outdoor fair.  My port has about 17000 images and generates between $800-1200 per month consistently.   Nice passive income.  All photos, no video.   Keep at it, and always have your camera ready.  Good lluck

« Reply #14 on: November 12, 2022, 20:49 »
0
First you need to decide what you want to achieve.  Do you want to be a part-time hobbyist, or do you want to be professional and make solid money?  If you want to succeed you need to have a plan - just going out and snapping here and there is not going to get results.  Amsterdam is one of the most visited and popular cities and photos of all the iconic places and buildings sell like wildfire to thousands of web sites.  Do a search for 'the twenty most popular attractions etc...' and you'll see what sells.  Then make a plan including a list.  Go to one of the attractions with a plan to capture every angle.  Choose a sunny day.

« Reply #15 on: November 12, 2022, 21:56 »
0
Some very nice pictures here at Adobe...

https://stock.adobe.com/search/images?load_type=search&is_recent_search=&search_type=usertyped&k=amsterdam&native_visual_search=&similar_content_id=

Notice a few things: first all of these pictures shout typical Amsterdam, second they are taken in bright light during Spring and summer when there are flowers and leaves on the trees, third they are processed to vibrant colors.  Any buyer would be happy to pay money for these pictures. 
« Last Edit: November 12, 2022, 22:20 by hatman12 »

« Reply #16 on: November 13, 2022, 07:18 »
+8
... Amsterdam is one of the most visited and popular cities and photos of all the iconic places and buildings sell like wildfire to thousands of web sites.  ..

of course it's also one of most photographed sites! so, new images arer not going to sell like wildfire to thousands of web sites.  ..

« Reply #17 on: November 14, 2022, 09:52 »
0
I can see the climate change protestor stuff selling and hopefully you're also putting them up on other agencies, including Alamy.

Terrestrial timelapses and videos are OK but nowadays would highly recommend you get a drone + qualifications now as will give you an edge on the competition.

Oh yeah, I am uploading to Alamy as well. Cant remember ever having a photo rejected there, but sales are very, very infrequent... just thinking about it, I cant think of anyone (I mean from people I follow who share their sale reports) except for maybe Todd Bannor, who have some consistent success with them... but then still, one sale on alamy is often more than the whole month on some bigstock, depositphotos...

Hmm, yes, I have been thinking about the drone for a while, it would be the next step, but everytime I encounter drone somewhere while on the walks, I am slightly annoyed, and thinking like: *, I dont want to be that guy. Plus I can imagine that restrictions and regulations here in The Netherlands must be quite strict. In my home country you can still roam freely like a wild animal at many places, but dutch people organize, restrict and regulate things in almost all areas of life.
So it is a bit of a mixed bag for me, but I can totally see why drone can be a great tool to have an edge in stock photo/videography.


« Reply #18 on: November 14, 2022, 10:03 »
+2
You say that you live in Amsterdam - so my advice is to take advantage of it. The bestsellers from Amsterdam must have thousands of downloads, but I see no photos from the historic center of Amsterdam in your portfolio. Go to some famous scenic spots in Amsterdam and try to get them in the best light possible.

I am always on the lookout for good weather conditions and ready to hop on the bike and cycle to the center of Amsterdam to take photos, but competition for such a popular spot is high, so I often find myself taking photos somewhere bit further outside the center. There are many interesting neighbourhoods.
But like you say, as an insider, I have advantage to someone who is here only as a tourist for few days, so I am definitely going to keep shooting.

« Reply #19 on: November 14, 2022, 10:11 »
0
You say that you live in Amsterdam - so my advice is to take advantage of it.
Marijuana for example.  8) From cultivation to consumption (smoking)!

Haha, actually I still have somewhere plastic bag of weed that my friend found forgotten in dutch train, that I have absolutely no interest of smoking, but using it to stage a "marihuana deal" between the seller and the consumer. More exciting that the shitload of windmills I used to shoot, to the point of people around me making fun of me... but I made few consistent sellers that way.

« Reply #20 on: November 14, 2022, 10:59 »
0
So it is a bit of a mixed bag for me, but I can totally see why drone can be a great tool to have an edge in stock photo/videography.
If you are allowed to fly in Amsterdam, then a drone can help. Otherwise, absolutely useless thing. I have a drone, and I dont live in a country where there are strict rules, I fly in the city, but they practically dont buy drone videos from me, obviously this is all low-stock. A good drone video also needs models.
In general, I will say this, a normal drone costs about $ 1000, it makes sense to buy if you can fly in major tourist cities. If you shoot video for stocks, then a drone is the last thing after a tripod, a gimbal, a slider, a good PC.

« Reply #21 on: November 15, 2022, 04:57 »
+1
You say that you live in Amsterdam - so my advice is to take advantage of it. The bestsellers from Amsterdam must have thousands of downloads, but I see no photos from the historic center of Amsterdam in your portfolio. Go to some famous scenic spots in Amsterdam and try to get them in the best light possible.

I am always on the lookout for good weather conditions and ready to hop on the bike and cycle to the center of Amsterdam to take photos, but competition for such a popular spot is high, so I often find myself taking photos somewhere bit further outside the center. There are many interesting neighbourhoods.
But like you say, as an insider, I have advantage to someone who is here only as a tourist for few days, so I am definitely going to keep shooting.

I sold hundreds of my Amsterdam photos on microstock and I only have been to Amsterdam on 3-4 weekends as tourist and I never managed to get particularly nice weather there (except one time, but I don't sell these photos on microstock). So you can certainly do better. Don't hesitate to shoot the popular angles, they are popular for a reason. Just try to get a better than average photo there, so it stands out from the crowd

Brasilnut

  • Author Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock & Blog

« Reply #22 on: November 15, 2022, 11:19 »
+2
I wouldn't share so openly my best-sellers from a place but it's been so long that it doesn't matter anymore.

So, I lived in Rotterdam, Netherlands between 2011-2014 and these were/are my best-sellers from that time.

At the time, Rotterdam was growing a lot with new buildings/infrastructure, so buyers picked up on those kinds of shots. Rotterdam Central station and Markthal come to mind.

I shot regularly in Amsterdam but very few sales from there with exception of inside Schiphol terminal and airplanes.

I'm keen to go back there in the spring and shoot the tulip fields with my drone.

« Reply #23 on: November 15, 2022, 16:19 »
0
I wouldn't share so openly my best-sellers from a place but it's been so long that it doesn't matter anymore.

So, I lived in Rotterdam, Netherlands between 2011-2014 and these were/are my best-sellers from that time.

At the time, Rotterdam was growing a lot with new buildings/infrastructure, so buyers picked up on those kinds of shots. Rotterdam Central station and Markthal come to mind.

I shot regularly in Amsterdam but very few sales from there with exception of inside Schiphol terminal and airplanes.

I'm keen to go back there in the spring and shoot the tulip fields with my drone.

Thanks for sharing. I forgot to say before that I am a follower of your website, and find it very helpful and inspiring.
I used to live in Breda till July 2022, had a boring job for a chinese company, working in excel, and spent countless hours reading your posts and thinking about stock instead of working.

Looks like you got into some building to have a good view on Rotterdam central station. I have been there so many times (and will be there tomorrow again on the way to a metal concert) but always thought there are too many distracting elements in the composition, and didnt take any photos.
I got a discount pass for dutch trains which allows me to travel for free at the weekends, and in combination with bike it is a great way to explore and cover many places. Nothing like cycling the whole day, shooting stock, and then ending in some pub drinking special beer to finish the day off!

Tulips with the drone sounds good.
I got this idea of capturing dutch tulips together with dutch train and rental bike also from dutch railways.
https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/lisse-south-holland-netherlands-0105-ovfiets-1969662391
Sold few times, but nothing crazy.

My best-seller is one of the first, if not the very first photo that I have uploaded to stock sites
https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/lighthouse-breda-by-sunset-540095644
all about that sky, which was really spectacular that moment.

followed by this one
https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/scenery-traditional-dutch-windmill-called-de-1736017865
despite that bland sky


Brasilnut

  • Author Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock & Blog

« Reply #24 on: November 16, 2022, 07:25 »
0
I wouldn't share so openly my best-sellers from a place but it's been so long that it doesn't matter anymore.

So, I lived in Rotterdam, Netherlands between 2011-2014 and these were/are my best-sellers from that time.

At the time, Rotterdam was growing a lot with new buildings/infrastructure, so buyers picked up on those kinds of shots. Rotterdam Central station and Markthal come to mind.

I shot regularly in Amsterdam but very few sales from there with exception of inside Schiphol terminal and airplanes.

I'm keen to go back there in the spring and shoot the tulip fields with my drone.

Thanks for sharing. I forgot to say before that I am a follower of your website, and find it very helpful and inspiring.
I used to live in Breda till July 2022, had a boring job for a chinese company, working in excel, and spent countless hours reading your posts and thinking about stock instead of working.

Looks like you got into some building to have a good view on Rotterdam central station. I have been there so many times (and will be there tomorrow again on the way to a metal concert) but always thought there are too many distracting elements in the composition, and didnt take any photos.
I got a discount pass for dutch trains which allows me to travel for free at the weekends, and in combination with bike it is a great way to explore and cover many places. Nothing like cycling the whole day, shooting stock, and then ending in some pub drinking special beer to finish the day off!

Tulips with the drone sounds good.
I got this idea of capturing dutch tulips together with dutch train and rental bike also from dutch railways.
https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/lisse-south-holland-netherlands-0105-ovfiets-1969662391
Sold few times, but nothing crazy.

My best-seller is one of the first, if not the very first photo that I have uploaded to stock sites
https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/lighthouse-breda-by-sunset-540095644
all about that sky, which was really spectacular that moment.

followed by this one
https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/scenery-traditional-dutch-windmill-called-de-1736017865
despite that bland sky

Hi Devotio,

Cool you follow my blog! :) I was probably at my boring corporate job in Madrid while writing some of the posts so we were both dreaming of freedom haha

Yes, the view of Rotterdam Central was taken from my ex-office so was priviledged to have this view point. From down below it's not as interesting.

These are three pretty shots but probably difficult to have 100s of sales as still too generic. For instance the sheep with windmills, soon we'll have AI that can create almost infinite variations of this type of scene with a query-search - many threads about this here alerady.

That's why I suggested the drone perspective but not as easy as buying a drone and taking off as there are lots of rules as you've mentioned. I still think it's worth getting all the qualifications / authorizations. Much of the NL is still OK to fly without major issues, including the tulip fields.



 

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