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Exhibitions, stock photos, professional work This board concentrates on topics that explore the potential of your photography being seen by a wider audience and even earning you some money.

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  #1  
Old 20th May 2011
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Exclamation Stock photo agencies - is it worth it?

This subject was raised, off the main topic, in a different thread. As we didn't really have a board for discussing more formal and commercial aspects of photography (exhibitions, stock agencies, other commercial work), I thought it was time to start one and this is the first thread in the new board I have created!

So, who has experience of stock agencies. I registered with Alamy ages ago but never got around to submitting any shots

You can earn useful income from these agencies if you know what you are doing, so how successful are e-group members?

Ian
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Old 20th May 2011
sponner sponner is offline
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Re: Stock photo agencies - is it worth it?

"Is it worth it" ......... I think that depends what you are after.

As I have intimated on the other thread I am a complete novice photographer starting from scratch last Autumn.

Since then I have uploaded to most of the micro stock agencies, Alamy and a couple of print on demand sites.

Here is the stuff I have on Alamy.


My portfolio is small and very mediocre so commissions across all sites amount to about 150 or so, most of that I can't claim yet as I haven't reached the amount required for payout. Given the hours I have put in, it certainly isn't worth it for me from a finacial point of view.

What has been very worthwhile for me is the learning I have gained trying to meet the very demanding terchnical requirements of most stock agencies.

If anyone is interested I can give more info on the individual agencies from a novices pov.
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Old 20th May 2011
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Re: Stock photo agencies - is it worth it?

I will just add that the type of photo required for stock is very very different from most of the fantastic images I have seen on this forum, as one stock site forum regular puts it stock is about "prose not poetry".

There are also lots of issues with model releases, property releases, keywording etc to get your head round.

E.g one of my recent "best sellers" (good for me anyway!) is this


p.s. That is a referal link so if you did sign up to dreamstime from it and started selling pics I would get a small commission, makes no difference to the contributor but thought I would mention it in the interests of transparency.
I have referal links for all the other sites too
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Old 20th May 2011
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Re: Stock photo agencies - is it worth it?

Talking to people I know who have worked hard to build stock photo portfolios, several points emerge:

1. Artistic merit is often far from the priority with buyers and sometimes bizarrely banal shots become good earners.

2. You need to submit a lot of images - thousands, even.

3. Key wording is a huge factor in attracting buyers.

Ian
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Old 20th May 2011
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Re: Stock photo agencies - is it worth it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian View Post
Talking to people I know who have worked hard to build stock photo portfolios, several points emerge:

1. Artistic merit is often far from the priority with buyers and sometimes bizarrely banal shots become good earners.

2. You need to submit a lot of images - thousands, even.

3. Key wording is a huge factor in attracting buyers.

Ian
What is the best way to start?
Caroline
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Old 20th May 2011
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Re: Stock photo agencies - is it worth it?

I've sold a few images through Photographers Direct. Some through their "wants" posts and some stock photos I have placed with them. Payments aren't great but you get to negotiate direct with the buyer and commission rates are low.
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Old 20th May 2011
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Re: Stock photo agencies - is it worth it?

Charty as you seem interested I'll summarise my experience thus far, I know I keep saying this but it is important to remember I am very much a noob with a camera so others may have a different perspective.

The first thing you need is a very thick skin and low expectations!

All the worthwhile agencies review your submissions and reject the ones that don't, in their opinion, measure up to their requirements. This can be very frustrating as there is no consistency within one agency and each one has its individual quirks.

Across the board landscapes, flowers, pets, insects etc. have to be fabulous to get in.

I will summarise the agencies I am with together with referal links (click on the agency name). The ones listed below have no "entrance exam" so it is just a matter of signing up, preparing the photo, adding keywords in exif data (important or you have to keyword for each site) and uploading, preferably with a utility that uploads to all or most of the agencies at once.

Cutcaster
Easy reviews and uploading, very low sales for me.

Canstock
Very easy and quick reviews, very easy uploading process. Low sales.

Bigstock
Reasonable reviews, low sales.

123RF
Reasonable reviews, very easy uploading process, reasonable sales.

Dreamstime
One of the bigger sites, tough reviews , moderate sales.


Fotolia

Quite tough reviews with limited feedback, one of my better earners.

Mostphotos
A bit strange as there is no review process at all, rubbish sales (less that $1 in 6 months) but you can download your portfolia in one zip file so I use it as free online backup.

I would have a bash with these first, starting with the sites that are more easy going with reviews. Once you are ok there I would move onto Fotolia nd Dreamstime, these seem to be two of the sites where the money is.

Once you are getting reasonable acceptance rates at these it may be worth trying to crack the tougher nuts where the earning potential may be higher,

Shutterstock
Easily my favourite site, very tough reviews but regular sales. You have to submit 10 images for examination before you can upload. 7/10 have to pass to be accepted as a contributor. I fluked it on the first try but that was after several months learning on the other sites.

Istockphoto
My least favourite site, toughest reviews, low commssion and low sales so far, it is one of the major players in the industry though so....... Again there is a process to go through to be accepted, I think it was submit 3 for exam all have to pass. I got in on second attempt.

Alamy
More midstock than micro stock, payments can be significantly higher than micros (having said that I have made a grand total of $3 or so from two sales ). There is a requirement to submit samples for approval before being accepted. Once in Alamy don't review for content, just technical quality. They dip sample rather than reviewing each image, I have had none refused yet so they must be reasonable but I do only upload shots I think will be ok. UK newspapers etc. source a lot of shots from Alamy so it is a good place for Rights managed and editorial content that isn't accepted on the Royalty Free micro sites. Quirky upload processs.

This turned into a bit of a rant, hope it helps.
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  #8  
Old 20th May 2011
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Re: Stock photo agencies - is it worth it?

thanks! thats really helpful, I'll let you know how I get on!
Caroline
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Old 20th May 2011
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Re: Stock photo agencies - is it worth it?

I am willing to share my own experiences, but these may not be typical.
Firstly I never stop networking, ever. If I see an opportunity for a sales pitch I take it. Unashamedly.
A great source of inspiration when I first started was "The Writers & Artists Year Book". Gives lots of agencies and publications and specifically what they are after.
Read several issues of the type of publication that suits the type of images you take.This way you can get a 'feel' for what type of images they like. Don't be surprised though at what gets taken up and what does not.
I submitted a picture of a White Tailed Sea eagle dropping a fish to an American agency This image has been used world wide now by publications as diverse as a Japanese car manufacturers corporate magazine (it was used to illustrate an article about
maintaining concentration) and a Scandanavian Fish Processor.
Submitting pictures to magazines etc directly can be a good earner but often the rewards are poor. Especially from photo mags.
Respond quickly to image requests. A few years ago when living south of the border I was contacted one Sunday morning about images of a roast chicken.
To cut a long story short a chicken was purchased, roasted, dressed and laid out, photographed, and the images sent in 3 hours. One month later a nice three figure sum was transferred to the business account. Since then this agency has used dozens of my images. From images of the remains of the Remagen Bridge in Germany, to an infra red picture of a derelict chalet, to an image of a kilt pin.
My wife has just researched what our highest earning image is (excluding print sales by ourselves) it is a picture of Eilean Donan Castle taken after a thunderstorm when the sun was just starting to break through. In the first year we had it on offer we grossed 6300. Not bad for a few minutes work.
We have had images published in the following.
Sunday Times: Editorial & Advertising
Sunday Times Colour Supplement; Editorial (news)
The Daily Telegraph ; Features
The Observer; Lifestyle
Scottish Wildlife Trust Magazine (Sea Eagles Golden Eagle)
Visit Scotland Publications
Scottish Executive Publications & Advertising
Inverness Courier
Press & Journal
The Herald
The Daily Express
The Mail on Sunday
The Guardian.
We have had images used by General Accident, Brinks Mat, Sainsbury's, Norwich Union, Mercedes Benz, (very fast payers)Unilever, and numerous advertising agencies.
Payment can range from 40 - 1500 for single use.
Postcards and calendars are a good source of revenue.
This year we have had 11 new images taken on by postcard companies both here and abroad and the average payment is 120 per image postcard use only or 85 calendar use only.
A friend who sometimes posts on this forum was with me when I took an image on Berneray in the Western Isles which to date has earned 4212.67p
We heard this week that one of the first images I ever took with my E5 of two council workers clearing snow so their snow plough /gritter could get moving is being considered by a blue chip advertising company as part of a series of images to illustrate determination . Their client is a huge pan global company who will probably offer a good five figure sum to use it and only slightly less to retain it's use unpublished.
However, the downside. If you are not emotionally strong and very thick skinned don't do it. I have had images shredded and verbally rubbished by picture editors and been told just how c**p my images are on more than one occassion.
Just shrug it off and keep going.
Very few of my "fine art" type images have been used. However a lot of 'snaps' have proved to be very lucrative indeed.
We are emotionally attached to our images and so we do not view them as
we should. The publisher of my first book derided my first sample submission and told me to "get out and take pictures we want not what you like" my submission was too ethereal.
So that is my experience. Very good money to be made if you stick at it and produce the images wanted. Not what you think will sell.
As for micro agencies. Mmmm! I just don't bother.
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Old 20th May 2011
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Re: Stock photo agencies - is it worth it?

Very interesting thanks.

I am aware of that the micro's are really looked down on by many pro photographers but its working for me atm, I would have no idea where to start with the stuff you outline above.
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Old 20th May 2011
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Re: Stock photo agencies - is it worth it?

I started submitting to istockphoto a year ago, it was a lot of forms and submission of photos to get accepted. I got 5 photos accepted straight away but then had a lot of rejections after those, so I lost heart in it and haven't submitted any in ages, but I do plan to start again soon
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Old 20th May 2011
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Re: Stock photo agencies - is it worth it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by stevednp3 View Post
I started submitting to istockphoto a year ago, it was a lot of forms and submission of photos to get accepted. I got 5 photos accepted straight away but then had a lot of rejections after those, so I lost heart in it and haven't submitted any in ages, but I do plan to start again soon
Do they explain clearly why the images were rejected?

Ian
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Re: Stock photo agencies - is it worth it?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ian View Post
Do they explain clearly why the images were rejected?

Ian
Yes two usual reasons, either didn't like the content or artifacts in the image, I was over sharpening back then . But I have to say I learnt by it and I'm ready to go again now

The 5 images that got submitted earnt 60 in a year, not something to retire on but I can see with a good quantity of quality images, there is some money to be made
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Old 20th May 2011
sponner sponner is offline
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Re: Stock photo agencies - is it worth it?

Istock do give a pretty comprehensive reason(s) for rejection. The only problem I have is seeing what they mean!

E.g. for the this image

I think just about all the others accepted it.

Rejection Reason

In review of this file, we found the lighting underexposed. 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

Resubmit
You may choose to resubmit the new file with the above correction(s).
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Old 20th May 2011
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Re: Stock photo agencies - is it worth it?

Your picture isn't under exposed at all. In fact there are some blown highlights. The subject is predominantly dark, which is how you would see it in real life.

My main issue with this shot (apart from the cooked highlight in the froth of the head) is the distracting background, even though it's blurred.

But I can see your thinking and submitting a well thought subject like this is part of the key to success, I think.

Ian

Quote:
Originally Posted by sponner View Post
Istock do give a pretty comprehensive reason(s) for rejection. The only problem I have is seeing what they mean!

E.g. for the this image

I think just about all the others accepted it.

Rejection Reason

In review of this file, we found the lighting underexposed. 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

Resubmit
You may choose to resubmit the new file with the above correction(s).
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