Photography Tips: Interview with a stock photographer

Photography Tips: Interview with a stock photographer

January 15, 2020 23 By Peter Engel


lots of you lovely people have been in touch asking about stock photography whether or not you can make money with your camera that way oh as much as i would love to say ive just flown all the way to singapore to ask our very known stock photographer i haven’t I just come back from our workshop in Myanmar when i had my lunch let’s go and meet my partner and he can tell you alot more about it than i can this man is a bigger buffoon than I am did you have a wonderful time in Myanmar I had a wonderful time in Myanmar it was absolutely brilliant mate looking forward to the next trip I’m looking forward to the next trip but thats not why i am here, so i need to do is ask you how long were you shooting have you been shooting as stock photographer 10 years and i have to say alot has changed in 10 years like any business it evolves naturally but it just the delivery of content now you know iphone smartphone so does stock agency take images from iphone, oh totally yes they’re taking images flicker they’re taking images from instagram it’s a whole paradigm shift in the industry so it’s interesting times as i said alot changed over 10 years uhm and now my advice to anyone that wants to get into stock photography is your really have to think do you want to run it as a separate business because it is a separate business ah you have to literally lock it to like a steam engine nourish it to get it going but then you know shovel images into the boiler you know to generate the income to keep it going so dont think if you want to go to stock photography you really have to have the mind set of do i want to run this as a separate business because you have to do the research you have to do uhm street costing it’s not just alot of people think that it could be umh walking down the street take some nice photos and you might sell it has a concept behind it, it has to have a concept that the client can use for an advertising campaign so it’s not about pretty picture, yes pretty picture do sell occasionally for landscape but there has to be some elements which signifies if it’s a landscape for example wind farm energy you it has to have a metaphors behind the imagery how do you know what to shoot the picture agencies will give you market research with quarterly update they plan years in advance for creative research what society needs in demands of imagery for commercial purposes so yes they will give you quarterly update whats the trend what’s happening in the environment whats happening in business so they will set you a brief which sort of pictures in this area we need a pictures of let’s say people on smart phones now images of laptops kind of even outdated now they wanted the LCD panels and now contents being delivered very much on the go on a smart phone and so yes technology so so besides shooting the imagery im guessing it has variations appetite the number of the images you gonna submit each month yes you really gonna have to really really constantly i cant put an exact figure on it but you know youll be atleast 100 a month hundreds if not thousands to run it as a business as business you cant do it on your own you will need someone doing retouching for you doing key wording which takes up a lot of time which alot of people dont realized you’ll gonna color correct you gonna put metadata to them this is uhm time consuming it’s very time consuming and then you need someone helping you produce the imagery do street casting what does that mean to produce the imagery ? as you highlighted earlier it’s not just going down the street and take a pretty picture you have to do your research your planning come up with concepts find your locations negotiate to useful location get a property release on the person that’s gonna lend you that location you have to do barter trading which is why it’s a great way to start out so my advice is to anyone whos thinking trying to make a living of stock photography its going very lightly first of all just do a few small simple shoots use your niece, your nephew your uncle your aunts friends and family families as models if you gonna choose a nice location maybe do a barter trade with the owner to signup a property release it’s always a good idea for release for all your picture model release, property release even you shoot at the back somebodies shoulder you need a release for that what about other genres of photography so many many hobbyist are very much into landscape photography would you say there’s a market for that would install not a huge demands for landscapes there’s a concept in it yes it news worthy it’s an environmental type they could be simple conceptual images like going around your house and making conceptual images you dont to have models you dont need to have people in you know it could just be a close up shot of something that signifies money or or say a piggy banky or saving for the future so you can come up with crazy concepts without spending a lot of money the trick is to produce from zero budget zero budget yeah and that is the challenge I went in a workshop run by a photographer many years ago who in the days of shooting on fuji velvia film etc uhm he told me one of his best selling images was actually was a photography oh his wife’s hand holding a you know a green unleaded pump you see it’s one of those things you actually just said you know what they’re removing unleaded fuel i think there would be a market for this quick dear jump out of the card and hold this click it’s something as simple as that less is more sometimes the trick it’s a simple readable image that a client or someone gonna purchase the image can identify with nothing too complicated message messy images just a simple clean image you know nice smiling face but also i guess allowing do you need to think about leading space to an image so you might choose several version of an image because portrait, landscapes you need one to put text for text yes thinking in advance how client might use this at the end of the day very much so, so really yes you can make money out of it but you really have to assess you know the production workflow that goes into it the manpower that you need uhm or the woman power so ah just start of with small simple images just contact the picture agencies ask them to research say you would like to submit do you have any market research or content needs uhm they will send you a list and then just think creatively how can i produce how can i produce the images what sort of shapes and sizes for example subject to the right very soft background possibly bright so that text can be laid over it subject to the right, subject to the left subject bottom left with space above start small submit the images and then when you start generating sales then maybe you can take a little bit of money aside just invest this small bit of money into maybe larger production shoot you know you can hire an assistant or i can hire somebody to help me out for the day do you get told where you images have appeared no no we just get the country it was sold from oh the gross amount net amount of after commission and i i just stumble across images of my travel you know whilst reading sunday papers or traveling on the train or looking at and see a billboard yea its they end up whole manner crazy media it could be like a little flyer for a bank here and when you walk in the bank you say that’s my image it’s quite rewarding actually very much so yeah i think this is in the sunday times i think just a little computer shots technology again i try not to shoot technology so it’s prominent cause technology deads your images are dead you wont have so much of a life span so the thought process behind the image just thinking about what you’re doing you know what i teach alot of you thought about this let’s say the girls hands it’s on the mouse you can see she’s using a technology but you cant see what kind of technology is so the image has a longer lifespan yea i try to use clothes which kinda like generic which not to funky because again fashion changes and a clothes which are comfortable at a pallets you know generic not too glary pinks colors belongs to pallets im gonna have maple syrup a good color pallets this is actually one of my highest selling images can recall on the top of my head but it’s a yea shopping image very happy shopping image and my love to shots don’t they we are also seeing here good times bad times shopping is the number one seller cause will shot out of you know to and in good times absolutely but also just thinking about the image you shoot the girls smiling shopping bag and you can see lots of space soft background to the sides neutral so Ok so your advice to somebody who wanting to break into this what im hearing you say just make sure i get it right would be treat it as a supplementary start small just start putting things in and it’s like any other business the more effort out into running that business the more likely to get out of it or just devote one day a week say im gonna shoot stock on sunday keep that i i used to do an image a day i would just find something conceptual by the end of the year ill have 365 images and it was just one image a day which will cost me no money and it works it works so that’s a good way to start it an image a day that is brilliant so Simon thank you so much and uhm having a seat here we opt to go uhm can we have a coffee or something i think that would be most pleasant OK Thank you very much