Friday, November 05, 2010

Shooting Stock 20101001


It’s been a while since I’ve been here, but it’s been busy with me finishing up my degree and whatnot. I did however get the chance to shoot a nice little stock project for and the rest of my microstock catalogue. It was the first day on my own after Philip has moved on to better things, so getting used to doing everything by myself was kinda strange!

This is what I had to clean up afterwards!

Anyways, Joleta Keane was the make-up artist for the day, and Monnique was the model. She has foot-modelled for me before, for a commercial shoot. However, this is not why I chose her… I wasn’t planning on shooting feet! Her mom (who is a client), mentioned that they were looking to have a selection of images shot of her, so we came to a compromise, i.e. pics for model-release.

Now, as with all stock shoots of this nature, production is key, in that efficiency and speed is important, as you need to get as many pics out of a day as possible.

The aim was for about 300, of which I’m looking at about 90-100 to ultimately end up in the agency portfolios. Well, we made that and a bit more. The generic and non-exclusive nature of microstock makes that possible. In rights-managed stock you are allowed one sister-image per collection (similar image). In microstock, you can have as many as you really need, to cover all the possible bases. What’s important about stock these days is that the makeup and styling is professional and fitting. Gone are the days you can get away with dodgy styling. You need to be spot-on nowadays.

What I can make a note about here is: I wish people having corporate portraits done would invest in make-up artists more – it really makes a huge difference! What’s better from this perspective, is that I could even use Joleta as a model in a couple of shots!

Anyways, without too much talk, here are some of the pics of the day. Do watch this video, as that’ll give you a good feel for the day as well. The complete collection of images is available from, or any of the other portals detailed on the homepage, including selections on, Shutterstock, BigStock and Dreamstime, among others.

 From a production point of view I always try and shoot as many concepts as possible, taking note to do seasonal images. Although they sell seldom through the year, they are best-sellers around their specific seasons, giving them quite a nice long-tailing (earnings lifetime) effect. As you can see, in this particular shoot I covered the really generic concepts, plus, ironically, some on photography, as the market and the career of photography has morphed into an incredibly big business, needing images to support the marketing of photography schools and products. Canon, in fact, has sold more lenses since the launch of the first DSLR in the early 00’s, than it has sold in it’s total lifetime of manufacturing lenses prior! That is currently about 20 000 000 lenses. So as you can see, I reckoned rather to fleece my competition, than complain!

And at the beach, it was cool, actually kinda cold, but we were able to withstand the elements and get some nice summery pics, which is kinda ironic.

Joleta was there to make sure Monnique’s hair stays sufficiently wind-swept in a controlled manner, and that her goose-bumps didn’t show.

Just to answer a question I get often. Yes, microstock can make up a reasonable percentage of your income, but here is a but, and a big BUT at that. In my opinion, there is no harder work involved in any type of photography, including the post-intensive wedding photography genre, than there is in stock. To have about 1700 images online, at a 85% reception rate, like I have, implies you needed to upload 2000 images. Not a great many people have that ratio, but I have been a photographer for a long time ;). Now, if you shoot full-frame like I do, that implies jpeg files of roughly 10mb per image. That puts you at 20 000mb of uploads. Or 20 Gigabyte. Now add on that RAW conversion, retouching at 100% always, de-fringing if needed, aberration corrections if your lens was playing up, compositing, and exporting. Then there is key-wording. With a good keyword tree, like I have built up, it can take up to 5 minutes to keyword and describe an image. Remember, these influence sales. Now, with the quality of bandwidth in SA, you can imagine how many times uploads are dropped due to bandwidth issues. Oh, and did I forget to mention setting up, shooting, planning, scouting, paying or arranging barters with everyone involved, propping ,styling etc?

And to conclude the answer to that question: you need about 20 000 images online to earn a reasonable modest income, if your images are market-related. Now, why do I do it? Well, I’m a firm believer in annuity type income, where little by little you make it grow (See Proverbs 13:11). Also, I believe in utilising all my time and skills, so while I’m doing stuff, uploads are running. But more than that, I love it. I’m really into commercial imagery. In music I can afford to be esoteric, but I’m one of the few photographers who like the money-shots! From a artistic point of view, that is. I love the industry of stock, the possibilities and the creative license.

In fact, some have noticed my passion for it, even though I’m a feebly small player in the field. See me as featured artist at:

Also, I micro-blog on stock imagery here at:

No comments: