I have been a contributing photographer with Stocksy United for four years now, so I thought I would reflect a little about my time with Stocksy. Back when I was accepted to Stocksy in 2013 (there is a robust application process) my goal for stock photography was to earn a little extra cash to go […]
Lighting for Stock Photography | by JP Danko | blurMEDIA Photography | Toronto Stock Photographer | In this week’s column at DIYPhotography.net, I explore natural lighting for stock photography. Using a photography session with my daughter fishing at our friend’s cottage as an example, I used a number of photos from the shoot to illustrate the difference between good natural light and great lighting for stock photography. Click here for the full post at DIY Photography. Here is my favorite natural lighting for stock photography photo from the stock photography session: About The Author JP Danko is a commercial photographer based in Toronto, Canada. JP can change a lens mid-rappel, swap a memory card while treading water, or use a camel as a light stand. To see more of his work please visit his studio website blurMEDIAphotography, or follow him on Twitter, 500px, Google Plus or YouTube. JP’s photography is available for licensing at Stocksy United.
Stocksy United – A Photographer’s Review | by JP Danko | blurMEDIA Photography | Toronto Commercial Photographer | I recently began contributing to Stocksy United – the new(ish) stock photography agency that is headed up by Bruce Livingstone of iStockPhoto notoriety fame. Why I Contribute To Stock Agencies I consider myself a business owner first and foremost. Photography is a job that I really, really like doing, but in the world in which I live, like Zorba the Greek – “Wife, children, house, everything. The full catastrophe” – I need to earn an income or I cannot be a photographer. To that end, I see stock as a secondary revenue stream – a way to add potential income to commercial jobs that are already in the can (by selling “left over” images that were not licensed to my primary client). I also see stock as a way to create a potential revenue stream for personal projects – which in turn, allows me the freedom to photograph more personal projects. As an example, the image below is the first photograph that I contributed to Stocksy. It is a photograph that I took of my wife up at our cottage. At the time, I was practicing underwater photography techniques for an upcoming commercial gig that I had with three potential Olympic swim team athletes – and the images that I captured on my own time, now have the potential to generate revenue. Stock versus MicroStock Over the years I have dabbled in microstock, including iStockPhoto. It is pretty easy to have your work represented by the various MicroStock agencies, so the barrier to entry is relatively low. However, with microstock, I quickly learned that there was not much point in me spending wasting my time preparing – editing, keywording, uploading and curating my stock catalog just to earn a few cents when my photographs were sold. To be blunt – for me microstock is a complete waste of time. Stocksy – Good or Evil? I first heard of Stocksy from an article on PetaPixel – which was not overly positive, and which prompted this Tweet from industry guru (and I guy who’s opinion I really respect) – David Hobby: @petapixel re iStockphoto -> Stocksy: Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me. No thanks. However, a follow up article on PetaPixel by photographer Thomas Hawk describing his frustrations with Getty Images and Getty’s ridiculous deal with the devil Google (someone tell the devil – “Don’t be evil”), convinced me to take a second look at Stocksy United. Stocksy Application Process Originally, I sent in an unsolicited contributor application to Stocksy…to which I never heard back… However, totally by coincidence, one of my images was selected as an editor’s choice from my 500px portfolio – and out of the blue, I received an email from Stocksy, inviting me to apply to contribute. So, I re-applied and was subsequently accepted. Its totally true that “Chance favors only the prepared mind” – Louis Pasteur. In this case, a combination of my continuous hard work to promote my photography, and random events conspired to produce the exact result I was denied just a couple of weeks earlier. What I LOVE About Stocksy 1. The Stocksy Collection is Phenomenal As someone who buys stock for my side project PicturesByMom.com I have a good appreciation for how out of context, contrived, rote and just plain bad most stock photography is. The Stocksy collection is completely different. The images are artistic, captivating and vibrant – and I love being a part of that. (At Stocksy, you’re not going to find stupid photos of attractive young women photographed on white seamless with a set of headphones, smiling banally at you as they pretend to answer your customer service request.) 2. The Stocksy Editors are Fastidious In my initial submission to Stocksy, every single one of the images I submitted was rejected. All of them…no good….go away or I shall taunt you a second time. Now at first, you might take this as a negative, but I take it as a huge positive. I think the fact that the Stocksy editors are only going to accept photographs that are visually captivating and technically perfect makes the images that are represented that much more valuable. In fact, most of the contributors to Stocksy only have a fairly small number of photographs in their collections – but every one is a great image. I love that dedication to quality over sheer quantity. 3. Stocksy Respects its Artists Get this – after my initial photo submissions were rejected, I received a note – from a real person – explaining why they were rejected, and what I could do to improve! Ya – genuine feedback from a stock agency – crazy eh?! On top of that, I sent in a question to Stocksy support – and ka-boom – a response, from a knowledgeable real person, right away. Bonus Points – Stocksy is Based In Canada Ok – this probably doesn’t matter to most of the world – but here in Canada we have a perpetual second place syndrome – so as a Canadian photographer, its nice to be a part of a Canadian company competing on a global scale. What I Don’t Like About Stocksy Stocksy requires exclusive artistic content. Meaning: If you submit an image to Stocksy, you can’t also submit it to another agency. You can’t even license it privately. Stocksy is the sole outlet for that image to generate income. I don’t like limiting my ability to earn income – and granting Stocksy exclusive distribution rights definitely ties my hands. However, I find that I am self-curating my catalog into a set of images that are Stocksy material, while others are more suited for some of the other stock agencies that I contribute to. The same is true for images that originate from commercial gigs and are subsequently licensed to a commercial client. I always have a pile of “left over” photographs that were not licensed to my primary client – which I can then consider for submission to Stocksy. Show Me The Money!!! Alongside the quality of it’s catalog, Stocksy’s claim to fame is that it is an artist owned cooperative and pays out the “highest royalty rates in the industry”. That is great news for artists – god knows we’ve seen a big enough erosion of our rates over the last few years! Right now, its to early to tell just how profitable my involvement with Stocksy will be – but I am pretty optimistic that there is money to be made. What Do You Think of Stocksy? Would you contribute to Stocksy? Are you a contributor? Are you making money?