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Jut a couple of thoughts/questions.

A long time ago I recall reading that an advantage of square format photos (in the context of medium format cameras, not making square images from a 35 mm negative. Like I said, I read this a long time ago) is that it allows one  to crop an image horizontally or vertically. I think the article wasn’t necessarily talking about (micro)stock photography or advertizing, but could apply. Has anyone had expericence with selling on microstock, images from a (medium format) square format camera? do they sell better on average than you’re “35 mm” (as in rectangular) images?

Also, I assume most of the photos uploaded nowadays to SS, Alamy, DT, AS, etc are obtained with any of the myriad of digital cameras that are out there. Anyone have experience with digitizing photos and having them accepted/sold on a microstock site?

At the current time I have no plans on dusting off any of my film cameras (one of which is a square format camera that I’d bought used) and trying to digitize the photographs - or of digitizing any of the photos I already have on negatives and then going to try to upload them to SS or any of the  other microstock sites I’m on. On the other hand I figured it might be interesting to hear from people who’ve uploaded some square format images (either digitized, or because they have/had access to a digital medium format camera) and/or digitized old photos and tried posting them here on SS or another  site?

Anyone opinions?

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I don't see a lot of square format uploads here on SS, but it wouldn't surprise me at all if the ones that are here actually do well. I've spent the last year during Covid shooting almost exclusively for social media feeds, and out of necessity I've found myself re-learning how to compose like I did back in my 6X6 days. So much so that now I catch myself automatically trying to compose for the square crop no matter what format I'm shooting. I've even taped off the screen on my digital studio camera to make it a little easier. The point is that the social media market is very competitive and the allowable real estate wasted with 3:2 horizontal formats just doesn't make sense. I'm sure there are more and more buyers with an eye out for the perfect square or 4:3 vertical crop; so even if you aren't uploading them cropped already, I don't think it's a bad idea to compose for the shot within the shot.

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34 minutes ago, PlopandShoot said:

Its been my experience that shooting vertically (at least once image per shoot) was useful. Not only is vertical a good choice for "magazine-style" layouts in articles or side-panel ads, but it also on average reduced competition by about 2/3's or more. Better (IMHO) to have it if needed, along with the usual horizontals...

I agree.

I also want to add that square photos are used on Instagram and that there are many advertisers on there who need that format. Verticals are used on Pinterest, which also attracts a lot of advertisers. Whenever I shoot Instagram/Pinterest-style flatlays, I sell a lot of vertical orientations.  

I must admit I don't upload a lot of squares, but it could be a good idea. 

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It makes sense to crop to a square if the composition requires it or to trim technical defects. In other cases, the buyer himself can trim, this is a simple action.

About the medium format. I have a lot of pictures taken with a medium format Fujifilm GFX 50R. I cropped some frames from it but from above and from below.
Maybe I'm doing something wrong, but I don't sell medium-format footage (at all). It was a multifaceted shooting and maybe you can suggest something?

I suggest looking at my medium format photos from a variety of topics. In any case, out of these hundreds of photos, there could have been a couple of sales over the years. This is worse result than a camera 20 times cheaper!
Thinking about it, I assume that the medium format camera is not mine personally, so there was less time to study it. It is also possible this is a failed processing. But how can it be if I'm the same?, the camera is much better, and the sales are much worse ...

stock-photo-two-women-are-sitting-on-the

Two women

stock-photo-textured-surface-color-tundo

Textured surface

stock-photo-two-disposable-paper-cups-on

paper cups

stock-photo-christmas-window-decoration-

Christmas window decoration

 

This is what a medium format photo looks like, cropped at the top and bottom:

stock-photo-panorama-of-mountains-near-t

ridge

stock-photo-panorama-of-mountains-in-ear

Panorama of mountains

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The Mico 4/3 format (5184 X 3888) used by Olympus and Panasonic is close to a medium format shape and and was adopted in part as it was a more efficient use of a spherical shaped lens and could thus reduce the size and price of their camera lenses.  However, both the Oly and Pany are smaller digital mirrorless cameras so I can't address the digitizing film aspect of your question. 

It took a while for me to get use to this squarer format but I tend to shoot panoramas when shooting wide landscape vistas so it really hasn't been a problem.   I've grown to prefer this format for the majority of my images and I'm not sure if buyers even notice it's different from the 2/3 format used by Canon, Nikon etc.         

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From my point of view, there are a lot of factors to consider.

1) Search
The layouts are the same for all agencies when it comes to search. Here vertical and square images are clearly disadvantaged. They get assigned a much smaller area. In a quick search, there is a risk that they will be overlooked. Our eye is automatically drawn to the images that have the largest area. In the two images that I have outlined in red as an example, the first image is 4 times as large as the second image.
Here, landscape format images have a clear advantage.

2) Screen/Print
Advertising has been shifting more and more to the screen area for years. Print advertising is declining dramatically. I firmly believe that this trend will continue. In addition, the aspect ratio of our monitors has moved more and more in the direction of panorama format in recent years. Almost all web templates are also picking up on this trend.
Again, I see a huge advantage for horizontal formats.

3) Magazines/Brochures
When agencies are specifically looking for motifs for magazines, the contributors who have vertical images to offer for the search topics have an advantage.
At the moment, there are about 360 million images on shutterstock. Of these, only 27% are square or vertical images – just a quarter. So if a customer uses the search filter "vertical", you have a much better chance that your images will be found.

But: I really wonder how long magazines will continue to be produced in portrait format. We now produce many documents in landscape format. This has the huge advantage that they are much easier to view as pdf files on the screens of end customers than portrait-format magazines or flyers. Many companies do this in parallel: printed brochures to send out and, at the same time, publication in the download area on the company website. So it's possible that we'll see a change in this area in the medium to long term.

4) Facts
A successful microstocker investigated this in July 2019. He clearly concludes that horizontal images currently sell many times better than vertical images. This result could also be proven by the sales figures of a large international microstock agency.

5) Test
Image search at shutterstock – without entering a search term:
I looked at the first 3 pages, i.e. the first 300 images. As already written above, I would have to get 27% square or vertical images displayed. So that would be 81 images. But in fact there are only 35, which is 11.7%.
This indicates that horizontal images may also be preferred by shutterstock.

6) My statistics
Of my top 100 selling images:

at shutterstock
- 6 vertical images
- 22 square images

at competitor
- 5 vertical images
- 9 square images

Search.jpg

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18 hours ago, PlopandShoot said:

Its been my experience that shooting vertically (at least once image per shoot) was useful. Not only is vertical a good choice for "magazine-style" layouts in articles or side-panel ads, but it also on average reduced competition by about 2/3's or more. Better (IMHO) to have it if needed, along with the usual horizontals...

A handful of times I’ve submitted a horizontal and a vertical image of the same subject, on the theory that both might be useful. Especially given that the buyer might want a vertical image of the subject, and cropping to make it vertical might not allow for enough enlarging of the photo. The case that comes to mind is that of a waterfall. SS accepted only one of the photos and  rejected the other as “being too similar”. Now I understand the reasons for not wanting 50 slightly different images of the exact same image, especially in one portfolio. IMHO, there’s a difference between giving buyers a choice between a horizontal and a vertical image of the same subject, and having 50 (or even 10, or 5) of the same subject, the only difference being a slight change of angle.  Hence my “thinking out loud” question about medium format/square images and letting the buyer crop as needed. Now and again I might submit a vertical image when I think the image benifits by being such an image. It would still be nice to submit the occasional horizontal compantion to such a shot as well. THough I won’t complain or be a “rabble rouser” about it, I don’t want to run afowl of any codes of conduct or seem like I’m dissing SS.....

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14 hours ago, Steve Bower said:

The 4/3 format (5184 X 3888) used by Olympus and Panasonic is close to a medium format shape and and was adopted in part as it was a more efficient use of a spherical shaped lens and could thus reduce the size of their camera lenses.  However, both the Oly and Pany are digital mirrorless cameras so I can't address the digitizing film aspect of your question. 

It took a while for me to get use to this squarer format but I tend to shoot panoramas when shooting wide landscape vistas so it really hasn't been a problem.   I've grown to prefer this format for the majority of my images and I'm not sure if buyers even notice it's a different format.         

Thanks for the response. Now if digital medium format cameras (at least those that I found the las time I looked) weren’t in the 4-5 figure range at minimum  - without the lenses! - the last time I checked, It’d be easier to consider adding a 6x6 digital camera to what I use.

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7 hours ago, Wilm Ihlenfeld said:

From my point of view, there are a lot of factors to consider.

1) Search
The layouts are the same for all agencies when it comes to search. Here vertical and square images are clearly disadvantaged. They get assigned a much smaller area. In a quick search, there is a risk that they will be overlooked. Our eye is automatically drawn to the images that have the largest area. In the two images that I have outlined in red as an example, the first image is 4 times as large as the second image.
Here, landscape format images have a clear advantage.

2) Screen/Print
Advertising has been shifting more and more to the screen area for years. Print advertising is declining dramatically. I firmly believe that this trend will continue. In addition, the aspect ratio of our monitors has moved more and more in the direction of panorama format in recent years. Almost all web templates are also picking up on this trend.
Again, I see a huge advantage for horizontal formats.

3) Magazines/Brochures
When agencies are specifically looking for motifs for magazines, the contributors who have vertical images to offer for the search topics have an advantage.
At the moment, there are about 360 million images on shutterstock. Of these, only 27% are square or vertical images – just a quarter. So if a customer uses the search filter "vertical", you have a much better chance that your images will be found.

But: I really wonder how long magazines will continue to be produced in portrait format. We now produce many documents in landscape format. This has the huge advantage that they are much easier to view as pdf files on the screens of end customers than portrait-format magazines or flyers. Many companies do this in parallel: printed brochures to send out and, at the same time, publication in the download area on the company website. So it's possible that we'll see a change in this area in the medium to long term.

4) Facts
A successful microstocker investigated this in July 2019. He clearly concludes that horizontal images currently sell many times better than vertical images. This result could also be proven by the sales figures of a large international microstock agency.

5) Test
Image search at shutterstock – without entering a search term:
I looked at the first 3 pages, i.e. the first 300 images. As already written above, I would have to get 27% square or vertical images displayed. So that would be 81 images. But in fact there are only 35, which is 11.7%.
This indicates that horizontal images may also be preferred by shutterstock.

6) My statistics
Of my top 100 selling images:

at shutterstock
- 6 vertical images
- 22 square images

at competitor
- 5 vertical images
- 9 square images

Search.jpg

Thanks for the reply. I haven’t looked at my numbers in terms of what sold better - horizontal vs. vertical. I do have a few  vertical images that have sold at least once. One’s an editorial so that might make the market even smaller.

My main reason for “thinking outloud” about square formats was the ability to crop an image either horizontally or vertically and still have a large enough image to enlarge. Maybe not an issue for cropping an image for a website or magazine article - at least not as often as other uses where the image might be enlarged a lot (eg, use during a lecture where the image is projected onto a screen, an image used in  a poster/bilboard in a bus station, etc). 

Will I dust off my medium format camera and do a trial run? maybe. Maybe not. It’ll be interesting to see what others think, and their experiences. I think it’ll sit in the back of my mind for a while. Perhaps when I look at the site’s (or another site’s) ‘suggested shots’ and I feel I have the time to do them, and that they’re unique enough that the subjects won’t be inundated with 50,000  similars I might give it a try. 

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2 hours ago, Adam Gladstone said:

Thanks for the reply. I haven’t looked at my numbers in terms of what sold better - horizontal vs. vertical. I do have a few  vertical images that have sold at least once. One’s an editorial so that might make the market even smaller.

 

For some strange reason I've always taken a lot of photos in portrait so there's a lot in my port.

My best seller financially is portrait and my second best seller numbers wise is too.

This thread has helped me to understand why my portraits sell quite well (there are always a few in my last 20 sold).

 

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