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Alexandre Rotenberg

To make it: "Shoot something no one has shot before, shoot it differently or shoot it better"

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I recently came across this tip by an experienced picture editor / account manager at one of the Midstock agencies and has got me thinking. 

Here's the full quote:

Quote

"I’d advise any photographer trying to make money from stock to shoot something no one has shot before, shoot it differently or shoot it better."

Do you agree? Let's discuss...

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I completeley agree to the creative side of it: unique, different and better.

BUT: if that what you shoot/create has no commercial value, it will not sell. So no money.

This could be especially for trends in the early beginning (before it actually becomes a trend):
For example food trends with charcoal and similiar.
detox-activated-charcoal-black-lemonade-

When should you start? And do you have the passion to wait long enough and not quit before?
No one can answer this.

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Interesting, @Little Adventures

I don't shoot food in a studio so have no idea which types of setups are trending or will be trending. However, the above image looks nicely executed.

The Midstock agency is a travel-related agency so more of my type of niche. If you shoot Paris/London/Rome/NY, those places will ALWAYS be trending until the end of time since they're cultural meccas. Within those places there's the obvious Eiffel Tower/Big Ben/Colosseum/Times Square landmarks which have been done to death. But that's hardly "thinking outside the box"

The way I look at it is:

1. Shoot something no one has shot before: Difficult but not impossible...there's new landmarks/buildings/restaurants/fashions emerging all the time. You go to London, there's BREXIT news, Paris, there's always a protest going on, Rome: gypsies stealing and NY, well I dunno as haven't been there for a while but perhaps some cultural / liberal movement starting

2. Shoot it differently: Loads of new perspectives for images which are perhaps not done to death. Macros...ultra wide, from above, from below, with models (different ethnicities)...time lapse, hyperlapse, drone. This is probably relatively easy to be creative as what has already been done is in public and requires a simple search.

3. Shoot it better: Technically better....better lighting, more sharp, more motion blur, higher resolution, etc. Better is still subjective but it can also mean what is more commercially interesting.

I think the picture editor hit the nail in the head with this quote...which although is simplistic, seems to offer the key ingredients to making it in this game (which helps during a creative slump / doom & gloom rut)

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1 hour ago, Little Adventures said:

I completeley agree to the creative side of it: unique, different and better.

BUT: if that what you shoot/create has no commercial value, it will not sell. So no money.

Your dilema is solved by people who brag about their sales on this forum.

It's not even necessary to "shoot it better". Shoot it the same way and most likely, you will end up earning a share of the bragger's revenue.

Problem solved! 😉

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By turning ones photograph into digital art or by applying digital art to your photos can go from the mundane to the major league wow factor...that is is you have the talent.

 

For simple product photography take a look at what Brain Rodgers Jr produces

indiana-beverage-photographer-brian-rodg

Digital art can be applied to all forms of photography. An example from another one of my favorites who sadly does not do as much wild life anymore, Mr, Johan Swanepoel

stock-photo-gemsbok-dual-artistic-proces

Johan has however branched out into other form of photography applying digital art to his images to create some extraordinary stuff

stock-photo-cyborg-woman-suspended-by-me

 

 

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I have to say this in advance; there's no such thing as "CGI" - computer doesn't generate images by itself. There's an artist behind it modeling, texturing, rendering from scratch. 3D software offers nothing but few tools and an empty screen. A serious work can take a week to several months depends on the detail and hardware power (less advanced hardware longer time of work). So even though its not efficient to do these and sell for $0.25 because I believe these features my own unique touch and way of looking at things. 

stock-photo--d-rendering-of-an-epic-ice-planet-environment-with-majestic-clouds-and-mountains-1146962141.thumb.jpg.e8097500c65860137dac2b5305ad29c0.jpg

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It worked for me.

My best selling photo is one that was different than the ones on the same topic, and I think it was well done. It has sold over 220 times as of this morning.

Same for my next best selling photos, there was nothing the similar (which surprised me). Three photos from the series have sold about 150 times together (100 for one, about 25 for each of the other two).

Of course, once you do something unique/different/better, others will come along and copy you.

 

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Just now, Stopped_clock said:

I would amend their quote to:  "I’d advise any photographer trying to make us more money from stock to shoot something no one has shot before, shoot it differently or shoot it better."

You have got a good point there, @mandritoiu
:D

I guess, for a lot of people this actually IS the way to go.

Don´t have anything to brag about yet as newbie. Still learning and am glad about every little tiny sale, as this shows me I am on the right path. It is only a journey.


 

 

1 minute ago, Stopped_clock said:

I would amend their quote to:  "I’d advise any photographer trying to make us more money from stock to shoot something no one has shot before, shoot it differently or shoot it better."

Yes, so true!
And it sure works for them. ;)

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35 minutes ago, Doug McLean said:

It worked for me.

My best selling photo is one that was different than the ones on the same topic, and I think it was well done. It has sold over 220 times as of this morning.

Same for my next best selling photos, there was nothing the similar (which surprised me). Three photos from the series have sold about 150 times together (100 for one, about 25 for each of the other two).

Of course, once you do something unique/different/better, others will come along and copy you.

 

And clearly you carry it out effectively.  Nice one.

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1 hour ago, Doug McLean said:

once you do something unique/different/better, others will come along and copy you.

"Imitation is the greatest form of flattery" - Charles Caleb Colton

I don't fear copycats, but also try not to make it too easy for them. Posting best-sellers is rich pickings for copy-cats. 

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26 minutes ago, Alexandre Rotenberg said:

"Imitation is the greatest form of flattery"

Here is a better one, I just made up.😛

"Flattery doesn't pay bills, imitation does".

While your quote works well in a photo club, mine is more adequate for this industry, don't you think?

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Just now, mandritoiu said:

While your quote works well in a photo club, mine is more adequate for this industry, don't you think?

Agreed. Wasn't my quote, I believe it was by Charles Caleb Colton.

I think I have one of the more imitation-proof ports, as is yours. Easier to copy still life and seasonal stuff. 

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If so, you should ammend your original post, accordingly. Something like:

To make it, do (*whatever that naive original quote said*) or... imitate success braggers.

You might even be surprised to end up with better stuff than the original.

 

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2 minutes ago, mandritoiu said:

If so, you should ammend your original post, accordingly. Something like:

To make it, do (*whatever that naive original quote said*) or... imitate success braggers.

 

I think one has to be really desperate or lacking imagination to have to resort to literally imitating others.

Lot more fun & rewarding to create something personal.

Please take your coin stacking earnings and give to a cat shelter charity :D 

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16 minutes ago, Alexandre Rotenberg said:

I think one has to be really desperate or lacking imagination to have to resort to literally imitating others.

Exactly!

Creative people are so rare! It is much more common to lack imagination than to have it.

Giving away such a rare commodity in exchange for "flattery" is a clear lose-win deal.

 

BTW, feel free to quote my wisdom in the future. Colton's is outdated. 😋

Remember that: "Flattery doesn't pay bills, imitation does".

The more I read it, the more I like it , lol!

 

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3 hours ago, Alexandre Rotenberg said:

I recently came across this tip by an experienced picture editor / account manager at one of the Midstock agencies and has got me thinking. 

Here's the full quote:

Do you agree? Let's discuss...

I agree completely, I believe that to sell in volume a stock image has to be well key-worded, have a good commercial subject, be reasonably competently produced (exposure, composition, focus etc) and stand out from the crowd Therefore the most successful stock images need to be outstanding (shot differently) in one way or another to catch the eye of the buyers (this in no way implies that I'm great at producing such images but I do know what I'm aiming for)...  🙂

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It is a valid approach, Alex, and it is also confirmed by one of my favorite marketing gyus (https://www.amazon.ca/Differentiate-Die-Survival-Killer-Competition/dp/0470223391)

The book cover says it all - Differentiate or Die: Survival in Our Era of Killer Competition

Full Disclaimer: Unfortunately I'm not a relative or business associate of Jack Trout, hence this is not an affiliate link.

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"Better", once a pinnacle of technical perfection has been achieved, is a matter of personal taste.

The BUYERS, the people who are paying us, are the determiner of what is "better", and since we have no idea what the buyers want, we have no idea what is "better" in their minds, so we play the guessing game, we guess...and guess...and guess...

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You are right. and. somebody show me something that hasen't been done before or at least Non Stock searchable...... But after saying that, I guess theres a ton of stuff that hasen't been done before and No one would wanna do it anyway.... So, theres that factor also. Just do a good job and keep doing it and if ya have 6000/10,000 Images and then if your stuff still isn't selling?...maybe this ain't for you. I still believe and I say it to newbs all the time that It's really pretty certain that if you can see and not just be a "Picture Taker" Instead Of a "Picture maker" It;s certain that theres 50 Interesting original shots within a 100ft of where you are sitting Right now. and man O man if only some of you were here in the beginning. everything you submitted sold. very cool days when the database was 350,000. the Place was "show me" heaven.

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1 hour ago, Laurin Rinder said:

You are right. and. somebody show me something that hasen't been done before or at least Non Stock searchable...... But after saying that, I guess theres a ton of stuff that hasen't been done before and No one would wanna do it anyway.... So, theres that factor also. Just do a good job and keep doing it and if ya have 6000/10,000 Images and then if your stuff still isn't selling?...maybe this ain't for you. I still believe and I say it to newbs all the time that It's really pretty certain that if you can see and not just be a "Picture Taker" Instead Of a "Picture maker" It;s certain that theres 50 Interesting original shots within a 100ft of where you are sitting Right now. and man O man if only some of you were here in the beginning. everything you submitted sold. very cool days when the database was 350,000. the Place was "show me" heaven.

Yeah! Those gooood ol' days! Don't you miss them?

Just imagine how a portrait maker's life was not just before microstock, but before photography itself!

A Renaissance painter would regularly get the equivalent of $300k today, for a "simple" portrait. Now that was a "show me heaven", indeed!

It makes wish you were born 4 centuries ago, doesn't it?

😀

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1 hour ago, Laurin Rinder said:

O man if only some of you were here in the beginning. everything you submitted sold. very cool days when the database was 350,000.

Probably its time to move on?

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