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Fercast

Made it to 200 pictures! I'm going to need some help.

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As the title says, a few pictures got approved tonight and I have 200 in my portfolio now. I know those are very few photos for stock photography and I was planning to make this post when I reached 500, but since I've made very few sales, I ask for help right away. 

Quick storytime: I started taking pictures years ago, but wasn't really into photography, I just learnt how to use my old Canon 400 D so I could take pics of wildlife. It was basicaly an excuse to spend more time outdoors chasing deer and birds. Just a few months ago I found out about stock photography and started reading about real photography in this forum and searching for info everywhere I could (videos from YT, posts, blogs, etc.). I feel like I'm starting to figure out how things work, even tho I have a looooong way to go yet. 

I know I still have many technical things to learn (lightning, composition...), and I'm working on it, it's a slow process. But that's not the main issue in this thread, I'd like to know if you guys could give me a review at my portfolio and help me with the pictures that you think might have a selling value. So tell me which pictures are worthless, which could have sold if I had taken them differently, what kind of pictures should I aim for... any sugestion on how to improve sales is accepted. 

So far I've sold mostly macro pictures (a spider, an ant, a frog...), but haven't even made it to 2$ yet. And my equipment is a Canon 80D, a Canon 70-300 IS USM f4-5.6 which I use for wildlife, a Sigma 17-70mm 2.8-4, and an old and basic Canon 18-55mm. 

Thanks in advance!

 

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Your images are great imo. Much better than most new contributors. You ‘just’ have to be patient and upload hundreds and hundreds of images more. The microstock business is getting very tough with more that a million images uploaded each week - just here at Shutterstock, most of them crap, I guess. So your good images are drowning in a raging wild and muddy floodwave of bad snapshots - unless your photographs are amazing shots of subjects that are in high demand. It’s a long, long journey.

Soon someone will disagree in this and tell you another story here, so you have to decide for yourself.

Good luck.

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10 minutes ago, oleschwander said:

Your images are great imo. Much better than most new contributors. You ‘just’ have to be patient and upload hundreds and hundreds thousends of images more.

Agree. 

@Fercast Very nice PF with many different subject, just much too small. Becoming bigger and by the time you will be successfull. 

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agree with @oleschwander, you have an amazing portfolio to be honest. Getting into stock photography and trying to get regular sales is pretty challenging nowadays unless you have stock photos that are really in demand and have always been looking for by buyers all around the globe. 

Patience is key i guess for stock photography just take it as endless life long marathon,all the best.

 

Regards.

shawn 

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I really like your portfolio and specially the colors you give to your naturalistic photos!

I own a very similar equipment, Canon 77D with various lenses, including your same Sigma 17-70, which in the long run is proving the one I use the most.

I often use it also for macro shots, even if I own a Sigma 105mm capable of 1:1 magnification.

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Agree with the others, nice port.  I especially like the spider macros like this one:

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/macro-picture-cute-tiny-spider-hanging-1470181352

As the others said, stock is a numbers game.  It took me 1,700 images before I started seeing regular, consistent downloads every week, and even then, at mostly the very low $.33 ($.25 in your case until you reach the first $500 earnings tier threshold) subscription commission.

At over 2,800 images now and still seeing the same meager sales results, I've largely abandoned contributing still images here and am focusing on video.  There are no guarantees that video will sell either, and with Shutterstock farming clips out to cheap second-hand dealers like Wix where the contributor gets $.60 instead of the normal $21 and up, video might be a losing game too.  But shoot and upload for fun--ya might get lucky here and there with a high-paying $20 and up EL or S&O sale--I do.

It's a good idea to contribute to multiple stock agencies, then assess which agency is paying you the most money and concentrate on contributing mainly to that agency.  In sheer number of sales, Shutterstock clearly outsells all the other agencies I contribute to by at least a 4:1 ratio, but AS is creeping up there as far as $$ amount, so (there are only so many hours in a day) I'm concentrating on submitting to two stock agencies, SS and AS at this point.  I first submit images here and then it's very easy to copy/paste captions and keywords from accepted images here to submit those same images to AS--just put commas between keywords in AS' paste keywords screen.

In addition to stock, I think a lot of your images would sell very well as fine art prints at expos etc., for $100 or more apiece.  Of course there's time and expense there, printing, framing, shrink-wrapping, travel, rent booth space, etc.  (sigh)  No easy way to make a buck with photography.  But if photography is what you like to do, keep doing it for fun, and if you make a few bucks too, great.

Best of luck and higher success!

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Agree! Most of your images are really good, especially your macro pictures, so I am not surprised that they are the ones that sold the most.
There are only a few pictures in your port where I think they have little to no commercial value, for example this:

oak-forest-colorful-ferns-during-600w-14

Very generic picture that Shutterstock has already millions of, and also not a very good composition and ligh, dull colors, etc.... But it is really an exception in your port. If I were you I would keep focusing on the macro photography as that is what you are obviously really good at. Maybe you can sway away a bit from the insect & plant macro photography and try completely different subjects? Just a suggestion because macro insects and plants are also a very oversaturated market so the competiotion is tough.
But apart from that I think you are on the right way. I am not sure what you consider "a few" sales, but many other contributors would not have any sales at all with only 200 images in their port, so keep going!

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Definitely I wasn't expecting this answers, thanks guys. I opened another thread because some of my pics got rejected for noise and I got mauled there, lol. I'll try to keep uploading as much as I can, let's see if I can make it to 500 pictures by the end of the year. I know @oleschwander , I don't expect earning money soon but maybe in a couple of years I'll have a stable income that's enough to buy a bigger photographic equimpment. That's what I intend at least, I'd be happy if I earned just enough money to buy new lenses and other stuff from time to time.  

@Marco Fine yeah, the Sigma works quite good and I'm using it more and more. I also use the 70-300 often, but I try (for animals) to shoot at max 240-250mm and try to have an F between 8 and 11, I never go down from 7.1 because the pictures don't get sharp enough. I think it's better to crop later a sharper pic than having a close up that's not very sharp. 

@Mike Kuhlman maybe one day I'll have that many, I wish. I don't think my photos are good enough to be printed and exposed, I still make many mistakes, but thanks. And btw, all your pics look awesome, and very "stocky" too. 

 

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as everyone i think the portfolio is fine.  One image i will comment on  that i find Interesting is

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/depressed-looking-bear-inside-cage-zoo-1492998791?src=dMk8qrhG5coGj2MqFG-8Qw-1-16

 

i will assume this was taken in a zoo that allows you taking picture to sell, but that's not the point.  I like the fact you see the fencing in the image, i think i adds to the story you are telling, however you do not mention it in your description something like "Visible blurry fence"... 

one thing you might one to look into, There is actually not that many pictures of the streets of Lugo  in the database (i'm assuming based on some of your picture this is easily accessible to you)

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@Firn Actually, while I was cheking my gallery to make this post I looked at this very same photo (and the other one that's alike) and thought it sucked, haha. Don't know why I uploaded them. 

What other macro subjects have a market that I could take photos of? Maybe I could try with items like pencils and coins and stuff like that? 

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Personally, I am getting some satisfactions with macros of stones and minerals, of which I own a fair amount.

I have several dozens of images still to be uploaded, both much closer macros (not the whole stone, just some details), and with different backgrounds from the white one I used so far.
I too am always looking for new subjects to take full advantage of my macro lens and of the small folding photo studio that I bought some months ago.

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3 hours ago, Fercast said:

Quick storytime: I started taking pictures years ago, but wasn't really into photography, I just learnt how to use my old Canon 400 D so I could take pics of wildlife. It was basicaly an excuse to spend more time outdoors chasing deer and birds. Just a few months ago I found out about stock photography and started reading about real photography in this forum and searching for info everywhere I could (videos from YT, posts, blogs, etc.). I feel like I'm starting to figure out how things work, even tho I have a looooong way to go yet....

I know I still have many technical things to learn (lightning, composition...), and I'm working on it, it's a slow process. But that's not the main issue in this thread, I'd like to know if you guys could give me a review at my portfolio and help me with the pictures that you think might have a selling value. So tell me which pictures are worthless, which could have sold if I had taken them differently, what kind of pictures should I aim for... any sugestion on how to improve sales is accepted....

Thanks in advance!

 

I'm in the same boat in terms of skill level and doing photography more as a hobby than to earn mony. I agree with what's already been said. One thought though  - and I apologize if I've missed that this has been suggested in some other post - is in some images leaving room for copy. Granted the need for copy space depends on the photo and it's intended use (eg, someone needing a picture of an iberian frog might need a picture for illustrative purposes and not necessarily need to put copy on the picture).

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7 minutes ago, Adam Gladstone said:

I'm in the same boat in terms of skill level and doing photography more as a hobby than to earn mony. I agree with what's already been said. One thought though  - and I apologize if I've missed that this has been suggested in some other post - is in some images leaving room for copy. Granted the need for copy space dends on the photo and it's intended use (eg, someone needing a picture of an iberian frog might need a picture for illustrative purposes and not necessarily need to put copy on the picture).

easy for them to crop, reverse not so.

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8 minutes ago, jean-francois.me said:

easy for them to crop, reverse not so.

True, though I also didn't want to post a novel length post either with every last iteration/example of what could be done (plus in some instances a customer might not want to have to crop, though if it's just one photo, we're not talking lodes of time to do so....).

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Fercast,

I have to give you credit, most people would not open themselves (and their portfolio) to such direct criticism as you have done.  While I am not an "expert" I have been doing photography for quite a few years.  I will make specific comment because you asked but please take them with a grain of salt as much of what I say (and anybody else says for that matter) is based upon personal taste and preference.  It may or may not be what buyers are looking for and are willing to spend money to obtain.

Macro photography, unless extremely well done and unique it is not in high demand and will not generate a lot of sales (my opinion along with direct experience).  Sorry!  Regardless, if that's what you enjoy (I do and continue to do it regardless of the return), by all means continue doing it.   However, take every opportunity to make each shot better than the last.

In the area of macro photography, I have some specific suggestion.  However, as I said, they are my personal preferences and may not be the "road to big money" or even the best way.  Try them out, see if you like the results and make up your own mind.

1.  Avoid out of focus FOREGROUND items (i.e. leaves, etc.).  Find a different angle (if at all possible) in order to eliminate a "dominate" blurry foreground.  Yea, I know it's considered artsy.  This is my take on the subject, you can choose to ignore.  

2.  Find an angle that will make the head (eye) of the creature, closest  to the camera and obviously the center of focus.  The focus from the head and eye should naturally fall away (become less in focus).    Your ant image is an excellent example of this.   While this may be difficult and could scare off the subject, it usually will result in a more satisfying image, IMO.

3.  Do you use flash (specifically, "fill flash") when photographing your macro subjects?  I have found this to be extremely helpful in eliminating shadow on the subject especially when the background is close to the subject.  In most cases the light from the popup flash will be blocked by the lens and will create additional shadows so I recommend using a separate flash unit (a cheap manual unit will even work, with practice).

You asked for pictures that "are worthless".  While I would never say that about someone images, there are a few that probably won't make you any money. 

Case in point; the Bear picture shot through the bars, has little chance of attracting buyers, IMO .  I assume you shot this with your 70-300 lens at an aperture of at least f7.1 or higher.  While this may be counter intuitive, when shooting though a fence (or cage) you have to use the widest aperture of your lens (f5.6) and the longest focal length (300mm) in order to reduce depth of field and "eliminate" the fence.  In addition, getting as close to the fence as possible (even right on it) will give you the best results.  Admittedly, the resulting image won't have much depth of field but the out of focus fence won't be staring you in the face, either.  Your other "zoo pictures"  will have a lot of competition. However some are very good.

As far as Images that might sell, who knows.  However, IMO, your waterfall, stream images use a slow shutter speed very effectively, slowing the water to a smooth blur.  Very nice.  Again, who knows what the buyers need and are looking for but I especially like your "turning Chariot shot".  

Keep up the good work.  Keep shooting what you love and you will make money.  How much, depends on you.

PS:  I should have looked at your title on the bear picture.  Sorry!  Did I say my comments are a reflection of my personal preference?       

             

 

  

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1 hour ago, Fercast said:

What other macro subjects have a market that I could take photos of? Maybe I could try with items like pencils and coins and stuff like that? 

Yes, try random objects. Sometimes I just go through my apartment and photograph random things I find and while not my bestsellers, they do sell from time to time.... lighters, dice, my dental brace.... 🤔 I am not entirely sure how big the market would be for these things in macro photography, but I could imagine that there might be a demand for random texture/background macro photos. You know, the detail shot where at first glace you do not even know what you are looking at, like for example these:
 

abstract-background-macro-image-sajorcaj
beautiful-coral-pink-vintage-color-600w-
fish-scales-skin-texture-macro-600w-7024

If I was any good at macro photography that's what I would try out.

 

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Thanks for the help,  @jean-francois.me . Yeah, that was my intention with the bear picture. I edited it that way in Photoshop so the fence was more noticable. I'll edit the title like you suggest. 

About the pictures of Lugo (its the city where I live now), I don't know if they would sell, it's a very small town in the north of Spain, who knows if there's a market there. But I will give it a try anyway, I've never taken city pictures and it will be nice to practice. 

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One tip just came to mind:  In addition to normal framing composition, shoot and submit 1-2 images of each subject low in the frame and off-center, one imge with the subject lower left, one image with the subject lower right.  This seems to be a very popular choice for buyers, gives them options for placing ad copy text up top.

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28 minutes ago, Fercast said:

Thanks for the help,  @jean-francois.me . Yeah, that was my intention with the bear picture. I edited it that way in Photoshop so the fence was more noticable. I'll edit the title like you suggest. 

About the pictures of Lugo (its the city where I live now), I don't know if they would sell, it's a very small town in the north of Spain, who knows if there's a market there. But I will give it a try anyway, I've never taken city pictures and it will be nice to practice. 

I've actually done ok with some marginal town because they are under represented 

 

and it's one of the 100km away from Santiago place , anc the main city on the Primitivo,  which gets it attention in that crowd. 

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@Steve Bower Thanks for your advice (in this and other threads, I've found many of your comments very ilustrative). I had never thought about it that way, but I'll try to move around to keep the eye closer to the camera, it makes sense. And btw, the ant photo is one of my few sales, haha. 

No, I don't have have any flashes, so I just shoot with natural light. I know that is a must in macro photography, soon or late I will buy one, it will be a separate flash for sure. 

About the bear picture, yes, I took it with the 70-300 at 8.0. I took a couple of photos where the cage couldn't be seen (it was big enough to fit the lense) and a couple of them where it was clearly visible on purpose. I thought it might have some value as a "protest" picture of a caged animal. Thanks for the technical advice tho. 

@Mike Kuhlman It's a good tip, I'll try to remember it. 

@Firn I see what you mean. I'm going to try it, earning money with pictures taken at home sounds good enough 😄

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Fercast,

You may not have access to either Adorama or B&H in Europe but here in the states you can find manual flash units for about $35.00.  It takes practice but I've found that they are useful in a lot of situations, especially macro photography.   We all like to look people in the eye, I'm of the opinion that most people like to do the same when looking at an animal or insect.  I could be wrong!  

Sorry about the bear photo comments.  I stick my foot in my mouth often.  Your idea is a good one, however, (here I go again) I would have made the cage a little bit more obvious (not just blurred).  Given the thumbnail image size the buyers sees, they may not understand your "intent".  Again, just my thoughts and preference.  Ignore, if you choose.  

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@Steve Bower I've made a quick search and found them online for around 30€, thought it would be more expensive. I'll search deeper and buy one soon. 

And by the way, all this talking about the bear picture must have done something to the algorithm because it just got downloaded, haha! The one without the fence

Depressed looking bear inside a cage in a zoo rests on the ground. This animal was rescued from another zoo and its confined in a small area. Brown bear (Ursus arctos pyrenaicus) with sad looking eyes

 

Next time I will try with a less blurred cage and see how it looks. Thanks again!

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