Would you like to learn how to do stock photography, create and manage a professional portfolio of stock images? It doesn’t cost too much to get going and earning a residual income this way can create more freedom to live the lifestyle you’re looking to live. Once you’ve learned this prosses you can teach it to others who also want residual income and enjoy taking photos. This residual income stream may be slow to start but it’s steady because the more you add the more you will have in your portfolio to earn you a residual income.
Why Get Involved In Microstock Photography?
Digital SLR cameras have made photography so much more accessible and easier whether you are a beginner or a professional. One of the reasons I like the idea of getting involved in Micro Stock Photography is because taking photos is something I can do here and there in my spare time. Most people enjoy getting into photography. It’s accessible, easy to get into, and can provide a residual income.
Why not get better at photography and make some money at the same time? Microstock websites are a great way to build some residual income, money that you make after the work is done while your sleeping or any part of the day you are not actively doing work. It takes work to get going and it’s definitely not a get rich quick scheme but once your up and running you can have a portfolio that earns revenue.
There is stuff to learn and this won’t happen overnight but if you put your mind to it you can do this. Photography can be a lot of fun and it’s a great way to get outside more and build some residual income so if you like taking photos is something you enjoy let’s get going.
You don’t wanna use just any camera you can get your hands on. What you need to buy if don’t already have it is a Digital SLR (single lens reflex) Camera. SLRs have been around a long time, inside they have mirrors, a visual plain, a shutter, and the ability to change lenses. The only difference is the digital light sensor that captures your photo instead of film. They function almost exactly like a film camera because of the fact that it has real f-stops, a real shutter, all the things an SLR film camera would have except it’s digital. Digital SLR cameras allow you to shoot RAW, an uncompressed file format that gives you a lot of flexibility for how you want to develop your image later.
In order to take advantage of the wide range of lenses and cheaper third part accessories choose a Canon or Nikon brand camera because they have been making cameras for a long time and third-party manufacturers make more lenses for Canon and Nikon then anyone else and they have the best adaptability between lenses. The SLR is essentially the way you want to go.
For good image quality and a lot of options, find the best quality digital SLR camera you can buy and put a 50mm f/ 1.8 STM Lens on that camera. Typically that lens is very inexpensive for Canon or Nikon and when you go to third party manufacturers they are even cheaper. This will start you off with good image quality and a lot of options.
Don’t get caught up thinking you need as many megapixels you can find. You don’t have to spend big bucks, just make sure your SLR camera is at least six megapixels. You can find a digital SLR camera body with at least 6 megapixels and a 50mm 1.8 lens for around $200. That’s a tiny investment for the ability to build a residual income.
When it comes to lighting just use what you have available like the good old sun. Available light is all around us whether it’s lamps, fluorescent light, or daylight. You can get a ton of additional images using the available light without having to invest money. Once your portfolio increases and you start making money then start buying new things.
Taking Your First Photos
Before you submit to any agencies you need to have some photographs to submit in place first. Takes some time to learn how your shutter speed, f-stop, and iSO all relate to each other. Watch some YouTube videos if you don’t know anything about them.
If you plan on taking pictures of any people or property then you need to print out some model and property release forms and keep them on hand. You have to have a signed model release if a picture includes a face or any recognizable portion of a person’s body. Property release forms are required for images that include (but not limited to) intellectual property, art, and unique architecture. Take some time to understand stock image release policies.
Get your portfolio started off by shooting some of your friends in various poses, in a costume, or doing something particular. Shoot objects like a bowl of strawberries, shoot close-ups, shoot household items, look at other photographers portfolios to discover ideas for more pictures you can take yourself.
You could make a photo tent, a lot of stock websites and designers are looking for isolated images. Light tents are a simple and effective way to get a professionally lit object. There are many different ways to make your own on YouTube, here is one. You may need a bigger one than in the video below but you get the idea. There are also plenty Photo Light Tents available online to chose from.
Organizing Your Workflow
Back up and catalog your images so you know how to easily find them whenever you need to easily be able to re-access them. I find the easiest way to do this is to label them by the date and a small description when I save them to my computer and then have everything backed on an external hard drive. Once that’s done I narrow the photos down to the ones I like. Before editing export them as TIFF files in a sub-folder of the RAW file’s main folder. Now we can start editing. Whether you just need to balance the color, remove a logo, or patch up someone’s big old zit always do your editing from the TIFF files.
If you don’t know how to use Photoshop or Coral you’re going to have to get your hands dirty and start learning how to use them. Photoshop tools like the healing tool, curve tool, cropping, dodging, and burning are very useful mild editing tools that are worth learning about. Once you’re happy with your image export it as a JPEG file in a separate JPEG folder inside the image’s RAW file’s folder.
Join Stock Photography Agencies
Now that we have some images to upload we’ve got to sign up for some stock agencies. Don’t worry about picking the right one when starting off, sign up at as many as you want and submit as many of your images as you can to each. If you want to go exclusive one day you can always remove your images from a site but right now you need to get your images in a lot of places.
Start by getting yourself signed up at these solid stock photography agencies:
- DepositPhotos.com Unlimited uploads.
- Fotolia.com Unlimited uploads.
- 123rf.com Unlimited uploads.
- CutCaster.com 140/ month
- CanStock.com Unlimited uploads.
- DreamsTime.com Unlimited as long as you keep your rejection rate down.
- iStock.com 18 images a day for new users.
- BIGstock.com 15 images a week.
I can tell you right now that you are going to run into some hitches, you may not get accepted into Shutterstock at first, some sites are easier than others to get accepted to. Some sites will ask you to upload your portfolio so make sure you have a good variety of at least 10 images that look good free of errors, without sensor marks, and no compression.
The main point is to sign up to as many of these stock agencies as you can. Don’t let getting rejected by an agency with more tough or specific standards stop you or discourage you.
Aim To Upload 100+ Photos a Week
If you are committed to perfection you are doomed to fail, commit instead to a number of images. You’ll learn because you’re shooting a lot, you’ll get feedback because your stock agencies will tell you what they did and didn’t like, you’ll get experience with your gear, you will actually start getting images accepted, and you will start making money.
Build momentum by uploading to the ones you can. Keep working on getting your image quality up and study the images the more strict stock agency stocks for inspiration. When I started off I was rejected by a few stock agencies, some for quality and some for lack of variety.
With most agencies, FTP is the fastest way to get a bunch of images uploaded so if you are serious about creating a high paying residual stock photography portfolio you are going to want to get to know how to upload via FTP. Every site is different but there will be a step or place for adding the model/property release forms when uploading.
Adding The Power of Keywords to Your Images
After you get your images uploaded to a stock photography site each image needs a title, keywords, some agencies will ask for a description, and most have categories. Make sure the title and description make sense and applies to your image. Once you complete this data make sure you copy paste and save it named after its image file as a text file so it’s easy to add that same information to the other stock agencies.
The most time-consuming part of adding this data can be the keywords and it helps to have some help. Check out these keywording examples for keywork dos and don’ts first because you can get in trouble for adding the wrong keywords. Here are a few really helpful tools for generating lists of as many keywords as a stock site allows (at least 50) for each image.
- MyKeyworder.com A Lightroom plugin.
- Arcurs.com Free keywording tool.
- KeywordsReady.com Free keyword generating tool for photographers.
- Outsource your keywording at a freelancing site to somebody with good english.
Decided on the number of images you’ll upload each week and keep at it. Microstock is working for me and I’m sure it could work for anyone who keeps at it.