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Discussing the business of stock photography

From: The Practicing Photographer

Video: Discussing the business of stock photography

Photography covers a lot different applications. >> Alright, let's talk about, about shooting stock, and then we'll, we'll But what you want to do is, to be a yes, you need to try to identify an agency where your work going to be best seen.

Discussing the business of stock photography

Photography covers a lot different applications. There's wedding photography, event photography, landscape photography, you might be a fine art photographer, you might want to be an architectural photographer. There's also something called stock photography and I'm sitting here now with Carolyn Wright, the Photo Attorney. Now, Carolyn is a lawyer who specializes in photographers rights issues, but you also have a nice little career as a stock photographer. >> Yes. I've been shooting since I was 12 years old, so and lots of nature and wild life.

>> Before we go on, I think we ought to define what is stock photography. What do I mean by that? >> Well, as opposed to assignment photography, where you're hired either by client or a bride for her wedding, that sort of thing is, when you're shooting on your own and then you are hopeful that, if you get some great shots, that you'll be able to license the photograph to people after the fact. >> So these photos go to an agency where they're put in some kind of catalogue. And so, say a book publisher comes along, he's looking for an image for the cover of a book, he might look through this portfolio of images from an agency and go, oh, I really like this one by Carolyn Wright and you would then license that.

>> Correct. So, so I take a lot of photographs of grizzly bears and wolves. So if an editor is looking for a photograph of a wolf, then the editor would go the stock agency and see what kind of photographs there are of wolves and hopefully would pick mine. >> Alright, let's talk about, about shooting stock, and then we'll, we'll get to how you get to an agency and things like that. So, you're out hanging around with some bears and wolves, taking pictures, as one knows. And are you thinking a particular thing in terms of stock, or are you just doing what you do, and then finding out how to sell it to a stock agency later? >> Well, definitely when I'm shooting, I'm thinking about getting the cover shot 'because that's what I'm always shooting for, is the, getting the cover shot.

So,. I think about shooting a lot of verticals, first of all. >> Okay. >> And I want to leave some room for the, the name of the magazine up top. So I might not crop as closely in camera as I might do if I wasn't shooting for stock photos, was shooting to take nice pictures of wolves. >> Right. >> So there's certain, yes, you definitely want to think of wh, how photos might be used and also shooting a lot of options. I want to shoot some horizontals. I want to shoot some verticals. I want to shoot some portraits, shoot some environmental shots and just have a lot of variety to offer to someone.

Hopefully, they can find a good use for it. >> Are you mixing it up, or are you shooting for yourself and stock at the same time. Maybe getting that type crop that doesn't maybe have the space above and then shooting that cover shot also? >> Well, with the, the technology of cameras these days, you can crop pretty much, and, and not lose too much resolution and a lot of uses are for the web anyway, so that's less of a concern. But absolutely I also sell prints of photographs so if I'm going to frame a shot, I'm going to want it to be a tight crop or, or appropriate for printing.

>> Is the stock stuff that you do exclusively wildlife and landscape stuff? >> These days it's all wildlife. I've been a wedding photographer in the past, portrait, I've shot portraits, commercial work all of that, but my passion now is with wildlife. >> If I was shooting stock of something else, let's say, I'm taking a trip to New Orleans and I'm with a stock agency and I'm thinking while I'm here I'll get some New Orleans stuff. What do I look for for subject matter in a large, kind of diffused subject like that? >> Well, you want to shoot stuff that says, this is New Orleans.

>> Mm-hm. >> You want to shoot the music of New Orleans, the streets of New Orleans, you want to be able to identify a place just buy the photographs. But just like a, a wedding photographer too you also want to shoot detail shots. You want to get wide landscapes, you might want to get cityscapes. But something that tells the story of where you are. Because if you can't identify where you are in the story, then, then it's just not going to sell. >> Right, if you can't identify it, an editor isn't going to be able to either. >> Exactly. >> They're trying to do the same thing you are.

So, if you come home and you come home and you've got your pictures of bears and wolves, and maybe you're just getting started. What do I do to get hooked up with a stock agency? >> You can submit your photographs to the agency, and then they'll have an approval process to see whether they want your work online. Then you'll have to sign a contract with them and then get an agency agreement. But what you want to do is, to be a stock photographer, you need lots and lots of photographs. You need thousands and thousands of photographs, because the, the agency is not going to mess with you if you don't have a whole lot of work.

So you need to, you need to shoot a lot, you need to have a lot of high-quality images because the low quality images are not going to sell. >> Right >> And you need to shoot a subject that's not really covered very much. And then the agencies going to be definitely more interested in getting you just signed on. >> And I need thousands of images just for that initial submission? >> I think its yeah. Actually not for the submission but to, to let the agency know that you have got a vast array of images. And so that when you s-send how many images the, the agency asks for, that, that they get a, a good sense that you have a lot of work, and a, a depth of work.

>> Are there agencies that specialize in certain subject matters? Are there wildlife agencies, or city agencies or things like that? >> Oh, absolutely. There are agencies that do only animal shots. There are agencies that do more, commercial type work, but, yes, you need to try to identify an agency where your work going to be best seen. Nobody's going to go to an animal web site, if they're looking for pictures of lamps and tables. >> Right. The agreement that you have with your agency, I assume that's a fairly typical agreement, are you in some kind of exclusive situation with this organization.

>> Well my agency requires that a certain percentage of the images that I submit be exclusive to that agency. They really don't want me competing on my own. I'm allowed to actually license and I do license images directly from myself through myself rather than through the agency. But the agency requires a certain number of images to be exclusive. And when you say exclusive that doesn't just mean that you can't go to another agency. It does mean you can't then go on your own and license them to somebody else. >> Correct. So, that, that, so, that the agency has images that can't be found elsewhere.

Is there anything you need to do to your images to give them to the agency in terms of, say, technical quality? Do they need to be a certain size? Do you edit them to a finished, printable state, or do you wait for whoever's going to buy the images to do that? >> Well, the agency will have its own parameters, their own technical requirements, specifications that they want. For example, they'll want certain metadata put into the file. They'll want it a certain resolution. They'll want a certain color correction. So, I select which images I'm going to submit to the agency and I run it through the process of, of meeting those technical specifications, including the metadata.

Then I submit them to the agency they can still reject them and say no you need to fix this you got a dust spot over here or you don't have the right metadata or you need some more keywords, that sort of thing. So I just need to make sure that my requirements are the that met. >> You said that you need to find some subject matter that hasn’t been covered that very much. I would imagine stock photography is pretty competitive these days. >> Very much so. >> Has it changed a lot since you've started? >> Very much so. It was, it's just a more competitive these days.

A lot more photographers shooting, a lot of great photographers shooting a lot of stuff. it, it's easier to travel. So it, it's a tough market. But if you're really good and if you can get some great unique images then you can make a living as a stock photographer. >> One thing you might want to consider as you're dealing with a stock agency shooting stock and giving your images is ownership of your images, copyright of your images. Carolyn specializes in this topic. And she's got two great courses on what your rights are as a photographer and how to manage copyright. I would imagine these issues come up quite a bit, in terms of figuring out licenses with agencies, things like that.

>> Absolutely. >> Yeah, so, watching her course is a great way to get through this. I heartedly recommend that as a call to action. Also, even if you're not with an agency already, everything that she's describing about the process shooting stock is a great photographic exercise to have to go out and really start seeing a story ahead of time and work within those parameters is a really nice way of seeing the world differently. Even if you're just pretending what would this look like on a magazine cover. It makes you see the world differently. Makes you frame your shots differently. Do you feel a difference when you're shooting stock versus just when you're out messing around.

>> I sort of give myself self assignments. I mean, when you're not shooting for an assignment in particular, you are trying to envision the, the customer. How are they going to use it? What they need. And so, I sort of make assignments for myself. So when I'm out shooting grizzly bears, I, I make sure that I get the environmental shot. I get the tight shot. I get the interaction shot. The mother. The cub. The chasing salmon shot. So, while those are fairly typical shots that you want to get for grizzly bears, and there's a lot of shots like that.

If I can get that really great bear fight on, on film then I'm, I'm happy. >> You're different than I am. When I'm out shooting grizzly bears I make sure not to get mauled. >> LAUGH >> Was really my, my thing. Carolyn, thank you very much. >> All right. >> This has been really interesting. And again, a great exercise. Even if you're not, have no intention of going and becoming a stock photographer, thinking like a stock photographer is a really good way of getting a different view on the world and taking a different attack on your photographic process.

Show transcript

This video is part of

Image for The Practicing Photographer
The Practicing Photographer

71 video lessons · 44529 viewers

Ben Long
Author

 
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  1. 5m 35s
    1. Posing and shooting pairs of people
      5m 35s
  2. 7m 34s
    1. Introducing The Practicing Photographer
      1m 35s
    2. Canon wireless flash with built in radio control
      5m 59s
  3. 6h 54m
    1. Choosing a camera
      5m 27s
    2. Looking at light as a subject
      2m 22s
    3. Using a small reflector to add fill light
      5m 45s
    4. Editing photo metadata with PhotosInfo Pro for iPad
      6m 30s
    5. Let your lens reshape you
      7m 26s
    6. Compositing street photography images with Photoshop
      7m 44s
    7. Expand your filter options with step-up and step-down rings
      3m 56s
    8. Shooting without a memory card
      3m 6s
    9. Give yourself a year-long assignment
      5m 28s
    10. Working with reflections
      1m 26s
    11. Exploring mirrorless cameras
      7m 25s
    12. Batch processing photos with the Adobe Image Processor
      7m 30s
    13. Limiting yourself to a fixed-focal-length lens
      2m 13s
    14. Creating tiny worlds: Shooting technique
      4m 15s
    15. Creating tiny worlds: Post-processing techniques
      11m 41s
    16. Shooting macro shots on an iPhone
      3m 18s
    17. Using a tripod
      3m 33s
    18. Wildlife and staying present
      5m 58s
    19. Batch exposure adjustments on raw files
      6m 52s
    20. Why Shoot Polaroid
      11m 12s
    21. Seizing an opportunity
      4m 4s
    22. Four photographers do a light-as-subject exercise
      12m 24s
    23. Shooting macro bug photos with a reversed lens
      4m 54s
    24. Varnishing a photo for a painterly effect
      13m 36s
    25. Shooting wildlife
      7m 24s
    26. Discussion on how to shoot architecture
      12m 27s
    27. Using a lens hood
      4m 48s
    28. Working with themes
      2m 48s
    29. Setting up an HDR time lapse
      7m 55s
    30. Processing an HDR time lapse
      7m 55s
    31. Two perspectives on travel photography
      12m 28s
    32. Scanning Photos
      5m 37s
    33. Photo assignment: shooting an egg
      3m 13s
    34. Reviewing the egg shot images
      6m 47s
    35. Shooting in your own backyard
      4m 38s
    36. Jpeg iPad import process
      3m 17s
    37. Shooting a product shot in open shade
      9m 34s
    38. Reviewing the product shot images
      4m 5s
    39. Warming up
      3m 26s
    40. Taking a panning action shot
      10m 17s
    41. Scanning polaroid negatives and processing in Photoshop
      8m 17s
    42. Shooting a silhouette
      3m 9s
    43. Going with an ultra-light gear configuration
      5m 29s
    44. Working with masks and calculations in Photoshop
      12m 38s
    45. Working with flash for macro photography
      4m 55s
    46. Colorizing a black and white photo in Photoshop
      5m 10s
    47. Using duct tape and zip ties in the field
      4m 14s
    48. When the on camera flash is casting a shadow
      3m 4s
    49. Using Lightroom on the road
      6m 28s
    50. Listening to your camera to get good exposure
      2m 20s
    51. Shooting a successful self portrait with a phone
      7m 18s
    52. Switching to Lightroom from another application
      9m 48s
    53. Photographing animals in wildlife refuges
      6m 41s
    54. Shooting level
      2m 42s
    55. Photoshop and Automator
      8m 54s
    56. Shooting when the light is flat
      3m 23s
    57. Discussing the business of stock photography
      9m 48s
    58. Shooting tethered to a monitor
      3m 21s
    59. Making a 360 degree panorama on the iPhone
      4m 45s
    60. Understanding the three flash setup
      3m 34s
    61. Shooting a three flash portrait
      4m 6s
    62. Understanding the differences with third party lenses
      4m 43s
    63. Understanding why files look different on depending on device
      5m 25s
    64. Working with a geotagging app on the iPhone
      4m 43s
    65. Using high speed flash sync to dim ambient light
      7m 29s
    66. Using your iPad as a second monitor
      5m 46s
    67. Understanding exposure with a leaf shutter camera
      3m 28s
    68. Photography practice through mimicry
      8m 8s

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