Sep 04 2008
It’s been a while since I wrote about Microstock Photography. In part 1, I gave you an insight on what it was all about and in part 2 we looked at the major payers in the industry. And here I go with a long title to introduce part 3: MicroStock Photography Part 3 – My Workflow from A to Z (Part 1). Ok, so that everybody understands, you are now reading part 1 of part 3. That means that we’ll be having a part 2 of part 3 next week. Glad I cleared that up!
Some of you wrote to me asking for my workflow; how I went about my microstock routine. So guess what! I’ll give you my complete workflow from the very beginning to the very end. I’ll bee picking my brains to make sure you get all the details. You don’t need to be a stock photographer to read this. Most of this workflow applies to all the shooting I do. In part 1, I’ll go from Step 1 to Step 7. Next week, in part 2, I’ll cover steps 8 through 17
Step 1: Choosing my subject. The first thing I do is decide on what I want to shoot. Maybe I saw a cool concept in a magazine or something is moving in the news or I just feel like shooting a particular theme.
Step 2: Research. Ok, so now I know what I want to shoot. The next thing I do is research. I usually go to Shutterstock and IstockPhoto (because of exclusive content) and type in keywords related to my theme. I already have a folder on my desktop called “Stock Ideas” and in the folder I have many theme-related sub folders. I go through the agencies’ images and download comps of concepts and ideas that I like. Depending on the theme, it could be from 20 to 100ish images. Those images are ideas or concepts that I find inspiring and that I would like to shoot using my style. I don’t want to reproduce the same image but instead use it as a starting point for my creativity. I then go to GettyImages and do the same thing. Why Getty? Because the image there, for the most part, are shot differently and can give me fresh ideas.
Step 3: Making a shot list. When going on a shoot, you need to be prepared. Just like a movie director needs a story board, I need a shot list. The shot list does 3 things. 1) You don’t forget all the great ideas. 2) You shoot more efficiently with less pauses. 3) You look more professional (if you’re shooting with people ). I usually have roughly 35 thumbnails per page grouped in similar scenarios. If I couldn’t fin images fitting certain concepts or angles, I’ll sketch them on. Stick men can do wonders!
Step 4: Finding a location. Depending on what/who you’re shooting you may already know where you’ll be shooting. It could ven be in your basement! But if you need to find a location, let’s say a boardroom with big windows, you’ll have to start scouting. If you’re lucky, you’ll know someone who has access to one that you can use after business hours. If you’re not so lucky, the challenge begins.
What I found worked the best was to look at the outside architecture of the buildings in your area. If you find one that’s promising, go into the lobby and note own the company names and the floor they’re on (the high the better the light is usually). Find their numbers in the yellow pages or Google and give them a call. Ask to speak to someone responsible for human resources (I found them to be the most personable ). Once you get someone who can make decisions, tell them your story. Make sure you offer them something in return. It could be staff photos or even an RF license to use the images you’ll take there. Use you imagination!
Step 5: Props. Do you need props for your shoot? Clothes, phones, laptops, pads of paper, a polka dot bikini? If you have models (see step 6), ask them if they have appropriate clothing and some props relevant to the shoot. It’s free! After shooting stock since 2004 so I have a major huge closet full of props. From an aquarium to dishes of all kinds, from yoga mats (I don’t do yoga) to a bag full of cell phones and a laptop I can throw in the pool if need be. If you’re serious about stock, you’ll end up with tons of crap important props for shoots.
Step 6: Getting models. If your theme involves people, I strongly advise to use real ones. You’ll probably start like everbody else and harrass politely ask your family and friends to play the models. And this will work for a while until they get sick of you politely decline. Use this time as good practice to work with people. This is the toughest part. Getting your vision out into words that poeple will understand.
Ok, so now you need models. Where do you get them once you’ve asked every single aunt and nephew around? You can try a few places. First, look on Facebook if there are local photography/models groups in you area. Then you can go to Model Mayhem. This is a great site for finding models without busting the bank. Usually, it’s a give-ive situation. They need a portfolio, you need models. Usually, you can get the models for free in exchange for a CD or a few prints of the images shot. This is called TFP (time for prints) or TFCD (time for CD).
Step 7: The actual shoot. OK, you’ve got your shot list, your location, your props and your models. Congratulations! It’s time to shoot!
1) Make sure you ask the models to show up 30 minutes before you actually want them there! Trust me on this one!
2) Give them enough time for make-up and dressing up.
3) Try to be as efficient as possible and shoot shoot shoot.
4) Don’t forget to rotated your models so that they get breaks.
5) I always get healthy snacks and lots of water, especially if it’s a full day shoot. My philosophy is: treat your models well and they’ll want to shoot with you again.
6) Give the photographer a break! You need to recharge as well to keep your head in the game.
This ends part one of my microstock workflow. Stay tuned for part 2 next week!
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