MicroStock Photography Part 3 – My Workflow from A to Z (Part 2)

[singlepic=288,320,240,,left]It’s time for part 2 of my microstock workflow. If you missed part 1 that covered steps 1 through 7, you can read it here.

Part 1 focused more on my workflow before the actual photo shoot and the photo shoot itself. In part 2, I’ll focus mainly on what I do after the shoot is done. This will cover steps 8 through 17. Without further ado, let’s get right to it.

Step 8: Backup, backup, backup. Did I say Backup? As soon as you fill up a card, back it up right away while you continue shooting. If you have a big memory card and can put a full day’s shoot on it, I suggest you do a mid-shoot backup. I back everything up on my Epson P-3000. Then, when the shoot is over and I’m sipping my victory drink (usually some Bailey’s), I backup my P-3000 on my laptop.

Step 9: Model Release. This might sound basic enough, but I have left a shoot before and forgot to ask the models to sign the model release! Doh! I shot in Connecticut and I live 9 hours away! It was a pain doing this after the fact with a model that didn’t have a computer or access to a fax. My trick to avoid this now… have them out and ask them to fill them out BEFORE you start shooting.

Step 10: Thank you. Be grateful. Thank your models and pay them right away (if you’re paying them). If you’re doing TFP or TFCD, give them a time line of when they’ll receive the images. This can be difficult to determine but if I do a full day shoot and have over 500 image to post process, I give myself 2 months. But in the mean time you can send them a small selection of low res stuff by email as you get them done. They’ll thank you for it.

Step 11: Archiving. Or filing. What I do here is transfer my files to my computer  using Adobe Lightroom 2. Since Lightroom 2 is a powerful database, I can easily tag my images and store them on many drives. Finding them is then very easy.

Step 12: Image selection. Using the various tagging options in Lightroom 2 such as flags, stars and colors, I select my images accordingly before post processing. I start by selecting the crap less stock-worthy ones and delete from my hard drive. This is very important because if you don’t do this, you’ll clog up your hard disk for nothing. Then I flag my top shots. Once the top shots are selected, I go through the rest and select “secondary” shots that I might process and upload later on if I have a down period.

Step 13: Post Processing. I use the powerful, non destructive post processing features in Lightroom 2 to retouch my images. You can see some of my Lightroom 2 video tutorials to get you going. If you don’t have it yet, CLICK HERE to download your free 30 trial straight from the Adobe Website. Some images will need extra post processing work that can only be done in Photoshop CS3 like using layers and certain filters.

Step 14: Keywording. OK, upto step 13 I was having fun. Now comes the tedious task of keywording. Luckily in Lightroom, I can add keywords, titles and descripions on multiple images at once. Just this Lightroom function saves me many hours per week compared to the copy/paste I used to do in Photoshop.

Finding the right keywords is so important so if I lack inspiration, I’ll go on the stock sites and search similar images then look at their keywords to complete my list. Do this! It’s a great learning experience.

Step 15: Exporting. I just export my images in maximum quality jpgs in my Upload folder. I don’t resize images for subscription sites like ShutterStock. I don’t have the time for that.

Step 16: Uploading. I currently upload to the top 7 income generating microstock sites (and soon to be 8 with the recent invitation to join PurestockX).  At one point I was uploading to 12 sites but I cut 5 of them out and it was the best business decision I made for stock. I now have more time to concentrate on the sites that actually make me money. Here are the sites I upload to in order of income generation:

123 Royality Free

You can find a brief description of the top 4 here.

To upload my photos, I use ProstockMaster. It’s quick and easy. It has many features but I only use it for uploading to many agencies at once. There’s also another software that came out after ProstockMaster called Cushy Stock. It’s getting great reviews from peers so this could also be another great option for you. Using software made for the microstocker is a must to save you some time.

Step 17: Finalizing. Once the images are uploaded, I then go to each site and finalize the images by adding model releases, categories, etc…

So there you have it! My complete workflow from A to Z. I hope this small window into my professional life can help you out in your microstock journey.

9 responses on "MicroStock Photography Part 3 - My Workflow from A to Z (Part 2)"

  1. Good site. Just found it and enjoyed this page.
    Re Item #14: Keywords
    I have noted on this site and elsewhere suggestions for keywords. A common suggestion is to go to stock sites and look for similar images and look at their
    keywords. I must be missing something along the way, as I cannot figure out
    how to access the keywords when I look at an image on a stock site. What is
    the little secret to accomplish this apparently simple task?
    thanks for anticipated help

  2. @ Bll

    That’s right. All my category folders are all in a main “Stock Photography” folder. 🙂

  3. Ah, OK thanks. That make sense. So you then have a “collection” of stock images that you can then send to any new stock agencies that may pop up in the future.

  4. @ Bill

    I then file them by categories like “food” or “business”. If the folder gets too big, I’ll create sub categories.

  5. So what do you do with the photos in the uploads folder once they are uploaded? Delete? Move?

  6. Excellent tips! I can vouch that CushyStock (http://www.cushystock.com) is a real time saver especially useful for keywording and the fact that it can upload to multiple sites.
    One of the biggest benefits is that it can support vectors uploads.

  7. Hi Yanik,

    To reduce the pain of #14, keywording, I’m using this site: http://arcurs.com/keywording/

    I don’t know if you are already using it but it helps a lot (especially since I’m french speaking). You type some keywords that describe your photo and it searches through the SS database and display photo that have the same keywords. You then select the photos that are of the same subject as yours and then it merges the keywords of those selected photos together and you can select the ones you want. After that, it’s just a cut and paste from there to Lightroom/Aperture.


  8. Wow , very good Yanik!

    I have a new studio that i am moving in in a few weeks, i will put those steps on a paper then on my wall to remeber how the masters do it! lol

    stock photo here i come!

    And if i am right its perfect time to shoot christmas thing right haha

  9. Thanks, as always your tips are great!
    The one thing I’m still missing in your workflow is how exactly to process images for stock sites. There’s not only the motives, models or composition of a photo; many of the stock images share the white background, warm colors and sharp subjects, so I would really like to learn how to photoshop them the right way.

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