Growing passion for photography into successful stock
Monika Wisniewska, or Amaviael as many Dreamstimers may know her, joined our community in 2004 and has been an active presence ever since. Self taught, keen on improving, optimistic, and in love with being a photographer, Monika has managed to build an impressing, varied portfolio. To read her words, she succeeded mainly because she is doing what she likes best. She discovered her passion and this kept her going, it made her learn new tricks, it enabled her to face competition. Let's see what else lies beneath her success:
You have a very neat style, your images have a simple, very clear message, with flawless compositions. Is that the result of gradual refinement in time? What is your background in photography? Were you formally educated or are you self taught?
I am self taught. All you can see in my images is the result of straight thinking. My intention when shooting is always to show the clear message to the viewer by this photo. Stock photography is quite different than the more artistic forms of photography in general. In stock photography, the viewer is supposed to see clearly what the image is about. In more artistic photography, the photographers tend to be more mysterious in order to catch the viewer's attention. The viewer must often think about hidden or hinted meanings of the photograph. Although I did see splendid stock images which were also artistic ones. I suppose this is why there are so many great, beautiful images but not all are best sellers on stocks.
What do you like doing when you're not shooting?
When it's a nice weather I love to bike or go for a walk with my dog and husband. I also play the piano, do yoga, cook, read books, meet my friends. The thing is I am "shooting" all the time, even when I do not have camera in my hands. I see great opportunities of shots everywhere. I am a person who must do something all the time. When I don't think about anything, I am "dead" LOL :)
It's about planing the shooting. At first I do not have a clear subject but as I am thinking this more and more, I automatically start seeing subjects for my sessions. Say I am in a bookstore and I suddenly think it's a great subject for stock photos. People, places, sometimes TV advertisements are the main triggers for me. I also ask my models about their hobbies and sometimes we take photos of that what they like to do.
Is there a photo theme or subject that intrigues you personally, but it's yet to explore?
Yes there are many, but for now it's weddings. I know it's boring for some photographers. There were times when I was thinking the same. Now it's nice for me to shot so many emotions. It's like sharing all life in one day. I would like to explore this branch of photography more this year if I have a time and people willing to have me as photographer for their wedding.
Photography is my love. When I was a kid I liked to paint and as a young teen I saved enough money to buy my first camera. It was quite basic but it was mine and ever since that day I fell in love with taking photos. Later on but still in my teen years, my parents bought a computer and so I learned Windows 3.11 and Corel Draw. I painted circles and it was so great feeling! Since that day I love to create computer generated graphics. My last images of textures where hand painted with real paint on real board by me and I added some computer generated details after. New for me but so cool!
There is a particular image in your portfolio which as funny as it is, it used to herald bad news for both members and admins: "The site is down". We're talking about image 80409. It is nevertheless one of your best sellers. Can we hear the story behind this photo? And what did you put on the model's face?
It was a photo created especially for Dreamstime Assignment, the subject was something about being shocked. Shocked. I thought. In my mind, shocked is directly connected with electricity and electricity when handled without caution always makes black faces - as we saw on some old comedies. So I had the guy with me (it's my husband) but a tricky part was the black face. I bought a pack of carbo medicinalis, added some water and put this mixture on Tom's face. Voila!
In people photography it is the light in their eyes. It's so sad to see dull eyes in photos.
Do you have a favorite image of another Dreamstime contributor and why do you like it so much?
One photo? No, it's impossible to like only one! As an example I like the photos of Sandralise. Her style is so nice, delicate, there's beautiful lighting and great compositions.
You joined the industry quite early. Were you ever discouraged? Were there ups and downs? What kept you going?
I was never discouraged, well maybe on some not accepted photos ;) But on the overall, no. The competition is huge but I like competition. It is one of the things that shows me I must still work on my techniques, style and other details. What kept me going? I just like my job as Confucius said “Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life.” Well I found it!
You have been in this industry for a long time, and have seen all the phases of microstock to date, how do you see, as a seasoned photographer, the near future of microstock?
The future of whole microstock industry? I think it will be ok, people will need images and agencies like Dreamstime will answer these needs. There is a question about artists, I mean contributors. The times when snapshots generated money have passed. People who made money on tones of ugly photos are also gone. It's good for all. So I think time of great changes has just ended. Now artists who are thinking serious about creating stock images have clear situation. Stock photo agencies are no more just a place for easy money, they're businesses that need quality over quantity and awesome shots over snapshots.
Monika's success as stock photographer follows a quite simple recipe. She confesses to being a tireless image concept thinker and seeing shooting opportunities everywhere all the time. She also admits to planning carefully the shooting process. She strongly believes that stock images should be shot to deliver clear messages, convey clear concepts and match clear usages. And finally, she identifies valuable, quality content to be the key to stock photography in the future. Monika found her passion. And grew it into successful stock.
Photo credits: Monika Wisniewska.
Camera equipment: New and Old