Keep it clean ... or not
Yesterday I got almost 2$ for a small download of this image, one of my first uploads to DT and 6 downloads so far:
Now I went kinda far off post-processing this one, skewing colors, blowing out highlights and creating a strong halo around the turbine. I didn't know I was destroying the photograph back then, I just thought it looked cool. Well DT probably thought so as well and accepted it right?
Most other stock sites rejected the image, for all of the above reasons. As I originally shot it in RAW, I hammered away trying to fix the "problems" with the image, and finally got it accepted on other sites as well. That "picture perfect" (well not really but you get the point) image I uploaded to DT again:
Now since the first image had a few downloads already I decided not to disable the file, but figured only the new image would get the additional downloads. It felt good. I had learned how to post-process correctly for stock. It looked kinda dull, but it was the correct thing to do.
A couple of months later ... the "destroyed version" is still getting downloads and the "fixed version" zero. Downloads on the other stock sites for the "fixed version" is .... zero. The other stock sites who accepted the first version ... sales. This is just one example, but I tend to find that the "processed" versions of images sell better. Im still very very very new to stock, but that's basically my dilemma at the moment regarding post-processing:
1) Go with your gut and make an image "feel right", basically destroying it, and risk rejection for over-filtering. But if you get it online ... sales.
2) Just slightly post-process, lens correction, removing CA, fix WB and then boost contrast slightly. High approval rate .. but very few sales.
Am I arguing that the the "destroyed version" is better than the fixed one? Not at all. Having the fixed version, it is quite easy to filter it to look like my first upload. So why is it selling better? My guess is that the buyer don't want to deal with post-processing and just wanted a skewed version to make it pop in an article or so.
So DT, thanks for allowing some form of creative post-processing to take place. It seems to me that is what buyers sometimes want. I would however really like to have the possibility of attaching post-processing versions of a specific file, instead of uploading different versions (which is usually not allowed as I understand it). In the case above, I left a note to the editor that this was a fixed version of an old file and thankfully it did get online .... and somehow confirmed this somewhat strange selling pattern.
Hope you found the article interesting
Photo credits: P0temkin.
Camera equipment: New and Old