In the Midst of Rejection How to Find Meaning
I've always been a "dive in, check the depth later" type of person. And... that's not always wise! In my perseverance and excitement to learn new things, unfortunately I'm by-passing the beauty of savoring the little things that can mean big lessons in the long run. So, to you out there that are so hungry to do what you love and get paid for it like, NOW- for you out there that believe time is not on your side, my suggestion is to ask you one question: what is it that you have a passion for? Aside from photography, what do you get excited about? When you know the answer to that question, then take money out of the equation. The idea of making exorbitant amounts of money can blur the pure desires of your heart.
To give you an example, I love to work with my hands. I love to sew, crochet, tat, make artwork, create, write and read. Normally people don’t get rich off of reading, but I still love to do it anyway. That is what I am referring to, a hobby you love whether or not there is an income. With this idea in mind, how can I translate my love for reading and creating things into stock photography that actually sells? The answer- "where there's a will, there's a way"… I’ve learned that I've had to set aside the idea of Christian stock just for now. Even though in my heart I *know* I can produce good Christian stock, right now in the midst of rejection it is proven that I can't.
This means that I have to re-focus and re-group my priorities into gaining experience of being *not* rejected. I have to focus on producing high quality photos that *can* be accepted. Once I learn how to do that, I can then apply that knowledge into the Christian realm in the future and move on from there. So, what's the point of all this? The point is that I want to share is that over the last week or so, I've had 4 additional photos accepted!!! This means that my goal of Christian stock is a step closer. Finally gaining acceptance for my work is a real accomplishment for me, and I know it can be for you! This is what I learned:
1. If you love photographing dogs, but just can’t get accepted photos for them, re-shift and try something else. Work on still life, or food, or older models (not children that don’t sit still). Concentrate on the fields that sell, like business stock, medical stock, construction or cleaning. Gain the experience in the realms that are known to sell. Grow not only in experience, but in ideas as well. When and where you go back to working with dogs, put yourself in a marketing frame of mind and ask what is it about your particular photos that would entice someone to buy them? What is the story you are telling from your image?
2. Once you have an idea ready to put into action, make sure the subjects you are photographing should be as perfect as possible prior to shooting. Try not to do all your editing after uploading (examples are blemishes, lighting problems, hair out of place, etc.). Fix all that you can in the moment! Take the extra time and the extra mile to make it perfect before shooting.
3. Lighting is more important than can possibly be explained here. I think most photographers know that lighting can make or break you. For those on a low, low income (like me), professional lighting equipment is just a "no go" anyway you slice it, so what do you do? Can you afford $35? If you can, go to a home building store like HD or Lowe's and get to their lighting section. Not the section for lamps and hanging lights for inside the home, but lighting for like garages and basements, etc. Get the long 4' industrial light holders usually found at the bottom of the shelf, these are around $8, grab two. Then go to the bulb section and buy the long 5000k daylight bulbs that go into the holders. You will have to construct your own hangers to hang them on, but I have found these lights to be the best quality for great lighting and at the best cost. If you can spare more money than what I've mentioned, grab as many as you can. More light, better photos.
3. I am an extreme amateur photographer by my own definition and what I've learned when it comes to working the camera, is A. the lower ISO the better (not everyone might agree, but for me, this is the only way to eliminate grain), B. continually using the lowest aperture is not always the greatest thing because it can focus so closely on one area and throw everything else off. A shallow DOF can be a great thing, but it can also be a downfall. I’ve found working in the mid-range between 5.6-8 to work very well for most shoots. The farther away your subject, the higher the f number.
4. Try not to zoom in too much. Do your best to not zoom at all. If that means getting close to your subject, whether person or object, then do it. I have learned that relying on zooming in close from far away makes you more susceptible to camera blur (unless you a lens with a built in stabilizer).
5. Use a tri-pod, use a tri-pod, use a tri-pod and again, use a tri-pod. Even if you look like a dork-oh well! Your goal is to get the best pictures possible and your next goal is to make sure they are sellable. I bought by tri-pod off eBay for $14 and it was well worth it.
6. Once all your photos are uploaded, its such a good idea to have a half decent photo editing software program. If you have to borrow the money to buy one, then you should. You can get a mid-quality program for around $50. My camera came with one and its just now that I’m starting to use it. I shied away from it because it was “new” to me and I didn’t know how to use it so I stuck with my outdated, old software that I was comfortable with. My aversion to change hurt me in the long run.
7. And lastly, in reference to point #2, the reason you need to have the set perfect prior to shooting is because the more editing you do graphically to fix the mistakes, the more you diminish the quality of the .jpg image. Dreamstime requires 3MB so if you start out with your image uploaded at around that size, and then edit it and re-save it, it will kill it. By killing it, I mean that when you go to fix it, quality diminishes and you then enlarge it to get it back to 3MB, the image look terrible and you‘ve blown any hope of it being accepted. Try to get it perfect so you don’t have to even edit it to begin with.
Well, I hope these points will help someone. These are just small things I learned and really they’re not that small. They are big things to remember because it will take *work* on your part. I always had this idea that taking pictures is really easy and then wham-o, what do you know, I can make lots of money for it! This is not so. You will get paid when your work is worthy of hire.
Photo credits: Joyb0218.