New to Stock?

I thought I'd take the time to discuss a few common mistakes that people new to stock image culture make. I feel I am well qualified to address this considering that I've made them all myself and understand that all good judgment comes from experience. . all of which springs from bad judgment.

1. Get over the 'all my work is Art' syndrome. It may well be that it is. . but once you submit it for consideration as royalty free stock imagery, it becomes, for the most part, simply a commodity to be used in the mass media to either sell products, or illustrate brochures and magazines. If you truly want your work to be Art then you should submit your work to galleries and studios for that purpose.

2. In the same vein, don't make the mistake of thinking that all the same subjective considerations often used in evaluating Art or Fine Art photography, are utilized in evaluating your images. Noise, while absolutely acceptable among the creative elite, is not considered a bonus in the microstock business. That evenly distributed luminance and chroma noise in your recently submitted image to Dreamstime will most likely NOT be considered as an 'enhancement to the mood' of the image.

Also, while a confusing, ambiguous or abstract image that leaves the viewer wondering what the message is, might well move the tortured souls of an anguished, and passionate, angst ridden artist elite, it will more than likely only spawn a rejection of 'not quite what we're looking for' on Dreamstime.

3. Avoid the desire to overwork your images in Photoshop. There are admittedly so many really cool gadgets that Photoshop allows you to bring to bear to make your work pop. But remember that a little goes a long way. Learning to trust your eye and let your initial vision, captured with your camera, do most of the talking. Some of the most common mistakes that people make, new to this industry, is to over sharpen, over saturate, and over noise reduce.

4. Don't make the mistake of negatively comparing your work to others. This is always a zero sum exercise in futility. Its a given that you won't ever create images that look just like some one else's. But they won't have your same eye either. Instead, look to those contributors whose work you like and try to discern what it is they are doing that could assist you in making your images more sales prone. This doesn't mean trying to create carbon copies of the work they are submitting, but rather to study and glean the techniques, compositional methods, color use and concept awareness of the images you find compelling by others.

5. Resist the temptation to post threads that complain about your lack of sales for a particular month or period. It only makes you look scared and whiney. But frankly its just the way the micro-stock industry waxes and wanes. You'll find that some months are better than others and some are worse. Success also has to do with how many images you have online as well. Higher volume of images (assuming quality images) translates to higher presence on the site, and ultimately better sales for the most part.

6. Along the same lines, by all means participate in the threads, but only if you have something viable to offer. There are so many ways to improve your skills in this business and communing with fellow contributors is one of them. But certainly be circumspect about how and when you participate. One of the common issues I see in regards to thread participation, is the tendency for some to respond to serious questions about 'how to' do something, with a virtual non response such as 'well I've never done it myself but my guess would be. . ', or 'good question. .good luck with that'. Many of these sorts of responses are motivated by the belief that increased participation in the threads somehow improves placement of images in the search algorithm. Maybe it does. . but I doubt it. :)

There are more areas that I could address, but then I'D too sound like I was whining.

So if you're new to Dreamstime or microstock in general, take heart and know that all those nagging little doubts and fears that you may have, were also the same ones the rest of us had too, and often. . still do.

Photo credits: Lightart.

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May 03, 2010


This is a brilliant piece of advice and it is certainly helpful for me and many others who are new!!! Thankyou so much for sharing your experience.

May 03, 2010


thanks. you have to accept rejections as well as tough start. i'm still waiting for my first sales. i hope it will come soon. patience is virtue. :)

April 14, 2010


You are right!

April 12, 2010


I agree with you all the way and I like the way you went into things no.1 is a very good start.

April 12, 2010


Well said!

April 11, 2010


Excellent, well written, good humored, helpful advice!

As a relative newcomer to stock, I'm learning exactly some of the "lessons" you write about.

Phrased a little differently, a basic lesson is that ambiguity, subtlety, and complexity are NOT what stock agencies want. One-dimensional images with direct, immediately obvious concepts or impact ARE what they want. The word "commodity" that you use is right on target.

I think the best way to see this apparent conflict is to be tolerant toward both fine art and stock as being separate but both worthy in their own ways.

The trick of being able to shoot with both in mind can be a difficult but not impossible challenge.

April 11, 2010


I don't have anything viable to offer but I enjoyed your blog and simply wished to say so! Thanks for the good advice.

April 08, 2010


Excellent advice..and well said!

April 08, 2010


A very nice blog. Written in a funny way but as serious as it can be. Not to mention the truth that rises from the text.

April 08, 2010


Good blog, I have some favorite lines that I can quote from now on :)
"Many of these sorts of responses are motivated by the belief that increased participation in the threads somehow improves placement of images in the search algorithm. Maybe it does. . but I doubt it. :)" < You're correct.

April 07, 2010


Great blog - I had a successful graphic design business for many years and it took me a solid 3-5 years (I'm a slow learner!) to accept that my "artistic" design didn't mean a whole lot if it didn't serve the client or if was not what they wanted. I'm trying to take that same approach with stock photography although it can be tough but if it was easy everybody would be doing it. Thanks for a good reality check.

April 07, 2010


Well said! It took me quite a while to get over the urge to over-process images. In the end it is better to just expose correctly at the shutter-click. My experience with dark or noisy images is just as you described.

BTW, love those rolling green hills in your photos.

April 07, 2010


:))). Indeed, compliments. Very well written and good points.

April 07, 2010


Thanks for sharing.

What a great article. Definitely need to do less of the comparing with other people. I always find myself getting annoyed that my images don't get accepted when others peoples do. I need to learn to accept the rejections and move on.

Thanks for sharing the advice!

April 06, 2010


Good advice!

April 06, 2010


Thanks great blog

April 06, 2010


This has been one of the best blogs I've read on this site. Really dealing with the essence. Dealing with our day to day doubts, fears, disappointments.
Thank you for the post.
Oh yes, and this response was not motivated by the belief that increased participation in threads improves placement in searches. :)

April 06, 2010


I agree: learn and work.

April 06, 2010


I think DT is a great platform to improve ourselves in Microstock business. In a short period of time it is possible to learn from refusals and from community.

My motto is do not complain, just learn and work

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