Origin Stories - Dreamstime

Until a few months ago I didn't know (or care) much about photography at all. I'd heard terms such as aperture, white balance, depth of field and what not, but had little more than a vague understanding of what they meant. Shooting holiday snaps with a point and shoot, these terms hardly applied to me. Photography was just a matter of pointing a camera at something, pressing the button halfway then pushing down again. Point. Shoot. Voila, there's a photo. It's vaguely in focus, now where's the pub?

And then...

My cuter half and I were minding our own business in a bar in Chiang Mai sometime around January when a wiry young American wandered over to introduce himself. We muddled through the usual small talk peculiar to expats and the perpetually stateless (Me, being ever so British: 'Do you know where I can find a tin of Heinz baked beans around here?'), then moved onto the standard oneupmanship contest about the places we've visited (he won in a judges decision over the comparative merits of Pakistan and Turkmenistan), and eventually found ourselves at the 'so what do you do?' point of the conversation.

'I'm a photojournalist,' he says. 'And I also shoot microstock for a site called Dreamstime.'

Many Skype and Facebook conversations ensued as he taught me photography 101, advised me on camera choices and described my Panasonic TZ4, quite rightly, as worthless for microstock (the fact that my first enormous batch of submissions taken with this camera were all refused, leaving me fighting back from an acceptance rate of around 25%, justifies his derision).

In March I returned to the UK briefly to settle a few of the annoying matters that occasionally require me to spend time on this dreary island, and while I was here I took the opportunity to buy a Panasonic GF1 to gain a little experience.

This was my first mistake.

You see, now I've got the bug. Nobody warned me about this. Nobody warned me that I'd spend all day staring at eBay looking for the perfect prime at an attractive price. Nobody warned me that I'd end up with a room full of cables, reflectors and random lenses crunching underfoot. Nobody warned me that I'd take the camera to my dark local pub to test out the low light capabilities of my Canon FD 50mm 1.4 (quite astounding, by the way), and force my friends to tolerate my snapping for hours on end.

Also, nobody warned me about the nagging urge to upgrade, a feeling akin to pushing your tongue against a cut on the roof of your mouth. You know it'll get better if you just leave it alone, but you can't help yourself.

So after a month with the GF1, a nice camera that can do surprising things considering its size, I decided I need something with a viewfinder that doesn't look quite so much like a toy. So, the GF1 goes on eBay - along with all the GF1 specific equipment that's useless without the camera (no doubt to be sold at an enormous loss) - and an order goes in for a used Canon 450D, as well as a range of lenses and replacements for all the GF1 gear.

The Canon arrived this morning, and it's great, but already I can feel that nagging urge, the little demon on my shoulder telling me it's not good enough. I need more. More megapixels. A bigger viewfinder. A sharper screen. A better lens. 'Go on,' it's whispering in my ear. 'Take a look at a 7D. Treat yourself. It's not that much more expensive.'

Anyway. Here's one of my favourite pictures from the portfolio of the ass who showed me the entrance to this damned rabbit hole. Cheers, Tim :P

Photo credits: Kyolshin, Tdmartin.

Your article must be written in English

July 05, 2011


For now I don't have any equipment, besides my pc, but I would like to start with low-medium level equipment. I am thinking in Canon 600D. Whats your opinion?

Thank you

April 15, 2011


Great images!

April 13, 2011


nice image

April 13, 2011


Ha :) Don't worry, I'm certainly not labouring under the belief that's it's possible to buy your way to greatness :) Saying that, I think it'd be difficult to argue that suitable equipment doesn't remove some of the road blocks between a photographer and an acceptable image.

For instance, while my old TZ4 may - in ideal conditions - be capable of making an image that meets the technical requirements for microstock, it isn't capable of producing the same types of images I can get from a DSLR and a 200mm prime, falling far short on both focal range and sharpness.

That says nothing about the artistic merit of a photograph (Chase Jarvis can get beautiful pictures from an iPhone camera), but from a purely technical standpoint you're more likely to get good results if you're working with the correct tools (something I learned last time I tried to remove a broken toilet seat with the closest tool to hand: a hammer) :P

April 13, 2011


Hi Keith,

My best selling photos are still those taken with Panasonic FZ50, which is similar to TZ4. Later I upgraded to G1 and now I am mainly working with GH1. I must admit that working with the FZ50 was an uphill battle, but since I upgraded to G1 (about 2 years ago) my refusals are very seldom due to noise or "low quality lens".

I am an amateur but I am dedicating many hours to this hobby for more than 40 years now.

I don't want to disapoint you but that perfect prime on Ebay will do nothing to your photographic skills or to your acceptance ratio.

It's not that I could not afford to spend $5-10K on photo equipment, but I believe it is not right to do it in order to earn maybe $3-5k in a few years on DT. Besides if I were to spend more money I would buy lighting equipment.

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