Sharing a newbie's experiences

Hello everyone,

As a newbie, I would like share some experience with people which plan to start sale photos on microstocks. I am sure that you will read some thoughts about microstocks that you already know, and seen somewhere else over internet. If so, it just mean that people already done that a lot of time and they succeeded or maybe doing same mistakes again and again.

Few words about me: I was not a professional photographer, I am even not amateur .In my almost 30, because of world crisis and my own decision has left my work in IT sector with some cash in my pocket and strong wish to change my life. And after 2 months I can say there is no reason I should regret about my made decision. But please don’t leave your day job cause I done so. I don’t have a house, there is no family I should take care about and there are no loans I should worry about. And I don’t have to worry about my bills for at least 6 months.

So, microstocks. It is easiest way to make some money, for person which own photo camera. I thought so too.

To be honest I looked for some information about stocks over internet, and all I was looking for is just how to pass exams and how to register. I didn’t care what kind of photos stocks need, because if you will take a look at images they have, you will find any kind of images over there. Also there are stocks which approve almost every image they receive, with poor lighting, poor composition, without any value. Just upload it. And by humans nature after approving we are waiting for result, money. That’s the problem of newbies, we believe that at the moment our photo is approved we already sold it, and cash start to flow. So we are waiting, still waiting, another month of waiting, no sales, we disappointed, we quit. Just think, if we make a good photo, good composition, concept, good value, there is no reason to worry about. This photo will be approved for sure, why we should worry. It much more important to make great photo and make sure that client will find it and buy it.

So lets talk about common mistakes people do (I also done this).

1.I need to get expensive camera. No, its not true. Certainly you can’t use digital camera made in 1995 which resolution is only 2Mpix. You have to own camera which give you adequate results to be acceptable by stocks and have marketable value. The last one is a must, to have success. You can find top sellers which were made in a past by simple digital camera, not a DSLr. Certainly the better camera you have the better image quality you get ( I mean technical aspects, not overall quality). But it will not make your picture top seller, it’s just the quality which is a part of your success. My first DSLr was Pentax IstDL which is low grade camera, but I still use it for my family pictures, it makes look photos brilliant. And if I would own, only this camera at the moment, I would start shooting with it for stocks.

2.I need expensive lenses Yes and No. Have you ever checked what settings use most known microstockers. I know the answer, NO. I will not go into technical aspects of lenses, but all you have to care about is the subject, you chose. There are a lot of topics which describe what lenses best fits your needs. For example let’s take my camera (Nikon D90). I have a wide range of lenses for a moment, because I improved my skills, and I know what I need. But I bought it with KIT 18-105 (f/3.4-5.6). It’s cheap lens, but it really nice, it covers a wide range. I can make panoramas or portraits. I like it. It’s great to start with. And if you still don’t know what lenses you need, or you have some money to spent on it, I recommend you visit this link: CLICK

3.I need tripod YES. It’s the main accessory you have to own. You can own most expensive camera on the market, but without tripod your photos won’t be sharp as you expect. I use it all the time, every moment it possible. Please don’t buy cheap one, you will be disappointed, try to consult to get best for money you spent.

4.I need studio lights Yes and No. Can you handle the light settings, are you experienced? If so, go on and buy it, if no….buy flashlights, you will get freedom for experiments and these are always with you. If you will start shooting products, use light box. And of course some of us have monies, some not. Check internet, you will find a lot of light box DIY projects, it will save you a lot of money. The same is for backgrounds, reflectors, lights. You can use window light instead of expensive studio, all you have to take care is white balance. If you own modern DSLr shoot in RAW format, you are lucky enough to change balance in your graphical editor.

These are common mistakes for persons like me, which only started their way in stock photography.

So lets make summary what we should care about, what to avoid, what to worry about.

1.Are your photos really good? If no, read some books, find courses to improve skills.

2.Are you experienced in photo editors, Photoshop, Lightroom, Aperture? Maybe you need to improve your skills? It is very important to be experienced in photo editing, it will save you a lot of time and nerves. So take some books, read and experiment in evening. Make some images, try to improve them to become suitable for stocks.

3.Take a look at your photos before going to microstocks. Are these have any market value, any concept, does composition exists? Try to take some with idea you are going to sell these. Whats the result, you like it? What your friends say?

4.Do not buy anything you don’t need.

a.If you are going to shoot products, all you need is camera, tripod, lens. DIY lightbox for person on low budget, and use interior light for lightning.

b.Are you shooting outside, take a camera, tripod, lens (suitable for your object) and I highly recommend reflector. These can help you in all situations. Just think about size, you cant light up the whole model with small one, the big one wont be useable if your studio fits on the desk.

5.Shoot in RAW. There is no talk about.

6.Search for niche in this market. Look around the place you live. Are you living near drag race, are you interested in scuba diving. You will easily find what to shoot.

7.Ok, you made decision what to shoot, it`s an apple. Check how much apples you will find :) in stock. So look for unique topics, and be sure there are buyers for them.

8.You got rejection, learn and improve.

9.Keywording is one of the keys to success. You have to describe your image really good.

10.Upload continuously. Day by day, week by week.


That’s all for today I wanted to share, it’s all my experience. It dedicated to the persons who only start selling and looking for answers. As for me, I was really impressed with microstocks. I uploaded only one image during research process and it was sold.

© St0gas
All I can say I was happy like kid, this 35 cents gave me a clear vision of my future. For the moment I am shooting 50 photos portfolio which I will start upload shortly.

Have a good day, and hope it will be helpful for somebody. I will update it in future for sure.

P.S Sorry for my English :)

Photo credits: St0gas.

Your article must be written in English

September 10, 2009


A great article, welcome home, hoping to see lot more of your experience shared with us so we can learn, everyone one should share their experience that's what I believe. Just right what you feel and what you experience, don't worry about languages, or grammars just write and share.

September 10, 2009


Useful article for me as a newbie. Thanks

September 09, 2009


Very clear written. Interesting blog! :)

September 09, 2009


your english is great!

September 09, 2009


Useful! Aginger is right! Not only for newbies :D !

September 09, 2009


Good advices, not only for newbies... :)

September 08, 2009


All good advice, especially about shooting raw. I'm not surprised that first image sold fast.

September 08, 2009


Ruslan, your article is very insightful for newbys like myself. There are some mistakes that I have learned by myself (keywording, use of tripod), there are other which you have enlighten me on (like shooting in RAW).

I came across this article when I was looking to find information on commercial photography. Take a look, its very informative and detailed. It may not give all the answers but, its a good place to start. Selling Photos online

I too was very happy about my first sale (.92 cent earnings)! I wish you lots of sales,


September 08, 2009


Very interesting article, specially for me because I am a newby. Thanks for all the informations. Bye.

September 08, 2009


Well David I absolutely agree with you, World is not perfect. Labels, trademarks, model realeases. Its just choice of every person which way he goes. I found a lot female friends since started my road to microstock market, and a lot of them look like models. So its win-win situation. I have new friends which are fabulous girls ;). Thank you for your comment.

2 Red: Thanx I'll check it.

September 08, 2009


Its difficult to disagree with anything you say or recommend and well said ! But drag racing might present a problem. If you get close for a high impact shot then the driver might be recognisable and need a model release which is tricky. If you take pictures of boats the registration letters and name may need to be removed in Photoshop or it will be rejected . These constraints make it more difficult than pictures for newspapers and the like. I'm on 46 uploads but have tried to learn rather than becoming morose from rejections and criticism. If I were you I'd get a day job quite soon and wait until your portfolio is quite large before quitting it. David.

September 08, 2009


Welcome to DT! You have some good points in your blog. Thank you for sharing. Let us know how you are getting on as you upload more. The people here are good for helping you out too. :0)

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