Thursday, March 25, 2010

Microstock Photography - Return on Investment (ROI)

Over a year and a half ago I registered at a few microstock sites to see how I'd do with it, but it very quickly faded from my daily routine - either from lack of results, rejection, or just life getting in the way of one of my many ideas.

I had about 50 images at StockXpert, but they've since closed (moved to Veer) and the $1.00 I made will never be recovered.

I have far fewer images at iStockPhoto and Dreamstime, with combined sales of $6.50. I think the payout threshold is $50 or $100, so at this rate I'll be lucky to be paid out before I'm 65. To be fair, I only have 3 approved photos at each site so the return hasn't been too bad considering such a low number.

I've decided to give it another go, with mixed feelings. Part of me thinks that spending such a lot of time for such little return is a waste of time. Part of me just wants to experiment with this avenue of sales and see if it's really for me. At the moment I'm way behind on my Return of Investment (ROI) with the amount of time I've spent on Microstock in the past and the time I've recently put in. We'll see how this goes and maybe I'll be able to show some interesting graphs and reports down the road like Lee Torrens over at MicrostockDiaries does.

Future update on my progress in 2010!!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Get The Most Out of Your Canon PowerShot

A while back I discovered that in many Canon digital camera models, a fairly easy hack to be added (through the memory card, so it's non destructive) which gives you a bunch of added functionality to your camera.   Enhanced Image Capture, Additional Information On-Screen, and Additional Photographic Settings are a few of the major changes you can make to your camera.

The site to check out is the CHDK Wiki dedicated to all this stuff.  Lots of information on that site, but first thing to do is check your model number and firmware version to see if your camera is supported.

With this add-on I was able to create a time lapse movie last year of my trip through the Rockies from Revelstoke to Calgary.

A bunch of other mini-programs can be downloaded and used from the site mentioned above - like time lapse, motion detection and advanced bracketing.  So if you have an old Canon PowerShot lying around, give it a try!

Another interesting article over at Lifehacker about getting the most out of any point and shoot camera found here.  And a more extensive overview of enhancing your camera through CHDK here.

Monday, March 15, 2010

Google Trends & Microstock

I'm often curious to see trends on Google Trends, and also curious to see what I can gather from this site to better position my photography focus in future shots.  Hunting around for some various terms I came across some interesting comparisons.

General Market

Getty vs Corbis vs Microstock - Corbis seems to have been overtaken in this metric by istock around mid 2007.

Getty (red) vs Corbis (purple) vs Microstock (blue:istock, green: shutterstock, yellow: Fotolia)

Microstock Battle - istock seems to be declining slightly since the end of 2008, Fotolia seems to have a continuing upward trend, while Shutterstock seems to have had a plateau in 2009, with a spike in searches at the beginning of 2010.

Microstock Trends (blue: iStock, yellow: Fotolia , red: Shutterstock , green: Dreamstime, purple: 123rf)

Some Other Interesting Photo Topics:

Royalty Free versus Creative Commons
Film versus digital
Selling Photos versus Buying Photos

The searches above aren't exact by any means, but an interesting exercise none the less to gather a snap shot on topics.  Something to keep an eye on for ideas and research.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Microstock Statistics :: iStockphoto

I came across an interesting site the other day:


This site seems to aggregate many of the statistics from every contributor to iStockphoto and display it in tabular form.  The data is sortable using the various headings (below) at the top of each page. 
  • Contributor
  • Total DLs
  • # of Files
  • Market Share of Files
  • New Files in last 30 Days
  • # of Reviews
  • Reviews per File
  • Member since

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Travel Photography - Preparation, Shot Lists, and Gear

While I've been on a few trips, this is the first trip that I've been preparing for with a specific plan to take potentially marketable images - either for stock, fine are, or editorial.  I'll be traveling to Vietnam for a few weeks in March, and will be taking in the major site of Hanoi, Halong Bay, Hoi An, Ho Chi City, Mekong Delta, and Island. 


Researching the different locations, noting the top sites, times of day that might be best in certain locations.  For stock photography I've visited a number of existing sites to see what types of images exist already, what ideas I may generate from these images, and how I need to make my images different and unique to become more salable.   Some of the sites I've visited, searching for various keywords, have been: Photoshelter, iStockphoto, Alamy, and Getty Images.

Shot Lists

Knowing what you want to shoot, when, and where will be key in saving time and making the most of the limited time you'll likely have at each place.  A few major categories I'll be concentrating on in each place:
  • Skylines, expansive views with a sense of place
  • Street scenes, people, restaurants (exterior, interiors, food)
  • Culture (customs, juxtaposition, old/new)
  • Historic monuments and buildings (hopefully with unique angles / perspective)
  • Shopping (markets, buying/selling, interaction)
  • Story telling close-ups or details (image series, multiple angles of same subject)
  • Special events, holidays, etc. in each place
A couple articles I found with more information on putting together and researching a shot list are here and here.


In previous trips, I either didn't have an SLR Camera or chose not to take it, trading off image quality and flexibility for a lighter load and less liability.  From those trips to this one I'm much more focused on images and capturing that sense of place, than I am on a camera that fits in my pocket.  I'll still be taking a relatively small amount of gear with me, which would be considered Amateur and not Pro, but the potential for better images has increased ten fold from my previous point-and-shoot trips. 

Nikon D80, with 18-200mm VR II DX lens
GorilaPod tripod, mainly for night shooting or indoor
Memory Cards (4-16 GB)
GPS / Battery Pack for Geotagging photos (see previous post)