Category Archives: “How-to” articles

Announcement: How can I sell my photos and make some money???

Selling your digital photos for cash eBook

Getting Started in Stock

I asked myself that question over 6 years ago, and decided the answer was to sell my images. Since then I have increased my income to more than $30,000 a year and I share the steps and lessons learned in the newly revised third edition of my eBook – Getting Started in Stock.  You are facing a simple choice – do you want to learn as you go, following the forums and their inconsistent information from people who may or may not know what they are talking about, or do you want to save hours of frustration and learn it all on one easy to follow guidebook?

Buy this new eBook directly from my site through a simple and secure shopping cart and get immediate access to the information you need to make money from your photographs!

Just want to start? Please use the links on the right to register with the stock agencies. Thanks!

Making Money from Travel Photography – Part 3

Parts 1 and 2 of this extended post have discussed what to take on a travel vacation and then how to select and process images on your return. I’ll now turn to keywording and uploading the images.

I finished processing most of the images in mid October and eventually ended up with 389 images that I thought were worth keywording. I generally follow a simple rule about what is going to be “editorial” and hence only uploaded to my own site, Alamy, Corbis and Zoonar and the rest, which go to all sites. Because of tight restrictions on images with people needing a model release on some of those sites, anything with a person in it, however small, goes into the RM/Editorial bin unless I decide to clone out that person. Then, anything with modern property that is recognizable and likely to need a property release goes into RM/Editorial as well. With that rule in place, I ended up with 117 in RM/Editorial. I generally start at the beginning, and copy some standard keywords across the whole set – in this case Spain, Europe, Travel, Destination, Tourism and Stock Photo. I added that last one because my own stock site doesn’t automatically add those words and they probably help with an appropriate Google search. Then I go through each image and try to describe what it is, what it represent, where it is, any proper description of the location, whether there are people present (nobody or “people in background” being the most usual phrases). I try not to put anything too flowery in there – just the words that I would use to find this image. Writing a reasonably long description often helps throw up a few words as well – it is strange how the act of typing the description makes you hone down exactly what an image is about. So this one of the Parador hotel in Toledo would be keyworded as:

Parador de Toledo with swimming pool and dramatic overview of the city of Toledo, Spain, Europe

Parador de Toledo with swimming pool and dramatic overview of the city of Toledo, Spain, Europe

“balcony, building exterior, city, dramatic, editorial, europe, evening, hotel, lodging, overlook, overlooking, parador, Parador de Toledo, people in background, spain, stock photo, swimming pool, toledo, tourism, travel, view” Continue Reading

Travel Photography – maximize your earnings – Part 1

Now that I am back from my vacation in Spain and London, and have started to go through my 2100+ images, I will write first about what I look for when I am travelling and how I approach the processing and selection of images. I’m doing this in parts, as the whole thing could get too unwieldy.

Tilting at Windmills

Tilting at Windmills

I’m writing this now that I am back home, so the first question of what to shoot is me thinking back about why I took certain images. As I mentioned in a previous post, I had two camera kits with me – a Canon 5D Mk III with 24-105mm F4, 70-200mm F4, 16-35mm F4 lenses. To save weight, I left my 50mm and also the 1.4x convertor at home! Still, this is a pretty weighty pack and even though my backpack is comfortable, it still takes some handling. My second camera kit was the far more humble Sony RX10, which I have reviewed in an earlier post. The Sony has a reasonably large sensor, and a built in 28-200mm lens. No dust, no changing lenses, it just gives you a wide range of options for framing the shot. I used it almost entirely in Aperture priority, but with the auto ISO setting. What did I find? I ended up with 1100 shots from the Sony and 500 from the Canon. Many of the Canon shots were panoramas and difficult HDR shots, and so I have many individual frames for what will be one final image. I had my travelling tripod as well and so I usually looked for a good overview of a town for an evening or broad panorama, and as I was close to the car or hotel in most cases, the Canon was the right choice for those. Thinking back, I could probably have just used the Sony for the whole vacation, which makes you wonder what we spend all the big dollars for! Continue Reading

Pricing on my own Stock Site

I’ve only had one sale since moving to the new design of my personal stock agency, and so I decided to change the license type (from a sort of restricted royalty free license competing with Shutterstock and the like) to a one time use license with an extended option (for resale products) and reduced the pricing significantly.

I rewrote my license based on one that Robin (from Symbiostock) uses on his stock site, and changed the pricing so that the images are now for sale as:

Small JPEG – 600 pixels – $0.99
Medium JPEG – 1000 pixels – $1.99
Large JPEG – 3200 pixels – $3.99
Full size JPEG – $4.99
Extended License, full size – $35.00

I’ll see if this makes a difference to the sales!

Back in the real world

After an extended vacation in Spain and then in London, I am back at home with around 1600 images to process and sort for my stock library. I thought I would write a long blog post about how I approach that, what I look for in terms of a useful stock photo from travel images and also how I go about keywording them. I have only just finished importing them into Lightroom, so it will be a little while before I write that post, but hopefully it will be interesting to my readers.

We did a meandering drive from Madrid south eventually to Malaga and Marbella, and I separately plan to write a travel guide to seeing that part of Spain – what we did, where we went, and what we tried to see. That is probably a longer term project, but it sounds like a good idea. Perhaps a new eBook!

Finally, this time I took both my Canon 5D and lenses, plus the Sony RX10. I have to say that although I know the Canon takes better, more detailed images, I tended to use the Sony much more. It is just so easy to walk around with, and as we were walking some 5 – 10 miles some days in the narrow and steep streets of Spanish towns, the small size and weight make all the difference! I did use the Canon, but mainly from shots where the lighting was poorer and I was close to the car or the hotel. I think the Sony is a great little travel camera. If you are interested, please check it out at Amazon:

Building a new Photography PC – lessons learned!

After a great set of earnings in August (OK, perhaps that isn’t altogether true…), I decided the time was right to build a new computer for my photography. My current PC was bought refurbished in 2010 and although I added more memory, it was increasingly slow when I wanted to move between the panels in Lightroom and even loading an image for editing seemed to take a few seconds. Frustrating! I saw this article by a fellow photographer Nasim Mansurov about the ultimate PC build for Photographers (and he has various links for the items from B&H if you would like to use them), and that really tempted me to have a go. I followed all his recommendations and so this is more about issues and thoughts I had in building the computer rather than the logic for the choice of the components. I tend to buy all my stuff from Amazon and so I have put various Amazon links in this blog post in case you want to follow in my footsteps.

The case I used was a full tower Cooler Master HAF-X. Wow – is this a big unit.

Build of ultra fast photography PC

Build of ultra fast photography PC

I must admit I didn’t expect this big a case, but it certainly made things easy to work on within the case. Continue Reading

How to backup your Symbiostock photo agency website

This is a specialized post and only of interest to people who have created their own stock agency site using the Symbiostock plugin and WordPress. I’ve written a couple of posts about how I transitioned from the legacy Symbiostock Theme to the new plugin here.

Why Backup: You may have signed up for backup services from your web hosting company, but at the end of the day you will have put 100s of hours into uploading, describing and processing your images on your site. What happens if there is an issue on the server hosting your site and, for some reason, the backup didn’t cover all the necessary files? Much pain!

What to Backup: There are four main areas of the Symbio site:
Continue Reading

Learning points from creating a new Symbiostock website

As I mentioned earlier this week, I have been creating a new Symbiostock based personal stock agency for all my images. This was partly because the legacy theme is not being supported any longer and partly because I wanted to simplify my hosting arrangements. To illustrate the issue, someone bought a couple of images from my legacy site last night, I charged him, but the site didn’t send the email with links to the images. Not good…

Anyway, I thought it would be useful for any photographers following in my shoes if I noted down the lessons learned in the transition from old to new.
Continue Reading

The new Symbiostock – trying again with my own stock agency!

Talk about being a glutton for punishment…

I put many, many hours into creating my own stock site at BackyardStockPhotos using the first Symbiostock wordpress theme written by Leo. We had lots of issues along the way, with Leo battling bravely through each one and constantly listening to the endless demands of the stock photographers and illustrators that were using the theme. As often happens with internet based forums, the whole thing degenerated into name calling and a very antagonistic environment and Leo decided to go his own way in the end. I must say that I found him continually helpful as I worked through issues on my own site, and eventually I got everything up and running and it has been stable ever since. To get the sort of page load performance I wanted, I decided to host it on a Virtual Private Server (VPS) which ended up being $49 a month on my current month to month plan. My earnings have not been very good, with the monthly earnings this year being $20, $20, $0, $0, $20, $45 in each of the months so far. A loss maker to be sure, but good for my ego to be able to sell my own photos directly to buyers…
Continue Reading

Image Brief – how I approach it

With three awards under my belt, I must be an expert at Image Brief submissions!

I thought it might be interesting to talk about how I approach a brief – there was one today that asked for:

Signs of a middle-aged person/a couple with plans to go out for a day/eve. Tickets to an event on a table next to car keys or other symbols of leaving home; the supporting text will depict hesitation about going out due to a medical condition

They even had a little drawing of what they wanted:

Image Brief Requirement

Image Brief Requirement

The first issue I had was how to find some tickets to an event – its funny how you can find anything on the internet, and I found a website that allows you to create your own ticket and enter all the text into the appropriate fields. I created one with appropriate non-copyright words – Shakespeare is always a good bet – and printed on some card stock to give it the right texture. I then tried different approaches to the brief – some on the kitchen worktop, some on a lacquered piano top to get the reflections, some on a table:

Image Brief entry - meeting the spec

Image Brief entry – meeting the spec

and then I thought of taking a shot with the open front door in the background to suggest that the couple is just about to go out. That might be something that is a little different to the actual request, but could fit their needs:

One a little different

One a little different

I also checked what the usage was – in this case, billboards and similar displays, so I focused more on horizontal shots and also uploaded the full size image from the camera to give them plenty of pixels. Of course, I probably won’t get the award, but it was interesting and gives me some stock shots for future uploads!

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