Monday, October 12, 2009
Stock Photography - Play the game don't let the game play you
I took this photo with my iPhone while I attended the first birthday of the gallery 19Karen, if you can't make it out, it's a toilet paper dispenser in a toilet with the words "Fine Art Degrees" scribbled. I thought it would be ironic to put up while talked about stock or microstock photography, as it's hardly representitive of the techinical standard that stock sites are known for.
A lot has been said about the way that microstock has changed photography. No matter where you sit on the issue of photos being sold repeatedly for only a fraction of the cost of commisioned works to different buyers all over the world, there is one positive attribute that it provides for emerging photographers: A resource tool for gaining feedback
By signing up and submitting your work to a microstock agency, you get feedback on how your work fares in a technical context. Showing work to friends and people who like you anyway is great, but not exactly outside of your comfort zone. During the submission process through a microstock agency you are dealing with an actual human being who knows nothing about you, didnt got to school with your brother and doesn't care whether or not your photo gets accepted. Before the days of stock photography you had to get your work in front of a publications editor in order to have your work curated, often involving a lot of footwork and a great deal of luck.
Nowadays a stock agency will tell you how our work is on a technical level. You'll learn what you need to nail in a shot in order to get them over the line technically as far as focus, lighting, processing, composition etc.
What you'll learn is one half of the spectrum, of which there are 2 parts, the other being the creative and artistic element that makes a photo suitable for commercial application.
Even if you never make a cent selling microstock, when you're getting started you can't pay enough for honest feedback from a knowledgable source.