Here´s a post for all of the fifty-something stock photographers out there.  Hold on! I´m not talking about anyone´s age.  “Fifty-somethings” are the photographers who manage to get 50 images on sale in any stock photography collection and then suddenly they stop sending more...

What´s wrong with 50?

If we take the age fotostock collection as an example, and assume that you have 50 rights managed (RM) photos in stock, the following occurs:

  1. There are 16,865 age fotostock RM images for every 1 image of yours.

  2. There are 196,039 RM, Royalty Free (RF) and Low Budget Royalty Free (LBRF) images on our website for every 1 image of yours.

So the chance that your image will be seen, first in our collection, and secondly, on our website, is comparable to:

  1. The odds that you are an albino of some kind: 1 in 17,000.

  2. The odds that the asteroid "2002NT7" will strike the Earth on Feb. 1, 2019: 1 in 200,000.

If you are albino and you already have an asteroid shelter built, than those odds might sound good.  If you are a photographer who would like to earn a living from your photography, you’d be better off playing the lottery.

As we tell new photographers and have told many of the old ones, you need to have an image presence of at least 1000 images to expect regular sales, since they are competing to be seen among close to 11 million images on our website.  If you only have 50 photos now, you might make an occasional sale, but please don´t wonder why your images don´t sell. Whether your 50 are in our collection, or anywhere else, just start shooting and make that 50 grow!


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Popular opinion says that the bigger your image files, the more chances you have to sell them, and eventually, the more cash you will get. But this is only in theory...

In practical terms, and contrary to what popular forums say,  the best you can do is to buy a camera that will give you a decompressed RAW file of 50 Megabytes or more. There are affordable cameras for pro and semipro shooters that will do this. However, if your finances are not yet there because 14 cents an image does not allow for lots of expending, and your existing camera only allows you to get 12.1 mega pixels that give you a meager decompressed 30.3 megabytes file, the question is: do I want to upsize the file to 50MB or more?

If you say yes, how are you going to process substantial shoots of several hundred images? In batch processing? Are you aware that your results are going to be for many images unpredictable and time consuming? Why would you want to expend time hidden in your digital dungeon when the rule of thumb in order to make some money today (and let’s not forget about the 14 cents an image) is to generate lots of images... Volume, volume, volume!!! is what will guarantee good positioning in most ranked search engines and more selling possibilities as a result - if the picture is a good one, of course.

But if all the above does not convince you, and you choose to strain your eyes in front of your computer screen, at least strain them doing your upsizing, technically defined as interpolation, correctly. You have two options for doing this:

  1. You can send the resulting file from your camera, any camera, and our technical team will interpolate the images if necessary, or

  2. You can interpolate your files yourself and send the results to us and wait to see what we say...

But what is interpolation? Here are the three basic concepts:

  1. Interpolation is increasing the size in pixels of digital images, therefore allowing a bigger reproduction of an image that was not originally produced to yield such reproduction size. Interpolation is also known as image resize or even image upsize.

  2. Image resize is not a mathematic miracle that happens when you need to increase the total number of pixels. You can obtain a bigger size image file at the expense of losing definition with this operation. A bigger file is obtained by carefully adding the best approximation in color and intensity based on the values of surrounding pixels, in areas where the damage caused to the image is going to be lower. Unfortunately the damage will occur.

  3. The most frequent types of interpolation algorithms are the nearest neighbor, bilinear and bicubic. The Bicubic is the standard algorithm in many image editing programs used by professional photographers as it produces sharper images and hence better overall quality.

There are many programs that allow you to interpolate your images but there are subtle differences among them; therefore, every photographer has to carefully evaluate which one is the best that suits her/his needs, as the result can vary depending on the interpolation algorithm and the type of subject. For example, resizing an image of an architectural masterpiece is different from resizing a view of the Amazon jungle.

So, should I interpolate my files? The decision is finally yours, of course, but if you do so it’s important that you:

  1. Know the technical characteristics of your files to know how far up you can go.

  2. Check the image at 100% of visualization to verify that the result is correct, and that it has not become pixelated or is displaying artifacts.

  3. Think that sometimes less is more, and good quality files are better than large defective files. If you interpolate do it well. Otherwise just stick to the nominal file size that your camera can give you.

Remember that it is always cheaper to buy a better camera than to chain yourself to your computer screen upsizing your images; please use your time intelligently and get out and shoot more images as volume is really what is needed when photographers are accepting 14 cents for their images...ok, ok, even for $3 dollars per image!

Here is an example of what a badly interpolated file looks like:

The image received was certainly not really crisp - an otherwise ordinary image that does not have
excuses not to be razor sharp...

...but an enlarged detail of that picture at 100% of visualization shows the problem.


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Often photographers write us and say; “I´m off to Central America/Kenya/Siberia/you name the place… What photos of [that place] do you need?”  And first we turn a little green with envy (it´s nice to see the photos, but we´d like to visit there too!).  And then we send this:

 Our "magical" travel list 

  1. Populations: Larger, modern cities and official (important) government buildings, medium and small-sized towns, churches, houses, villages, schools, universities, hospitals, health clinics
  2. Transportation:  Busses, trains, taxis, cars, highways, traffic

  3. Markets: big and small

  4. Local culture: parties, dances, processions, etc

  5. Agriculture:  crops, harvesting, workers

  6. Industry and economy (**):  of all kind including commercial harbors, railroads and airports specifically

  7. Landscapes: rivers, mountains, valleys, forests, beaches, etc with very good specific location information/names

(**) Especially important subject

This list is magical because you can use it to plan your trip (from a photographic point of view) whether you are travelling to Belize, England or Timbuktu.  However, the magic only goes so far. A hastily taken, poorly lit photo, awfully described and wrongly keyworded of any of the subjects above is not magical and will not sell. A photographer must always consider both the right subject, the right light, the correct description with as many details as possible of the place and sufficient good keywords.

And remember that even if you think there are enough images out there of a given country, city building, etc… yes, you should bother, and yes, you should go there. Your personal touch, style and point of view might make it seem like a whole new place!

Happy travels and happy shooting!


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Top 5 signs that your model release might be a ticking time bomb…

  1. If you have moved to another state and left the release behind in a box in the garage.

  2. If your well-intentioned assistant got the release signed by the wrong person… the guy who didn´t appear in the photo.

  3. If you signed a model release for photos you took of your girlfriend… and then you dumped her.  Revenge is so sweet.

  4. When you flashed a release and a few coins in the face of a third world subject, who cheerfully signed a document that wasn´t in her language and that she can’t understand.  But her cousin in New York knows what´s the deal…

  5. If you told your agency that you have the release, but you don´t.

You might laugh, but all of these situations happened to real people, photographers at age fotostock.  And some of these photographers found themselves in very uncomfortable legal and financial situations, trying to explain how they could make such a mistake.

This issue is becoming more and more important nowadays for two reasons:

  1. Our world is increasingly global and interconnected, which means that everything becomes visible.  The old distinctions between editorial uses and commercial uses are not always a safe defence because displaying the image on internet to potential buyers allows it to be visible around the world, and in places where the rules of editorial usage are different.

  2. During tough times, everyone will try to pull a dollar out of any place they can find it.  Crisis makes people litigious. Those people might be your models…


Don´t get caught by a ticking time bomb of a release!

Read our legal basics here (http://www.agefotostock.com/phroad/ingles/phroad03a.asp) and pay close attention to the differences in editorial use between the United States and many European countries.

 


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The opinions expressed herein are my own personal opinions and do not represent my employer's view in anyway.

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