The focus of Christophe Boisvieux’s photography lies in the bond between man and spirituality.   As a veteran photographer and author of travel books, his images have been published in prestigious newspapers and magazines internationally, images which take us on a gentle mystical tour around the world, paying silent respect to the beliefs, the people, the culture and the environments they reveal. He has mastered “writing with light”, as he describes photography, going back and forth between the earthly and the spiritual, the human and the divine… You can see more of Christophe’s work at www.christopheboisvieux.com.

Q: Choose 3 words that describe you.

A: Willing, dedicated, enthusiastic.

Q: How did you learn to be a photographer?

A: Since my early childhood I was always fascinated by the ever changing metamorphosis of light. Photography is nothing else after all than "writing with light"! That is how I became a photographer, I think. I learned photography on my own by making mistakes and watching closely the work of renowned photographers I admired.

Q: Any special artistic influences?

A: Henri Cartier Bresson, Robert Doisneau, Roland & Sabrina Michaud, Steve Mac Curry, James Nachtwey

Q: What is your favorite time of day to make photos?

A: Early morning and evening

Q: What equipment do you carry when you’re packing light?

A: 1 Nikon D700, 1 Nikon D300, 1 zoom 28-70 mm, 1 zoom 70-200 mm, 1 20 mm

Q: What’s the image that you are still hoping to make?

A: A faithful portrait of my wife!

Q: Why did you choose age fotostock to represent your photography?

A: It just happenend to be among the best on the market!

Q: What is the best or worst photographic advice that you have ever received?

A: The best: To roam and turn around a subject until you have the feeling you have worked it out. The advice was given to me by my friend Roland Michaud.

Q: What is the greatest challenge for photographers today?

A: Making a living in deregulated world gone mad!

Q: If you weren’t a photographer, what would you be?

A: A musician for sure!


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We estimate that over 70% of images produced by photographers are horizontal. This predisposition is natural: we see the world horizontally, as our eyes are positioned side by side and therefore we compose photos in the same way. Producing vertical images requires a lot more determination and effort, but the need for these images in stock photography is great, and the demand is not being met. Think that most on-line and off-line publications in the world are vertical. By simply shooting both a horizontal and vertical shot of your subject, you can easily increase the amount of images selected and significantly improve your sales opportunities. Give it a try!

VERTICAL WORLD. age fotostock


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Photographers are an important part of any stock photography agency and while this is an obvious truth it seems when looking from inside the industry that there have always been “two sides”. Photographers on one side and the stock agencies on the other. The question is: Has this been healthy? Apparently not. When we see how stock photography is struggling today and suffering from a wave of “selling cheap” it is clear this is affecting the “two sides” sides of the entire industry. So is a solution for this?

age fotostock has the theory that no matter how tragic the present and the future might seem to be, most players in this industry want to stay in the business, even if they have to change their traditional business model to a technology driven way of working and relating to clients.  Therefore, in these changing times, interrelated communication between the artificially created “two sides” of the industry becomes essential. This is why age fotostock has introduced an "age photographers Social Network," aiming to boost intercommunication between photographers, along with increased participation by age fotostock staff, including Alfonso Gutiérrez, the CEO of the company that maintains there an active presence.

Unlike other forums, blogs and public social networks that require registration, photographers are not allowed to hide behind pseudonyms in the age fotostock Photographers Social Network. age fotostock invites photographers that have been active in the last two years by sending them an e-mail. All of the participant’s real names are used in the Social Network by the members. If anyone wants to suggest improvements or complain about something, they are free to say what they think. age fotostock will respond, but unlike a public blog, in the photographers Social Network, everyone can say things relevant to members of the network and not to the entire world.

The Social Network has been operative for the past two months and has surprised age fotostock; Alfonso Gutierrez says “I have been surprised by the activity that has developed and we have learned about areas that we can improve that were simply oblivious to us. If we can openly chat regularly on the little matters, about our needs (of both photographer and agency), about the ways to compete in a variable business model, and if we can supply more information constantly and when asked, at least we will either be jumping for joy together... or at least, crying as one community.”


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Last week’s article on ways that stock photographers are missing out on sales mentioned “Imagery that is not relevant” among the top 5 reasons for low sales results.  What imagery is that?  And the moment of truth…Is your photography relevant? 

Frequently, we publish 10x10 portfolios of photographers who know how to shoot relevant images and have a clear and well defined style of shooting.   Surely those photographers that still haven’t reached those shooting levels must be analyzing what differentiates their not relevant photography to those 10x10´s in order to improve their photography, right? Wrong!

Editing today is sometimes frustrating when the “point & shoot” without the backing of relevancy is repeated time after time. If there is no idea, no intention and no reason for clients to use your images, shooting is playing lottery: you’ll shoot a lot and fortune may smile once in a while.  If there is an idea, an intention and a reason for clients to use your images, shooting is making an investment:  you’ll shoot a lot and will earn more interest the more images you have in the bank.

Admittedly, many shooters today are not trying to run a business, but even if just shooting images in your free time and placing them with a stock agency one would expect some regular sales… otherwise, why shoot images anyway?  However, if you regularly shoot images with little relevancy like these below, it is clear that your photography has room for improvement.


 
Here are some solutions though, because relevancy doesn’t have to be the lost grail!

5 Steps to Relevancy

  1. Think about what your images can illustrate.

  2. Consider whether you have seen better images of the same or similar situations.

  3. Try to analyze what your images are missing compared with other, better ones, of the same subject.

  4. Find one that you like and that is clearly better than anything you have done and decide if your photography is weakened by use of the wrong lens, poor lighting of the zone you are photographing, lack of a clear point of interest, a bad camera angle in relation to the subject or bad cropping.   Now try to take your next shot “marinating in your mind” the image you like.

  5. Try not to be a combination of Ansel Adams, Henry Cartier Bresson and Richard Avedon together in one image.  Instead, focus on analyzing and practicing one distinctive style.

The lack of a purposely practiced shooting style directly impacts the quality of the images that I see daily. I know that in the end, it triggers certain shooters to take their photos on these non-exclusive pilgrimages, from RM to RF and LBRF and then finally ending at microstock, because at 14 cents, almost everything can be sold, eventually.

Now, leaving aside the question of relevancy, image editors sometimes find another problem. Indecisive individuals with good photographic practices that use their imagination, have good technique, know what can interest clients and resolve well many photographic themes, but, ooh la la, at the last moment the photographer’s dilemma appears: which one of the 20 shots below is the good one?  Maybe my agency can resolve the dilemma for me, the photographer might think.


And there is a reason for that though, because for some portals with a few more millions of images than age fotostock (and less sophisticated searching software), the good trick is to send 5 or 6 equals because among so many millions with basically the same keywords (Italy, Venetia, dusk, blue, etc., etc.) how else will the images be seen if no miracle occurs and the photographer isn’t one sending images every week?  Quantity of equals is the key.

However, at age fotostock, 20 equal images will be returned with a note saying: “edit your work tightly…”  Therefore, it becomes just another way of delaying your images appearance on the web… which is another way of losing income. Because the faster the images go live on the web, the more sale possibilities you have.


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Most photographers believe that shooting images, any images, of any subject, is enough to earn money. Many know that stock photography today is not what they knew years ago and have left the industry or will do soon, others are shooting microstock where the individual prices may not be great, but multiple 14 cents can make, if you are lucky, some money worth handling.

However, not all is as it seems and many photographers should pay attention to a number of details to see their results improve. Here are the Top 5 reasons for low sales results worth considering and putting into practice:

  1. Imagery that is not relevant is the most important reason that photographers lose business. Relevance describes how pertinent, connected, or applicable something is to a given matter.  Therefore if you go to the street and shoot images without thinking how they will be used, you are in fact wasting most of the time you are shooting. A thing is relevant if it serves a given purpose, being advertising, decorative or even editorial, but boring street scenes with little more acumen than point and shoot are for the most part a waste of digital technology and sadly many photographers shoot this way today. Who wants to spend time looking at boring, predictive, point and shoot images taken with a digital camera kit?

  2. Lack of MR/PR´s: No matter how many times it is repeated, photographers still don’t realize that shooting “editorial” (or “No MR available” in the industry terminology) is not a good idea now that stock agency websites sell images worldwide.  It’s a bad idea because (1) the editorial concept is not universal, but varies by country, so anyone can have a legal entanglement in a country where images could be published, but no “editorial protection” exists and (2) images of people without MR/PR´s can never be sold for commercial uses. In spite of all odds, there are still some lucrative advertising sales that “editorial photographers” will never see and in these moments of low prices, commercial uses supply a bit of oxygen to suffocated shooters.

  3. Bad captions and lack of good keywords is another pending matter that photographers who submit images need to overcome. It doesn’t even matter if keywords are added by the agency, because if an image of a beach only specifies in the caption “Cambodia” or “Vietnam,”  that image will have a little chance of sale or appearing on the web provided it is not uploaded to Flicker and even there the possibilities of selling it are, at best, slim. 

  4. Too few images and a lack of persistency is another revenue-eroding factor; nowadays, shooting constantly and submitting regularly to the stock agency of your choice is a must. Otherwise, you will get sporadic, lucky sales but not solid, persistent sales month after month. 

  5. Ranking, the capacity of your images of being seen in the first pages of the search results, affects those that don’t supply images regularly. Nobody wants to promote photographers who don’t submit frequently in these days when the offer of images is so vast that it makes the editing process difficult (and if the images are irrelevant, pretty tedious as well).

Take it or leave it, being a stock photographer today is hard and if on top of that, you miss the obvious, then you are severely limiting your own possibilities.


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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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