Friday, March 26, 2010

Three (3) small, seemingly obvious tips to improve your Microstock Photography

I wanted to just detail a few points I have learned so far concerning microstock. I consider these tips to be valid information, useful for anyone beginning microstock photography. Remember, these tips are based off personal experience, and may or may not apply directly to your situation.

1). Comply with the microstock agencies guidelines!
-I do not know how many times I had an image rejected for not including a model release for a recognizable face, or submitting in a category that the agency did not need more images of. Typical points that fall into this category are:
  • Always make sure you include a model release with any image that has a recognizable face. The only exception here is if the image is labeled for editorial use only. Editorial images do not require model release forms, anything other type of image does. "What if it's a friend of mine... my wife... husband... child?", it still requires a model release, in the case of a child, it can be signed by the legal guardian (you) and may need a witness signature as well. Also, keep in mind that a model release only applies to that ONE shoot. A model release for X model does not grant permission for 47 different shoots with that X model, each shoot should have its own model release form signed and submitted.
  • Do not submit items with trademark info. Known branding (or unknown for that matter) should be edited out of your image. This includes logos and/or names. You can remove the issues pre-submission or the image should be taken in a manner where it cannot be seen. Images *will* reject for this reason, prevent the time loss... do it right the first time.
  • If you mark "exclusive" make sure those images are, indeed, exclusive to that one agency. This is a considerably large offense to most MS agencies and could even lead to a ban. 
2). Take your images with no post processing in mind... take them right the first time.
-An easy mistake to make, and one that I think everyone has to consistently work on to correct. It becomes easy to say "Ohh, this background won't be white/black enough... I'll fix it in post". Post processing is amazing, a God send, an epic tool with amazing powers, but a curse at the same note. Post process takes time, precious time, precious time that could be better spent at your next shoot or planning a shot. Composing, proper lighting, proper manual settings, and proper exposure are all things that should be addressed to ensure less time spent in post.

3). Run photos through noise reduction software, pre submission.
-A good software to use is Noise Ninja or Neat Image. However, if you have Photoshop CS4 (or CS3 for that matter) you can go a long way with the "noise" filter to reduce noise issues and ensure an image that is considerably more appropriate. For a normal image, this would be a moot point with today's great DSLR cameras and their low ISO Noise ratios. Unfortunately, your images are not normal images... they are Microstock Images. In order to gauge quality, one of the big things Microstock Agency review boards analyze is the "noise" or "artifacting" of an image. Wikipedia has a fairly good article with comparison images, actually, and here is the excerpt:
These tips are simple for the most part, but handy little things that need to be followed and addressed to ensure less rejections, more sales, and less time spent at the computer versus behind the camera! I hope they help. Drop me a line with any questions or concerns, I'll see what I can do!

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