Back in the Seventies and Eighties I founded and ran several Fleet Street photo agencies specialising in stock images of celebrities from pop stars to politicians. These were syndicated to the National and International press and Television. These days I am active in the Microstock world and this blog charts my journey as well as, hopefully, providing inspiration and ideas to others. Image buyers should also find this blog useful with links to my portfolios and regular updates on new uploads. Unless otherwise stated all images are my copyright and may not be reproduced or copied. Comments are very welcome but will be reviewed before publication. Enjoy your visit. Regards, David.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Shutterstock Galleries - The Joy Of Sets:

From Set: Margaret Thatcher and Beyond
For any contributors not familiar with Shutterstocks excellent Gallery (or Sets) feature or those that have seen them but are unsure how to set them up and make use of them this post will attempt to give you a basic overview and guide. Obviously, if you only have a handful of images accepted there or your portfolio is of totally diverse subjects these are something you will not need at this point.

Setting up your Sets:
Starting from the Contributor Home page of Shutterstock hover over the "Portfolio" tab (upper left of the page) to reveal the drop down menu. Click on "Catalog Manager". This will take you to thumbnails of all your images which you can sort by Most Popular/Newest First/Oldest First. Now click on one or more images which you wish to make a set from (for example, images of New York). Now click on "Add To Set" (top right of your screen). This will bring up a box with a drop down menu of your existing sets (once you have them) and a "Create New Set" button. Using this gives you the prompt to type in the name of your new set New York and then add your selected images.
From set: Halki and Nisyros islands
Congratulations! You now have your first Set up and running -well almost. Your set/s will now be listed on the left of the screen -click on the word "Sets" to reveal the list. After the name of your set you will see the number of images it contains in brackets. Now click on the name of your set to view it. The full catalogue of images on screen will be replaced by just images from your chosen set. Next click on the "Actions" link (top right of screen). This gives you three options: Show Stats (gives you total downloads and total income for each image in the set. Edit Set Name (you may wish to change or refine the name of your set). Publish/Unpublish This Set (this is the important one -your new set must be Published before it is visible to buyers so click on that. Once a set is published the button will change to Unpublish -should you later wish to have it hidden. Obviously, if you just wish to use the Sets for your own personal organisation of images, you can leave it Unpublished.
From Set: Aviation and Airshows

Choosing a cover image for your set:
By default one of your Set images will become the cover image. To change this first click on the existing cover image and you will receive a prompt to click on another image of your choice. Just do that and it will automatically become your cover image. You can change and update this whenever you want.

Adding new images to your sets:
Now you have some Sets established you'll want to add further images to them. There are several ways of doing this. You can, if you want, just go through each page of your portfolio (in the Catalog Manager) clicking on each image you wish to add to a Set then use the Add To Set link (top right) as before. You can add as many as you want in one go. Don't worry about accidentally adding the same image more than once to a set (it will not let you!).
If you have a big portfolio there is a much quicker way, however. In the Catalog Manager use the "Filter By Keyword" boxes (top left of the screen). Type in the relevant keyword for your set e.g. New York and hit Filter. Now only images with the keywords New York will be visible. Just click on all of them and then Add To Set. For new images recently accepted change the sort order in the Catalogue Manager to Newest First then just click and add as before. Should you wish to remove an image from a set just click on it and an X will appear in the top right. Just click that to remove. This will not delete your image from Shutterstock -only remove from that set!
From Set: Seventies Bands

Now I have sets, what do I do with them?
This is the fun part. The part where you get to encourage potential buyers to view your sets and, hopefully, give you a sale. Even if not purchasing right away they may well remember your images for future reference. To do this you need to select a set from your list in the Catalog Manager. In the top right of the screen (next to Actions) is another link for "Share". Clicking this gives you several options. Click the Twitter logo to automatically post a Tweet linking to your set. You can also "recommend" your set on Facebook (this one is a bit disappointing as it doesn't put it slap on your timeline for all to see but tucks it away over on the left of your Timeline along with the Friends/Likes etc lists. The third option is to copy and paste the displayed link to the set. Use this for posting on Google+, your own blog, anywhere you like really -without spamming, obviously.

Anything else useful about my sets?
Now that you have Sets you'll now notice that you can add five of them to your Contributor Home page under Track Your Sets. This will give you an, at a glance, view of the stats for each set (number of images, total downloads, total sales in $). Change these five at any time by clicking on Select Sets.

Finally, a couple of things in conclusion. Firstly do NOT overdo the sharing thing. A link to a great set of images that people may enjoy looking at soon becomes spam if you constantly bombard them with the same links. Be considerate. Secondly, what to put in each set? Every image you have of a particular subject? Or just a selection of your best images to serve as an appetiser to search your entire portfolio? I think everyone will have different views on that and that's the great thing -it's entirely up to you. Personally, I now include everything I have. Good luck with setting up a promoting your own Sets. Regards, David.

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

October Sales Updates:

Dodekanisos Express departs Halki island, Greece
No prizes for guessing the number one position for October (and every other month).
Shutterstock (by far) came in first, helped by a good dose of On demand sales and an Extended License for one of my Tentertainment music festival images.

A long way behind were Istock in second place with just 2 credit downloads and a further 27 Sub/PP sales. On the plus side, my portfolio at Istock finally exceeded 1000 images. There is still plenty of room for growth for me here -albeit probaly based on subscription downloads with the odd credit sale thrown in.

123rf climbed to third place with 8 downloads. My portfolio exposure probaly not helped by the fact that I am still awaiting review of images uploaded from August onwards. I suppose, that eventually, I'll have to email support but it really doesn't seem right that I have to do this to get reviewed. I can only suppose that they either changed from reviewing in house to an outside company or, if they already outsourced this maybe they changed to a new service. Either way, the days of editorial reviews within minutes/hours seem long gone.

Redbubble hit fourth place with one sale of a throw pillow (cushion) featuring, yet again, Margaret Thatcher.
Rocky coastline at Lakka on Paxos island, Greece
I am forever grateful that I have images of The Iron Lady in my portfolio. Ironic, when I could not be more opposed to her political policies :)

A rather sad fourth place for Dreamstime with just 4 downloads (boosted slightly by $0.65 in referral income). Hard to say what is going on with Dreamstime but sales have certainly plunged over the last year with many of those remaining being $0.35 subscription sales. I really like this friendly agency and hope that things will improve there. Pleased to say that reviews are still being made on a regular and fairly prompt basis.

Bigstock made fifth place with 6 downloads (mainly subs, mainly Hastings area images again!).

Bringing up sixth place were Fotolia with just one download. As this is considered one of the Big Four stock agencies I still have confidence that sales will grow here in the future as I build up my small portfolio. I am really hoping that they decide to start taking Editorial images in the future -when I would be able to dramatically increase my portfolio. They remain the only top agency to not take Editorial images.

Summer images at the St.Leonards Festival
Nothing at all from the rest in October. I still have hopes for Picfair where I now have some 984 images with over 53k views -but just two sales to date. I hope they eventually introduce their long awaited bulk price editor. I would be very interested to see if pricing is a factor here deterring sales. At my standard £10 per use this is obviously higher than microstock prices and may well be putting some buyers off. I have noticed some (unproven) correlation between uploading to Picfair and subsequent sales (of the same image) on microstock sites but not enough to draw any firm conclusions.

Recent uploading included a set of images of the annual St.Leonards Festival (held right in front of my flat!) which, though not of International importance, provides good generic Summer/Festival/Community/Outdoor event type images. I also revisited my 2014 trip to the Greek island of Paxos for a seascape image of Lakka. Greek islands also featured with an image of the Dodekanisos Express ferry departing from Halki during my trip this June. November is starting to look like a challenging month for sales -but there is still plenty of time for things to turn around. I'll update in December. Regards, David.

Saturday, 14 November 2015

Lipsi, Photography and Me:

Rediscovering photography on Lipsi.
Copyright: Serban Enache/Dreamstime
This post was first published on my Greek island blog but as it is mainly about my photography and how I came to rediscover my interest and enthusiasm, I thought it worth posting on my photography blog as well. Has anything or anyone ever inspired you to return to something you once loved?

Readers of my previous review of the little island of Lipsi (here)will notice that it came without my usual photographs (I licensed two images from photo agency There's a story to that which some might find interesting.

From my biography you will see that I used to be a professional press photographer -mainly concentrating on politicians and other public figures. The advent of (initially) very expensive digital cameras and the founding of the internet led to a situation where my type of photography was no longer viable due to the changes in the way newspapers and television news made use of and paid for images. I changed careers and moved on from photography -even selling my set of film cameras (two Olympus OM1 SLRs and a medium format Mamiyaflex).

Moving forward to the early 2000s saw me start to visit small Greek islands where my photography was just limited to holiday snaps using a one-use disposable film camera. Quite sufficient for record shots for me -with no thoughts of ever offering images for sale. Then came my Lipsi trip in 2004.....

It started with the welcome meeting (the morning after our "peril at sea" transfer from Rhodes). One of my fellow guests was sporting a very substantial professional level camera (a Nikon or Canon). My little disposable suddenly looked very insignificant compared to that and I felt the first twinges of missing out on "proper" photography. In conversation it turned out that he worked for the BBC (British Broadcasting Corporation) and that him and his French partner were both Greek island lovers -recommending Tilos as another small island to check out. Now, when I was photographing, the BBC (News) had been one of my major customers. Again, there was that feeling of missing out and links to my past.

Throughout my two weeks on Lipsi my BBC man became a regular sight (it's a very small island!) lining up, no doubt, stunning professional images of the island. That Greek wedding that I went to check out in the early hours? Of course, there he was already -skilfully capturing the action from every angle (I hadn't even brought my camera). By the time of the Panagia Harou religious procession I didn't just want to take a snap. Oh no, I wanted (needed) to "document" it -the small fact that my camera was rubbish not putting me off. A misjudgement on the route the procession would take found me careering through a building site to regain ground and catch up with the action. That, by the way, is a key to much of Editorial photography -knowing what is going to happen, when and where. This time my BBC friend had excelled himself -not only being in place to capture the procession throughout but (the final triumph) had his partner waiting, positioned at the church, with ANOTHER camera -shooting the event from a whole different viewpoint. I think I ended up with a few blurry images of the band marching and that was it.

Back home in England I had a lot to think about but one thing I knew was that I really wanted to do some serious photography again. My BBC friend had ensured that. By chance, somebody I knew was selling their whole camera outfit. An Olympus OM20 SLR complete with a whole range of lenses and accessories -and at a bargain price. I was back in the zone. Crisp, sharp images. Changing lenses as required. Using different apertures/shutter speeds to get the effect I wanted all started to come back to me.

This also coincided with getting easy access to the internet for the first time and the discovery that there actually photo agencies that would take sufficiently good images from anyone, professional or otherwise and market them. I suddenly had an outlet for my creative drive and started submitting to a few. I pretty soon realised that in a digital age the Olympus film camera (no matter how good) wasn't the right camera for this new direction and invested (for me) a small fortune on a Nikon D80 DSLR and eight years later that same camera is still going strong.

Of course, I would still love going to small Greek islands with or without a camera, just as I would enjoy going to airshows without taking photographs but having the camera adds a whole different dimension -it really makes you look properly at things and look for those things other people do not notice -and the satisfaction of having good images to remember experiences by is untold. I owe a big thanks to that BBC photographer for giving me the inspiration to get photographing again. If that's you, or it sounds like someone you know please do leave a comment below. Regards, David.

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

September Sales Updates:

Calidus Autogyro at Shoreham
September saw a fairly slow month overall with not even my best agent Shutterstock turning in a great performance.
However, Shutterstock did take first place for the month with a good crop of On Demand sales and a couple of Single sales. Under the old payout limits I would not have been seeing any money from them for September.

In second place were Istock with 5 credit sales and 23 sub/PP downloads. Just a few uploads to go to break the 1000 image level in my portfolio there.

Third place saw 123rf with 11 downloads. There reviewing hiatus is still in effect for me with uploads going back to August still in Pending (both editorial and commercial uploads). Sigh.

Bigstock took fourth place with 10 downloads with, as ever, Hastings area images showing strongly.

Scraping into fifth place were Dreamstime with just 7 downloads with all but 2 being subs. One of the two credit sales netted a magnificent $0.13 for an Extra Small download!
The famous Notre Dame in Paris, France

Sixth place saw Redbubble selling a sticker of, you guessed it, Margaret Thatcher. This was somewhat offset by my discovering the Sales By Time view on the sales page. This shows the status of all commission payments and I was somewhat disappointed to see my very first sale there (a Margaret Thatcher T shirt) now had the status as Cancelled. Oh well, I'm just continuing to upload images and see what happens.

Fotolia took bottom place with just two sub sales. As yet I am not really seeing any boost from the new exposure of my FT files on Adobe Stock. However, my port is still small so I will continue to upload any non editorial files I have. Whether or not FT might take editorial in the future came up for discussion on Microstockgroup recently. Personally, I think it is a possibility especially with Adobe's recent appointment of Scott Braut (ex Shutterstock). If anyone knows the value of editorial images, he certainly does!
Eternal love and, hopefully, eternal sales from Paris

Meanwile my Alamy experiment continues with , so far, no further images rejected. However, just uploading one at a time to avoid mass rejection is a slow way of building a portfolio there :)

Recent uploading saw some of my few images from the Shoreham airshow. The tragic event that occurred bringing the show and photography to an end. On a happier note, I went back to my Paris trip of last year to upload images of the ancient Notre Dame cathedral and the, so called, Love Locks on the Pont De L'Archeveche. This is where couples from the world over attach padlocks to the bridge railings as a symbol of eternal love. I'm hoping these might generate eternal sales for me :) Regards, David.

Wednesday, 9 September 2015

A is for.......Alamy:

Passed -Flora the Singleton Giant
I have recently started to upload some images to British agency Alamy. More premium priced than microstock they are probaly best described as a Midstock agency. Though they take any kind of stock subjects they are probaly best known for travel and editorial images -with frequent credits in the British national newspapers.

Now, this is not a new sign up for me. I opened my account at Alamy in January 2008 back when my only other agencies were Snap Village (deceased) and Picture Nation (deceased). They were British, took editorial and anybody could upload on line. It all looked good until I started to see their frankly Byzantine upload requirements. You couldn't just upload your images as you could with other agencies. Instead a curious upsizing was required for which you had to buy special software (Genuine Fractals was their recommended one). Cue lots of instructions about compressed/uncompressed sizes which I didn't really understand then (and still don't!). Alamy went on hold before it even began for me. Anyway, years passed and all that kerfuffle was eventually scrapped. Now you just need a 6 megapixel (or more) camera and you're good to go. Provided your camera is on their "Approved Camera List" that is. My Nikon D80 is, I'm pleased to say.

So, start uploading then David? Well, no because about that time microsite Yaymicro announced a
Failed - chromatic aberration
partnership deal with Alamy - I was happy for them to take their cut for saving me all that time uploading and keywording. This would have been a sound plan if they had ever actually put any of my images on Alamy. After a year or so I emailed them and they assured me they would get there eventually but it would take time. I'm guessing they were cherry picking best images for Alamy and not just mirroring their whole library there. More time passed and still no Alamy action and in the meanwhile Yay have virtually sunk into oblivion (for me) so I'm not sure how much longer I'll even be uploading to them.

Right, time to upload direct. Start with uploading four images as a test. Just upload (you only have to add captions/keywords after approval). My test came a cropper when one of the Eiffel Tower failed their Quality Control (QC) for chromatic aberration (fringing). It had been approved at every other site I belong to. However, there was no wait period and I was free to upload another four images. I just re-uploaded the passed ones from the first batch and added another hopeful. These passed and I was in. Once in you can upload as many images as you want at any time. At this point you can add your data and wait for the next server update for them to go on sale.

Now for the important bit: Alamy rules do not allow you to set a different license type (for the same image) to what you are selling elsewhere. If those images are Royalty Free on microstock then you must set a Royalty Free license on Alamy. This throws up another problem because Alamy require editorial images to be Rights Managed - ruling out a large chunk of my portfolio which are Royalty Free on the micros. You could, of course, shoot some editorial just for Alamy and that would be fine.
Passed - Pigs head with apple

The second important thing is their Quality Control (review) system. They do not check every image but if they do reject just one they also reject every other in that batch AND in all other batches awaiting approval. Harsh, but there it is. My strategy for now is to literally upload one image and await the outcome. Reviews are usually a day or less. Once I get a feel for their standards I'll up my
numbers. Be aware that if you get a sufficient number of QC fails you will be suspended from uploading for a while or ultimately face account closure.

My image choice strategy, for now, is to choose a few images from each area of my port (e.g. each Greek island etc). I'll report back how it all goes. Regards, David.