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.

Saturday, 26 December 2015

November Sales Updates:

Navy patrol ship Antipliarchos Mykonios departs Halki island
A steady month in November with neither great excitements or big disappointments. Starting in first place we, of course, find Shutterstock (by the usual huge margin). A good flow of On Demand sales and a couple of modest Single downloads contributing to the totals here. Shutterstock recently caused some comment when they changed their entry exam requirements -you now only have to get one image approved out of your initial ten sample images to be accepted (it was previously seven of of the ten). I do not see this move as especially good or bad -individual images uploaded will still get reviewed and either accepted/rejected (rightly or wrongly). The prediction by some that this will lead to a poorer quality collection of images doesn't work for me as Shutterstock have stated that they are not lowering their review standards. What probaly will not change either is the inconsistency in reviewing -where perfectly good stock images (accepted elsewhere) get rejected for spurious focus/lighting/white balance issues. For me, that is the most depressing thing about uploading to SS. It's the top selling agency and to have a good image rejected is just money lost -for me and them.

Nissos Halki ferry in Emborio harbour, Halki island
Climbing to second place were 123rf with a strong month of 15 (mainly editorial) downloads. Also, on a positive note, my backlog of pending images finally got reviewed and accepted. I have posted previously that some of these dated back to August. Once again, it took an email to support to get them reviewed. I really shouldn't have had to do that but there it is.

Istock came in at third place with 2 credit sales but a healthy 28 sub/PP downloads.

Stone pile on Ftenagia beach, Halki
In fourth place were Dreamstime with 13 (mainly sub) downloads. As one of the major agencies, they really should be performing better than this. What I am not seeing much of recently are the big credit sales on higher level images which used to push up the sales at DT.

Bigstock took fifth place with 10 downloads -again pretty much all subs.

Finally in sixth place were Fotolia with 2 downloads.

Recent uploading concentrated on my June trip to the Greek island of Halki. The Nissos Halki is one of several ferries making the crossing between the island and Rhodes. This image was taken on the morning of my departure. The stone piles I found on Ftenagia beach were a great photo opportunity and provided a host of images. This one cried out for a B/W version which, luckily most agencies (even Shutterstock!) accepted.  The Hellenic Navy warship Antipliarchos Mykonios took me by surprise when I opened my shutters one morning to find it moored in Emborio harbour. They later gave tours round the ship for groups of locals. I'm told that last year a submarine turned up and did the same. You never know what you will find in the Greek islands :) Regards, David.

Friday, 25 December 2015

Have a great Christmas!

Wishing all readers of ShootingStock a great Christmas and a brilliant 2016! I hope you will continue to enjoy my blog in the coming year. Kind regards, David.

A red car in the snow at St.Leonards-on-Sea in England

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
Blue sea and skies of Lipsi
Copyright: Serban Enache/Dreamstime
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.

****EDIT: RF Licensing is coming. See my post here Alamy update

August Sales Updates:

Prevelis ferry docked at Halki island
As with every other month there are no prizes for guessing that Shutterstock took top place in August. Sales were slightly down from recent months and this is one instance in which I would have narrowly missed payout under the old payout limit. Luckily I had changed mine to the new $35 level in my account settings. On Demand sales were good but I only received a couple of small Single Downloads which brought the total down.

Istock came in second with 5 credit sales and 36 sub/PP downloads.

In third place were Picfair with, at last, my second sale there! An image of the Red Arrows was purchased by a design agency to use in a clients project. They had originally gone to Istock but found the editorial restrictions prevented the use they needed. Picfairs license (which allows for some commercial uses) fitted the bill. I know this because the purchaser contacted me directly and, pleasingly, said they would certainly look at Picfair for future projects.

Photogenic pile of stones on Ftenegia beach, Halki
123RF achieved fourth place with 13 downloads. I am still awaiting review of all my editorial images uploaded in August although two commercial images were reviewed and accepted. This is strange as 123
used to have lightning fast reviews for editorial (often within minutes) so I am not sure what has changed.

Dreamstime disappointed with 9 downloads all of which were subs. Especially frustrating as I am only a fraction off payout level :(

Bigstock ranked sixth with 10 downloads (mainly subs). Once again, six of those images were related to my local area of Hastings.
Kent Air Ambulance at St.Leonards-on-Sea

Bringing up the rear in seventh place were Fotolia with 5 downloads. However, the good news there is that all 5 were in the last few days of the month suggesting an uptick in activity on my small portfolio there. This may well be due to parent company Adobe launching their new Adobe Stock site which mirrors Fotolia images. That will certainly be one to watch in coming months.

Shooting and uploading in August included further images from my June trip to Halki island in Greece as well as the awful events at Shoreham detailed in my last post. An unexpected photo opportunity arose when the Kent Air Ambulance landed in the public park in front of my flat. This was the second time this has happened but what made it especially strange was that I had literally just edited and uploaded my image from Shoreham -with the same Kent Air Ambulance pictured landing at the tragedy. Weird or what? Regards, David.

Tuesday, 8 September 2015

Shoreham Airshow Crash:

Shoreham crash scene
Regular readers will know that I enjoy photographing aviation subjects and always try and get to an airshow each year. This year I was set to go to the Airbourne airshow at Eastbourne but bad weather on the day I was going led to the cancellation of all flying. The excellent Dunsfold airshow which I attended last year was out as I wasn't free to go that weekend. This really only left the annual airshow at Shoreham-on-Sea in my area. This became a must see event when it was announced that XH588 -the last flying Vulcan bomber would be displaying on Saturday 22. This is the last year of flying for the Vulcan and, although I have seen it twice before, I was delighted to have the opportunity for one last chance to see it in the sky.

Archive image of a Hawker Hunter
The weather was perfect both as a spectator and as a photographer. Plenty of sunshine and blue skies -ideal for airshow photography. Late morning saw a number of aerobatic displays including Tiger Moths and the RAF parachute team The Falcons. The real action of the day got going just after 1.15pm with the arrival of the Hawker Hunter jet fighter. This fifties vintage jet is a favourite of mine having seen a number of Hunter displays at various airshows. A low level high speed run down the display line was followed by a steep climb and loop to bring it back to the display area. Because of my position this is where I lost sight of it behind the grandstand area as I poised my camera to capture the return run.

The rest is tragic history which has made the news around the world as the Hunter lost altitude before crashing on the busy A27 road next to the airfield. I sensed something was wrong when the aircraft hadn't reappeared as expected. There was then the sounds of gasps followed by a loud explosion. I moved my position a few feet in time to see a large fireball go up followed by plumes of thick black smoke. At this point the thousands of spectators simply fell very quite. The Hunter had been only seconds into its display and there was a sense of disbelief and shock at what had just happened.

Archive image of Vulcan XH588
Initially, most thoughts were for the fate of the pilot but it was only later that the full horror of what had happened emerged as the death toll from the A27 road reached eleven with the pilot (still) in critical condition. Needless to say, the rest of the airshow was cancelled. The one exception was the Vulcan. About an hour after the crash XH588 made one very slow and very quite flypast over the scene in what was a very moving and poignant tribute to those lost in the crash. That, sadly, will be my last memory of seeing the Vulcan in flight.

It truly was an appalling experience and not one I would want to repeat. Far worse, of course, for friends and family of those that died. You always have an awareness at airshows that something could go wrong but, in reality, never actually expect it to happen. An investigation into the crash is underway and currently in the UK all Hawker Hunters are grounded with restrictions placed on displays by other vintage jets.

Will I still visit and photograph airshows? Certainly - I cannot imagine I'm likely to witness something like this again. Regards, David.

Saturday, 5 September 2015

July Sales Updates:

The Red Arrows -Extended License at Istock
Somewhat later than I had hoped here are my updates for July. Expect August updates to follow soon to get things back on track :)

In first place (of course) were Shutterstock. A good number of On Demand downloads and a handful of Single Downloads pushed July over the payout limit. In an interesting move SS announced that the minimum payout is to drop to just $35 (from $75). Just go into your account settings at SS and change the figure. This move prompted some cynical speculation that SS anticipate a drop in sales for contributors. I do not buy that theory. Why would they care if contributors had to wait a bit longer for payout? My belief is that as a public company they simply want to clear all that debt (unpaid commissions) off the balance sheet. It doesn't benefit them to have all that money (which isn't theirs) sitting there. In practise, I usually make the existing payout each month but I will now get the certainty of a monthly payment even if I haven't quite made the old limit.

Tentertainment festival - illustrating festivals, summer, events
In second place came Istock with an excellent month consisting of 5 credit sales (including an EL on one of my Red Arrows images) and a remarkable 46 sub and PP downloads. My mainly Editorial portfolio (which now stands at 983 images) seems to be attracting the interest of the sub package buyers.

Third place went to Dreamstime with 8 downloads boosted heavily by a IEL (Increased usage) and a UEL (multi seat) on my image of the Italian street party in Clerkenwell, London.

123RF made fourth place with 5 downloads. They still seem to be having issues getting new uploads reviewed in a timely manner.

Italian street party - EL at Dreamstime
Bigstock made fifth place with 8 downloads -virtually all subs. As noted before, Hastings related images continue to be downloaded here.

In sixth place came FineArtAmerica with a single greeting card sale of my Tower Bridge and HMS Belfast image.

Bringing up the rear in seventh place were Fotolia with just 2 downloads earning 0.72 credits. On the plus
side I contacted them to increase the prices of my Extended License sales. Bronze level contributors can place these sales at 60 credits rather than the default 30. You can change each one manually but much easier to contact Fotolia support and they will do it for you. Whilst I do not expect that many EL sales it is nice to know that I will get a decent amount of commission for them.

Of note amongst the non sellers was the lack of action from Redbubble which had got off to such a promising start in May/June. Maybe I had benefited from a new contributor bounce and things have now settled down? I have continued to upload and hope for better things in the future. Also notable was that is now a full year since my last sale at Cutcaster. A total of just 8 sales ever on a portfolio of circa 1400 confirms my decision to cease uploading new images to them was the correct one (for me).

Octopuses drying on Nisyros - classic Greek image
Shooting in July mainly centered on the annual St.Leonards Festival -a community arts and music event which yielded excellent crowd and festival images. I have yet to edit and upload these but the images from last year continue to sell steadily. I also covered the Tentertainment music festival once again and have already seen sales from these. This local event has proved to be a constant seller over the last few years as an illustration for festivals/summer/outdoor events etc. A Google search finds these images of Kent being used across the world!  

Other uploading in July included my first images from my June trip to the lovely Greek island of Halki. One of my favourites included one from the nearby island of Nisyros of Octopuses drying on a line. In terms of Greek island images it's a real "classic" image which I have seen used many times. Sadly, until now I had never actually seen any drying Octopi in real life to photograph. I was excited, to say the least, when I spotted these on the seafront at Mandraki. As well as several early sales this image recently got chosen by Picfair for their weekly pick of top images -resulting in hundreds of views. I have high hopes for this image :) Regards, David.

Thursday, 16 July 2015

June sales updates:

Emborio village, Halki island
As ever, by far, Shutterstock came in the number one slot for June. The month saw a good crop of On Demand downloads but only two modest Single downloads.

Second place went to Istock with a strong performance of 12 credit sales (many of the Tentertainment music festival) plus a healthy 37 subscription and PP sales.

Bell tower on Halki island
New agency Redbubble took third place with two product sales (as previously posted). An exciting start to my relationship with this Print On Demand site.

In fourth place Dreamstime showed a bounce back from the dire sales last month with 8 downloads.

Fifth place went to Fotolia with only 1 download but it was my first ever extended license on the site -paying a healthy six credits. Pleasingly the image was from the same set as my avatar picture here. Fotolia also had some exciting news with the launch of Adobe Stock. Adobe (who purchased Fotolia a while back) will now mirror the Fotolia library within Adobe products such as Photoshop allowing designers to choose and purchase images without leaving the programme. This should certainly lead to a boost in sales once it gets established. In addition, at Fotolia, sub sales now count as full sales towards your ranking. This was applied retrospectively so I jumped from the basic white level to the higher paying bronze level.

In sixth place were 123RF with 7 downloads. My images uploaded in May continued to await review throughout the month (and still do at this time). Not sure what's going on there.

Stefanos volcano crater, Nisyros island
Just pushed into seventh place were Bigstock with 13 downloads (virtually all subs).

Finally, a small subscription sale from Mostphotos gave them a rare appearance here and eighth place.

Very little uploading in June but plenty of shooting as I spent two weeks on the lovely small Greek island of Halki. This was my third visit to the island (population just 280!). As before I took a day trip by ferry to the nearby island of Nisyros where the star attraction is the live volcano crater which you can walk around in -this was still as amazing third time round. I'll be working on my new images in due course but the ones here are from my last visit in 2010. Check out my Greek island blog for more info on Halki. Regards, David.

Monday, 22 June 2015

Redbubble popping up some sales:

Margaret Thatcher - sold as T shirt
As I briefly mentioned in my last post, I signed up with Print On Demand (POD) site in May. With around 190 images uploaded so far I have already had three sales of products featuring my photographs which is a very encouraging start for just a few weeks. Sold so far are a T Shirt featuring Margaret Thatcher, A laptop cover featuring the Poll Tax Riots and finally a babies one piece outfit featuring cruise liner Norwegian Jade.

The site is very well presented and sets off the various products extremely well. These products cover a large range but include prints and posters, t shirts, skirts, scarves, bags, leggings, mugs, phone and laptop covers, calendars, duvet covers, greeting cards, and more.

Signing up is totally free and you get to set your margin (how much you will make per sale) over and above the basic manufacturing price. How much you set is entirely up to you but obviously the higher you set it the greater the cost to the customer and, therefore, may reduce your sales. You can choose the same margin across your range of products or vary it for each individual item (this can be changed at any time). For now I have mainly set a 30% margin with a higher 50% for greetings cards and stickers. You can also choose your currency to get paid in when you sign up -in my case £GBP and there is a very reasonable payout level of £20 to reach before you are paid.
Poll Tax Riots - sold as laptop cover

Uploading is quick and simple but only one image at a time - this isn't really a disadvantage as having uploaded you then have to spend a few minutes editing your image for the various products and adding your caption and keyword information. To edit you will see a series of templates which show how your image will look on the product. These can each be changed to optimise the look of your product. Obviously, prints and posters etc are going to look OK to start with but for something like leggings or a skirt you will want to do some work. Top tip here is to use the "repeat" button and then the "image size" slider. This will then produce multiple repeats of your image across the garment. Vary the size until your image forms a pleasing pattern. For some items such as a laptop cover you will find that an upright format photo will be cut off and only cover a strip in the centre. Again, use the repeat/size controls to fill across the product until it looks good.

Don't forget to fill out your profile details and include an avatar - this is your sales platform so tell potential customers something about yourself and your work. You can also group your images into collections (e.g. "Halki, Nisyros and Tilos islands") and these collections will show on your profile. Even better, you can choose to highlight images from one of your collections across the top of your profile (changing the collection highlighted whenever you want).
Norwegian Jade - sold as baby outfit

There is quite a lot to learn and get to grips with on the site so take the time to explore and understand the various features. Don't worry, if you get stuck there is an active forum with a help section! Find the forum by clicking on the Redbubble logo at the top left of the page. This takes you to the home page where you will find the link to the forum at the bottom of the list on the left side.

Each time you get a sale you will get an email giving you the details and you can also access your sales information on your account page.

I'm certainly excited by the possibilities here and, so far, consider Redbubble to be a worthy addition to my roster of agents. I'll obviously keep updating in my regular posts (if) and when I have further sales.

You can view my portfolio here

Do check out the site whether you're a buyer or contributor and I hope you find it interesting. Regards, David.

May Sales Updates:

Anti Austerity march, Hastings
Straight into the May sales to bring me up to date before the end of June is upon us :)

May proved a fairly weak month with even my first place agency Shutterstock down from last month and a much lower number of the higher paying On Demand sales and three modest SOD sales.

Istock leapt to second place with 8 credit downloads and an astonishing 42 subscription and PP sales. PP sales came back strongly after their crash last month.

Straight in at third place came Redbubble with a T shirt sale becoming my first sale on the site.

123RF came in fourth with 11 downloads though without the boost from LEL sales that I had last month. They also updated their uploader which from my perspective didn't seem to have any advantages over the old version. On the contrary, the first seven images I uploaded proved tricky as there just seems no way to include punctuation in the caption field. This is important because they require a specific format for editorial captions (which include comma and dash signs). I have put these in dozens of times but when clicking to save they just disappear. I'm fully expecting them to be rejected for this -that is if they ever get around to reviewing them (been three weeks now).
Protest against zero hour contracts at Sports Direct, Hastings

In fifth place were Bigstock with 14 downloads -pretty much all subs again.

Sixth place went to FineArtAmerica with a sale of two greetings cards. These were of the local island bus on the Greek island of Paxos which I visited last year. Not a fortune but a pleasing sale all the same as it is one of my favourite Greek islands.

Now for the big disappointment of the month. In Seventh place were Dreamstime with just 6 downloads. These were all 35c subscription sales bringing a total for the month of just $2.10 -my worst month ever on DT (even my first month there in September 2009 produced nearly £6 in sales). What happened there? Thankfully June is showing improvements but I am at a loss to account for that May dive.

Finally in Eighth place I got one of my irregular sales on Canstock photo - a 30c subscription. If they ever start taking Editorial images this could become a much better seller for me but meanwhile I'll just add non editorials as and when I have them.
Greetings from Paxos: card sales at FineArtAmerica

Much of May was dominated by my signing up to and learning all about how that works. I'll be posting an article on that soon -but early results are encouraging :)

The other event in May was, of course, a General Election here in Britain when to a lot of peoples surprise the Conservative party won a (small) outright majority. None of the opinion polls had predicted anything of the kind so the result was unexpected. This led to a number of protests and anti austerity marches across the UK, including here in Hastings. I photographed the march and have already had several sales on Shutterstock as a result. Regards, David.

April Sales Updates:

Rum tum at Pirates Day, Hastings
A tad late I know with my April updates but on the principle of better late than never I'm getting this posted now.

Inevitably, in first place were Shutterstock with a very strong month of downloads with a good number of On Demand sales and one good Single Sale (nothing on the scale of last month, sadly).

Jumping into second place this month were 123RF with 10 downloads -several higher paying LEL licences pushed the dollar value up here.

Closed down Phones 4 U, Hastings
Dreamstime ranked third with 10 downloads.

Istock were in fourth place with 5 credit downloads and 18 subscription/PP sales. The PP sales were very low this month with just three sales showing up. New uploads brought my Istock portfolio up to 966 images.

Bigstock brought up the rear in fifth place with 9 downloads (virtually all subsciption sales).

Copperfield Clog morris at Jack In The Green, Hastings
Fotolia and the rest didn't produce any sales in April and I am still awaiting the elusive second sale at Picfair.

Uploading in April included a set of a Phones 4 U branch in Hastings. This mobile phone chain closed down a while back so the images have some historic relevance. I also worked on some more images from last year's Jack In The Green festival (ahead of this years event in May). Finally, backtracking to 2012, I uploaded another fun image from the Pirates Day event -with a heavily pregnant young woman getting into the spirit of the occasion :) Regards, David.

Saturday, 4 April 2015

March Sales Updates:

Poll Tax Riots, London -top Micro sale
March proved to be not only my Best Month Ever (BME) on my Number One agency Shutterstock but also my BME in Microstock.

So beginning with star performer Shutterstock the start of the month saw not only an Enhanced Download of the Tentertainment music festival (at $28) but on the very same day my highest ever sale with a Single Download of the Poll Tax Riots in London. Shutterstock Terms of Service do not allow me to give the exact amount -let's just say it wasn't a million miles away from $100 in commission. After that great start the rest of the month saw a bumper crop of On Demand downloads and above average subscription downloads. Images sold were a good mix of the usual suspects -Margaret Thatcher (the anniversary of her death is in April), Professor Stephen Hawking (new biopic film winning awards), Tentertainment music festival (the season of outdoor events and festivals approaches) and a host of Greek Island images (time to book that holiday). A few more months like that on SS would be very welcome.

Istock took second place with a strong 10 credit downloads and a further 22 Sub/PP sales.
Margaret Thatcher -a timeless selling image

In third place were Dreamstime with 12 downloads and unusually $0.49 in referral earnings when one of my very few referred photographers got some sales. A diversion here on Referrals -this is when an agency gives you a "thank you" for sending a new contributor (or buyer) their way in the form of a few cents when the contributor makes a sale or a buyer purchases an image. Some of my portfolio links on the right here contain a code that tells the agency the referral came via me. Not all agencies do this and most limit the time for which you receive these. Way back in 2008, when I started this blog, I had hopes that hordes of grateful readers would sign up with my links and generate some additional income. Sadly, I think my grand total amounts to around four contributors and somewhat less than $1.00 in earnings! Oh well.......

Tentertainment - music festivals and Summer image
123rf came in fourth place with a slightly perkier 11 downloads. Mainly subs.

Bigstock were fifth with 12 downloads. These were all subs with not a credit sale to be seen.

Finally, Fotolia produced 3 downloads to come in sixth and final place for my selling agencies this month.

Obviously, March was an exceptional month due to that one big exceptional sale and isn't really an indicator of anything. That said, April looked to be starting well until it all crashed to a near halt for this Easter weekend. I'll see how things pick up after the holidays. Regards, David.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Persisting with Picfair:

The Sinceros -my most viewed image on Picfair
When I first posted about British photo agency Picfair back in November 2013 I was certainly full of hope for this new venture and even more so when I got my first sale just a couple of weeks later. So, time for an update.

Well, first the headline fact, I have yet to have had my second sale there despite my portfolio now numbering some 870 images. Am I giving up on them? Not at this stage and here is why.

Founded by former journalist Benji Lanyado in 2013 the site has gradually grown -both in the number of images available and the team itself. Very much a one man band at the start Picfair now has a number of people on its team which you can see on the "About" section of their site. Originally launched in Beta the site is now fully functioning as an image selling agency and received a substantial boost of investment last Summer (read about that here ). Ignore the "taking on Getty" headline -I'm pretty sure that they are not actually claiming that!

So what's great about Picfair? Well the two big attractions to me are firstly that there are no reviews to go through. You get the images online and for sale that you want, not filtered through somebody elses opinion or taste. Just like having your own photo selling site in fact. Secondly, and most importantly, you get to choose your own selling price and receive 100% of that amount (Picfair make their money by adding a percentage on top to the buyer -currently 20%).

This choose your own price feature does has its own set of issues, however. Firstly, some great photographers are setting their prices really low. I have seen some stunning images being offered at little above the minimum allowed pricing of £1. This doesn't make it easy for those of us trying to get a reasonable fee for our images. Which leads to the second (big) issue -just what should you price your images at? All mine are at a standard £10 per image. Now for a small use on a blog that's a high price compared to purchasing from a Micro site. However, the standard Picfair license doesn't offer any variations so that £10 image could just as easily be used on the front page of a National newspaper.

Ideally, I'd like to experiment with different price points to see if that makes a difference to sales, however what Picfair currently lacks is a global price change facility (unlike FineArtAmerica where you can reset your entire portfolio pricing with one click). You can, of course, edit your pricing image by image but there is no way I am doing that 870 times! I could try just changing the pricing on some images but I am really loathe to set up a two tier system suggesting that "these are my best ones at £10 and this is a bit rubbish at £2".

So, for now I am persisting with Picfair. It is still fairly early days for them as a business and I see no reason why the site will not gradually attract more buyers -especially given the fantastic quality of many of the images being submitted. The batch upload is quick and efficient (and they now offer FTP on request to those that want that -I don't) so they do not represent a big demand on my time to keep uploading. Hopefully, I'll have some sales news to report in the not too distant future. Regards, David. EDIT: Click on the comments below for a response from Picfair :)

Pro's: Choose your own pricing/No reviews/Prospects for growth
Con's: No global price change/ Uploading no longer works on IE9 (a minor gripe and maybe just me)

Saturday, 21 March 2015

February Sales Updates:

Agios Ioannis beach, Meganissi island
A rather late posting for my February updates I know, but other events intervened.
As every month, Shutterstock came out on top by a long, long way. Three modest Single Downloads and a good crop of On Demand downloads helped to make a solid month here.

Second place fell to Istock with 5 regular credit sales and a further 16 sub/PP downloads. What is interesting to see is the decline in PP ( sales as the new Istock subscriptions build up. It seems fairly clear where they are pushing the marketing now.

Traditional beach huts, Glyne Gap
Dreamstime came in third with 9 downloads. February saw the long awaited payout on the Google Adwords deal with many contributors reporting floods of $2 sales from the deal. I was full of anticipation but received just a single sale (one of the two images they originally chose last year for the Beta testing). Oh well, maybe the next round will prove better.

Bigstock saw fourth place with 16 downloads (mainly subs). As previously posted, Hastings and
St.Leonards subjects continued to do well here.

123rf were down at fifth place with 9 downloads (again, mainly subs). At least I kept my Level 2 status at the end of the month.

Fotolia managed just one sale to make sixth place in the list.

Glyne Gap from Galley Hill
Finally, a sale at Yaymicro (from one of their Partner sites). This was my first sale from Yay since last August and February also marked a year since my last sale directly on the Yay site itself. The easy uploading and quick batch editing keep me supporting them with new images but really (on a business level) I should give up on them. The trouble is that I still remember the good early years when they used to get me regular sales at decent rates. I just keep thinking the lack of sales cannot continue there forever. Can it?

Recent uploading saw me revisit some images from my 2008 trip to the Greek island of Meganissi as well as a set of images from a local beauty spot here called Glyne Gap. I'm a bit hesitant to admit it was the first time I had visited it since moving to Hastings in 2009. I'll certainly be going again in the near future! Regards, David.

Saturday, 7 February 2015

January Sales Updates:

Alonissos -first Extended License on Istock
There were certainly some encouraging signs in January as we came out of the Christmas and New Year holiday slowdown.

Inevitably, Shutterstock came out on top by a long way with a sprinkling of On Demand sales (not the best month for these) and one modest Single sale.

A strong month for Istock putting them in second place with 6 credit sales and 12 sub/PP downloads. What boosted things here was getting my first ever Extended License sale on Istock with my image of the coastline on Alonissos island.

Dreamstime managed third place with a pleasing 23 downloads. Sadly, all but one were 35cent sub sales which pulled the actual income down. Greek island images featured strongly in this months downloads.

Breitling WingWalkers in action
Bigstock was just pipped into fourth place (by only 2cents) with 17 downloads. As I have mentioned before local Hastings images seem to do well here with 9 of the 17 being from my home town. In fact, images downloaded on Bigstock seem to be rather quirky -often being ones that haven't sold much elsewhere (as well as the usual Margaret Thatcher type good sellers).  This suggests that they have a distinctive group of customers -no bad thing in my opinion.

123rf came in at fifth place with 9 downloads. Now, I am quick to express disappointment here with 123rf
and January looked like it was heading the same way with only four sub sales for most of the month. However, things were redeemed by 2 LEL sales and a Large sale on the 31st (a Saturday at that!) which was enough to push me back to Level 2 at the start of February. Hopefully, I can remain at that level for some time now. Further, the backlog of pending Editorial images all got reviewed and accepted right at the end of January after sitting there all month.

Finally, in the sellers list, Canstock pulled in 2 downloads which was a nice surprise given that I do not often see much action with them.
Skiathos Town and harbour, Greece

Nothing from my other sites in January with Cutcaster becoming a casualty when I decided it was no longer worth my time and broadband costs to continue uploading new material. With a current port of 1498 files, I have had just 8 downloads since joining in January 2011. Increasingly picky reviews where images that are accepted and sell on the top tier sites were being rejected didn't help matters. I'll just keep my port there and check in from time to time in the hope of a surprise. If I had to speculate about the problem here I would guess that, though they accept Editorial images, they do not have the Editorial buyers that would be interested in my port. Lifestyle/models/isolation images may do much better here for some.

Uploads in January included new images of the Breitling WingWalkers (an ever popular seller) and some views over Skiathos Town taken during my 2012 trip to Alonissos. February has got off to a slow start but, hopefully, things will pick up as the month goes on. Regards, David.