21 Aug 2015 Elena Elisseeva – Microstock Celebrity

Elena Elisseeva’s career can be summed up in two words: consistency and quality.

Well known for her growing and varied portfolio, she is one of the best-selling stock photographers in the industry (currently the top selling contributor at Canva), with over 15,000 images in her portfolio.


Elena Elisseeva is Canadian, based in Toronto, but she is Russian by birth. In fact, she holds a Ph.D. in physics from the Moscow State University, but photography had been her passion since she was a child.

20 years ago, she moved to Canada and had a few research jobs before deciding to dive into photography. Not so long after, it became her full-time job.

Around 2005, she got involved in microstock almost by accident when she came across an agency site. She appreciated the convenience of combining Internet resources with digital photography, and she has been submitting considerable amounts of photos to the most prominent agencies ever since.

Elena has tried traditional stock agencies, including contributing directly to Getty Images, but the returns weren’t strong enough, and she didn’t like having to lock images in to a single agency. She currently contributes to around 30 agencies, averaging 15,000 files in her portfolios on various sites. About 10 of those distribution channels are good earners for her. The top selling agency changes over time, previously Fotolia and iStock, now Shutterstock. She also sells some specially prepared work as high quality on-demand prints at her Fine Arts America site.

A Perfectionist

Elena has been constantly striving to improve both her skills and her equipment since her early days. She says that she follows her own instincts more than market trends.

She covers nearly all styles, but her preferences are for lifestyle, food and nature, her proven best selling styles. She has experimented with various outlets for her work.

Elena says that she doesn’t believe much in pre-production and that her best shots were the result of non-planned shooting. But post-processing is very important to her work. Having tried outsourcing this task and not liking the results, she now takes care of all digital retouching herself.

She’s constantly learning and investing to deliver the best-shot and best-processed photography she can. She will edit and re-edit, and even re-shoot an image until she’s completely satisfied with the final work.

The consistency in her portfolio’s quality is the result of her retaining total control over the workflow. From planning to shooting to post-production, Elena’s work is always in her own hands. Her constant creation of new images ensures that her collection always fresh and up-to-date, with highly commercial, modern-looking images.

All in all, she’s a consummate professional whose work includes as much fine art as stock images and can be seen in multiple contexts worldwide.

Elena Elisseeva photos


elena-steve-canva-tshirtsLike so many successful stock photographers, Elena has a significant other working behind the scenes. Elena’s husband, Steve Francisco, is a software developer for IBM Canada, and he assists with many technical and logistical aspects of her work.

Elena uses a custom in-house software to manage her image processing and sales tracking. This software automates image attribution and distribution and monitors incomes. As it’s custom built, it can be adjusted to fit Elena’s needs at any time, taking care of new issues as they appear.

Having this efficient method to assist with workflow and her husband’s assistance in its functionality enables her to save lots of time, which she can then invest in more shooting and processing of new images.

More on Elena

Elena’s stock photos can be licensed from her own stock website, and they’re also available in her accounts on 30 microstock agencies. Here’s links to Fotolia, iStock and Shutterstock.

You can also connect with Elena on TwitterFacebook (or Fan Page) and LinkedIn.

  • Lorraine Swanson
    Posted at 14:11h, 22 August Reply

    Thanks Lee, for featuring Elena. She definitely has loads of talent and a remarkable body of work! She may be one of the hardest working stock photographers around but she is still very generous with her time and knowledge with our isolated little on-line community. She has always been a voice of reason when industry changes are thrown at us, and many times I’ve witnessed her give great advice to new artists and the rest of us. Great feature article on an incredible lady.

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