13 Sep 2007 Improving your Microstock Workflow

Workflow Diagram, Stefan KleinI frequently mention workflow when talking about contributing in the microstock market. It’s time to take a look at some of the options you have in establishing an efficient workflow that works for you.


Do you plan your shoots? Planning makes any task easier, faster and smoother and with microstock shooting there’s a lot to plan: researching what subjects you’ll shoot, location, models/objects, equipment, lighting, and the list goes on. Planning is what differentiates a stock photo from a snapshot.
Planning also makes you to think about your shooting and what you can do to create better selling photos.

Great quality shots of a subject nobody buys won’t sell, so researching your subjects is paramount. Most successful microstock photographers specialize to some degree or track and follow trends.


What format do you shoot in? Almost all professional photographers shoot in RAW for the flexibility it provides in post-processing.


Media – most photographers store their photos on an external hard drive as it’s relatively cost effective and has a large capacity. Do you have a backup? Would you lose all your photos if your hard drive failed?

Format – do you keep all versions of your files or just the final JPG? Consider keeping the RAW file in case you want to re-edit the photo in the future. Consider also keeping a layered TIFF or PSD file with your edits for the same reason. These file formats are not lossy like JPG so all information is retained.

Organizing – do you process your photos one by one, or in batches? Do you do so systematically or in a haphazard manner? Consider using a separate directories in your file system for each part of the process: RAW images, TIFF/PSD files with edit information, JPG files awaiting meta data, and completed photos. This way your files progress through a linear system that you can easily manage.


Repairing – almost all photos require removal of brands and other objects as well as fixing imperfections and facial blemishes. How good are your retouching skills? Do you search online for techniques to improve your photos?

Calibration – this is where you adjust the white balance, contrast, and colors to make the photo look as good (or as natural) as possible. It’s a lot of work, but it can make the difference between an average photo and a best seller.

Meta data – thoughtful keywording is vital to having your images sell well. Adding keywords, title and description to the file’s meta data before uploading saves a lot of time.


Many images require a model release and/or property release. You can streamline your model release process by creating a generic model and property release that’s accepted by all the agencies you use.


Using FTP or ProStockMaster can drastically reduce the time required to get your completed photos into the review queues of your microstock agencies. It makes contributing to multiple agencies only marginally more time consuming than contributing to one.


Measurement brings your workflow full circle, providing the input into your planning. Measure not only how much you’re earning, but which subjects sell well, which compositions, which styles, etc.

What About You?

Are there any techniques I’ve missed that you use to improve your workflow?

  • Perrush
    Posted at 06:37h, 15 September Reply


    workflow is indeed one thing which is often forgotten about.

    I wrote a small tutorial about how I organize my image. I had enormous trouble organizing all those filenames and folders from all those different shoots. Therefore I came up with a system to organize my filenames and folders in a logical way.

    Since then, my harddrive isn’t a mess like it used to be.

    If interested you can see this little tut at http://www.perrush.be/ps_organize_photos_01.html


  • Susie
    Posted at 14:16h, 17 September Reply

    I haven’t yet made a plan of my workflow, but I really need to. I’ve got a lot of things on my plate for the moment and I really need to make sure my shooting (and everything else too) is time effective. I shoot a lot of still life and my biggest problem have been to store and find my props. I don’t have a lot, but the little I have needs to be organized in some way and stored properly.

    I use Adobe Lightroom and I’ve found it to be quite useful for organizing my files.

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