18 Aug 2010 Win a Signed Copy of Microstock Money Shots

Ellen Boughn’s book, Microstock Money Shots (review), hits shelves and online bookstores next Tuesday. Here’s an opportunity to win yourself one of two signed copies, to be posted by Ellen herself on the day the book comes out. But first, here’s a quick interview I recorded with Ellen about the book and other things.

(apologies for the low quality – I had my recording software set to low resolution and didn’t check it)

How to Win

Microstock Money Shots - book coverJust describe your best microstock tip in the comments. Ellen will choose the two best answers on Tuesday. Winners will be notified directly by email and announced at the bottom of this post.

Here’s the rules:

  • Entries close at midnight UTC-3, Monday, August 23, 2010
  • One tip per comment. You can enter more than once by submitting tips in separate comments
  • Tips need to relate to microstock photography
  • Duplicate tips will not be eligible to win, so make sure you’re first with your tip or submit something else

Winners will be contacted by email to obtain their postal details, so make sure you type your email address correctly in the “email” field of the comment form. Don’t put your email address or postal address in the “body” of the comment or they will be visible to everybody.

Tips don’t have to be your own invention – it’s fine to post tips you’ve heard from other people.

Similar competitions are running in German and Italian at the same time, so if you speak either of those languages, head on over and submit your tips there too.

If you don’t win, you can still order your own copy directly from Amazon.   If you’re not already familiar with Ellen, you can read more about her here and see a review of Microstock Money Shots.


The two winners are:

  • Bruno Coutant: “Make a plan. Write a storyboard. Research the theme or subject and the location.”
  • Iza: “Be careful with your post-processing and view your finished image at 100%- my images are most often rejected for real or perceived noise!”

Thanks to everyone for their participation and great tips. If you didn’t win, you can pick up your copy of the book here.

  • Tyler Olson
    Posted at 10:30h, 18 August

    nice touch with the video.

    Looking forward to the book

  • Sergiu
    Posted at 11:44h, 18 August

    I think the best tip in stock photography is to let someone else first to pick your pictures.
    My best selling image is a image I don’t even like that much.

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    Posted at 11:50h, 18 August

    […] Verlosung des Buches findet ausserdem noch in Englisch und Italienisch auf unseren Partner-Magazinen statt. Wenn Sie eine der beiden Sprachen sprechen […]

  • monkeyinabox
    Posted at 13:12h, 18 August

    My best tip would be shoot “concepts” and not just “stuff”.

  • Bruno Coutant
    Posted at 14:12h, 18 August

    My comment with regards to tips on Stock Photo is KISS: Keep It Sharp and Simple!

    I look forward to the book.

  • Bruno Coutant
    Posted at 14:14h, 18 August

    To specialize in one loves to photograph, which enables one to have more feel for it.

  • Bruno Coutant
    Posted at 14:15h, 18 August

    Check a few Stock Agencies, read their advice before submitting any photo.

  • Bruno Coutant
    Posted at 14:17h, 18 August

    Recreate best selling stock first before trying a different angle to it and submit it.

  • spike
    Posted at 14:56h, 18 August

    As a beginner, focus on the technical aspects of your photography (low iso, good lighting, no noise od aberrations) so you can, as you progress, deliver the shots that are marketable and unique while not having them rejected for technical reasons.

  • Noam
    Posted at 15:50h, 18 August

    Build or Buy a simple “light tent” and shoot simple but strong food and obgects over white.

  • Brandon
    Posted at 16:00h, 18 August

    People shots are the biggest sellers in microstock, with that said, recognizable faces must ALWAYS be accompanied by a ‘Model release’ signed by the recognized person/s in the shot.

  • Glenn
    Posted at 16:15h, 18 August

    Take rejection constructively.

  • Luis Santos
    Posted at 16:18h, 18 August

    Shoot what you like at your best!

  • Javier Espuny
    Posted at 20:59h, 18 August

    Study what and how successful submitters do (subject and treatment) and try to do similarlly… but not the same

  • Rahul Pathak
    Posted at 21:17h, 18 August

    Best Tip? Easy: Buy Ellen’s Book!

    PS: I’d like to exclude myself from consideration.

  • hfng
    Posted at 05:05h, 19 August

    Submit consistently and continuously. Learn from your rejections.

  • Eldad Carin
    Posted at 05:08h, 19 August

    Take advantage of your geographical location –
    ** If you live in a central city, shoot it: as much as you can, from as many angles as you can, and return for the same subjects at different times of the day.

    ** if you live in a rural surrounding – same as above only without the city 🙂

    ** If you’re close by to a famous landmark or tourist attraction – you its images on your portfolio as fast as you can. The advantage of living close to such a place is that you have probably been around it numerous times before, hence you know it well, and will easier get interesting and not banal shots from it. in addition, you have the privelege of returning to the landmark on different weathers and light atmospheres

  • Eldad Carin
    Posted at 05:10h, 19 August

    Shoot high key – customers just love high key, usually. it almost always sends a more happy and positive message, in opposing to low key that creates dark atmosphere. When creative designers buy your images, it’s usually for commercial purposes, and in their ads, they don’t wanna depress the potential customers, they want to send a happy message.
    Shoot high key!

    • Eldad Carin
      Posted at 05:27h, 19 August

      hehe, just watched the video and saw she’s giving the same tip…. 🙂
      hope it’s not considered as a duplicate…

  • Eldad Carin
    Posted at 05:12h, 19 August

    Don’t give up on an image!

    I have images online that had been rejected up to 6(!!) times, but i believed in them and kept correcting the errors till they got approved. Today some of them are making quite a good earning for me.

  • Eldad Carin
    Posted at 05:13h, 19 August

    Constant research:

    As much as you can, take ‘strolls’ in the microstock sites. See trends, look for popular subjects, or better yet find popular subjects with a small variety of images, and attack!

  • Eldad Carin
    Posted at 05:15h, 19 August

    Dominate your niches –

    If you decide to shoot a certain subject, you should have as many images of it online as you can. This way, when somebody looks for this subject, they won’t be able to avoid your presence there, hence your images are bound to be downloaded.

  • Mirjam van den Berg
    Posted at 06:06h, 19 August

    Use Twitter or other social media to keep up with trending topics. (Photo) editors keep an eye out for them too and commission articles based on them. So be one of the first to capture the trend in microstock photography.

  • Mirjam van den Berg
    Posted at 06:10h, 19 August

    Whenever available, fill out your personal profile on the microstock site. Potential and existing clients might like to know who shot the photo and this way they see what else you have in stock.

  • Mirjam van den Berg
    Posted at 06:15h, 19 August

    Build a presence outside the microstock sites as well but make sure to be consistent in your username and avatar. Consider a blog, Twitter, Vimeo, LinkedIn etc to build your brand and raise your credentials.

  • Bruno Coutant
    Posted at 08:37h, 19 August

    Keep the background uncluttered. White is probably best. Use postproduction sotware to achieve this if necessary.

  • Iza
    Posted at 08:45h, 19 August

    Some of my well selling images are simple objects/food/flowers on non-distracting, easy to remove white seamless background.

  • Bruno Coutant
    Posted at 10:17h, 19 August

    Recreate, emulate and create your onw style.

  • Bruno Coutant
    Posted at 12:48h, 19 August

    Choose an interesting subject matter. The more clear and obviuos it is the higher it gets to be approved.

  • Bruno Coutant
    Posted at 12:52h, 19 August

    Even illumination seems to be the most accepted type of lighting.

  • Bruno Coutant
    Posted at 12:53h, 19 August

    Make a plan. Write a storyboard. Research the theme or subject and the location.

  • Bruno Coutant
    Posted at 12:53h, 19 August

    The best stock photography is simple and suits the purpose of the buyer.

  • Bruno Coutant
    Posted at 12:55h, 19 August

    Do some research. Visit stock photography sites for their most popular photos and take photos with similar subject. Go with what´s in demand.

  • Bruno Coutant
    Posted at 12:55h, 19 August

    Photos need to be taken with as high a quality as possible.

  • Bruno Coutant
    Posted at 12:57h, 19 August

    Software needs to be used to make sure that the quality is as high as possible (to remove a poor backgorund, noise, blemishes or unwanted opjects or people, to crop.

  • Bruno Coutant
    Posted at 12:58h, 19 August

    Choose an obvious title.

  • Bruno Coutant
    Posted at 12:59h, 19 August

    Choose as many keywords as possible when uploading a photo. It increases the search possibilities of potential buyers.

    • Tyler Olson
      Posted at 13:13h, 19 August

      On the other hand however, some sites punish an images search placement if too many unnecessary keywords are used.

  • Bruno Coutant
    Posted at 13:00h, 19 August

    Do not add a copyright notice on the image you upload.

  • Iza
    Posted at 13:10h, 19 August

    The advice which worked for me would be to take your camera with you everywhere you go- sometimes the best selling shot can be taken on a family outing!

  • Janet
    Posted at 14:34h, 19 August

    If you are going to shoot stock photography you want to make sure your image is sharp and is able to sell an idea.

  • Ellen Boughn
    Posted at 00:11h, 20 August

    Good tips so far…I’m reading them so keep them coming.

  • CandyBox Photo
    Posted at 01:56h, 20 August

    3 steps

    1/ Meet Ellen
    2/ Have a nice (French) lunch
    3/ Listen to her

    See you soon in NY Ellen

  • Mark FGD
    Posted at 10:22h, 20 August

    If you want to make money out of stock photography don’t buy a camera, buy a stock library instead.

    • Tyler Olson - MicrostockGroup
      Posted at 10:29h, 20 August

      haha, yes very true! Except you might need a little more cash than evenings and weekends can provide to purchase any sort of stock site that is going to be successful.

  • Iza
    Posted at 14:41h, 20 August

    Be careful with your post-processing and view your finished image at 100%- my images are most often rejected for real or perceived noise!

  • Iza
    Posted at 14:50h, 20 August

    Put a lot of effort into your key wording- use synonymies, describe colors, shapes and objects in the image, find similar images to see what keywords you didn’t think of- it increases a chances for the image to be found.

  • Marek
    Posted at 16:07h, 20 August

    Microstock is a hard work and a long term commitment. It can be also addictive.

    You need to find your own way to preserve your sanity in this business, e.g., shoot what you love and/or don’t limit your photography life just to microstock, take rejections easy, and don’t get too obsessed with statistics …

  • Christelle
    Posted at 19:41h, 20 August

    Submit shots that are simple, with a few elements only and very clean

  • Christelle
    Posted at 19:42h, 20 August

    Plan the shoots using picniche.com

  • mihai
    Posted at 22:30h, 20 August

    First plan your work and divide it into small steps that finalize a goal, just like a video game, level one, two, three… only that you plan the levels.. and you make them so that you like it more and more. Make it so that you get maximum satisfaction. Involve as much as you can, that means make a team, or go in groups and take shots, talk to the community and help the newbies, participate in affiliation programs and most important make a rythm of your work, when you do that you’ll work constantly by default. So I’ll give an example: ask yourself questions like what would sell? or what is useful for people right now? get some good keywords that reflect good unsaturated market niches, then spend time and relax letting your mind create some good concepts, after that you begin to materialize them through shots or illustrations, and if you get stuck in creative thinking just ask the next person an opinion, two heads are better than one.

  • mihai
    Posted at 22:32h, 20 August

    after you do that… just repeat the cycle.. and you’ll get into the rythm. Increase the rythm from time to time and good things will happen. Success to everyone

  • Dmitry
    Posted at 01:08h, 21 August

    study Corbis and Getty for ideas before shooting – photos there are more unusual and interesting than in microstock. It can give you some fresh thoughts.

  • Klopas
    Posted at 04:02h, 21 August

    Single message in each photo, so it is clear and strong enough to attract buyer.

  • Klopas
    Posted at 04:12h, 21 August

    If you shot a still life as the main subject, never crop it. Designers will crop the photo according to their needs.

  • Jesper Elgaard
    Posted at 07:45h, 22 August

    Choose your keywords well. Always try to max out the limit of correct keywords. Don’t use false keywords. If you need help with this, use one of the online keywording tools.

  • maigi
    Posted at 19:59h, 22 August

    Microstock – it means someone always reviews your work and evaluates it. The first tip is – don’t be too sensitive and be willing to learn both from rejections and acceptations. Don’t ever think that reviewers are evaluating you as a person or artist. Yes, they are evaluating your skills, but it’s only a part of their job, they have to keep in mind their customers, other contributors and many other factors. Rejections doesn’t always mean that your image is bad. Reviewer may make mistakes and may see reasons, why your image wouldn’t sell on this particular microstock site. It might be an excellent image and sell well somewhere else.
    The second tip is – if you want to be a successful microstocker, then knowing extremely well, how to handle your camera is not enough. You need to get to know the market, follow trends, learn keywording, be creative and innovative, come up with ideas how to depict subjects in new way.

  • maigi
    Posted at 20:31h, 22 August

    Carry always a notebook!
    Then you can write down fresh ideas for your next photo sessions.

  • Brandon
    Posted at 06:37h, 23 August

    Study what is highly being used and sold and shoot it better, If your going to submit images that are already available make YOUR shot a little more unique, and different from the rest, shoot different angles than normal, play with different lighting, make your shot different from the rest.

  • Sarah Hipwell
    Posted at 09:28h, 23 August

    You need lots of patience; a desire to keep learning your craft(photography) & striving for that ‘wow’ shot, that could potentially be your best seller.

  • Marius Necula
    Posted at 10:26h, 23 August

    Pay close attention to how the colors match in your image, don’t overlook the color harmony in the scene, photos with bold color themes are the first ones to grab the customer’s attention in a search result page.

  • Katja
    Posted at 11:16h, 23 August

    On many photos there are shown too much things. Try to reduce the content of your photo as far as it is possible and as far as it makes sense. The less there is on a photo to make the message clear, the better it is.

  • Marius Necula
    Posted at 11:46h, 23 August

    Another tip would be to “expose to the right”, meaning to shoot your image as bright as possible, without “burning” the highlights.

    Make a habit of checking the built-in camera histograms while shooting, trying to move your tones as much as possible to the right, without clipping any of them.

    Keep an eye not only on the RGB histogram, but also to the individual color channels, Red, Green, Blue.

    This will increase your acceptance ratio, by minimizing the noise and increase the overall pixel-level quality of your images.

  • mihai
    Posted at 13:28h, 23 August

    Use different lenses (like fish eye lenses for nature and panoramas).

  • Marius Necula
    Posted at 16:45h, 23 August

    Here comes my third tip! 🙂

    Take advantage of any popular upcoming event (eg. Valentine’s Day or 4th of July) and plan ahead some iconic images to cover that niche.

    Uploading them on the microstock sites before the event date will ensure some good visibility for these photos, as they will show up first for customers looking for fresh entries.

    Don’t wait until the last moment, though, as marketing campaigns are usually launched weeks, sometimes even months before the event.

  • Claire Sheeran
    Posted at 16:52h, 23 August

    I know it’s obvious but your camera should be your third limb…don’t leave home without it.

  • Marius Necula
    Posted at 17:24h, 23 August

    Another tip that wasn’t yet covered here is to favor quality over quantity.

    Although it’s obvious that microstock is a numbers game, it’s better to work on having a portfolio of 200 high quality, top-selling photos than one of 2000 images without too much selling value.

  • Marius Necula
    Posted at 21:21h, 23 August

    Convert your photos to sRGB and upload them using this color space.

    Even if the AdobeRGB1998 has a wider color gamut for print, it tends to give a “wash-out” look to your images when they’re displayed on the screen, so your photos that have been converted and post-processed in sRGB will have that extra color pop when they’re shown in the search results page.

  • nick barounis
    Posted at 23:45h, 23 August

    Please, please, PLEASE ~ “have fun with it”.

    Dont make photography into a grind, blindly cranking out photo after photo like a machine.

  • nick barounis
    Posted at 23:53h, 23 August

    “read the manual”
    Thats you camera manual.

  • nick barounis
    Posted at 23:57h, 23 August

    The photo that is. dont clutter it with many things. Buyer should look at the pic and right away knw what its about…before he/she even puts it in words.

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