Microstock: From Passion to Paycheck – REVIEW

by matt on June 7, 2011

Microstock From Passion to Profit

I had the chance to read another great Craft & Vision production called (micro)STOCK: From Passion to Paycheck by Nicole S. Young.  If you want to know more about getting into stock photography this is a great book to get, and at $5 you really can’t go wrong.

I was really interested in this book as I’ve wanted to get into stock photography for some time now and have actually submitted some of my work to several microstock sites.  My experience wasn’t the greatest and at iStockphoto (which is the site highlighted in this book) I didn’t even make the cut and I had all but given up on ever attempting stock photography again.

It can definitely be frustrating when you are just starting out and this book doesn’t mince words on that which I think is its strong suit.  So many books out there glamorize stock photography and fail to mention that it takes hard work, dedication and an eye for what sells as stock.  This book will definitely start you out on the right foot and path.

The author starts by defining what stock photography is and the two different types of stock; rights-managed (RM) and royalty-free (RF).  This is followed by a little history on how microstock has changed the photography industry and how it’s evolved over the years.

When you consider getting into microstock you should consider how your images will be used.  This gets you thinking about how the types and kinds of images you like to shoot can play out in a commercial setting.  The author talks about this and the fact that often you will never know how your images are being used.

Throughout the book are case studies with several stock photography shooters as well as the story of the author herself.  I think these really add to the book and give you a feel for what is possible.  Yes, there are people out there making a living at stock photography.

A good portion of this 48 page book is on how to create quality content.  This book isn’t a step by step guide on how to be successful at stock photography so if you like the paint-by-number type books this one probably won’t be high on your list.  But, this book does offer up lots of important tips on creating the kinds of images that will be accepted and make sales.

A fair amount of time is spent talking about finding your own personal niche and as cliché as that may sound its true.  If you are just shooting to make money you probably won’t go very far.  Notice that the title of the book includes “From Passion to Paycheck” and that is really emphasized here.  You have to feel good about the images you are shooting and shoot what you love.  But at the same time the author points out that there is a fine balance between shooting what you love and making a few dollars.  I found this section of the book to be quite interesting and thought provoking.

There are plenty of tips and advice in this book on how to create compelling and industry ready images and I found these tips to be very useful and plan to use them when I give stock photography another go.  Part of the issues I had before was that several of my initial submissions did not meet image requirements.  There is an entire section of this book dedicated to explaining how to inspect your images so that you avoid rejection.  Things like artifacting and noise are talked about among other things with advice on how to correct these issues.  This alone is worth the price of the book.

The book concludes with some real down to earth “this is the reality folks” talk that I really appreciated.  It’s so easy to get caught up in the notion that all you have to do is upload some images you have laying around and start making loads of cash.  The author talks about and answers the question of “can stock photographers really be successful?”  It’s a great conclusion to the book which I think anyone considering getting into stock photography should read.

It’s not depressing or tries to dissuade one from pursuing stock but it does inject some realities namely that it takes hard work and time to get to a level where you are making good money.  In other words, don’t quit your day job.

At the very end is a short section that poses and tries to answer the question of “Is Microstock Sustainable?”  The author is very upfront in voicing her thoughts on that question and it’s interesting to read that while she thinks things are getting more competitive she doesn’t see this industry disappearing any time soon.  That’s good news to hear for anyone interested in pursuing stock photography.

If you are interested in getting into stock photography like I am then this book is a great introduction into that world.  And for $5 you really can’t miss.  For a limited time you can get the book for $4 by using the code MICRO4 at checkout (and if you buy 5 or more e-books and use code MICRO20 you get 20% off).  Codes expire at 11:59pm PST June 11, 2011.  If you do pick the book up I’d be interested in hearing your own thoughts on it.

(micro)STOCK: From Passion to Paycheck

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