Mar 16, 2010

What Should I Shoot and What Sells Well?

Branding Microstock is filled with loads of imagery and literally millions of images so if you don't stand out you will be "lost in the crowd" completely. Branding yourself by having a unique style that is recognizable and consistent is probably the most important aspect in microstock and also something that makes it so hard for traditional shooters to enter micro.

You cannot underestimate the importance of branding yourself! If you do, you will wonder, "why am I not selling anything?" The reason is that you have not made enough of an impression on buyers so that they go directly for your images when searching for material to buy.

So here is the breakdown: Step by step plan for getting started

  1. Find something you can shoot effortlessly. Your hobby, the sports you do, your friends, family and their life. Shoot the things you know something about, so you can make it look real, natural and genuine. Write down the things you should be able to shoot quite effortlessly.
  2. Decide on a style and a limited range of subject matter and stick to it. Microstock is getting competitive so specialize yourself in your field so you can become very good at shooting it. A shoot never goes quite as planned and you often have to "play the hand you are dealt" to get some good shots out of it. You can do this with the things you know about from before but not very well with things you have little or no experience with. Write down the style and subject matter that you want to go with. Brainstorm!
  3. Shoot something new and find your spot instead of duplicating successful images. Duplicating is probably the fastest way to be unpopular in microstock and because microstock agencies have forums (unlike traditional agencies), this can be highly damaging for your branding. Don't do it!

There are a few overall categories of subject matter that are neglected in microstock:

  • Travel photography, special places and extreme nature
  • Really, really old people
  • Contemporary fashion
  • Policemen, military and state officials from all over the world
  • Pictures of currency other than Euros and Dollars
  • Aerial pictures
  • Stylistic still-life in soft and low contrast colors
  • Fantastic panorama shots in high quality
  • Motion-blurred and lively pictures
  • Artistically executed lifestyle, edgy
  • Natural looking people, that don't look like microstock models

There are a few over-represented categories where you really have to know what you are doing to compete efficiently.

  • Businesspeople (too easy to put a group of people in suits around a table)
  • Isolated people on white (too easy to duplicate and too many shooting it)
  • Anything with a laptop
  • Nudes
  • Spa (requires so little set-up and every model in the world wants a spa shoot)
  • Medical (Too easy: a scrub and a model)
  • Backgrounds and "lonely tree" kind of pictures
  • Beach pictures (Really too easy)

Jacob Yuri Wackerhausen writes articles for selling your photos online, buy photos, buy images, buy stock, best stock photography and stock photography sites.