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Last week, 11 of your fellow readers joined me in Cape Town, South Africa for five days of shooting and learning alongside one of the top stock photographers in the industry — Lise Gagne. We were also joined by the head of editorial at iStock, and a stock photographer himself, Henk Badenhorst. Oh and we did it all in a gorgeous villa overlooking the glittering ocean… on the beach… and at a nature reserve. It’s a tough life. Each of us is now taking better photos than ever… and we all came away with images we can submit to stock agencies. In fact, three attendees got accepted into iStock just after the workshop, using the photos they took there. (By the way, if you’re coming to Miami, we’re aiming to send you home with lots of new photos you can sell, too.) I’ll share some of my favorite stock photo tips from Cape Town in a minute, but first here are a few of my favorite attendee photos: Kristen Bentz Marylinda Ramos Nannette Holliday Patricia Palmer Terry Granger Caroline Maryan Jacques du Toit It’s surprising how much you can improve in just a few days with a pro there looking over your shoulder, checking your photos as you go. Here are the top five tips I gleaned out of this event:

  1. Look for Real Emotion. When you’re shooting with models, it’s important not to “pose” them too much. Put them in place then have them do something active. Get them to interact. And shoot when you see real, true emotions emerge.
  2. Shoot Wide Open. This one is specifically for photographing people for stock. Turns out you can put your lens on f/2.8 and pretty much leave it there forever. This helps to get your subject in focus while blurring out the background. (Note: The opposite applies to landscapes.)
  3. Go Simple. What you leave out of your photo is just as important as what you include in it. Usually, the simpler the better. Don’t include anything in the photo that doesn’t add to the story.
  4. Nurture Your Style. Learn the rules… then break them. Stock agencies are looking more and more to get away from the traditional “stock” look — which means no more isolated on white, no more sterile looking backgrounds. Get creative and find your own style.
  5. Keep Moving. Henk told us you should always take a wide variety of shots. “Shoot, move. Shoot, move,” he told us. Keep moving around, getting high and low, changing up your angles, zooming in, etc.

Lise also told us about what’s working in stock today. A lot has changed over the past year or two. I’ll share what she told us in the next issue. Until then, get out and shoot! [Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can turn your pictures into cash in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel. Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Selling Photos for Cash: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]

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