“This is the funnest job I’ve ever had. I don’t work, I play. I am free to create and express, and I earn my income from doing so. Awesome!!!”
That’s how iStock photographer Ryan Lane describes his life as a stock photographer.
Ryan joined us briefly at the Ultimate Stock Photo Workshop a few weeks ago in Portland.
This week, Ryan did an interview for The Right Way to Travel newsletter, where he talked about how he got started in stock, and gave some tips for folks who’d like to do the same.
I asked Ryan to share a little more about his creative process. And since he’s an iStock inspector, too, I asked him what the top three things are that get photos rejected.
Read on to see what he said…
Interview with iStock Photographer Ryan Lane
Bonnie: How do you feel your photography has changed since you started in stock?
Ryan: I’m a bit of an anomaly, as I began pursuing photography for the purpose of starting stock. From the beginning the bar was obviously pretty high, and iStockphoto did a great job of instructing the basic “do’s and don’ts.”
Initially, I looked for things to photograph that I thought might sell well, but found that beyond that, I really enjoyed creating rather random fun ideas and characters. These “out of the box” concepts were bringing me positive responses and sales, and really shaped the way I continued to shoot.
Bonnie: You have a wide variety of different shots, from outlandish but lovable characters to more typical “stock” shots, such as business people in suits, hikers in the woods, etc. What would you say is your favorite kind of image to produce?
Ryan: The fun and silly ones. There is value in having a wide range of image styles, but I enjoy having a bit of an artist “signature” that is easily recognizable. I consider myself a fairly goofy guy, and it’s natural and enjoyable to implement that into my pictures. Many of my more “stock-y” images are things that I kind of circumstantially stumble onto; I find a prop, or a friend owns a dog, or is a doctor.
It is a fairly organic process, as opposed to highly organized.
Bonnie: As an inspector, what are some common rookie mistakes that you see over and over again?
Ryan: Here are my top three:
1. Poor lighting (distasteful direct flash, underexposed, etc): Sometimes this can be compensated for in post processing, but it’s better to fix this issue from the start.
2. Compression and Artifacting: This usually results from high ISO settings, over-saving a .jpeg file (causing a very compressed image), or processing an image beyond what the initial file is capable of (there is only so much you can lighten an underexposed image before it starts to look really nasty).
3. Snapshots (poorly executed randomness): This is not to say that we shouldn’t be shooting everything we see; rather, what we do see and shoot should have some thoughtfulness and intentionality in the composition, lighting, etc. For some this comes from experience, while other photographers are very natural at it. I believe we all have room to learn and grow in this area, and hopefully will never feel we have “arrived.”
Bonnie: Thanks, Ryan!
If you want to create your own “funnest job ever” as a stock photographer, you’ve got to start submitting photos to stock agencies. Set a date on your calendar, and start with these three agencies this week.
Great Escape Publishing
Breakfast Stock Club
P.S. We’re already getting a BUNCH of successes coming in after the Ultimate Stock Photo Workshop, just a few weeks ago. A big congratulations to workshop attendees Deidre McConnell, Aimee Riley, and Mary Hathaway for daring to send your photos in to stock agencies… and getting accepted! All three ladies used what they learned in Portland to start off on the right foot. I’ll tell you more about how they did it next week!
[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.]
Your Weekly Breakfast Dish
The latest from your Breakfast StockClub Facebook Page
So many success stories are coming in from Breakfast Stock Club members right now, that I can barely keep up. Here are a few recent ones from the Breakfast StockClub Facebook page:
Rebecca Renfro-Conn: Holy Moly… I’m walking on air! I uploaded 10 images to Big Stock last night and I just got an email that all 10 were accepted. Wow, and I have been putting off uploading… that rejection thing. No excuses now! I think it was the ice cream…
A few weeks later, Rebecca reported: I came in from working in my garden and I checked my e-mail and I sold an image on Fotolia… the same image I sold on Bigstock. Wha-Whooo!
Elizabeth Coughlan added: I sold an image on Fotolia, too!
Jax Bubis just got started: I know it’s not earth shattering, but I got my first photo accepted. Even with my little Sony Cybershot. That gives me hope. Now if a bazillion copies sell, I could get a better camera. YAY
Joy Ciaccio is meeting with more success: Another reason for excitement: I reached a payout level on Dreamstime today!! First $100 now in my rearview… You guys asked me to keep you apprised on my success as an exclusive, and here’s the breakdown: 61 files sold in the last 20 months; 42 sales since going exclusive in Mid-May.
And Marianne Campolongo hit a big time sale: I licensed a stock photo from my own site that is in Coastal Living magazine this month. Here’s a link to the photo (it’s in the magazine in an article about Rockland, Maine, but the photo is not online.) http://tinyurl.com/campyphotosRocklandME