What does it take to start selling your photos as stock?
Kevin Lohka attended our stock photography workshop in Santa Fe last October, and he began submitting photos to online stock agencies as soon as he returned home. Today, he has over 90 downloads at multiple stock agencies.
Scroll down below for our interview with him — along with his top three tips for getting your own stock portfolio up and running, so that you can do the same.
Director, Great Escape Publishing
July 3, 2010
The Right Way to Travel
IF AT FIRST YOU DON’T SUCCEED…
Interview with stock photographer, Kevin Lohka By Bonnie Caton in Portland, OR
Kevin Lohka’s love of photography runs deep… all the way back to Jr.High. But he put down the camera after high school and went about his life as a computer programmer.
He barely touched it again until last year, after taking photos on a family vacation left him with the desire to give it another go. That October, he came to the Ultimate Stock Photo Workshop in Santa Fe. And since then, his deep love of photography has turned into something more… stock photo sales.
BONNIE: Kevin, how did you get started in photography?
KEVIN: One of my father’s hobbies was photography, so I was around cameras from an early age. But I really took an interest in it in Jr.High when I took a class. After that I bought a camera and always carried it with me. When I wasn’t taking pictures, I was in the darkroom.
BONNIE: When did you start submitting to stock, and which agencies did you pick?
KEVIN: I decided to pursue stock photography in September, 2009. I upgraded my camera equipment and registered for AWAI’s Ultimate Stock Workshop in Santa Fe. The workshop gave me a great start. In early November 2009, I began submitting images to stock sites, starting with iStock.
Although they accepted me as a contributor (on my second attempt), they didn’t accept any of my images for sale until last March (four months later).
That’s when I started investigating and submitting to other stock sites. I now have images up for sale on iStock, Alamy, Fotolia, Dreamstime, BigStock, 123RF, and ShutterStock.
BONNIE: How did it go getting accepted to other agencies?
KEVIN: I was rejected by almost every agency on my first application.
What was interesting was that some agencies would accept images that others rejected. There wasn’t much consistency, which goes to show that each agency is looking for slightly different things, and that the review process can be fairly subjective.
BONNIE: When you first started submitting, did you use old images, or did you start new?
KEVIN: All the images that I’ve submitted for stock I took with the intention of submitting to an agency. I didn’t have an existing portfolio to draw from that met the submission requirements of most agencies.
BONNIE: Do you have any tips for someone who’s just starting out?
KEVIN: First, keep going after you’ve been rejected by an agency. Try to learn how you can correct your images for the next time. If you can’t figure out what you’ve done wrong, go to the contributors’ forum at the agency and ask for a critique. You may need a thick skin as the volunteer reviewers can be quite blunt — but you’ll certainly get tips to improve your photography.
Second, set goals on the number of images you’d like to have in your portfolio each month or quarter. It’s difficult to get noticed by designers if you have a small portfolio. Also, submitting regularly, even if it’s only one or two photos, seems to help sales.
And third, make sure your images are technically great (in focus, good exposure, no noise etc.) before you spend your time processing and submitting them. You can waste a lot of time in Photoshop or Lightroom processing an image only to have it rejected for technical reasons that you could have seen before submitting.
[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.]