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We’ve been talking all week about how to take better pictures that sell. And I sent you stories from both Shelly and Lise, two of iStockphoto.com’s top sellers. You may think our pros have the magic touch and were great from the start. But that’s not so. Today’s article shows you that they started off exactly where you are. I asked Andrea Gingerich, Danny Warren, and Ryan Lane – all top sellers at iStockphoto.com — to each share a photo from their early days and talk about how they’ve improved and what you can do next to follow in their footsteps. Take a look at their photos below… MY MOST EMBARRASSING PHOTO By Andrea Gingerich, Danny Warren, and Ryan Lane Stock photography has come a long way in the last 10 years, and so has Andrea Gingerich. Even though she’s not particularly proud of this picture, it’s been downloaded almost 100 times. Andrea says, “While many of my oldest photos are pretty embarrassing, I look at this one and cringe. It’s over-processed and doesn’t have the best focus. Most of the downloads are very old. When this photo was new in 2002, standards for stock photography weren’t as high as they are today. This would not be an acceptable image anymore.” Ryan Lane says that when he was first starting out, he photographed anything and everything around him. Not necessarily a bad thing, but this is often the result: Ryan confesses, “This image has been viewed 252 times in my portfolio and never been purchased. And that’s not surprising to me. This truly was a snapshot.” So what’s the difference between a “snapshot” and a winning image? “Planning ahead of time, and paying attention to detail,” says Ryan. “The more planning and intentionality I put into my images, the more they have potential to stand out among the crowd.” Technical mistakes can hinder a shoot, too. Danny Warren enjoyed shooting outdoor recreation themes early in his stock career. One particular shoot didn’t work at all, because many of his shots were in terrible light and not in focus, like this picture: Even more embarrassing, says Danny, “The whole day I had inadvertently set my camera to record the smallest file size, which meant that every single shot from the trip (over 10 frames’ worth) ended up being too small to submit to stock sites! I am now much more careful about double-checking all my settings, as well as getting shots in focus, at least by the tenth try!” Andrea, Ryan, and Danny survived their embarrassing photo stories and rookie mistakes, and they’ve all gone on to become extremely good stock photographers. Chances are, you’ll have a similar story to tell someday. And, if you stick with it like they have, many success stories as well. [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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