Most people that like both outdoors and photography have probably thought at some point about trying to sell their best shots. For awhile my interest was the process; where can you do it, what does it take to get your image online and can you actually sell it? Having some extra time during this last cold spell I finally thought I'd take a closer look. So I am creating this thread as on-going discussion where Club Treaders can share their experiences and tips on this subject.
There are many different stock photography sites one can try; nice list can be found here
. I tried with following 3: Alamy
, and iStock
. These 3 are in direct descending order. While Alamy is high-end in both image requirement, sale cost and eventual payout, iStock is --at least nowdays-- "anything goes". I got accepted in all 3 and do have now some images online.
In initial post I am going to offer tips on technical requirements image has to satisfy in order to get accepted, as well as QA differences between Shutterstock and Alamy. I am leaving iStock out as their QA, although I passed initial acceptance, still has not processed my upload in ~20 days & I will probably close the account.
Alamy has written an excellent blog on "10 most common QA Failure Reasons
". I highly recommend to study this; if your image can check against the above, it will most likely get accepted anywhere online (at least from technical quality perspective). The biggest commandment is to inspect your image at 100%
-- lots of things will look perfect when sized in image viewing programs, but only when you zoom to pixel level you can see if there are problems!
Here are samples from my own experience:
Shutterstock wants just 1 image for initial acceptance; I sent this
& had no problems. Alamy wants 4 & they all have to pass. 3 of mine passed, but this one failed:
Reason given for failure was "Soft or Lacking Definition
". I still don't know if I agree with it -- this is the softest spot I could find with 100% zoom:
I replaced it with this
& passed on 2nd try. It is worth noting the rejected pic made it to Shutterstock without a hitch; this is why I label Alamy as technically the most strict.
I also want to touch at most common problem with outdoor/landscape photography: chromatic aberration.
It is lens imperfection that most commonly manifests itself as redish/purple fringing at mountain ridge lines - borders between highlights and shadows. Consider this image:
Looks perfect when viewed like this. But when zoomed, problem is evident:
Note the purple line on the ridge! How do you address the problem? Lots of image editing programs have this feature. I use Camera Raw:
In most cases just checking "Resolve Chromatic Aberration" will solve the problem; if not, then you play with sliders below as I did in my image. This is the result:
Some other problems worth noting:
(specially in low light conditions). Consider this image of Scripps Pier in La Jolla, San Diego:
I love this pic & really wanted to send it. It was taken on tripod, but sand was not stable, there was wind, and being long exposure it got some shake. This is the problem on pixel level:
I don't think this can be fixed, or at least I don't know how to do it & am really bummed about it. Think you can understand now why they all say how solid, sturdy tripod is a must for serious photography -- even if good light conditions!
Some other aspects worth noting: Consider this image of taken in Hobart, Tasmania:
Alamy happily accepted it, but now Shutterstock rejected! Why? "Visible logo or brand name" ('Drunken Admiral'). This now has to deal with property release rights and is different from site to site; when you chose where to submit your images, you have to check their rules and various documents that have to be provided if image is going to contain people, property, etc. Similar issue was with this photo of Granville Island in Vancouver:
(Again "Visible logo or brand name"; Actually I am not sure I which logo they were talking about!)
Hope you can find this post interesting, and helpful if you decide to try this path. I will make another post dealing with actual picture sales (assuming I can actually sell anything, lol) - but for now, as CT has some excellent photographers, can someone comment and share similar experiences?