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A friend of mine was telling me that shooting photos for stock inherently changes your photographic eye and how you see things. Since I'm pretty new to this, I have to say I find that happening and I don't really like the feeling. I think I'm going to stop looking at the Photos Sold thread and just go back to seeking the most beautiful, well composed images I can find within my photographic interests and upload the best ones. Rather than "shooting for stock".  I think that will keep me interested in the long term, when clearly there's not much money to be made with this endeavor anyway.

 

How do you feel shooting stock photography has affected your eye and your overall approach to creating great photos?

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I have only been shooting for stock for several months, and I can very much relate to what you are saying. I've uploaded a lot of photos from before my intention to do stock, and I feel a stronger sense of connection with these images in a way. But what I am trying to do with stock, is make images that still inspire me at some level. I've taken some more mundane shots of things like signs. I did try and do some still life images for the other stock site I'm with, and I don't think they're very good and can't say they really inspire me.

 

At the same time, if you want to make significant money from stock, photographing all sorts of things can be a way to go. But if what makes you most happy is following your particular interests, then another way of looking at it is you will do your best photography that way.

 

But yes, I think my brain works a bit differently now, thinking about stock when I'm looking at things. I think I'm trying to strike a balance between what has always inspired me, while seeing new opportunities and options with stock in mind.

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13 minutes ago, Sally R said:

I have only been shooting for stock for several months, and I can very much relate to what you are saying. I've uploaded a lot of photos from before my intention to do stock, and I feel a stronger sense of connection with these images in a way. But what I am trying to do with stock, is make images that still inspire me at some level. I've taken some more mundane shots of things like signs. I did try and do some still life images for the other stock site I'm with, and I don't think they're very good and can't say they really inspire me.

 

At the same time, if you want to make significant money from stock, photographing all sorts of things can be a way to go. But if what makes you most happy is following your particular interests, then another way of looking at it is you will do your best photography that way.

 

But yes, I think my brain works a bit differently now, thinking about stock when I'm looking at things. I think I'm trying to strike a balance between what has always inspired me, while seeing new opportunities and options with stock in mind.

 

Good summary. I have only sold three photos, but they're all from before my eye started to change. So I'm going to try to hold onto what I was doing before. It may not make much difference financially.  I mean, sure, if I was going to get a huge sum.  But look anywhere on this forum and prices for even the best of photos seem shockingly grim.  I don't think it's worth changing my artistic sensibilities at this point.

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Yes I think it is good to do what keeps you feeling inspired with photography. I know someone who loved photography and then became a wedding photographer, and that really took some joy out of it for her and she wasn't so excited by photography anymore. So good to hang onto that magic kind of feeling of creative inspiration.

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I think it may change your perspective, but not sure why that would be negative.  Yes i have taken pictures of things i never would have before, but it also forced me to find information about subjects i would not have in the past. 

 

For example I was in Zagreb in early December during the Christmas Market.  At one point i saw a bunch of booths which obviously were political.  Quick search, to find out there was presidential election coming.  Over the span of a couple of days, I got to speak to 2 candidates, discuss the current situation which the staff of the hostel i was staying at,  and then later follow a bit of the campaign.  Without my stock venture, I pretty much totally would have ignored the whole thing....  

Edited by meanderingemu
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2 hours ago, meanderingemu said:

I think it may change your perspective, but not sure why that would be negative.  Yes i have taken pictures of things i never would have before, but it also forced me to find information about subjects i would not have in the past. 

 

For example I was in Zagreb in early December during the Christmas Market.  At one point i saw a bunch of booths which obviously were political.  Quick search, to find out there was presidential election coming.  Over the span of a couple of days, I got to speak to 2 candidates, discuss the current situation which the staff of the hostel i was staying at,  and then later follow a bit of the campaign.  Without my stock venture, I pretty much totally would have ignored the whole thing....  

 

That's a great story. I do like pretending to be an actual photojournalist. 😁  One of my interests is politics, protests and rallies, so I don't have to stretch to photograph that stuff. I guess I just want to be intentional, have a clear voice, and have quality.

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I think the trick is to have two eyes -- one for "stock" subjects and the other for personal work.

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11 minutes ago, John Mitchell said:

I think the trick is to have two eyes -- one for "stock" subjects and the other for personal work.

 

I write, and take pix. The two disciplines go well together (illustrated books, articles, etc), though the experience is very different. I have a switch (an imaginary switch, thankfully) behind my right ear, to move me from a word-based to an image-based view of my surroundings.

 

Shooting stock has changed my 'eye for a picture'; it's certainly changed the subjects I choose. I enjoy the discipline of shooting pix which, despite being entirely speculative, find their purpose in someone else's project...

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11 minutes ago, John Morrison said:

 

I write, and take pix. The two disciplines go well together (illustrated books, articles, etc), though the experience is very different. I have a switch (an imaginary switch, thankfully) behind my right ear, to move me from a word-based to an image-based view of my surroundings.

 

Shooting stock has changed my 'eye for a picture'; it's certainly changed the subjects I choose. I enjoy the discipline of shooting pix which, despite being entirely speculative, find their purpose in someone else's project...

 

I write and take pictures too. I have never had a switch between the two disciplines however. But I do have to turn a switch on to do either. Like, am I going for a walk or am I going to take pictures? **switch**  Or am I going to write this article now or pay my bills?  **switch**

 

Maybe I can develop a switch between stock photography and personal work, but since this is my only public outlet so far, besides social media, I feel more self-conscious about what I put out there.

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It's an interesting question and can be broadened to include the difference in approach between photography as a hobby and as a source of income. I set out to raise a modest additional amount to supplement my pension, and, despite the plumetting fees and vastly  increased competition am still just about managing to hit my target. In order to achieve this I try to minimise my expenditure on gear and software, so, while I have a decent camera, most of my lenses are from the film era, and I won't join the Adobe leasing scheme. I used to enjoy using a collection of old film cameras, and I miss the pleasure of developing film. My choice of subject matter has become governed by what I think will sell, whereas I prefer to shoot quirky and non commercial. The situation is somewhat complicated by my recent move into POD sales, where, I guess, I need to go for images that people might want to hang on their walls. Have to say that I'm surprised by the response of potential customers, as my most viewed POD photo is  a dismal but historic B&W shot of a filthy steam locomotive hauling a coal train!

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It makes me see and think more. Also learn from doing research.

 

That has got to be positive.

 

 

Edited by geogphotos
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Changed my eye? I don't think so. But shooting stock has expanded my choice of subjects to things I would not be snapping away at otherwise. I'm always looking for very good pictures. With stock, I do as I do with any other subjects that looks photogenic. I evaluate the lighting, the shape, the color, and the action. If the scene suggests a caption it's stock. 

 

neon-sign-in-the-window-of-a-liverpool-p

 

All types of photography call for a specific approach. Landscapes are not portraits; studio is not Street; and war is not wildlife. I find Stock very interesting.

 

 

Edited by Ed Rooney
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I have definitely broadened my range of subjects since starting to do stock photography. I used to just photograph wildlife, travel and landscapes. I have 2 different pseudonyms, and use my own name for my favourite subjects, and a different pseudonym for subjects that I shoot with stock in mind, such as shop fronts, still life, transport, etc. At the end of the year I did some analysis of my results, and found that I had similar numbers of licences for both pseudonyms though I had twice the number of images under my own name. In other words, my "stock" pseudonym is doing twice as well as my favourite subjects per 1000 images. I'm not going to stop photographing my favourite subjects as I will always love wildlife and they do sell sometimes, but I will continue with a broad range as I am trying to supplement my pension income, and I also find it quite educational and interesting to do the research for keywording subjects I know little about.

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I think I look at it slightly differently - not that it "changes your eye" so much as it has specific requirements that differ from other areas of photography and the more you focus on stock the more you focus on those requirements - which can be good or bad. 
Focusing on stock has bought my technical standards way way up - but does, if done too long to the exclusion of other areas of photography, suck all the fun and passion and inspiration out of using a camera.  I think the answer it to make sure you conciously and regularly do at least 2 different types of photography - if not more.  I do not limit this to just those shoot stock - it applies to any photographer.  Do not exclusively stick to one thing even if that thing is simply pleasing yourself.
For me I have stock - high techical requirements,  standard compositional ones, and minimal inspirational/exploratory.  I have sport/football.  The requirements are to read the game and catch the action and emotion - technical requirements can be so absent it hurts in that some of my most popular images (popular with others) are appalling technical wise - out of focus and camera shake BUT very raw emotion that is the moment captured.   I  have done photo club competition - high technical and compositional with inspiration.  I also try to make sure I do regular "what happens if" stuff - most of which is er not brilliant, but it is me trying new things - be it subjects or post processing (I was put on to  https://365project.org/    which I am finding useful for this - one photo a day)
I find if I make sure I am doing different types of photography I am able to take the good bits from each to improve the others - without losing the differences.  So my football stuff is technically better,  I can put composition to better use in stock and take the what if experiments that work and bring them into other areas.
So if you feel stock is changing you too much make the decision to do stock on Monday and craft on Wednesday and think about what you want to take from one to the other and how you can use stuff learned through stock to improve craft and stuff learned through craft to improve stock.  Then hopefully 12 months down the line you can look at both and see how you have developed each.

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1 hour ago, Ed Rooney said:

Changed my eye? I don't think so. But shooting stock has expanded my choice of subjects to things I would not be snapping away at otherwise. I'm always looking for very good pictures. With stock, I do as I do with any other subjects that looks photogenic. I evaluate the lighting, the shape, the color, and the action. If the scene suggests a caption it's stock. 

 

neon-sign-in-the-window-of-a-liverpool-p

 

All types of photography call for a specific approach. Landscapes are not portraits; studio is not Street; and war is not wildlife. I find Stock very interesting.

 

 

 

I like your comments. The part about looking for VERY good pictures hits home. And the sacrifice that comes with that. I think I have been bothered by a recent tendency of mine to upload pictures that are not that great because they might sell.  That's what bothers me, that I might be lowering the bar.

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1 hour ago, VbFolly said:

I have definitely broadened my range of subjects since starting to do stock photography. I used to just photograph wildlife, travel and landscapes. I have 2 different pseudonyms, and use my own name for my favourite subjects, and a different pseudonym for subjects that I shoot with stock in mind, such as shop fronts, still life, transport, etc. At the end of the year I did some analysis of my results, and found that I had similar numbers of licences for both pseudonyms though I had twice the number of images under my own name. In other words, my "stock" pseudonym is doing twice as well as my favourite subjects per 1000 images. I'm not going to stop photographing my favourite subjects as I will always love wildlife and they do sell sometimes, but I will continue with a broad range as I am trying to supplement my pension income, and I also find it quite educational and interesting to do the research for keywording subjects I know little about.

 

This makes a lot of sense! Yes, I would rather have my name attached to the photos I'm proud of, but it might be helpful to have another profile to throw the junkier stuff in.  🙃

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I have been taking photos since a teenager and shooting stock since my early twenties so photography, in general, has influenced how I see things and most often I am very happy about that....tho I often have dreams (like the one I just woke up from) that I am missing great shots while doing regular things.  Photography has been my only source of income since I was 26 and before that I worked in or with a photo related business since my school days.  So I would say that being a photographer/stock photographer has definitely shaped how I see much in the same way being a professional chef has changed how they taste.  I am very okay that.

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5 minutes ago, The Blinking Eye said:

I think I have been bothered by a recent tendency of mine to upload pictures that are not that great because they might sell.  That's what bothers me, that I might be lowering the bar.

 

Fretting whether pix are "great" or "not that great" plays no part in my stock pic activities. And "because they might sell" seems like the most important criterion in deciding whether to upload... or not.

 

6 minutes ago, The Blinking Eye said:

This makes a lot of sense! Yes, I would rather have my name attached to the photos I'm proud of, but it might be helpful to have another profile to throw the junkier stuff in.  🙃

 

"Junkier stuff"?? Again, I don't understand the mindset. Any pic that sells is not "junk"... it just serves a purpose for which someone is prepared to pay $$$ (or $$, or even $ ☹️)...

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1 hour ago, Starsphinx said:

I think I look at it slightly differently - not that it "changes your eye" so much as it has specific requirements that differ from other areas of photography and the more you focus on stock the more you focus on those requirements - which can be good or bad. 
Focusing on stock has bought my technical standards way way up - but does, if done too long to the exclusion of other areas of photography, suck all the fun and passion and inspiration out of using a camera.  I think the answer it to make sure you conciously and regularly do at least 2 different types of photography - if not more.  I do not limit this to just those shoot stock - it applies to any photographer.  Do not exclusively stick to one thing even if that thing is simply pleasing yourself.
For me I have stock - high techical requirements,  standard compositional ones, and minimal inspirational/exploratory.  I have sport/football.  The requirements are to read the game and catch the action and emotion - technical requirements can be so absent it hurts in that some of my most popular images (popular with others) are appalling technical wise - out of focus and camera shake BUT very raw emotion that is the moment captured.   I  have done photo club competition - high technical and compositional with inspiration.  I also try to make sure I do regular "what happens if" stuff - most of which is er not brilliant, but it is me trying new things - be it subjects or post processing (I was put on to  https://365project.org/    which I am finding useful for this - one photo a day)
I find if I make sure I am doing different types of photography I am able to take the good bits from each to improve the others - without losing the differences.  So my football stuff is technically better,  I can put composition to better use in stock and take the what if experiments that work and bring them into other areas.
So if you feel stock is changing you too much make the decision to do stock on Monday and craft on Wednesday and think about what you want to take from one to the other and how you can use stuff learned through stock to improve craft and stuff learned through craft to improve stock.  Then hopefully 12 months down the line you can look at both and see how you have developed each.

 

Thank you so much. This whole discussion (and my recent feelings about my photos) is clarifying my thoughts that I need to decide what I want to get out of my photography, and what my goals are. I used to just wander around and take photos whenever I noticed something was particularly photo-worthy. I have upped my game a bit, and now need to decide what aspect I want to build on and what my goals are. Not quite sure stock is where I want to be, or how I want to use it, since money doesn't seem like a realistic or satisfying goal.  It has been great for extending myself toward a professional level and I am grateful for the rigor.

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2 minutes ago, John Morrison said:

 

Fretting whether pix are "great" or "not that great" plays no part in my stock pic activities. And "because they might sell" seems like the most important criterion in deciding whether to upload... or not.

 

 

"Junkier stuff"?? Again, I don't understand the mindset. Any pic that sells is not "junk"... it just serves a purpose for which someone is prepared to pay $$$ (or $$, or even $ ☹️)...

 

Yeah, we're looking at things differently. Which is fascinating. I appreciate hearing your perspective. And yes...some of it strikes me as junky. 

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The commercial or saleable value of a photo is not very linked to the quality of a photo in my mind. Of course, it's a beautiful thing when they go together.

Edited by The Blinking Eye

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And I might be in a better mood about all this if more photos sold or sold for higher amounts. But if I'm going to work for free, then I'd rather choose.  I can understand how it's a great feeling to have your photos used and wanted and purchased, for then I might not care about my "eye" so much. The rewards would come from something other than the image itself.

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7 minutes ago, The Blinking Eye said:

And I might be in a better mood about all this if more photos sold or sold for higher amounts. But if I'm going to work for free, then I'd rather choose.  I can understand how it's a great feeling to have your photos used and wanted and purchased, for then I might not care about my "eye" so much. The rewards would come from something other than the image itself.

 

Well, it's true that you haven't chosen the most propitious time to start shooting pix for the stock market. You can still shoot pix that matter, and have a personal meaning for you.

 

But, frankly, I put as much effort into stock photography as I do for more personal pix and projects. Appropriate lighting, a telling composition, a saleable juxtaposition, half-decent PP, a sensitive crop, a straight horizon, colour correction, etc: there's plenty of opportunities to create images that will hopefully appeal to picture-buyers, even as thumb-nails...

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Do not allow shooting for stock to change your eye. Forget about stock when shooting. Make the very best images possible. Then upload your very best images to a stock photo site.

 

You can overthink the sales aspect. Overthink it to the point it interferes with the quality of your photography. So stop thinking about sales. A great image will eventually find a buyer.

 

Develop an eye for great photography, the rest will look after itself.
 

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Just to add a little without wanting to disagree with the views of others.

 

I think that shooting for stock is about utility as well as 'best images'.  Somebody has got to have a use for the image sufficiently strong for them to be willing part with money.

 

The image has to fill an actual need. This view is probably because my mind tends to think more about illustrative/editorial content rather than pure photography.

 

Basically stock is a huge area and there are no fixed answers. There is plenty of room to do your own thing, but in the end you do need  there to be somebody who actually wants to use the image that you are creating. 

Edited by geogphotos
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