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Moonie

Help Pls - Portfolio Review and Advise

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Hi all, I've joined Alamy for a while now (since late 2013) and have slowly posted slightly over 1000 photos. Have always been wanting to seek advise here but decided to do it only after I have enough photos. Really appreciate if you could take some time out and take a quick look and see where I should work on and improve further. :-D I am not quite sure if I am moving along the right track. I suspect my keywording can be improved further and maybe also my photos need some culling? My ranking also does not appear to be very high. From the forums, I gathered that it is probably a lot more important to work on the ranking than just number of photos?

 

On keywording, when I 1st started, I tried to be as comprehensive as possible. Moving forward I am thinking perhaps I might want to keep the key-wording as direct and short as possible?

 

As for photo quality, I am still torn between post processing or not. And if yes, how much? My argument for minimal processing is because at its original form, the client can decide how he/she wants to process the photo. However, my counter-argument is that if the photos are not visually attractive, the clients will not even look at it further? And that clients in general might prefer buying something they can use immediately? Most of my current photos have been worked on. Not sure if I should tone back or continue to submit photos processed the way I like?

 

As for subject matter, my photos are mostly of Japan and some Singapore. For Japan for example, should I continue to post photos of places and events that are very local with little tourism potential? Or it's best to concentrate on better known cities like Tokyo, Osaka, etc.

 

As for pseudonyms, am still trying to figure that out. But I am leaning towards having a pseudo for all photos, something akin to a holding account, and another for photos I think might have higher sales potential. For the latter, would it be better to further split into country specific or all under the same pseudo?

 

Really, any comments, feedbacks will be most appreciated. :-D

Edited by Moonie

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Had a quick look at a few of your images and you certainly need to sort your keywording out.

 

There are at least a few words for each image that I looked at that do not convey what is in the image.

 

Go through the images and take out unnecessary words that do not relate.

 

Allan

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Hi, Moonie, it's Rooney here.

 

After scanning your portfolio, I have these thoughts:

 

You need to stop spamming. Discipline yourself to edit your own images. Trying cutting what you submit from a shoot down to three. All those extra images that are basically the same will hurt your placement. Generally, it's best to shoot "night scenes" at dusk so the shadows are not so dark and sinister. In fact you need to open up your shadows in many of your images. 

 

I use just one pseudo. I don't cover events. Landmarks can be valuable, but less so if you narrow things down to one special day, like if there's an annual fireworks display. 

 

Good luck

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Hi Moonie:

 
You have an great eye for a photograph, so keep shooting. 
 
Agree with Rooney about your night shots. Shoot during the blue period after the sun has set, but before the sky is completely black. This way the diffuse light from the sky will open up the shadows without killing the artificial “night” lighting. the dynamic range of the image will be within the capabilities of the camera sensor. The blue period only lasts for about 10 minutes so shoot fast.
 
 
I like the blacks in your daytime images. It is your style. Some black and some white in every image makes them look snappy. Sometimes detail in the shadows only distracts. Large black areas in an image can simplify things, and make your images easier to understand. Develop your own style and process any way you want to. You do not want your images to look like everyone else, because everyone else does not sell.
 
Agree with Roonie again about your upload selections. You need to shoot a lot, but only upload your best shots. Your shots of Tokyo Skytree are a good example. Too many shots of the same subject, will not be clicked upon, thereby lowering your position in the sort order. Number of images only counts if each individual image is better than all others on the same subject.
 
I never use the description field as it is not searched, and anyone can look stuff up on wikipedia if they have the name of the object. I think some of the words in your description, should be keywords instead.
 
Remember on Alamy that keywords have 3 ratings of importance. Use the most important rating to keyword the subject of the image. Use the less important rating for the location of the subject and other things. For instance if a bird found worldwide is taken in Japan. The name of the bird is most important, but the location of the shot (Japan) should still have a less important keyword. This is because if a publisher is looking for a picture of a particular bird for a book on “The Birds of Japan” he will search using two keywords, both “name of bird” and “Japan”.
 
Whenever possible I designate images as “RF” as I think clients prefer them, and it is getting almost impossible Rights Manage “RM” an image.
 
If you live in Japan, and speak the language, I would concentrate more on rural japan where most Gaikokujin photographers do not go.
 
I have two pseudonyms. William Brooks for images I particularly like, usually about 10 percent of a submission. Notice I said images I “like”, not images that are “better” or “higher sales potential”. Bill Brooks for all the rest of the submission.
 
“Bill Brooks” CTR is slightly above Alamy average. “William Brooks” CTR is usually about 12 points above Alamy average. William Brooks pulls my average higher and pushes my images higher in the sort order.
 
Keep on shooting, and work on your own style.
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Bill, I think you are an excellent photographer -- talented, versatile, and knowledgeable, but you're at bit off the mark when you tell the OP: "The blue period only lasts for about 10 minutes so shoot fast." Your link to Wikipedia concerning this says: 'During the blue "hour" (typically the period is about 40 minutes in length)'. I think Wiki is correct here, and different subjects look best at different times in that 40 minutes.

 

Edo

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Around here, that blue twilight time varies by season. It can easily be as short as ten minutes in the dead of winter, but as long as ninety in early summer. I usually stay in the studio in either case.

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You are right. Depending on the latitude and the time of year, and what you want to do, the blue period can last much longer than 10 minutes.

 
Usually I experiment with only one location during the blue period. I experiment with multiple shots as the ambient light changes due to the darkening of the sky. The trick is to expose for the artificial night lighting at the moment when the same exposure can retain some blue in what looks like a “night” sky, and enough ambient light to fill in the shadows. I only correct for pleasing colour, not accurate colour. I think this adds to the “night” effect.
 
In the street shot the sun has set behind the building.
 
In the palm tree shot the sun is still below the horizon BEHIND me but volcanic fog (VOG) is picking up a reflection from the brightening horizon that is BEHIND me. When I processed the shot I darkened the shadows, as my brain saw them, to create a silhouette.
 
tourists-outside-cheeseburgers-in-paradi
 
palm-trees-in-kalama-beach-park-on-the-i
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As for photo quality, I am still torn between post processing or not. And if yes, how much? My argument for minimal processing is because at its original form, the client can decide how he/she wants to process the photo. However, my counter-argument is that if the photos are not visually attractive, the clients will not even look at it further? And that clients in general might prefer buying something they can use immediately? Most of my current photos have been worked on. Not sure if I should tone back or continue to submit photos processed the way I like?

 

 

I would not mind reading about the comments on that by more experienced Alamy photographers since I also struggle with that. In my limited experience and knowledge, I feel that landscape photos, for instance, are hard to sell straight out of the camera. If you do not use filters and do not have the most perfect technique, landscape photos tend to come out dull and boring, particularly those shot outside the golden hours. Obviously a designer with a good eye might be looking for some "baseline" photos he/she can post process to achiever his/her vision, but I wonder how many of those are out there.  

 

Since I don't have much experience I won't comment on your portfolio or key wording, but the advice to sell images as RF whenever possible and having a better balance between RM and RF sounds right.

 

My bests, keep up the good work!

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Thanks Allan, Rooney, Bill, and Alessandra for all your valuable feedback, advises and kind words. Really appreciate it.

 

About keywording, yes, it it time for a massive overhaul. It’s so important yet possibly the most boring part of stock photography. Allan, love your quote “A keyword is worth a thousand pictures!” 1 major dilemma I have - say a zoomed in photo http://www.alamy.com/stock-photo-big-red-lantern-at-senso-ji-temples-kaminarimon-asakusa-tokyo-japan-72451312.html?pv=1&stamp=2&imageid=82F93981-4B5C-4A19-AF37-2C27A56E223B&p=180160&n=112&orientation=0&pn=1&searchtype=12&IsFromSearch=1&srch=foo%3dbar%26st%3d12%26sortby%3d2%26qt%3dallan%2520bell%26qt_raw%3dallan%2520bell%26qn%3d%26lic%3d3%26mr%3d0%26pr%3d0%26aoa%3d1%26creative%3d%26videos%3d%26nu%3d%26ccc%3d%26bespoke%3d%26apalib%3d%26ag%3d0%26hc%3d0%26et%3d0x000000000000000000000%26vp%3d0%26loc%3d0%26ot%3d0%26imgt%3d0%26dtfr%3d%26dtto%3d%26size%3d0xFF%26blackwhite%3d%26cutout%3d%26archive%3d1%26name%3dmoonie%26groupid%3d%26pseudoid%3d%26userid%3d%26id%3d%26a%3d%26xstx%3d0%26cbstore%3d0%26resultview%3dsortbyPopular%26lightbox%3d%26gname%3d%26gtype%3d%26apalic%3d%26tbar%3d0%26pc%3d%26simid%3d%26cap%3d1%26customgeoip%3dSG%26vd%3d1%26cid%3dF224BREGLJYF5P8BBK8LSMXTRA2Y8C7ZVNY2SJFYZBVSNTUDN9YP7MLE4B8BULEX%26pe%3d%26so%3d%26saveQry%3d%26editorial%3d1%26t%3d0%26edoptin%3d It is a famous lantern at a famous temple in Asakusa, Tokyo. So I would naturally add Asakusa, Tokyo and Japan to my keywords. But if the client wanted to find a photo focusing on the lantern, he/she would have searched maybe “Japanese red lantern”, or if more specific, “Japanese red lantern Sensoji Asakusa”. If someone searches for Japan, or Tokyo, I reckon they are looking for more general view instead of a zoom in? So maybe I should not add Tokyo and Japan? But the photo was taken in Tokyo and Japan. Confused. :-(  (Update - Thanks Bill! You effectively answered my question in your 1st post!)

 

About the night scenes, I have to admit, I kinda processed it to make the sky really really black. I wanted to get rid of those urban stray lights you get when taking photos at night. At that time, I thought it was quite nice but as I was going through my photos I found them a bit too in your face. Will reprocess them and see how it goes. Billl, thanks for the tip on the blue period! Have kinda over concentrated on the morning and evening golden hours…..more evening cos morning I never seem to wake up in time :-S 

 

As for photo selection, not trying to justify, the reason why I included so many almost similar pictures was because I was thinking maybe someone might like this angle, another might like another angle. After going through, besides finding some of them quite lacking in quality (I seriously thought they were nice 2-3 years back), the differences in angle was so little that I have to totally agree I spammed myself! One thing I am still not too sure about though………say I make a deliberate trip to cover an event or something. Should I regard the event as one and put up only a handful of photos or I should regard the photos as individual shots as long as the photos are not repetitive of the same person or object. Also, what about photos you submit - 1 in horizontal, another, vertical? From all your vast experiences, would this be advisable? 

 

Bill - Nope...no longer based there. Spent some time in Akita. Took tonnes of photos of places and events not well visited by gaijins. Will submit them eventually....but just not sure if someone would actually know about those places to actually search for them to buy. But no harm I guess :-)

 

As for RM vs RF, my constant dilemma. It seems my RM are being sold at what I feel might be RF pricing. Always thought there was a price premium to RM. Not sure if $5.32 can be considered as premium. But oh well…..at this point every additional sale makes me happy :-) I’ve asked before here RM vs RF. Then, the feedback was mostly RM. Bill, Alessandra, I am curious as to why you both seem to lean on RF instead? I reckon my photos will mostly be travel related editorials, maybe books and some web? In this case, will RF still be advisable? How would you decide which type of photos for RF and which for RM?

 

Again…..thank you all so much for your time and patience! :-D

Edited by Moonie

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Just something I noticed when quickly looking....  DANRFT caught my eye because of the dog. I'm invariably attracted to animals. The situation looked unusual with the relationship to the wet man. You don't have "dog" in your keywords. You do have "akita" but it's not an akita. Maybe the dog is not what would sell the image but it struck me as a missed opportunity.

 

Paulette

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Just something I noticed when quickly looking....  DANRFT caught my eye because of the dog. I'm invariably attracted to animals. The situation looked unusual with the relationship to the wet man. You don't have "dog" in your keywords. You do have "akita" but it's not an akita. Maybe the dog is not what would sell the image but it struck me as a missed opportunity.

 

Paulette

 

 

Akita is an area of Japan (or prefecture).

 

In that particular image you do have "female, float, portable, splashing, water" which do not relate to what is in the image.

 

Just my observation but stand to be corrected.

 

Allan

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Well I guess I missed the point of akita. Thanks, Allan.

 

Paulette

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Thanks Allan! That photo was keyworded as a batch and I didn't tidy up properly. The words you flagged shouldn't be there. Really need to come up with a system to keyword more efficiently :-S

 

Thanks NYCat! When I see the photo, I indeed see a man holding a dog but it didn't occur until now that hey....it's a dog.......I should add that in my keyword :-D My mind totally ignored that part. It was so obvious that it became oblivious to me.

 

Update - changed the keywords! This is really helpful. :-)

Edited by Moonie

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RF over RM? 

 
It is getting impossible to police RM uses. Clients buy an RM and treat it as RF. Clients do not understand the difference, and most do not want to know. RF is simpler for clients
 
Nowadays negotiating an RM license seems like an excuse to lower the price, instead of raising the price.
 
Some RM licenses have such generous terms they might as will be RF.
 
The only problem I have is that the Alamy situation with property and model releases forces me to choose RM, when I would prefer to designate everything RF

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That photo was keyworded as a batch and I didn't tidy up properly. .

 

Yes, giving lots of pix the same keywords is self-defeating...

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 It is a famous lantern at a famous temple in Asakusa, Tokyo. So I would naturally add Asakusa, Tokyo and Japan to my keywords. But if the client wanted to find a photo focusing on the lantern, he/she would have searched maybe “Japanese red lantern”, or if more specific, “Japanese red lantern Sensoji Asakusa”. If someone searches for Japan, or Tokyo, I reckon they are looking for more general view instead of a zoom in? So maybe I should not add Tokyo and Japan? But the photo was taken in Tokyo and Japan.

 

 

This is where the Alamy keyword system can be of great use to you. Put the most important words (japanese, red, lantern etc) into Essential Keywords, and put the rest, including the location, into Main Keywords. A search for Japan might still show your pics if someone drills deep enough, but it will happen far less often.

 

Alan

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Bill - Came across 3 different 'schools of thought" on RM vs RF vs future. For RF, this guy explained why he preferred it. According to him, RF allows the buyer multiple use and therefore, commands a higher price. Along the same argument, for photos that are more likely to be used only once, Buyers would prefer RM as they will pay a lower price. He qualified however regarding photos likely to be used for tourism or books where he explained that if one thinks the Buyer will and need to return to buy the same photo multiple times, it would be better to put as RM. I reckon when he spoke of RF pricing he didn't mean microstock? As for RM, this other photographer explained why it was preferred. The rights management, control of use and exclusivity commands a higher premium. In particular he mentioned RM photos with models where he could have opted for RF (he has rights release), he preferred RM as he would have more information about the photo's sale and usage which he explained some models preferred to know. And finally for future, another guy mentioned that Sellers (or was it Buyers) these days don't really want to deal with RM or RF. They just want the buy/sell the photos. Maybe this explains the blurring of lines between RM and RF in terms of pricing and usage we encounter these days. 

 

Thanks John, Inchiquin! In the process of cleaning up my old mess. Should really have understood keywording better from the start than having to clean up like now. Still not very sure how the keyword system finds the images but yah I will put the country into the Main. 

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Still not very sure how the keyword system finds the images but yah I will put the country into the Main. 

 

it can be a useful exercise to look at things from a buyer's point of view. Look at All of Alamy to see the keywords that people actually use. Then try to find your own pix by using the most obvious keywords. You'll soon get a 'feel' for keywording. It's very important...

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RF over RM? 

 
It is getting impossible to police RM uses. Clients buy an RM and treat it as RF. Clients do not understand the difference, and most do not want to know. RF is simpler for clients
 
Nowadays negotiating an RM license seems like an excuse to lower the price, instead of raising the price.
 
Some RM licenses have such generous terms they might as will be RF.
 
The only problem I have is that the Alamy situation with property and model releases forces me to choose RM, when I would prefer to designate everything RF

 

 

No worries Bill,

 

Soon Alamy introduces Editorial RF.

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Hi there all! Just wanted to drop a thank you note for all your help :-D

 

Ever since I tried out the BHZ thingy, I've always started the search for my photos from the last page. It was a lot faster. Just did another search and well....finally.....it took me a while longer than usual. I've been consistently placed in the last few pages. Today I actually had to click all the way to page 13! Might not be a lot for most but moving from 29 to 13. So great to see an improvement. So happy! And again, thank you all for your great suggestions and advises! They obviously made a great difference :-D

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