Can I make a living from MicroStock?

Can i make money from my interest in photography and illustration? That's what i thought when i looked online a couple of years ago and the search results on google that came up often included words like '
microstock' and 'macrostock'.

Seemed like a good idea and pretty simple. Take pictures, upload them and sit back and wait for the buyers to snap them up.
hmmm Nothing is ever THAT simple though is it?

But nothing ventured, nothing gained. So in April 2008 i registered with and like most got a ton of rejections. Apparently next doors cat (cute that she is on camera) wasn't going to cut the mustard or be a best seller after all. Shock! hmmmm "ok" I thought.. and after a few more rejections i ended up with a 50% approval rating and about 6 photographs approved and for sale.

I did register with a few other agencies but pretty much gave up and concentrated on other matters in life until late summer of 2009 i logged onto
Dreamstime to find $10 sitting in my account. Now that's not much and in 'English' it looks even worse at around £6. But, it occurred to me that if 6 images could make £6 (albeit over 18 months or so) then what could 100 make.. or a thousand?!

Time to give it another go and this time try to stick at it and learn as much as possible.

Certainly my first interest is photography before illustration but getting quality photos (and popular ones) on the stock sites is tough (and getting tougher by the year) with so many brilliant and talented photographers out there and having a good computer i decided to try to make it work for me and downloaded the free open
source vector graphics program Inkscape:

Picked it up pretty quickly (although room for improvement and still learning what it's capable of) and was surprised to find that a submission of illustrations to ShutterStock (after being completely rejected the previous year when submitting photos of that cat et al) was accepted with 9 out of 10 approved. (One failed due to possible copyright issues as it looked far too much like an Ipod for ShutterStock).

So i was off.. I signed up with other agencies and am slowly making progress.
Income is tiny.. i mean really tiny but it is growing ever so slowly and with only around 35 unique images i am still only just beginning but hopefully, over time and with determination, my earnings will start so look more impressive and i can make a living from Microstock. :)

Microstock Progress into 2010

There were some delays in creating the mass of images for the later months of 2009 and beginning of 2010 that i wanted. Partly that was due to the divergence into 3D experimentation which involved a steep learning curve and ended with nothing concrete. At least nothing that would survive the review process on any site out there. I was working with another open source program called Blender (

Tough to master but i made some progress although for now it's on the back burner. If you want to try it out i suggest these tutorials by David Allen Ward who really is a great teacher and i found his videos on
YouTube so informative and helpful:

While on the subject of 3D work another site i have recently registered with is:
They also accept 2D illustrations and the upload was quick and easy.

Back to
Inkscape though and as of a week away from the end of Jan 2010 i have about 35 images for sale across several sites. Woke up this morning to find $2.60 in the Graphicleftovers account from a single sale and i have only been there 2 weeks. A good start even if that does equate to just £1.61 at the current exchange rate it's not bad with only 29 files in that portfolio.

Trouble with 123RF

Signed up with 123RF a few months ago and have an appalling approval ratio. 26 files submitted and 18 rejected. Reason? None given. Just 'rejected' in bold red letters.
These are the same images approved on Dreamstime, Shutterstock and several other places.

And after this mornings rejections i feel there is something odd going on at 123RF. We all have rejections i know but the reason for the latest (the first time they have given feedback on a rejection) were no property release on an illustration with a made-up city horizon?! They want a model release for a city that doesn't exist then?

With that in mind i wrote to them this morning and will post their reply:

"After getting a lot of rejections since signing up i need some clarification please after the latest rejections reasons given as 'property release required.'

It's good if 123 have high criteria to meet but i need more than 'rejected' as feedback to enable improvement on my side to meet that criteria.

After 26 files uploaded 18 are rejected with one pending (and i suspect that will be rejected also.)

The latest reason for rejection are in part unrealistic and frankly absurd: (filenumber***) Search lights pointing into a night sky above a silhouette city horizon (illustration). You guys want a property release for a city? An obviously fabricated horizon created from imagination?! That doesn't make sense neither is it possible to fulfill.

I understand the model release question for the 'girl in dress' (filenumber***) but can confirm this is original artwork and i retain all copyright to it.

On a last note i see a lot of the preview thumbnail images in the 'history' section are not showing up. Is that a reason for rejection also?

Thanks in advance for answering these points so i can improve matters."

The reply from 123RF:

A quick check on your account showed that the files that you mentioned above were rejected because they had appeared to be corrupted. If you were to log in to your account, at the History page-- Rejection, you will see that the image thumbnail does not show and instead a square box with a red X is shown. This is because the file wasn't fully uploaded. Hence, only the word "Rejected" in red is shown."

OK.. that doesn't really explain why the files are being corrupted or why they didn't bother to add a note to the rejection page stating this problem or why they need a property release for a fictitious skyline. And, perhaps because i am using firefox i don't know, there was no 'red x' shown to alert me to the issues at hand.

I have just uploaded (or should i say re-uploaded) some files via their web form instead of via FTP. The thumbnails appear now although i will wait and see what the review process brings up this time. Any more rubbish about inappropriate property releases and i doubt if i will bother with them in future.


By sharp comparison to the above has been a dream to use. The upload process seems a little odd to start with as the file goes into a 'briefcase' folder but now feels natural and i fly through the process. There has been a good approval ratio (so far) and only a couple of rejections.

1. Too many of the same file type already (not surprising as it was a picture of a seagull)

2. Resubmit after removing text. (Which i did and it was
subsequently approved.)

The review time has been amazing. Maybe
I've been lucky but a batch i uploaded once had already started to be approved before i had finished double checking/categorising the remainder. Super fast (in my experience.) I've had 3 sales there in December.. nothing for Jan but plenty of views and that's OK. I can live with that as we are talking about portfolio of 30 odd images.. not hundreds. Hopefully the sales will increase the more my portfolio grows over time.

35 files on Dreamstime

35 images live and for sale on Dreamstime as of tonight. Not even a milestone really.. well maybe a mini-milestone. It certainly seemed a long way off when i started back into this game. I guess the next target is 50 and although i would love to reach that before the end of the month.. with only 6 days left i doubt i will get there. But i'll try to get closer at least. Here is number 35 (a valentine theme):

Romantic valentines
© Photographer: Devonsun | Agency:

Reply from 123RF

Reply from 123rf:

"Hi there,

Connection problems could be a cause of this kind of situation whereby the images were not able to be uploaded completely. As for the rejection for an illustration without a release, we've managed to pinpoint the cause of it. The error was due to an overwritten approval reason by the system. The two images will be reversed from the rejection folder. We regret the glitch.


Might find it hard to reverse those as i have deleted some of the rejected images and simply uploaded them again.

Anyways.. enough about all that. Not sure i even understand the terminology of the reply.
Onwards and upwards.

BigStockPhoto submission

26th Jan 2010: Just signed up today with and am awaiting the first approvals.

I was only allowed 15 to go for submission (as a new user). The FTP upload was ok and although i read that ShutterStock have bought BigStock i figured i might as well see where it takes me. I'll update this post when i get the results of the submission process...

Rejected at Veer

Looks like i will be doing some research tomorrow to find out what is needed to be approved for Veer. 10 submitted, 10 rejections.

From the looks of the images approved from other contributors it is a whole new ball game to what i have been reading up on for the last few months. There's an artistic feel to the site. Less white backgrounds and pearly teeth staring out from the screen but darker images that wouldn't go amiss in a children's illustrated book of some kind.

Looks like i will have to change my approach to get in with Veer and will post back if (when) i am finally accepted along with what images they do like.

Approved @ Bigstock

All 15 images approved at Bigstock today and will be live and online shortly. I will submit more tomorrow. ;-)

Approval rating 100% (so far.) Haven't seen that figure for a while. Looks good to me. ;-)

Earnings Report Jan 2010

First month of the year over already and these are the updates along with earnings chart for the month:

Bigstock accepted further 15 images. Still 100% AR.

PictureNation back up and running after several months offline. I have uploaded all the illustrations i have for approval.

For the third month in a row Shutterstock seems to give me a consistent 10 sales a month with about 20+ images online. Uploaded and had approved further images towards the end of Jan (currently 30 images live and for sale) so fingers crossed Feb will see even further downloads.


I thought i would post up earnings for Jan 2010 (told you they were small!).

Certainly better than each preceding month and growing slowly.

4 things to note.

1. Income is in £ (not dollars)

2. Portfolio size is based on what images were approved by the last day of the month. So those files could well have been added in the last remaining days of that month and may not always have been responsible for any increase in sales.

3. Although i have portfolios on many sites these listed are the ones where i have achieved at least one sale or more.

4. It is accurate but remember most sites have sales in dollars and as the exchange rate changes from one week to the next who knows what these amounts will look like a week after reporting or, eventually, when a payout is requested.

Bye Bye StockExpert

Well, i guess there was a good reason all images were being approved at lightening speed on StockExpert. That's because they sold out to Getty and have closed all operations. No uploads or downloads. Shame.. seemed like a nice site and well structured.

Alamy QC and CTR

So far Alamy has been ok to upload to. Until the other day i hadn't had a rejection although i also haven't had any sales.

The other day i uploaded a few illustrations of stage curtains along with an image of a cigarette at the end of a medical syringe which i like to think is my best quality creation to date. The curtains were not sharp but slightly diffused (as they were meant to be.)
The whole batch however was rejected due to just the curtains not being to their liking. I can live with that although i just don't understand Alamy's quality control procedure for rejecting ALL images in a batch even if only one fails. It seems a strange business model to me and a waste of time for reviewer as well as contributor. The syringe was later approved once it was uploaded (again) on it's own which seems to only confirm to me that Alamy like to cut their noses off to spite their face?!

Can you imagine Dreamstime rejecting 20 of your images because one failed/not required? Different site, different kind of market/buyers maybe but it still doesn't make much sense to me.
Anyone with a more insightful view of how Alamy's way of dealing with rejections (and binning anything else that was submitted at the same time) do please let me know as i would like to think i am merely missing something that means it's actually a good system. Not a bad one.

I would also like someone to explain to me the rather odd (to me) statistics method they use. CTR (Click Through Rate) is still, after some reading, a mystery to me. Currently Alamy's "Average CTR" is 0.79. Whereas mine is 2.99. Is that good or bad? Who knows. I guess all you can do is submit saleable images and keyword properly at the end of the day ..

Editorial on Shutterstock

I came up with an idea for an illustration based on the Olympic logo and thought after checking that it would be ok as an editorial on shutterstock.. I figured it would pass as i had found other images of the logo (which is copyright/tradmark protected) on SS.

Graphic Leftovers stated very quickly after i emailed them that such an image would be ok if it was very abstract (which mine wasn't.) So i just submitted it to SS and DT where i have previously found Olympic non-abstract images.

It was approved on DT but rejected at SS on the grounds that "Trademark--Contains potential trademark or copyright infringement--not editorial."

Olympic Construction
© Photographer: Devonsun | Agency:

I emailed Shutterstock support over a week ago to get clarification on the matter but i haven't had a reply from them yet:

"Need some clarification on a recent rejection reason please. File ID: *******
Understood copyright aspects so submitted for editorial after finding similar
images on SS:

But "Contains potential trademark or copyright infringement--not editorial." was the refusal reason.
Is there a difference between illustrations and photographs when it comes to
acceptance for editorial?

Thanks. David"

Based on the reply from SS i may make "Olympic Construction" exclusive to DT. In any event i think i will have to contact SS again to get an answer.

Crestock Crisis?

What is up with Crestock? I have been with them for quite a while and have a handful of photos approved with a few sales amounting to $2.75. Since starting with illustrations i added those in a whole batch and it took 3 months to get them reviewed... yes! I did say "THREE MONTHS?!"

Actually they were all rejected and it's no good complaining about that really. If DT and SS want them but CS doesn't then I'm not overly concerned but i am guessing that if there is to be another casualty in the microstock market (after StockExpert) then it will be CS that's next for the chop!

Their forums are full of people (that post infrequently i might add) that are complaining bitterly about three things:

1. Review time is taking months

2. Payments are not being sent out

3. Support is not replying to contributors

The complaints are numerous and consistent and after my experience i have no reason to doubt them. They range from "i have 650 images waiting to be approved for 5 months" and "i have emailed support 5 times and they have not replied over the last 8 weeks", to "I requested a payout last October and i haven't had my money".

Crestock's website states:

"...Crestock features design and stock photography forums as well as a popular design & photography blog..."

That must be the forums that are full of complaints and a blog that hasn't been updated since 21 Oct 2009 then?!

You have a real feeling after looking into all these poor business practices that CS is slowly dying off, that they don't have enough staff and/or capital and so won't be around for much longer. I don't expect to see my $2.75 or see it increasing.

I certainly don't expect to upload anything there until their forums are full of happy, buzzing and contented contributors that are there to engage, promote and ask questions about microstock... instead of those that are frustrated, bitter and stating the other commonly typed wording on the forums: "CS, please delete my account immediately!".

Dreamstime Review Process

I hate to moan about rejections... we all get them. But when it's due to inconsistent reviewers at the same agency it's hard not to get slightly annoyed by the whole affair.

On Dreamstime they are very fussy these days about silhouettes and want extra confirmation during the submission process that you hold the copyright to the image. Personally, i think that the fact that we sign the agreement when we register should be good enough but you can't blame them for wanting to cover themselves.

It's fair enough (although the other agencies are not asking for added similar assurances, yet,) but after submitting silhouettes and putting a note in the editors box stating "i own the copyright" etc those images have been approved. So, i figured that was good enough for all future similar submissions. Apparently not though...

... after submitting a silhouette of a horse and carriage and having it rejected twice (after adding the note on copyright for reviewer) i have emailed Dreamstime to ask for an explanation (below):

"I have previously submitted silhouettes and they were approved as i added a note in the 'comment for editors' box along the lines of "i confirm this is original artwork and i own all copyrights etc."

That was good enough before to get approved but now i have submitted the same image twice, and been rejected because: "This illustration appears to be traced from another source. etc".

I am quite happy to submit the original photo (taken while on holiday) but why does one reviewer accept written confirmation of originality and another not?!

Image ID: *******

It's a shame as, until now, i had 100% approval for Feb.
Also at what point do i submit the original photo in future (if required)? As 'additional format'?


So, lets see what comes back. I had already read their statements about wanting the original photo along with silhouette submissions but i had read on the forums that placing a note stating originality was sufficient and that 'had' been my experience until now after previously receiving the "This illustration appears to be traced from another source" comment.
If they hadn't approved previous images without that photo i would have known better what the process was. So one reviewer is letting them through and the other isn't?!

What about the Tudor warship silhouette that i had approved recently? I made that up as i went along.. no photo exists for it so therefore a comment in the editors box is the only 'proof' i have of originality. Unless DT have a machine that can read the images in my head! ;-)

Be interesting to see what DT have to say.

Still better than the rejections of the medical infections signs i submitted a while back that were rejected because the reviewer didn't know that C.Diff and M.R.S.A were medical terms for hospital infections. Until i re-submitted them along with a link to a government website to prove they were real words and not "mis-spelt". ;-)

Royalty Free Images

Reply from Shutterstock

Well it took them a while to get back to me regarding my question about the Olympic Rings illustration and why it was rejected.
Seems my initial thoughts were correct and well, read for yourself in their reply:

"Hello David,

Yes there is a difference. The Olympic Rings you cited in the images below are actual newsworthy editorial shots of the Olympic Rings taken by submitters.

Your Olympic Ring illustration you submitted would not be considered true editorial as you created them yourself and it is certainly prohibited from being licensed for royalty free commercial use.

For more information you may see the following forum post:"

Actually, after reading (again) that post they mention, it doesn't really give a clear indication of their policy on such matters. All it says is "All Olympic logos and torches are trademarked designs. Unacceptable for commercial use."
It doesn't say "it's ok if you take a photo for editorial but not if you make it up from scratch" which would have been more helpful.
But hey ho.. never mind. Dreamstime approved that image and now have it exclusively.

Quick reply from Dreamstime

Speedy reply from DT this morning:


Thank you for contacting us.

As you can see in the refusal reason, the requirements for silhouettes and illustrations have changed. You are asked to upload as property release the image from which you traced it. If the illustration is not traced please confirm that you have created it from scratch.
We have introduced this requirement recently due to large number of frauds and, unfortunately, all users have to comply.

Sincerely yours, DT"

hmm That doesn't really explain why other silhouettes were passed without the extra upload. Oh well. I have better things to do and these communications with the sites are detracting from being creative so looks like i'll have to dig out the photo and re-submit (again).
Onwards and upwards!

By the way, this months earnings have beaten last months and Feb isn't over yet! My Earnings report for this month will probably be the next post unless another site annoys me and i want to rant a little on here first! ;-)

Feb Earnings + Updates

February was a better month again and the earnings total beat January with a total of £7.45 ($11.29).

At long last a sale on Canstock. (Actually 4 sales). That's been a long time coming. A.R there is 80%.

A little slow on Dreamstime during Feb. AR now 71.4%

Another sale on GraphicLeftovers and one for Istock (which i tend to get every once and while. Not bad when you consider only 4 image
s online with Istock.)

I can't, currently, add Vectors (EPS) files to sites like Fotolia and Istock etc due to the fact that Inkscape can't retain blurs and transparencies when saving as EPS. Hopefully that will be resolved in a later release.

First sale on BigStock netted me approx £0.32p. AR still 100%.

Shutterstock downloads a little less than hoped but still an increase at 12D for the month.

Still no sales yet on, Yaymicro, 3DStudio, Picturenation, Alamy, FeaturePics (although plenty of views there) or any of the others.

So, Feb was certainly a best month ever (BME) and i am really hopeful that with some quality submissions and some creative thinking i will
push into double figure earnings for March... watch this space.

By the way. I tidied up the chart. Hope it looks more intersting and visually clearer.

Canstock Keywording

Just a quick mention about a matter regarding Canstock's keywording.

I noticed on my images after logging in that my illustrations included words such as 'Vector' and 'EPS'. They were not added by myself as i don't have true vectors for sale, only Jpegs and so i asked Canstock about it:

"Hi - I see there are keywords added to my images that i didn't put there. Like EPS and VECTOR.

I wouldn't have put those as it doesn't apply to my images (not true vector or EPS available, only JPEGS).

When trying to edit them out (not wanting buyers to be mislead) those words vanish from the checkbox list of words to remove and i am unable to delete them.

Thanks, David"


"Thanks for contacting us.

These keywords are automatically added by our system for the benefit of external search engines (Google), so that your images rank higher in search engine searches.

Rest assured that these keywords are NOT used for internal searches. If you search "EPS" or "Vector" on our site, your images will not come up.

Duncan - CSP Admin"

Other Microstock Agencies

A little posting on my experiences with other stock sites i haven't mentioned very much, if at all, to date.


A nice clean looking site. Haven't had any problems with them and their upload process is smooth and easy. No sales but after getting over 50 images approved i am starting to get more views. AR 100% so far.


Sells 3D images as well as 2D, textures, stock illustrations and photos. Uploading has been fine and their method is for your image to become 'live' and viewable as soon as it's uploaded where it has the status of 'editorial only' until it is reviewed and, if good enough, will then go into the 'RF - can be used commercially' category.

No sales there yet but a massive amount of views (over 4000) so there is certainly a lot of activity there. AR 100% to date.


A nice site. Friendly communications and a healthy number of views per image. No sales to date but 100% AR.


I haven't had any problems here but i think their site needs a little fine tuning. It looks a bit simple and lacks character. Their FAQ only contains 5 questions/answers and views per image are few and far between. I will continue to upload images though as it's an easy process. AR currently 100%.


All i can say about SPP is that i submitted my initial 10 images (to be accepted as a contributor) upon registering on the 27th Jan this year and its now 14th March and they are still pending review. Doesn't inspire confidence.

The site looks and feels ok although there are pages such as 'my images' in the 'quick links' menu that are extremely slow to load for some reason. We are talking minutes. (In fact i timed it at 3mins 31secs for the page to load.) Perhaps it doesn't like Firefox but as other pages are generally ok i am assuming for now it's down to the site and not my imac or browser choice.
I'll post an update if/when my images are ever approved/rejected.


I have views on SF although no sales to date but my main problem with them is that their system doesn't automatically read meta data therefore i have to manually type in title, description and keywords (up to 20 max). This is very annoying and time consuming as well as leaving open the possibility of making a typing mistake. This happened recently and for the life of me i couldn't figure out how to edit the title (where the error was) so emailed SF via their online form to find out how to do so. I also asked when they would support automated EXIF/IPTC data retrieval. That was a good week ago and no reply from them as yet.
I'll continue to upload for now but they are currently way down the list of priority sites to add to.


Having problems with this site. Getting logged out every time i try to edit an image (after submitting and getting an initial four sample illustrations approved.) I think their site is a bit 'wonky' but i have emailed them for advice/suggestions. Could be a firefox and/or camino problem. I'll update when i know more.


Got approved as a contributor after submitting initial 3 sample images and although i have tried to upload the bulk of my portfolio i am unable to do so due to an error page popping up. The site is still in BETA stage and obviously has some teething problems and i know from an email received at the end of Jan that their official site launch could be delayed.
I have tried to contact them using their 'contact us' link but that too gives an error message of 'email not sent' so it seems their site has a way to go before it's up and running properly. I'll up date if the situation changes.


I nicely laid out site. No problems uploading but i feel more of a photo community rather than a site that's going to bring in a great deal of sales. It's good to see comments on your images and fun to leave feedback or click 'like' on other peoples images you admire and enjoy viewing. Having said all that there are sales to be had and as it's an easy site to use and navigate i suspect i will continue to add my illustrations there. I'll let you know if i ever get sale.

That's it for now... there are a few others i am registered with but I'll save those for another post. :-)

Books on Microstock - Part 1

I thought i would write a little about the books i have read to expand my understanding of the microstock business. It's not a massive list of reading so don't worry.
Actually my book shelf currently contains 2 books on microstock specifically, a few on photography in general and one on the 3D software 'Blender' Program.
As i do hope to get back into 3D at some point in the future i thought i would add my thoughts on "The Essential Blender" publication also. But first:

Microstock Photography - By Douglas Freer

The title captures your attention in the first instance: "How to make money from your digital images". It starts off by giving a little background on how the microstock industry got started, how it has grown and progressed into what it is today after which you start to get an idea of what it takes, or rather, what mental attitude to take, to be successful at microstock.

There is background info on the top microstock sites out there and how they function (subscriptions/credits etc) and although that part is slightly out of date due to changes in pricing and the like its still helpful to read through especially if you are completely new to microstocking.

Chapter 3 "what sells and what does not" is very useful in that it reminds us that even the greatest landscape photo in the world probably wouldn't sell very well for stock if there wasn't any 'copyspace' to one side of the image for the potential buyer to stick their company logo or text on! There are plenty of full colour images as examples downloaded from, yes you guessed it, istock/shutterstock etc to show what sells and more importantly WHY it sells.

There is a chapter on the technical side of submitting photos to sites: The noise reduction, white balance, checking histograms etc as well as further advice for the home photographer on setting up a modest home lighting studio.

I particularly like chapter 10: Case Studies. In which a number of microstockers give their experiences and their earnings details from 2006 across all the sites they had a portfolio. Certainly that was 2006.. and it's now 2010 but all the same.. interesting reading.

The last chapter is all about copyright, trademarks, model releases etc.

These are by no means all the chapters or a complete list of everything in the book. It's just the parts i recall and remember stuck in my mind when i read it. Of course, i still read it and go back for inspiration when i feel the wheels are turning a little slower than i would like them to.

All in all i found it a good book. Interesting and useful but not patronising or overly detailed with a 'light' writing style that didn't make unrealistic and grandiose promises of massive amounts of money 5 minutes after putting it's principles into practice . I would recommend it to anyone already starting out in microstock. And if you haven't even started uploading your images to DT or SS yet then i would seriously consider reading this book more than once before you even attempt at submitting your images to stock sites. It will save you a lot of rejections!

Approved at StockPhotoPro

Well it took 8 weeks for them to review my initial 10 submissions but i am now approved at Stock Photo Pro with a 100 % AR to date.

In fact, i emailed them yesterday to ask when my submissions would be looked at so maybe that did the trick.

Their site still seems rather slow (with Firefox) and i am uploading the rest of my portfolio one image at a time as using the multiple uploader (which they state is configured for Internet Explorer) doesn't work well and the description is replaced by the title. Don't have that problem with single image uploads although haven't tried out a different browser to see if it works better yet.

Anyway, another site to add to the list and i will post again if i get any sales there.

By the way, this months earnings are better than Febs and a surprise sale on Scandinavian Stock Photo as well as a large sale on Canstock. All will be revealed in my earnings report due out beginning of April so watch this space.

I also haven't forgotten about the second book review which i will post up this week.

bye for now, D

Earnings Report March 2010

Well, March was pretty good and better than Feb. 

I had slightly less downloads on Shutterstock than i would have hoped for considering the larger portfolio size in comparison to the previous month but still had the most ever downloads of 13. 

I was very surprised to get a large sale on Canstock via fotosearch which netted me $19.80 (aprox £13.25) as well as my first sale at Scandinavian Stock Photo which sold for 3 Euros (my commission being 1 Euro/90p/$1.37).

Sadly no sales at Graphic Leftovers this month or any other site not shown below but i am currently uploading (finally) jpeg illustrations to Fotolia and Istock and getting views there as well as working on more images to get my portfolio to that all important 100 file milestone as quickly as possible.

Books on Microstock - Part 2

This second book i would like to bring to your attention is "Digital Stock Photography - How to sell and shoot" - by Michal Heron.

Within the 270+ pages of this book is packed a massive amount of useful information to get the beginner started as well as making for a good read for the established professional alike.

It delves into more detail than the previous title (above) but i feel it is well worth adding both to your book shelf as they compliment each other in a balanced way.

Not many photos fill the pages and what ones are present are not very awe inspiring for the only reason that they are black and white versions.... but that's OK. I didn't get this to just stare at pretty photos but for the wealth of practical information that would improve my understanding of the stock photo business and market place.

The first chapter explains how stock started and gives a realistic non-sugar coated view of a very competitive market. This leaves you with the impression that it's going to be 'tough out there' and to succeed in this business you have to produce work that is a cut above the rest, or at the very least, of such high quality that it stands a chance of making a long term and consistent profit.
This view did not discourage me though but helped in my understanding of what it takes to be successful and galvanised me to improve, look at stock in a less 'dreamy' way and in a more professional and realistic manner.

This book really is based more on the likelihood that you will attempt at selling your work yourself and doesn't look at the microstock sites such as Shutterstock etc in detail as the previous book. That doesn't mean it's not of use if you are not going to be your own agent though which is why i suggest getting both books. On the other hand, you'll never know where your chosen career path will lead and learning about copyrights, dealing with clients and negotiating prices isn't going to be time wasted if it helps your understanding of how the stock business (as a whole) operates.

Chapter 5 is entitled: "25 stock assignments you can shoot."
This useful tool gets you thinking like a pro and building a stock portfolio. The practical applications and learning process involved in following the assignments is extremely helpful in appreciating what forward planning is required to create photos that would make saleable images and the practice of trying your best to match the assignment categories and fulfil that assignment can surely only make for a better and more accomplished photographer.

Further areas of the book delve into such varied subjects as organising your work flow, editing and backing up images, keywording and metadata as well as researching locations.

I would certainly add this title to your wish list and take the time to read (and re-read) all it has to offer.

ShutterFarm Concerns

I am considering not bothering to upload any more to ShutterFarm.

It's been 2-3 weeks since i emailed them for the second time to ask about the EXIF/IPTC data retrieval (or lack of it) and they haven't replied to that or to my request to remove a duplicate file and correct a spelling mistake in an image title.

I get a few views here and there but nothing to speak of which in itself isn't something i am that concerned about as lots of views don't always relate to sales and conversely, hardly any image views can sometimes lead to good sales in this strange business called microstock.

As it stands and without any downloads and with no reply from them i won't be uploading there for the moment. If things change i might change my mind and will update this blog with further info!

Istock's tough criteria

Well, after getting four photographs approved a good 18 months ago and with this new found urge to get back into this micro-world i have been submitting jpeg illustrations for approval to istock.

Their approval time seems to be one of the slowest (not counting Crestock which personally i feel is going to go down the drain due to something not working behind the scenes as i have previously mentioned.)

Sadly out of 6 submitted only one image has so far been approved and is live with two pending and the rest rejected. Various reasons for rejection most of which i can not grumble about. They have their criteria and i can live with that:

"overall composition of this file could be improved"

"....visible polygons, jagged lines, banding..."

"...posterization from excessive adjustments..."

At least their emails try to be polite and i am free to re-submit many if i can correct the problems they are seeing in the images. I am not sure that i will though but instead try to improve and create even better images altogether.

Still a few more uploads that might be worthy though so i will endeavor to persevere :)

Blender 3D magic

OK, so this is the last book on the subject of creating images (in one form or another) that i wanted to share with you folks. Unless i buy another book (which does happen on occasion, honest!) this will be the last book review for a while.

Blender is open source (meaning free) 3D software for budding graphic artists and professionals. Actually it is touted as a viable alternative to commercially available software and although i am but a novice and have no training as a 3D or graphic artist of any kind all i can say is that Blender certainly has the 'feel' of a very professional piece of kit.

This means that it 'feels' complicated and yes, it is, but that doesn't mean it's not for beginners. It just means, like me, you have to be methodical and take your time to learn all it's innumerable variations.

If you look at the book reviews on amazon (c
lick the image below this post and it will take you to the page) you will notice that, for the most part, the main complaint regarding this book is the very poor quality greyscale images that accompany the lessons and tutorials. This is true. The images are next to useless and although it detracts from the book design it should not put you off teaching yourself how to use Blender like a Pro.

To explain: this is not the kind of book you would (generally) read in bed or on a train without your computer screen right in front of you. If you are serious about learning Blender and dedicated then the fact that the image previews are so ve
ry bad won't make any difference as you will have the book propped up in front of your computer screen (with a fizzy drinks can and a jar of marmite if you are like me) whilst you are learning and when the book says move "x" here or press button "y" there, you will see the result on the screen in front of you.
Then the poor quality images in the book that is trying to show you the same result will be evident (and of course not needed because you just did the
same move on the screen!)

My advice after playing around with Blender for a
couple of months last year is to take things very slowly and don't bite off too much too soon. As you learn a new keyboard shortcut (those shortcuts are essential by the way if you eventually want to work at a fairly good pace) then write it down on a large piece of paper and pin it up next your computer. Each day learn a little bit more.. and i emphasise a little bit more.

Once you have learnt something new don't simply move on but go over what you have learnt. Each day, learn something new even if it's just pressing a couple of buttons and moving the mouse slightly. But once you have that in your head and you sit down the following day for an hour or so then go through (again) what you learnt the previous days. (Remembering to write down each new method on your piece of paper that's pinned up on the wall in a short and concise sentence.) Eventually this repetition will start to sink in and you will no longer need to look at the book but will do it all by yourself.

Start with the simple basic stuff like this cube i made with a star background for instance:

Once you are confident you know exactly why the cube is that shape (instead of a sphere), how to re-size it, move it and change aspects like colour and shading then (and only then) move on to something a little more complicated.

Also, don't forget to make the most of what the internet has to offer
including tutorials on youtube (some are better than others) and any other resource to help you learn a little bit more each and every day. The blender site itself should be your first port of call though:

Blender has real potential in the right hands to create amazing images or just subtle images that look very natural like grass for instance:

Yes i know, my grass needs cutting as well as some lawn feed to make it thicker. I'm working on it! ;)

I realise i haven't really talked about the Blender book specifically like chapter titles and content etc but really there are plenty of reviews on amazon about what the book contains and my thoughts in writing this post were not to go into that which has already been covered by others
but to hopefully reassure those that may have been put off by the concerns regarding the book images that you shouldn't worry too much about the lack of pretty pictures in "The Essential Blender Guide" but go for it regardless. If you want to learn 3D software and are willing to put a little effort in each day even for just half an hour then you will progress and who knows what you will one day create.

You probably have more knowledge about graphic design/art than i have but i managed to start creating more complicated images following this book and a few tutorials online. Like this guy for instance:

Yes he needs work too and a professional 3D artist might have a lot to say to me about anatomy but I'm still learning and hopefully i will have a decent looking guy in his own 3D world that i made for him.

So why i am looking at 3D more than 2D these days? Because 3D seems to be more and more popular on the microstock sites. At least that's what it looks like to me. Also, once you have created your 3D image you can move it around or adjust it's colour or texture, take a jpeg and upload it for approval a lot faster than 2D. Maybe you think otherwise and that's OK if it works for you as you might be (probably are) more competent than I at getting those 2D images via inkscape or another platform churned out.

For me though i struggle to get 10-15 images ready for adding to my microstock portfolio a month and that is just too slow for my liking. That's why i am looking more closely at sometime in the near future at producing high quality and saleable images via a better understanding of Blender. I'll keep you posted on any progress made.

In the mean time i hope this post has made you think more about the potential of Blender in relation to image creation and microstock possibilities and that although initially it may seem a daunting prospect (it was to me) that with a little patience and methodical work you can learn what at first glance seems a complicated program.

Don't forget to check out these useful tutorials which really helped me progress much faster than i otherwise would have:

Good luck and enjoy!

First sales at Fotolia & 123RF

Had the first sales in the last couple of days at Fotolia and 123RF. Been a long time coming at 123RF.

I do dislike Fotolia's credit system though. It's overly confusing. Why they just can't use pounds or dollars is anyones guess.

Apparently a credit is equal to 75p ($1.15) and now my balance after one sales states 0.216. ugh how unhelpful.

If i am correct then, if that means cents and you round it down, i am about 13.5 pence better off today?! OR is that 0.216 of a CREDIT? Which would mean 21% of 75p = 15.5p? hmmmm either way... what should i buy first though? A motorboat or go straight for the villa in Spain. Decisions, decisions!

The one sale at 123RF gave me 0.36 (a sub sale) so i am 23 pence better off. That clinches it.. looks like I will go for the motorboat after all! ;-)

Mid month update

Not much has happened lately. I have come to a crawl as far as uploads and haven't added anything new to the sites during April as yet.

I think 3D is going to take me longer to master than i had thought and 2D via inkscape is slow and also never really gives me the images that are in my head as i would expect. Lack of experience there i suspect in graphic design perhaps.

More approvals on StockphotoPro although there site is down for maintenance for a few hours at the moment (21st April - 13.20pm GMT). No views last time i looked there tho.

More rejections at iStock but can't complain as the look and feel of their approved images are way off the simple designs i put together. I feel i am going to have to up my game and create nothing less than 'stunning' to get my approval rating looking more healthy there.

This month so far a little slow on sales and i don't see myself beating last months total if things continue at this rate. I am certainly re-thinking my approach and dusting off the Canan camera with a view to getting out there in this lovely sunshine. I just have to motivate myself to get up at 4am to get that perfect shot! ;-)

Twitter Spam Beware

I have lately started to get unauthorised emails pretending to be from twitter as well as spammers trying to add me to their twitter page etc.

Just thought i would make you aware of the latest which initially fooled me as it looked very genuine (and i wasn't fully awake either so wasn't as diligent as usual.)

The email will say something like:

"Hi, you have 1 delayed message/s"

Then a link to click which looks like this:

"*********" (Bunch of numbers)

Clicking on the link though will take you elsewhere. In this case my Apple Mac (using Camino browser) alerted me not to open the page as:

"This web site at ********** has been reported as a malware site and has been blocked for your protection.

Malware sites try to install programs that steal private information, use your computer to attack others, or damage your system."

Further information can be found on the latest known issues here at Twitter:

April Earnings Report

Well, as expected, April's total wasn't very impressive. Without uploading any new material for the whole of the month i didn't even come close to the previous months figure.

I have spent the time looking closer at the Photomatix program and playing with the camera settings with a view to creating some decent HDR photos. A work in progress.....