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818: take hundreds of pictures and post the best pics on a stock photo site for money.

 
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Ok here's a picture I used to sell vegetables it has some of the same problems, the depth of field is not large enough so the greenbeans in the front are fuzzy whereas the paper bag the peas are in is perfect! Zoom in on the white lid on the top jar and you can see a blue artifact edge.. The photo was more than good enough to sell produce though, and probably would be good enough for instagram.
 
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Thinking back, I'm wondering if these photos were all taken with the secondary camera - a lighter, slower, simpler camera for keeping in my handbag.  One I don't mind if it falls in the mud kind of camera.  So here's one I took today with my good camera.  

Is it still showing the same problems?
IMG_6993.JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_6993.JPG]
uneditited
IMG_6993-(2).JPG
[Thumbnail for IMG_6993-(2).JPG]
cropped and auto adjusted
 
r ranson
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I started a new thread to help me improve my photography: https://permies.com/t/116151
 
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I decided to try one more photo... and it is approved!  They say it takes about three days to show up.

This is great because it means the problem is human error and not because I lack the necessary gadgets.  

It's sad to know that I'm the problem, but it also means that I can be the solution.  I just need to dedicate some time to learn and practice taking better photos.    
 
r ranson
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This is my favourite photo that I've managed to get approved on Shutterstock so far.

https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/rustic-birdhouse-douglas-fir-tree-1474087520


When I was taking it, I was thinking "If you lived here, you'd be home by now" kind of thing.  If I knew how to edit photos, I could make the background a bit more blurry and faded.  But that's a skill for later.  Right now, I'm working mostly on composition and depth of field.  
 
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I now have photos on shutterstock and thanks to my  new camera, Alamy.  Although they will take a while to show up.

I'm going to choose one of those two sites and upload a handful of photos a week.  I don't know which I like best yet.  From the reviews I've read, it's harder to sell photos on Alamy, but they pay a lot more per photo.  

Does anyone here buy photos?  What site do you like best?
 
r ranson
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r ranson wrote:
What I need to find out is
1. how long does it take to upload one photo and add all the search-love to help people find it?
2. how much editing do I need to do to the photo before uploading it?
...
I also like the idea that this forces me to sort my photos better.

It looks like it might be something for me.  



Uploading and editing the photos takes me about a minute.  At this time, I'm very light on the editing, focusing on cropping, brightness, contrast, tone, that kind of thing.  My feeling is that I want to do most of the 'editing' before I've even taken the photo.  So far, so good.  I usually do this while I'm having my morning coffee.

I'm also really enjoying the way this forces me to take better photos and to look for beauty in the most mundane things in my life.  Even dirty dishes have beauty and are apparently very popular.  

Each day I give myself a mission with a goal of improving my skills.  Some days I choose a fixed focal length, other days the subject is decay or flowers or blackberries.  Having the place to upload my photos and the sense of obligation to myself to keep adding more, motivates me to keep on improving.  

So yeh, this is super easy.  

Apparently it takes a while for money to come, and it takes a few days for the photos to be visible, but I don't need to think about that stuff.  I just need to think about taking more photos.  
 
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My blackberry harvest photos are finally up on Alamy.


This is my favourite.

I don't think it's going to do well because it's too different than other blackberry harvest photos.  I took these images as I was harvesting breakfast, but most of the ones for sale look staged on a white background as if for a blog.  I don't really enjoy staged photo - I used to, but so many websites have these same cooky cutter images, that I'm completely bored with seeing them.  They are so urban or country.  Sterile.  The life I want is more rustic and organic.  Messy.  I identify with mess.   When I read a blog or see photos, I want to see the life I am moving towards.

I like the photos I take that have a specific item and story.


When I first started putting photos on shutterstock, they went through quality control in about 24 hours.  It's now taking about 5 to 7 days.  Which is annoying because I don't want to send more photos while waiting for the last bunch to go through.  Alamy is about 1 to 3 days.  

Thinking about this more, I think I'll keep with both sites.  I'm going to try two approaches.  With shutterstock, I'll go for volume (provided their quality control speeds up) and on Alamy, I'll keep my favourite photos.  
 
r ranson
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I found this conversation about stock photography.

Eric Krouse said the most helpful advice I've seen so far.  Here is some of the post.


...

You are competing with a tremendous amount of advanced amateur folks, now that basic DSLR's are priced on parity with upper end point and shoots.  You'll have to up your game to rise above all the Uncle Bobs and MWACs.

...Compare photos to images you see in web and print advertizing and strive for that level (or better!) of quality.

It's all about clean and generic.  Leave the arty shots on your harddrive, and be extremely sparing with PP sliders and adjustments.  The people who buy our imagery are graphic design wizards that need to be able to mold your shot to their product. Think in terms of layout and copyspace when you frame.  Can your image be made into a book cover, calendar, web banner and magazine spread?  You know the cover of that now infamous 50 Shades book?  Dreamstime, baby!

Your increasing sales WILL plateau after a while.  The reality isn't as harsh as you think though.  Start with 10 pictures online. Now double it.  Now double that...  See where this is going?  You're not going to be able to shoot the volume of quality shots it would take to keep up the exponential surge of downloads from the beginning.  Earnings are typically "long tail", but aren't perpetual.  Times and tastes change, and you have to feed your portfolio fresh stuff. Stock also seems to operate by the 80/20 Rule, where 80% of your income comes from 20% of your portfolio. My bestsellers aren't masterpieces of art, but have the technical mojo to get chosen.  I have many non-selling photos online I am darn proud of.  You don't know until you throw them out there.

What You Can Do to Boost Your Chances:

Peg your camera at base ISO if you can.   ...

Pretend you're a stock reviewer.  View your images on a calibrated monitor at 100% and check for any faults.  Grain, blur, chromatic aberrations, etc.  will get your image booted.

Choose your battles:  By all means shoot accessible subjects, but treat them as practice.  Don't expect their earnings to rocket off.  Try your best to shoot unique subjects.  A search for "Christmas" on Dreamstime results in 413,138 images. "attractive woman" about a million. "hand arthritis" 670.  "Chia Seeds" results in 80. "Foot fungus" (gross, right?) 27.  Each of the lesser represented searches contains images with plenty of sales.  Do you really want to go up against Yuri Arcurs? I don't, so I went the chia seed route and it seems to be working.  even ended up on some packaging!

Shoot cool stuff isolated on white.  This is the bread and butter of many stockers, and it's more fun than you think.  They're great for graphic designers because they just drop your subject into their layout.  Just make sure to take your dropper tool and check that your background is hex EEEEEE white all around.

...

Shoot what you do.  Play golf?  No angry foursome behind you?  Snap a few!  Handy in the kitchen?  Shoot it before you eat it.  ...if it moves, shoot it again.  Stock photos are all about glorifying daily life and appealing to the normal everyman.  Chances are, you do normal people stuff at least once a week.

Be realistic in your expectations.  Everyone is different in their saleability, but you are going to have to shoot your shoes off to make real money.  Do you want full time income?  Your portfolio will have to be in the 4 or 5 figure mark. Full time guys have tens of thousands of stunning images in their portfolio. It can however be an additional source of passive income, just like dividend investing. It may net you enough to take the edge off of a car payment, or allow you to hit the "Proceed to Checkout" button on your B&H shopping cart (finally!). My advice: Throw what quality pics you have into the stocks, see what sticks, determine your monthly Return Per Image (RPI = Earnings/# in Portfolio) and see what you have to do to make what YOU determine to be a worthwhile sum. You may only make $10 a day, but it's $10 you didn't have before and you earned it shooting what you wanted, when you wanted to, right?



 
r ranson
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It doesn't take much effort to think up fifty keywords for a photo.  Except sometimes I can't get past thirty.  At those moments, I search the image sites for photos that are similar to mine and poach their keywords.  

What I've noticed is that there is a huge gap in the market.  Rustic homesteading images.

For example, I took a photo of our ugly blue rain catchment system.  https://www.shutterstock.com/image-photo/several-ugly-blue-rain-barrels-black-1481535950


I search around looking for images like this and find beautiful pristine images of rain catchment and drops of water and new and decorative rain barrels.  But not much that has been out in the elements for years.  

I could see the ugly blue rain barrel image being used for proving a point about how ugly the blue barrels are compared to 'proper' rain barrels.  Or to talk about rustic rain collection on a budget.  And there's also an eery beauty to these used barrels that makes them almost beautiful, especially compared with the bright blue ones.  

Just about everyplace I make my living is in a flooded market.  Books.  Yarn,  Maybe soon images.  The key is to find an empty niche and fill it with quality.  
 
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Here's a video from a seasoned stock photography veteran.  Some great advice.  



After three years of stock photography here is the truth that I've learned about making money, earnings amounts, best agencies, the real investment, images that sell, acceptances and rejections and my biggest objection to everything. No holding back, here are the pros and cons and my conclusions about whether or not it’s worth it.

Table of Contents for this Video:
Investment - 00:48
Acceptances/Rejections - 02:16
Agencies - 04:03
Money - 06:21
My Biggest Objection - 09:16
Ideas & Tips - 13:07
Is it Worth It? - 15:35
Instagram & Upcoming Workshop! - 16:42

 
r ranson
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This is an interesting video.  He talks about the value of uploading to stock photography when you are new to photography because it makes you a much better at the technical side of photography.

He also talks a lot about the residual income stream.  He hasn't done any work with his stock photography in over a year and he's still bringing in $500 a month.  

 
r ranson
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Here's a video where the person shows us an example of a professional taking photos for stock photography including how to set up the photo-shoot, how to edit the images, how to upload and find keywords (some great advice here) and all the other stuff.

 
r ranson
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This one is really neat.  It talks about the algorithm that the systems use to help buyers find your photos.  

1. The number of sales - the more you sell the higher you rank.
2. The number of views - how many views do your pictures attract?  more view = more saleability.
3. Frequency of uploading - uploading small batches frequently improves your chances of ranking high on the search.

 
r ranson
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I'm really starting to enjoy this stock photography thing.

I take photos throughout the day like I normally would.  With my morning coffee, I spend a few minutes working on editing, uploading and keywords and such.  Usually, in the evening, I read something new about photography or look at the shots that other people take.  It fits very nicely into my daily routine.

One of my favourite things is that Shutterstock reviews each individual photo and if they get rejected, they give you a reason why!  FREE  PHOTO CRITIQUE!  It's worth putting in the effort just for this direct feedback!  Okay, so the rejection part stings, but I figure their goal is to not muddy the market with sub-par photos.  If they don't like my photo, there must be something wrong with it I can improve for next time.  The reason they give is pretty generic, but with a bit of research, I can learn to see what they describe and work hard not to make that mistake in the future.  Each rejection makes me a better photographer!  

The thing I don't like about Shutterstock is that I need to enter all the metadata in before they review it.  If the photo is rejected, then I feel like I put all that effort (not that it's very much effort) in for nothing.  But then again, it's good practice.  Alamy approves or rejects the photo first, then I enter the keywords and such.  This I like better.

Shutterstock has a great keyword finder that we can use.   I cheat and use this for my Alamy photos because it's so good at finding relevant keywords quickly.  but Alamy also has some great tips and tricks to help with keywording.

On the whole, I have a long way to go before my photographs are good enough to sell.  But I'm really enjoying learning and the free feedback.  I'm concentrating on creating content because the best way to learn a craft is by doing it.  Even looking back on these last few weeks, I can see a significant improvement!


At this time, I have:
46 photos approved on Shutterstock
10 on Alamy

On Alamy, I'm going for quality.  Shutterstock, quantity as an experiment to see what strategy works best for me.

My goal is to get 100 on Shutterstock by the end of the year and 50 on Alamy.  With the aim to add 300 and 150 respectively, per year.  
 
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quick question: does this image look like the subject is out of focus?

I'm not seeing it, but maybe I'm missing something.  Maybe it's because I have the front of the fruit in focus but not all of the plant?
young-cantaloupe-on-the-vine.jpg
[Thumbnail for young-cantaloupe-on-the-vine.jpg]
 
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r ranson wrote:quick question: does this image look like the subject is out of focus?

I'm not seeing it, but maybe I'm missing something.  Maybe it's because I have the front of the fruit in focus but not all of the plant?



When I leave it tiny (on my 10inch tablet screen) it's only barely noticeable, but when I expand it, to fill most of the screen, it becomes quite noticeable. :/ Sorry...
 
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I goofed when I reduced the size of the image for posting here so it doesn't look as good here.

I asked on Shutterstock forum and the consensus is that the important part is in focus (leaf and front of fruit).  The edges of the fruit are slightly out of focus, but also hairy which might be mistaken.  They suggested I resubmit it.

Which I did, and it was approved in about an hour.  

I was right that the whole fruit doesn't have to be in focus, just the front of it.  Glad to know it worked out okay.  
 
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My portfolios are growing!

Rejection rate is about ten percent.  I want to get it down to less than five percent.  But of the ten percent, more than half of it was from poor title choice.

It beats the 90 % rejection rate I started with.

Talking and reading the stock photography forums, ten percent is pretty good.  It means I'm getting technically better, even if my shots aren't great for stock yes, I can work on my composition once I get the basics down.

The thing is, most stock photos are perfect.  I'm not interested in perfection.  I want to explore beauty in the imperfect and mundane object of homesteading. So for now, that's what I'm shooting.  Maybe it could be my niche?
 
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An alternative of stock image resellers/promoters might be your own shop. Or use one of the sites online that give you your own store using their printing and frames.
Also consider doing a proactive marketing with all your posts online, comment section here and everywhere you leave your two cents.

An example, I belong to a Facebook page called, "I Grew Up in Iowa". People post thoughts, memories, recipes, etc. I did one with a picture of a pancake asking, "Thick or thin, how do you like your pancakes?"

There is a gal that posts photos she does around Des Moines, pictures of downtown, the capital, the river and whatever. She has a watermark in the photos, and a way for people to find her. She sells the image in whatever way you want to buy, prints or posters and everything in between.

There's a video on YouTube I listened to yesterday of Kevin Halbert reading "Scientific Advertising" by Claude Hopkins. It's an old book, but everything in it pertaining to marketing is as fresh now as a hundred years ago. Kevin's dad is the late Gary Halbert, who some consider the greatest copywriter of his time. For you old-timers, you may remember an advertisement you received in the mail on your surname, and your family crest from the old country. Gary and his partner mailed that to 1/3rd of the homes in the U.S.A., I know I bought mine. I could careless about the money wasted, I wish I had all his salesletters.

Another thing on self-promotion, if you scan the business news of new businesses going up in your area, or see new construction going on. Find out the business that are going in, go online, or across town and see what their competitors are putting on their websites and walls. It's possible you might not have those images yet, but you could do very similar designs in a few days. Then send a letter to the new owner, let them know what you are about. Make it easy for them to use you. And compared to what a decorator might charge, you should come in way under those prices. Also, find out who is normally the one's that have the job of finding good image fits, sell yourself to them. Then market to all their counterparts, everywhere.

This is getting long, more to come...
 
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More to come, has arrived.

My dad had two images of our homeplace in frames on his office wall. The images were taken from a plane.
If you go online you'll find the outfit, or maybe many.

My thought for you to retire sooner than later, travel a bit, is to get a great drone, get really good at running it, then travel the roads taking photos of various homesites, businesses, attractions, cities? Then contacting those people, if you're shy hire the local boy scouts, girl scouts or any of the various cheerleaders, band groups or maybe the Kiwanis. Split the profit 50/50, make it an easy sell.
 
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Oh... and if you can get good at people pictures, and you can handle being around kids, check out this site:
https://lifetouch.com/professional-photography-company/

They do the photos for my kid's school in West Virginia. The most recent was of the prom for.... 6th graders. Yeah, they are using any event as a Payday.
So how much did I fork out for end of the year photos for one kid? $50, plus another $12 for class photo. I didn't pay the extra 10-12 bucks to have images on disc. And I bet if I went home I might find the envelope with no photos shared, we suck as parents...

But how many schools, events, etc would you need to have a healthy retirement? Can you imagine if you did this with the school's blessings because they get a cut? I would be surprised if they don't. I wonder what administrator is in charge of bribes? Is it state department of education mandated? Make it easy for the photo mafia?

No, I am not disgruntled...
 
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Mike Feddersen wrote:An alternative of stock image resellers/promoters might be your own shop. Or use one of the sites online that give you your own store using their printing and frames.
Also consider doing a proactive marketing with all your posts online, comment section here and everywhere you leave your two cents.



I've been thinking about doing this.  Two things are holding me back.

1.  I'm not good enough at photography yet.
2.  It sounds more like active income rather than passive.  

The first I'm working on every day.  The second is more difficult.  

I know with my Etsy store, if I put the effort in (about an hour a day), my sales zoom up!  If I don't put the effort in, my sales become a trickle.  The problem is, that is one whole hour each and every day!  That means I have one less hour every day to create new content.  I did some math a year ago and it turned out it was more profitable to dedicate my time to creating content.  It's much better for me if I can create a thing once, put it for sale in a place that handles all the proactive marketing and site traffic, then get a paycheck once a month.  

But I'm going to look into this again in the winter when it's getting dark at 3 in the afternoon.  
 
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Ok, this is either off topic, or very off topic.  Moderators can delete if it is too very off topic.

My son is into cars, and asked me to watch a vlog he just found about cars.  The latest vid on the channel was walking through a photoshoot they did of their new t-shirts and some cars.  The photographer actually talked about the why and how of the photos he was taking, which was pretty cool and made me think of this thread.  The vlog-conventional shaky, (intentionally?) out of focus video occasionally cuts to a still we just saw him take, and the still quality is amazing pro-quality.  It makes quite a contrast.  The rate of photo content gets higher as the (long) video goes on.  Seeing how they work in public locations also interested me.



Who knew you could make a living as a car-specialized photographer?  Similarly, I follow some ultrarunners on social media, and there are photographers that specialize in even that little-known corner of the sports world.

These folks promote themselves on social media, presumably to get gigs, which I suppose is more active income.  I don't know if you can market stock photos to niche markets on the stock photo platforms like Shutterstock, but at least trying to target underserved photo-subject demands probably works.  Maybe no one specializes in linen fabric production, yet?

Unfocused post, but I'm really enjoying watching this thread and Raven's exploration of this 818 idea.
 
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I know a few people that want to become car photographers.  So they get a job (or more often volunteer position) at a dealership washing and parking cars in exchange for letting them take the marketing photographs.  I think the dealerships get the best out of the bargain, but the people that do this get crazy-good at taking pictures of cars and move on to better-paied gigs.  
 
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Ranson,
So your Etsy creations market themselves?
Jk
I know you must do something, if merely posting the items with descriptions and photos.
I wonder if you could find someone that understands you and how you post? Then you create, let them post and promote.
Mike
 
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Mike Feddersen wrote:Ranson,
So your Etsy creations market themselves?
Jk
I know you must do something, if merely posting the items with descriptions and photos.
I wonder if you could find someone that understands you and how you post? Then you create, let them post and promote.
Mike



My Etsy shop is mostly handspun yarn.  About 90% of my customers are return customers.  The rest generally find me through Etsy search - they search "handspun sock yarn" and if they like the look of my yarn, they buy it.  I do nothing except post the item for sale and package it up when it sells (I don't consider these to be marketing - this is just logistics).  Etsy provides the customers because Etsy is a well known and trusted place to shop for quality handmade goods.  Etsy does enough marketing so I don't have to.  I've done experiments where I've increased sales 20 or 40 times normal, but it takes a lot of work actively marketing each and every day!  Very quickly, my demand outstripped my ability to create.  At the moment, demand equals supply.  

My Etsy shop is active income because each time I sell some, I need to make more of that something.

I like the idea of passive income, where I can sell the same thing many times to many different people.  Later I'll try making this stock photography more active and put effort into marketing.  But I suspect if I did that now, it would be detrimental.  My pictures aren't good enough yet.
 
r ranson
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Wow!

I sold my first photo on shutterstock yesterday.

It wasn't for very much money.

Actually, it's a ridiculously tiny amount of money!

But...

... It sold.  And it can sell again.  and again.  and again.  This kind of site relies on volume

...also, I wasn't expecting to sell anything until I got to 500 photos!  So this is pretty good.

....also, it means my keywords and titles aren't too bad if someone can find my stuff when they want it.  

On the right track.  
 
Mike Feddersen
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Raven,
Congratulations on your first sale.

On the way home a few days ago I was listening to "Scientific Advertising" by Claude Hopkins. All the great copywriters claim him as the father of the craft. The narrator is Kevin Halbert, son of Gary Halbert. Gary mailed a letter to one third of the homes in the USA, selling them a family crest.
https://youtu.be/m8eVTmxyRRk

The second video is of some copywriters in the AWAI reviewing "Scientific Advertising", and explaining why even a hundred years later, Claudes book is still just as relevant.
https://youtu.be/aHD5pX4AhbU
 
r ranson
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Yesterday, I spent two hours photographing unripe tomatoes.

The light coming through the window and falling on a rustic board.  I played a lot with aperture and different angles.  I found that putting the camera on a book and using the remote shutter release gave me my favourite results.  

Out of 100 photos, I got about 20 I really liked, but when I got the images on the computer, the green didn't pop as much as it did in real life.  So I played with some colour edits and got an interesting result.

I quite like how these turned out but was nervous uploading them to the stock sites because they don't look like anything else I've seen.  The first batch has been approved by shutterstock so I decided to try alamy too.  Their approval process is slower on the weekend, but that's fine.  I don't normally upload the same photo to both, but Alamy has a reputation of being more selective in what they approve, so I'm curious if these will make it through.

The following samples are made smaller with bulk resize photos
green-tomato-colour-edited.jpg
[Thumbnail for green-tomato-colour-edited.jpg]
unripe-tomato-diag.jpg
[Thumbnail for unripe-tomato-diag.jpg]
 
r ranson
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Second sale on Shutter Stock.  I also breached 100 photos approved (but am still hitting a 10% rejection rate which means I have a lot of room for improvement).

When they say 'microstock' the emphasis is on the 'micro' part - meaning the payments are tiny!  But tiny things add up.  Each sweater is knit from 100,000s of stitches.  If we gave up at stitch five, we wouldn't have anything warm to wear.  

Removing camera shake has improved my photos a lot.  Setting the camera on a surface (usually books or a beanbag or both) and using the two-second timer or the remote shutter button has greatly improved the quality of the photos.  I didn't think it would as I'm fairly good at minimizing camera shake.  But it is well worth the extra effort to do this.

I'm still having trouble getting large round things past quality control - like tree trunk closeups, larger fruit.  They get the out of focus error.  All my nature shots aren't good enough, so I plan to spend time improving this skill.  



I've almost reached 100 photos on Alamay.  Because the payouts are larger with that site, I'm being choosier with my photos.  I'm also not submitting much to both sites, as Alamay gives a higher per cent if we go exclusive with them.

Another thing I've been focusing on with Alamy is to be more consistent in my style.  I don't know what my 'style' is, but I'm attempting to find one.  
 
It's exactly the same and completely different as this tiny ad:
Dave Burton's Boot Adventures at Wheaton Labs and Basecamp
https://permies.com/t/119676/permaculture-projects/Dave-Burton-Boot-Adventures-Wheaton
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