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Shooting for Stock Photography

Lesson 1 of 19

Class Introduction

Geo Rittenmyer

Shooting for Stock Photography

Geo Rittenmyer

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Lesson Info

1. Class Introduction

Lesson Info

Class Introduction

I'm gonna talk quite a bit about stock photography today. Everything from what stock photography is, maybe a little history of stock photography. I'm gonna talk about how to work with an agency, information on working with an agency. And then we're gonna learn a little bit about how I go about it from start to finish, from everything from producing the shoot and what tools I use. We'll go into Lightroom, Photoshop, do a little bit of work there, and then all the way to how you submit images to an agency. So we've got a lot of stuff to cover. Should be fun. Are you guys looking forward to this? Yes. Yeah, so I mentioned to the audience, this picture was taken back in February and that is my Nanny. Had to go down to Las Vegas to WPPI, my wife was there for work. So I went down and visited friends. Was really cheap. Brought the Nanny to watch our one and a half year old. And I thought, well why not take a drive. Went out, had her jump out at a little pit stop. Took a photo, back of he...

r, nice, pretty vista, full sunlight. And it works. So there's anytime, anywhere, anyplace you are, just keep an eye out, because there's pictures to be made. So I'm gonna start with you guys. What industries or what specialties are you guys shooting? I know some of you guys had specialties. Yeah, go to Christian. Underwater photography. Underwater photography. Food photography. Food photography. I do aerial photography, especially mountains. I'm a local pilot here. Aerial photography, awesome. And I know some of the other people here do wedding, family, lifestyle, adventure, travel, which those are pretty solid stock ones. But underwater is fantastic. There's lots of opportunity with underwater photography. There's not a whole lot of people doing it. You've got to have real expensive equipment and yeah, it's tough, but people want that. And with our, you know, changing planet today, there's even more of a need to document and use those images. Aerial photography is super cool. Not too many people can get access to that and can do that. So another great specialty for stock. Food, there's agencies that just specialize in selling food photography. And food is something that you can kind of do yourself, and it's a foodie world out there. Everybody's liking pictures of food. So I think we'll go ahead and kind of jump into it. There's another picture, that was shot with a 500 millimeter lens. Does anybody have a 500 millimeter lens? Okay, wildlife photographer, probably. It's a 500 millimeter toy lens. I'm gonna show that later. It cost less than $200, and it's super light and small. But it gives you something different. So that was just a hike, had her take a picture, I take a picture. It's now for sale. Somebody might buy it. So there's always a chance out there to make a picture. I'm gonna go ahead and jump into a little bit about, I already mentioned kind of what we're gonna talk about. Those are kind of how we break it down. Start with history. Start with intro, I'll talk about myself a little bit. Do a little history and then talk about working with an agency. I think we'll have Jen here from an agency, she's an art director, and she's gonna be with us via Skype. So it will be pretty cool to get her insight, ask her some questions. Then I'm gonna talk about production and how to keep the costs down and make money off of it. Then we'll go into the computer and show you that process and how important managing your archive is. Then we'll end it with equipment that I use and we'll actually get to go into the field and see me take some pictures. Introduction, so of course I'm Geo. I take pictures, not just stock. I do other stuff. But I do love taking stock photos, it keeps me going and makes me money. So that's a BMX biker jumping over me. One of the clients I had was Ringling Brothers, sadly they are no longer. But I try to take stuff for myself and to help my editorial and advertising business. So some stuff. Big glossy composite picture, this is an old one, oldie but goodie. That's Manhattan and Manhattan Beach, California in the foreground, composited together. Personal projects. I love working on personal projects. I know lots of people in the Creative Live field. Something that's important to a lot of us out there, so personal projects can work into stock. I'll talk about that a little bit later, and it's also a great way to keep you inspired and gives you meaning and value in your work. So this was a personal project that I did before I left New York City. I photographed one person living in New York City who was from each of the 50 States, and interviewed them. It took a month and a half. It was really cool. So many new people to meet. A lot of fun. A few of those pictures, I think, are for sale. Here's big, glossy advertising stuff. Washington State Lottery Holiday Campaign. Those are fun. That was a shoot of Al Roker on the moon for the Today Show. Kind of a fun, random job that I had once. Then the editorial portraits are always good. And these editorial portraits, you know, the picture of this person's probably not gonna go to stock, but I'm out in this different location, I'm kind of being paid to go somewhere different and unique. So get this picture, but take a few other pictures. If the person's willing to give you a release and participate, great; if not, it's fine, you're still in this cool, snowy place. So you got your equipment out there and everything, just add a little extra time and try to get something. This is a commissioned work. I mentioned one of my clients is Disney. These are all the Disney on Ice princesses, ice skaters, not dressed as princesses. Kind of cool to show them outside of those big, beautiful dresses. So this is kind of the personal stuff that I do. And my background, I went to school for photography in Santa Barbara, I went to the Brooks Institute. No longer there. I actually minored in stock photography. I don't know if anybody ever did that, advertising was my main focus. I left California and went to New York. Spent seven years in New York just learning and building a portfolio and working on stock. And it took a while to finally get into the agency that I wanted. The agency that I always wanted to be part of was Corbis. My instructor, back in college, was a contributor to Corbis so kind of stayed on it. And I just kept traveling around as a young photographer, taking pictures everywhere I went, of everything. I just kept building up this archive. I'd go back, re-look at stuff, pull stuff out, and I finally got to the point where I had several hundred images and Corbis said, "You've got a great little collection here. "We like it and we'd like you to start contributing for us." So I was able to get in with the agency that I wanted. Unfortunately, like a lot of things, Corbis is no longer, and I've had to move on. So that's kind of my history with stock. So I'm gonna show you guys a few pictures that have sold. So it's hard to know where your pictures have actually sold or where they're being used in stock photography. You kind of just hand these off and you trust the agency to just handle all of that for you, which is great, because you don't want to be having to deal with all of that yourself. So what I did is I went back. I got information from photographs that had sold between 2013-2015, so a three-year period there, so 36 months. Kind of put the numbers together, saw how many times some stuff had sold and how much they had sold for. So I'm just gonna give you guys a little idea of what's out there. And first one, okay, so this is a empty parking lot. I was on a little road trip. I think this is in Virginia. Stopped for a pit stop at night, it had just rained. Clouds were looking kind of cool. I pulled my camera and my tripod out, and took this picture. Probably just like, it's not a star filter, I think it's just F22 on a 24 millimeter or something. Took a couple of pictures, went back in the car, drove on. And you know, came out later on down the road, in those four, or those 36 months, this picture sold for nearly $4,000 just in that time. So it's out there. This is a good one, pets. Everybody has their pet. So as photographers how often are you guys asked hey, can you take a picture of so and so, or a family member wants a picture. Can you take a picture of my dog. You guys ever get those questions, being the photographer in the family? That's exactly what this is. It's a friend of a friend got a new dog, wanted some pictures. So all right, that's fine, no problem. Went and took pictures of this nice, young, yellow lab, I think. And asked them to sign a property release, you have pets, you need a property release. So this is just a favor, a favor. This picture went up and it sold, hasn't sold for anything too big, but it sold over 15 times in those 36 months for nearly $1,000. So just dog picture. Here is an actual stylized shoot. This was something that came from the agency. I had direction from the art director. This is part of those briefs that we'll talk about, those trend reports. So this one was more of a staged. Actually, set this up in a studio, brought in all the props, got a couple friends, good looking young couple to play the part of small business working at home. And just shot this in a day. In those 36 months, these images, kind of on a whole, sold over 60 times for nearly $20,000. So, you know, that's one thing that's good with these trends reports and getting the help from the agencies. Here's a picture. This one is an example of one big sell. This was only in the archive for five months of that 36 months. It was a newer picture. This was my wife, our babymoon in Kauai. Wanted to get in all those last minute, outdoor activities. Took this picture. It sold once, but it sold for $5,000. So there's always that opportunity. And this one is a fun one. Like the very first picture of the back of the girl's head with 500 millimeter lens. Again this is another one of those, this was shot with a ultra wide kind of toy lens. I was on a ferry up here in Seattle, Northwest, that's how you get around is ferry. You drive onto a boat and then drive off the boat. So I got out. It was kind of nice evening light, cloudy, bought some popcorn. Had my camera and that lens with me. I went out to the deck of the ferry and started chumming for seagulls, just throwing some popcorn up and holding the camera up. Yeah, this thing sold over ten times in those 36 months for almost $5,000. So there's kind of potential to find and create something everywhere. Always be looking, you know, even when you're on a ferry boat. So this is one that I think all of you guys can go out and take tomorrow. So sometimes you get really lucky, and you get a picture of lightening. I'm not a lightening photographer or storm chaser. This is Cape Canaveral. I was set up to take a picture of the last shuttle launch at night, and I really hoped it was gonna happen, because it was the opportunity that I was able to actually get out there to take it. As I was set up and waiting this storm started rolling in and kind of knew at that point that there wasn't gonna be a shuttle launch. So I didn't give up. I didn't stop. I turned every camera I had on and I just put it on pretty much like a time lapse setting. I just had it open for 30 seconds and close, re-open. And all the cameras were just taking these pictures for 30 seconds. And I just let it roll until the storm finally hit me and it started raining and I pulled everything back in. And that was one of the frames. It's pretty cool frame. Pretty cool image. This has been used quite a bit. It sold for over 20 times in those 36 months, and brought in more than $13,000. It was a background, and it's by far the most used picture of mine. If I do an image search on the Internet of this, it shows up hundreds of times. We all get lucky sometimes. So like I said, just always be taking pictures. Never stop, because you never know what can happen. Lightening strike.

Class Description

The world of stock photography can feel complicated, but commercial and editorial photographer, Geo Rittenmyer, will show you how to create and sell stock photography from any situation. In this course, he’ll cover the essentials of stock photography, the differences between royalty free or rights managed, as well as where stock is utilized in today’s world. He’ll also be interviewing an art director at a top agency to better understand what types of imagery stock agencies are looking for. 

Topics include: 

  • Techniques for shooting when traveling and what to think about when taking a photo 
  • How to set up a low-cost stock specific studio shoot 
  • How to utilize Adobe® Photoshop® & Lightroom CC to organize your catalog and keywords for easy access 
  • How to find a stock agency for your work 
  • When and where to use model or property releases 

Stock photography can allow you to shoot for your clients, as well as your passion. Get back to shooting what you love and make money at the same time! 

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

2017 Gallery Stock Trend Report

Sample Model Release

Sample Property Release

Stock Agencies List

Ratings and Reviews

Student Work

Related Classes


Amy Vaughn

Personally, I really liked this class, but I can see why it wouldn’t be for everyone looking for information about stock photography. I’ve already researched and started doing microstock, but now I’m looking for more information about other options. This class was a good fit for me. Although Geo seemed new to public speaking and used too many fillers like “uh” and “um”, I found him likable and surprisingly relatable considering our different photographic niches. This class may be best suited for: Learning more about boutique galleries, rights managed stock and alternatives to microstock Seeing how this particular stock photographer works, gets inspiration and has been successful Getting ideas about current trends and sources for inspiration Getting the perspective of a creative director for a boutique agency Those interested in lifestyle photography May not be as suitable for: Broader and more in depth information about the variety of options in stock photography Those who want to focus on microstock New photographers who want detailed information about getting started and meeting technical requirements Those who prefer a more polished speaker

Carol Totaro

I thought this was a great class and have to disagree with some of the comments from the hands down viewers. The audience was listless and did not seem to be interested in being there. Do you know how difficult it is to stand up in front of a bunch like this and keep your mojo racing? Very difficult. Hardly anyone asked questions and they all just gave a lot of nods most of the time. If your read ahead of time the info on the class, you would see that he was going to go into Lightroom and workflow. Yes, some of it was a drag especially all those pictures taken from the condo at a FL panhandle beach. But nothing's perfect. Maybe I got a lot out of this because I am newer at photography. I was glad to know about his equipment. Everyone's personality is different and for all the talent and success Geo has enjoyed, he remains a humble and very likeable guy.

Christina Biasi

I loved this class! I cannot agree with some other reviews below at all Geo gives so much valuable information, and in fact I love his style much more than many other over-self confident speakers. He is sympathetic and likeable, and most importantly give very much valuable insights into stock photography. I just started with stock and got all my questions answered. I watched it already three times. The only part which I did not like so much was the post-processing part, because he could have explained better his workflow and why he chose certain actions. But that does not impact on the overall quality of the course. I can only highly recommend this class