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Shooting for Stock Photography

Lesson 6 of 19

Interview: Gallery Stock Creative Director, Jen Fox Freeman

Geo Rittenmyer

Shooting for Stock Photography

Geo Rittenmyer

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Lesson Info

6. Interview: Gallery Stock Creative Director, Jen Fox Freeman

Lesson Info

Interview: Gallery Stock Creative Director, Jen Fox Freeman

All right, so, now we're gonna get to talk to Jen, who is a creative director at Gallery Stock now. She has been in the stock world for a long time, very long time. Very, very knowledgeable. So this is a great opportunity to hear some insight from the Gallery side. I could tell you everything I know, but I'm just the photographer. There's a whole other side to stock photography. That's the agency side. So, please ask her questions if you have them. It's a really good chance to kinda get insight. I'm sure if any of you just randomly called her up, she's probably way too busy to just chat with you for half an hour, so take advantage of this. And yeah, let's go ahead and meet Jen Freeman. Hi, guys. Hi, Jen. Hi Geo, how're you? Good, how're you doing? Very good. Excited to be with you guys today. Excited to have you. So. Excellent, so. Jen, you can go ahead and tell us about yourself a little bit and what you do. Sure, I'm the Creative Director for the US for Gallery Stoc...

k. And I came to this position kind of crazily, I guess, maybe. I started out in the advertising world, and I was eight years there. I was at a place called Sandler Communications for four years, and then I moved over to Harrison and Star, which is a pharmaceutical advertising agency, part of the big Omnicom group. There, I moved up the ranks from Junior Art Director to Art Director to Senior Art Director to Art Supervisor, and at a time when I was at an art supe there, I had creative writing partner who, her partner at the time was the DOP, Director of Photography, over at Corbis. And it was around 2006. They were looking to really increase their creative production team. It was a time when, and it actually still is now, royalty free was a huge boom. It was starting off, it was the way to go as far as stock photography, and Corbis wanted to create a lot of wholly owned images as well as just increase their royalty free collection. It was a project called Leapfrog for them. And at the time, the DOP, Robyn Selman, was looking for an onsite art director at that time. I kinda heard about it from my writing partner. I'm like okay, what is this all about? And she was like, well, you'd pretty much be art directing photo shoots all the time, and they're gonna travel the world, and you'll be able to do that. And I was like, that sounds like a dream job. Coming from art direction on the agency side, it's a lot of concepting, it's a lot of graphic design. You're lucky if you have a client who has a photo shoot, like after concepting, and you'll say that like that concept won, and it's part of a like a photo shoot that we wanna do for that client. You possibly will do one, maybe one a year, maybe one every two to three years. So to be able to have a great job like an art directing position in the advertising world where everything was really fun. The graphic design, and concepting things like that. The icing on the top of that cupcake, I would say, would be getting to do a photo shoot, at least for me it was. So to be able to kind of go into a position where all I get to do is the icing, I was like, this is amazing, I would love to do that. So, interviewed for the job, and got it. And it was true to form. We hit the ground running. We traveled all across the world. Barcelona, Spain, Greek islands, Costa Rica, Rome, Paris, Whistler, British, where else were we? Whistler, Vancouver, the Fjords, Prague. It was absolutely amazing. At that time we had about two in-house photographers that would go on these shoots with us, as well as we'd contract about, like freelance photographers, about six to eight with this commercial production team. With that, we would set up group shoots. Like when we would do these big traveling things, we would shoot for a week to two weeks, and we'd be like, three days shooting, one day off, three days shooting, one day off. And when we're off at that day, we're preparing for the next three days of the shoot. We're scouting to make sure we like those locations. We're making sure the talent, if there was any like, last minute swaps we're getting in, who we needed to know. You know, new talent, subbing in at that time. So we were pretty much doing one large scale production a month, so we'd be gone for that week to two weeks. And then when we'd come back into the New York office, we'd be doing one to two kind of day shoots that we produced locally. And that went on for a good three years, I wanna say, that we were at that like, high scale production. And I'd say right around like end of 2008, when the economy was kind of dropping a little bit at the time, or a lot, our budgets were also scaling at that time. We had less budget, so it was pretty much, okay, we're gonna be doing all of our shoots within the United States, so then it's going out to LA, it's going down to. It's funny because there's different locations that you find when you're producing a job, where you can get something you need. So, LA we'd get the great weather and everything, especially in the beginning of the year. We'd go to Chicago 'cause we had some good connections for warehouse shoots that were there. There was Asheville, North Carolina, crazy enough, has this like, great furniture capital of the world, so they had these great studios kind of built inside this big warehouse, so it'd look like we'd walk into someone's home, and we'd kind of artificially light it, but it would still look like daylight. We'd go down there for lifestyle shoots. We'd hit up Orlando. Orlando has a great hospital system down there, and they'd let us in. We could get in and then shoot, you know, on different floors that actually didn't have patients on it and things like that. So you kind of learn to go where you get your connections, and where you can kind of, you know, gather a team together. So, it was scaled down to the United States at that time. And then, budgets got constrained a little bit more. And then, it was just Tri-State Area. And it ended up that the production team had to kinda be broken up, and we all kind of, got our roles shifted a bit. So instead of really working with those like, 10 photographers that we had from before, we were working with a larger roster of photographers that say, each art director, senior art director had about 50 photographers that we were working with. And at that time, then we would go on and, I think we're gonna be talking about this a little bit later but we'd brief them on what we would need, and we would kind of really hand-hold them if they'd need it, help any kind of production if it was in the Tri-State Area, any way we could help in that way. So that's sort of how I was at Corbis, and I was there for nine years. In 2015, I was recruited over to Gallery Stock. And they were at a point where they were starting to grow, and they really wanted to work with their artists on a more personal basis. They wanted to grow their production as well. So they recruited me over to become the US Creative Director there, and now I've been able to work with a lot of different other artists that I hadn't worked with before. I did bring over some artists, as Geo as one of them from Corbis with me. And we are working with them with productions that they're doing, and, you know, really helping guide them and telling them what the market is demanding for it right now as far as stock photography and the needs there. So that's sort of my like, all around-a-bout where I've been and where I am now. Yeah, thanks for bringing me over, Jen. Absolutely. Yeah. It is kinda crazy how the stock world just has changed so much, but how it has always been changing. It's crazy. Yeah. And I guess, now we're at a point where you can't fly around the world with your team. You've gotta reach out to a bunch of us to, to be your team. Very true, very true. At one point, you know, I hope that we can start scaling, you know, up to that level. We do have an office in London, and so we do have kind of our European counterpart over there, or my counterpart. So she kind of deals with everyone who's not North, South America on my side. She's kind of dealing with like the European market and stuff like that. So it's nice that we've kind of geo-located ourselves, where if there was a really high need that we would need in South America or something like that, I could see us getting up and getting a team together, and making that happen. Or something on her side as well. Like getting something going in Germany, or things like that. It's good, really good to know. Getting some insight that stock photography's doing well. Right? Sounds like it's gonna be coming back, so let's keep working at it. Is there a topic you wanted to talk about first? Maybe the, if you have one, or rights managed royalty free was one. I know that people have been asking questions on. Sure. I know you had said, maybe it would actually Segway nicer from like I was at a bigger agency and a smaller agency now. And maybe I can talk about the difference of that first? Yeah, yeah, talk about the kind of big agency versus the boutique agency, yeah. So, there's definitely a fit for everyone, you know? There's not a one size fit all as far as where you're gonna be with an agency or where you want to aim to be. There's pros and cons about large agency, macro agencies, and there's pros and cons about boutique agencies, too. So, what I'm kind of gonna go over is pretty much just my experience and the way I've kind of seen it, but you, yourself, could have a different experience, or want something different than what I'm kind of presenting in that way. So being on the macro side for Corbis, we definitely had a huge reach as far as customer base. It was a huge agency, it was known, it was known as one of the big two, Getty being the other one. And we were up there, which was great. It was great to have that nice reach there. We had a wide offering. But with that could be some downfalls, too. Like we had editorial, commercial, celebrity, news, red carpet, historical, what else did we have? Oh, we had motion department, rights clearance. So, with that, it was great that we were well known and we had a big offering, but then it was also a bit of maybe we offered too much because I felt at some points, we weren't mastering anything. We were just kind of like, here's the smorgasbord of everything that you could do and have. So, definitely goods and bads there. We had a lot of support teams. At a larger company, you have full-fledged, huge marketing departments. You have a big tech team. You have a big legal team, and things like that. So in that way you had a lot of support, but I also felt that it could get a little bit cumbersome as far as change. One of the great examples I always can remember is like, on the commercial photography side, we were like please, please update the homepage. Like we have all these great images coming in everyday from our photographers. Why're we sitting on this homepage that's been up for like, three to six months? And it was always like, oh, well marketing's working on the next thing and it takes too much time, and then they can't do that right now. It was just a big oversight on our part, I feel like, for not being able to get that changed and refreshed. And if we're an image-based company, that should be updated much more frequently. So that was my take on that a little bit too. Then you can also see, you know, like, when you're at a larger company, you will, as a photographer, have a lot more competition as far as yes, our reach might be bigger, but then we have a lot more images to show our client. So, your images potentially could get lost in the shuffle there, and that's, you know, something that is not that great too sometimes. Now, moving over to the boutique side, I would say we were a contrast to the larger agencies. We're super nimble, like we're able to, you know, if an issue comes in, or if there's a marketing piece or new trend we really wanna hit home, we're able to kind of get the team together, have that meeting, and within a couple of days, make and execute that change. So to be able to have that kind of quick mobility was really an eyeopener coming over to Gallery Stock. I was like, great, right? We can change that right now? Perfect, okay, and I can curate it. Perfect, great, we're done. And in that way, it's been refreshing to be able to like, create change that easily. And I think, you know, as people are consuming images and as you know like, it's just gone up. People have just, you can't satiate their need for how many images they want. So, whether it's in a social media feed, or if a client needs it on a blog post or something like that, they're gonna wanna see more images from us so then they can have more selection for what's up on there. So if we're able to change our homepage every month, if we're able to change our curated galleries a lot quicker and then refresh with new imagery coming in, but still highly curated, I think that's only gonna be a huge benefit for our clients. And so far, it has been. I'd say, what else do I have on my little list of things that I can tell you about? Ah, just traditionally, as far as like, the basis of Gallery Stock, they've always kind of worked with commercial photographers, fine artists, people who haven't normally done stock photography, and in that, we've kind of created a little bit more of a niche for ourself. And I think going back to Corbis trying to wanna be everything to everyone as far as hitting editorial, or news, or celebrity, at Gallery Stock, we know who we are. We really wanna hit that kind of premium level client. We wanna show them that we also have that premium level of content for them. And we just wanna curate it enough that they're gonna be coming on our site, and searching a keyword, and finding right from page one, page two, page three, hero images, or secondary images that could support their hero images right from the get-go. Is you don't necessarily have to get to page three to find the one image that maybe could work. We wanna like, hit them right away with highly conceptual, really well thought out, well produced images whether it's in lifestyle, or business, or travel, or landscapes, or anything like that. So we really kind of tried to niche ourself in this little market, and we're gonna try to hone in. I think we're doing a pretty good job about that. I'm gonna add a little bit to that from my experience. When I was at Corbis, Corbis worked for me pretty good because I had such a kind of broad catalog. And it was good. I liked it, I could still kind of get more specialized shoots by talking to my art director there. And then now coming over and deciding to go with a boutique agency, it's been pretty cool so far because now I get to kind of focus, and I've got more help, I get more kind of instruction. I can reach out to Jen whenever. She's always giving out new ideas. So I've kind of able to now switch my broadness and focus it more onto specific shoots. So yeah, like she said, there really is kind of a fit for anyone and everyone, so kind of decide where you wanna go, and then make a decision based on that. That's a really good point because there are even more niched agencies out there that only, you know, do travel or only do beauty. And you know, if you are really niched yourself, it might be helpful to kind of seek out and you know, work with an agency like that. Good point. What're some hints for success in approaching a new agency? Maybe some tips, and what're some pet peeves? Things that we shouldn't try, I guess, when approaching an agency, thanks. Sure, absolutely. I would say if you have a friend who's with that agency, or a colleague or something like that, it's always kind of nice to get a referral. When I get someone through one of the photographers I already have, I tend to kind of look at it a little bit more seriously because I know who it's coming from, so if you have a friend at an agency already and you think it could be an agency that's a good fit for you, I feel like that's kind of the best way in. A second way in would be there's, usually on most of our, sites that are out there, there's how to become a contributor, whether it's a tab on the page, or a email link, or a place on the homepage. On our homepage, if you scroll down a little bit, there's a nice little box there that says how to become a contributor. You click on that, and it emails our team, and you can kind of let us know that you're interested. I think one of my pet peeves would be if a photographer reaches out to me, and they don't include like a portfolio link, at that point, I'm like okay, well, now I have to search their name, and then. You'd be surprised, there's some photographers out there that then don't have a portfolio and I'm like, well, how do you want me to review this if I don't even see your work? So, I'd say just make sure you definitely have an online portfolio and you include that so if you're kind of like, quote-unquote, cold calling someone, or cold emailing someone, just make sure you kind of have everything buttoned up. And it's nice to get like a little summary about where you think your images would play out in the market. Like if you are a travel photographer and this is why you wanna be part of that agency. You know, giving me a little bit of background on you, and then why you think you fit in with my agency, that's always really helpful. Sometimes, I'll get like two sentences, I'll get a link. And then I'll be okay, looks like they've got beauty, but then they're doing more current travel. Like, that's great, do they wanna do it all? Or do they really wanna focus in on one like Geo was talking about, how he's kind of narrowing in a little bit on his scope. So it's also nice to get a little bit of like, a directive statement as far as, you know, what you're looking for from me. And then, I would say, once talks get going and if you do work with an agency and you get signed, stock is something that, it's a bit of a game where the more you put into it, the better you get out of it. That's usually the little formula. There's no telltale signs of like, if you do x, y, and z, there's not a formula, you will make this amount of money. So, unfortunately, that's not available. I wish it was because then I'd be giving it all to my photographers and we'd be making a lot of money. But there's not, so there's a lot of, you know, different circumstances that come into play. So I would say if you're really serious about wanting to do stock, and you get signed by an agency, don't just give them a one-time like, here's my portfolio, and then peace out for like a year or two, and then come back and say, well why aren't I selling? You know, it's something where you need to keep on top of it a bit. It's not a ton of work, but it does need to be maintained. It'd be great if it's like a quarterly thing. And we totally understand when our photographers are on assignments or they are, they have their own personal projects that they're working on, they have their own client shoots that they're doing. Absolutely, so I have photographers that will reach out to me, and you know, we'll get a shoot going or we'll get some images in from them. And then, you know, three, four months might go by and I'll be like hey, what's going on? And they'll be like oh my gosh, I've been like so busy. And then at that point, I get so excited for them. I'm like yes, you were on that assignment, great! You know, like that client called you, love it! And then I know, now I expect maybe in a month or two, when he or she kinda dies down a little, then I'll reach maybe back out then and we'll get some more work onto our site. It's just the bigger library you can have with someone, and the more you can kind of just maintain it with me, or whoever you're working with, I think the better off you can do. That was a long answer to your question. Sorry. Thank you. I'm gonna add one little note to that. Kind of almost the exact opposite experience that I had with Jen is that when Corbis closed its doors, I wasn't really sure what I was going to do. I had a nice, you know, response and suggestions from my art director at Corbis. And then Jen reached out to me and sent me an email. So I got an email from someone I didn't really know yet. And what did I do? I asked photographers, I looked at the roster, I asked photographers that I knew if they knew anybody there and got some really good feedback from people who knew that agency and had worked with them. So, that was what helped me make a decision. So like Jen had said, ask other photographers and reach out to them. So, it's one of those things. Always be networking and talking among, amongst yourself and other professionals. It's very, very valuable. And we do the same, Geo. Sarah was your art director over at Corbis and she's a friend of mine, and so, I know when Corbis was closing its doors, she had a few photographers that she was like, I need to take care of them. You know, could you reach out to some of them? Think she gave me like three names and you were one of them. And I was like, I absolutely remember Geo's work. We would sit around and do group edits, and she was your art director editor, but I absolutely remembered your work. And when she said he's gonna be looking for an agency, I was like, absolutely, I would totally take him onboard in a heartbeat. Thanks for that, yes, so it's definitely. (laughing) Yeah, so, it's kind of like a small world. It's like the story I said about the iceberg picture. Once you get in there, everybody kinda knows of everybody else and you all just help each other and work with each other. It's just such a good support. What she had also mentioned about photographers disappearing for a while and coming back, I'm kind of one of those. But it's great because I always send an email to Jen. I'm like, hey, I'm doing this, this, and this. I've got this job, I'm gonna be going here. And she sends back like, think about this, you should try and do this, why don't you do this, oh, when you're up here snowboarding, look for. It's so good, it's just like that communication and that inspiration, and support that you have. So, it's something that's worthwhile in the agency And I think that also leads then to another great topic about trends and briefs, you know, as far as like, if you need support and what you should be shooting. For us, in our industry, trends and briefs are kind of two separate things, two separate words, where the trends that we're looking for, we're looking for patterns, we're looking for, we're looking through current ads, we're looking to what our clients are asking for us right now, we're looking at current events and news, and how is that shaping, our creative and art directors are reading trend blogs and where's our society going? So, for us, beginning of each year, we put together kind of our Gallery Stock 2017 Trend Brief. I think it's something you're gonna leave behind with the group here today. And with that, I wanted to go over a couple of the trends that we were looking at, what we were seeing, and how we were forecasting them in that booklet. One of them would be, when you read through it, it's the grounded observer. The grounded observer, and we've personified these people within this trend booklet just to kind of give it a little bit of a different read to it. But the grounded observer would be someone who really wants to live in the moment. It's sort of the anti-technology, where we wanna show images that show people just experiencing life, living life, enjoying life, enjoying that moment, and not documenting it, not having any kind of technology in that image. Our clients will often come to us and say, hey, I'm looking for a moment that says pure joy, or I'm looking for a moment that really, you know, executes happiness. So I'll have photographers saying hey, I'm going to Sao Paulo this coming week, what can I shoot there? And sometimes I like to kinda take a step back with my photographers and say, it's not necessarily where you're going, but I need to hit more of these emotions and these feelings with what you're shooting. So sometimes, a client will want that happiness image, and they honestly couldn't care if it was inside a home or out on a mountain, or hiking or wherever. They're just looking for that feeling, that moment that you're able to capture and get. So a lotta times I like to tell my photographers, yes, there are specific needs or we might need a skyline of New York City shot from New Jersey or something like that, but then there's also moments where we just really need to nail those keywords, and that will give you a great image for what our clients are looking for. So with that, we've got the grounded observer. Then we also have kind of an opposite of that, would be the creators. And the creators are really like the social media mavens where they're out there documenting everything in the world, and we kind of wanna show them almost like a behind the scenes as well. So it would be imagery that has people interacting and using their cellphones, they're on their laptops, they're creating an office wherever it may be. It's not necessarily in a traditional office setting. We wanna show artisans, we wanna show people who are screenprinting or creating that next poster that might go viral or something like that. We really, that's the kind of images also that we wanna see. And it's been an overused word in our industry right now, but authenticity, but it still holds really true. It's just capturing that feeling, that moment, and we need to believe it. It needs to be not stocky, not set up, not overly produced. It just needs to be real and in the moment. So those are two of the trends that were in the brief that you'll see. And then there's a bunch of just visual trends that we're looking to get in or trends in the industry as well, and that would be minimalism, really being able to compose your image nice, being able to really have breathing room, really have copy room. Coming from the advertising world and getting into stock, I was always like, there's so many images out there, and I just don't have room to put my logo or to have my copy for my ad or something like that. So I think this minimalism trend really speaks to, it can be simple and beautiful and still like, high quality and gorgeous in that way. And let's bring in more images like that. The whole aerial and drone imagery, it's here to stay, it's definitely here to stay. It's been the past couple years it's been, you know, definitely catching on, but it's just another vantage point. And I think it just adds to the arsenal of the photography that's out there. Will it in itself have different changes and shifts? Absolutely. You know, like maybe it won't always be just the real look of it. Maybe then there'll be filters applied to it, or maybe there won't. Or maybe it's minimalism but from an aerial perspective, and how does that look? And that'll evolve and grow and stuff like that, but that's certainly something that's starting to be around and will definitely be around in the future. Of all the client requests that come in, aerial and drone is definitely on there at least once a week, I'd say. Then we'd have kind of the analog, kind of retro feeling as far as like, craving that look of film, but not the like, heavily filtered Instagram post look of like two to three years ago. That's not what they're looking for. They really are just looking for that grainy, that feel, getting back to that tectorial love of film, and how can that be shown in a more modern way? That's one of our things. '90s reboot, just as far as like styling, the colors, you know, how you're gonna be paying attention to what your models are wearing for that shoot, and you know, that retro look is definitely something that's trending right now and we foresee for the next year. And I would definitely say, we've called it, in our brief, qualux. It's a bit of a made up word, but quality and luxury. And for, that's more of a specific one for Gallery Stock, I would say because we do err more on the like, high end luxury side when we're, when we're giving images to our clients. Sometimes it's maybe not the base brand that's looking at us, but it's their luxury brand, or their higher level brand, whether it's like, Amex, but Amex Black is looking towards us, or it's City Gold, looking for their Gold customers. So with qualux, it would be all about just quality and luxury, so not about like mass consumption. It's more about like that, having you know, the styling just really fine looking clothes that fit the model well. And then with that, you dress your family really well, and then you go shopping with them, or you shoot them at home. And then, just that higher end, higher echelon kinda comes across in your image already just because of the way you styled it, or the location that you chose for that shoot. So those are some of the trends that you can see in that brief, and what we've talked about. And then, briefs on the other hand are something separate. So, when Geo was saying that he would tell me all right, I'm gonna be going here, I'm gonna be going there, I would usually try and send my photographers a brief, and that would be, we would look back to the trends at that point and say, all right, these are the trends I'd love to apply, but how do they manifest themselves in actual pictures? Like what is it that I need? So I would go through and kinda create like nice little, almost like a list of shots that I would love. And some photographers love it, some don't. Some use it loosely, some follow it to the nail. It's all up to you as far as how you wanna use your resources, how you want to be supported. We like to try and just give a bunch of support in terms of tools for our photographers, and then they use them as they see fit. So these briefs, when you have an art director or someone that you can contact and work with, feel free to use them in that way, like get some specific ideas for them, or if you need just more general ideas, you can just say oh, just get me like top three of what I would need if I was doing this type of shoot, and they can help you and guide you that way. So there's those kind of briefs. Now, we also get client briefs in, where when you're working, when our clients are working with our licensing agents, we have a photo research team that will go through, and if a need comes in, they'll research our site, create light boxes and kind of showcase that to a client. Sometimes a client will look at that and say, this is great, but I just didn't get it yet, just didn't get it, and I think, you know, I'm really, really wondering what else is out there. We'll do a deep search with our photographers, and we'll send out usually a one to two page brief about what more specifically the client is looking for. There was one where we had an airline customer, and they were looking for a silhou of a passenger looking out an airline window. And they needed to see either a cityscape or a land formation or something sort of pretty out the window. I think they gave us three days to kind of pull in content, and we'll reach out to our photographers, say hey, do you have anything unpublished that you haven't sent me yet? Maybe it's a photographer who had been traveling for a while and they hadn't, you know, for two or three months, given me new photos. They're like, oh my gosh, I was on a flight before, I could send this in right away. So we'll do this deep search for our clients on briefs like that. And it's a great way to pull in new content. It's also a more focused way where, yes, we might have 1,000 photographers that we're working with on our roster, but maybe only 20 have images that might fit that brief. So then your chances of your image being selected, you know, have gone up even more because you know what, not all 1,000 people are submitting, and so it's only those 20. And from those 20, the client is then making a decision on that. So it's really good to get those specific client briefs out and keep you guys more targeted in that way. That's great, one little note on those targeted briefs. Those are fantastic when you work with an agency. And when you get those in your inbox, usually you're like, whoa this is cool, this is for somebody who's like, wants something specific, it's usually a pretty big client. And it's like, a pretty big job, so, when you get those, you're like, all right, if I have this image that works, I got a chance to have a pretty big sale here, so, it's also one of those things that you see come in. And then, you see those, and I always think about them down the road, I'm like, whoa, there's one time this airline was asking for these pictures. I'm gonna go ahead and start making some of those pictures, why not? Super smart. Because if someone wants it, usually, someone else down the line would want the same, so it's good to absolutely keep those things in your head, and kind of, when you're at your next location or whatever, like, oh yeah, there was that client looking for that. Why don't I just grab a couple of those while I'm at it? And add it to your library. Yeah, and to go back on something that Jen said about these trends is those first couple that she was talking about, the grounded observer and then the connected, and how they don't need to be big and overproduced, and these are things that we can all go and shoot without spending very much money. And I'm gonna talk about that more of keeping production costs down, but so much of the stuff that's in need right now is stuff that doesn't, it's not about spending a bunch of money on a shoot. It's about getting that moment, getting that connection, bringing that person into the right place and taking their picture. Absolutely. A good example of that would be just the holidays. We always need holiday imagery. We need Thanksgiving, we need Christmas, and we need it refreshed. It's usually a high need in the buying period when a client needs it, and then it kinda drops off. So a lotta photographers will kind of forget about shooting it or oh, it's already Thanksgiving, I'm not really gonna shoot it. And then we don't get a lot of imagery around that, so I always suggest to my photographers who maybe even are used to doing bigger productions, hey, just shoot your family. Like, you've got good looking kids, you got good looking friends, like, shoot them. Have them sign model releases. You know, don't ruin your Thanksgiving and only shove the camera in all your friends' and families' faces, but like, spend maybe a half an hour or an hour that day and just try to capture what you think Thanksgiving looks like or how Thanksgiving looks like to your family, and it could be different than any of our families, but it's yours. And that, I'd love to get any more imagery in around holidays that is really real and family-based in that way. Yeah, a lot of folks are asking about the number of images when a new photographer submits a portfolio to you. How many do you like to see? Oh, that's a really good question. I would love to see, and it can vary. Like if you're starting out, and you really feel like you're going to be aggressive about giving new images, you don't have to have a ton. Like if you wanna send me 100, and you're like well, my goal this year is to really ramp up production or even just shoots in general, and I plan to get more later, I can work with that. Like, I love to see the initiative. I love to see someone's excited and passionate about their project. And if I like what I'm seeing as far as in those first 100, I'm fine with signing someone with maybe a smaller portfolio. As we build, I like to tell my photographers, once you hit around 200 images live on our site, that's when we really like to starting pushing you, and showcasing you to our clients. We just wanna show like hey, we've just signed so-and-so. We want them to be able to click on your portfolio, and not just see like, 10 images. Like that's a little bit of a letdown for a client. If they liked you enough, and they wanted to click on that and see what you're all about, and you only have 10 images, it's a bit of a wahh. But if you've got it like 50 to 100, oh great, and then like, you know, a month from now, we're gonna load more and maybe they check back on your little square and your portfolio, and now you've got 200. It's just a better way to kind of promote you and your work. But I'd say if you're just starting out, and you have that smaller, that smaller portfolio, or that archive, but you really do wanna ramp up, just let the agency that you're gonna be working with know and hopefully they'll take a chance on you in that way. And definitely follow through with it because if you do only have 10 images with an agency, chances of it really selling or doing well for you can be kind of slim. Great, thank you. Yep. Thank you, Jen. Sure, thanks guys. (audience clapping) Hope that was helpful. All right, I guess any questions after that that you guys have for me? I guess this could be for you or for Jen, but you might be able to answer it. So how many, I guess how many photographers are art directors working with? Or creative directors working with? So obviously, Jen is yours. How many other photographers is she kind of, talking with and sending briefs to? Depending on the agency, I suppose. Yeah, I think. I can't get into exact numbers, but my experience in the past has been that there, depending on the size of the agency, there's one, two, three, some of the bigger ones. Even at Corbis, there wasn't that many. So they do have a lot of photographers that they are working with. Everybody who's part of the agency will get the same trend reports sent to them and they'll get the same, I don't know. They know who specializes in what, so they'll send out those specific client requests to people. I'm not sure how many Jen has. I'm gonna say she's got several hundred photographers that she's working with. My communication with Jen for as much as I need and what I work with her, I would say I email her every couple months. And I get enough information from one email, one 30 minute phone conversation with her every couple months. Like, that's really all I need. And I think the idea, in order to keep the cost down too, to make us more money, everybody more money is to, you know, everybody's gotta kinda do their own part. So she, yeah, so I'll get information from her, and I'll go out and take a bunch of images, and then, send them up to her and she looks at them, adds them to the catalog if she feels fit, says hey, how 'bout do this? And that's what she does all day long. She's yeah, always working, always answering emails, always staying up on the latest work. There's a whole team of people at the agency that do all these other small jobs like, she's not like, going in and digging around, looking for pictures, and then making sure they're the right size, or anything like that, so. Yeah, I'm not sure the exact numbers, but they've got quite a few photographers they're working with. What's the impact on these micro stock companies, on agencies like this? Because now there's a huge software company that makes Photoshop-type products and Illustrator-type products that has integrated their own stock into the company, so that a creative person at an ad agency can actually just go within their document, and pull out images. Yeah, so to go back to the micro stock side of it. That is something that was kind of born within designers wanting to share photos with other designers in order to make their design and their layouts. I think that art directors at agencies have more of a budget. Their clients want something unique, they want something that's not something necessarily that everybody else has. It's not just something that like, click a button, oh that one's cool. There's more involved in that. And the more micro stock there is, there's more of that, then I think that makes a lot of kind of higher end clients, the clients with money, they wanna spend money to get something that's not that, not something that everybody else has. Yeah, I do know some of the micro stocks, the ease for a designer, photographic designer, to just build what they're building to show to the client just for their comps, the ease to just be able to pull photos and use those is something that, that's kinda the idea of micro stock. That's what they want. So as a photographer, to try and push yourself further, make more money, try to go more toward the rights managed, like, that should be a goal you set for yourself. When you're sending in your portfolio to an agency, will you be sending like, thumbnails or a high res image? I think now, the best way to submit would be to send a link to your website. If you wanna show more than your website, which is completely fine, then go ahead and put up an online gallery. Think we all know how to make just an online gallery. Doesn't need to be high resolution. Maybe just thumbnails that can be enlarged to screen size, like something you would send to a client, or if you took some pictures for your family, and they wanna see the pictures you took. You can also send the link to something like that to show a broader group. I would actually kinda highly recommend that. So show your portfolio and what you're working on, and then say, here's a link to a bunch of other stuff that I've been shooting and what I'm doing.

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