My Lightweight Microstock Experiment

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GX1 stock image - Suitable for MicroStock?
GX1 stock image – Suitable for MicroStock?

After my last blog post about my Camera Wish List, it got me thinking that I will probably want to upgrade my trusty LX5 at some point over the next year. There is nothing currently on the market that would make me switch but I suspect there will be over the next 12 months. Why? Well there is something in technology known as Moore’s law which stated simply says computing power doubles every 18 months.

I’m sure it hasn’t escaped your attention but camera is now really mini computers and the rate of improvement has accelerated so that after 3 years I can probably get a model that’s twice as good at the same price. My LX5 will be 3 years old next December and I think there will be something so good launched that I will just have to switch.

My suspicion is that I will need in the region of £500 to upgrade although I should get some of this back for the sale of the LX5. I need a way therefore to create an additional £500 over the next year and that’s where this experiment comes in.

I was looking at my image archive the other day and realised I had some 50,000+ images shot on my lightweight camera gear that are just sitting on my RAID drives, bit doing much. Some of these I use to illustrate my blogs but by far the majority never see the light of day. I actually want to slim down this back catalogue by editing the images to remove the rubbish, refine the ones I like and generate some money with them.

Now I should point out that I already shoot stock for two libraries but this tends to be with my DSLR. All the LX5, R1, GF1, GX1 and Sony NEX-5 images never go to these libraries as they have very clear guidelines over the cameras they accept. Microstock libraries on the other hand are more open minded about the equipment and will accept all of the above if the quality is right.

The problem I have is not in the quality of the images but in the subject matter. The vast majority of my work is landscape and travel based. These are subjects that the Microstock libraries generally don’t want more of as they are not as saleable as the concept images. I am therefore likely to have quite a lot of rejects although I am free to submit the same images across multiple libraries.

So, my plan is to sign up with 5-10 libraries and submit approximately 10-20 images a week from my archive. If 50% of these are accepted then I should achieve 500 images by the end of the year, hopefully generating sufficient to pay for the equipment upgrade. The only problem with my whole approach is that I might get tired of the relentless keywording and editing to generate the 10-20 images a week. Assuming I get the experiment underway I will report back through this blog in the coming months. Don’t be surprised however if I report back that I don’t have the patience or time to do this.

4 thoughts on “My Lightweight Microstock Experiment

    DGuidas said:
    December 18, 2012 at 11:53 pm

    Wonderful image Robin. I love the light tones and composition. I don’t follow the “stock” market much, mostly because my work is probably totally unusable in the commercial world, but the last time I looked the requirements were pretty much all DSLRS. But I don’t think micro four thirds were even a consideration for serious work then. Now however smaller cameras are quite competitive in image quality (and file size) so I don’t think there should be any requirements on camera size – lens quality maybe – another area where micro four-thirds shines.

    I think your GX1 and LX5 work is top notch. So good luck with your experiement. By the way, I’m probably going to spring for a LX7 soon. I had an LX3 in the past and, looking back, I’m still amazed at the quality of the images.

      thelightweightphotographer responded:
      December 19, 2012 at 8:05 pm

      Thanks David, your feedback is greatly appreciated, especially the bit about a wonderful image 😉

      I never owned an LX3 but I have read quite a lot of comments that rate it as being sharper than the LX5. I am also starting to see comments from people about the high quality of the LX7 and especially it’s JPG’s. If you do upgrade I would be very interested to hear your thoughts. All the best and Merry Christmas.

    pjs28jack said:
    December 19, 2012 at 10:32 am

    Can you advise me on which do you think are the best Microstocj libaries to deal with please?

      thelightweightphotographer responded:
      December 19, 2012 at 8:09 pm

      Hi Paul, at the moment I’m not sure I can give any real recommendations other than what my research has thrown up. The key players appear to be iStockphoto, Shutterstock, Dreamstime and Fotolia. The earnings I have seen reported by others seem to come in the main from these. There is however more to this than just earnings for example how easy is their site to use, upload speeds, ease of adding keywords, do they like your subject matter and style of work, how long do they take to approve or reject images. It might be worth checking out some of the forums to see what others things. Merry Christmas.

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