About a year ago, I started this blog to track my progress with my photography learning journey and if it happened to benefit someone else along the way then I’d say great, more power to learning. I got up one-morning last summer and found that I had absolutely nothing on my calendar for the day, sort of reminiscent of the early part of my childhood. You know the feeling of excitement and great anticipation a child has in the middle of the night before Christmas morning? It’s like that and I seem to have had quite a few of those growing up. I grabbed my canon 6d and set out on an all-day shooting excursion. I had always wanted to learn to take better pictures but could never find the time to learn all that technical stuff involved. Now approaching retirement I couldn’t think of anything more appropriate and compelling to fill that void than an old passion, photography!.
My goal was to get significantly better with my overall photography skill set, be able to produce above-average work on a consistent basis and make the elite league of Stock Photography, as a contributor. Shutterstock and Fine Art America were my two top picks out of a list of over 20+ similar sites I came across that dealt with sales of photographs and video clips in one manner or another. The main reason for choosing stock photography as an area of interest over others was because I was more interested in Landscape than any other genre (such as fashion, editorial, commercial, portraiture, etc.). I got on Shutterstock to learn their requirements and all the necessary steps one must go through to get started. I found out that their criteria were kinda tough but one can easily understand the logic. They look for both quality and everything under the sun on the legal aspects of how photographs are collected and spread around the world under the guise of the world’s leader in digital photo warehousing. Street and night photography are where my heart really is but I decided to take on “Landscape” as a starter as I felt there were fewer legal issues involved which would allow me a bit more leeway to focus on quality, composition, and artistic value. I knew I had to be better than the average guy for my work to even be considered for the initial screening. So from July to November 2016, I spent most of my research watching youtube videos and reading tons of articles here and there on the fundamentals of photography, landscape photography, gear, lenses, etc. My favorite teachers whether on youtube or written materials are “Tony and Chelsea Northrup”. If you haven’t done so, just buy their book; you won’t regret it. You can find them on youtube, and Amazon for their book. Another photo expert that I like is Phil Steele. He’s laid back and easy to follow and understand with a great wealth of knowledge. He is a walking and talking encyclopedia. He’s also on youtube and here’s his website.
First Big Test
So back in November 2016 after 4 months of practice, it was time to submit my first batch of images over to Shutterstock for the big review. I didn’t hear back from them right away so naturally, I was a nervous wreck, to say the least. It took several days to finally get a response and I remember thinking, ‘great, they probably thought my images were so bad they had to throw them all out. I finally heard back from them on the 5th or 6th day and I was thrilled to learn that my hard work was beginning to bear fruits. To my great surprise, I only had two rejections out of 50 images. I thought to myself, ‘man, the screener must have some serious visual impairment or perhaps he was having a huge hangover from the night before.’ The two rejects had the following issues: one was out of focus which is the “golden rule” in Landscape photography which is that everything must be tack sharp from foreground to infinity. I learned quickly from this experience to just always start my aperture setting at around f/8 or f/11 and go up from there as you need to. The second reject had to do with their “golden rule #2”, trademark infringement (see here). Always make sure that your photos are free of questionable trademark issues. I referred to the examples above as golden rule one and two only because almost all the professionals on the subject of Landscape Photography emphasize those two elements(focus and trademarks) as basic rules a landscape photographer must adhere to at all time. I’m sure there will be many more rules to come my way that I will break but those two were the first hoops to conquer. Now when looking through the viewfinder I look for potential trademark issues and focusing before I snap the shutter button.
‘Wow, I can do this,’ I thought to myself after the very first upload. I felt amazing, sort of the feeling you get after a good workout, or when you finally get your espresso after a couple of days without caffeine. I was so excited I decided right there and then that I was going to give photography a notch higher on the interest scale. The first thing I wanted to do was improve my equipment especially my lenses. My current lens is a kit lens (canon 24-105mm f/4) that came with my Canon EOS 6D. It’s an ok lens but I would like a brighter lens that can handle poorly lit indoor situations as one of my long-term goals is shooting indoor events. I’m also interested in moving up to the 5d mark iii which has dropped in price point drastically since the arrival of the EOS 5d Mark IV.
It’s been about ten months since I started this trek and I have been steady and on point so far. Stock Photography is still my thing that I’m working on or have been working on since last summer. My current pace is slow but that’s ok as I got into it in the first place because of its flexibility. It’s an exciting feeling when you’re surfing the web and once in awhile one of your photos pops up on the screen, in the way of Ads from Shutterstock. It’s a nice affirmation that you are on your way to do greater things with your hobby or career if you choose to go that route. The bottom line is if I can do this, then anybody can do it even better.