4. Tell us about the time when you first got started in photography.
Before microstock, all I did was to point and shoot in auto mode with a little 3 MP camera. It was only after I joined microstock that I got really serious about photography and bought my first DSLR along with a book - "Understanding Exposure". I found photography so amazing that a year later, I finally quit my day job and started taking photographs for a living.
5. In your opinion, what does it take to become successful in this industry?
As with any other business, the most important thing you need is to REALLY love what you do. Competition is tough in the stock industry and therefore, it is probably better if you are ready to put in the time and effort required and able to create something original - a style of your own. If you truly love the job, you won't notice the hours spent on taking photos and editing. At times, I just hope to have some extra hours to shoot.
6. What was your biggest challenge coming into this industry?
I didn't know much about photography when I first joined microstock. It was only after a month of being in the industry that I held the first DSLR. Back then, it was really difficult to compete against professional photographers whom already had the experience while I was still new and in my learning stage (my photos were only half as good as compared to the professionals at that time). Now, after two and a half years in the industry, I look back and see how much fun it was learning about photography and to grow alongside with the microstock industry.
7. What are the best perks as a Photographer?
As a photographer, I am always delighted to see peoples' happy faces when they see their prints of the photos I've taken of them. It is really rewarding. And in relation to stock photography: I like the freedom it gives me, not only geographically but also creatively. You can work and produce anything you can think of from just about anywhere around the world as long as you have an internet connection.
8. How do you plan for your shooting sessions?
First, I buy tickets to Colombia! A bit unusual I know but that's where I have my proper studio and that's where I can easily find good models, locations and cheaper props. Once I'm there, I would come up with the project's concept, tailoring specifically to the models I've secured. If new models are used, it is important for the models to understand the shooting concept and requirements so they would feel comfortable throughout the shoot. I try to visit Colombia every 4-5 months once; each time returning to the UK with plenty of images to edit and upload. I would normally plan about 2 hours on each photo session.
9. How would you describe your work to first time viewers?
Useful, clean and very commercial.
10. Do you shoot to what your heart tells you or do you go through a complex check list in your mind when you produce your work? Describe the feeling/check list.
It's a combination of both. I do have a little list for every shoot and I guess automatically by experience, I sort of follow a certain routine: first, portraits for the models and then my own concepts. Many of the poses, angles and concepts come from the spur of moment with the models.
11. From your experience, what subjects gives you the greatest satisfaction? Any examples?
People for sure, especially when they have great personalities, it always makes photoshoots more pleasant. One of the photoshoots I've enjoyed so far is the one in Apr 2007. I shot a CD cover for a band and the guys were just hilarious. Group work tends to be easier and more enjoyable because ideas come from everyone and there is never a quiet moment in the studio.
12. From your experience, what subjects are the hardest to work with? Any examples?
Kids .... some of them are really tough work, especially when parents are not cooperative.
13. What is your philosophy when it comes to your work?
To do one photo at a time and make sure it is the best you can do with it, before moving to the next. In my workflow, I personally do pretty much everything including the research, then the photoshoot itself (although I normally have one assistant during the shoots), raw processing, Photoshop/3D editing, keywording, uploading and categorizing. I always want to make sure everything is done correctly.
14. Describe who/what inspires you, tell us why?
Uhm... there are so many good artists out there, Liv Friis-larsen, Iconogenic, Abu, Yuri Arcurs ... all very inspiring in their own ways. But if I were to choose one, it has to be Lise Gagne, the photographer who "showed" me the potential of being in the industry and how professional photography should or should not be. I will always be thankful for that even though I never had the chance to contact her again.
15. What do you do when those creative juices just seems to evade you. How do you "get creative"?
Browsing through advertising books/magazines or top photographers' and photoshop gurus' profiles will give me some ideas. Looking at their work always inspires me create nice images myself.
16. Tell us about a time when inspiration just hits you, and you felt the insatiable urge to create. What did you do with that energy?
I just go and do what came to my head before I forget. The best work tends to come out from these moments of inspiration.
17. What have you discovered about yourself through photography?
That I could be a workaholic. Nowadays it amazes me how passionate and determined I could be for something I love doing. Photography made me realize how you can make things happen when you believe in them.
18. Whose work do you admire the most? Why?
The work that has the strongest impact on me in the stock industry is Abu's work. His images are very creative, bright and colourful. With past experience as a designer, I perceive he is constantly trying to break new ground with his creations.
19. Do you have any advice for those who are just getting in to stock photography?
This is not as easy as it looks but do your best, be original and you will reach your goals. You will get what you put into it for sure! Also bear in mind the stock photography world is very different from the art world. New photographers need to be aware that images they shoot for stock agencies need to have a clear concept and a clean commercial look.