Fancy yourself a bit of a photographer? Ever thought about selling your Kodak moments online? Design Federation caught up with one of iStockphoto’s most successful sellers based down under and learnt that it takes more than a Hipstamatic app to maketh the image-maker.
What is your professional background?
I am a graphic designer and Illustrator.
What sort of images do you supply to iStockphoto?
The occasional photograph but mainly illustrations ranging for 50′s retro business characters to shiny graphic buttons
What are the tools of your trade?
3 things! Camera for recording reference material, note book for jotting down ideas + sketching out ideas and Adobe illustrator for turning those ideas into artwork.
How did you become an iStockphoto contributor?
I was searching online a few years back for a flower photo I needed for a job. I found what I needed on a site called istockphoto. After I joined up to download the image I noticed they also accepted illustrations to sell from …anybody who wanted to submit them! It sounded like a great idea and cost absolutely nothing, so I thought i’d give it a shot.
What mistakes (if any) did you make early on when you just began contributing images?
I spent far too long drawing simple patterns and images that sold for the lowest amount! I wish I’d concentrated on original quality images. Good quality files will always sell no matter what the price.
What are your tips to ensure that a photo is selected?
Make sure the composition, lighting and focus is spot on, because even the greatest photo in the world will be rejected outright if any of the above are lacking (been there many times!)
What are your tips to ensure that an ILLUSTRATION is selected?
Illustrations are a little easier as everything can be altered and adjusted. I’d say if you were submitting a series or set of images in one file, don’t make the too small on the page and If you line work is neat and areas line up with each other, you should be on your way to getting a file approved!
What is your bestselling image and why do you think it’s so popular?
Ha ha, can you believe its a set of green and blue squares! It’s so boring and ordinary I’ve got no idea why people keep on buying it!
Can you make a living from iStockphoto?
Ooh, good call. A few years ago I would have said yes but now, with 9 million+ images you’d have to have a portfolio with literally hundreds or even thousands of images to get noticed and downloaded.
Of the images you have contributed over the years, what is your favourite?
I like Internet Jesus :))
What sort of a response do you get from people using your images? (If any?)
Normally gratitude, which is always nice to keep your ego floating. They will often send a link or jpg showing how they incorporated my illustration into their graphics.
Did you ever think being an iStock contributor could become your living/profession?
It’s certainly part of what I do, but I’m always worried the Russian Mafia or a Solar sunspot will bring the internet down so I’d be loathe to put all my eggs in own basket. I think iStock is great way to pass the time on quiet work days :)
Do you have any words of advice for any others wanting to turn their passion into their profession?
Don’t expect any return on your time spent creating for at least a couple of years and try to get a portfolio of at least 1,000+ images. Any less than that and I don’t think you are going to come close to paying the rent.
What did being an iStock contributor teach you about your craft?
After having lots of rejections I know now more about the technical side of file construction and how to avoid possible problems and file corruptions end users sometimes encounter.
Can you tell if an image is going to be a hit or not?
You can never tell upfont. I’ve created images that I thought were the best thing since sliced bread …and nobody wants them :(( The easy way to tell is by the number of file downloads.
I can see right now that a chain link I created last month has 10 downloads whereas others around it only have 1 or 2 so that one might do well.