Show #2 – Selling your photos

In the second episode of the jpeg2RAW podcast, host Mike Howard is joined by long time friend and fellow photographer, Philip Dyer.  Mike and Philip discuss various topics with the main focus on micro stock photography.

Before getting into the main topic of the show, the guys discuss a bit of news.  First up was a company called Lytroimage.  Lytro has created a technology that allows you to focus an image AFTER you take the photo.  Head over to the article on for more information.

imageNext up for news was a company called GadgetTrack which can helps you locate your stolen camera.  It works by searching the internet for images that contain data specific to your camera in the EXIF data.  So if the thief decides to post some images on Facebook using your camera, this company may be able to find it for you.  Not sure about the price, but if you lost an expensive camera, it may be worth it.



After that bit of news, the guys headed into the main topic for the show, making money from your images.  In particular, the discussion was about micro stock photography.  No, that isn’t just the photography of very small things.  Wikipedia has a decent article on the subject, but it basically means you upload your photos to a Stock Agency like iStock Photo and then they sell it many times while you receive a portion of each sale.  Of course you first have to be accepted into the agency which generally requires the submission of several sellable images.  The stock agency will inspect the images and if they meet their requirements, you are in!

In the case of both Philip and Mike, they sell their images at iStock Photo , but they have also tried stock agencies such as Shutterstock  and dreamstime.

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The first step is getting accepted into the agency.  Each agency is different, but in general terms it requires the submission of several photos which are then inspected for quality and sell ability.  Once accepted, you can then start uploading more images to see.  However, they ALWAYS go through this inspection process.

Mike mentions his portfolio only has 18 images in it, while Philip has nearly 1,400.  The size of the portfolio can be somewhat directly related to the amount of income you get from selling stock.  Mike’s theory, based on a sample size of 2 photographers, is that you make about $0.75 per month for every image you have with iStock, assuming you are an exclusive member.  The guys explain that being exclusive means you only sell images for one agency.  Below is a chart from iStock with their commission rates.


Part of building a good selling portfolio is creating images that sell.  Mike discusses one of him images that has sold well, one of his son eating a hotdogimage.  He actually took this image while camping with his kids, but the nice blurred background with his son on the right side of the image made for a decent image that has sold over 500 times on iStock.

The guys also discuss the importance of a model release.  iStock has a sample copy for their photographers and they must be used anytime a person is in an image that could be identified, and that identification is not limited to just the face as it was in the past.  In addition, anytime a copyrighted product is in the image (like a Coke or name brand on a shirt) a product release must be used.  Philip mentions this is something he avoids since he thinks it would be near impossible to obtain, Mike agrees.

Philip’s larger portfolio is much more diverse and the guys discuss a few of his images.  He not only has images of his kids, but also models and things such as apples.  Mike comments on the shadows in the apple shots and how soft and pleasing they are, and the guys discuss some of Philip’s lighting technics.

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Both Mike and Philip discuss that one result of sell images through a stock agency like iStock is that you never know who purchased the image and how it is being used.  Every once in a while, you come across your image being used like Philip found one day when he took his daughter bowling.  As they walked in the bowling alley, there in front of them was a photo of his daughter.  She signed the image and Philip took a few more images of her for his stock portfolio while they where there.  Mike actually has a page on his blog where he tracks the web sites using his images.  Click here to see the page.

The discuss leads to a discussion about the models Philip uses and where he finds them.  Philip uses Model Mayhem most of the time, but has also used One Model Place.  In general, Philip paid the models $100 each for about 2 hours of work.  The key he mentions is to know what you want to shot before the models arrive and have everything you need ready.  He also says that models are not the most reliable group and many times all of them will not show up for the shoot.imageimage

Another method for getting models, in addition to using family and friends like Mike does, is something call “TFCD” or trade for CD.  This is where the model is willing to model for you in exchange for a CD of the images that they could then use to help in the modeling career.  As good as that sounds, Philip’s experience tells him these models are even less reliable and he would just use paid models.

imageThe guys discuss Philip’s lighting gear from Alien Bees, who make good gear at a decent price.  Philip uses not only the flash heads, but also Alien Bee’s CyberSyncimage to handle the connection between his camera and the lights.



While Mike likes Adobe Lightroom and uses Adobe Photoshop much less, Philip mentions that he uses Photoshop all the time and can spend well over a hour on a single image.

Stock photography is not for everyone, but it can be a nice way to provide a little income on the side while keeping your “day job” or just help offset some of the cost of your gear.  If after listening to the podcast, you are interested in getting into stock photography, head over the iStock and have a look around.  Also, contact Mike if you have any questions and he may be able to help.  You can contact Mike or Philip by sending an e-mail to


This great discussion was almost completely lost which means we would not have been able to share it with you.  Immediately after the show was over, I stopped the recording and went to the save menu.  To my HORROR, Audacity crashed!!  I immediately went to the one guy I knew I could count on for help, Jim Collison.  Jim is the host of serveral podcast all hosted over at the average guy, including The Home Tech Podcast, The Financial Tech Podcast and Fitness Tech Podcast.  Jim pointed me to a post he had actually written on this very subject since it had happened to him.  So, if you ever have Audacity crash on you and desperately need to recover the recording, head over to Jim’s site and read his article.  THANKS JIM!!!


Listen to the podcast below:


Mike’s iStock portfolio –

Philip’s iStock portfolio-

Yuri Arcurs’s iStock portolio –  the guys mentioned his portfolio on the podcast



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About geephotant

geephotant (Geek-Photographer-Accountant) (aka. Mike Howard) is the creator of Nov Studios and the jpeg2RAW podcast. Mike is an accountant by day as the Controller for a large US based corporation. By night, he is a geek and has appeared on the Home Server Show Podcast & the BYOB podcast ( both found at He has also appeared on the Home Tech Show podcast ( and is now a regular guest on that show. Mike's true passion is photography and shoots when ever he can find time. As an amateur photographer, he is always looking to learn more about the craft.

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