For any creative-minded person, balancing your passion with a need to make money for your business — especially when you’re a freelancer — is arguably the most difficult, ongoing challenge to take on. It’s not just something newcomers to a field must consider, but also an issue that veterans grapple with. To learn more about this subject, we spoke to several different Shutterstock photographers about how they approach their craft. We asked each of them to reply to the following questions and to reflect on the work they do:
1. What are the top three things you would do differently if you could?
Andrew Ostrovsky said if he could go back in time, he would “devote more time to quality rather than quantity of my images.” As he’s learned more about the stock-photo industry, he’s observed that “one excellent picture will likely generate more revenue than one thousand mediocre ones.” Spend your time making something both remarkable to you and valuable to someone else.
It’s something that Jane Rix has noticed, too. “If you have a particular picture that sells well, it doesn’t follow that by adding another 100 images of the same subject you will increase your sales.” You’re better off moving onto the next thing than trying to recreate magic. Rix also focuses on getting good at the behind-the-scenes work that others might overlook. She says she has gotten better at “good keywording and captioning” and that “the industry is more complicated than many realise from the outset, myself included.”
Shutterstock staff photographer Stephen Lovekin adds that “there’s always a lot of pressure to conform to what you think clients want.
I would say work on your vision and build it. Trust yourself. The clients will come.”
2. What major changes have you seen in the industry since you started?
The industry has gotten huge, said Ostrovsky, something he hadn’t anticipated when he first got started. There’s a ton of competition, and you have to not only stay ahead of and pay attention to trends, but you also have to find your own style and vision for imagery.
Rix points out that it’s now more than photography — vector artists have emerged, too, not to mention illustrations, video and music that Shutterstock also sells. Now, as the market has increased, everyone can find their own path and can be more selective about where they supply their work. “Artists now have an array of outlets available to them, from the super large libraries to the small boutique or niches sites,” said Rix.