Your Stock Photo Workflow

This article was originally featured on the blog, written for stock photographers regarding a specialized micro stock photography workflow to maximize efficiency.

We don't get paid for micro stock photography by the hour so being efficient with your time is the most important thing of all. 
One of the important things to consider as you dedicate more time to stock photography is the workflow you use to do it. There are no right or wrong answers - a workflow will either work for you or it won't. All you need to worry about is what works for you, but here are some things that work for me, and may help you out; 

1. Stay busy all year round. Shoot as often as you can as your first priority. Any time not shooting spend organizing your file structure, keywords, ratings, etc. 

2. I like to save RAW files by date captured, and each day of shooting gets its own folder. Each year has its own folder containing every day. If I have a shot from a trip I took in April 2014, I can find all the originals very easy. 

3. I use LR5 but Bridge is good too, as I understand. But start your library maybe a new catalog every year in lightroom so it runs fast. Whenever you import a new day's shoot into lightroom, try to apply general keywords that apply during the import. 

4. Rate these photos. I give them a five star rating if I intend to send that photo for micro stock at any point in the future, or if I see it has stock potential. The rating makes it easy to filter out the rest of your library and look at photos that only have a 5 star rating - in other words - only the photos worth editing for stock. 

5. Whenever I have free time to spare, I'll start editing these five starred photos. Do it chronologically, or whatever ones are most interesting to you at that time. (In LR5 this is easy to go from one to the other whenever you like, or applying the same edits to many similar photos from one shoot at once). 

6. Batch edit when you can. Shoots that all have photos of similar lighting can be edited using similar presets in LR5 or by copy and pasting settings. this is a huge help to time saving. 

7. Fast forward to end of year, usually the cold december and other winter months in canada are pretty slow for local photography work so i dedicate to finishing the stock photos I shot all year before. By end of year I usually have 4000 new stock photos. 

8. Because I spent a little time adding keywords as I took them, and editing when I had time all year round, all I do is quickly browse over all the photos and make sure they all look their best in Lightroom. (LR5). 

9. Now I export the 4000 or however many all at once into a new folder with the next years number. So I just did my "2016" folder. This is the folder that holds the 4000 images I'll submit this year. 

I like this way because I spend one week of a year working full time on editing my stock photos (probably 40 hours, one week a year) and then all I do for the remainder year feels like 'maintenance'. 

10. Uploading via FTP. I don't know how many times I'd accidentally close a browser window mid-upload because I was browsing a different page I was done with and forgot about the separate tab of uploading. With ftp I set a folder of images to go overnight - then it doesn't interfere with my bandwidth in the daytime. 

11. Finish the categorizing and submitting whenever the mood strikes you. I typically send batches of 20-40 at a time. Easy to set categories for 20-40 at a time and go back to making dinner, or whatever your day has planned.

But all of the keywords and titles are placed into the file directly in Lightroom so I can upload to one, two, five, ten stock sites very easily from this point on. 

Sure you may think "if you have 4000 images ready at once, why not submit at once?" well I like to have a constant flow of fresh content. So if people are searching by newest - its not like I only have something at the top of the pile once per year - instead, I always have a fresh flow of new content uploading. 

Take it one step further: 
Choose your favourite micro stock agency to be your 'golden standard'. Whoever earns you the most is probably smart choice. 
Whenever I send a batch to them, I colour code the files in my Mac's Finder Window. Green means they accepted that photo, and red means they rejected.. So now I can look back at my 2013 stock photo folder (as an example) and see that "Agency A" accepted these 32 images and rejected these 10. 

This makes it more organized when you distribute your images to other agencies so: 

a) your rejected from agency A are safe for exclusivity on Agency B if you do that, 
b) you can easily see which aren't for sale yet and try the rejects at agency A again at a later date 
c) you know that if agency A took these 'green' marked photos, that they are probably smart to send first to the next agency because they will likely be accepted there too so you can keep your acceptance %s high! lol. 

Again, workflow is something you have to decide on yourself. I made this one up all by myself - as you can probably tell how crazy it is but it works for me and lets me have success in micro stock without interfering with my life, or regular business i do in person and in other ways. 

The only time I break this workflow is for time sensitive editorial images - in which case the faster you can import, edit, keyword, upload, and submit - the better! 

Good luck! and please let me know if you liked the ideas I shared here. 

C Gardiner Photography | Promote Your Page Too