I recently had the honour to ask Mirko (aka View Apart) Lifestyle Microstock Photographer, a few brutally honest questions about his success as a Lifestyle Microstocker.
As well as uncover details on his e-course, MICROSTOCK ACADEMY: read until the end for details on a special offer he’s running!
$5,000 – $6,000 per month from Microstock alone!
I’m proud to have recently joined the ranks of those microstockers that publishes their monthly earnings every month. Still long ways to go but I feel that I’m on the right path.
Mirko, on the other hand, has for a while been publishing his earnings on his Microstock Academy Facebook Group Page of which I’m a member. His results are impressive to say the least!
Most astounding is the relatively few number of images in his portfolio – just over 2,300. Unsurprisingly, Shutterstock is one of his largest earners (mine as well).
Now that he talks the talk on how to achieve these impressive results, let’s see if we can pick his brains on his methods…and perhaps his answers will convince me and you to look into putting more serious effort into lifestyle photography!
Interview with Mirko – View Apart
Question 1: You publicly state to earn between $5/6k a month by submitting lifestyle stock photos on just over 2,300 images. Would you be able to briefly offer 5 key tips of advice to newbies starting out and how they may be successful with a view to eventually earning thousands of $?
1) The very key: photograph PEOPLE LIFESTYLE
2) Follow technology trends
3) Put food & drinks in your lifestyle shootings
4) Be accurate when editing and keywording
5) Be inspired by others’ best-selling images, but DON’T copy their work
Question 2: I noticed you have a e-learning course out for students to reach success called Microstock Academy. Could you please go into some detail on what the course entails and how potential students can benefit from the advice?
The online training is created with absolute beginners in mind, as well as for those who are already in the stock market but don’t achieve expected results. It’s developed following an educational order, step-by step:
- What is stock photography
- What to shoot
- How to shoot
- How to manage releases
- How to manage database
- How to edit
- Where to upload
- How to keyword
- Workflow and strategies
- Backstage videos of my photo-shootings
- And more “insider tricks”…
Plus, subscribers get access to my exclusive STUDENTS group, where they can ask me anything related to the course.
Obviously, there’s no magic: I show the way, students must do their job!
Question 3: What makes lifestyle photography as a niche so appealing from a financial point of view, compared to other niches such as travel, still life, editorial?
Since lifestyle trends evolve very quickly, there are always new lifestyle concepts on demand. This kind of market will never be saturated because society is always evolving and it’s the job of the photographer to always look to capture new concepts, keeping in mind that old images will eventually become unsuitable for actual needs.
Besides, for travel images “without people” on them, it’s more difficult to offer something really new. For example, an “Eiffel Tower” shot from 10 years ago can be as good as one shot today. But if you put an attractive early 20s couple in front (model-released) and they’re dressed in trendy clothes and using trendy technology, you are offering the market something new.
Last but not least, managing a lifestyle photo-shoot requires more skills and engagement by the microstocker, and it makes the “competition field” way shallower since most contributors will not go the extra mile.
Question 4: How easy is it to get started as a lifestyle photographer? I can imagine that working with models can be difficult as well as the administration of model releases to multiple agencies?
It’s not “that” easy, but everybody can do it. There is a path to follow, as in any expertise. I would advise to start out photographing friends and relatives, get used to that, and then move on to more complex organised shootings.
As for the release, there are some formats accepted by all agencies, which I discuss in my course.
Question 5: Which agencies do you choose to work with? Would you recommend some of the more premium lifestyle agencies such as Stocksy, Offset and Adobe Premium for instance?
I work only on microstock (not premium) agencies because for the moment I don’t want to give exclusivity to any agencies.
I would suggest to start with Shutterstock and Adobe Stock, as their uploading system is pretty similar. Then add Istockphoto (owned by Getty Images) where you need to learn a new keywording system, as they use a controlled vocabulary.
Then add some other “low tier” agencies too within your workflow. However, I would put most of the efforts on the first three mentioned above.
As for premium agencies, I’m not on any of them, so I prefer to let other people judge for themselves according to their own experiences.
Question 6: How do you envision the future of microstock (next 5-10 years), especially considering that veterans are venting that they’re experiencing year-on-year reductions on earnings (despite uploading more) due to increased competition and other factors?
I’m pretty confident that it will stay profitable, even though the competition will get higher. Just be sure you are better than your competitors, such as following technology trends and learning how to direct models to achieve the best results.
Question 7: Since you’re traveling for so many months of the year, do you any tips on keeping your business costs lower in terms of transportation, hiring models and setups?
Traveling is part of my lifestyle, so I would do it with or without microstock.
The trick is to combine the two.
What I do is to always keep some of my gears (depending on the trip) and laptop with me, and dedicate some hours of the day to the editing/uploading phase. As for actually taking photos, I keep “lifestyle organised shootings” close to home, since I can count on the models I instruct through the years so they’re used to my style
Whenever I travel, I try to shoot “common scenarios” in a unique way, and putting a “human touch” on them through photographing my travel mates, depending on who I’m traveling with. The result is that I keep my travel costs the same, but in the meanwhile, I get photos online ready to sell and I add some new unique shots to my growing collection.
Question 8: Do you have any travel / shooting plans for the next few months you would like to share?
My 6 month travel is almost done. Starting from April, I’ll be in Italy (Rimini) where I’ll organise great lifestyle shots.
Thank you, Mirko!