Continuing on with the Stock-Wizards interview series, I’m happy to welcome to the blog, Jelena Petrovic, a veteran book cover photographer at Arcangel Images who has licensed over 60 book covers to date. Let’s get started!
Hi Jelena, thanks for taking part in this interview – Let’s start from the very beginning of your professional journey. Please tell us about yourself, where you’re from and how you got started in book cover photography at Arcangel?
Thank you very much for the invitation, Alex, I am glad to be a part of your blog and help as much as I can with my experience. I am a self-taught photographer from Serbia, from a small village near Belgrade, Mali Pozarevac. When I gave birth to my son, I realized that I didn’t just want beautiful photos for the family album, but something more, something that other people would remember, something that would touch them, take them back to their childhood.
So I decided to buy my first DSLR camera, for beginners. Arcangel just happened to me, simply, very quickly. A few months after my start, I was encouraged to try and they already gave me a chance in mid-2014, with zero percent of experience. I am like Arcangel’s child, my photography grew with them and developed with them.
Wow, 2014, you’re certainly a veteran at Arcangel. I’m curious, do you just work with book cover photography or do you have another photography-related job?
I am actually a kindergarten teacher, but I found myself in photography and a book cover. That’s me, what fulfills me, so I just do that. I put the rest aside and avoid other types of photography that would distract my attention and energy.
Ah, that explains how you’re so great at working with children. You’ve amassed an impressive 5,632 accepted images on Arcangel, please share your experiences with having such a large number of images accepted?
Since 2014 not everything went so fast, given my knowledge and poor experience at the time, so in two or three years I had barely 1,000 accepted images until 2019, when I devoted myself to much more.
What’s your top tip for those contributors just starting out and looking to the best chance to have sales?
It may sound like a cliché, but consistency is the most important thing in this business, without giving up just push yourself forward and thus improve your work, you have to really love this and be a little obsessed
I’ve filtered your portfolio and notice that out of your 5,632 accepted images, 5,002 feature at least one model. Please tell us how it’s like working with your models and particularly the children, which must be extremely challenging to get the right shots?
The main models are my son and my sister’s children. They have been used to the camera since their birth and we are a team. It’s really not difficult for me to photograph children, it’s easy with them, they are not aware of the camera, they are spontaneous, they have sincere emotion, let them do what they love, be kids and you get great photos, plus animals, it’s a winning combination.
In addition to my children, my husband, there are also my friends, acquaintances, their children …some self portraits. Many have no experience, are simply relaxed and like to take photos.
Most of your shots are vintage-looking, do you have a time-period that you enjoy working with most?
Definitely the 1940s.
Where do you draw your inspiration for your excellent concepts?
From the verses of some songs, books, movies, from life.
Love your vintage looks, how do you arrange for the old-fashioned clothes, props, etc.?
For children, I have no problem with the wardrobe, it’s the easier part, there are various brands that make great vintage pieces. Some things are not easy to get, so I sew them, and there are grandmother’s and mother’s dresses.
How do you find the right locations? Are these close to your where you live?
I often walk with my son and dogs, so I discover some locations, and very often in the backyard.
Let’s move onto more of a technical discussion, what’s your go-to camera / lens?
Canon 5d Mark IV, lenses are Canon EF 135 mm f/2 L USM.
Ah, that’s a beautiful lens for portraits. Arcangel encourage only a light-touch post-processing. How far are you willing to push your post-processing? Do you use many filters?
Honestly, I don’t like filters, so I don’t use them. I make some basic corrections, sometimes the sky changes, the background, I like to leave designers more space for manipulation.
How long did it take you and how many images did you have in your collection before your first sale (please tell us which one)?
Maybe after one year, I had about 300 pictures, which I remember. This was my first sold image that I’m happy to share.
How many book covers have you sold via Arcangel? Which are some of your favourite? Also, so cool that we have a picture that we both sold together!
For now more than 60, here are some of my favourites:
Oh yes, so great we also share a book cover with your Paris background…it’s one of my favourites as the designer did a great job.
Do you submit your images to elsewhere, such as Trevillion or other stock agencies? If not, why not?
I only submit for Arcangel, because they suit me the most for many reasons, they gave me a chance in my very first start without any experience.
How optimistic are you about the future of the book publishing niche?
I am very optimistic, we have just started to take bigger steps.
Thanks, Jelena for taking the time to bring readers valuable insight and wish you great success!
I’m an eccentric guy, currently based in Lisbon, Portugal, on a quest to visit all corners of the world and capture stock images & footage. I’ve devoted eight years to making it as a travel photographer / videographer and freelance writer. I hope to inspire others by showing an unique insight into a fascinating business model.
Most recently I’ve gone all in on submitting book cover images to Arcangel Images. Oh and also recently purchased a DJI Mavic 2s drone and taking full advantage.
I’m proud to have written a book about my adventures which includes tips on making it as a stock travel photographer – Brutally Honest Guide to Microstock Photography