My personal tutorial from the photo shoot to the sale through microstock agencies

One of the essential requirements for the production of microstock images is to shoot RAW format, even though the files are going to be sent to the agencies must be released in high resolution JPG format. When you shoot RAW, however, you will be able to make all the adjustments to the image without any loss of quality. In addition, post-production and, in some cases, the photo-retouching become crucial to solve problems that would inevitably lead to the rejection of the images that you send to the agencies (eg. removing logos, recognizable people, etc.).

Brooklyn Bridge, New York © 2013

Therefore, after acquiring my images in RAW format, my personal workflow involves 6 different phases that allow me to go from the capture of the original file to a final version, optimized for the sale online through microstock agencies. On the following pages you can see the tutorial for each single phase, taking as an example of work the photo of the Brooklyn Bridge (above), which was a particularly complicated shooting due to a strong backlight, but then later developed in post-production and made suitable for sale (it is currently one of my best seller ever). Here following the 6 phases:

1. Importing and organizing RAW: it may seem obvious, but it is a critical step! Already during the import process into Adobe Lightroom, among other things, you can already automatically add tags and some develop settings that will make you lose less time in subsequent processing phases;

2. Editing in Adobe Lightroom: at this stage I usually make basic non-destructive adjustments on the RAW file. You could even make the whole post-production in Adobe Lightroom (especially with recent versions of the software) but I prefer to have a final editing and photo retouch (if needed) in Adobe Photoshop;

3. Editing in Adobe Photoshop: at this stage I do further adjustments and photo retouch on the file. I also use digital filters to search for a possible unique look for my image (B/W, HDR, artistic filters, etc.). Finally, from Photoshop I do export the files in high resolution JPG format;

4. Keywording: this is also a very crucial stage. Especially for non exclusive authors, it is essential to apply keywords and other metadata to the images before they are sent to the agencies. Almost every agency allows to automatically retrieve these keywords directly from the metadata of the file sent;

5. Uploading the files: It is the longest and most boring process (well, it depends on your transfer speed), especially if you have a batch of hundreds of images to upload all together to many agencies. All agencies allow uploading of the files via web, but it’s much reliable to use a FTP software (eg. Filezilla) to upload multiple images in an easier way;

6. Submission: Once the file has reached its destination, depending on the agency, you must still perform some activities in order to validate your submission (eg. to designate conceptual categories) before your file can go under review. At this point, there’s nothing else to do than wait and hope for approval….!

Go to the first phase of the workflow: 1. Importing and organizing RAW files

Liked this article? Would you share it?

Expert in Marketing and Communication in a major company of the Italian FMCG market, traveler by vocation, passionate photographer, contributor at all major international microstock agencies, founder of Marcor$tock, a blog focused on Microstock Market and Digital Photography.