Welcome to the first "So You Wanna be a Stocker?" article!I asked some of the biggest names in stock some typical questions that new stockers might have, in hopes that their answers will help stockers new and old learn a bit! I asked them different questions with some overlap in hopes of getting differing
Our interviewees today are faestock, Tasastock, and SenshiStock.
1. Is an expensive camera necessary?
Tasastock says, "No, but they are damned fun to play with! You can get a decent camera for a decent price nowadays that will shoot good quality images in the right conditions. Obviously they're not good for low-light or anything capturing movement, but if you handle them right you can make do with an ordinary camera, I've known plenty of people to do so."
SenshiStock says, "I don't know much about cameras, but the best photographs you can take are always going to be the ones that the most people find the most useful. That being said, most point and shoot digital cameras can take large and decent enough photos to start out."
2. How do I have to think differently when composing stock rather than an art photo?
faestock says, " For stock I strictly keep in mind the whole figure needs to be
within frame and to not have anything in the background that will detract from the main subject. In an art photo you have license to break these rules."
Tasastock says, "What matters in a photo for art doesn't necessarily matter for a stock photo. If you're doing full body, make sure you're all in the shot, and it's not at a completely unusable angle, also that the model isn't blending into the background too much ."
3. What camera settings should I use to get the best image I can?
SenshiStock says, "Once again, I don't have a lot of photography experience so I use auto everything. This was a problem for me because my DSLR won't auto focus with an auto timer. Now I have a remote and I can use the auto focus with the DSLR. I don't know ANYTHING about settings!"
4. What makes a suitable background?
faestock says, "A good background for stock is something clean, non-distracting and adds to the overall feel. A photographic studio, plain walls and draped fabric make good backdrops. For locations try to match your background to the character of your subject. For example, a mermaid creature would be better suited a beach then in a modern city environment."
Tasastock says, "Anything plain really. White sheets, wallpaper lining. Nothing too "busy", and something that you're going to stand out against. White dress and white background aren't brilliant, for example. If you're doing an outdoor shoot that's all fine too."
SenshiStock says, "A solid, evenly lit color is best. You don't want too much
clutter around or too many strong shadows (if you can avoid them - I can't yet). If you don't have a sheet or a backdrop then a wall is good. It makes it easier to see the form and probably easier for people to cut you out if they're using the stock for digital manipulation."
5. I have a sheet for a blank background, how should I hang it?
Tasastock says, "Tiiiightly. Try not to get folds of the fabric hanging down. I always used to use drawing pins, they ain't the best but good if you can get away with it. You could always attach the sheet to a pole and hang the pole on something."
6. Can I shoot stock on my own?
faestock says, "Absolutely and unconditionally!"
SenshiStock says, "Yes! With the aforementioned timer and/or remote, you can definitely do stock on your own! (But sometimes it's more fun with others!)"
7. I don't have a big indoor space to shoot, or access to an outdoor area I feel comfortable shooting in. What can I do if I still want to create stock? How much space do I actually need?
Tasastock says, "Ideally you need enough space to be able to move around in, and still be able to get your whole body in shot. So you should be able to lie down comfortably, stand up with your arms raised, and stand with your arms stretched out and still have your camera far enough away to get all of that in shot. That way you won't be hindered by what poses you can and cannot do. Personally I wouldn't shoot full body anywhere that you don't have enough space to move. Each house is different so each person's space will be different too. If you can't get a space even with moving furniture (I have to move lots of furniture every time I do an indoor shoot) you could always try at someone else's house, that way your friend can play photographer."
SenshiStock says, "Focus on everyday kind of things for which people might need references! You could do shoots of just hands and feet from all different angles and perspectives, or you can do some shots of every day objects that people might find useful. If you want to do model stock, try doing some expressive facial shots or partial body shots from different angles and perspectives that artists might find fresh or interesting. You only need as much space as required to shoot the kind of stock you want to make. My dining room is about 15' deep which is JUUUUST deep enough for me to do full body shots."
8. How do I get good lighting? What's the best kind of lighting?
faestock says, "The best kind of lighting is natural light. Take your photos outside, try to avoid the harsh mid-day sun. Use a space with good window light, if you can't go outside. If you can't use natural light then best to use flash. On camera flash is usually not very good, it will flatten your subject, and give unflattering shadows. You can buy cheap studio or compact flashes of the internet or from your local
SenshiStock says, "I don't know anything about what is actually good lighting. When I first started I used natural light from my living room slider. These images are grainy and not really that great. Then I bought some 250 watt tungsten bulbs and put them into ceramic base clip lamps. These (VERY BRIGHT AND HOT) lights worked well with making my images a little more clear.
Now I'm using my DSLR and its external flash. It's not ideal, but it allows me to catch action which is something my stock has lacked up until now."
9. How can I make costumes?
faestock says, "Take a look in your wardrobe and see what you already have.
Take a look in your parents'/grandparents' as well to find some vintage gems.
Every piece of clothing can be used as a costume, whether its jeans and a T-shirt, a simple dress or an elaborate gown. You can buy cheap wedding gowns from second hand stores. Also look online and in cheap craft stores for costume pieces."
Tasastock says, "If you don't have a sewing machine or the money to buy things that other people have made, safety pins, scrap fabric, sheets and imagination can go a hell of a long way!"
10. I'm not good at sewing but I want to have good costumes, will I have to buy everything? Is there a cheat or a cheap website to buy things from?
faestock says, "E-bay and Etsy. Second hand stores. See what your friends have. Last year's Halloween costume?"
11. What props should I use and where can I get them?
SenshiStock says, "I scour Halloween stores and dollar stores for prop ideas. The kind of stock I do is a little different than your traditional costumed stock and it's not quite classical, either. This means I can kind of do whatever the heck I want so before a shoot I sometimes walk around my house and think, "What in this house can I use? What gives me an idea for a new pose?" I actually have obtained a few props through things like FreeCycle (like my giant mirror). "
12. What should I do with my hair/make up?
faestock says, "Keep it simple. Most people who use stock images will add their own make-up and hair to their artworks. It is easier for them to add their own than to remove the make-up you have added. If you are creating a character, think about what kind of make-up and hair they would actually be wearing."
Tasastock says, "Whatever you want. I find that it differs from shoot to shoot. Go mad with hair and make up, and get creative, but make sure you do some more natural ones as well. You don't have to wear make up for every shot. If you're just doing anatomy-based stuff for traditional artists, hair back
and no make up is a good thing."
SenshiStock says, "Because I do pose reference stock, I do my make up kind of dark so the features can be seen clearly in full body shots, and I keep my hair back and up as much as I can so you can see my neck and shoulders."
13. What do I do in front of the camera? How shall I pose? How do I detach myself so I don't feel silly?
faestock says, "Just keep moving. The trick is to not think about individual poses so much as actions and feelings. Tell yourself I want to look happy/sad/angry/silly etc. How do you react when you are happy/sad/angry? Act it out, then try 5 different versions of that. Then move onto a different action and repeat. Try poses facing the camera, to the side and also from behind. Try poses standing, jumping, dancing, sitting and kneeling. If you need more inspiration for poses look at other models in magazines, books and artworks. Practice in front of the mirror to find what kind of poses work for you and your body type."
Tasastock says, "The things you do in front of the camera will differ from shoot to shoot and what setup you have. If you're wearing a long pretty gown, then action shots are out of the question (yeah seriously, you try and move in those things ).
Just try to do as much as possible, imagine yourself a character and put that character into as many scenarios as you can imagine, portraying as many different moods as you can think of. The more variety the better. Do a combination of standing, sitting, kneeling, lying down poses all from different angles. (Even if you don't want to go for perspective shoots, the same pose from the front, side and back works well sometimes. Not everyone is after a front shot.) As for detaching yourself, you have to remember that it doesn't matter what goes on in front of the camera. Go mad! because you can get some epic shots that way, and here's the kicker: YOU are the one who is uploading them, so if they don't turn out right, don't upload them! Don't be afraid to look a little silly, scream your heart out, it will make a brilliant shot. Be proud of your madness and your silly faces "
SenshiStock says, "Everything I do is pretty silly and sometimes silliness can make for a good reference. But honestly, I think the more you do it the better you will get at it. You will see which kind of stock people like to use and you will start getting suggestions and requests for ideas people have. It's best if you can start with a goal in mind about what type of stock you want to do. I always make a big list before a shoot with all the major poses and ideas I want to try out. I never stick to the list because I get distracted and do other stuff, but it's good to have it as a guide in case I start to feel like I'm losing focus. "
14. I only want to shoot portraits, how do I set things up?
Tasastock says, "When I shoot portraits, I used to sit in front of my bedroom window, string a sheet behind me from my shelf to my open door and have
the camera on the tripod in front of me. I could also have my mirror on my window shelf behind the camera so I could see the preview screen and what was in shot and what wasn't. You will still need a clean background and light, just not as much space."
15. I only want to do landscape stock, where is best to go and is there anything I should know?
faestock says, "Unless you have a deep wallet and can travel around the world, the best place is in your own backyard. I'm sure wherever you live there are parks, lakes, beaches, mountains, deserts, roads, buildings or bridges. Go for drive and explore your hometown."
Tasastock says, "Where to go is completely dependant on where you live in the world. Anywhere can make background stock, urban, suburban as well as out in the sticks. Just remember to try and get a mix of landscape and portrait shots and make them high-res. If you do go places that a lot of people tend to go to, like say it's a walk trail, it's usually best to go on a weekday and not in school holidays if possible. You'll get less people around."
16. How should I go about making rules?
faestock says, "Consider what your limits are. If you have no limits for how you want people to use your stock images, then have minimal rules. Don't be over complicated, not everyone speaks perfect English and may have trouble translating. Be fair to the artists who want to use your stock."
SenshiStock says, "The simpler you can make them while still making sure the stock will be used as you intended, the better. Long or overly-complicated rules can turn me off as an artist so I try to keep my rules concise and to the point."
17. How do I handle commercial use?
faestock says, "See above answer. Is this a job for you? If yes then you need to create a standard pricing structure for your images, and set your limits for what you do and don't do. Be reasonable, but aware there is an industry out there for stock artists. Don't under value your work."
Tasastock says, "Completely up to you. Remember that it's also work you put
effort into, don't be afraid to ask for money for it. I always ask for credit wherever possible. In your rules make sure you stipulate that you reserve the right to ask for funds. Never say that it will always be ok. Each commercial case is usually different, and there are some few people out there who will try to shaft you and take full advantage of the fact that you're giving something out for free that otherwise they would have to pay £10-£15 an image for on other stock websites."
SenshiStock says, "You should deal with in the way that makes you comfortable. There are creative commons licenses that do not allow for commercial use, so if you don't want your stock being used in for pay projects you can opt for something like that. If you're okay with commercial use but you want people to contact you about it first, make it part of your rules that they have to ask for permissions."
18. What do I do if someone steals my stock?
faestock says, "Be calm. Its the internet, it happens. Talk it through with the
people and if it doesn't work consider restructuring your rules. If the worst arrives, hire a lawyer. Don't just let it go, stand your ground."
SenshiStock says, "It's hard to patrol your stock 24/7. If your stock is posted
somewhere that is not properly credited or just plain without permission then you
should use the site's contact information to try to get in touch with whoever runs the site to have it taken down. I know that Photobucket has some instructions on their site on how to report stolen images and I've used it occasionally to have artwork of mine removed from people's galleries who'd posted it without permission."
19. What about nude stock? What mental and physical challenges do I have to overcome to post it? What do I do about abuse? What's the worst that could happen?
Tasastock says, "It's all about self image and self confidence when you post nude stock, you have to be really comfortable with your body to post it. I mean let's face it, there's nothing to be embarrassed about, everyone is unique and no one, and I mean NO ONE has a body like models in the magazines. Even the models don't look like that in reality because the images get airbrushed and manipped to fuck before they are printed, til they resemble dolls and not real people... uh, rant aside.
Once you have got past any insecurity you may have about nude stock, you
will have to deal with perves. This is a fact that some sad twats out there like to think of DeviantArt as some kind of weird porn stash and not an art website. Even if you post nude photos and not naked photos (I will differentiate in a minute) you will still get creepers. Just try to rise above it and ignore them as the bottomfeeders of society who probably still live at home in their parent's basement.
I mentioned nude vs naked. There are those on DA who post what they like to think of as "stock", which is basically just them using stock as an excuse to
post porn for attention seeking purposes. It will be low quality, maybe taken with a phone camera (or god forbid, a webcam) in some place unsuited for stock like on their bed or in the bathroom. Maybe using a mirror to take it. and involving such "poses" as in the act of stripping, taking off their knickers, leaning forward pushing their tits together or leaning against something featuring what I like to call the "come fuck me" face. Avoid these poses! If you want to do these poses,
it's not stock you are shooting! Think of every time you have gone to an art
gallery, and the classical paintings you have seen of nudes there. Think of any action poses or anything really. Do a mix of simple poses and contorted poses, because you'll be getting a mix of learners of anatomy and those wanting to do something more complex.
As for abuse. Report it. Don't stand for it, if someone crosses the line you
report them to the admins. If you find you are being favebombed and don't like the collection you've been added to (I call them wankography collections) you can block the user, and then unblock them (in case they actually do use your stock they wont be able to notify you if you have them blocked) and by doing that your stock will be removed from their favourites. Don't get upset by these people. Some people can say horrible things over the internet. The guy who told me I needed to cut out eating, I got a little catty and challenged him to show me his
picture looking like a buff underwear model. He said he couldn't, he looked nothing like one. It's the whole jealousy thing, rise above it and ignore it. Ignore and report any notes they send you asking more more pictures or to go on
webcam for them. (Especially report those guys!) DA has been very helpful in the past to me with guys like that.
It's always best to have a rule about sufficient manipulation if you're doing nudes. 'Cause you get creepers liking to do "art" with your stock that is basically just adding a filter to it so that they have "sexy woman art" in their gallery. But don't let all these warnings put you off! Nude stock is a really valuable resource for an artist! You will have to put up with more creepers than usual, but the rewards from the real artists are so worth it!"
20. What is the benefit to using the "Premium Content" platform and charging for my stock?
faestock says, "The benefit for me to use the Premium content program is that it is an instant transaction. Previously stockers had to use emails and outside
websites to share files. This is much easier."
21. How do I get people to start using my stock?
faestock says, "The first time someone used my stock, it was a huge surprise, I don't know what they saw in it. I suppose keep an eye out for whats trending, have a look at what other people are using and make something that suits. Find your niche, so people know to come to you for certain ideas. Also have a look at what is missing in the stock categories and try to fill the hole. Consider what kind of art you would like to see our images turned into. If you want to see dark Gothic pieces, then make dark Gothic stocks. If you want to be turned into a flying ninja, try and take a photo of you acting as a flying ninja."
SenshiStock says, "I think that posting your stock will alert people to it. A lot of people check the stock galleries pretty often for new updates. If you find that you aren't getting noticed, you could try looking for some groups to join that are suitable for the type of stock you are making. You could also hop into some of the sharing chat rooms and post a few thumbs!"
22. What is the best tool a stocker can have?
faestock says, "A clear head."
Tasastock says, "Imagination. Seriously. Take away good cameras and everything, the more creative you are, the more dynamic your stock is. Do something different, do something wild. It will get noticed. (Obviously, try to make it the best quality possible, so that it's usable. )"
SenshiStock says, "Patience and a good sense of humor. "
23. Any other tips?
faestock says, "Be yourself, have fun. Sounds cliche but its the truth."
Tasastock says, "Enjoy yourself! It's not worth it if you're not having fun, trust me on that one "
SenshiStock says, "Watch out for fetish people. There are some seriously strange (though usually pretty harmless) people on the internet. ;D If you aren't comfortable with someone possibly using your stock as an avenue to their fetish work then you have to be clear about it in your rules."
Thank you very much, ladies!Thank you to Jess, Claire, and Sarah! I think we got some fantastic helpful answers. I hope this interview will inspire some of you to try out doing stock, or maybe test some new techniques!
If you have an idea for the next article, please let me know in the comments ^.^