The Canadian Internet Authority (CIRA), which manages all .CA domains on behalf of all Canadians, has followed up the success of its first set of extremely Canadian stock photos with a winter and cybersecurity themed “Series 2” set launched today.
CIRA has described the purpose of the images as a way for anyone to add “a little Canada” to their website. While the agency says that original, custom images are always preferred, it admits that it believes that stock photography, while weird, is sometimes necessary.
“We understand that sometimes you just need a picture of someone staring at an iPad (or a moose skateboarding),” the agency writes.
For example, CIRA recently shared a photo of hands on a keyboard:
But made sure to also include the “lumberjack” version:
As mentioned, the CIRA released an initial series of extremely Canadian stock photos last year but has expanded the gallery to include specifically winter-themed photos as well as cybersecurity and IT security based on feedback from its community. Below are some of the other results of its efforts:
While the visuals are comedic, CIRA’s captions are even funnier and filled with Canadian-themed puns making each photo worth an individual look. That last image, for example, is accompanied by the following:
Cassie saw something in the logs. Hackers had been trying to break their defenses. Time for a power play!
When PetaPixel originally reported on the library of stock photos, CIRA only had 73 total images available to download. Since then, the group has been hard at work and that number has jumped to 126 with the addition of Series 2. The photos can be perused all at once or via one of many different tags that specify certain search criteria such as “axe,” “bartender,” or “maple syrup.”
If you want to take advantage of this free resource or just get a few laughs, head over to the CIRA gallery.
Spooky season is upon, and you know what that means? Blood-filled elevators, satanic children on tricycles, Jack Nicholson axing his way through doors, and, this year at least, a new film stock from CineStill Films appropriately dubbed RedRum 120.
What is it?
RedRum 120 is a limited edition ISO 200 medium format film. The stock is monochromatic and produces images with heavy red and yellow tones. CineStill achieved this look by reverse rolling their 800T emulsion through a red film base and onto the spool. This means images are exposed through the base of the film stock, instead of directly onto the emulsion. The company notes that the 800T emulsion is particularly well-suited for red-scale photography.
What do the images look like?
Judging from the handful of sample images provided, RedRum 120 is capable of producing shots with good sharpness and lots of warm tones. Many of the shots look like they could’ve been pulled straight from a horror movie. That said, we also could see this film stock working really well for capturing fall foliage.
Where can I get it processed?
Despite the peculiar nature and look of the film, it can be processed in C-41—meaning anywhere that handles standard color film development, can process RedRum 120.
Price and availability
RedRum 120 is available for purchase right now on the CineStill Website for $14 a roll. But don’t be a dull boy and miss out! Because the brand notes production of the stock is limited. Though they don’t elaborate on just how limited it is.
It’s worth saying, we’re big fans of new film stocks—check our Kosmo Foto’s recently launched Agent Shadow 400 film—and it’s exciting to see CineStill Films add to their catalog of offerings.
In that regard, we plan on getting our hands on a roll of RedRum 120 ASAP. We’ll share the results and some impressions when we do.
The retro-inspired Nikon Z fc was announced in late June to considerable positive feedback from fans. Unfortuantely, the ongoing parts shortage that is affecting all consumer electronics companies has hit Nikon particularly hard. The company — which had already been struggling to meet 2020 orders for the Z7 II camera — was overwhelmed by demand for the Z fc.
Less than a week after the Z fc was officially announced, the company issued an apology that stated it would likely be “some time” before those who pre-ordered the camera would receive it, and even longer for those who did not to see the camera on store shelves.
Two weeks later, Nikon issued another apology, this time with regard to the Z fc 28mm f / 2.8 Special Edition Kit. The company stated that it was initially planning to make this kit available in late July, but due to overwhelming demand was forced to postpone the release indefinitely.
Thank you for your continued patronage of Nikon products.
The release date of the APS-C size (Nikon DX format) mirrorless camera “Z fc 28mm f / 2.8 Special Edition Kit”, which was announced as undecided, has been decided on October 1st (Friday). We sincerely apologize for the delay in the release.
Since the “Z fc 28mm f / 2.8 Special Edition Kit” has received a large number of reservations, it may not be possible to deliver it to some customers who have already made reservations on the day of release. In addition, it may take some time for the products to be delivered to customers who make reservations in the future, as they will be delivered in sequence.
We sincerely apologize for any inconvenience caused to customers who are waiting for this product.
We will do our utmost to deliver the product as soon as possible, and we appreciate your understanding.
In short, Nikon is planning to finally release the kit, but its numbers will be limited and even those who pre-ordered it the day it was announced are not guaranteed to receive it in October.
You don’t need to have a portfolio of hundreds of thousands of images to rank on the first page of the most visited customer queries. In fact, we found that 83% of Shutterstock contributors that rank on the first page of top-500 customer queries have less than 10,000 images in their portfolio.
In this research, we at Xpiks analyzed a total of 14,000 portfolios that own the first 100 results in top-500 queries on Shutterstock in order to understand what should you do to be successful on the platform.
Shutterstock is one of the top-tier microstock websites alongside Adobe Stock and Getty Images. It was founded in 2003 and since then has gained more than 200 million images and more than 10 million videos. It is a go-to place for many customers and businesses. Also, the entry-level to sell there is relatively low (you need to pass an exam with one image out of 10) so it also counts millions of contributors who compete for ranking of their images and portfolios.
About this Research
The idea to do this research came naturally after we analyzed top-100 customer queries by traffic. The most frequent question people asked on forums was about the portfolios of the accounts that actually rank for these queries. So this is what we did:
We gathered actual search results and checked the portfolios that owned them. To make it even more profound, we decided to use top-500 queries instead of top-100. This will give a better picture of who those users are and what have they done to rank there.
We only took into account photography and illustration search results, excluding video. All in all, there were 500 queries and 100 results for each of them (the first page of results), with 50,000 images in total to analyze. These images belong to 14,046 portfolios, which means that these users own multiple results on the first page of search.
Shutterstock Contributors: Who Are They
Studios Versus Individuals
There’re many ways to slice and dice authors, but there’s one distinction that we think is most important: individuals vs studios. It is clear that studios might have an advantage over the individuals because there’re few people who work as a team and they can simply produce more content. This category includes small studios with only two to three people and also big studios like KrakenImages. With a rough estimate, we found that the percentage of studios is only 4% of user accounts. It is an underestimation because a few personal accounts have grown into small studios, but the actual number is only marginally bigger than this estimate.
That said, it’s worth mentioning that there’re studios having “as little” as 20,000 items in their portfolio and individuals who have as much as 200,000 items in their portfolios (accounts like Anton Ivanov or Luis Molinero). So the line between these two is not so clear as one might expect.
As for the self-declared country, we found that the majority of the contributors in our list come from only four countries: Russia, Ukraine, Thailand, and Indonesia.
There can be few reasons for such distribution.
The most obvious might be that earnings from microstock probably end up as more than average salary in those countries. However, it also might be that there are many creative individuals there who cannot find another way of earning by their craft due to lack of relevant positions. It is surprising though, that United States, Germany, Spain, and the UK are next, given the high levels of taxes and high expenses needed to maintain a similar quality of life. Apparently, Shutterstock can still provide enough income, even despite the recent earnings cut.
It might be tempting to think that people who rank in top-500 queries might have portfolios of enormous size. In fact, there are many huge portfolios over there. Here are the top-10:
Images in portfolio
You can see that there are five accounts with a whopping over a million images and, actually, there are 155 accounts with more than 100,000 images. However, these are the minority of the 14,046 accounts and the actual distribution of accounts by the number of images looks a bit more optimistic:
The vast majority of accounts that rank in the top-500 customer queries have less than 20,000 images. In fact, around 30% of them have less than 1,000 images. This is good news because it indicates that you don’t need to have hundreds of thousands of images to rank high. In fact, there are accounts with as little as around a hundred images that rank in top-100 (not 500) customer queries. It does not mean the competition is easy, but it means there is a good amount of hope for newcomers, even now.
What Content Do They Produce and How?
Now that you know the number of images in the portfolios, it’s good to see how they are created. Here are the most used styles used:
It is surprising how uneven is the distribution here. Even though lifestyle, portrait, life, and fashion photography account for 18% of the content together, they are almost matched by graphic design with 13% and landscape, travel, and nature photography with 15%. But all of them are heavily outnumbered by various styles in illustrations like cartooning, calligraphy, line, art, and painting content.
As for the how, here are the most used tools:
And before you even start with the Canon versus Nikon fight here, note that Adobe is also quite high. It is somewhat a shame that other products like Inkscape or Affinity did not score highly here. It is interesting that even though tablets and software like ProCreate have significantly developed, the majority still use Wacom tablets (like Intuos). Some contributors were quite creative in the list of gear and marked tools like “brain” and “ideas” so it’s good to know there’s at least 1% of them who think about the ideas before executing.
As for the subjects of their works, contributors mostly create backgrounds and business-oriented pictures, but also:
Shutterstock Authors: Why Do They Rank High?
Now when you have an idea who are the authors, let’s try to dig into where they rank and how did they achieve that ranking. First of all, we noted that there are 50,000 images but only 14,000 portfolios, which means they rank with multiple images. The average number of images they rank with is 3.5, but in reality, it is not uniform. There are accounts that rank many more times than others.
10 accounts rank more than a hundred times in top-500 queries. The notable exception is account fizkes, who ranks 422 times, which means on average they rank in 84% of top-500 queries! Here are all these accounts:
Number of rankings
Monkey Business Images
Traffic To Their Portfolios
There are multiple authors who manage to consistently get a lot of Google traffic to their portfolios. Arguably, this might help them to rank high in Shutterstock, too. It would be natural for Shutterstock to take Google search traffic into account because they rank in Google for a lot of queries as a first item either in organic or paid search results.
Number of Images
(Note: Traffic is an estimate of average organic search traffic per month generated by this page on Shutterstock. Calculated as estimated search volume of Search multiplied by the Click-through Rate (CTR) of the URL/website with search results)
A notable user account is “Designs Stock,” which has only 3,300 images in their portfolio but has as much traffic as account “wavebreakmedia” with 570,000 images. Also, the “betto rodrigues” account has the most traffic in the list of all 14,000 authors that we analyzed.
One of the most underutilized tactics a Shutterstock contributor can employ to earn more is self-promotion. There are multiple places where you can promote your portfolio: Facebook groups, niche forums, and Twitter accounts, just to name a few. Also, you can build links to your portfolio to help it rank high in Google so more customers will be able to find you through a simple search. But there are also few portfolios that took this very seriously, two of whom have almost a thousand unique websites linking to their portfolio.
Number of Linking Websites
Monkey Business Images
Brian A Jackson
It is actually possible to see who those 900 websites linking to top accounts on this list are. For example, let’s look at the first author by links: Andrey_Popov. We can use any of the free backlink checking tools and only a glance at the first few links gives us an answer.
Tip: note the “Anchors” column.
You can see what is the sources of the backlinks: it’s the image credits section! If you open any of the websites, you will see that the images they buy from Shutterstock have credits in the title and a link back to the account where they purchased them. So you have the magical self-reinforcing loop: the more images you sell, the more backlinks your portfolio gets from buyers, the higher your portfolio ranks in Google, the more search traffic you get, the higher your images rank in Shutterstock, the more images you sell. I would say this is one the most important aspects of self-promotion you can get.
If you evaluate what kind of content might produce more links, that would be editorial photos, frequently used in news. News outlets usually have high website rankings and lots of traffic that positively affects your portfolio, too. You may think about it when you plan what to shoot next.
How You Can Rank in Top-500 Customer Queries
So how can you join these elite authors? Obviously, one way would be to become an individual contributor (if you’re a studio), relocate to Ukraine or Thailand, start drawing Landscape Background illustrations using Adobe Illustrator, and get around 1,000 images in your portfolio. This way you would become one of the “typical” top-500 search results authors and it would increase your chances. Right?
Joking aside, we tried hard to show you that you don’t need to be a large studio with hundreds of thousands of images to rank at the top of the most profitable queries. You can be successful even with a few hundred of pictures and rank highly. But to get there, you need to find untapped content ideas, create content that is better than your competitors, cover a specific niche where there’s less competition, and slowly grow your presence. A data-driven approach can reveal a lot in today’s oversaturated Shutterstock market and, hopefully, you can learn from this and be more successful as a contributor.
The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author.
About the author: Taras Kushnir is the founder of the Xpiks app and the Stock Photo Ideas newsletter. He’s also been a microstock contributor since 2004 and an industry veteran. When he’s not working on Xpiks, he does data-driven analysis of profitable niches without much competition in top microstocks for Stock Photo Ideas.
Image credits: Elements of header photo licensed via Depositphotos.
Stock photos often get a bad rap, simply because they’re recognised as such. But don’t heed the naysayers. An account with a stock photo agency makes sense for any business with a communication or marketing strategy. Stock photos are high-quality images, intended for commercial use, cheap, and there are millions of them online immediately available when you need them. You have to know how to use them correctly and make them work for your brand. Here are 3 tips to help you get the most from stock images in 2021.
Only Choose Images That Fit Your Brand
A successful brand is immediately recognisable. If your audience can tell your brand by the content, choice of colours, and style of a single image, then you know your brand strategy is spot on. Strictly nurture this brand strategy through the choice of stock photos.
Make sure your stock photos fit your corporate image, your target audience, and only use images that share the same visual narrative. Your audience should be able to relate to the people and actions in your images, and it should be able to relate those images to your brand.
Most businesses that have access to a graphic designer will brand their stock photos. You should, too. Have your graphic designer add your logo, brand design assets, and colours (you can change the colours of stock photo models’ clothing to fit your brand’s colour scheme, for example). You can also further customise the image with copy to make it work for your brand.
Make Sure It’s Appropriate
Stock photo agencies are usually very good at making sure their libraries are culturally sensitive and diverse. The image goes through quality control to help maintain an appropriate and high-quality offer for stock photo customers.
But the suitability of a stock image also depends on the platform you intend to publish it to or the reason or context in which you publish it. For example, during the 2021 pandemic, many companies made sure to use only images of people working from home and practising social distancing. That way we made sure the images were relevant to the reality of our audience at that time.
Another example in which context is important is the use of visuals for HR purposes. Here, stock photos wouldn’t be appropriate since the visuals should reveal actual people in the company.
Appropriateness is all about context. Take a minute to look at the platform, the use case, the piece of content, etc. to make sure you got the right image for the job!
It’s All About The Feelings
Brands, products, businesses… it’s all about people. And people are all about emotions. And nothing conveys emotion better than a photo. So, make sure your images convey (the right) emotion. Real people, showing real feelings that are relatable for your audience. 2021 is all about being real and true. Especially millennials will judge your images on their truthfulness.
Stock photographers have caught on to this. Whereas older library assets might look overly staged and fake, the more recent stock photos are often very natural and real. Make sure you go for the latter when you search for that perfect image.
Earlier this year, a struggling veteran of our industry got a lifeline in the shape of three-quarters of a billion dollars to assist in the production of drugs, in part to aid with the pandemic, but also to reduce the reliance on foreign drug companies. However, the legality of the loan was called into question shortly after.
Kodak is a household name and one of the founding fathers of our industry that is still alive, but that survival has looked doubtful at times in recent years. Then, at the end of July this year, we saw a rather unexpected change in luck for Kodak. The U.S. government gave Eastman Kodak a $765 million loan to help make drugs. This saw a knee-jerk reaction in the stock market, with the price rising the best part of 3,000%. The story took a slightly sour turn, however, when it was made public that Kodak’s executive chairman and CEO, Jim Continenza, received stock options one day before the loan announcement. This news contributed to the returning of the stock price back closer to normality.
Yesterday it was announced that the U.S. International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) investigation into this government loan to Kodak contained no wrongdoing, which has lead to another, much smaller spike of 80% in the share price. The inspector general of the DFC said that no evidence had been found of conflicts of interest with employees of the agency, as well as no wrongdoing in the administering of the loan from the government, The Wall Street Journal reports. It is worth noting, however, that the stock options Continenza received in the days leading up to the loan were not as clean-cut.
The loan of $765m — which had been halted — will presumably now resume, but no news on when or confirmation of this has yet been released. The share price for Kodak has begun to rise again and has increased from $7.53 at the bell on Friday afternoon, to $12.04 yesterday. This is still some drop from the peak of the unexpected spike in July, which saw it reach $33.20, but markedly improved from the $1.50 to $3 price it carried for the majority of 2020.
In order to blind the viewer of which stock is which while the photographs are being presented, they randomly assigned a letter to each film stock which maintained the same label through each example. I must admit, I found the the process of going through the examples and taking notes of my favorites and least favorites to be a lot of fun. Having experience with all but a couple of the stocks used in this comparison, I had an idea of what my results would be and for the most part, I was spot on. There was one stock, however, which I haven’t used in a long time and found that it consistently showed up on my list of favorites. I look forward to giving that stock a go again.
This comparison looked at only color negative film, leaving out color reversal film (a.k.a. slide film). If you’re unsure what the difference is and would like to read more about the different kind of film stocks available, please refer to a previous article detailing the different kind of film stocks offered in 35mm, 120, and large format.
If you watch the video and keep track of your favorites and least favorites, let me know in the comments. I’m interested to hear your thoughts!
A new stock agency called RawShotz is being set up in the US to promote photographers’ raw images – images which have come pretty much straight from the camera without any of the after-shot sharpening, colour tweaking or compression you often get with JPEG files. We were intrigued, as raw images are seen by most photographers as ‘work in progress,’ requiring further processing before going out to market. So we caught up with Ken Mages, founder and CEO of RawShotz (below), to find out more.
Raw files usually need quite a lot of work with contrast, sharpness, etc. Why would people want you to promote their unprocessed raw images? Isn’t it like going for a meal and being served raw or half-cooked food? The data from a raw format file is what the camera captured, which means users have more data to work with and manipulate for the highest-quality photos. This is especially important since photo quality can be diminished when photos are uploaded or processed online. We offer users access to the highest quality materials to produce the best images possible. So in essence, we give people the choice of preparing the best meal with the highest quality ingredients.
Who is the likely target market? RawShotz offers designers, creatives, everyday users, and website owners access to free raw images and photographers a place where their photos are credited to them, no matter who uses the images.
RawShotz is still in its infancy but quite a few images are on there already
Won’t a lot of the raw files from high resolution, full-frame cameras be pretty big – are you investing in a lot storage? Although raw files take up a lot of space due to their size, we have a patent pending storage solution that helps us avoid significant online storage costs. In fact, photographers have access to unlimited digital storage where they can upload their entire photo collection, whether it’s 100 photos at any time or 100,000 photos by request. Also, the digital archive allows for easy transfer of photos. It eliminates the need to use third-party platforms to send files via transfer or link as users can upload and download directly from the website.
How will customers keep up with constantly changing raw formats – every time a new camera comes out, there often needs to be a raw file update from Adobe, for instance. People won’t need to keep up with the pace of constantly changing raw formats, as our platform has a universal converter. All raw files are converted automatically to jpgs when they are uploaded to our platform for users to view on the website and stored as a raw file on our server.
Do you intend to distribute raw video footage too? For now we only focus on raw images, but we hope to eventually provide raw video footage as well in the future.
Tell us more about your business model – early adopters can get involved in the business, right? To further our commitment to help photographers expose and promote their work, we are offering 25 photographers the chance to become one of the co-founders of RawShotz. In addition, we allow users to directly donate to photographers for their photo contributions. We also host four contests every day for photographers to upload their raw files and get a chance to win daily cash prizes.
So how are you going to make money to pay contributing photographers based on performance? We will sell ads to Sony, Nikon, and Adobe, among others. Also our library will be used on website building companies like WIX, Squrespace, and GoDaddy, to name a few.
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