The second part in my series focuses on quality. As we saw in the previous blog post, increasing volume is important in a market in which comptetitors produce large amounts of imagery every day. However, increasing volume usually comes at the price of decreasing quality. How do you find a healthy balance? What changes in workflow can improve quality?
It’s important we coin the definition of quality. What is quality in the stock imagery market?
Definition of Quality: a high quality image, is an image which makes a buyer happy and motivates them to buy more from you.
I believe this to be very true, but it is perhaps too generic. High quality is broken down into the following:
- – Technical Quality
- – Production Quality
- – Creative Quality
- – Description Quality
Images get rejected when they do not meet the agency’s standards. You do not want to simply meet the technical standards. You want to surpass them. Your technical quality depends on your equipment and on your photography and photoshop skills. The only situation where you can compromise technical quality is if it adds creative value. But see if you can convince your inspector
Each production involves more than just yourself. Good quality make up, good models, stylish clothes and beautiful locations. You have an influence on these aspects and they contribute to your quality.
A creative image conveys a message in an original way. Good stock imagery must always convey a message or a feeling. Creative quality is difficult to judge. Most microstock agencies do not judge your creativity when inspecting files, they will focus on technical aspects. The person who ends up deciding whether the image contains creative value is the buyer and they are prepared to pay a premium for creativity (that’s why many agencies put creative images in higher priced collections).
Every image on a microstock agency is described and keyworded by you. A high quality description is a description which explains exactly what you see in the image and informs the buyer of the content. For example, if you took a photo of a South African penguin, then write it! Ensure you add the latin name of the species and where it was photographed. If you photographed a human of a certain ethnicity, then write it too. Don’t just write Asian, write Japanese, Korean or Thai.
Improving Your Workflow
So you see, quality is a big topic and covers many aspects of your workflow. But if you start making small changes now, soon your quality will improve without affecting your volume.
These are my tips which will help you with little effort:
- Purchase or rent excellent equipment for all your photoshootings
- Use prime lenses whenever possible
- Work with the best people you can get
- Every now and then bring in someone new to your team and keep them if they are good. Your team should improve with you.
- Occasionally you should do a test photoshooting to try out new tricks and learn.
- Think out of the box
- Each picture must convey a feeling or a message. Make this your goal when preparing your production
- Communicating your idea to your team is fundamental. Misunderstandings amongst your team will put at risk the execution of your idea. Meet your team before the shoot and talk about your idea and it’s implementation
- If you cannot meet them then skype with them, or write a detailed email explaining the photoshooting
- Carry an idea book always with you, everyday. For iPhone users I recommend Evernote
- Carry around a note book (digital or paper) and take notes which will help you improve the description of your pictures
- Use your notes to write your keywords
- Pay attention to define relevant and accurate keywords. Use tools like Yuri’s keywording tool
While writing this blog post I realized I could write a complete post for each aspect of quality. Maybe that’s an idea for future articles. But for now, I hope the definitions and the tips will allow you to review your workflow and find improvement potential!
How do you manage and improve your quality? What aspects are important for you? I’d be very interested in knowing.
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