Digital stock photography has been on my radar for some time as something I wanted to get into. In fact a few years ago I did try my hand at it and with some success, managing to sell to several different photo libraries. Sadly I just didn't keep my focus, but it is certainly something I am keen to get back into.
I then realised that many of you too may have thought about digital stock photography as something you too would like to participate in. So I thought what better way to find out more about it than to ask someone with years of experience in this field. Someone who could answer some questions and improve our understanding and help us make the decision as to whether or not it is something we like to learn more about.
Bonnidette Lantz has been a stock photographer for many years so who better to ask to share their experiences and help us find out more about digital stock photography?
Hope you enjoy the interview.
Hello Bonnidette, thank you for your time today and sharing your expertise and experience with us. Firstly, I always like to give the interviewee an opportunity to briefly tell us about themselves and their photography?
I have been interested in photography since I was a small child. I was 10 when I asked my parents for a real camera. I remember being disappointed because it was a point and shoot not an SLR (that was a real camera to me).
In the military there were some events and missions I was asked to photograph. I guess this is where the real photography started for me. I finally got that SLR when I was 22. I, with the help of a friend, learned to use it and the rest, as they say, is history.
As for my photography, I tend to photograph whatever moves me. I like to look at everyday things in new ways; people, plants, objects.
Whatever it is, I try to find a new way to look at it. I use photography to rediscover my world every chance I get.
I always like to know how someone was first introduced to photography and what it was that got you hooked on it. How were you introduced to photography?
My parents bought a Canon AE-1 when I was about 7 or 8. I remember my mom loved that camera. She would change the lenses and photograph things others never noticed just because they intrigued her. I remember there was a big difference in the photos she took and those of others. You know, she never cut any ones head off in the picture. I was drawn to these photos and photos of other great artists. It was just a hobby for my mom. I never new people got paid to do it. I just loved it. It wasn't until I was 23 that I got my first job taking pictures. Who new someone would pay you to do this?
Who are your photographic influences?
Even though my mom hasn't really photographed anything since I was a small child, I would have to say the way she looked at the world back then was my biggest influence. I like to look at photographs of both well-known photographers and the unknown photographer.
I don't think any one artist has influenced me in a really big way. I take what I like away from the photos I'm drawn to. I pretty much do my own thing. If I had to name an artist that inspires me, I would say Annie Leibovitz' photos of famous people. She has a way of capturing people in a way no other had thought of.
I know that I have my own favourite places to take photographs and I wondered if you do to and if so where are they and why?
I live in St.Louis and have lived here my whole life. I find just getting in the car and driving is my biggest inspiration. I rediscover this great city over and over again. We have one of the best botanical gardens. I can't tell you how much time I spend there. I love the parts of the city that others have long forgotten. There is this graffiti wall along side the train tracks in a part of the city that is mostly deserted. I love to go there. The stories on that wall are always changing.
There is also a small island just across the river. It's a small farm community that to others never changes, but to me, I always discover something new. I don't have just one favourite place, but these are some that I revisit often.
I have dabbled in digital stock photography myself but have never managed to focus on the disciplines required to consistently produce saleable work. What was it that attracted you to digital stock photography and how do you keep your own focus on what is saleable and what is not?
I have had many different jobs in photography. All dealing with people. What I discovered is that photography is one of the few professions that others don't mind telling you how to do your job. It can be frustrating.
I was drawn to stock photography because I could photograph what I wanted, when I wanted. If you like it, you buy it, if you don't, someone else will.
As far as saleable work, sure I study what is selling. I then find subjects within those genres that I want to photograph. It seems to work for me.
If you were asked by someone for some advice, who was interested in doing digital stock photography themselves, is there one piece of advice you would give them to get them started.
My biggest piece of advice is to photograph what you love. If you do, it shows. Your photography will speak to those who are looking for that type of photography. The other thing I would tell others interested in stock photography is that photography is an art and art is subjective. Not everyone will like your work, but someone will.
One of my best selling stock photos was declined by 4 different sites, but sells well on the sites that did want it. You can't take rejection personally. Everyone has there own opinion. Everyone likes something different. You just have to keep taking pictures. If you truly love photography the money will come. With stock photography it does not come over night but it does come.
If you would like to find out more about digital stock photography then visit Bonnidette's website at www.stockphotolounge.com