Andres Rodriguez to contribute work to Polylooks
Exclusive interview with Andres Rodriguez
Andres Rodriguez is one of the top microstock photography earners worldwide. In the space of just four years the London-based Colombian has built his portfolio up to exceed 21,000 images offered across ten major stock photography sites. He has just signed up to contribute his work to Polylooks, Deutsche Telekom’s online photo agency. Here he talks to us about his work, the microstock industry in general and why he’s come on board with Polylooks.
You’ve been involved in microstock since May 2006, what attracted you to it?
I started as a graphic designer and I needed images that were of high quality and affordable. I was freelancing at the time and I came across one of the major websites, and started buying pictures. After a while, I realised that the download numbers by the side of the photo were changing rapidly from one week to the next. So, as I’d loved photography for ages, I decided to try it out. I uploaded 100 photos – they all got rejected, but the agency told me why and also Googled [how to microstock]. I started learning step-by-step and that’s how I got into it.
What’s your portfolio size now and across how many microstock sites?
My portfolio size is 21,000 images at the moment. I produce around 100 images a day, or 2,000 a month. I’m on ten microstock sites.
Does microstock contribute a lot to your income; do you mainly view it as a ‘shop window’ to showcase your work, or both?
It’s my main and almost only source of income. Microstock provides 88 per cent of my income. I don’t do weddings or assignments.
What images do you find are the most popular? Do you major on any particular style (travel, business etc)?
What’s most popular are groups of people in locations, that’s what I find sells well. It doesn’t matter if it’s a group of doctors, a group of business people or people at the gym. Whenever you’re in a real-life situation it sells a lot. However, there is too much competition in that field, so everyone shoots groups of business people and medical staff. It’s good to find other avenues – families, for example, sell well.
The photography industry appears to be divided on microstocking. Some feel it has undervalued their work, but I imagine you don’t see it that way. What would you say to those people?
Well, it’s a very new industry and people don’t understand it that well. I agree to a certain extent that the base price for microstock is a bit low. I think they [microstock agencies]need to extend it a little bit, for example with high resolution images. If you’re going to print a billboard, [photographers]can charge $80-100 for that and they’re only charging $10 or $8. So there is a gap there and they could adjust prices for different sizes and uses.
It’s the mass downloads that make the money, really. Every single photo you upload – if it’s good quality – it is going to sell, even if it’s only once or twice.
You’ve photographed a lot of places around the world. What are your favourite, ‘most photographable’ places?
Well, I love travel photography but I don’t take my camera on holiday. If I’m going to a place, it’s because I’m going with the models, make-up artists and equipment. Obviously, I love shooting beaches – it’s like you’re on holiday and you’re at work at the same time. I love that.
I find that travel photography is more about capturing a particular situation that you happen to be in. I prefer to do a lot of pre-production, get the location, get the models and go to see a place beforehand. I’m more of a people-shooter than a place-shooter, so I make people look beautiful in a certain place rather than make the place look good.
Since you first started out in microstock photography have you had to change and adapt your style?
I have, because when I started shooting I had a more artistic view. I thought that beautiful trees and landscapes would sell, but obviously we all know that’s very difficult. So I had to look at what sells in the stock photography business and adapt to that. I started to shoot people and that’s what I mostly enjoy at the moment.
What are your top tips for would-be microstock photographers?
Get your quality up there, that’s the perfect way to gain buyers. Originality and quality, that’s the key to success. If you concentrate on your photos and get good ideas and make sure every shoot is right you’re going to get the buyers as volumes go up and up.
What equipment do you use and what camera would you recommend for a Microstock beginner?
I’m a Canon shooter. I have the 1Ds Mark III, the 5D Mark II and the 7D because I prefer to have three cameras with different lenses rather than changing lenses all the time. I have a second shooter as well, so I personally use the 1Ds and she uses the 5D.
I believe it is not the camera that makes the photo, it’s the light. Also, invest in lenses. You’ll change the bodies a number of times but you’re going to keep your lenses.
Polylooks is delighted to have you on board as a contributor. Why did you decide to place your work on Polylooks?
I don’t normally contribute to new agencies. I get invitations week in and week out, but Polylooks is different because of the presence they have already due to the company that owns them. The business plan and the passion they seem to have for the business will make them succeed in the industry.