Welcome to the blog! twcdm.blogspot.com is all about sharing tips, tricks and tutorials all having to do with photography, Photoshop and getting into the stock photo industry.

Travis Manley

My bio is here.
My Stock Photography portfolio is here.
My personal blog is here.

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

iStockphoto: Model Release Update

Just when you thought uploading your photos to iStockphoto.com couldn't be any more tedious...

Microstock giant iStockphoto recently announced that they were stepping up their standards for model releases (those little permission slips for models). The change that is going to make the most difference for my fellow photographers (myself included) is iStockphoto now requires a model release for every session with a model. No more universal releases for the same model for different shoots.

I have a hard time keeping track of releases for the 5-10 models I work with. The one that is really going to give me a lot of trouble is my son. I take photos of him almost everyday, most of those photos are ones I will sell. I can only imagine how many model releases I will have to fill out for him before he turns eighteen...lets say 2 a week for the next 17 years = 1,768! Oh, shoot me now!

All jokes aside, iStockphoto is one of my top earning sites. I can stop uploading new photos anytime, I choose to keep uploading because they are a great site and represent my work well.

Read the article at iStockphoto.com here

Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Make Money with Google Ads!

I recently added ads to my blog using Google's AdSence program. The thought of making less than a dollar (in most cases) for each click your ads receive might send you running to the hills, but it doesn't scare me. Being a microstock photographer, most of my sales are right around the one dollar mark. This might sound like chump change, but those small sales start to add up quick. I think Google ads are right up my alley.

If you are a microstock photographer like me you probably already have a website. Chances are even if you are a stay at home mom you probably have a website too. There are many ways to set up free websites and blogs. Blogger and Wordpress, to name a few. All you need to do is set up an AdSense account and you can start making money from your free website! If you have a Blogger page adding Google ads is as easy as a couple of right-clicks. Before you know it you will have ads that blend seamlessly into the background of your site.

Now hold on fella, I'm not telling you to run out and quit your day job just yet. Like I said earlier, you will probably only get around a dollar or so per person that clicks on one of your ads (generally). If your blog is truly awesome and you are seeing some serious traffic, you might be surprised how often those checks from Google start showing up in the mail.

Good luck and happy blogging!

Cutcaster Pricing Strategy Help

Cutcaster.com is one of the few stock photo sites that allow the photographer to choose the price that they want their photos to be sold for. This is a great opportunity for contributors, but some might be uncertain about how to pick a price that will get their images sold.

Here are some tips from a Cutcaster contributor on the Cutcaster blog:

"From a Cutcaster contributor in an emai to our support-

How I price my images on high paying sites? At Cutcaster, we can price our own images. So how do I go about picking a price for my images out of mid-air?? I find the best way to price them is based off of the prices at other agencies (non-subscription – ppd).

Once I have gotten an average of the other agencies pay-per-download prices for my images size, I then undercut the price. I cut the price because Cutcaster pays 40% (non-exclusive) or 50% (exclusive) royalty, as opposed to 20%-35% that other agencies payout. So, not only am I giving a lower price to buyers, but I am also taking in a high income in most cases. I can even take a few of my extras and submit them exclusively to Cutcaster for 50%, which is great.

Since Cutcaster does not have a subscription, I do not have to worry about comparing the prices to other sites that do have subscriptions, as obviously, Cutcaster is not targeting subscription buyers.”

Test it out yourself and see how the strategy works. Let us know what other strategies you have been trying out for selling your images and stock photography. What’s your strategy for your portfolio and how you sell?"

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Updates at Mostphotos.com

Just got an email about some upcoming updates to Mostphotos.com that I thought I would pass along.

Announcement from Mostphotos:

"Hello everyone,

I just wanted to let you know that we are still on
schedule for a early September release of
Mostphotos 3.0. All the hard work we have put in
over the last year has really paid off and we are
really excited to show off the new site.

We have also decided to drop support for Internet
explorer 6 on the new version simply because IE6
lacks support of many of the new features that we
wanted to implement. So if you are still using
Internet explorer 6, please upgrade to a latest
version (IE8) or download a even better browser
like www.google.com/chrome, www.getfirefox.com,
www.apple.com/safari. This will greatly enhance
your browsing
You can read more about it here:

We will also have some downtime this Saturday
because of server upgrades. The site will be
down for at least a few hours. We will upgrade
all the servers so we would recommend you to
not use the FTP upload on Saturday to prevent
any canceled uploads.

Don't forget to check out the development blog
(http://devblog.mostphotos.com) if you want to
read about some of the new features in 3.0.
And follow us on http://www.facebook.com/mostphotos
or http://www.twitter.com/mostphotos for the latest

Best regards

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Dreamstime News

Dreamstime.com News for 8-19-2009

Announcement from Dreamstime:

"Scheduled maintenance is to be performed in the following hours. Services may be interrupted temporarily. We're doing our best to minimize the downtime (if any). Please email/call support if you experience any issues."

New Photo Assignment and a chance to win $1,000!

Announcement from Dreamstime:

"If you have not taken your summer holiday yet, the new assignment is the perfect opportunity. We want to see tropical getaways, white sand beaches, palm trees and clear blue oceans or seas. Moreover, we want to see all the fun you have in such locations. Show us the perfect shores with people lazing in hammocks, sipping exotic cocktails or wading in the surf. Capture the tropical holiday fun: water sports, yachts sailing on calm waters, splashes with friends in the ocean, people playing beach volley, building sand castles or scuba diving. Catch the sunny days or the seaside sunset as you're warming with your partner under the blanket near the camp fire. Don't pack your bags as the holiday ends because your vacation may be prolonged. Prizes for this assignment are again sponsored by Payoneer, our online payment partner so keep your swimming suits on. The winners will be rewarded electronic money on their Dreamstime branded MasterCard cards to continue holiday. First place winner will receive $1,000, second place $400 and third place $200 which can be used for summer fun payments or cashed from the card. In addition, all three winners receive the Dreamstime designer T-shirt to wear during next sea, sun and fun escapade. To learn more about the Dreamstime Prepaid MasterCard payment option, click here Good luck and have fun!"

Tuesday, August 18, 2009


Stock photo site Shutterstock.com recently added a new feature that promotes your portfolio on Twitter.

Here is the announcement from Shutterstock:

"If you’re on Twitter, we just made it easier for you to tweet about all the cool work you’re showcasing on Shutterstock, and if you haven’t taken the plunge into the Twittersphere – we invite you to join us.

Shuttertweet gives you the ability to instantly send out tweets regarding new images added to your portfolio. Shuttertweet will also update the Twitter community with your download count each day.

Plus, we added your referral ID to the Twitter urls so if someone makes a purchase after clicking the link, you’ll make a referral commission!

Here’s how the tweets will look:

- I sold 10 images today through @shutterstock! My gallery is here:
http://www.shutterstock.com (link to your gallery will be provided in tweet)

- I just got 10 images accepted to @shutterstock! Check out my gallery
here: http://www.shutterstock.com (link to your gallery will be provided in tweet)

To sign up, login to the submit site and click the option under "Make Money" (or click here: https://submit.shutterstock.com/admin.mhtml#shuttertweet ) and then connect your Shutterstock account to your Twitter account, which will approve us to send the tweets on your behalf. You can deactivate Shuttertweet at any time.

We look forward to seeing you at: http://twitter.com/shutterstock

Tweet you later!
Your Friends @Shutterstock"

Im looking forward to seeing how this works.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Cutcaster Announces its "Betta than Vetta" collection of premium photos

Here is the press release:

August 4, 2009 - San Francisco, California

From their new headquarters in foggy San Francisco, Cutcaster is proud to introduce its much-ballyhooed “Betta than Vetta” (BTV) photo and vector collection to creative professionals today. Take a sneak peak at Betta than Vettaby going to www.cutcaster.com/Betta-Than-Vetta.

“Creative professionals deserve a better experience when searching for and purchasing content. What Cutcaster provides is better search, better results, better rights offering and all at better market prices,” Cutcaster founder John Griffin explained. “We introduced ‘Betta than Vetta,’ our first premium collection, to highlight the amazing quality of work in our marketplace and show buyers how easy the website is to use.”

The best of the best included in the BTV photo and vector collection were hand-picked by our highly-caffeinated reviewers and industry professionals for their uniqueness, execution and overall quality. The diverse collection will have graphic designers, creative professionals and photo buyers singing from the top of the closest mountain peaks.

‘Betta than Vetta’, Irish for “mountaintop,” gives creative professionals looking for exceptional imagery a new and untapped source of photos and illustrations priced by the free market. Inclusive of both exclusive and non-exclusive contributors, the BTV collection will expand over time. Contributors may also request a file be added to the collection but every file included must pass an intense inspection process and meet the collection’s strict acceptance criteria. "The Cutcaster flexible pricing model provides a unique and hard-data insight into the market value of stock photos,” Lee Torrens, a stock photography insider observed. “Betta than Vetta is a welcome opportunity for all stock photography and illustrators to see our higher value images lifted to another level."

Prices range from $1 for small sizes up to $35 USD for XXL. Sellers set the price for the BTV files. If a buyer wanted to name their price, they are always free to bid on any of the images if they have more time or are working with a smaller budget.

“We haven’t even come close to hitting our peak yet but I’m excited by the growth of sales, which have been doubling every month and also by the number of great photographers we are fortunate enough to be working with and trust us to represent their work. Our diverse collection is on the verge of breaking 400,000 royalty free images and illustrations and the ‘Betta than Vetta’ collection will be one more way we can promote our great library to buyers,” Griffin added.

In other news, Cutcaster announced that the increase in revenues has been re-invested into advertising and marketing and more customer service help, which continues to be an industry leader. The number of Corporate Accounts and buyer sign-ups has been growing faster over the last 6 months because buyers like the flexible payment options, easy to use search and invoicing capabilities. Cutcaster released figures that buyers bid on content around 6% of the time and on average bid 40% less than the listed price for the largest file size. The time it takes for a typical seller’s response to a proposed bid has averaged 81 minutes and buyers have accepted the final price 43% of the time.

In addition, Cutcaster released new features that include scaled pricing for different file sizes so buyers now have a choice over what image size they want. Also Cutcaster improved its search functionality and introduced a new suggestive search tool that shows buyers as they type in a keyword what other keyword options are available.

For more information on the Betta than Vetta collection see www.cutcaster.com/Betta-Than-Vetta or email info@cutcaster.com.

About Cutcaster
Cutcaster has tapped into a new and unique source of photo and vector illustrations that can be purchased for any kind of publishing, web design project, printing brochures, advertising, annual reports or electronic usage on websites and presentations. Cutcaster created the first model that adds structure to support licensing user-generated photography and vectors when you don't have the budget to create it yourself. Sellers can set their prices or those new to the world of licensing can use the Cutcaster Algorithm to find the fair market price.

Visit www.cutcaster.com for more information.

Here is a link to my photos at Cutcaster.com

New Photo Studio III: The Saga Concluded

Well, if you are wondering what I have been up to lately I have been working my butt off getting this project finished. We started this project back in April and are just now wrapping it up four months later. As fun as it has been I'm really looking forward to being able to spend a couple weekends not worrying about the next phase of construction and maybe do a little camping and hiking with my family.In the first two blog posts in this set I talked about how we built a shed to store most of what used to be in the garage, in part two I talked about how we took down the garage door and framed in the opening. The final phase was a whopper and consisted of adding electrical outlets and lights, adding insulation, adding drywall, painting, staining the concrete floor and adding baseboard and trim. It makes me tired just writing this all down, luckily I had a lot of help from my family and friends.

There was only one light in the garage, a crummy looking exterior light fixture in the middle of the ceiling that wasn't powerful enough to light the space. There was also only two outlets, not really a great setup for what I was going to need. I did a lot of research and decided on can lights for lighting. I didn't want something that hung from the ceiling and might get in the way of me taking photos later.

Installing can lights

My father in-law helped me install the 12 lights and five new outlets. It was another really long day. It was great to actually get a good look at the room with the new lights, it wasn't looking so much like a cave anymore. We also added a couple of exterior lights to the front of the studio on either side of the french doors.

With that done it was insulation time. We had talked about trying to do it ourselves, but thought we might actually save a little money and get it done better/faster by hiring a company to come out and do it. Because a insulation company buys in bulk they can get a better deal on material. We had a couple insulators come out and give us quotes and it looked like it was going to be a little more to pay someone else to do it (about $100) but we thought it would save us some time and they would probably do a better job...Long story short I wish we would have just done it ourselves. The guys who came out to do the insulation made a bunch of mistakes and ended up holding up the drywall because we had to wait for them to finish.

Insulation going in

Lucky me my dad is a drywall master and was able to get all the drywall done over a weekend. After the drywall was done the guy he works for was nice enough to make a few trips out to spray two coats of primer and texture on the walls for free!

Drywall finished

With the walls ready to go we got started painting. I had a really hard time picking colors for the studio, I think I about drove my wife crazy obsessing about it. Here are a few things I found when researching what colors are good for a studio. White is good if you want your walls to bounce light back onto your subject. Black does the opposite and absorbs light. Bright colors aren't good because they can cast color onto your subject.

Primer and paint

If this studio was strictly going to be used for photography and nothing else I would have whitewashed floor to ceiling, however the room is also going to be an office for my wife and I so stark white would be a little too "clinical" for us. Other options would have been to use curtains in the area I'm going to be shooting.

I chose to go with white on the ceiling so I could bounce light off it if I wanted and 18% grey for the walls and painted one wall that I wont be shooting around a little darker grey. 18% grey is a great neutral color and pretty close to the color I had in mind for the studio in the first place.

The floor was another hard choice. We originally were going to go with a wood laminate but, decided to stain the concrete floor that was already there. We had been wanting to try concrete stain for awhile but didn't have a good spot for it. Concrete stain looks great and is much cheaper than laminate.

One problem we ran into was the concrete footings around the floor, they stuck out a few inches and got gradually deeper from the back of the room to the front. My father in-law came to the rescue again and made some custom baseboard that could fit over the top of this.

Two coats of concrete stain and sealer

Here is what the studio looks like pretty much finished. There is still some work to be done, but the bulk of it is finished. I plan on posting some new photos after a month or so once I'm settled in.

(little messy, sorry)

My assistant's (wife's) desk

My desk

Here is a rundown of some of the expenses for this part of the remodel. (approx)

Flooring (stain, sealer) = $200
Paint = $100
Insulation = $500
Drywall = $300

Originally we had estimated somewhere between $1,500-$2,000 for this project and it ended up costing around $3,000. Keep in mind $3,000 was pretty much just material, most of the labor was done by friends and family.

I strongly encourage all you photographers out there working in cramped little corners of your houses to build, or convert an existing room into a studio. Having a designated work space is very important to a efficient work-flow. Rather than spending twenty+ minutes setting up all my gear for every shoot everything is ready to go when I need it.

This is the third and final post about the process of converting my garage into a photo studio/office. Here are the links to the first two parts.

Part #1
Part #2

If you have any questions about this post
please email me at