Warmpicture photographer Steve Cukrov is a successful stock photographer whose career spans 3 decades. Today Steve outlines his evolution as a stock photographer, from learning what to shoot, to developing his skills in Photoshop.
“You say you want an evolution….”
I started this stock photography journey long before digital (1980’s). It never really took off for me. I couldn’t crack the big houses and between the two small regional agencies I was with, they only ever managed to sell one image. This one, a favorite on mine, was taken while helping to photo ID Gray Whales for a research project in Baja California.
All of my beginning submissions to MS agencies in late 2005 were scans of trannies from those early days. Armed with only a Microtek Flatbed Scanner I began scanning my 35mm, 2 ¼ and 4×5 images. Much to my surprise many were accepted at the top sites and began selling right away.
This is how one of those first really questionable scans has evolved and continues to be a best seller. Scanned from a 4×5 Kodak Ektachrome transparency. Notice the lovely greenish cast.
Without any PhotoShop skills to speak of, not a clue about keywording, and no digital camera, I set out on this endeavor with optimism and a steep learning curve.
A few months later, as I began to figure out Photoshop and calibrated my monitor, I deleted that image and uploaded this new cleaned-up version.
Sales began to take off.
The next incarnation came with the advent and over use of the PS plug-in called ‘Flood’. This version did OK but version #2 remained the bigger seller.
The most notable change in sales came when I had a good hard look at the keywords I had chosen for the image after I saw it in use for an article on ‘Molecular Gastronomy’. That article provided me with some additional suggestions. But an even bigger boost in sales came when I made two additional changes.
The next version took even more PhotoShop Skills than I possessed a few years earlier.
It seems rather simple now, but at the time I had not done anything like this. Taking that original scan I kept the basic composition but took out the blue bottles top that was lying next to it. I then copied the top of the orange bottle and placed it on top of the blue bottle. I then created the reflection by duplicating the layer, flipping it and lowering the opacity.
This final version, as-well-as Versions #2 & #3, are all still online but this last version, online for the shortest amount of time, outsells all of them combined.
Another revitalization came when I found it in use for an Aroma Therapy site. Again I updated the keywords and sales have been even stronger.
The evolution of this image chronicles my own evolution from a film photographer to a digital artist. With a few tweaks and some revisions to keywords, I have managed to keep this image fresh and a consistent best seller.