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Book Review: Taking Stock: Make Money In Microstock: Creating Photos That Sell by Rob Sylvan

Taking Stock is by iStockphoto inspector Rob Sylvan. Since 2002 he has been a part of the team that decides which photos get sold and which are rejected by one of the largest microstock sites on the planet. In Taking Stock, he shares what it takes to shoot, edit, and tag photos so you can earn while perfecting your style.

The goal of Taking Stock is to provide you with an insider’s look at what the best selling photographers and designers already know – how to focus your energy on creating stock content that resonates with your passion for photography. This book is 240 pages in length and is divided into 12 chapters.

Chapter 1, “Is This Book for You?,” is based on the knowledge the author has gained with his years of experience in inspecting stock photos. You will see what it takes to get started and more importantly, what it takes to be successful. Chapter 2, “What is Stock Photography?,” will describe what stock photography is, who uses it, what defines a stock photo, what the different licensing models are, as well as a history of microstock.

Chapter 3, “Getting into a Stock Frame of Mind,” requires that you understand your customers through research and keeping track of your images. You will also learn what goes into a successful stock photo. Chapter 4, “Of Rights and Wrongs,” looks at the legalities of a stock photo. This includes looking at the fine print, model releases, as well as property releases.

Chapter 5, “Tools of the Trade,” examines the equipment that you need to do stock photography. This includes the camera, shooting RAW vs. JPEG, settings, as well as other gear you might need. Chapter 6, “Shooting Tips from the Pros,” will give you suggestions from several professional stock photographers that share tips on how to create more professional looking images.

Chapter 7, “Setting up Your Digital Darkroom,” now looks at what you need to process your images including hardware, software, as well as other things like monitor calibration and backing up your images. Chapter 8, “Digital Editing Basics,” shows that the focus is on quality. Here you will learn how to create presets, adjust white balance, adjust your exposures, deal with noise, and in general, create a better photo.

Chapter 9, “Avoiding Rejection,” is the goal since anyone who has submitted an image has felt the sting. You will learn to spot things like chromatic aberration, bad cropping, removal of distracting elements, and other things to create a better photo. Chapter 10, “Seeing Like an Inspector,” will have you being your own critic. Here you will develop an inspection workflow that will help you be more successful

Chapter 11, “Putting It All Together,” now takes all you have learned and finishes the puzzle. This is a lot about working in Adobe Lightroom, but can be applied to any system for a complete workflow agenda. Chapter 12, “Moving Out into the World,” is like graduation day. This chapter will provide tips on how to prepare your images for final submission.

I found Taking Stock to be a very easy to read and very informative book that really makes sense especially with regard to rejections. The book itself is very slick with full color illustrations and information from pro’s sprinkled throughout the book.

Taking Stock makes for an excellent resource and if you are a beginner, this book will save you a lot of time and effort, if you have been working to sell stock images and not having the success that you hoped, it will help as well. This makes it easy to highly recommend Taking Stock.

About T. Michael Testi

Photographer, writer, software engineer, educator, and maker of fine images.

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