Zivica Kerkez is one of our notable contributors with a very diverse photography portfolio. Zivica has made it quite far in just a few years. He made his way into the stock photography business, turning his passion and interests into a very successful career.
Today Zivica shares his story, his tips on working with microstocks and general advice for any aspiring photographer that hopes to follow similar footsteps.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your career.
I am from Serbia, Novi Sad where I live with my family – my wife Marta, my daughter Masa and our lovely dog Bella. I’m 40 and most of my live I had worked in a company as a salesman of computer equipment, which is not quite a dream job.
In 2016, I decided to change my life so I had quit my current job and started full time stock photography. It was very hard at the time, but I felt so liberated and most of all – happy! At that moment, my income was less than 100$, which scared me, but I was determined to succeed. After a few months of working as a stock photographer, I had a constant growth of income and I was sure that I am on a right path. It gave me the motivation to keep taking pictures.
Photography was my hobby for many years. My first camera was given to me by my uncle, it was a Zenit with a 56mm lens. At that time my only intention was to capture memories of my friends and family. Later on, in 2006, my friend gave me a Canon 300D with a kit lens as a present, but unfortunately it soon got stolen. Six years later I managed to buy another camera, a Canon 60D and in 2016 I switched to Nikon D750.
When did you know that photography was what you wanted to pursue?
I had tried many creative disciplines like sculpting, painting, guitar playing but with photography I felt most complete. One important thing about photography that guided me to it is that I can always shoot, no matter where I am or what time it is.
What have you learned so far from working with microstocks?
I learned that working with microstock is a job like any other. You can either love what you do or not. I find it important to find yourself in what you do, in order to love it and be happy with it. After what is left is no pressure, only a burning desire.
You often feature people in your shots, what are some challenges in this genre of photography?
Yes, my photos are mostly about people. What is challenging with this type of photography is that you can’t stage every situation or emotion. What I use as an advantage is the opportunity to mainly shoot people I personally know, so I can get genuine emotions in the pictures, without having to stage them. Sometimes I just need to be patient and wait for my moment to take a picture.
What is your selection process like for the images that end up in your portfolio?
Reviewing process is the most instinctive task I do during my work flow. When I see pictures for the first time after the shoot, I select the ones I like based on the first impression factor. And it’s mostly in the thumbnail size, when I can clearly see the composition and get the overall impression. Later on, I usually remove those that are out of focus.
What is the most time consuming part of your job?
That would be everything between the shoot itself and the uploading. More often the most consuming part is the one where I am color grading pictures and giving them the desired style. That job has a big impact on the message that the picture will have. It also has to have the right connection with the story in the picture. It is also a nonlinear and slow process, because I have to look at each picture individually.
What would you say are some essentials to starting a photography business from scratch? How did you approach this task?
Not the same rules can be applied worldwide, but there are some general rules. Be patient, know your gear, define your weekly/monthly plans, invest in knowledge, work hard, and I guess, be persistent.
Do you have a favourite photograph in your portfolio? If so, what’s the story behind it?
It is hard to pick the one, but I can tell you a story about a photo that has surprised me in an unexpected way. The name of the photo is “Sad woman”. It was created as a test shoot. I was researching how to make more diffused light, but with a small budget. After analysing behind the scenes of some photographs, I realised that I can use a white shower curtain. I bought the curtain, placed it on a stand, put one speedlight behind and asked my wife to sit on a sofa so I can take a few test shoots. She then sat on the sofa and without any more suggestions from me, let me capture her genuine emotions of the moment.
Later on, while reviewing, I didn’t quite realise its potential but decided to upload it nonetheless. What really surprised me, was that the picture has become one of my best selling ones.
What are some themes that you think need to be more explored in stock photography?
It is obvious that everyone can shoot food or lifestyle subjects, just as well as it’s apparent that the subjects which require not so easily accessible locations, are less present. In general, all the types of manufacturing industries are not sufficiently represented as subjects in stock photography.
Thereby, the subjects that elaborate the modern way of living and the upcoming trends, that need to be recognised and adequately brought to the clients, should be more present.
Your #1 tip or words of wisdom:
Knowing the power of imagination and visualization is more important than expensive gear in order to create a good picture. After all, you can always improvise and further search for a good light.
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