From CGI artist to stock photographer. A big career leap that was made possible with a great deal of talent and ambition. One of our top contributors, Santiago Nuñez Iñiguez, shares his gratitude and his story of breaking into the stock photography business. What leaves a lasting impression is that this leap has changed a life, and certainly made way for higher creativity.
Tell us a little bit about yourself and your professional career. How did you break into the stock photography business?
It was a change that I hadn’t thought through. Since I began my professional career, I have always been curious about advancing and acquiring new knowledge. There was a moment in the year 2015, in which I realized that my profession as a CGI artist didn’t really motivate me, and I knew enough about stock photography. It was a business model that I knew from Victor Torres’s (MyMicrostock.net) course on stock photography. Without doubting it, I made a serious investment and bought my first photography equipment and fully submersed myself in this world.
It was a gradual change, as of now it has been 2 years since I entered the stock photography market and during this time, I have combined 40 weekly hours of my work in the office with the production of stock images. This entails that I maintain a rigorous work regime, together with a lot of sacrifices and many hours of post production and editing sessions. Although it is true that this is a hard route, it is also true that the satisfaction of seeing your work produced and sold on a daily basis around the world is tremendously motivating and exciting as a project.
In December 2016, and thanks to the income that was generated through the sales of my photos, I decided to put an end to these 21 months in which I was combining both jobs and instead devoted myself exclusively and professionally to stock photography.
What are your personal favourite topics to explore?
The type of photography I am most comfortable with is when there are real people on the other side of the lens. I’m someone that really enjoys dealing with people and and having a good time working with models during photo sessions. To me, all this is much more fun than shooting sceneries and still life. I like lifestyle photo sessions with different models or to be able ‘paint’ a picture of people in their work space pursuing their professions – this is what I enjoy much more. Always (and without exception) these photo shoots end up being very entertaining.
How would you describe your aesthetics?
I don’t think I have a specific style that would describe my images. What I will say is that I choose certain tactics that I see and think will bring better results. The majority of the models with whom I work are not professional and many of them (at first) are not very comfortable in front of the camera. That’s why before having photo shoots, I have several conversations with them to make them as comfortable as possible in front of the camera. To me, this is 70% of the success of the photo session. This great ambience generated through conversation is always translated in the images.
Something that I try to as much as possible is to produce images that are clean, without any elements that are distracting, doing this so that the images acquire a relevance that I want to provide.
What is your favourite photograph that you have taken and why?
This turns out to be a really difficult question to answer because I have many photos that have a history behind them, both for stories and for the fondness that I associate with them.
This one, without a doubt, is one of my favourite images. It was taken during a holiday trip when we were covering Malaysia. We had to get up early to be able to do this photo shoot as the sun rises very quickly there. This was our last day of vacation and a few hours later, our plane was supposed to be heading in the direction of Madrid. We had to do this shoot in a little more than half an hour so that everything would be ready. This was a very planned photo shoot since we knew we were going to have very little time to realize it. This is one of the most amazing photographs that came out of this photo shoot session.
What is your philosophy in regards to commercial photography?
I believe that stock photography offers you something that no other business model can give you. The idea that you have the potential to access a world market that works 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year – this is something very few business models can offer you. The power to be entirely creative in your productions, doing what you really like and also generate income from it – that’s simply incredible. Personally, it has changed my life completely, and I can say that it has been the best decision that I have ever made.
What kind of equipment do you use?
The equipment that I have at present has been growing since I’ve been advancing in the world of stock photography.
The first 8 months as a photographer, I began with a Nikon D610, the lens Tamron 24-70mm 2.8f VC, and two hand flashes with a pair of trigers.
Little by little, my equipment improved.
Today, I have Nikon D750.
35mm Sigma Art lens.
Tamron 70-200mm 2.8f VC lens.
Nikon 50mm 1.8f lens.
Also, I have different elements that help in some productions like LEDs, colored backgrounds, reflectors, etc…
What are your thoughts on the future of stock photography?
I believe that it is a business model that will have major impact on clients as well as photographers. The ease that allows customers buy an image on any subject matter at any time at a reasonable price, compared to the costs that it would take to organize a photo shoot is the reason why this business model keeps on growing. From a photographer’s perspective, we see that over the past few years, the profession has turned out to be altered in many aspects, so that more and more photographers are becoming involved in stock photography and gaining more importance.
Could you tell us about your upcoming shoots and ideas?
My idea is to keep on going with more productions, centering mostly on the subject matter of lifestyle and professions. Also working and investing more and more time in the production of photo shoots, realizing good castings, investing into props, to select good places and locations for photo shoots – all the fundamentals for the success of every photo shoot.
#1 tip or words of wisdom:
There are 3 fundamental points (in my opinion) that are necessary to bear in mind to be able to devote yourself to stock photography:
I think persistence is something fundamental in this business. To have faith in what you are doing and to have the constant capacity to produce and do so at a certain quality. This is vital to have a reasonable number of sales.
If (similar to myself), you lack the resources to hire models and/or spaces, the fact that you have people close to you, that are ready to help you, offering to pose like models or provide spaces for you is something essential. Undoubtedly, it is something without which I would not have been able to advance with my projects since the productions that I do is mostly with models, and if I had not received this support, it would have been impossible for me. I will never be able to sufficiently express my gratitude for all those that are helping me in this way.
And finally, I would say that keeping the illusion alive in the project is important. It is a business that needs patience since the competition is high. Therefore, you have to have faith in your project and be excited about every production that you do in order to be able to grow and learn – it is indispensable help.