Elena Elisseeva: Professional Microstock Producer

March 8, 2011, Author: Vitezslav Valka, Categories: Interview, Photographer, Showcase

Let me introduce one of the best selling photographers. Elena is a professional photography producer writing her own blog about photography. She has just become a fresh new contributor for Pixmac. We’re happy to see new faces  as our marketing brings measurable results and the reasons for uploading to Pixmac are more positive as each month passes.

How did you started with microstock?

I learned about microstock by accident. I was looking for an image on the internet and one of the results was from a microstock agency. I thought: “wow you can do that?” and from then on there wasn’t a single month when I didn’t submit images.

Where do you search for ideas?

Many people ask me – how do you know what to shoot? I don’t even know how to answer that – for me it’s not a question of finding new ideas, it’s a problem of shooting everything that’s in my head (or notebooks). I have way too many ideas and way too little time. I wish there was several of me. I know I could hire people to do some work for me, but then there is another issue – they can’t see what’s in my head! Sometimes processing an image does half of the job on conveying the idea, so I can’t outsource that either. But basically the answer to that question is – anywhere, anytime, sometimes it’s by association with something I’ve seen (a show, a movie, some advertising), sometimes it’s just out of the blue – “hmm, this would be a good stock image…”.

Does the themes you shoot change in time?

I always shot everything I could think of – from landscapes and travel to food and models. I might go back to something I’ve done in the past if I think I can do it better now or put a new twist on it. For some time I was worried that I can’t choose which subject to focus on, since I’ve heard that it’s easier to market yourself when you’re known as a “food photographer” or “travel” or “lifestyle”. That is true, but I would be too bored to do just one thing. Maybe it’s not the best business decision but I’d rather have fun, and fun for me is to explore all sides of photography. Plus, I seem to be doing pretty well in all of it :-)

What were your top 3 countries visited? Why?

France, Germany, England. I like Europe, it feels familiar – nature, history, culture. I go there and think – this is what Russia could have been if we didn’t have to go through decades of communist rule. Although Canada is my home now, I still feel nostalgic sometimes for European ways – North American culture is quite different.

What stock agencies inspire you?

Actually, I am not really impressed with any of them recently. Some of them do things right on contributor end, but have little or no sales. Some of them sell pretty well but don’t pay fair commissions, are a pain to submit to, or have unreasonable reviewing. There are some that don’t do anything right. So if Pixmac manages to get both sides of the business right, I’d be impressed and inspired!

Vita: That’s the challenge we’ve been working on since 2008 :-)

Is there any ‘red flag’ if you consider a new agency?

Yes. Photographers submit photos to agencies in order to make money. If I see that an agency is not focusing on sales and marketing, that would be a red flag. My job is to produce, the agency’s job is to sell – that’s why we split the profit. I don’t need an agency to give me a place to socialize or get critiques on my images or any of that nonsense – there is social media for that.

Vita: Wow! That’s a smart way of looking at it!

Do you prefer exclusivity or not?

I am fine with “image exclusivity”. If an agency wants content that’s not found anywhere else, it’s their choice – I’ll give them exclusive images providing I have a reason to believe there will be good sales. However, “artist exclusivity” sounds like slavery to me – “we own everything you produce”. I would never work with just one agency – I’d sooner go back to a corporate job, at least they pay benefits.

Do you see any new opportunities in shooting photos?

There are always new opportunities. And although some subjects are now well-covered in the stock libraries, there are still a lot that have no or very little coverage. In addition, life is changing very fast in our times, new ideas and concepts come to life almost every day, it’s a matter of staying informed and applying it to your work.

Have you met Simon Raybould, our guy in Toronto?

No we haven’t met (yet) but it would be fun to.

Why not Russia, why Canada?

I came to Canada in 1994 – the plan was to stay just for one year and see the country while my first husband was doing his research fellowship. I didn’t bring anything with me and didn’t quit my job in Moscow at that time, just took a leave of absence. But then one thing led to another and here I am – I am Canadian now, Toronto is home, my daughter was born here, my second husband is Canadian, my friends are here – it all just happened. Kind of by accident – the same way I discovered stock photography :-)

Vita: Hey what a nice and fun life this is! Thank you for sharing your life experience with us. It is a pleasure to welcome you aboard Pixmac. We are going the maximum to keep you happy while focusing on customers and marketing your content.

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