Catalin Petolea: Shooting full time while enjoying mountain trips!
How did you started with photography?
Somewhere in 2005 I bought a Sony point and shoot and started to play with it. After that I replaced it with a Panasonic FZ20 which had a f/2.8 Leica lens (wow!) still point and shoot but this one was the camera on which I learned most of the technical aspects of photography. After that I realised it’s the moment to get more serious, since it appeared that photography will stick with me for a long while, at least as a hobby. My first DSLR, a 350D also meant my entry into stock photography, in autumn 2007.
What do you personally like to shoot? Stock or art?
It depends on the mood. Some would say that there could be no pleasure in shooting stock (like people isolated on white for instance) but I disagree. In every shooting even if it’s 100% stock-oriented, there are ideas that could mean fun, interesting concepts, new lighting schemes, new approach to a common subject and many other aspects. Of course, stock pays much better than art so for a full-timer like me this reason has a heavy impact.
Where do you spend majority your day?
The busy days – at the computer. Processing, keywording, communicating, marketing. The not so busy days – with my family. We have a great attraction to nature, hiking, anything that means fresh air and activity. We also have a house in the countryside and my wife is a keen gardener so we have our own homegrown fruits and vegetables every year. Living healthy, as one might say.
Is selling stock photos your full-time entertainment?
It’s full time. I am now in my second year since I quit working for others and pursued an enterprise of my own. It’s been great so far, so yea, it’s an entertainment too.
What’s the positive about the current microstock industry?
There is still demand. Arguably, considerably less than supply, but there is. And it will be for a long time. Microstock has become a “de facto” for increasingly more image buyers.
How difficult would it be to launch your own agency?
Insanely difficult. Have a look at Stockfresh. The guys behind it have all the experience with stock agencies that anyone can have and after an year they’re still quiet. I believe to really make it as a new agency you need extremely solid financial backup.
Do you constantly search for new agencies to contribute to?
Not at all. Microstockgroup has all the necessary info for this, and I’m reading it daily. I also get contacted by new agencies every month or so. I try to be very careful where to contribute to.
What are the most important features of an agency for you?
Good commission scheme, good sales (as in – many customers), respect for the authors, easy upload system. My portfolio is over 8000 images, and yet I only have about 450 on iStockphoto, because I can’t stand the cumbersome upload system. So I only upload there about… twice a year or so.
Who are the innovation leaders?
As agencies: iStockphoto for creating the whole thing, Shutterstock for the subscription system and Pond5 for stock video. As photographers: Yuri Arcurs, he definitely marked the way of how successful business and lifestyle imagery will be for microstock.
What do you think about being exclusive?
I don’t think I will ever be. The best place for an exclusive was always iStockphoto, I have very few files there and therefore they make a quite low part of my income. I can’t see any other place where I’d like to be exclusive.
Does your family inspires your shoots?
Sometimes, yes. Especially in some niches.
What is your dream country?
A country with zero taxes, lowest prices, the most spectacular landscapes, the most beautiful people willing to pose for stock in TFP manner, and twice a month free petrol for any Toyota owner.
Thank you Catalin for such an inspiring talk with someone from similar part of the globe as we are. I hope you’ll enjoy your job more every day and I wish that this microstock positive wave never ends Good luck!