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Interview Series: Joshua Hodge, Pixdeluxe

Hi Josh, great to have you with us! Not sure if everybody knows, but you are an elite triathlete and compete in many competitions worldwide. At the same time you are an excellent photographer with a large and amazingly consistent quality.

How do you think your experience as an elite sportsman helps you in your stock production business? And how does your stock business help you in achieving your sports goals?

First off, it is really tough to balance two very different endeavors. But, in the balance, I do think its made me better at both. From doing so much sport and racing, I have learnt a lot about myself and how to focus and concentrate on doing simple things well, over and over. I sleep well and have endless reserves of energy and simply don’t believe in tiredness anymore.

And, on the other side, my stock business gives me time and a regular wage to get myself ready for races. I will also say I can’t make everybody happy all of the time, my coach (and now, sponsors too) would say I don’t train enough and my stock agency Getty/iStock would really like to see more images I believe. That’s the tough bit 🙂

How did your adventure in photography start? When did you discover the opportunity to sell images on the internet and why did you decide to get into it?

I initially got a study job working for Crestock when I was 19. That gave me my first glimpse at stock and it wasn’t all that impressive! At first, I resisted the urge to get into producing images for stock but eventually got started with the belief that I could help be part of a change in style and production quality.

You travel to many destinations to take your pictures. You have worked in South Africa, the United Stated, and other places. Recently you were in Croatia. What are the challenges of producing in other countries? How do you surmount them?

For me, its about gaining access to great spaces and gaining people’s trust. Either they don’t know what a photo production is or they have had a bad experience before. Its easier in Northern Europe and US, language is less an issue there also. Croatia was mixed, but mostly good. Is worth noting, Croatia is very tourist driven, so choose a time that is not swamped with tourists so people have more time to take a chance with you. Mid-summer is not really a good time to shoot in many places I find. And, generally, we try and leave places with a good impression so that we are welcomed back.

Producing abroad probably involves quite some costs. What are the steps you take to ensure that you keep the risk of losing money as low as possible?

Not really. I’m based in Denmark where living costs are high. If I’m diligent with production it still works out cheaper abroad even with travel expenses.
Hire a local. Act local, dress casual. Don’t be showy about money. Live simple. Allow your local contact to do the talking. Drink coffee. See what happens.

Where are you actually from? And despite all your travelling, where do you call home?

I’m originally from Tasmania, Australia. Home is a lot of places, usually an empty road at sunrise. I speak Danish at home, so, am in Denmark a few months to keep the language skills current.

What does your typical production process look like?

I use a lot of Getty’s creative content for shoot ideas. And individual client needs are really good. They certainly work, when I’m good enough to get the shot right. So, most of the creative prep I do myself, with help from Getty’s art directors. I work mostly alone on that, sometimes together with a local producer. And, I’m not organized but sometimes the key is to accept you don’t actually have control over anything.

Stock Performer Revenue Chart

Thank you for sharing this image! What inspired you to take this picture?

You see a lot of shots like this in advertising and I really like to get motion and movement in shots. I would never start a shoot with this, but, like this image, usually at the end when energy is dropping and just have the subjects repeat it over and over until things click.

What does this image’s revenue chart tell you?

Its surprising because its only really sold on one channel and not the other. It tells there is a difference in content and which clients buy where.

Did you expect such a revenue chart? Are you happy with it?

Not really expected, no. The whole series of shoots were actually plagued with misfortune with bad weather and just after this shot was taken I had to call time on the shoot as I had gotten water in the camera.

As Getty sells at a higher price, I’m happy that clients are willing to pay for this image. It is interesting that it is largely ignored at a lower price point.

The microstock market is huge and there are all types of images on offer. How do you analyse the market? How do you decide what to shoot next?

With my shooting (as with most people’s, I imagine) I’m rarely satisfied with the results and rarely feel I achieved what was the original idea. There is a lot of factors to constantly improve on, especially when shooting in different places.

I look at Getty’s creative briefs and get personal input from Art Directors at Getty. Then there is a lot of ‘classic’ themes that sell over and over. It gets harder to get noticed in those themes, but there is unlimited room for re-interpreting them. I think the only limit is your own drive and determination.

Your portfolio is large enough to give you good insights into what works and what doesn’t. When you analyse your uploads and sales, what metrics are important to you?

I usually just look at the bottom line. This is usually RPI/m per shoot to see what shoots have worked and why. RPD and some other metrics are not so important to me.

Your portfolio clearly shows that you produce premium content. With all the very good images available at cheap subscription prices on various agencies, why do you think it is worth it for you to bet on high production value images?

Its a matter or pride for me. I invest myself, and the people around me, their time into shoots. We want to do the best we possibly can. There is always someone doing it better and there is always someone ready to take your place.

Authenticity has been all the rage for quite a while now. Do you think that trend is still current? Or do you see new important trends on the rise?

Yes. Authenticity is so challenging though! I don’t think the surface has even been scratched, theres no limit to it. Its exciting.

Would you recommend photographers to take risks and invest in employees, assistants, outsourcing, to help them in their production process?

Yes and no. Outsourcing time-consuming things like keywording and retouching, certainly. But don’t outsource the things that matter to your brand. You will lose touch. I like to be involved in editing most of my images because I see what I’ve done wrong or can improve (or what works and should be done more).
I believe in a scaleable workforce. I hire in people as and when I need them, depending on how much we are shooting. Hopefully, I treat them ok and they generally enjoy working on a constantly improving standard of image.

At the moment you are an exclusive contributor for iStock and Getty. Why does exclusivity work for you?

It’s so much more simple. I believe in the direction Getty is moving things. They have an eye for quality and that suits me well.

Where do you think the stock business is going? How do you see the next years evolve?

More real situations, more real content. I keep hearing video is growing but I’m not technically evolved enough for that! Maybe if I had more time I would look into it certainly.

What is your advice to other aspiring stock artists to be successful in upcoming years?

There’s really nowhere to hide these days, as photography is so accessible. My gear list gets smaller and smaller as technology improves. My advice: you have to challenge yourself to produce at your best, all the time. You have to believe in what you are doing and involve other people (friends, businesses, etc…) in it. Theres no other way.

Tell us, when you are not doing photography or training for triathlon, how do you relax and enjoy your free time?

Haha never. But, seriously. Sleep 8 hours a night. Have a routine and get up early every day. You are not killing yourself, you are living. I really enjoy working hard on my two passions. Its an honour and a privilege and I hope i’m doing my best.

Thank you very much for your time, it was a pleasure talking to you!

Cheers Luis and Oliver, have been a fan of Stock Performer since it came out and it keeps getting better!

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