Today we welcome Kristian Sekulic to our Interview Series. He is more commonly known under his iStockphoto username “Skynesher“. Kristian is one of the best contributors out there and it is a pleasure to have him with us!
Hello Kristian, it is a pleasure to have you with us! Where are you from? And where do you live?
Hi, thank you for reaching me , I was born and live in Serbia, but have also lived in Israel for 11 years.
Is that where you produce all your content? Do you work in a studio? Or in an office and rent our studios or locations based on the project?
95% of my work is done in Serbia. While I do have plans to work more in other countries as well. I don’t have studio (I did in past) simply because I don’t work in the studio anymore, only at rented locations.
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How did you get started in photography? And how did you discover microstock?
I discovered photography a very long time ago, when I was a 12 year old child. I had been given a Leica film camera from my grandparents who where professional photographers. Since then photography had been my hobby until I discovered stock photography in 2006.
I discovered stock while I was looking for ways to make a living from photography. Many things hadn’t worked for me before stock photography, and so I tried stock and it was great decision.
When and how did you realize that microstock had potential? And when did you decide to do it full time?
Actually I deduced to go full time in the very first month. I started in October 2006 and in December I moved back to Serbia from Israel to do stock photography for a living. At that time I made around $300 to $400 USD per month.
Do you travel to produce new content? Or do you produce it all at your home base? If you travel, why do you think it is worth it? What advantages do you have?
As I mentioned before, most of my work is done in Serbia, although I see large benefits working outside of my country: you meet new people, you leave your comfort zone and it gives you more motivation since expenses are higher.
What are the challenges of travelling to produce stock photography?
Probably the largest challenge is dealing with the unknown and having to adopt quicker to people and situations.
Do you work on your own? Or do you have a team? Describe to us what your team looks like and who does what.
I have a small team. When we have photo shooting, I work with another person who brings all the light and equipment. He helps me and sometimes works as a second photographer if needed.
Additionally, I have two other people in the team, one is responsible for organisation and contacts all models, buys all that is needed and brings clothes and other props. The second person is here to provide creative ideas and guidance.
Finally, I have one person who manages all the meta aspects, like keywording, describing and uploading. And another person for photoshop tasks, although I personally manage all Lightroom aspects.
Your workflow achieves both high quantity and high quality. This is the dream of many contributors, to be able to produce such high quality in high volumes. How do you achieve it?
Does it really ? Well, thank you 🙂 I have always tried to find the right balance between quantity and quality. Since I work with up to 6 fleshes, my goal is to take the pictures in such a way that they are ready in-camera, to avoid spending too much time on post-processing later. It helps me to photograph more and spend less time on the computer. It is indeed more difficult when shooting, but it worth it and I like to challenge myself, it gives me more motivation.
How important is quality for you? And quantity?
Quality has priority, but the stock photography market today is very much about numbers. Upload too few images simply won’t work as well.
Where do you get your inspiration for all the different themes you shoot?
I have 13 years experience in this business. In these past years I never look at other people’s work because I don’t want to copy someone, even by mistake. Like that I come fresh to each shooting and it allows me to work a theme from scratch.
How much do you try to innovate? And how much do you try to re-interpret your past successful themes?
I do repeat some shootings (even though I don’t like doing it) and sometimes I try to come up with new things. It depends on the mood or what I would like to do at that moment.
Thank you for sharing this image and its revenue with us.
What does the revenue curve tell us? Why do you find it interesting?
It was hard to choose one image, but this image is interesting as we had 200 people at this shoot! Actually we had 196 model releases signed that day. For this series we hanged the camera from three ropes and I would operate the camera by moving the ropes until I could frame the people. I could not see the LCD or monitor, so it was challenging! It was a lot of fun shooting so many people but without pressure. It was great experience.
Regarding its revenue: it doesn’t tell any special story, it was simply a successful shooting. The image shown is the most successful one from that shooting, it reached its peak after around 8 to 9 months after upload, and it still sells a bit even if thought it was uploaded on October 2017.
How important is data analysis and data accounting for you? How do you integrate it into your workflow?
It is important to me. I like statistics, and it helps me develop strategies for future productions.
What is your favourite and most useful feature in Stock Performer?
The feature I find most useful are the Collections. I use it to track each shooting (defined as a Collection) and then try to figure why some sell more and others less. It is still kind of a mystery 🙂
You are exclusive to iStockphoto. Can you explain why you chose the path of exclusivity?
I went exclusive back in 2009, it was easier to work with one agency and iStock offered a great opportunity to do that.
Would you recommend other photographers to be exclusive?
Yes, I think I would recommend it. Although I also understand that some portfolios will do better non-exclusively. So it is hard to give the right
What do you think is the most important trend in stock photography today? Some years ago we had lens flares everywhere, now authenticity is the main style. When you look at your sales data, what are you seeing? What are customers currently requesting?
I am not sure. I did flares as well back in the days but then got tired of them, maybe others too… It is hard, to almost impossible, to tell what customers are requesting. I have very different types of images that sell well, and there is no right answer.
In my opinion, the best thing to do is to shoot what you have a passion for. This will give you the highest motivation and probably bring the most out of you. Doing things for money only never works too well.
Do you believe it is important to keep an eye open for upcoming trends? How do you recognise them in advance?
It is important, and I do have a bit of a problem with that, since I do not do much research. But my team sometimes do and they give me information.
Your portfolio sells all around the world. When you prepare productions do you focus on specific markets, like the US? Specific Asian countries? Or do you not worry and just produce for all markets similarly? If you do focus on specific markets, how do you do it?
I never think about that in that way. Actually, I aim to produce images that would be fine for most of the world, in most cases in stock: less is more.
Do you track the revenue and costs of each individual shooting? Or do you simply look at overall revenue and cost? What works best for you?
I do track each shoot, that is one of the reasons I use Stock Perfomer.
When looking back at your stock photography career, are there any regrets? Would you have done things differently?
No regrets, not at all. I know that I always did what I was thinking was right back in the time. We are always smarter tomorrow for yesterday’s decision, but that is the wrong way to look at it (this also applies for life as well).
And are there any things you are specifically proud of? Where do you think you did it right?
I don’t feel proud, I am simply thankful to have the ability to be successful at something I like doing. Thank you again up there.
What advice would you give aspiring contributors to be successful in this business? Do you think it is essential to build up a team? Or can one succeed alone?
It is not necessary to build team, for sure not in beginning. You need to work “smart” not “hard”, spend more time perfecting all aspects of stock photography, try to figure things out before you even start shooting. It will save you time by not doing things the wrong way. Also make sure you follow your passion. It will motivate you more and you will not think about earnings that much.
Do you think the current market is over saturated with content? Do agencies have too much content in their libraries?
Actually I hear they have 🙂 I don’t know how many images are there and I don’t worry about that 🙂
Where do you think the stock business is going? How do you see the next years?
For sure it is getting a bit harder each year, but it’s not 50% harder each year. It is maybe JUST 10% harder, so you need to adapt and improve all the time if you want to maintain your level.
Tell us, when you are not busy producing stock, how do you like to spend your free time?
I have two children, so I spend time with them. I like to travel and shoot landscapes and wildlife for fun. Being in nature is great feeling for me.
Thank you very much for your time, it was a pleasure interviewing you!
You enjoyed this interview? Then read more here: Interview Series
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