Shooting stock photos – Woman’s March in January 2017

Still catching up on old shooting adventures.  In January I participated in and took photos at the Women’s March in Ann Arbor, MI. I learned from past such occasions to get both long, medium and short range shots:

Women's March Ann Arbor 2017
Women's March Ann Arbor 2017
Women's March Ann Arbor 2017

I also have more confidence now to get in front with the other photographers and get close up shots of the speakers, such as our representative Debbie Dingell:

Women's March Ann Arbor 2017

So things I did right:

  • Took short, medium, and long range shots
  • Was more confident getting in there with the other photographers to get the close-ups and crowd shots.
  • Took notes as to who the speakers were for the less famous ones, saved me lots of time later on when adding captions to the photos.
  • I took photos of everyone who asked me to, I am getting much more comfortable interacting with people in that mode.

Mistake I made:

  • Took way too long to process them, should be better about processing them right away, where they can be more useful, and get more downloads…  I find I get such a kick out of taking the photos, but I have to be in just the right mood to process them, both clean up the photos themselves and putting in a caption, keywords, etc. I am mindful that for me this is a hobby and I want to have it stay fun. If this were my day job I would be a lot more diligent about this…

You can see all the photos that I sent to Shutterstock and got accepted here.

Best wishes on your photography adventures,



Shooting stock photos – Tall Ship Celebration, Bay City, MI

This is one from last summer, catching up.  Went with a friend to the Tall Ship Celebration in Bay City, MI last summer, had a great time touring some of the masted ships:

Tall Ship Celebration in Bay City, MI 2016Tall Ship Celebration in Bay City, MI 2016

Since the point was to spend a lot of time looking at the ships I had plenty of time to take photos without my friend having to wait for me.

What I did right:

  • Took both long shots and close-ups
  • Framed the shot as I wanted it, then waited for people to walk into my shot to give it more interest.
  • Was mindful of the crowd, waiting until I got just the right look for those where you could see the people, and everybody looks good – I make a point of not uploading any photos where anybody doesn’t look reasonable, wouldn’t want someone to do that to me…
  • Took photos of the names of the ships as I took them, for future reference
  • Checked camera settings every so often to make sure I had ISO set properly, etc.
  • Took a boat ride that was available, so I could get some shots from the river, allowing for very good looks at some of the ships.
  • Took some photos from the bridge between the two sides of the river, so I could get some overall shots.
  • Took a range of photos, I had over 50 photos, submitted 9 of them – and they all got in :)

What I would change? Really not much, it was a great day, I got some good photos without making my friend have to wait, my settings were pretty good for the most part, I’m happy about this day. You can see the photos in Shutterstock here.

Milestone – Car detail photos at local coffeehouse

I mentioned in May 2016 that some of my car details photos had been accepted for exhibit at Sweetwaters Cafe on Liberty in Ann Arbor, and it actually happened. The organizer, landscape artist Ruth Krzyzowski, of the Ann Arbor Women Artists, was super helpful in making the process run smoothly. Among other things, AAWA handles art exhibits at many local coffeehouses and other locations, so glad I’m a member, feel much more part of the local art community.

After we got the photos up I remarked to Jon that they looked like the work of a “real” photographer, and of course he reminded me that I AM a real photographer.


… so pleased with how they looked.  No sales, but felt good to have them out and being enjoyed by others, and it does make me feel like a real photographer :)

Thanks again to the Ann Arbor Women Artists group for their support of local artists  – and yes, men can be members too.

Milestone – Third Anniversary!

So today is the third anniversary of my blog. Stats for the first three years:


137 posts

3574 visitors


Glad to see people are reading, hope some got some useful ideas and advice from the posts – and I know, it’s not a huge number or anything, and some of you get this many in a day or a week, I’m just doing my little thing in this corner of the internet…  Of course it slowed down quite a bit in 2017, as I took that much needed break from photography and from posting, but I return from my “sabbatical” with a  healthier attitude to photography, and particularly the financial side of it.

Since my last post some of my car photos got a chance to get out of the house with an exhibit at one of the local coffeehouses in March and April, which was exciting. I have cleaned up the backlog of photos that I left in the process of being submitted to various websites, and have started cleaning up those Paris photos I mentioned in my last post, culled down from 1,500 to about 150… and I took photos at the local Women’s March and other marches, and some trips…  Lots to catch up on…

In the meantime, best wishes on your photography adventures,


End of 2016 reflection – The American Dream?

So in the past few months I’ve done a lot of thinking about my photography, and coincidentally watched “Hope Floats,” one of my favorite movies…  One character, Justin Matisse (Harry Connick Jr.), who didn’t make it big when he left his hometown, returns home to paint houses while designing and building his dream home. The scene that stood out to me is the one where, in response to Birdie Pruitt (Sandra Bullock)’s comment that “you could do so much more,” states: “You’re talking about the American Dream. You find something that you love, and then you twist it, and you torture it, try and find a way to make money at it. You spend a lifetime doing that. At the end, you can’t find a trace of what you started out loving.”  That’s what I had been doing with photography.

Partly this was because I was exploring whether photography could be my retirement career, but then I realized that I’m going to be fine financially without the money, so I’ve been reflecting on what it means to be a photographer if I don’t need to make money out of it…

I used to take photographs because I couldn’t help it, it was who I was, then I started taking photographs that I thought would do well as stock photos, and that changed things, so I stepped back and started questioning myself when I took photographs – Am I doing it for myself, for stock photos, for some sense of obligation, because I should want to take photographs since I call myself a photographer?

I’m glad I took that break, I feel more honest with my photography now.  On a wonderfully leisurely trip to Paris I took about 1500 photographs in 11 days, including this one of an entertainer at a farmer’s market, where I hung out for a while:


More on the trip to Paris in another entry some day…  I haven’t had the urge to clean up and submit the photos, but part of the reason for that was that this Fall I worked up to 60 hours a week at my day job, which with my other responsibilities left little bandwidth for photography or exercise. I’m starting to exercise again, and I plan to continue to take photos as I’m moved to do so but processing them will wait until I find/make the time for it. In the meantime, one advantage of the stock photography business is that, without submitting anything in the past 8 months, I’ve made the same income from stock photos in 2016 that I did in 2015, funny that.

I did get two sets of photos (car details and some already-framed travel and nature photos) accepted to two coffeehouses in 2017 through the Ann Arbor Women Artists. I’m delighted that my framed photos will get a chance to get out of the house, who knows, maybe I’ll sell one or two of them.

In the meantime, I invite you to use this blog to find some suggestions to improve your photography, learn from some of my photography adventures, get some photography business tips, and should you decide to pursue stock photography, check out some tips here, and maybe even try out some of these stock photo sites.

Best wishes on your photography adventures in 2017.

Milestone – “White on Black” Accepted to Black and White exhibit!

So the Iceland exhibit I proposed to Gifts of Art didn’t pan out, BUT, “White on Black” was accepted to the Riverside Arts Center’s Black and White Exhibit August 5-27, 2016. I’m tickled to pieces… :)

Glacier Lagoon ice chunks on shore
JOKULSARLON, ICELAND – JUN 18: Chunks of ice sit on the shore near lake Jokulsarlon, Iceland on June 18, 2015. The ice comes from icebergs calved from the nearby Vatnajokull glacier.

Monthly reflections – June 2016 – Taking a break…

So it’s time for the end of June 2016 posting, and I realize that in a month when I would have thought I would have made time for photography… I haven’t.

I think back to two years ago when I had such a blast taking photographs at the Ypsilanti 4th of July parade, I remember really itching to go that morning. This year 4th of July came, and, meh… I wanted to be home with my kids and do some gardening instead.  Photography has been a tremendously rewarding hobby that I have gotten so much pleasure out of, and I greatly enjoyed each photo day that I took to Toledo, Detroit, Lansing, as well as the logo hunts I went on.  This summer, it started to feel like a job, something I had to do versus something I wanted to do, and that’s not at all what it should feel like, so I didn’t go out.

I started to notice that in Iceland last summer, where those last couple days rather than enjoying exploring the country and meeting the people, I was focusing on what shots I should be taking. I will be traveling to Paris later this summer (whee!!!) and I want to experience the country and the people fully, and if the spirit moves me to take photos I will, but not out of any obligation to a stock photo site or to (my perception of) others’ expectations. I need to get back to a place where I do this for me, not for others…

I’m very proud of having produced this blog the past two years, and find it rewarding to have shared some of what I have learned with readers like you. Maybe I’ll be back, we’ll see what the future brings.

In the meantime, best wishes on your photography adventures,


Monthly reflections – May 2016

As in May 2015, day job took longer than I recalled, but did have a great week-end in Chicago that included some photography, so I’ll be writing about that soon.  I did find some logo photos I didn’t finish processing, plus the Lansing photos. So here are the most recent photos in my Shutterstock page, which now has 1,492 photos, tantalizingly close to 1,500…  :

Shutterstock May 2016 new

Based on popularity, here’s what it looks like:

Shutterstock May 2016 popular.jpg

Detroit wins again!  Have tried to get more photos of the Tesla charging lot with cars in it, but it’s usually crappy weather, or a bad angle, I’ll keep trying.  Another Detroit photo day might be warranted, and of course there are always more logo photos to take…

Best wishes on your photography adventures,


Milestone – second anniversary!

So today it’s been two years since I started this blog. Happy anniversary :)

Glad I’ve been able to keep it up for a couple years, have tried to give back for all I have learned by sharing some ideas with others.  Let’s see the stats for those two years:

130 posts

2,966 visitors


Hey, it adds up… Thanks to those of you who have visited the site over the years, hope you have found it useful…  If you have any suggestions or questions, please don’t hesitate…

Best wishes on your photography adventures,


Shooting stock photos – Lansing photo day

Had a good day trip with my sister to Lansing Michigan back in March, it was good to get away from the day job for a while.  Some reflections:

  • I googled “things to do in Lansing” for some ideas of places to go
  • Went with the flow when I ran into unexpected things like this river rat:
    river rat
  • Tried a wide range of different angles at some of the locations, and preferred the ones that included another site in the background, so you could get more of a sense of place, such as this shot of the Vietnam memorial with the capitol in the background:
    Lansing memorial with capitol
  • At the Lansing Lugnuts’ stadium also tried different angles until I found the one that I thought captured the feeling of the place best:
    Lansing lugnuts who
    Loved the sense of humor with Who’s on First… :)

You can see all the Lansing photos here

Monthly reflections February-April 2016

Well, so it’s been a couple months since I last blogged in mid-March, just noticed I didn’t even post a Monthly Reflections from February, so some catching up to do…

What I realized around the end of March was that I was stretching myself too thin, and something had to go, and this blog was feeling more like an obligation than a positive experience, so I took a break from it. Not that I was not involved in photography – here’s a summary of what I was up to during that time and links to those entries:

  • In February I got an Honorable mention for Alone at the BluePrint magazine exhibit :)
  • In March Big Blue was accepted for the Ann Arbor Women Artists’ Spring 2016 Juried Show – I always learn so much from the artists I meet through that.
  • Also in March I found out that my car photos were accepted by the Ann Arbor Women Artists’ for an exhibit at a local coffeehouse...
  • I had another photo day in Detroit in February and one in Lansing in March, needed time away from the craziness.  Processed the Detroit ones but not the Lansing ones yet, I’ll post links when I write these up…
  • Took some photography courses recently , including
    • Street Photography: Posed Portraiture (1 hr 14 min)
    • Street Photography: Two Hours in a Neighborhood (23 min) 
    • Photography: Portrait of a City Neighborhood (1 hr 19 min) 
    • Architectural Photography in Chicago (2hr 23 min) 

I also submitted a few proposals for future exhibits, we’ll see how those do:

  • I submitted 15 photos of Iceland to the  University of Michigan Gifts of Arts program – I’ll find out mid-June. I had submitted the Car Details photos in 2014 with no luck, but they were very positive in their feedback, so maybe this more unique exhibit will make it in.
  • I submitted Alone and Ice On Black from the BluePrint magazine exhibit to a Black and White exhibit at the Riverside Arts Center in Ypsilanti, will find out mid-July.

So great that there is so much support for artists around here with these opportunities.

As for the stock photos, let’s take a look:

Chronologically a few more photos from the Detroit Photo Day and some stock photos around town, I’m up to 1451 images – reminds me that I had intended to hit 1,500 by end of summer, oh well, I keep at it…

Shutterstock April 2016 new

As for popular ones, Detroit photos keep doing very well, great to see that, and the logo photos always solid moneymakers

Shutterstock April 2016 popular

Now that I’ve been updating the blog I realize of course that each entry would not have taken me that much time, it’s more that mentally there is only so much I can “carry” at a time.  Something to work on, to not make it like such a huge deal, to realize it would take only a few minutes to post an update and not have it carry so much bandwidth in my head that it feels like a burden…  but in the meantime I’m glad I took a mental break, and I come back to it refreshed…

Best wishes in your photography adventures,


Milestone – Accepted to AAWA Spring 2016 juried show!

Another update, that Big Blue, one of the photos I had exhibited at the BluePrint magazine exhibit was accepted into the Ann Arbor Women Artists‘ 2016 juried show, which took place March 13 – April 29 at the Ann Arbor District Library Malletts Creek Branch

Glacier Lagoon icebergs on shore
JOKULSARLON, ICELAND – JUN 18: Icebergs reflect on Jokulsarlon, Iceland on June 18, 2015. The icebergs calved from the nearby Vatnajokull glacier.

I had a great time at the opening reception talking to some of the artists and learning from them, so glad I became a part of this generous group!

I encourage you to seek out local artists group in your area.


Milestone – Car photos accepted for two month exhibit at local coffeehouse

So I mentioned back in August that I had become a member of the Ann Arbor Women Artists, who organize many of the art exhibits in coffeehouses around town. I was thrilled to learn in March they accepted 11 photos from the Car Details series to be displayed at Sweetwaters Cafe on Liberty in Ann Arbor for two months in March/April 2017. After all those years of admiring artists’ work at the local coffeehouses I’m so excited that I will have my own exhibit!  It took me a while to have the confidence in my work to a) ask to become a member, and b) Apply for consideration for an exhibit, but I’m so glad that I kept at it…

Shooting Stock Photos – Detroit solo photo day

A couple week-ends ago I found myself with some free time on a nice sunny day, so I went into Detroit to take photographs, my small way to help out by providing positive images of Detroit for stock photo needs – I had a blast! Spent over an hour at Eastern Market, caught some new shots at the museum area, finally got a photo of the Motown museum, and even hit the Heidelberg project.  Wonderful to get away and get some shots!

Things that went well:

  • Did some advance planning re. locations so I focused on ones that were kinda close to each other and I could have a general order I wanted to go in.
  • Got lucky in having an Eastern Market truck parked in just the perfect position to capture it.


  • Asked permission of vendors at Eastern Market, and hung out, taking the time for scenes to present themselves. Some said no, no worries, I respected that, but most of them were quite willing to let me take photographs.


  • Put the next location on my GPS, but also was flexible if I saw something else I wanted to take a photo of on the way, like the museums area, had not planned on going back there but when I realized I was nearby I stopped in – Drives the GPS crazy when I go beyond the desired route, but that’s part of the fun. After I’m done it gets me back on track to my next stop.


  • Always nice to have someone who wants to pose just for the fun of it, I always go along, why not?


  • Trying new angles in old places, like the thinker in this Detroit Institute of Arts photo:


  • Took photos of many people at the Motown museum in addition to getting my own shots.


  • At Heidelberg project again waited for the scene to present itself, e.g. people walking past the house vs. the house by itself. Took a while to wait for people to walk past it, but much better photo:



Now to clean them up and submit them to Shutterstock, and then the other websites.  To see all the Detroit photos that are on my Shutterstock portfolio, click here.

Best wishes on your photography adventures,


Monthly reflections – January 2016

Other than the news of photos accepted to Blueprint, not much to report for January. I’ve made some time for photography, most of it photographing some logos between running errands and also submitting photos to other stock websites, trying to catch up there… I’ve been so successful with Shutterstock that it feels like a lot of work submitting to the other sites, though iStockphoto is respectable, and how do I expect to make money off the others if I stop submitting photos?  Good question, that’s why I’m doing it now.

So, speaking of Shutterstock – no new photos, so the chronological view is the same as December:

Shutterstock December new

As for the popular view, Planned Parenthood continues to be in the news, Tesla moves up, the new Veterans Hospital photo makes an appearance at the top, and the Detroit photos from the December trip are doing well. Even one of the photos from the peace protest made it near the top, great! Logos still the big winners:

Shutterstock January 2016 popular.jpg

Working for better work-life balance at my day job to allow more time for stock photography, making some progress…

Best wishes in your photography adventures,



Milestone – Photos accepted by Blueprint 2016

Got some great news recently – The four photos I submitted to Blueprint, my college’s literary magazine, were accepted!  They were:

Alone – From the Skogafoss waterfall in Iceland

Skogafoss waterfall

Big blue – taken at the Glacier Lagoon in Iceland:

Big Blue 300 dpi 3000 px.jpg

White on black – Ice on the sand near the Glacier Lagoon:

White on black 300 dpi 3000 px.jpg

Stand out – It spoke to me of being proud to be yourself, from a garden in Holland, MI:

Stand out 300 dpi 3000 px.jpg


They’ll be part of an exhibit on campus, so excited!


Update – “Alone” received an Honorable Mention at the gallery exhibit :)

Susan at BluePrint release event


Monthly reflections – December 2015

Over the holidays I finally found/made the time to process photos from this summer and fall and submit them to Shutterstock, so I’m up to 1435 photos. I even took some time during a visit to Detroit to sneak in some photos as well…  So the new photos at Shutterstock included those Detroit photos, many many logos, some photos from around town, some from the trip through Flint, MI:

Shutterstock December new

As for most popular photos, the logos as always have it beat, nice to see the puffin photo still hanging in there.  Hoping to get a Tesla supercharger zone with an actual car being charged, one of these days…

Shutterstock December popular

Good time to reflect on stock photo taking this year:

  • It was time for a final goodbye to those photos where I accidentally had the size set to small, which won’t work for my most profitable stock sites.  I realized that that was one reason I was putting off processing them, it was going to be too depressing to face all those “lost” photos…  Moving on…
  • A number of the logo photos I took while with family and friends were done too hurriedly and the composition or focus was off. Have to decide to either take the time to do it right, which would get in others’ way, or just let it go and not bother with such photos when I’m on vacation.
  • Some of the logo photos I took when I had tons of time and was  dedicated to stock photos were also out of focus – for the picky 100% focus demands of Shutterstock, I mean, the normal person would not notice.  I have to swallow my pride and use the monopod when I am in professional mode, no use taking stock photos that are not going to make it.

Feels great to be caught up on submitting photos to Shutterstock, now have to get those photos submitted to the other stock sites and of course… take more photos!

Best wishes on your photography adventures in 2016,


Shooting stock photos – Outside a UM football game

I didn’t write a blog entry at the time because I hadn’t submitted photos yet, but I had a really fun time in early Fall taking photos of fans outside the University of Michigan football stadium.  Here are a few:

UM football 1

UM football 2

UM football 3


Things that went well:

  • Found a great spot in the path of people walking to the stadium, behind a divider that split the crowd so they had to walk past me, and I could stand behind the divider and prop my arms on it, making for steadier photos.
  • Fans were posing for me as soon as they saw my camera, didn’t have to ask anyone to pose or anything, everyone was friendly, enjoying a great day. The advantages of the social media age…
  • I ran into a number of people I know, so I was able to take their photo and send it to them – I don’t submit photos of people I know to stock sites, don’t want to blur that line…

To keep in mind next time:

  • Submit the photos ASAP, shouldn’t have waited this long…
  • Watch for distractions such as porta-potty in background of some photos, distracting…

Fun crowd, fun time! You can see these and other photos I’ve taken outside the stadium here.

Monthly reflections – November 2015

Into December already, school  semester flying by and no time to do much with stock photography, but plan to over break.  Not that I didn’t take any photos, lots of departmental events to take photos for, and students seem to appreciate having photos they can post.

Waiting to hear if my Iceland photos made the College literary magazine, I guess I’m not the only one way too busy… You can see old editions of Blueprint magazine here.

Attended a holiday artisan market and was delighted to see one of our doctoral students selling his photos. He and others seem to have many matted but unframed photos, that seems the best balance of investment vs. sales, will have to keep that in mind if I decide to go the craft fair way. Have always hesitated – how do you decide how many of each photo to take, what size to use?  One seller has notecards with her photos on it, that seemed like a reasonable alternative to try… Maybe some day…

The good thing about stock photography is that even if you have a busy month and don’t post anything the money still comes in, yey…

Shutterstock November popular

Logos still popular, and you see some of the England photos making an appearance as well, which was nice to see…

Best wishes in your photography adventures over the holidays,



Monthly reflections – October 2015

October had lots of excitement, including the publication of the travel stock photos article in Digital Photography School, now with over 900 shares!  Also had the two photos I submitted accepted at the Ann Arbor Women Artists Fall 2015 Juried Show at our local district library.  I was told at the opening reception that there were 175 submissions and 75 accepted, so I’m pretty pleased getting accepted the first time.

I submitted some of the photos from the one day of large enough England photos so the Shutterstock site is up to 1366 images, some progress:

Shutterstock October new

Logos still the overwhelming winners in popularity, though you can see some of the Holland, MI shots among the top, and the flu shot and time change reminders made an appearance:

Shutterstock October popular

As for what is coming up, yesterday I submitted some of the Iceland photos to our College’s literary magazine, so fingers crossed on that one!

Best wishes on your photography adventures,