I’m on Instagram now… Now what… ?

So I decided to explore the use of Instagram, with a goal to publicize my more editorial photos and make connections with other like-minded photographers, so I started an Instagram account and posted some of the editorial photos I’m most proud of. Check it out at https://www.instagram.com/susanmontgomeryphotos/.

This made me think some more about what my mission is as a photographer.  My current version is “I am a stock, travel and editorial photographer, with a goal to use my photography for social justice and to spotlight the best of Michigan and places I visit.” Needs work, but making progress.

I’m curious how others use Instagram… Any suggestions?

In the meantime,  best wishes on your photography adventures,

Susan

Update – Now I’m at “I’m a stock, travel and editorial photographer with a passion for social justice, the state of Michigan, and new places.”

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Accepted by Pond5 stock photo site!

I recently learned of Pond5, a stock site that used to be videos but started accepting photos, so I thought I’d give them a shot.  I submitted some sample photos, including my best photos from Shutterstock and my favorite Detroit photos, and I was delighted to learn that all the photos were accepted!  You can find the portfolio at https://www.pond5.com/artist/smontgom65

Pond5 first set 2018

We’ll see how they do, just excited to check out a new site…

Best wishes on your photography adventures,

Susan

Milestone – Ten thousand hits!

As I’m posting the milestone article on having 2,000 photos on Shutterstock I noticed there is another milestone to mention, SusanMontgomeryPhotos.com has passed 10,000 hits! Reviewing other such milestones:

August 15, 2014, 1,000 hits, so 5 years after I started, or avg 200 hits a year.

August 24, 2015, 5,000 hits, so an average over 6 years of 833 hits per year – quick rise due to publication of an article I wrote for Digital Photography School.

So with 10,000 hits by July 19, 2018, the average over 9 years is 1,100 hits a year, hey, on the upswing!  I’d like to think some of those readers got some tips that improved their stock photography, or were encouraged to continue on the path… Very satisfying.

Best wishes on your photography adventures!

Milestone – 2,000 photos on Shutterstock!

I noticed an entry in my journal on July 19, 2009: “69 photos on Shutterstock!”  What a coincidence because today I noticed that, with the photos I submitted from the Chelsea Sounds and Sights on Thursday Nights event I photographed last week, I just passed 2,000 photos at Shutterstock.  I’m thinking of what I thought of those who had that many photos, good to reflect that I have indeed come a long way…

Some of my favorites Chelsea Sounds and Sights photos are:

Chelsea Sounds and Sights: Hullabaloo
CHELSEA, MI / USA – JULY 12, 2018: Band Hullabaloo performs at Chelsea Sounds and Sights on Thursday Nights festival.
Chelsea Sounds and Sights: Dave Boutette and Kristi Lynn Davis
CHELSEA, MI / USA – JULY 12, 2018: Dave Boutette and Kristi Lynn Davis perform at the Chelsea Sounds and Sights on Thursday Nights festival.
Chelsea Sounds and Sights: Motor City Boogie Woogie Kid!
CHELSEA, MI / USA – JULY 12, 2018: Matthew Ball, known as The Motor City Boogie Woogie Kid, performs at Chelsea Sounds and Sights on Thursday Nights festival.

As for the photos that are on Shutterstock, these are some of the best sellers of all time:

  1. I’d had my eye on the UM diag flagpole for a long time, so one weekend when I knew the sky was the perfect shade of blue I spent hours and took literally hundreds of photos of the flag to get a cool one of the flag flapping yet also showing most of the 50 stars, and it totally paid off:
American flag

(As a side note, a similar photo with the flag at half mast I took another day is ranked 7th)

3. For this one I again hung out on the UM diag forever and captured this squirrel on the sidewalk, then removed the sidewalk on Photoshop to isolate the squirrel – the “shadow” is portion of the sidewalk I didn’t remove:

Squirrel staring at you, on white with shadow

You can see other photos of my squirrel phase here.

4. A “silver lining” situation. I walked too long with the wrong sandal, leading to his “perfect” blister, which has appeared on many toe blister treatment websites:

Blister on little toe

8. I waited around for the boat to get to just the right position to balance the Muskegon lighthouse:

Lighthouse and sailboat, Muskegon, MI

15 and moving fast:  A few years ago I decided my photos were good enough that I could use them to provide the world with positive photos of Detroit and other Michigan cities, including this one of the Spirit of Detroit:

The Spirit of Detroit in Detroit, MI

For my current set of Detroit photos on Shutterstock click here.

Altogether I’m very proud of how far I have come, little by little, step by step, as I mentioned in my recent article about photographing a roller derby bout.

Best wishes on your photography adventures!

Shooting stock photos – 4th of July Parade in Ypsilanti

Had a great time taking photos at the Ypsilanti Fourth of July parade Wednesday, shooting photos both for stock photo sites and to share with the community. Some things I’m happy I did:

  • I got there half an hour before the parade started, tested out some shots, noticed things I wanted to include (such as the water tower) or avoid (flags with photos of Eastern Michigan University students that were on many lamp posts), checked my camera settings…
  • Took lots of photos! I love this parade because everyone is so friendly and happy to get their picture taken:
    DSC_9924
  • There’s also lots of space on this block so shots have cleaner backgrounds than in a busy shopping block (though there weren’t as many people in the audience as past years, everyone was protecting themselves in the shade), so you get nice contrasts in the shots without super busy backgrounds:
    DSC_0053.jpg
  • I could get close to the action to get some cool shots, such as this one of some of the original Rosie the Riveters, who are working to preserve the history of Willow Run airport where they built all those bombers during WWII:
    DSC_9947.jpg
  • I could also help promote organizations such as the library bookmobile, the local thrift shop, and the local National Society of Black Engineers Jr. chapter:
    DSC_0081
  • I posted my best photos of each group on my Susan Montgomery Photos Facebook page  to make them accessible to parade participants and spent much of the afternoon contacting them through their websites or Facebook pages so they could access the photos for free, as a courtesy. You can see the ones I submitted to Shutterstock this year and in 2014 here.

Next time I plan to:

  • Review the photos from past years and remember that I liked some that showed the top of the water tower in the background (See Shutterstock link) and try to get some shots with that background in addition to those above.
  • Move to an area where there are more visible audience members, as in this area many were in the shade protecting themselves from the heat, which took away from the energy of the parade participants.
  • Take more shots of some of the groups. In some cases I was not pleased with what I had but moved on too quickly to the next group instead of “traveling” with the group I wasn’t done with and getting another chance at solid photos.

In the meantime, best wishes in YOUR photography adventures.

Susan

Shooting stock photos – Roller Derby again!

(A special note for the folks I know through the University of Michigan: I’m a photographer in my other life and realized a few months ago that LinkedIn rules state you can only have one LinkedIn page, so I had to merge my UM and photography pages, so expect some photo related entries when I update my photography blog…)

I got my camera fixed in time to attend another Ann Arbor Derby Dimes bout last Friday, those wonderfully supportive women who give me free passes to their bouts and a nifty Media Pass…  I got to try my new lens, a Nikon 24-70 mm f/2.8 that I’m proud to say I bought with my photography earnings. I got it at Camera Mall, a very nice relatively new camera shop in Ann Arbor. The folks there are super helpful and supportive. I also took along my “nifty fifty,” a Nikon 50 m f/1.8G that I got a few years ago then didn’t ever use as I got shy about street photography, sigh… But I’m learning to say “oh, well,” figure out the lesson to be learned and move on rather than linger on past mistakes, so, oh, well, at least I had it to use now.

The new lenses made such a difference!  At a larger aperture more light came in, so I could have a faster shutter speed, thus able to capture the action in much better focus, yey! Remember, the aperture is the fraction of the lens that is open, e.g. f/8 on a 50 mm lens means a 6.25 mm diameter opening, so the smaller the f-stop the larger the lens opening when you click the shutter, thus “larger aperture” means “smaller f-stop.”

I also brought my monopod, made me look a bit dorky but at my age I don’t really care much what people think of me anymore, and it added another level of steadiness so the photos came out sharper.

You can see the photos I submitted to them at the Derby Dimes facebook page.  Some of my favorites are:

DSC_9572

50 mm lens, ISO 800, 1/400 sec, f/2.0

DSC_9597

50 mm lens, ISO 800, 1/640 sec, f/2.2

DSC_9745

50 mm lens, ISO 1000, 1/1000 sec, f/1.8

DSC_9892

24-70 mm lens at 42 mm, ISO 1600, 1/500 sec, f/2.8

What I’m pleased about:

  • With the new lenses I had much more light coming in, could go with faster (shorter) shutter speeds, so captured the action better.
  • Taking the time to learn about the sport so I better understand what is going on. Still have much to learn, but I’m getting there, and it helps me anticipate and frame the shots better.
  • How wonderfully supportive the team is of everyone, of each other and of the other teams, and making me feel very welcome.
  • The opportunity to show strong women in action, and never sharing any photos that might embarrass anyone.
  • Including the refs in the photos, for a full shot of the action and to show appreciation for their work.
  • As for backgrounds I like the first photo because the back wall makes for a much nicer background compared to the trees.
  • I notice that 3 of my 4 favorite photos are with the “nifty fifty”, the 50 mm lens, which let much more light in than the 24-70 mm (f/1.8 vs f/2.8). Notice that the aperture it selected for the shutter speed I set is larger than I could have gotten with the 24-70 mm lens.
  • Having the 24-70 mm lens, however, allowed me to also get wider shots than I couldn’t have gotten with the 50 mm, sometimes the 50 mm was too constraining. Notice the last photo is at 42 mm, which allows me to include the refs.

Altogether a very fun evening of roller derby and photography, learning every day.

It really is about getting out there and trying things, messing up, learning from your mistakes, trying again. I got my first “real” DSLR (digital single lens reflex) camera in 2004, shot mostly my kids activities and family trips for a short time, took an online photography class at the local community college in 2010, have taken Lynda.com photography and photoshop courses most summers, took two Great Courses video courses by Joel Sartore of National Geographic in 2014, started this blog in 2014…

Just keep chugging away, keep learning and trying, and next thing you know you’ll feel comfortable with aperture, ISO, shutter speed, etc.

Best wishes on YOUR photography adventures!

Susan

Shooting stock photos – Sometimes it’s not you…

I’d been having some tough times with the quality of my photos, after I thought I had learned so much about photography, ISO, aperture, shutter speed, been so happy with my success in terms of photos accepted at stock websites, framed photos sold, etc. , recently I just couldn’t get a photo I was happy with to save my life, very soft focus, grr, what could I be doing wrong? That whole impostor thing was hovering just over my shoulder whispering in my ear: “See? what were you thinking? you’re not a photographer, never will be…”

The final straw was when I went to the Ann Arbor Derby Dimes bout, so excited to take photos, trying out a new Nikon 28-70 f/2.8 lens so I knew I’d have plenty of light coming in, so proud to be wearing my media pass, and still… crap photos…  sigh…  I decided to be bold at intermission and ask another photographer there, Dave, to take a look at my settings and see if he saw anything wrong. He was most generous, took a look at my photos, my settings, loaned me his flash so I could try some photos with  it, and agreed that I was doing everything right, the photos should look better than what I was getting.

On Monday I went to Midwest Camera, a licensed Nikon repair shop to have them take a look, and wouldn’t you know it, the focus IS off, after 14 years and tens of thousands of photos the camera was tired and needed some care.  Whew, what a relief! I can’t wait to see the quality of the photos I get after I get it back.

Of course after that if the photos are still crap I’ll have no one to blame by myself… hmm…