Sep 27, 2016
“Interview: Victor Torres”
- Sergey Poplevin , Interview
Hello, Victor! We – the Milles team, have known you for quite a while and we are really happy about this! Now, it's time to introduce you to our readers. For a start, could you tell us a little bit about yourself? Where are you from? Where and what did you study, how come you took up photography? What did you do before becoming a photographer? What hobbies do you have?
Thanks dudes, I’m also happy to be a part of this. I remember the interview I had with Kirill some years ago and I’m such a fan of everything he has achieved in recent years.
So, talking about me… well, I’m from Madrid (Spain) and I studied Advertising at university and then took some photography courses and workshops to sustain the photo passion I had since I was a child. My hobbies are music, cinema, travel, art, football and of course, taking pictures :)
I have been working with stock photography since 2007. Before that, I had worked as an art director and graphic designer in a graphic studio. That's where I first heard about stock photography. We had been buying pictures for our clients even before the microstock was born. We used to buy from Photodisc, Matton, Stone until one day I came across iStock and discovered the wonderful world of microprices :)
Buying images of this quality helped us work much better in our graphic productions. Months later I saw a line at iStockphoto: “Become a contributor and earn money with your photos”. I thought this could be an interesting way to get extra income and decided to try. I spent a year uploading my photos to stock and by then I had already earned a small bonus. I realized that the photographers I knew did not know about this industry, so I decided to create MyMicrostock.net, a blog focused exclusively on stock photography. Besides, I began teaching workshops and masterclasses to amateur and professional photographers to introduce them into this market.
Why did you decide to go into stock photography, was there any specific reason? Why Stocksy? Have you had experience of working with stock agencies before Stocksy?
After learning the process of understanding the sector, knowing what pictures to take and how to prepare and tag them, I decided to spend more time on this because I clearly saw the potential of this market. It was an activity I could do that did not affect my regular work and that was awesome. I was lucky to meet some great Spanish stock photographers as Joan Cantó, Xavi Arnau, Cristian Casanelles, Luis Álvarez… and I decided to dedicate a huge part of my life to stock photography :) I began my stock career with iStock, Shutterstock and Fotolia, uploading mostly vacations snapshots. In the first years my portfolio was a bit crappy :) but I had sales day by day, every next month I earned more than the previous one so the power of stock was really clear to me. In 2013 I quit my job at the graphic studio and began a new stage at Workshop Experience, one of the most successful photo schools in Spain. I worked there for 8 months.
In the beginning I thought Stocksy would be just another agency that would contribute a little to what existed already. How wrong I was! I was lucky to join almost from the very start and wanted to bet on this new idea of co-op agency where each photographer is more than just a simple "contributor". I got involved because exclusivity at that time for me was a handicap. It took me 4 months to sell my first picture, but I did not give up. From that time sales were growing in such an amazing way that I couldn't believe it. In a few months it became my №1 agency.
Great! And another question, was it difficult getting accustomed to the stocks community? What useful skills have you acquired that help you in preparation and execution of photo shoots?
Not too difficult. It is really easy to understand the sector. As I worked in an advertising agency and bought pictures, it was clear what kind of images work better. I really do not have a very extensive photographic training. Practically everything I know is self-taught. During the months I was in Workshop Experience I was lucky enough to attend major advertising productions that taught me many things.
Thank you, Victor, this was a very interesting answer :). And now we want to discover all your secrets! Let's start with this one: there are different people for diverse roles in your works, can you share how you find your models and arrange business with them?
Finding GOOD models for stock is really difficult in Spain. I usually hire people through online model pages. Most of them are young, looking for models who are older than 40 is an exhausting task. But of course, I also use my family and friends :) I try and explain to them as clearly as I can what the sector is and then we agree on the price per hour of work, plain and simple. In my portfolio I also have many images of small businesses, medical, etc. in this case they are real people. I prefer to work with real people in these fields to achieve more authenticity. In the case of companies we usually collaborate with them... free photos in exchange for free locations and "models".
This is some valuable information, especially for those who are just starting off on stock sites or just thinking about it! Let's continue with uncovering your secrets. Your portfolio is very diverse, different themes, genres and styles! Tell us, please, where do you get the ideas for your photos? And how do you organize the process while shooting in a specific location: are your shots rather stage managed or journalistic, when you just capture the moment and then choose the best shots; or it's rather a mix of both?
Well, I get ideas from real life. I love to shoot real situations and make imagery as authentic as possible. I'm a commercial stock photographer so I don't have artsy images in my portfolio :) I focus my work on lifestyle, business, medical and travel. My lifestyle is, of course, stage managed but I try to shoot and create real situations and real feelings. In the case of medical, it is mainly journalistic because in most of the shootings the people are actually working. In this shoot, for example, the medical team were in a real heart dysrhythmia surgery.
How many people are in your stock photo shoots' team? Do you take assistants to your photo shoots, and if yes, how do you choose whom to take into your team?
And the team depends on the shooting. In a simple lifestyle sometimes I work alone or with my wife, who is also my producer and accountant :) When the shoot is more complicated I work with my assistant Willy (who is also the creator of GoStock, a free stock uploading software we distribute in MyMicrostock.net), and also with 2 or 3 makeup artists and 1 stylist. I also hired a second photographer a couple of times.
Interesting :) And now let's pass onto picking out photos. When selecting photos is the technical condition of a shot important or the atmosphere in it? Are you ready to leave a shot with good atmosphere, even though there are some problems in it concerning technical processing?
Of course, for me the atmosphere and what the photo inspires are the most important things. I'm lucky to work with Stocksy because they're on the same "page". Years ago, when I was working with microstock sites, I had many rejections of really good images because of small problems of focus and noise mainly. It was infuriating to see how the agencies rejected so many images while some of the published photos were really bad but perfect technically.
Victor, you once mentioned, that apart from your works on Stocksy, you also have a project called ADDICTIVE STOCK CREATIVES. Can you tell us more about it? What is the essence of this project, why did you decide to do it? Is it your own project, or do you have partners? Who is the target audience of Addictive and what ways of development do you see for it?
Addictive was born as a service for all the photographers outside stocks that want to sell some of their work in the stock market. We do the curation, keywording and distribution of the work of our 80 photographers through the main midstock-macrostock sites in the world, such as Adobe Stock Premium, Fotolia Infinite, Offset, Enterprise of Depositphotos... At the moment we work only with Spanish authors but in 6 months only we have grown a lot in royalties and portfolio (now, about 7000 images online). We want to do things right, so we are growing step by step and the aim is to distribute the images through more interesting agencies. If someone wants to work with Addictive just send us the application form.
How has your approach to photography and preparation for photo shoots changed since you started working with Stocksy? What rules and guidelines can your share with us?
I began my career of a full-time stock photographer a few months after entering Stocksy, and I have been trying to organise my shootings in the best way to get content that fits Stocksy standards since the beginning. As we have discussed previously, I try to capture authentic images without giving too much importance to technical aspects. I don't have special rules and sometimes I prefer not to prepare too much for a session and welcome the improvisation during the shooting. For example, in this shoot I made in Manhattan I only knew that I wanted to shoot people going for a walk from Grand Central Terminal to Times Square. The idea was to just take pictures of 4 friends having fun in the city, the rest was totally improvised.
Special thanks for such an answer! And now a bit of a humorous question, but still! Did you celebrate your 5000 photos on Stocksy? :) And overall, how do you find a balance between work and rest, where do you usually relax and regain energy?
Well, I'm waiting to celebrate the 6K, I'm about to reach it! :) I love my work so I spent a lot of time working in my production, in my blog (myMicrostock.net), preparing my workshops and, of course, in the management of Addictive. When I'm not involved in something about photography, I love to travel, hang out with friends, watch films and play soccer and paddle tennis :)
Who are you inspired by? Do you have any favourite authors on Stocksy and who are they? Who inspires you outside stocks? Any favourite authors, film directors, writers? What is your dream photo session and where would it take place?
I find inspiration mainly in films and real life. Sometimes I see a real situation that captures my attention and then I try to manage a shooting about it. It's different to choose a preferred author at Stocksy. Of course I love the work of Bonninstudio because it's something similar to the work I do, but there is a big awesome community of artists there to be fan of. I love the work of the productions companies such as Lumina, Studio Firma and, of course, Milles ;) I don´t have a dream session in mind but I would love to have a big road trip in the USA to take pictures there at each awesome location you can find.
Now, a question, the answer to which not only our readers but also we are keen to find out! :) Have you had any case when you made a shot in urban settings with some person you did not know and then had to come up to him/her with a request to sign the model release? If you've had such an experience, how did you explain the situation? :)
Yes, only once I think. I saw a beautiful woman at a remote beach doing yoga exercises and decided to talk to her. I offered her to take some pictures while she was doing her exercises for a bit of cash. She was delighted but wasn't interested in the money, she only wanted the photos to use them on the website of her yoga school. It was only a 30 minute shooting without any preparation and also not in the best light conditions, but we enjoyed it! The images have generated a few hundred dollars on Stocksy, so it was worth it :)
And in conclusion, what would you advise those who are only starting to work with stocks?
Be patient. This business is easy and difficult at the same time. You need to spend some time producing good images and wait for your portfolio to grow to see the royalties turn into something close to a salary. Today the competition is very tough, so I wouldn't waste my time uploading pictures of your vacation and so to earn just a few dollars. You need to produce photos of high standard with excellent models, modern styling, appropriate makeup and suggestive locations. And, of course, you need to train your eye with the best commercial and advertising images to understand what the markets needs.
Victor, thank you very much for your sincere and interesting answers, it was great! Your advise and recommendations will be very useful to those interested in working on stock sites. We hope your portfolio on Stocksy will grow exponentially! We'll be happy to see you again some time! Thank you!
Thanks! It was a pleasure being part of your blog!
Photo: Victor Torres
Editor - Sergey Poplevin
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