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This article presents you with our top 10 productivity hacks we use in our stock photography workflow. These hacks allow us to speed up our work and stay efficient. So, here they are.
Hack #1: Give Number Names to Stock Photos
Tip number one is to give number names to your stock photos. We cannot stress enough how important this is. This makes it very easy to track your files as they go through your pipeline. Numbering becomes even more important when you start resubmitting your stock photos.
We give numbers to our stock photos in Adobe Bridge (available for free). To give numbers to our stock photos, we go to Tools>Batch Rename.
There, we choose sequence number first. We use five digits, as it allows us to track at least 99,999 stock photos. Next, we add another field, which is text and hyphen. If we have many images from the same location, we add an identical text field for them. After clicking rename, you will have your photos numbered and renamed. Later, we go through and add some descriptive text, if needed.
Hack #2: Use Tracking Spreadsheet
Tip number two is to use a tracking spreadsheet to keep track of your numbered stock photos. This spreadsheet may look like this and you can download it for your own use.
The most important columns are file names for JPEGs, description, title and keywords. We wrote a tutorial about the importance of keywords. Correct titles and keywords are the key success factors in stock photography.
We also have columns for the stock photography websites we submit our photos to. Here, you can track if an image got accepted or rejected. Having this tracking system makes it easy to tell which images we need to resubmit.
Hack #3: Use Adobe Photoshop Actions
Hack number 3 is to use Photoshop actions while editing photos. Actions represent steps that Photoshop executes if you press a certain keyboard shortcut. For instance, we often apply the denoise function in Camera Raw on our images. For this reason, we created an action that will duplicate a layer and create a layer mask. Then, the action opens Camera Raw, applies the denoise function and returns to Photoshop.
How to Create a Photoshop Action
Here is how we create our actions in Photoshop. First, we identify a particular process or operation that we perform often. For instance, one of them is applying the denoise function from Camera Raw that I just mentioned.
Next, open up your action window. If you do not have the action window in the side panel shown, you can open it through Window>Action menu.
Then, click on the plus button to create a new action. Here, you can assign a keyboard shortcut button. When you press it, this action will get performed. Next, I will name my action as Camera Raw Denoise.
Next, perform the repetitive operations you’d like to automate. In my case, these are duplicating a layer, creating a mask and applying denoise in Camera Raw. After you complete the necessary steps, click on the stop recording button. The next time you need this action, you will only need to press the keyboard shortcut.
Hack #4: Use Geometry Tool
The fourth hack we use is the geometry tool and its automatic perspective correction in Adobe Lightroom or Camera Raw. This tool straightens lines that are crooked as a result of taking a wide-angle shot.
The automatic correction function will do a fine job 90% of time. If it does not, you can straighten the lines using the guides option.
Hack #5: Use Lab Mode Sharpening
The fifth hack is to use Lab mode on the lightness channel to sharpen your images. Lab mode allows you to sharpen images and avoid creating artifacts and color noise. If you do not know what Lab mode is and how to use it, take a look at our tutorial on sharpening techniques.
Hack #6: Use Sharpening Plugin
The sixth hack is to use a dedicated sharpening plugin in Adobe Photoshop. The native sharpening tools in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop work fine for sharp images. But, what if your image is not exactly sharp and you need to remove blur? After testing several plugins, we chose Topaz Sharpen AI to sharpen images that are blurry or super blurry. Sometimes, it does wonders and creates sharp edges that were not even there.
Hack #7: Use the Denoise Plugin
Hack number seven is to use a separate denoise plugin. Likewise, native denoising in Camera Raw, Lightroom or Photoshop produces subpar results. We made the choice to use Topaz Denoise AI plugin to perform this job for us. The program removes noise in a targeted way using a machine learning algorithm.
Noise and out-of-focus images are the top two rejection reasons on stock photo sites. Shutterstock is especially notorious for this. After we discovered Topaz Denoise and Sharpen AI plugins, our approval rates noticeably improved. These two plugins became an integral part of our stock photography workflow.
The plugins come with a 30-day free trial, if you’d like to give them a go.
Hack #8: Automate Metadata Embedding
Hack number eight is to automate supplying keywords to stock photography websites. It is very inefficient to copy and paste metadata for each image for many websites. Instead, you can automate this task. You can do so by either using the upload CSV function or the free Exiftool program.
Hack #9: Resubmit Stock Photos
Hack number nine is to re-edit and resubmit your stock photos on a regular basis. We do this often and our cumulative approval rates improved to 90%-95%. The re-editing does not have to be heavy or involved. We note the reason for the rejection and do light re-editing. This is where that tracking spreadsheet I mentioned earlier comes handy. It allows you to track rejected images for each website with ease.
Hack #10: Consistency
Finally, tip number ten is to stay consistent. Stock photography is a numbers game. It takes time to build a large enough portfolio to earn a living. But, once you get to that point, the reward of passive income is invaluable. To stay consistent, we set certain goals, which could include submitting a certain number of images per month. Also, we try to choose images that we like and are excited to edit. All of this helps us stay motivated.
We hope this helped you identify areas in your stock photography that you can improve on. If you have any other suggestions or hacks you discovered, please let us know in the comments section.