Gifts for REAL MEN who like to Cook

It's time to start looking for Christmas presents if you don't want to be that gift giver who waits until the last mintue and pays WAY too much for junk that everyone else has picked over.   


So my first task is to find a present for a casual single male friend who celebrates Christmas with us.  He is a super cool guy (Women, take note) who, among other things, loves to cook.  So I am headed to Amazon in search of the perfect gift.  Although I have known him for years, I have never been in his house, which makes this whole thing harder... He is a builder, and last year I bought him a cup with a tool for a handle.  So you can see, the gift does not have to be expensive, just thoughtful.

Here's my first idea:

I Don't Always Cook Oh Wait Yes I Do | Chef T-Shirt

Wow, this is almost perfect! This guy is a woodworker. Actually, he installs and sells doors and windows.  

Craftsmans Guild Waxed Canvas Heavy Duty Apron Cotton Straps Utility Tool BBQ Cooking Chefs Cooks Shop Woodworking for Men & Women  

Craftsmans Guild Waxed Canvas Heavy Duty Apron Cotton Straps Utility Tool BBQ Cooking Chefs Cooks Shop Woodworking for Men & Women

OK. This is even MORE perfect for a man who works with his hands and tools and loves to cook: 

Fred THE OBSESSIVE CHEF Bamboo Cutting Board, 9-inch by 12-inch


I wish I knew if he had any of these books.  I am guessing he might. If I knew he didn't, I'd get him one because I think he'd like them. I follow this author on FB and he has some pretty good recipes, and if you can overlook his language, he's an interesting author and chef.  I think my friend would enjoy him.

NOW THIS:   My friend is a man who has a drill.  No question about that. And he would probably appreciate this set of kitchen brushes that work with a drill. What do you think?

Kitchen Cleaning Brushes for Drill Kit with Long Reach Attachment. Three Piece Medium Power Scrub Brush Set for Sink, Counter Tops, Stove, Pots and Pans, Oven, and Flooring

And last, if we decide to spend a little more, I know this friend likes his steak, and what man would not LOVE this set of German steak knives in their own woodend holder?  

Cangshan V2 Series 59502 German Steel Forged 8-Piece Steak Knife Set with Solid Acacia Wood Block, 5-Inch! Blade

Now, I am going to let my husband pick one of these gifts for our friend and get it ordered and put away for Christmas.  One gift down and many to go, but I am NOT waiting until the last minute this year.

Yes, the links above will earn me a few cents if you use them to buy gifts. Thank you!  

Getting Started in Stock Photography

What is stock photography?

Stock photography is the business of selling photography to the public.  Most of it is made up of collections uploaded to agencies by free-lance photographers.  Most of the customers are business people looking for images for advertising, journalism, blogs, newsletters, websites, publications, products, etc.

Many designers have subscriptions with a stock agency and can download a certain number of images per month. Different licenses allow users to utilize the images in different ways. If you just want to put an image on a company website or a blog, the cost (and profit for the photographer) is low.  Other uses, such as reproductions on tee shirts, calendars, book covers, etc., will cost more, and, thus, pay more.

What can you expect?

If you are a photographer interested in selling stock photography, you should realize that it is not a get rich quick scheme.  Millions of pictures are uploaded for sale on the different agencies.  You will have a lot of competition, and you generally will not make much per image sold.  Some agencies sell images as low as in the single digits, but the average price is a little better than that.

You need to learn what sells and keep enlarging your portfolios to make any money at all.  After a year in the game, my average sale is about $.80 per image.  I occasionally make $50.00 or $20.00 or $2.78 on an image, but I also sell a lot of pictures for 33¢ or 36¢. It’s a numbers game.  Strive for quantity as well as quality.

Some photographers make thousands of dollars per month. I have not hit $500.00 per month yet.  Some do worse than that. For myself, I want to supplement my retirement money, and I am hoping to be making $1000 a month by the time I’ve been doing this for two years. It takes time for some pictures to get into collections and start selling. Currently, I have one picture that sells 4-5 times most days. I need more of those!

What do you need?

Some photographers achieve some measure of success with a good cell-phone camera. Some take pictures, process and upload from a phone.  But most successful photographers own a decent SLR camera. 

You may think you are a superior photographer now, but you will be challenged to up your game when you start submitting to some of the stock sites. Images will be reviewed, and often rejected for focus, exposure, grain and composition.  Sometimes they look pretty good in your camera window or as thumbnails, but when you blow them up to 100%, you see that they are not technically up to par.

In time, you will learn tricks of the trade to minimize these problems, but still you are dealing with not only AIs that cannot recognized the quality of a picture although it might not be technically perfect, and human reviewers with better eyes than you have and firm prejudices about technical and artistic quality.  You almost have to submit to multiple sites to keep your sanity and keep your anger and depression at bay over rejections some days, especially when you start out.

Some photographers only submit the best of the best and prevent a lot of rejections, but I have some questionable quality images that sell like hot cakes, so I get a little edgy with what I submit sometimes.  But I could never do this job without strong Photoshop skills.  Some contributors do not use Photoshop, but my style requires it. I never submit a photo that I have not viewed at 100% on a large, high quality monitor and have not checked carefully for quality using Photoshop’s tools.

You will also probably want to start out with a tripod, and a couple of lenses for your camera. You will add additional equipment as you learn and make a little money.
In Photoshop you can also remove logos and addresses and other things that are not allowed. Shoes can be a real pain, but you also have to look at logos on cars, and anything you photograph.  You get better at finding them and getting rid of them with practice. 
When you start photographing for stock, you’ll also realize how dirty everything is. When you blow up pictures of items, you will see dust and watermarks, etc. that you’d never notice with the naked eye.

What kind of thing sells? 

The kinds of picture that do not sell well include flowers and landscapes, unfortunately, although I sell some of each…. occasionally. I have found that any image that has something man-made sells better than those that don’t-even if that something is a road or a telephone pole, or a cleaning sponge or a pencil.  Remember that you are mostly selling to business people – designers and marketers, for instance. What kind of images will they be looking for?

Travel pictures sell well. Who uses them? Travel agents, and any business who cater to travel and tourism. My current best seller in an antiquity from Greece. Images should not be too complex or crowded. Keep them clean.  These are the best-selling images right now for “purse” on Shutterstock:

Overall, however, the best selling images have people in them.  If I had started this twenty years ago, with my cute little son and younger (at that time) friends who would have modeled for me, I would have done quite well. I still have some friends who are willing to pose for me, and I am very thankful for that. 

You will need signed releases from them.  Any recognizable person in an image must be released for commercial images. Finding people who will sign those out of friendship or just for fun is a skill that comes in handy.   If you’re making thousands a month, you can afford to even pay them. I am not there yet.  

An option for images containing un-released people or property is to sell them as editorial images. Only commercial images can be used to advertise or sell an item, but for news stories, blogs, and any non-advertising purposes, editorial images can be used.  Commercial images with no people or released people can be used in more instances, but some of my best-selling images are editorial. However, every agency approaches editorial differently.

These agencies also accept videos and vectors and I have sold a few of both of these and need to spend more time creating more.

How do you get started?

Most agencies give you an opportunity to submit a number of images for review, and if you pass the review, you can become a contributor. Then you start building your portfolio. When you reach a certain level of sales, they pay you. I choose to be paid through PayPal, but they have other options too.

Here are some of the more popular stock sites:

Shutterstock: Most people start out on Shutterstock. It isn’t the easiest or the hardest to pass reviews. Right now, it is where I make the most money, because of how many I sell there. Some other agencies average higher profits per image. Anyone using Microsoft products can easily access Shutterstock images directly from PowerPoint, for example, if they have the add-in.
You can sign up to be a Shutterstock contributor here:

Adobe: This agency is closing in fast on my profits from Shutterstock. Their reviewers are much meaner and they do not take editorial images, and as a result, I have fewer than half the images in my Adobe portfolio as I do in Shutterstock, but the average price is better.  Anyone who uses Adobe products, has direct access to their stock photography.  They can choose an image and drop it into a webpage to see how it looks, for instance, before they decide to buy it.
You can sign up on Adobe by clicking this link.  Click the “Sell” link in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. If you are new to Adobe, in the middle of the screen, click the blue button that reads “Create an Adobe ID”.  If you are already an Adobe subscriber, click the button “Continue with my Adobe ID, ” where you will be prompted to log in with your Adobe user ID and Password. 

Dreamstime:  This agency is pretty easy with reviews. They also accept your work really quickly. They do accept editorial. They pay fairly well per image, but they don’t sell a lot.  Last month, they were great, but since the first of Oct, they have just quit selling. It’s quite easy to submit there, and it’s almost worth it to me to know images I think are good but that are rejected by Shutterstock and/or Adobe, have a chance to sell somewhere. It keeps my blood pressure down.  But I have received my first payout from them.

Here’s where you sign up for Dreamstime:

Istock:  This agency used to be the biggest and the best.  Now some images and even videos sometimes sell for as low as 3¢.  Quite a few people have just quit contributing to them, but their AVERAGE payout per image is quite a bit higher than Shutterstock, and last month, I actually made more on Istock than on Shutterstock or Adobe, so I keep submitting. They do take editorial, but are very picky and strange about it.  Their review process on commerical photography isn’t as picky as some.

These are my four main agencies, although I am beginning to play around with a few more.
Becoming a stock photographer is a journey and a challenge. It’s a lifestyle. There’s always more to learn, and plenty to do! But knowing other people are valuing your photography enough to pay for it is a reward in itself. If you decide to pursue this endeavor, this article just outlines the first steps.  But it is a start. Welcome aboard!

Worth the Wait

 I actually chose a later date for my knee replacement surgery so I could attend the last two last weekends' gallery openings, and I'...