Welcome to a new section on Beyond Here – where we meet featured photographers from around the world. First is Rob Mattingley from Canada.
Rob is a stock photographer based in South West Ontario, Canada. He supplies images exclusively to one of the world’s best known microstock agencies (iStockphoto). He is also one of their discussion forum moderators. In his early microstock days, Rob was known for his friendly, helpful approach to other contributors, and for modelling in own stock images.
Rob, tell us about Rob Mattingley Photography and the type of images you make.
Hi Craig – thanks for having me! I am based just outside Toronto, Ontario, Canada and primarily focus on stock photography. Occasionally I am asked to help out taking photos for a variety of events, but most of the time I’m shooting stock (when not taking photos of my family). A good chunk of my stock photography came from two events I attended over the past few years, but I also have a bunch that were taken closer to home. I try to get as many “people images” as I can – but I also created a bunch of “child like drawing” images over the years which have proved to be successful.
In the early days of your microstock photography career you regularly featured as a model in your own images. How did you manage being on both sides of the camera?
It definitely takes a lot of trial and error when trying to take these kinds of self portraits, that is for sure! I often find myself too far on the side of the image and then need to adjust myself in the next shot. It is a lot of fun though as you can go for as long as you want – and the model doesn’t cost you any money!
Beyond Here is going to call these “stock selfies”. Where have some of your stock selfies appeared in use?
I am a big fan of the Google Image Search for finding my photos in use. Some of my stock selfies have shown up on websites either to sell a product or to help tell a story. A friend in England found a photo of me on a bank billboard which I thought was pretty cool. My favorite find though had to be when one of my self portraits ended up on the American television program TMZ. I’ve managed to sell quite a few of my stock selfies and my most downloaded image is one of me as a construction worker – I guess I look the part!
You have been an active contributor to microstock forums and are now a forum moderator. What is it about the interaction with clients and contributors that you enjoy?
Honestly, I just like helping others whenever I can! As an iStock moderator, it allows me to be able to point people in the right direction to get the answers they need. For a lot of people iStock is their main income so I want to help make sure that they can quickly find what they are looking for and get back to taking photos. I remember when I first started, I saw a lot of new contributors asking the same questions, so I decided to put together a FAQ for “newbies” so that they could find everything they needed in one place. It was great that so many people found it useful.
Rob, you have attended organised stock photography events with other microstock photographers. Can you tell us about them, and how they have benefited your photography?
I have been lucky enough to attend two fantastic events through iStock. The first one I attended was in Utah in 2011, hosted by Rich Legg. We had a 3 day shoot with 12 different “stations” where we had the ability to take photos of things such as indoor rock climbing, auto mechanics, police officers, a yoga class, and a backyard pool to name a few. The second was in Texas in September 2013, hosted by Steve Debenport. We had a 2 day shoot that was made up of various business scenarios on the first day and American football on the second day. Both of these events were very well organised and had lots of models to work with. I met some fantastic photographers who were willing to help me learn. I was able to add 250 images from each event which really helped build my portfolio. Definitely a great experience each time!
For Beyond Here readers starting in microstock today, what are your tips for success?
It is definitely getting harder to make a name for yourself in stock photography these days as there is so much competition. I would suggest that if you want to be successful the first tip would be to take it seriously! Obvious I know, but so many people don’t do that. You need to do some research to see what makes a good stock shot and how to make it possible. You typically need to have models “doing something” – but that doesn’t mean you can’t use friends and family members (or yourself, if you are like me!). Most sites have millions of images so you need to make sure that you always upload your best work and keyword it properly or else it won’t be found. I started roughly five and a half years ago and I definitely learned a lot in my time at iStock and look forward to what the future brings!
Thank you to Rob for being Beyond Here’s very first featured photographer.To connect with Rob Mattingley, look for the Rob Mattingley Photography facebook page or follow his work through his istockphoto portfolio.