At ImageBrief, we often get questions from photographers about what it takes to be successful on the platform. If there was a single formula or piece of advice that answered this broad question, believe me, we would have given it already. However, there’s plenty you can learn from Sash Alexander, one of ImageBrief’s most successful photographers.
We caught up with Sash about one of the most recent briefs he won and about his overall experience on the platform and how you might be able to replicate his success.
How to do Briefs Well
What’s the approach you take to submitting to briefs? It seems like you hustle pretty hard and the payoff has been great.
“Firstly if you want to be successful in stock photography you need to shoot a lot and shoot it well. There is a lot of competition out there so try to find new ways of approaching common subjects. We (my producer and myself) tend to spend up to two hours a day on selecting and uploading images to briefs on ImageBrief. Before uploading, it’s important to read the briefs well, to prevent ending up uploading lots of stuff that isn’t quite on-brief. Then we regularly track the briefs to see what images clients are shortlisting, from there you can see the style that suits the clients and you can have another look at your own archive to see if there is anything else that could match. The most important thing is to put in the hours and there will be a return.”
You’ve done really well on the platform and been with us from the start. How have you seen ImageBrief evolve and how have you evolved with the platform?
“As a commercial advertising-based photographer, I didn’t pay much attention to stock photography, especially hearing all the horror stories coming from photographers that use Getty Images and the likes who take 80 percent of a photographer’s earnings. Since I discovered ImageBrief, that position has changed. From the beginning [ImageBrief] have been transparent and fair to us photographers. I am in regular contact with all the people working at ImageBrief and I can see they are working hard to improve the site and adding more and more interesting features such as the Marketplace, ‘Promote Me’ and the portfolio section. They are now a serious player in the photography market and about 25 percent of our turnover now comes through sales via ImageBrief. Ad agencies around the world (and there are many of them) are using ImageBrief more and more so my exposure is getting bigger through my activity on the platform.”
“Eli Lilly licensed one of my images a few years back; an image of a little girl exploring the world with big eyes. They have since launched a few briefs and subsequently licensed another bunch of my images. I guess my photography style works well with their brand. I tend to shoot a lot of lifestyle which looks natural and not overly art-directed. I say ‘looks’ because there is a lot of thought and planning in each shoot we produce, I just tend to direct my subjects in such a way I get the most natural scenes out of them. It’s important to create a bond with the people I photograph and for my images to tell a story. These are the images that clients can identify with the most. Stock photography has come a long way and the images clients are after nowadays are much more in touch with reality.”
Could you talk about a recent brief that you’ve won?
The most important thing is to put in the hours and there will be a return.
“I was contacted by an art buyer from APCO Worldwide in the USA through ImageBrief’s new hire me feature. They required a specific image of a young child interacting with a doctor. We discussed their exact needs and production budget and once we received the go-ahead, I put my producer on the job to source talent and locations for the shoot. Since it was only one shot they required, we planned it in an afternoon session. The client needed the image within a week from the initial contact and we managed to deliver the final image to them on time. The image ended up being licensed exclusively by Lilly for a three year period, worldwide.”
Any advice to photographers just now starting with ImageBrief?
“Just like with any business, if you put in the hours of hard work in perfecting your own signature style of photography and are willing to put in the hours of going through briefs and uploading, there will be a result. It’s been like that for me, I’ve uploaded to many briefs without success, and at the same time, closed enough deals to make it financially rewarding. Look at what type of images are being used by brands nowadays and follow the trends, but always put your own signature on your work.”
Being in the Netherlands, has ImageBrief played a part in gaining exposure to a list of international clients you otherwise wouldn’t have had a chance to work with?
“I am based out of Amsterdam and Singapore and most of my clients are based in Europe and South East Asia. ImageBrief has given me exposure in markets like Australia, Canada and the US. Being on the ImageBrief platform has brought us new clients and exposure—in the United States especially—adding to our main pool of clients in Europe and South East Asia. I’ve noticed a shift in trends and see that European photographers are in higher demand nowadays in the US, as the European style tends to be more natural then that of traditional US photographers.”
Your Marketplace and what you submit to briefs is very wide ranging and prolific, yet all super high quality. What’s your approach to shooting that allows you to build up your library?
“I have been in the creative industry for close to 20 years and started off as a traditional film and lighting portrait photographer. After moving to Asia I started shooting portraits, lifestyle, and architecture for advertising clients. My approach to each shoot is to put my own creativity into the shots. Clients hire us to think out of the box and come up with fresh ideas and solutions towards imaging. It takes years of defining one’s style and even once you have reached that point, it will keep on evolving and that’s what makes it such a great job to have!”
How do you feel about your return on investment, making 100 percent on briefs now that you’re a Founding Premium Member?
“[Founding Premium Members] helped ImageBrief get its initial exposure and this is a great way for ImageBrief to thank us as Founding Premium Members. I consider myself lucky and have made some big sales over the years, so the return on my investment has been very good. And even though, until this day I haven’t met any of the ImageBrief people in person, it feels like we’re one big family with the same aim: to sell great images and to make stock photography fair for us photographers. I believe this platform safeguards the creative photography industry and I would recommend it to anyone that is serious about photography.”