Microstock Stocking Stuffers

December 1st has arrived, that means it’s just over three weeks until Christmas. I thought I’d create a post giving some ideas for the microstock photographer on your Christmas wish list, or to be used for those trying to think of things to add to their own list, or when you need a link to send as a hint-hint to someone :). The products on the list are either things I already own and love, things I have on my own list, or things MicrostockGroup members recommended.

Gifts Under $50

Giottos Rocket Air Blower

Amazon $9.61 B&H Photo $9.94

I use one of these little blowers to clean the dust from the inside of my DSLR.  Most of the dust on the sensor can easily be removed with a little gust of air.  The blower can also be a handy tool in your camera bag if you need to blow off anything else, such as sand bits in camera controls or dust on your lens.  This is one of the items that live in my camera bag.


Amazon $4.04 B&H Photo $7.93

This guy is just a little thicker than a regular pen and is used to clean your camera lens or other external camera parts.  The one end has a carbon based cleaning pad (for cleaned lenses) while the other has a soft brush for dusting larger debris off your camera and lens.  Another of my camera bag habitant.

Microstock Books

Microstock Money Shots – Ellen Boughn
$16.39 Amazon

Taking Stock – Rob Sylvan
$16.49 Amazon

There are a number of books on microstock now, but the two linked are the most recent.  Ellen Boughn has been involved in the stock industry (not just microstock) basically since stock existed.  She is very knowledgeable and worth reading.  Ellen’s book focuses on shooting and creating high selling content.

Rob Sylvan worked at iStock photo as an inspector since 2002 and has deep knowledge into what works and what doesn’t work in regards to microstock.  The book looks at the image industry from the buyers perspective to help the phtographer understand what sells.  The book also focuses on workflow and getting your images successfully through editing and acceptance to the microstock sites.

I can’t tell you which book to buy, as the book reviews are still on the  ‘to-do’ list …. you could however just buy both 🙂

Gifts Under $100

X-rite ColorChecker Passport

Amazon $99 B&HPhoto $99

The ColorChecker Passport is used to get the colors correct when editing photos.  You take a picture of the color swatch when setting up a shoot, then when editing your images, you create a color profile using the test image you shot, and apply that profile to the rest of the images in the shoot.  It may sound confusing but it is really quite simple.  Where do I keep it..? yep.. in my camera bag.

Westcott 52″ 4-in-1 Reflector

Amazon $92.95 B&HPhoto $132.60

I bought a reflector like this a few years ago and have used it on every shoot.  The white panel can be used as a soft reflector or as a sun shade which makes a very nice soft light.  The silver or gold panels can reflect light onto the subject, giving the option of a very large (read soft) light source.  Electric flashes and strobes are great but it is pretty hard to beat the versatility, price and weight of a reflector.

Amod GPS Data Logger

Amazon $65.00

This little unit has certainly followed the golden rule of keeping it simple.  There is no display on this device, just a couple buttons, a few LED lights and a battery compartment.  This device lets you track where you walk, then lets you sync that data to your photos so they can be geotagged.  Until Canon comes up with a built in GPS system for their DSLR cameras, this is decent work around.

I wrote a review of the Amod GPS logger on SimpleFoto.com.

Gifts Under $4000 🙂

Canon 5D Mark II
aka Ultimate Microstock Camera 🙂

Amazon $2,499  B&H Photo $2,499

This is the ultimate microstock camera because it is light (compared to the 1Ds), shoots at 21 MP, has very little noise, is very reasonably priced, and can shoot video.  The Rebel series of cameras are also great, and perfect to learn on, but for a serious microstock photographer, the 5D is where it’s at.

Hensel Porty 12 Lithium

Amazon $3748.95 B&H Photo $3748.99

Yes, this battery pack and strobe are crazy expensive… it is also crazy cool … and useful.  There are a number of portable strobe solutions on the market but Hensel is the only one who has come out with a lithium battery pack.  Because the battery pack is lithium it is lighter, the charge lasts longer, and when empty, it is much quicker to re-charge.  Like all Hensel equipment, the pack and strobe are very robust – I have sent them as cargo on several flights without a problem.

I have one of these sets stuffed in a Pelican Case and take it with me whenever I’m shooting on location.

Canon 85mm f/1.2 L

Amazon $1,834  B&H Photo $1840

If you want to make other photographers drool when they see your set-up, you stick one of these lenses on your camera.  This lens is not just for show however, and the drooling is not unwarranted as this is one tasty lens.  I don’t have this lens myself (yet) but I know microstock photographers who claim they take the majority of their shots with this lens.  Zoom?  Who needs it when you can exchange it for sharpness and speed – use your feet to compose.

Camera Bag

Amazon $10 – $400

There are so many bag options, and what you need depends on how much gear you want to take along and where you’re going, so I am not even going to suggest anything specific.  I am however going to suggest a  ThinkTank bag.  I only have a small Holster ThinkTank bag (review), but I have been impressed with the quality and like the looks of their larger bags as well.  For my larger bags I currently have a couple LowePro bags (review), which I also really like.

About The Author:

Tyler Olson works as a microstock photographer who also runs the MicrostockGroup forum and blog. Being so closely involved in the microstock community as a submitter, forum moderator and blogger, Tyler is able to keep updated in the constantly changing microstock marketplace.
Posted on December 1st, 2010 in Tips / Tutorials | tags: , , , , , ,
  • Thanks for the plug, Tyler. I agree. I think a microstock photographer should put both books on their list for Santa. Rob’s book is more technical and mine more about the creative/legal side. Companion pieces.

  • Rob Sylvan

    Ditto on the thanks! Let’s do the next book together. 🙂