Interview with Stock Photographer Kevin Lohka

Kevin Lohka started submitting and selling his photos in stock agencies after coming to our stock workshop in Santa Fe last October.

He’s been submitting to multiple agencies since March, and already he’s had over 90 downloads on various sites.

Kevin’s motivated -- he seeks out new stock ideas left and right, and he’s always learning and trying new things. So today, I asked him to share his process and where he gets ideas for stock photos that’ll sell…

Interview with Stock Photographer Kevin Lohka

Kevin LohkaBONNIE: Kevin, right now you’re submitting photos to six different agencies -- how are your photos doing on the different sites?

KEVIN: Well, I'm quite happy to report that more than 90% of the images I’ve had accepted have sold at least once.

ShutterStock has been the most successful site for my portfolio so far. I have a fairly high image acceptance ratio on there and average just over 40 downloads a month with a portfolio of 35 images.

I also have a few scattered sales at Dreamstime, Fotolia, 123RF, and iStock.

BONNIE: How do you come up with ideas for what to shoot?

KEVIN: I'm always on the lookout for possible stock photos. I use my iPhone camera to capture image and location ideas as I go about my life.

For example, I was teaching my son how to ride his bike the other day. We took a break (I needed to catch my breath after running after his bike) and he sat on the grass with his bike helmet and gloves on. His bike was lying on the grass behind him. I looked up and saw a perfect stock image of a boy and his bike. I took a quick picture with my iPhone. I'll use that picture as a memory jogger for a shoot that I'll plan once he's on summer break.

I also observe people wherever I go, and try to remember situations that I thought where touching or conveyed some type of emotion.

At the photo processing workshop in Portland a few weeks ago, the group was sitting in the lounge around a beautiful fireplace. At a neighboring fireplace, a group of close friends were gathering and greeting each other as they arrived. One of the new arrivals (a guy) snuck up on the group and put his hands on the shoulders of a young woman sitting in front of the fire. There was a great picture opportunity when she looked up at him, laughing and arching her neck over the back of her chair and he looked down and said hello. I didn't use my iPhone for a picture that time, but I wrote the idea down to recreate with models later.

BONNIE: What does your typical planned shoot look like, from start to finish?

KEVIN: One of the things I learned at the Santa Fe workshop and on various stock forums is that your stock images need to help the buyer sell a product or convey a message/emotion. So I'm always trying to think of themes that might be popular, such as healthy lifestyle, fitness, and outdoors. Then I start looking for everyday events that demonstrate the theme.

For example, last week I noticed three women jogging in the neighborhood. I took a mental snapshot of the scene as I thought it conveyed a number of messages like companionship, support, healthy lifestyle, exercise, low cost health, and goal setting.

I also keep a list of shoot ideas. When I can schedule a model (usually a family member) I just go through my ideas list to see the images/concepts I'm most interested in shooting.

Since I'm working with a model, I don't want to waste any of their time, so I always scout out locations beforehand and prepare a list of shots that I'd like to try and capture. That way when I'm at the location with the model, I'm not wasting any time wondering how to direct them. I make sure to include a checklist with my shoot list that reminds me to shoot from different angles, shoot horizontals, shoot verticals, shoot body parts (ie. waist down), and to get different types of shots such as preparation activities like stretching or tying shoes for a fitness shoot.

BONNIE: Thanks, Kevin, and here’s to your growing success!

I think one of the reasons why Kevin does so well is that he keeps at it. He’s always thinking about new stock ideas, and now that he’s gotten started, he sees them everywhere.

What do you do to stay motivated? Drop me a line on the Breakfast StockClub Facebook page and find out what other BSC-ers are doing, too.

Have a great weekend!

-- Bonnie

Bonnie Caton
Great Escape Publishing
Breakfast Stock Club

[Editor’s Note: Learn more about how you can turn your pictures into cash in our free online newsletter The Right Way to Travel.  Sign up here today and we’ll send you a new report, Selling Photos for Cash: A Quick-Start Guide, completely FREE.]