Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Current State of Microstock

It has been many years since I last wrote about the microstock 'industry', so today let's take a look at how it looks like today.

In the past decade, almost all the microstock agencies had seen a change of hands.  iStockPhoto had been acquired by Getty Images, 123RF as well?  Fotolia had been bought over by Adobe, while BigStockPhoto had been bought by rival ShutterStock.

For the only two great survivors, namely ShutterStock and Dreamstime, ShutterStock went public in 2012.  Its share price went from US$25 at IPO to over  US$100, and then it is back down to below US$30 now.  Even so, its Price to Earning ratio is still at 51, high by every standard.

Dreamstime is dying a slow death.  My sales there went down to almost 0.  Just when I thought it is because I don't have a good portfolio, I check the sales of another photographer, who has 2233 photos in his portfolio, and plenty of models.  He only manages to have 3 sales in a week!

Dreamstime used to have this practice of removing photos that don't sell in the past x number of years, but now they don't do that anymore.  I suspect many contributors removed their photos in large numbers in their portfolio at some particular time when Dreamstime was in some difficulty.

The competition in microstock is simply fierce.  I met one professional photographer the other day.  He told me that when he shot for stocks, he did 3200 photos in a day.  You see, 1) the pros are doing this as well, competing with hobbyists and amateurs; 2) they produce a huge volume in a very short time.  How can people like me compete with them?   At the same time, I feel sorry for the pros.  They have to come so low.

I think microstock had already seen its best time, and in the future, we will only see more and more fierce competition, and thinner and thinner profits for photographers.  It is ok to keep it as a hobby, but as a means for making a living?  I don't think so.  

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Sen of Japan

As part of Canon's Triple Treat deal, I was offered a free food photography workshop at Sen of Japan restaurant.  The restaurant is located in Marina Bay Sands shoppe, right next to the Art and Science Museum.

For us to practice our photography skills, of course, a delicious 9-course Japanese set lunch was offered :-)

Our Lunch Menu


Entree was Aspara salad.  Other than the normal vegetables that you can expect, they also have some fried items, which give you a different sensation from the wet and juicy vegetable taste.

Sushi Roll

Their sushi roll was really good.  The softness of the sushi rice, coupled with the freshness of mango and avocado, plus the pop pop pop sensation of the fish roe, and not to forget they actually have some kind of sauce that adds one additional layer of texture to the sushi.  All these combined together is a great feast to your taste buds.


Food is not just all about the taste, it is also an art of presentation.  The salmon sashimi has been carefully styled as a rose.  Isn't it beautiful?


Their tempura set is just as impressive.  You are not just satisfying your taste buds, but also your visual sensors.

Main Course - Beef

The main course was beef.  The chef already cut the big piece of beef into smaller slices, easy for you to pick up and eat.  The Japanese spirit of attention to details is amply demonstrated here.  In terms of taste, however, I must complain a bit, as the beef is a bit on the more chewy side.  Then I am not sure whether it is my fault, because I took as much time photographing it, as I ate it.

Overall, I think this is a great restaurant where you can have multiple sensations satisfied.  And kudos to the Canon folks who delivered such a great experience for us!

Friday, February 5, 2016

How to Grow Radish Sprouts

There is a new trend in growing your own food, especially the so-called 'microgreens', such as bean sprouts, radish sprouts, etc.

Today, let me share with you my experience in growing radish sprouts at home.

Day 1: Sowing the Seeds

First, put a thin layer of soil in the flower pot, about 2-3cm thick.  Then spread radish seeds on the soil surface generously.  Don't worry about the density, just spread the seeds.  You don't have to cover the seeds with soil, leave them on the surface, exposed.  Most importantly, spray water on the seeds generously, make sure the seeds are well moistured.

Day 2: Germinating

The seeds will start germinating on the second day.  Continue to spray water on the seeds, twice a day.  Ensure the seeds have enough moisture.  If twice a day is not enough, increase the frequency of spraying water.

Day 3: Sprouting Out

Day 5: Radish Sprout

On day 5, the radish sprouts can grow about 1-2 inches high.  If you like it this way, you can already harvest the sprouts.

Day 7: Fully Grown Sprouts

On day 7, the sprouts are already really tall.  This is the perfect time to harvest the sprouts and enjoy the fruit of your labour.

Radish sprouts are easy to grow, minimal care needed, while it is healthy.  You have full control of the sprouts from seed to maturity.  It is a great choice for modern day city little farmers :-)