Selling NZ’s breathtaking outdoors
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Selling NZ’s breathtaking outdoors

Interview with Stewart Watson

Stewart, how did you become a photographer and what type or genre of photography do you enjoy most?

I'd always dabbled in photography and had the traditional SLR equipment - I think my first SLR was a Russian Zenit with various lenses but I eventually got tired of lugging heavy gear around and moved to the convenience of point and shoot with small cameras. However when Digital came along, I bought the original Olympus DSLR and I was instantly sold. I then moved to Canon, and was a devout canon user for years, the 5D3 is still my backup camera which I use with an EF 100-400mm lens so that I don’t have to keep switching lenses all the time. I made the move to my mirrorless Sony A7R2 about 7 years ago and love it, using it about 95% of the time with my Canon EF24-70mm lens. I bought the metabones adaptor allowing me to use all my Canon EF lenses. I was one of those people who always had to have the latest model but since I made the move to Sony A7R I still have the same camera 7 years later and really don’t feel a need to upgrade.

I love shooting landscapes but I also do some abstract/ICM  and astrophotography. I am officially retired so can't call myself a full time photographer but it takes up a big part of my life, I like to think of myself as a pro photographer on a part time basis, the other half of my life is maintaining a 12 acre lifestyle block.

Surfing the waves at sunset by Stewart Watson

What has your experience been with image libraries?

I have been selling images on various stock sites for several years. The experience has been interesting, I don’t sell anything on some sites but sell LOTS on other sites.... not sure why.  The money per sale is very poor (on most sites) but it does accumulate and over time my sales have increased. I’ve submitted to probably around a dozen sites (a combination of straight stock sites and other photography related platforms, where I submit for other reasons but tick a box to allow the image to be sold. I probably have around 1000-2000 images for sale.

What motivates you to sell your work?

Whilst I'm happy to  make money from selling my images, I actually get much more satisfaction from sharing my images with others and the feedback I receive. That's what I love about Instagram, I have a reasonable following on IG and 99% of people don’t know me, all they know is my IG name new_zealand_landscapes so to receive really nice feedback from unknown people around the world gives me much more pleasure than  from receiving small cash amounts from stock sales.

Having said that I also believe that making small sales (that do build up) is better than having your images sitting on your hard drive earning nothing. I do not subscribe to the theory that some other photographers have which is that "my images are worth more than $x  and I won’t sell them at that price!”

Armchair on the by Stewart Watson

How do you select what images to publish for sale?

This, from experience, is an intriguing issue. So often, what I think are my best images don’t sell as well as ones that I don’t really rate. There is no accounting for peoples tastes! So on stock sites I put up images that people might want for magazines, human interest, articles, travel etc and reserve some of my better images for other platforms. As I go around the country taking landscape shots for my website etc, I now also take a variety of odd shots of things that might sell on stock sites but that no one would print and put on their wall. I also make sure that when I'm taking photos (for stock) or editing them in-post that I don’t include people, trademarks, labels etc as they get rejected by stock sites. You have to have a model release for people in shots even if you can hardly see their face when zoomed in to 100% so I steer away from that.

What can you tell us about your best selling photo?

I found it difficult to determine my best selling photo, but if I had to hazard a guess it would probably be my image of Mountain reflections in the Ashburton high country on the walking track to Mount Sunday (Edoras from the Lord of the Rings). The shot was at dawn, hence the purplish hue with the mountains reflected in a very small pool of rain water that had collected on the walking track. With a wide lens and the camera position about an inch above the water it gives the impression of a much bigger body of water.

Reflections in an alpine rain puddle by Stewart Watson

What are your plans for the future?

To keep doing what I'm currently doing! My wife and I have owned a  motorhome for a few years now and this has made a huge difference for my photography, it gives me the flexibility to tour this amazing country of ours whenever I want and if the weather or other situations dictate, I can stay longer in a particular location or change my plans at any stage.

Where else can we find you online?

You will find me on 500PX, Viewbug and Flickr as well as

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