Oquias, 52, was a New York Institute of Photography student in 1998 while he was working as creative director and copywriter in one of the top ten ad agencies in the Philippines. Despite the high pay and the daily creative stimulation that his advertising work offered, he chose to gamble and pursue his lifelong dream of becoming a professional photographer. After his resignation, he wasted no time and immediately set up his photography business. He has been shooting for corporate clients nationwide since then.
He ruefully admits though that he entered the photography industry at a very uncertain period where technology was, and still is, developing rapidly. Suddenly, commissioned work dwindled as technology now affords more people to shoot cheaply. “Even advertising agencies and designers are now shooting some of their work to save money for their clients who are themselves feeling technology’s impact,” Oquias comments.
What does an unknown photographer do in times like these? “Adapt,”
“I saw the signs early on in my newfound photography career. My reflexive reaction then was to expand. I was concentrating on advertising at the time, as I knew the industry inside and out but that was not working for me so I expanded my services and started promoting myself as an event and wedding photographer, an industrial photographer, a food photographer, what have you. I was winging it and it worked for a while. But I realized it was a mistake. I had to have a focus.” It was at this moment that Oquias decided to make microstock his priority, which, incidentally, was part of his expansion tactics.
He now makes it a point to contribute weekly to the big microstock agencies, like istockphoto, shutterstock, dreamstime, fotolia, bigstockphoto, stockxpert, and 123RF.
His decision to focus on microstock was far from being reflexive this time. He knew that there is no stopping technology and microstock is smack in the middle of this technological development, together with social networking, blogging, photo-video sharing, and mobile computing. Integral to this change in focus, Oquias taught himself how to blog, create a website, network socially. “A small business owner like myself needs to be able to figure out this Web 2.0 phenomenon if he or she wants to benefit from it. It’s where people and businesses are converging.”
According to Oquias, his decision to focus on microstock is now paying off. More than fifty percent of his photography income now comes from microstock and he plans to increase it further. He still accepts other photography jobs but he is not actively promoting this as before.
Recently, Oquias launched his own microstock photo website where he sells the same microstock photos that are also available in the big agencies. The big difference with this website is he does not pay any agency fees anymore.
“I’m not a star photographer, I know that, but today’s technology and Web 2.0 have leveled the playing field for every photographer, microstock shooter or otherwise, and anyone willing to learn how to use this technology will definitely give himself or herself a fighting chance in this new business model.”