Taking Stock Adobe Stock photo workshop at Full Sail University

I recently participated in a two-day student workshop at Full Sail University in Orlando, Florida, created and run by the Adobe Stock team. This was an incredibly valuable event from both student and teacher perspectives, giving them not only theory and practical advice about creating stock content in general, but also in practice, in the form of a hands-on live photo shoot on-location in Florida.

A bevy of guest presenters (including Digital Media Evangelist, Terry White!) shared their skills and knowledge with students and faculty of Full Sail. I know I learned a thing or three as well.

Morning Sessions

Mat Hayward - Photographer Relations Specialist, Adobe Stock

An awesome shooter in his own right, Mat ran the students through a variety of image scenarios, asking their input on whether projected images would be accepted or rejected as stock images.

Mat shared best practices, ideas and even some of his own work, giving the students an excellent sense of what would appeal to stock photo buyers.

And while the focus of the workshop was on photography and video, Mat also pointed out that animation and illustration content was also in high demand. In fact, video and illustration work typically pay much higher than stock photos.

John Farr - Creative Media Group

Videographer and owner of Creative Media Group, John talked about the power of video, sharing his work and advice on what to look for when shooting video for stock.

Paul McAniff - Contributor Outreach Associate, Adobe Stock

Paul, a videographer and new addition to the Adobe Stock team, discussed "shooting on the cheap." Making the most of what you have as a student or budding shooter is so critical at first.

Paul also talked about the different types of artistically lighting now available, and what to watch out for in terms of color balance and cost.

Professional lighting gear is expensive, and often out of reach for cash-strapped students and recent graduates. Paul showed how to create a complete lighting kit for about $100.

Terry White - Adobe Evangelist

As the face of many Adobe design products, Terry may not need much introduction. His easy-going, approachable attitude puts people right at home. Terry shared his advice and even told a couple great stories.

Terry didn't originally shoot for stock at all; he found the existing systems made it inconvenient - even difficult - to contribute work. But when Adobe Stock came around, he gave the process another try and to his delight, this new service from Adobe made it very easy to get started and keep contributing.

Terry also shared the stories behind his top 3 best selling images - and the fact that two of them were never intended to even be stock images; they were instead favors he did for others - headshots for a model and another for someone's resume.

The moral of the story - especially in Terry's case - is to always make sure you have model or property releases signed by your subjects, because sometimes, you never know what will sell, or how well.

After the guest speaker lectures, students grabbed some lunch and worked on their shot lists for the afternoon.

The Stock team, in conjunction with Customer Success Manager Patrick Koster, had selected a great location (Lake Eola) and arranged for both professional and student models for the group to photograph in a variety of scenarios. But first they had to do some planning.

Afternoon Session - Location Shoot at Lake Eola

Some of the local scenery I captured while at Lake Eola
On arrival, the students were given some basic guidance, but primarily encouraged to focus on the models and setting up photos that told a story.

Several locations were pre-determined:

  • Lake Eola Heritage Building
  • Boardwalk encircling the lake
  • Tourist shopping district
  • Bandshell

However, students were told they had free reign in the park itself so long as they avoided recognizable people in their photos (other than the models).

Things got off to a fun start when Mat Hayward was attacked by a very grumpy swan.

Mat runs "a-fowl" of the local wildlife

Students quickly broke out into groups, shooting inside and outside, with assistance from the guest speakers, teachers and people like me and my colleague Steve Adler.

After 3 hours of shooting, the group returned to Full Sail and were sent home with - of course - homework! Each student had to select their favorite image and send it to Mat that evening, but also be ready for group critiques the following morning of their top 10 images.

Day 2 - Critique and Upload

The following morning Mat and Terry critiqued to students' favorite images and videos and then walked the group through the process of uploading content to Adobe Stock. Signed model releases for the professional and student models were available for each shooter and had to be uploaded as well. Photos or videos with recognizable people, not accompanied with model releases, would be outright rejected by the Stock content moderators.

Mat and the other presenters also spent time with the students during group critique, providing feedback on the work from the previous day.

Another pair of eyes is always helpful.

My Thoughts

You've probably gathered by now how impressed I was by this workshop, but in case it slipped by you, here they are in one place.

It was a joy to watch theses students move from simply internalizing more information, to actually putting what they heard and saw into action. Nothing - I mean nothing - is a better teacher than hands-on application. The combination of theory/advice + actual photography and videography, took the theory and embedded it as skills in this group. Sure, those are small "s" skills at the moment, but they can take what they've learned and what they've done and continue to hone those budding competencies into a true workflow and work ethic.

I really must commend the Adobe Stock team and Terry White on delivering an information-packed and valuable workshop.

Based on what I saw on screen, a lot of marketable content was created by this group of students. All in all, this event was not only engaging, and informative, but it has helped several students take a step they might not normally have taken; to go that extra pixel, and get their photos working for them, even while they sleep.

Created By
Jim Babbage


With the exception of the "attacking goose," all photographs in this story were made by Jim Babbage. Jim thanks the Adobe Stock team for involving him in this great workshop.