Business Insight - Ryan Cardone - Stock Photographer

Ryan is a surfing specialist who now includes an iPhone amongst his working cameras to create vivid, beautiful stock images to licence. We discuss the world of surfing, stock and Stockimo.

ryan the surf photographer portrait How did you start in photography?
My Dad worked for Kodak and was a photographer himself, he had a darkroom when we were growing up so I have always been surrounded by photography. I guess though when I really became interested in it is when I started taking surfing and windsurfing photos of my brother. I used and old Nikon manual camera and a 500mm F8 reflex lens which was all manual focus. A few years later I got to travel the world as a professional surfer and this really got my into photography and so I decided to attend Brooks Institute of Photography in Santa Barbara.

You already shoot stock, what kind of work do you produce?
an ecxample of Ryan Cardone surf photography Yes I do shoot stock. My last year at Brooks my brother and I started a boutique stock photography company, At that time there was really a lack of good Surfing stock photography. So most of the photography I produce is somehow related to surfing, ocean, water, life and travel.

How many stockimo images do you have?
Right now, 486. See them here on

What do you shoot on iPhone?
Everything! Itís really an interesting time. I shoot way more on my iPhone then any of my other cameras.

Is it an extension of what you shoot for normal stock?
To some extent yes. I still have a passion for anything surf, ocean, water, travel, etc. But the phone is always with me so I really find myself expanding past what I normally shoot. But in the end I think its nice to create a niche that people can know and recognize your work and I think I try to keep to that as much as I can.

Do you get a different vibe to your work when shooting with your iPhone?
Sometimes yes, sometimes no. I guess it comes back to that the phone is always on me and is quick to capture photos. I really feel like I am always shooting something.

an ecxample of Ryan Cardone surf photography What motivates you to take an iphone picture for stock?
Selling photos! Really I love taking photos. Before Stockimo I took a lot of photos on my phone and had no where to really put them. Now I feel like I have more of a reason to shoot, not just wasting megabytes. Itís fun because now I spend a little more time thinking what might sell or how I can get on the grid of greatness. HA!

What sells?
I have noticed that food and drink photos sell. Something I need to shoot more of. Travel photos of popular places seem to always do well.

Why does your work sell?
Not too sure how to answer this one. There are so many choices when it comes to stock photography. So many wonderful photographers, I guess I just try to set my work apart from the competition. Everything has been shot so as a photographer I have to think of new ways of shooting the same old thing.

What do you think makes for a successful Stockimo image?
an ecxample of Ryan Cardone surf photography I feel a lot of the same rules apply as if you were shooting normal stock. concepts are number one. What feeling or mood or expression am I selling with this photo does it have a message: happiness, joy, fear, excitement, etc. If a photo conveys a message it's more likely to sell. After that I think model releases and property releases are pretty important. If you can you should always try to get a release. They not only make the image more sellable but legally it protects you, the model and the agency Try to have no grey areas.

For a Stockimo image I think mixing the perfect amount of good photography and post processing. Buyers I think love the Intsa, histomatic, etc look and I think that is selling really well. Itís just a matter of not over doing it.

Do you do a lot of post processing and if so, What app do you use?
Not too much. I probably use Hipstamatic the most. I have found a few camera, lens, film combos that work great for what I primarily shoot. They are probably the mellow filters on that app. I have always liked my photos with very little post and I keep that rule to iPhone photos as well. Other apps I use are VSCO and just the editing in the iPhone camera app.

What advice would you give to anyone thinking of becoming a stockimo contributor?
It is super-easy and fun. I think good photography sells and the same goes for Stockimo. First think about concepts, love, summer, happy, fun, etc then try to go capture that. Think about composition, light, subject etc, then play with some different post apps, get your model/property releases, upload and sell!

Stockimo is great because everyone can do it. That is the beauty of iPhone photography. We all take photos.

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All images are © Ryan Cardone and used with permission.

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