Getting Started with Stock & Mockup Photography | Interview with Moyo Studio
[GIVEAWAY INCLUDED – SCROLL TO BOTTOM FOR DETAILS]
Most likely, 2020 has been the year when you’ve questioned your business choices, your financial stability and sources of revenue. Passive income has been a popular topic this year. Depending on your skills and area of interest, there are a few ways you can create passive income:
- Offer Presets for photos or videos
- Offer Education (paid courses and webinars)
- Offer Downloadable resources (paid pdf guides, worksheets, ebooks, etc)
- Sign up for various Affiliate marketing opportunities
- Get into Stock Photography & Mockups
Today we get to chat about the last point, Stock Photography & Mockup Designs, with none other than the talented creatives behind the Moyo Studio brand. They create the most mesmerizing, stylish and functional mockup photos and design compositions for creatives. If you’ve ever stumbled upon a really polished, sleek and minimal feed on Instagram – chances are, they use Moyo templates. We’ve also fallen in love with their products and often use their mockups for social campaigns.
Meet Molly and Mark, the founders and designers at Moyo Studio, who agreed to chat with us about their brand and process of creating stock photography and mockup designs.
How did the idea of creating Moyo come to life? Why mockup photography and scene creators?
Moyo (or a version of it) was originally conceived many, many years ago when Mark and I found ourselves creatively unsatisfied by a business that we had built. It was 2013 and after spending 18 months traveling and loving every second, we came back to the UK wanting to create a lifestyle that enabled us to be location independent. We launched our first e-commerce business and (of course) we made many mistakes along the way, including allowing it to evolve into one that meant that we worked 16 hour days, 7 days a week.
We were on an uninspiring treadmill, and ended up not leaving our hometown for years, the irony of which was not lost on us given that we originally started it to be location independent. Several years after we started, we were left unfulfilled and honestly, burnt out. We realized that this was not at all what we had envisioned and knew that there had to be another way.
Prior to that, I had always loved photography and we lived to travel. We always wondered if there was a way of combining the two. I always ended up taking thousands of photos wherever we went, and they usually never went beyond my hard drive. That’s when we became intrigued with the idea of stock photography. Originally we had no set plan, but we then discovered Creative Market, an online marketplace offering creative digital assets and it opened our eyes to a whole new world and with curiosity and excitement decided to take the leap and create our first digital product. Our first photo collections were very much an experiment. We had no specific audience or niche in mind at the time and so it really was a case of trial and error. Plus, we were by no means professional photographers and so we had lots of learning to do! At the time, the trend for stock photography was incredibly feminine, with images full of glossy props and bright colours. These types of images didn’t resonate with us personally and we felt that there must be an audience out there who appreciated the same neutral, minimalist aesthetic that we do. It turns out, that was absolutely true which resulted in us attracting an audience of graphic designers, which eventually shaped our creative journey.
Somewhat by accident, we ended up creating mockups, whereby our customers could customise the image by inserting their own designs to display on their portfolio, website or social media. This was completely new territory for us and eventually we decided to hone in on this and lean in to serving designers. This eventually led us down the route of creating digital templates called ‘scene creators’. These customizable files offer a greater sense of creative freedom for the customer, enabling the creative to make something unique and custom to their work.
Many of our scene creators are photo-based and so they usually start with us taking photos of various elements that we then digitise and refine in our final product. This was all new to us as prior to this we’d never even really used Photoshop and so for a couple of years we immersed ourselves into developing our skills in learning the programme.
After a year of Moyo being our side-hustle, we eventually sold our previous business and decided to go all in. It was a huge leap of faith and we’ve never looked back. We have been incredibly lucky to run the business whilst living in a variety of countries like Thailand, Vietnam and Spain to name just a few whilst serving an amazing audience of global creatives. The creative community is an incredibly supportive one to be part of. Through Moyo and our amazingly talented customers, we’ve been able to connect with so many inspiring business owners that have taught us so much and helped to shape Moyo to be the business that it is today.
Who can benefit the most from Moyo products?
Our products are used by creative business owners, mostly graphic and web designers but we’re also proud to include social media managers, marketers, and copywriters in our community! Our aim is to empower creatives to show their work beautifully with our design-led images and mockups.
We offer a range of products to serve a variety of creatives, whether that’s stationery mockups for wedding stationery designers, or device mockups for web designers, and lots more in between. Our customers tend to use our mockup products to showcase their work, whether that’s to present to clients, to update their design portfolio, or if they want to share their latest project or product launch on social media. Moyo’s products can be used by anyone who wishes to elevate their content by contextualising and sharing their work with the world.
What in your opinion is the trickiest or most challenging part about mockup and stock photography?
Stock photography can be a competitive field and one of the most difficult aspects about it is finding the happy medium between the type of images that you like to create with those that sell. It can be tempting to replicate popular styles, but in the long run it’s much better to spend time developing your own style and to photograph subject matter that you genuinely love. It takes a lot of trial and error to find that sweet spot that balances creative fulfillment and financial reward, but you can definitely find it!
Fortunately nowadays, there are actually so many ways to sell stock photography online and what’s encouraging is that it can be more financially rewarding than it perhaps once was. Marketplaces where you set the price, or stock photo co-ops make this more possible, rather than going down the traditional stock photo website route that can sometimes pay you very little by way of commission.
Also, now there is such amazing scope to be creative with stock photography – long gone are the days of sterile office photos. With businesses’ appetite for unique and current content constantly growing, it actually pays to be as creative as possible and have your own unique style, which makes it all the more rewarding.
Mockup photography is a whole other ball game, which we learnt very early on. Turns out that objects with straight edges (business cards, paper, devices etc) are actually more difficult to photograph than you’d imagine. Depending on the type of mockups that you’d like to create, it really pays off to do your homework, find out what would be useful for the person who will use the mockup.
Visually, will it showcase their work without distorting it or changing the colours? When it comes to the format – is the mockup for their social media? Can it be cropped into a square? Or does it need to be landscape for their shop listings? There are lots of things to consider and we’re constantly learning, too!
You’re basically doing very elegant and minimal product photography, yet taking it to a new level, by creating an easy way for clients to add their content into your compositions. Do you have any recommendations or tips for those who want to get into product or stock photography? Are there any unspoken rules or No No’s that they should know about?
Thank you! With the mockups, it is definitely a form of product photography with the ‘product’ being the blank item, taking centre stage. This often means that initially it’s perhaps not the most exciting thing to photograph, but when contextualised with a design inserted into the mockup, it brings the entire image to life. It’s amazingly rewarding seeing how other creatives interpret the image and make it something new when they put their own stamp on it with their work.
As with all photography, it pays to practice. Practice as much as you can. In terms of rules or no-no’s, my number one is – always be original. Unfortunately, we see a lot of creative plagiarism out there, which is not only brazen when it’s so apparent but it can be pretty heartbreaking sometimes. It might be tempting to copy another creative’s work, especially if you see that person as representing the level of success that you hope to achieve. But ultimately, it’s a shallow win. Copying is quick and dirty, and you miss out on all that important development work (the messy middle) that is required to make something original.
Sure, as creatives we’re all naturally inspired by the work of others. We’re visual creatures and soak all of those influences up like a sponge. But there’s a fine line between being inspired by someone’s work, and straight up copying it. Plus, it’ll ultimately leave you feeling unfulfilled knowing that the idea wasn’t something that came directly from you.
What is one thing that you stopped doing this year and why? And what is one thing that you started doing this year?
Well, it’s safe to say that 2020 has thrown us many curveballs and that’s taught us to be adaptable. Early this year we made the decision to shift our business model and to focus specifically on creating mockups for designers (rather than stock photos) which we can’t wait to do! We’ve developed a huge passion for creating this type of product and we’re looking forward to diving even deeper into this field.
It’s always a little nerve wracking to pivot and make changes in your business, but I’ve always been a big believer in trusting your gut and leaning into your intuition. At the end of the day, you serve others best when you’re coming from a place of alignment and fulfillment and if you do what feels right for you, things will always work out.
Let’s talk a bit about your new website. As designers and creators of products that help others better present their brand and services online – you obviously know that presentation and first impressions are important. Tell us about your new website – what was the purpose of the redesign, how was your experience of working with Mono and the Flex editor?
I think it’s fair to say that as creatives, we’re always keen to reinvent ourselves as our identities and values as business owners evolve and change. We’d been wanting to re-design our website for such a long time, but the task always seemed too daunting and we’d been putting it off for so long. Our website was originally built on WordPress and we knew that we wanted to stick with this. But we found our previous website builder to be clunky, which meant that even making small tweaks often took more time than we’d like it to. With our change in business model, we knew that now was the time to steer Moyo into a new direction and a new website was part of this evolution.
Happily, we found Flothemes, and our mind was blown. As soon as we discovered Flothemes, not only did we fall in love with the high-end, beautiful templates but we were completely sold by the new intuitive design process that the Flex editor offered. Rather than being frustrated with the limitations of previous website builders, using the Flex editor was a total gamechanger and made designing the new website a pure joy. As soon as we purchased Mono, we dived into re-designing the website and we couldn’t believe how much easier and quicker it was. Plus, as designers, we really appreciated all of the considered features that the builder offers, which makes the whole design experience seamless. It’s those details that make all the difference!
We also have to say that the awesome team at Flothemes offered such great customer service, and were so helpful throughout the entire process. Our only regret is that we didn’t switch to Flothemes sooner!
Has the new website impacted in any way your business or workflow?
Our new website only recently went live, but already we’re feeling so much more confident with our new online space. Of course, it’s a work in progress (isn’t it always?!) and we still have lots more to add to it as our business continues to evolve, but we look forward to designing the website with the Flex editor. As it’s so intuitive to use, we can now make changes and updates quickly which is not only empowering, but exciting too.
We also love being part of the Flothemes community and how the team are always striving for innovation. It’s an exciting community to be part of and we can’t wait to implement all of the new features of the Flex editor that are being developed!
Any quick advice or message for those who are struggling in 2020?
Don’t compare yourself with what others are doing and be unapologetic with whatever you need to do to preserve yourself.
If 2020 has meant you’ve had some unexpected time on your hands so you can throw yourself into your work, or diversify your offerings, that’s awesome if it lights you up, empowers you and keeps you moving forward. If on the other hand it’s created a roadblock and you need stillness, lean in to that and be kind to yourself.
How to manage and work through everything that is happening is distinctly personal, there is no right or wrong way to process things – it’s unknown territory after all. Have faith in knowing that difficult seasons will pass.
Final Words and a Giveaway You Don’t Want to Miss
The most important lesson of 2020 is to be kind, to yourself and to others. There is no right or wrong way to deal with all the challenges and adversity. If you feel like hustling, roll up your sleeves and get busy. If you’re feeling overwhelmed and unmotivated – put everything on pause and allow yourself to rest and recharge. We hope that through this interview we inspired you to explore some new ideas and visions for your own business. Be that product or stock photography, mockup designs, or other passive income sources – give it a go, at least you’ll end up with some fun new experiments!
We’ve also partnered with Moyo Studio to bring to you guys an extraordinary prize for your business! We’re giving away a website design of your choice (the winner can choose from our existing themes or pick one of the upcoming templates) + 3 products of choice from Moyo Studio’s shop! How cool is that? The perfect starter kit for a successful 2021!
ENTER GIVEAWAY HERE before Nov 8th.