Syda Productions: One Man Show to One Million Downloads

When Lev Dolgatsjov started out in stock, he was a one-man show. Today, his company Syda Productions is a well-oiled machine producing high-end stock imagery for a global audience. They recently celebrated a momentous milestone of reaching over 1 million licenses sold on Adobe Stock.

Lev, who began his stock journey in the early 2000s, has witnessed the turning tides of the industry. Here, he reflects on the lessons he’s learned along the way and shares his plans for the future.

Image source: Syda Productions / Adobe Stock.

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and your creative background?

I started making pictures in early 2000s, mostly of people on the streets of different cities all over the world. A bit later I pivoted to shooting models in studio. In 2005, I discovered stock photography and was charmed by the idea of making passive income with my pictures. That’s when I started Syda Productions. It was a “one-man show” in the beginning, but has somehow transformed into a talented team of 10+ people over the years. It became clear very soon that there’s no such a thing as “passive” income in stock — it’s a lot of effort and work — but we still enjoy shooting stock.

Adobe Stock (known as Fotolia at that time) was the first marketplace I submitted my pictures to. I could only dream of Syda Productions ever reaching 1 million downloads, but amazingly, this dream has come true. It took 13 years of hard work, but here we are, enjoying this big achievement.

Image source: Syda Productions / Adobe Stock.

How would you describe your style?

We aim to produce authentic content that is in line with contemporary trends, but at the same time still have a touch of “classic stock” — in a good way.

Image source Syda Productions: Adobe Stock.

You specialize in people photography, with a lot of diversity. What’s your advice for contributors when it comes to working with and directing models?

When working with a larger group of models, make sure everyone feels comfortable. If you work with an international group, use the language that everyone understands, even for your own production team internal communications. This aspect is very often overseen, but it’s essential. Also, don’t forget to feed your models and team!

Video source: Syda Productions / Adobe Stock.

Where do you find your creative inspiration?

Everywhere. Movies, TV, the internet, the real world, etc. We are living in a very inspiring time, there’s so much shifting in technology, in politics, in society — basically in every aspect of our lives. We just need to keep our eyes open and we can be overwhelmed by inspiration from all around.

What are the biggest challenges and rewards of working with stock?

The biggest challenge is to keep up with times and trends. The biggest reward is that you are always up with the times and trends. It’s inspiring.

Image source: Syda Productions / Adobe Stock.

How do you curate your stock portfolio to make sure it appeals to buyers?

We are very attentive to keywording. We keyword each and every piece by ourselves, never trusting it to third-parties, never using any automated tools. We always hand-tailor it. Keywording should be precise to satisfy customers’ needs.

What do you think about the role of stock in the creative world right now? And where do you think stock is headed?

I believe we will see more and more stock videos in the next few years. Many stock imagery production companies are adding video shoots into their workflow and offerings. We are also trying to keep up with this, constantly increasing the quality of our videos.

Video source: Syda Productions / Adobe Stock.

What practical tips would you give to other contributors hoping to succeed in the stock world?

Do what you love, and love what you do. Stock a competitive area with no easy money. You should really enjoy the process to succeed in this business.

Image source: Syda Productions / Adobe Stock.

See more images and videos from Syda Productions on Adobe Stock.

Are you a photographer or video creator looking to sell your photos and footage? Get started as an Adobe Stock contributor today – it’s free!