A few months back, on March 14th, we hosted what we called Models vs. Photographers: Staff Edition. This was an internal event that we decided to run as a team to help create some Prime-worthy photos using real people (our friends and employees, not models) and an authentic setting (our actual office).

In case you’re not familiar, Prime is the 500px licensing marketplace that we launched a little over a year ago. Our team works with hundreds of agencies, publishers, and companies to connect them our exceptional community and the visual content they create. If you want to contribute, visit 500px.com/store and enable your store!

Okay, back to business. The idea to do a staff shoot came out of an observation. One day I suddenly realized that my single photo of one of our team mates was selling over and over again in Prime. It was a simple shot—natural light, no make up, no posing. I was just walking around the office and taking a few photos, and those ended up selling really well!

500px Team

So I asked Tsering, one of our visual stylists, to help prepare a list of shots that both sell well and are scarcely present in the Prime marketplace—we wanted to both maximize the effectiveness of this shoot and fill a few gaps in our growing collection.

I also asked our community manager Adri to recruit a few folks from our team. In total we got 11 people to participate, with a nice variety to fairly represent a casual startup office like ours.

So here’s a quick recap of organizing the event:

1. Recruiting models

  • We told them the purpose of the shoot
  • Promised them a free lunch and good photos in return for their time
  • Explained how model releases work and asked them to complete one using 500px Releases app


2. Recruiting photographers

  • We decided to limit this number to 4 people
  • There were 2 setups so that photographers could collaborate without being in a way

Fun Fact: in the end, a lot of photographers opted for natural light!)

3. Recruiting make up artist for light touch-ups

4. Creating a shot list

  • Combing through 500px and creating shots we wanted to recreate or focus on
  • Creating a couple of mood boards to help models pick their wardrobe


5. Hiring video crew

  • We hired a small video crew to document the BTS of this shoot (see the end result below!)

6. Setting up the lights

  • We started off with a simple setup of 2 soft boxes and 1 large umbrella, but as we went, we abandoned lights to gain flexibility in shooting fast

The event was actually more fun that I even hoped that it would be!

We ended up with about 120 commercially viable photos on 500px, averaging about 30 per photographer. And less than 7 days after submitting the photos, we registered a first sale with this stunning photo of a team collaboration:


We wanted to keep the budget of this event low and frugal. Here is the full list of expenses we have encountered:

  • $60 — manicure for 2 women for shooting close ups
  • $100 — lunch for models and photographers (sandwiches!)
  • $200 — make up artist
  • $1000 — shooting BTS video and post-production (obviously, this is an optional step)
  • $Free — models, lights, office, photographers, cameras, editing, etc.

For us, the most important part was the video. We wanted to produce something that could give our community a sense of how simple this sort of setup can be. You don’t need fancy studios or expensive lighting—anything will work, including natural light.

At the Office

In total, we spent just $360 to produce 120 good photos that are now available for licensing. Since each shot sells for tens or hundreds of dollars, just 2 sales at full RF license will cover the whole investment.

So here’s my challenge to you: in the next 30 days, put together a photoshoot and get 30 photos that you’re confident submitting to Prime. We’ll cover the best submissions to give you a leg up 🙂

To see some of the photos we captured during this fun in-office event, head over to 500px Prime.