Discussion in 'General Shop Talk' started by Jonathan Schertzer, Sep 8, 2009.
what do you think is the best stock photography site for selling your images?
The one that pays the most money? Is this a test? Did I pass? No?
No one was replying to your post so..........
A lot of people have a misconception of what stock photography is all about. It's not about uploading a couple of images every now and again and hoping they sell.
Good stock photography is done by photographers that understand what stock photography buyers want.
Then, they go out and make those kinds of images.
They make hundreds of them a month. The next month they make a few hundred more, month after month.
They keep a close eye on the trends, curry contacts in the publishing and advertising industries, and many of them have studios where they have 10's of thousands invested in photography gear and monthly payrolls to match.
Ever hear of Yuri Arcurs? One of the top micro stock photographers.
Yuri Arcurs - Home of the world's top selling microstock photographer Check out his May 10 blog entry. He bought an $8000 camera and several thousand dollars worth of lenses....to test against another $8000 camera and several thousand dollars worth of lenses.
This is a trick question right?
Like Yuri, I am one of those guys who makes hundreds of stock images a month and I will tell you trying to make a living out of it today is a tough proposition.
I own a 6,000 sq. ft. studio and enough lighting gear to keep 10 photographers working at one time.
The best advice I can offer is that if stock is what you want to get into go study with someone who has done it for a living and learn to see and shoot the world as if everything you see was a stock image. Then place images with every reputable agency that you can find that will accept your collection.
For most microstock means some pocket change each month while playing around with a hobby, if you want to make job type money from it you will have to treat it like a job. For rights managed stock be prepared to spend thousands of dollars on producing a shoot on the speculation that you can sell enough image licenses from it to recover your cost plus turn a profit.
Why does it matter -upload to them all (or a good few at least) thats what Yuri Acurs does (and if it's good enough for him) very rarely does he go exclusive - read his blog.
Remember that to sell images, they first have to be accepted, some agencies are more stringent than others.
Also, you will never make a living posting 500 images - try building to about 10,000. I know that you didnt mention a number, I'm just saying.
If you think that uploading to many sites is too time consuming then you can try out iSyndica The Web Distributor - Upload Once, Sell Everywhere for free
The sites that I use are:
Stock Photography: Download Free Stock Photos & Royalty Free Images
Also you might want to read
Microstock Diaries - For People Selling Photos Online
Yuri Arcurs - Home of the world's top selling microstock photographer
Every response you got is somewhat valid.
KmH is right when he says you are not going to make a living by uploading a couple images a month.
VegasVision is right in telling you to talk to reputable agencies. There are only a few. And they are not the ones paying $0.25 a shot.
Nicholas James is right in saying that not all agencies are created equal.
When I got in the business, the good image banks would not even look at your stuff unless you had 3-500 images on one theme. Period. And that is 3-500 excellent photos. Not 100 good ones and 400 fillers.
Today, who knows. I just get checks and don't worry about it because my collections will not age. That is something to think about. A lot of things don't change. So, to get in this business today, you need to think of what does change. And only shoot that.
You want to make a living with stock, you shoot stock. And that means you don't shoot what makes you happy. You shoot what sells.
There are plenty of things that change all the time. City scenes from 20 years ago may still sell but if they show the new styles of cars they can sell too. Get the idea?
I'll tell you about one of my collections. Dogs. Dogs have not changed (except for the new stupid breeds) for a long time. Why would they take your photos of dogs when they have mine that sell just fine...
There is money to be made but only if you approach it as a business.
Don't plan on making a living off this unless you plan on uploading 100's of great shots every month. I personally do it as more of a hobby and to help fuel my hobby. Below is the top 6 best sites to start off with. Each person does better at certain sites. I personally do the best at Dreamstime, but several people I know do better at ShutterStock. I blog a list of my earnings log once a month along with other articles.
The unfortunate thing is that there are far too many articles online touting how easy it is to make money selling stock photographs (it isn't, at least from what I can tell). Most of the photographers I've dealt with take a shotgun approach to selling images online, which includes selling at places like:
their own blog or website using a service like Fotomoto (disclaimer: work there).
Etsy (for arts)
If you're going to microstock sites, the advice I've seen from most of the photographers I've dealt with is to work with the larger agencies (Istockphoto, etc.).
Everyone here keeps pointing out microstock and saying you have to upload hundreds of images a month. No, you are not going to make a lot of money with microstock -- at least, *most* people won't. A few high end photographers do, but it's more of tournament system than a stable model for steady sales.
From what Getty have been saying, the biggest thing they're looking for at the moment is photos of model released people. Not the usual stocky ethnic people shaking hands stuff, either, but good photos real people in real life situations doing real things. Children and happiness seem to sell well at the moment.
Best agencies to use? Try to get into Getty or Corbis if you can. Alamy isn't half bad, but you have to upload a LOT of images to them to make sales, and they generally cater to the British editorial market, meaning that highly commercial images (which are very lucrative elsewhere) seem to sit at Alamy and do nothing. Another approach is to figure out what you specialize in and then pick an agency with a strong collection in that specialty. There are lots of smaller agencies out there that sell well, too. A great list of all the best agencies is here. You will note where he places istockphoto.com.
There is a lot more money in stock photography than there is in print sales from sites like Smugmug. Getting reliable figures is hard, but from the little research I've done, it would seem that if you put 1000 good saleable images into Getty or Corbis, you're looking at around $30K to $50K a year every year until the images stop selling, which could take a very long time. And that assumes that you put the camera down at 1000 and just stop sending them images, which no sane person who loves photography would do. Getty and Corbis are, however, extremely selective about what they will take on, so it could take a very long time to get 1000 images into either agency.
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