Is being a stock photographer a viable business? Any tips more than appreciated.

Discussion in 'The Aspiring Professionals Forum' started by JanSlo, Dec 6, 2018.

  1. JanSlo

    JanSlo TPF Noob!

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    My name is Jan from Slovenia. I have been a semi-professional photographer for almost 10 years now and have accumulated thousands of photos that IMO have a commercial value.

    I have talked to some colleagues that upload their works to multiple stock photo platforms and make a good living out of it.

    I am curious, what are the main downsides and risks that I need to consider before making a decision? Should I only use one platform or upload to all of them? Seems its quite a lot of work with a high amount of photos. Also, what is the average revenue you can make of a single download?

    Any feedback from those who have experienced this would be more than appreciated.

    Thank you in advance for helpful tips and feedback.


     
  2. Jeff15

    Jeff15 TPF junkie!

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    Hello Slovenia and welcome, good luck..........
     
  3. Fujidave

    Fujidave Blue eyed and Beautiful

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    Hello Jan, welcome to the forum. I have not done any of what you ask but, I`d say just try one first of all and see how it goes and then go from there, hope this helps.
     
  4. astroNikon

    astroNikon 'ya all Bananas I tell 'ya Supporting Member

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    without knowing which sites your colleagues use, we couldn't really answer that question.
    Plus, if they are making a good living off of it maybe start with the same websites that your colleagues are using .. that would seem to make sense, right?

    Also, we don't know (1) what your colleagues consider a good living, and what you consider a good living without knowing what constitutes a good living in your area; (2) we don't know your photography in comparison to your colleagues in the market that they and you would be in. So it's haphazard to give you any answer on a generic question.

    but ask some pros ... @Derrel @tirediron
     
  5. tirediron

    tirediron Watch the Birdy! Staff Member Supporting Member

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    Thanks astro!

    I'm very surprised to hear of anyone making a good living off of stock photography these days. It used to be a great way to put some extra cash in your pocket, but these days, at least in North America and western Europe, those days are gone. There are soooooooooooo many images, that it's very difficult to produce something that doesn't already exist by the thousands on multiple stock 'sites. The photographers I know who dabble in stock and make even the most modest return, have tens of thousands of images on-line, and put many hours a month into increasing their library.
     
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  6. jeffW

    jeffW No longer a newbie, moving up!

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    I am curious, what are the main downsides and risks that I need to consider before making a decision? Should I only use one platform or upload to all of them? Seems its quite a lot of work with a high amount of photos...[/QUOTE]

    How do you truly know any specific platform is going to be honest in reporting how much money they are licensing your images for or even if they are reporting every actual transaction? You assume they are honest!?!

    Stock agencies have become a scam!!! (for the photographer) First they have set ridiculously low payouts 40% as the highest I've seen, but and a very big BUT they sell subscriptions to their buyers (photographers never see a dime of the subscription monies) so the buyer licenses an image for pennies because they've already paid into the subscription and the stock agency only has to pay the photographer 40% of the penny sale. (and I'm talking about right's managed stock none of that RF "")

    Back to the honesty comment: I had seen a couple people claiming “A!@m7”, an agency was licensing their images even after they had removed themselves from the agency - I kind of shook it off as internet rants. Well after being frustrated that “A!@m7”, an agency was licensing my images for these extensive licensing deals (world-wide advertising) and only paying me $35 bucks (RM) I removed all of my images yet years later I still get “A!@m7’s", an agency's automated email congratulating me on another sale (never seem to get the money though) I am completely convinced “A!@m7”, an agency is still licensing my images. This past fall I was convinced that I found a news org use one of my old capital shots (it was from a roof and now there's buildings in front making that view impossible) they could of only gotten it from an agency. As I have officially removed all of my images from any agencies I ever belonged too - so how did bloomberg get that image?

    After “A!@m7” an agency I had all my stock images on my own website and licensed them myself while a massive waste of effort I will say a single license through my own site netting me more that a decade+ at “A!@m7”, an agency and a couple of other stock agencies.

    When you ask what are the risks, well once you upload your images to an agency how do you specifically know they are going to be honest about reporting back the true revenue they receive from your images?

    Ten + years with some very exclusive images that news orgs love to use total net was not close to a thousand bucks - stock sales through an agency is a waste of time (for the photographer) it is a scam.
     
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  7. dLSK

    dLSK TPF Noob!

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    Stock photos... I have about 20 images on Getty, I'll offer my two cents:

    First off JeffW is correct on pay outs. Most stock sites that have, let's say, lower quality work will more readily accept your submissions, but the pay outs are pennies.

    It's a lot of work to get them ready. Some sites want full size TIFFs, some want certain size JPEGS. If you're uploading to many sites, that's a few hours behind the PC you got to be willing to put in.

    Now, the non fun part. To actually make money, you'll have to submit your work to the big sites like Getty. You submit your best images, and wait to get approved. After approval, you still have to have your images you wish to sell approved before they go on the 'for sale' block.

    Getty ( and the few other top stock sites ), the payouts are good, the images are very specific, and they protect your work by only allowing a buying customer to purchase, no free reign for xxx a month to buy xxx of images. A lot of the 'common' stock sites do this.

    Your submission shots, should not be your 'stock images'. Showcase yourself to the stock agency. Show them your actual talent, this shows you are actually skilled and can possibly make them money. This helps you. If you sell a few, you may get a certain request for a certain stock image to take and then provide for sale, not common, but it happens.

    If you're going for the bigger sites the submission processes... I'm not going to lie ( and I'm not saying this to sound arrogant ) you HAVE to have pristine work. And I mean, pristine in the most sincere way possible. If you do a lot of depth of field ( they sell well for flowers / birds / stagnant objects ) you background has to be nothing but a smear of bokeh. Composition and exposure need to be 100% perfect. On Getty, the buyers are paying good money PER image, so Getty requires top notch work only.

    Go have a look at Getty Images, see what's out there, see what kind of quality you're aiming for. Get some ideas for stock imagery you have an interest in and practice every chance you get.

    Couple more hints :
    Landscapes: You gotta be Helen Dixon or Lee Frost good, it's that simple. If you don't know either of those two, look them up.
    Birds / animals : extreme DOF must be the core. Eyes sharp as tacks. No misplaced feathers, hairs, blood on face, etc. Background must not be recognizable
    Stagnant, standard 'stock images' : yours has to stand out from the rest. Everyone can take a nice image of a cup of coffee on a kitchen table. How can you take it so your image stands out from others?
    Office / General People / Task specific : one image should convey a description. Like, guy answering office phone / woman showing stress in front of PC. Random people photos are a no. Street style, no.
    Architecture Images / Art : never seen one sell, tbh. Who would buy a picture of a painting? Most buildings that require a picture OF their building, simply hire out a photog. No company would buy a stock image of their own company.

    Sorry about the book lol. Just trying to give you everything I got. You can make good money doing stock images, but you've got to be an excellent, excellent photographer in more than one genre. If all you do is birds, you're limiting yourself. If you have the time, you can do 100 stagnant images ( office supplies, drinks in glasses, fruit trays, food ) a week and upload them all, better your chances. Good luck
    :)

    EDIT: I should convey I don't sell 100 images a year on Getty either lol. I've made quite a few sales, nothing crazy. Don't want it to come across like I'm a high and mighty ego driving photog... nowhere near ;)
     
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2019
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  8. Rinderart

    Rinderart TPF Noob!

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    well....Stock is something I've done going back 30+ years Long Before Microstock when we used to actually Make a good Living Because #1 there was very few Of us and Our commission then was $400 + dollars. Thats $400 in 1968 Money which is about $2400 In todays Money.
    Now it is Microstock, Micro prices and Micro commissions which simply means Your need many, MANY thousands of good commercial Value Images. No More backyard flowers Etc,Etc but....Your gonna get 38 cents on average and less when you start. when Micro started 16 years ago I was with 14 Agencies. we did Fairly well then around 2012 we hit the Wall. to many average Images. You had to pass a exam then. Now you don't so every Body with a camera Joined. And the Vast Majority Just didn't have the talent or mindset to do stock.
    Good stock is about Images that buyers can use to help sell a product,Concept or Idea. Shutterstock,Adobe stock and few More Minor Ones are all that really Matter Now. Best advice I have is for you to go to shutterstock and spend a few days searching whats there By Most Popular and if you can do this Putting your unique twist On subjects. 1.8 Million are accepted each week. when I started 350,000 was the total Amount in the database. everything we submitted sold. I had many $900 Days then. that went away 2012. Great Photographers are making any Model. Folks with a Unique twist are doing well. Like said. Go Look and see if you can do it or Better.
     
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