A while back in fact over several years, I was attracted to a new venture working with a few colleagues ideally based on creating and selling Stock Images worldwide. It was about devoting a period of time to set up and create at least 4000 images. The hope being that worldwide our images would be added to the many stock agencies in the world.
This is not an in-depth analysis on the state of stock photography, but a prequel to a larger interview with one of the UK’s best editorial suppliers of stock, hopefully in a few months. I think here it is interesting to add my own views after devoting a fair few months to the process and share a small number of images from that time.
At times in my photographic career, I sometimes wander off into the wings, try other ideas, and work with opportunities that present themselves occasionally. I had never photographed primarily for stock but previously had a Shutterstock account years ago, which before their acquisition did at times earn me some money. My process at that time was simple, upload images that no longer had a place on any of my drives. I had no real direction and thought to run it as a business venture. The images actually earned some money and I was completely surprised at this but just left it at that.
Fast forward a few years and then the opportunity to create stock images with like-minded people as a business proposal seemed to be the way forward. We began the process of crafting mood boards and selected authentic models. After such time we had over 12000 images and 4000 in with over 14 worldwide stock agencies, including Getty Images. I will leave my own story here so we can delve into this deeper in my industry interview with the CEO of the leading UK stock agency.
What are the benefits of stock photography?
Several reasons are getting into stock photography is quite alluring:
- Anyone with high-quality photos to upload can get in
- You don’t need to have a strong portfolio
- You can decide how much time you want to devote to it – whether you want to make it a part time gig or a full-time enterprise
- You have full creative control over what you do
- While you can never ride forever on the images you upload, it can provide a largely passive income once you get to a certain point
- The portfolio you build making stock photography can later be used to secure more traditional freelance photography jobs
Basically, if you’re creative and really want to make money through photography, stock photography can be a great way to make some additional income.
SOME OF THE NEGATIVES TO SHOOTING STOCK
1. Getting Started in Stock Photography can be very expensive
launching a stock photography concept is not cheap. Quality equipment is needed as many agencies require a certain standard of capture and size of the upload. It’s doubtful, and you’re not guaranteed to make back this initial investment. Even if you eventually do, the hit to your budget or cash reserves could be painful in the meantime.
2. The Stock Photography Business Is one of the most competitive areas in Photography
It’s not difficult for photographers with reasonable skills and equipment to get microstock websites to approve at least some of their photo submissions. Getting that approval does not guarantee success in images sales, and many can sit on various stock agency shelves gathering pixel dust.
3. You’re unlikely to earn much money early on or at all
Earning great sums in the early stages of submission will not happen; keywords and the correct way of uploading take time, so creating the amounts of images needed to filter into the system takes many months even to get one image added to the lightbox. There are simply vast oceans of images in which you will sink amongst the other non swimming images. To get traction, you need 1000’s of images that should be authentic and original, which is a difficult task. This is why Pexels is doing well and has been purchased by Getty. Millions of images with one getting paid? But getting kudos and notoriety with people who like your work and can download it for free. How can you compete and make any money?
4. Earning any income rrom stock or micro srock requires a major commitment
To earn any income as a stock photographer requires a major time commitment in the early going — This could be years, in fact, before you can really get a good collection of 1000 images that are highly rated.
5. Most successful stock photographers shoot lifestyle with people.
Anyone can arrive at a location with a beautiful mountain, and these pictures don’t hold that much value. Working with real and people and having authentic models or real people is the way forward. Therefore, the problem is finding people and then places to create great stock images and work with compositions and concepts that are unique and original. So much a difficult tks after microstock and Pexels.