I’m sure you are thinking – it’s easy…. Get a camera, take some photos, upload them and sit back and watch the money roll in?!
It used to be like that 20 years ago, but now it is a very competitive business with constant pressure on earnings. Many stock agencies compete for the business of the image buyers by regularly reducing the cost of licensing, or, if they need to cover their own expenses and operations – they reduce the commission percentage paid to the artists. Just visit an online forum for stock photographers and you will hear endless doom and gloom. Having said all that, I still think it is a reasonable way to earn at least part of your income, especially if you focus on images that don’t have a direct cost – ie no professional models.
Earning reasonably as a stock photographer?
So, how can you make some reasonable money as a stock photographer? In my view, take as broad a view of potential subjects as you can. Travel, people, landscapes, cities, macro, food are in demand, and as the technology improves, the need for high quality, up to date imagery increases as well. New capabilities like HDR and focus stacking can create images that were just not possible even a couple of years ago, and so many stock photos can often be drastically improved if they are taken with today’s technology.
Then you need to pick an agency. I submit hundreds of images per month to Photofolio. Many of them sell a few times per month, then those £20 – £30 monthly commissions add up over the year.
Photofolio – A new kid on the block
Photofolio – that isn’t an agency in the true sense of the word – more an integrated collection of individual sites maintained by each artist, but in a standard format and with a common central search engine. Each artist sets their own price and downloads are automatic when you see the image you want. With over 140,000 images and illustrations available from 1500+ artists, there is a good chance you will get what you need at a reasonable price with a fair payment to the artist. What is not to like!?
Alex Sheldon (Mint Images)