As a stock photographer you attitude is very important if you want to earn some money on this battlefield. I have entered stock photography for the same reason as anyone does. To get some extra money. I was aware about that I wouldn’t get reach overnight. I had a couple of thousand images on my hard drive which were laying there. Why shouldn’t I make some money if possible. Therefore I have documented myself what should be done.
Some insight in the past
I have heard about stock photography but didn’t know how to start. As a consequence I documented myself at the beginning. I read quite a lot until I had the confidence to jump in. Actually some articles were really interesting and useful.
Is stock photography for everyone?
The answer is YES and NO at the same time. You will need to be consistent in what you do and at the beginning you will be disappointing by the money you make. I can still remember the very first sale, I was really happy that I have earned 25 cents back in 2014. Suddenly I got really enthusiastic and started to work harder. As an amateur photographer with a Nikon D3100 DSLR which by the way I still use, I spent more and more time learning and improving myself.
So, returning to stock photography you need the following:
- passion for photography
It is important to know what you are dealing with. It might be frightening to see that a lot of people are working as stock photographers and a lot of questions raise up. Can I sell among so many photographers? Am I good enough to compete with everyone on the stock market? Will I earn any money? Isn’t the market over saturated with all those photos?
A lot of questions? Right? Well these are only a couple. The list is much longer. But what is really important is to have the confidence that you can make it. Everything depends of being unique. For sure you will find maybe one million pictures of one lemon, but if you are able to bring a new interpretation to the word lemon then that image will sell. It doesn’t matter if the other photographer shot the lemon with a Canon 1DX or Nikon D5 or any expensive gear, creativity is way more important than gear. For sure the standards are raised year by year, but image reviewers know exactly which photos will sell.
I have mentioned previously that if the image is unique it will sell. But you cannot expect to make $1000 dollars from a single image, which by the way isn’t possible. Increase your chances of making a sell by uploading more and more content. Let’s imaging a simple scenario. Let’s say that you have a portfolio of 1000 accepted images. If we assume that 1% is sold every day than that means 10 images. With the minimum price of 25 cents an image this means $2.5/day. If out of 30 days you sell on 20 days this means $50. Not much you might say. Upload the same portfolio on 10 different agencies. Well this means $350-500/month. In some countries this amount would probably isn’t worth the effort, but others this is the wage for one month work.
The more you upload the chances of selling an image increases. I have uploaded recently a series of images consisting of 140 photos with fire burning. It has been approved on 6 different agencies. This means roughly 600 images. The aim is to consistently upload content. It doesn’t matter if you are uploading 10 images/day or 50 images/day. Your portfolio is more likely to be exposed.
Passion for photography
I left the most important part for last. Even if you see some business opportunities and want to jump in please take a big breath and see beyond the figures. The stock photography is like with any sports. You need to enjoy it. Otherwise it will be visible on your results. The same is true for stock photography. If you are doing it for the money then your images will start to become of poor quality. Your only aim will be to upload as much as possible. You will not retouch as much you images, you will not frame it always correctly.
Try to enjoy the whole process. I am glad to have started stock photography as I have learnt a lot. It made me think about my framing, my whole process of working. It is a very interesting way for an amateur photographer to step in the world of photography. Probably I will see a lot of comment from pro photographers that stock photography is only about taking the picture of a still object. Gladly this can be more challenging as not only apples and lemons are selling. This is a whole process where you will learn a lot if you are willing to take this learning curve. I still shoot with the same Nikon D3100 camera, but from what I have earned I could buy myself a washing machine, a drone, an action camera. No much. For me this is more like a hobby and a source of residual income.
Finally I invite to share your story in the comment section. I would be glad if you’d share how you started stock photography. If you like reading you also may be interested of other posts:
Interesting write-up…thanks a lot for the information. By the way, can you list the agencies that you submit your work to?
Thanks for the comment. There are a lot of agencies out there but I upload mainly to
I don’t really earn that much as I do a lot of other activities but it is a way o residual income
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