What is stock photography and stock market?

Stock photography and stock market are you asking? The question doesn’t refers to the well known Wall Street where everything is traded. But about the market where we can sell our photos, videos, content. Every passionate photographer has probably a collection of a few 1000 images which are sitting on the hard driver waiting to be share with others. Therefore there is a moment when each of us asks the following questions:

Is there a way to sell my photos?

And the answer is a big: YES! It seems that the question is formulated in the wrong way. Why? Because the questions should be more like:

Where can I sell my photos and how?

The Internet is a great marketplace and you have a lot of possibilities when it comes to commerce. Even if we are speaking about selling our photos. In the past selling your photos was quite a challenge. If you weren’t some sort of National Geographic photographer or similar, it would have been a bit more difficult to achieve this. But thanks to technologies the micro-stock agencies were born.

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What are micro-stock agencies?

Micro-stock agencies are mainly companies as act as an intermediate entity between you and the customer. Probably you ask yourself then Why shouldn’t you sell the content directly to the customer. The answer is quite simple. They have a large portfolio of customers which may be interested in your content. This way you can reach hundred of thousand of customers worldwide.  Yes you have heard it right: hundred of thousands.

But how would be so stupid to pay for content?

It is a normal question, taking into account that at a simple click you can have access to a lot of results through a search in google’s search engine for example. The supposition is correct, but the real deal behind the whole business model is getting the rights to use the content. Of course everyone can copy and paste a picture to it’s web page for example, but Intellectual Property and Copyright could give you serious issues if not respected. The customer gets not only the content, but also all the rights derived from it.

How much can I earn?

Each stock agency has its own policy when it comes to the percentage their contributors can earn. Depending on the stock agency you can earn from somewhere close to nothing like 25 cents per image to somewhere close and beyond of $60 for real good content like 4k videos. It really depends what you can offer. By the way :

You can sell not only photos, but videos, illustrations, music!

The real deal comes from the available quantity and quality of your footage. If you have a library of 100.000 images doesn’t mean that you will earn more than someone having 5000 images. Quality content may sell better and often sells better, therefore have this in your eyesight. Also another important aspect that you need to take into account is to have content in pace with the actual trends.

Shutterstock screen capture
Shutterstock screen capture

Is it worth starting?

The answer is YES. You have a collection of good photos on your computer’s hard drive and you also have invested in gear. You shouldn’t keep those photos, videos locked. Maybe you will not get rich from this, even though there are some people out there making 6 figure worth of sales each month! It can certainly pay you some new piece of gear or could dampen your investment so far.

Where to start?

There are a lot of stock agencies out there but the following are worth trying:

getty images
Big Stock Photo


Even though the stock market has quite a huge number of contributors, the market is still profitable and shows signs of growth. New, interesting and inspiring content will always catch the interest of potential customers. It’s worth a try, because you have nothing to lose!


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