Getting Rich with Stock Photography: Dream or Reality?
This is the first article of the series about my experience in the world of stock photography.
In these series I will not tell you how to get rich creating images for stock, rather hope to give you some answers to what it’s really like being a stock photographer these days. Why I'm saying these days, is because things have changed dramatically in microstock in the last 5 years and what was possible then, is no longer actual now. So lets start from the very beginning.
Am I up to the Job?
This was the first question I asked myself before I made a decision to join the stock photography business. At that time, I should tell you honestly, I had only a year of experience with a digital camera and was working hard on developing my skills, so looking at it now, no I wasn't ready yet for this kind of challenge.
Stock photography seemed to me like a completely different world, where only highly experienced professional photographers had a place to be. I was fascinated by the prospective of my photos being actually bought by someone, but at the same time I felt petrified to get my photos being turned down.
I prepared myself well to avoid first disappointment of rejected images because I knew it could play a vital role in my future motivation. I uploaded my very first photo and voila, it got accepted! This positive first experience made a big difference as it showed me I was actually doing something right. Yet one thing is to get your photos accepted and completely different thing to have them sold.
Time: How Much Do You Have of It?
When I took on a challenge of becoming a stock photographer I had only a part time job that gave me plenty of time for photography. Amount of available time you have is an important factor. More time means larger portfolio and more photos generate more sales.
More often now than in the previous years it is emphasised that in stock photography it’s the quality, not quantity that counts. While this is truth, it can’t be denied that a bigger portfolio and high quality of photos will increase chances to make significant income with stock. Therefore both aspects are equally important.
Another thing to consider is that you won’t be only taking photos; you will need to put time in post processing, key wording your photos and uploading them to agencies. The more agencies you will join, the more time you will need to dedicate.
Painful Word Investment
Stock photography is a business and it is a well-known fact that no business can be made without investments, at least minimal ones. You may well go without investments at the beginning, providing you already have the essential gear, but later the need to spend some money will most likely catch up with you. This is the thing every future stock photographer should keep in mind.
Is My Camera Good Enough?
Those days when photos from point & shoot cameras were accepted by stock agencies are over, now DSLR is a must have camera for stock. However, you don’t have to own a high end camera; entry level cameras like Canon 450D or Nikon D60 will do the job just fine. With time you might want to upgrade to a full frame camera as most successful stock photographers do, but it’s going to be later.
Resent innovation in microstock is in the move some agencies made by starting to accept images takes with mobile phones. All you need is a phone with a good quality 5mp camera and you are ready to shoot. Agencies emphasise though that mobile photography isn't going to replace high quality images taken by DSLRs, so mobile images are just an addition part to the whole stock business.
You Will Have To Do More
To be a successful stock photographer isn't enough to take photos of what you like and upload them to the stock agencies. It’s a good practice for stock photographers to stay up to date with what is happening in the world, what kind of trends are popular, as well as shooting accordingly to seasonal changes. You will need to do research on what kind of photography is in demand at certain times and adjust to it in order to generate sales.
It is a Job
Many photographers don’t realise that stock photography is actually a job. It can even become a full time job for you. Therefore if you wish to make money, I would suggest you treating it seriously, because as any other job, stock photography asks for commitment and willingness to work hard.
Reality of stock photography business is that it gives a chance to every photographer, but whether you will succeed in it, depends on you and the choices you will make.
Take your time to think whether stock photography is your liking, and if so, put some hard work in it, a bit of money (when necessary) and enjoy watching your photos bringing you enough income for a living.
If you are interested in more information and detailed explanations about stock photography, please read my next part in these series - Stock Photography Tips for Beginners