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Getting Rich with Stock Photography: Dream or Reality?

Updated on November 8, 2012

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.

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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.

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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.

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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

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    • profile image

      simon 2 years ago

      Your articles make whole sense of every topic. http://www.bestonlinephotostorage.net/

    • profile image

      erdrich 2 years ago

      The quality of your blogs and conjointly the articles and price appreciating. http://www.bestonlinephotostorage.net/

    • Blackspaniel1 profile image

      Blackspaniel1 2 years ago

      It seems that one could make something, which is better than nothing, with less effort than making it a full time job.

    • profile image

      Pooja 2 years ago

      Hey! I'm in these and chubby! But, hot damn my wife looks good. Love you Brooke and how you made me look alosmt as good as Sam.

    • Sean Fliehman profile image

      Sean Fliehman 2 years ago

      Wow this is great information. I plan to read these articles and re consider getting into this business. I had considered it at one time but never followed through. Thanks for the tips.

    • Danext profile image

      Dan Lema 3 years ago from Tanzania

      This is a very useful information because i'm planning on starting to become a stock photographer, so your tips will be very useful to me...thanks...

    • Dina Blaszczak profile image
      Author

      Dina Blaszczak 3 years ago from Poland

      @dappledesigns It is about feeding the beast, but I had 10 months of break from uploading to microstock agencies and my earnings didn't drop. So basically your work later earns you money even when you are not working ;)

    • dappledesigns profile image

      dappledesigns 3 years ago from In Limbo between New England and the Midwest

      great article - very honest as well. I have learned it's all about feeding the beast.

    • Dina Blaszczak profile image
      Author

      Dina Blaszczak 5 years ago from Poland

      @ PennyCarey Thanks a lot for reading!

      @ Jesterinchains Yes, stock photography rises a lot of questions ;)

      @ molometer Thanks for looking in, reading and sharing my hub, it's much appreciated. It makes me very content to hear that my experience is useful for somebody else.

    • molometer profile image

      molometer 5 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Dina,

      This is really useful information. My son has just qualified as a photography and is busy taking photos. I will pass this on to him.

      My experience in stock photography is limited so it is nice to find someone in the business already. : )

      Very interesting hub and some great links. Bookmarking this one.

      Voted up interesting and useful. Tweeting. Facebook etc.

    • Jesterinchains profile image

      Jesterinchains 5 years ago from Virginia Beach, Virginia

      Interesting article. I've always wondered about stock photography.

    • PennyCarey profile image

      PennyCarey 5 years ago from Felton

      Great article and full of interesting tips. Thank you for a good read.

    • Dina Blaszczak profile image
      Author

      Dina Blaszczak 5 years ago from Poland

      @wallpaper Thanks a lot for reading and commenting, I'm very glad you found this information useful.

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      wallpaper 5 years ago

      This article was really informative and I have learn t so much after reading this. I wonder some day I would be able to share such valuable information on my own blog.

    • Dina Blaszczak profile image
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      Dina Blaszczak 5 years ago from Poland

      @Paul Whittingham Hi Paul, nice to see you here and I'm glad this article made you interested. Thanks for reading!

    • profile image

      Paul Whittingham 5 years ago

      Hi Dina - I saw this link on Phototpix and thought I would read it. Great article..Food for thought that is for sure.

      Thanks

      Paul

    • Dina Blaszczak profile image
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      Dina Blaszczak 5 years ago from Poland

      Hi Robie, glad you enjoyed reading my first hub :)))

    • Dina Blaszczak profile image
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      Dina Blaszczak 5 years ago from Poland

      Thank you Docmo for a nice welcome! Appreciate your feedback, thanks so much! :)

    • Dina Blaszczak profile image
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      Dina Blaszczak 5 years ago from Poland

      Hi Dave! Thanks a lot for your comment, for a newbie it's very important to know if I'm on the right track. I will certainly keep writing! :)

    • Robie Benve profile image

      Robie Benve 5 years ago from Ohio

      Great hub Dina, I'm not a photographer, but you got me hooked! :)

    • Docmo profile image

      Mohan Kumar 5 years ago from UK

      Welcome to the hubpages Dina. This is a truly useful and informative hub. Will be looking forward to your next. Voted up and useful!

    • davenmidtown profile image

      David Stillwell 5 years ago from Sacramento, California

      Hi Dina! Welcome to hubpages. This is a great first hub. I would encourage you to explore around the art section ( you can find that at the top of your home page under the topic tab) because there are many really wonderful photographers here and its great to network. I had never really thought of stock photography as way to make a living. You've opened my eyes. If you have questions about anything let me know. Keep writing!

    • Dina Blaszczak profile image
      Author

      Dina Blaszczak 5 years ago from Poland

      Thanks a lot for reading my hubs, for your comments and voting, much appreciated :)))

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 5 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      Great information! I just recently started sending some of my photos to 3 separate stock agencies. I have had some accepted, some not. You have given me hope that with a little more work I can succeed with some of them. Thank you for sharing this information and I will be reading your second hub! Voted up and useful! Have a great day! :)