Make money with your camera Part 2: Shoot for stock
Stock photography takes a lot of time to set up in the beginning, but it can be very lucrative for photographers. Once you’ve put in the hard work to establish your library, it can be a great source of passive income that works well in the background and keeps you coming back to shoot your next project.
It’s very rare for a stock library to be a professional photographer’s primary source of income, but it can still be a valuable addition to your overall income, especially if you’re hosting workshops and selling prints at the same time. Your images will need to be popular and appeal to a wide range of customers, as you could have all sorts of publications reviewing your shots for use, from magazine articles to holiday brochures.
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The money you make from each image used will vary depending on which stock library you go with, but generally it’s a numbers game and it’s best to have a large catalog of images making a small amount of each. It’s also worth checking the specific terms of your stock library contract, as they may call for exclusivity – meaning you can’t publish your photos elsewhere or put them on multiple stock libraries.
Submit only your best shots, making sure your focus and exposure are perfect, and if you have a photoshoot specifically designed for stock photography, be sure to shoot lots of different angles, and if you’re shooting a model try on a variety of poses and outfits to give potential customers more choices when browsing.
While you can, of course, put your best landscapes and animal photos on a stock library and hope for the best, it pays – literally, usually – to approach things with a well-formed plan. What will image researchers and designers be looking for in three months, six months or a year? What upcoming news or sporting events will be in high demand for images to help illustrate them – and how can you illustrate them in a non-literal way?
“I’ve been a stock photographer for almost 16 years and I’ve seen the industry change drastically as the value of images has dropped dramatically, but my catalog is large and my subjects are varied,” says photographer David Clapp, who has builds a successful stock photography business.
“This alone has contributed to financial stability and a solid income that exists alongside direct sales, tuition and workshops, manufacturer representation, public speaking and many other sources of income. .
“If you think romanticizing the camera and creating images you love will create sales and a career, then you might want to rethink that. If your intention is to sell work, carefully consider the demographic that buys images, then create targeted work on that buying audience. Learn to see your customers’ requirements and capture them.”
When shooting for stock, have a clear message in mind and consider which publications might use your images; such as a website, book, brochure or magazine. Frame with plenty of space around your subject for editors to place text and titles.
When photographing models, you will need a signed model release or property release for photos taken on private property. Research how much you will earn from each image sold and what control you have over your images by making them royalty free or rights managed.
You will need to familiarize yourself with keywords when you take the plunge and get accepted by a stock library. Do your research on the type of keywords buyers are likely to use and add relevant ones to your photos. Also, make sure your images look appealing when displayed as thumbnails, as that’s how buyers will initially see your image. Does it stand out from the rest?
When it comes to choosing images to upload to a stock library, submit only your most technically and aesthetically top notch photos. There’s a risk they’ll be rejected by the library if they don’t meet a certain standard, so keep in mind that the images that attract friends and visitors to your social media pages aren’t necessarily that. that buyers of commercial images are looking for. for.
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