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Thread: My Stock Photography Journey

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    Member Akunde's Avatar
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    Lightbulb My Stock Photography Journey

    Hi Everyone,

    I decided to dip my toe into the Stock photography waters recently and got accepted as a contributor. I figured that, as I have ~7 years of photos that are not doing much for me sitting on a hard drive, I could upload some of these onto various stock websites in an attempt to generate some pocket money for myself.

    I thought I'd share my progress, learnings and failures in this thread so that they might help someone else looking to have a go or provide a different viewpoint to some already involved in the stock photo communities.

    Why did I decide to have a look into Stock?

    It basically boiled down the fact that I have hundreds of images that (I believe) are either worthy of sharing to a wider audience or could be of value to someone that were sitting on my hard drive not really doing anything for me. I post some onto Flickr, Facebook and forums, and do the occasional print run for personal use, but that's all they do.

    What expectations do I have for this endeavour?
    I'm certainly not expecting to make my fortune, that's for sure . I have a stable job and semi-regular paid photography events that allow me to keep my house so I'd be ecstatic if I earned enough to buy a new lens in a couple of years though, but that will be a biiiiig stretch. Again, this just comes back to making my 'idle' photos do something for me.

    What is my Approach?
    So far, I haven't really defined my approach too much. I will likely sign up to a few different stock websites (where the T&Cs allow or aren't too draconian) but in the very short term, I will be uploading all of my suitable images to the site. I will also be spending a bit of time having a look at photographic trends, reading advice on stock photography and doing some research around promotion of photos having not delved too far into these topics previously.

    Will I tailor my Photography to include more stock photos?

    Possibly, but probably not. It seems that a lot of stock photographers take multiple shots of the same subject and upload all of the variations to the stock websites, i.e. taking a photo of the same sea shell from multiple angles or against different backgrounds and uploading them all. My current workflow, like many other peoples, involves taking many variations of the same subject and picking the best one/two to then edit.

    Will I go out of my way to photograph subjects that hold commercial value but are of limited interest to me?
    Again, probably not. Photography for me, first and foremost, is still a hobby and I don't want the personal value of that to diminish by taking photos of subjects that don't interest me.

    So, with all that in mind, I hope that you find the future posts in this thread informative and please feel free to add your own experiences/thoughts/learnings to this thread as well. I find that it's a difficult thing to have too much information

    I'm hoping to upload my backlog of images to the site over the next few weeks or so, and will keep this thread up to date on anything of potential interest.

    Cheers,
    Andrew
    Last edited by Akunde; 11-02-2016 at 2:59pm.

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    Ausphotography Regular Hamster's Avatar
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    Subscribed, should be interesting.
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    Ausphotography irregular Mark L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Akunde View Post


    Why did I decide to have a look into Stock?[/COLOR]
    It basically boiled down the fact that I have hundreds of images that (I believe) are either worthy of sharing to a wider audience or could be of value to someone that were sitting on my hard drive not really doing anything for me. I post some onto Flickr, Facebook and forums,
    So why don't you post some of your photos here on AP for us to enjoy and learn from?
    I know it's not the point of the thread, but ......
    Good luck with stock photography. You probably need to find how the right people take notice. So many photos out there.

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    Selling to stock is for the bored or lazy photographer.
    Why not go find a client and do a challenging shoot that will test your skills to the bare bone? There are scores of potential clients around. I know, I've been there many times as a videographer.
    For instance, lots of major film shoots around these days. The producers literally spends multi-millions on support photography, not only for the film but for all the promotion and advertising that follows. Most of that work is done by ordinary togs who are in the right place at the right time. Can't sit in your armchair though! this kind of work is so rewarding and even if you only sell one print you're a star forever. Remember to pick your genre and have fun. Plenty of other opportunities around too!
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    Redgum, I appreciate the input, but as stated in my original post, this is just to make the most of the images I have already taken. I have a stable job in Project Management and am currently continuing my tertiary studies further, and while I do have a repeat corporate client (and have shot a few weddings as well), I am certainly not looking to make photography my full time career.

    Progress Update:
    Out of 16 submitted images, I have had 13 accepted so far. Out of these 13 accepted images, I had my first download today (and netted a whole 25c ).

    Given that the 16 images represents about 2% of my total catalog, I am cautiously optimistic that I might get a couple of $$ by the end of the year, once I actually do get around to uploading all of them.

    Which brings me to my first major learning: Key wording is a time-consuming PITA, but necessary.

    I have always added enough keywords to be able to find an image in my catalog quite easily, but it is another thing to think of key words that a potential buyer might be using. However, the site that I am using has made it relatively easy in that I can upload a bunch of photos each night, and then keyword them on my train commute (2 hrs daily) the following day.

    That 25c might be enough of a catalyst to make me double my efforts in uploading and key wording

    Cheers,
    Andrew
    Last edited by Akunde; 17-02-2016 at 2:41pm. Reason: Formatting

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    Ausphotography Regular Hamster's Avatar
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    Just shows how worthwhile those rights grabbing photography competitions can be. The ones where you agree to let the people running it do anything with your photo. The West Australian runs one each year (I think) and they must get thousands of images that they can then use for free or make revenue from as stock photos.

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    Ausphotography irregular Mark L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hamster View Post
    Just shows how worthwhile those rights grabbing photography competitions can be. The ones where you agree to let the people running it do anything with your photo. The West Australian runs one each year (I think) and they must get thousands of images that they can then use for free or make revenue from as stock photos.
    So are you saying they should pay 25c for each use of the image instead??

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    Ausphotography Regular Hamster's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark L View Post
    So are you saying they should pay 25c for each use of the image instead??
    At least

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    It's not just photography, the commercial world as a whole is dog eat dog, so to speak. Running a corporate enterprise it is my responsibility to the shareholders to acquire assets at the lowest possible price (and not be caught with duds). That's the name of the game but it's a two way street. When I started making documentary films, TV stations were happy to air them for my benefit (in other words - no or little pay). That changed overtime as I developed a reputation (or understood the market better) and more often than not I'm now on the winning side, making money.
    Making 25c per photo is not going to earn you a reputation, the price needs to be meaningful, so don't prostitute yourself as a photographer for the sake of a few cents. Networking on this site and others will get you more rewards than you can imagine, if you want them, but telling people you're happy to make 25c per photo won't improve your esteem or that of others.

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    http://steveaxford.smugmug.com/ Steve Axford's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Redgum View Post
    Running a corporate enterprise it is my responsibility to the shareholders to acquire assets at the lowest possible price (and not be caught with duds).
    I'd have to agree that investing shareholder money in stock photography is probably not wise when running a corporate enterprise. However, I don't recall any mention of shareholders, so that probably isn't relevant. Personally, I think there are better ways of getting your photos out there, but they don't pay anything, at least not directly.

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    I wish you all the best Andrew & please keep us updated with your progress

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    will follow this with interest
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    Time for an update:

    With work ramping up as we get closer to the end of the Financial Year and Uni starting again a couple of weeks ago, I've been a bit slack in getting more photos up onto the stock site. Currently I have 17 approved images, which only really represents my initial upload. Sales are currently sitting a whopping $1.25

    The photo reviewers are pretty ruthless I have found. I uploaded a series of about 18 fireworks shots from the same location and submitted 1 of these to see what the result was. It was rejected because of a slight lens flare in the bottom right corner of the image, which is present in all of the images but I had never really noticed it previously. So, I'm glad that I only actually submitted the 1st image and not all of them. Time for a re-edit....

    Hoping to get a lot more of my photos uploaded tonight and submitted over the next few days.

    Cheers,
    AK

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    Ausphotography irregular Mark L's Avatar
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    A bit surprised you got feedback on your photos. Thought they would just grab what they wanted.
    $1.25, your on your way.

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    totally agree with Regnum, but what to do if photography is a hobby, not a main job? Client-thing requires time.
    Although stocks require even more time after all...

    I know someone who earns $500+ just from shutterstock on city views. So why not keep fine art for sharing/printing etc and more ordinary photos for stocks?
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    In a previous life working in the print industry i would have to shoot random things, from pizza's to real estate. We would then upload images to the stock sites and reinvest the $ we made by buying other stock images for the magazine.

    The biggest seller was of a bedroom display at a local furniture store, followed by a Latte.

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    Ausphotography irregular Mark L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by nwhc View Post
    In a previous life working in the print industry i would have to shoot random things, from pizza's to real estate. We would then upload images to the stock sites and reinvest the $ we made by buying other stock images for the magazine.
    Why didn't the magazine simply employ you to take the photos they wanted?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mark L View Post
    Why didn't the magazine simply employ you to take the photos they wanted?
    Because when you are doing artwork for 50-60 clients who have no idea what they want or don't have any images and you have a tight deadlines you cant really spare the time to source models, location etc.

    Editorial photos yes we took but generic get fit, family or travel pics much easier and cost effective to go with stock.

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    Subscribed! I'm also very interested to see how this goes..

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    One of the few threads I actually read all the posts in detail without just scanning over them. An interesting thread to which I will subscribe. I considered a similar approach recently as some of my photos are now wining the odd comp (not just AP) and getting some recognition from sites like Viewbug, 500px and such (AP co-ords, hope its is OK to name these sites, if not please edit out). I don't get to excited over these as I am not sure they are more driven by marketing or actually do think my photos are amazing or have had the most hits etc for the month.
    Anyways, this has started me thinking what will I do with the many, IMHO, photos I think are worth marketing. I have had many requests to purchase a photo I did from an anzac day service for the purpose of printing it, I have not been able to get contact (and still trying) with the person as I understand I need a release document to make sales on the photo. I also wanted to give him a larger print of the photo for himself to keep.
    I have read two streams of thought with stock - 1. The stock market is goig and many million more shots are needed to keep up to the market demand and 2. Stock photography is dead as everyone has a camera these days and agencies can simple run through the likes of Instagram etc to find photos ,I though that a bizarre take on the matter but can' t discount it all the same.

    I do think stock is no different to any other marketing approach to sell photos and that is to find the current area of demand and market it better than the others, as in the keyword tagging and modeling to the best practise of search engine use etc.

    I will be very interested to see where this journey goes - you may not make a living out of it, but you may do ok. There are many who claim they make a respectable partial income and certainly enough to keep gear up to date - good luck.
    I would be happy to make enough to buy a new FF body every 4 of yrs and keep my lens and gear etc up to date. I.E. my 20-200 F4 is having some focus issues albeit I cannot complain as it has been a real workhorse over the last 6+ yrs. I would love to upgrade it to the new 2.8 but I cant even afford to replace this model at present - LOL
    Be nice if some stock sales could fix me up :-)
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