Is is still worth the effort to shoot and try to sell stock photos?
This is a question that I have been asked a few times and the answer depends on you really. To help you decide, it is good to have a basic understanding of how the industry has evolved over the past decade.
In the beginning, when all stock photographers worked for the larger agencies such as Getty, Magnum, Corbis and Alamy, is was quite a niche thing to be a stock photographer.
Then when microstock hit the scene in around 2004/2005, selling stock photography became a free for all with anyone and everyone who had a digital camera jumping on board. We saw an influx and abundance of images being uploaded:
- Household objects
- Family members
- Body parts
…and just about anything that was within 100 metres of the photographers house.
I have to admit, it was exciting times and I was one of the first to jump in, feet first, with around 1500 images uploaded to just about any agency I could. However, my images had slightly more thought put into them and many were from lifestyle shoots, property shoots, model shoots and travel photography.
Sales came in thick and fast as new and old stock photography buyers thought all their Christmases had come at once with this “gold rush” of fresh, cheap stock photos.
Within 7 years, and without uploading any fresh images since the start, I had earned well into 6 figures through selling stock photography and it felt good. However, things started to slow.
With agency libraries bursting at the seams with images well into 20-30 million, many photographers started to dry up with regards to inspiration, ideas and the time to keep shooting.
I myself started to doubt as to whether I should still bother with stock. Sales were still coming in regularly but they had definitely slowed.
This was mainly due to myself not uploading image for nearly 6 years.
You see, when you upload stock photos on a regular basis (5 a day is better than 150 all at once at the end of the month) you always have new images appearing in the library when buyers sort by “newest first”.
They, myself included, do this as a new image with no sales yet, can be bought at its lowest price because most agencies increase the price of an image as it becomes more popular.
Anyway, to cut a long story short…
When I decided to revamp our stock photography course/section, I was concerned that:
- The information would be outdated and;
- It wouldn’t be worth it
So to test this, I took 10 brand new images that I recently shot, processed and keyworded them as I always had and uploaded to my favourite agencies.
I made a couple of “schoolboy” errors but overall, the results surprised me.
Not only did the majority of images get accepted by all the agencies but I made sales almost immediately.
You see stock photography is a never ending thing. There will always be changes happening around the world:
- Landscapes change
- City skylines change
- People change
- Hobbies change
- Technology changes
- World and current affairs change
There will always be something to shoot so to answer the question of this post, yes…it is most definitely still worth shooting and uploading stock photography but make sure you read our entire course and watch all the videos first to stop you from wasting your time going down the wrong track.
Start by checking out our agencies page and see for yourself what happened when I uploaded my first 10 images in over 5 years…
…and then come back in a few months when we add our new section on shooting stock video. That is a whole new ball game, and gold rush happening right now.