Should You Sell Your Pictures As Stock Photography?

stock photography
by Tyne & Wear Archives & Museums

Article by Tim Gagne Paquette

Thinking it’s time you started selling your images as stock? Stock photography is in big demand and everybody looks to be doing it, unfortunately though, most photographers are going about it the wrong way.

The very first thing you must do is get clear on where you want to end up …

Do you want a full time business? Do you dream about throwing in the day job and becoming a pro photographer? Or do you simply need some more cash from your photography? Perhaps you’d be content to buy a new lens every now and then from your profits?

If you need the first option, you are looking at joining a particularly tough industry and that is going to take serious time, effort and you’re going to have to invest real money to make it happen.

For stock photography you want to evaluate every element of your photography the standard of your work, the commercial potential of the subjects you shoot, how many images you have on file and how often you add to them. Quality, Content & Volume to achieve success in stock photography you have to have each of those aspects absolutely covered.

If you happen to feel you may need to work on any of those areas, I’d counsel you take your time to work on them first. Take a short course to improve your photography technique, buy some stock photography books to find more commercial subjects, and then shoot constantly to build your volume.

Stock is competitive and sure to suck the joy right out of your photography if you try to start sell stock photos before you’re prepared.

If you aren’t out for a major life-change though, you really have other more options.

A lot of part-time photographers place their pictures with the microstock libraries and hope to make a little bit of small change each year but I truly believe this is about the very worst of your choices.

A few of these stock photo sites are selling pictures for a buck or less each, royalty free, so the photographers gets a few cents for the sale, and the buyer gets free use of the image, forever. This does not worry plenty of beginners, but it has a huge impact on the industry. If that doesn’t concern you, it probably should.

If circumstances change and you decide one day to sell your photos seriously, each $ 1 sale you make is going to make it that much harder for you to make a living. And to make matters worse, you won’t be able to sell and of those photos to high-end photo buyers, because you will not have any idea where they’ve been published before or where they might turn up next.

Generally you’ll find a much better option for the hobbyist is to use your photosphotos as content rather than product, and publish them on your own easy photography internet sites promoting affiliate products. For most photographers this will lead on to much better returns without giving your photos away for peanuts, and if you one day decide to get serious about selling your photos, they are still exclusively yours to sell.

Matt Brading is a photographer, writer and webmaster. Matt prefers to sell stock photos through the direct contact libraries: GlobalEye Stock Photo Agency and OzImages Stock Photography Library.

Matt recently published over-the-shoulder videos that show you how to make your own profitable photo web sites in a weekend!