Stock photography is a term, applied to a market that sells conceptual images online; that buyers from all over the world use as visual content, applied to a range of fields such as, webpages, blogs, promotional material, book covers, marquee ads, traditional press and digital newspapers, travel magazines, etc.
This type of photography is the opposite of what a personalized photography session would be, since in the latter case there is a direct licence for a client and it would be an original work designed specifically for the client needs.
What this means for a company is that, they can select from the stock images, those images that are related with their theme — as they need it, without having to pay for a professional photographer’s session.
With only a few clicks they can search and download what they require.
With stock photo, everything becomes simpler and cheaper, as there is no need for hiring a photographer in order to obtain the visual material that we require. Someone, simply creates a series of conceptual photos and images, with or without models, which once retouched and tagged are uploaded to what are known as stock image banks, which are nothing more than specialized platforms created to maintain large libraries of this material, to which any company or private buyer can have access to.
These images can relate to any business theme, and is really easy to find the photos that match your needs, with only a quick search.
If you are a professional photographer, whichever the subject, surely at some point, you have been tempted to try your luck by uploading your best photos on image banks. At the end of the day, it’s about doing something with the hundreds or thousands of images that you may have, gathering dust, on your hard drives.
You may have also seen stock photos uploaded by photographers on a regular basis and you might have come to the conclusion that you could do better, and I would not doubt that you can! But not everything is so easy and a child’s play. To start, this sector is very saturated, and it is not difficult to find thousands and thousands of photos of any subject. So if your idea is to try your luck and earn a little extra income every month, you won’t lose much by trying.
In fact, if there is a certain constancy and perseverance in uploading images, the photographer can make a gradually and steadily increasing profit. In most cases you will get only a few cents for each sale, but you can achieve to earn quite a few dollars, depending on the type of license. We are now talking about, selling (photos) in Micro stock banks, in which many photos are sold at a little price and where there is no exclusivity. In contrast to what is known as, Macro stock banks, where the photos are uploaded exclusively. Those sell less, but the prices paid for purchasing photos from it, is a lot higher than the prices paid for those in Micro stock. The problem is: while to be able to submit images in Micro stock banks can be relatively easy ( the exam is simple or there is no exam at all), entering Macro stock image banks is complicated and you must have a very personal style, and a lot of conceptual quality.
Since the images are at disposition of a wide range of buyers worldwide, that request different types of images, there is a great quantity of themes and styles for every search.
There are many themes that are highly successful in “stock”: lifestyle, economy, love, technology, family, work, social behavior, sports, cities, landscape etc. So is up to you to decide which theme or themes you prefer, or you feel more familiar with, to start uploading your photos.
Of course, not all the images that you upload are going to be sold, in fact it is possible that most will never sell, but you will have some photos that will be very well positioned, and those will generate most of your income.
Photographers who are 100 % dedicated to this sector, do research on specific markets and generate images that can be demanded by a particular type of client.
And with so many millions of awesome photos and a lot of image banks open to sell them, you can imagine how the competition is out there. The key will always be, to stand out in relation to what others are uploading and to catch buyers’ attention.
Of course, remember that the intellectual property of the photos will belong to you as their author; the photographer always reserves the copyright to himself.
Maintaining copyright allows the photographer to make multiple sales of the same image, generating recurring income over time.
Over the years, the stock photography industry has undergone quite a few changes. In the past, was easier to generate a good income, but nowadays, the percentage number of creators of this type of images, who can make a living selling them in stock banks, is very, very small. So if you decide, to try your luck and upload your work, try not to set high expectations, but small real and achievable goals. The idea is to have a plan, a relaxed attitude to produce this type of photos and enjoy the process being realistic and objective.
A good idea is to spend some time reviewing current trends and keep updated on changes. This is a great way to understand buyers needs in terms of images. So, keep flipping through magazines, visiting stock image banks daily, pay attention to television and street ads, etc. Take good note of it, pick up ideas that you like and implement them in your photos.