Where to Submit.
There are literally dozens of agencies out there who accept content from photographers which they subsequently license, earning you a commission. The problem is working out which ones to submit to and which ones are not worth bothering with. below are my thoughts on the agencies that I use, written from the point of view of a stock novice.
Note some of the links are referral links, if you sign up I get credit as a referrer, there is no down side to anyone signing up from them.
This agency is a good one to start with. Sales are not spectacular but steady, my small portfolio reaches payout every few months. The good thing for a beginner is that there is no entrance "exam" to pass before uploading. Once files are uploaded they are reviewed and if deemed of sufficient quality they go on sale. The reviews are quite stringent but not too picky, the only downside is that the rejection reasons are very generic. Start uploading here and, once you achieve a good acceptance ratio, move on to the other agencies. Payout is at 50 credits (1 credit + £0.75p)
Another good one to start with. Earnings similar, or slightly below, Fotolia and the review standards similar too. Rejection advice is better but try not to upload too many rejects as your acceptance ratio affects the ranking of your images in searches. Payout is at $100.
Canstock are really easy to submit to and there review process is pretty lenient, while submitting to the above two I see no reason not to submit here even if the returns are slower. Payout at $50.
Like Canstock this agency is really easy to submit to, there is really no point not doing, similar earnings to Canstock, automatic payout at $50.
My advice would be to start with these 4 agencies just to get the hang of uploading and the image quality requirements. I will cover some tips on key-wording etc. in the next section making submitting to more than one agency a doddle, before moving onto the other agencies that I submit to (including the best earners!)
N.B. the advice above is based purely on my experiences with the agencies, yours may be different! There is no cost associated with any of the agencies I will recommend.
Having decided that the relatively low income is worth the effort the next question is what sells. The short answer is pretty much anything. Obviously the image has to be "commercial" but that does not mean it has to be super styled with a supermodel. You are looking for images that can be used to illustrate something, a concept or thing. Do not think the images have to be artistic, we are talking prose not poetry when it comes to stock images. Below is an image that has done quite well for me
So if you are shooting for stock think concepts, illustrative images, "doing" shots not beautiful art showcasing your mastery of the camera.
Stock photography is something I am often asked about, the idea of taking all those images lying around on your hard drive and turning them into cold hard cash is very appealing. Can it really be that easy? In short no it isn't and for a lot of people the investment in time will not be worth the return.
On the other hand shooting for stock can and does provide some income in return for time spent. For anyone considering it I will outline some of the pitfalls and positives here.
Bear in mind the following is based on my own experiences, don't take anything as true, it may be different for you.
Stock, or microstock as it is also known, pays peanuts. A typical download is in the cents rather than dollars range (most agencies work in US Dollars). For example Shutterstock sells more of my download than any other agency, unfortunately the normal subscription download starts at a miserly $0.25c although it rises as you reach a certain number of sales. They have other products that attract higher amounts of commission but my average per image sold is $0.61c, still low.
Other sites have higher commissions but don't sell as many images. The incredibly low value placed on images has caused much debate with many "pro" photographers bemoaning the fact that the stock image industry seems to have devalued photography in general. I won't enter that debate, the situation already existed before I even owned a camera.
So on the face of it the income is so low it is not worth bothering with. But that isn't entirely true. The constant drip drip of all those little sales does build up, I am currently on about £5.00 average earnings for each image I have on Shutterstock, this average is rising as some of the good sellers have not been up long.
In addition once edited and keyworded it is no hardship to upload them to other agencies, you can probably double that figure when all the agencies are taken into account (I will post thoughts on the different agencies in a later blog). £10 per image is starting to look more viable.
What is clear is that it is a numbers game. The more images you have on-line the more sales will follow. My portfolio is small and of variable quality yet I see sales every day (note to self shoot more stock asap). A portfolio of 1000+ good commercial images would provide a meaningful addition to your income.
.... that is the question.
Do I have anything worth sharing with the world?
Since commencing my journey with a camera (far too many cameras if the truth be told) I have learnt as few things that may be worth sharing.
So the answer to the question is, YES.