May 15, 2005

Selling Stock Photography for Amateurs

by Nick Stubbs

It may have crossed your mind at some point that you would like to sell your images with some of the photographic stock agencies online. You may have then visited their sites only to be put off by the costs involved with regard to the equipment needed to "produce the goods". Many of the larger agencies need file sizes of 50MB which require professional or semi-professional equipment and for which the costs run into thousands.

What a lot of people don't understand is that there are "micro stock" agencies that cater for a different market altogether! You see, the huge image files required by the larger agencies are what are needed for large advertising or marketing companies that need to either show off exceptional quality or reproduce the images in print, at greatly enlarged proportions. But what about the rest of the world?

What about small companies that cannot afford the rates offered by large stock agencies? What about the sole trader or self employed that simply needs a few decent images for his/her website or small marketing campaign? What about colleges or faculties that have a strict budget but still need good images for their workshops or tuition? This is where you come in!

The agencies I am talking about, only need good, nice clean images of 2.5 megabytes or above which can be produced by cameras of around 3 mega pixels or higher. This would include your everyday advanced digital compact like a Canon Sureshot for example.

The cost of buying the images is kept very low for the consumer as the file sizes restrict the applications for which they can be used, but are perfect for the type of outlets I have just described. Therefore the payout is less to the photographer but sales happen a lot more frequently and you can earn yourself a nice residual income for as long as your images are online. Obviously the more you have the more you earn.

It doesn't mean that you can send any old tat in; the images must be clean (in all respects), interesting, well taken and well exposed. The agencies normally have a "wants" list which is excellent as it lets you know exactly what you have to do to earn money! Apart from anything, it also gives you more of a reason to go out and make use of your camera in a more exciting way.

There is a forum on the site that I use and recommend, that has a bunch of regulars that are always there to lend a hand with advice, hints and tips and also to give inspiration and motivation. It has a community of photographers that will put you at ease and help you on your way to earning money from your camera, and I can guarantee you will make friends there too.

After I had registered (which is free), I was a little bemused by it all as I had only ever used the larger agencies, so before I uploaded any images, I introduced another photographer to them. He had about 20 moto-x images on within a week and sold 6 of them immediately. I uploaded 1 image after that and sold a copy that night. I then uploaded 48 more, 5 were rejected but I sold 18 of the others within a week. I then submitted another 90 and so it goes on, all very exciting as the sales stats are updated every 15 minutes and you cannot help but keep "refreshing" the page!

It is by no means my main source of income, but the way I see it, I can upload smaller copies of the 50MB files I have on with larger agents here and add another stream of revenue for very little work. If you have images sitting around on your hard drive, or would like a reason to get up in the morning and go out and do something constructive, give it a go, there is nothing to lose.

One word of warning though, read very carefully the criteria for uploading images. If you consistently upload rubbish, your account will be suspended for 6 months pending review. I suggest that you read the submission guidelines for all stock agencies at my site here;

Selling Stock Photography at "All Things Photography" and look for the yellow information box halfway down the page.

This will require work and a bit of commitment, but you can earn some nice pocket money here from your hobby and some of the regulars earn a good living from it, but you must follow and abide by the rules.

Good luck and hope to see you in the forums!

Nick Stubbs
www.all-things-photography.com

About the Author

Nick is a professional photographer with over 20 years experience in wedding, portrait, industrial and advertising photography. He is a member of the SWPP (Society of Wedding and Portrait Photographers) and BPPA (British Professional Photographers Association).